§ 3.1 p.m.
§ Lord Jenkins of Hillhead rose to call attention to Anglo-German relations; and to move for Papers.
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I tabled this Motion two or three weeks ago because of a fear that Britain's relations with Germany were on a deteriorating course. I need hardly say that nothing has happened in the past 854 few days to diminish that fear. In the interval, apart from yesterday's excitements, we have had the successful Chirac state visit. President Chirac exhibited spontaneous good will, but he also left us in no doubt of the primacy for him of the Franco-German partnership and of the resolve of the two partners to stick to and achieve their European objectives.
§ I have watched with fascination for at least 20 years the deepening of that Franco-German partnership and Britain's gradual and unnecessary exclusion from it. Perhaps, indeed, as the only British President of the Commission so far—maybe the only British President ever—I saw during a crucial formative period more of the semi-inside of that partnership than has anyone else from this country.
§ It began well before my Brussels days, with a rather misty communion between de Gaulle and Adenauer. But by 1977 it had hardened into a genuinely close relationship at the top between those two utterly dissimilar but determined "best friends", Helmut Schmidt and Valèry Giscard d'Estaing. But beyond that possibly ephemeral personal closeness, its effects could be observed, spreading down like water seeping to the roots of a plant and thus being institutionalised and made more lasting.
§ Its strength was already such in those late 1970s years that I developed a tactic, in my European rather than British capacity, for beneficially exploiting it. If one of the two partners were standing out against a Commission proposal—it was most often the French but not invariably so—much the best tactic was not to try to win an argument across the Council table but to move round the table to the head of the other delegation within the partnership—it was most often the Germans—and say to him, "Can't you quietly get them to come off it?". It was surprising how often that worked. But it left a lot of room for reflection about the shape which Britain's semi-detachment was allowing Europe to assume.
§ It is worth contrasting that with the position immediately after the war, when Britain's contribution to German rehabilitation was incomparably greater than that of France. The British Zone, from Hamburg through the Ruhr to the Rhineland, was the powerhouse of German revival. The Hamburg based press and broadcasting stations, the Düsseldorf headquarters trade union and the post-Nazi education structure were greatly British influenced. A month ago I gave a lecture for the 50th anniversary of the refounding of the technical university in Berlin which had been relaunched in 1946 with a proclamation of remarkable academic liberalism by the British general commanding in the city. Undoubtedly, institutionally the British influence on what became the three-zone Western area and then the Federal Republic was greater almost than the American influence. I am very glad that two noble Lords who played a great part in those years—the noble Earl, Lord Longford, and the noble Lord, Lord Annan—are to speak later in the debate.
§ At that time the French were occupying only a couple of semi-rural provinces and were indeed poised uneasily on the edge of a reversion to a 1923 policy of 855 suppression and even dismemberment. Once the Cold War set in, the Americans, of course, were crucial to German security. Adenauer, the first of the remarkable run of six—only six over 47 years—German Chancellor-statesmen, rather preferred the Americans to us, which was perhaps not surprising as he had been dismissed for incompetence when Oberbürgermeister of Cologne by a British brigadier.
§ In the third quarter of this century, throughout those 25 years, the influence on Anglo-German relations of the Königswinter conferences was very considerable and beneficial. There have been other bilateral imitations but, in my view, none has achieved the same role in fostering the free, sometimes argumentative but always unofficial, exchange of ideas not only between politicians but between commentators and academics as well. Partly as a result, even when Franco-German official relations became closer, the links between Germany and Britain—unofficial Anglo-German ones: habits of thought and methods of discussion—remained more intimate. That has been Königswinter's unique contribution. Typically, however, I am not sure that Königswinter retains its full vitality today. Throughout the last two or three decades, the Franco-German partnership has galloped ahead.
§ In 1962 de Gaulle went to Munich and before a vast crowd and to immense applause said in German, "You are a great people"—"Sie Sind ein grosses Volk". It may not have been very precise but, as a gesture of reconciliation, it was magnificent. It is strange that the imaginative gestures which have stuck have come from each of Germany's other principal Western allies but never from Britain. Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" was rather oddly phrased, but that did not destroy its impact on the audience, and it has certainly stuck. Such a gesture from Britain has long been lacking. I commend it to the next Prime Minister.
§ It is worth remembering that the suffering and degradation of the French, as indeed of the Dutch, under the Germans were greater than anything experienced by the British. And we have the moral compensation of it being our finest hour. The fact that we should nonetheless be the country in which wartime resentment appears most to linger is perverse. It is not only perverse, it is also damaging—primarily to us.
§ Chancellor Kohl is clearly today the most powerful statesman in Europe, mostly by virtue of Germany's strength, but also because of his commitment to an idea and his possession of leadership skills which enable him to rally support for that idea. No one with any knowledge of Helmut Kohl can doubt that the idea stems from his consciousness that he is the last leader from the generation of his countrymen who remember the war and the horrors of Nazi behaviour. That gives a special urgency to his determination fully to anchor Germany into an integrated Europe. It is a Europeanised Germany and not a German Europe that he wants. That is the reason he has got on so well with successive French Presidents, the heads of a nation which is historically dedicated to trying by one means or another to take the poison out of Germany and which now does so so brilliantly well through the partnership. I believe that that is the reason also why 856 I recently heard Helmut Schmidt—another outstanding German Chancellor, but one who used to like Herr Kohl about as much as Sir Edward Heath likes the noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher—pay a remarkable tribute.
§ Yet the increasing British reaction to Chancellor Kohl in large parts of the press and on the Euro-nihilist wing of the Conservative Party—a wing which seems more and more to be taking over the main building—increasingly seems, at the worst, to treat him almost as a reincarnation of Hitler and, at the best, he is promoted to Jacques Delors' vacant place as Britain's necessary European scapegoat, at which those who might otherwise be subject to road rage can amuse themselves by throwing rotten eggs.
§ A happy contrast to that was the good sense spoken at last night's CBI dinner both by the president of the CBI and by the General Secretary of the TUC—people who have a great responsibility for the economic consequences of our policies. Sir Bryan Nicholson delivered a mighty rebuke to those who seem to have omitted to notice that the war with Germany is over.
§ But there are serious consequences and dangers. For instance, a large part of the alienation of the Conservative Party from Europe, which I greatly regret, stems from a failure in differing ways of two British Prime Ministers to establish an effective centre-right partnership with Kohl, the only other big country centre-right leader in the Community.
§ The growing neurosis in our attitude to Germany has also contributed to our weak and unsteady hand in dealing with the beef issue. As I said yesterday, I support the Government's objectives, but their tactics have been and are appalling. Mr. Hogg's gross mishandling of his agricultural colleagues from day one onwards has been almost unbelievable. The concern of the British Government seems to have been not to eradicate BSE; not to restore confidence; not even to help the farmers; but to whip up a quarrel with Europe as a smokescreen for gross neglect of the problem over the past 10 years and as yet another sop for the Euro-nihilists.
§ I hope and believe that we will get the derivatives ban lifted in a week or so. But that will be in spite of and not because of yesterday's threats. It will be done because of the good will of the Commission and under the powers that it can carry a proposition by a simple majority at the second go—powers which the present Government and many of their supporters would like taken away.
§ Then we go to the European Court, which is also perfectly reasonable, though it is perhaps unfortunate that the Home Secretary chose last Friday to describe it as a "menace" and its members as "potential tyrants". Then up to and at the end of the European Council in Florence we will withhold "normal co-operation". What does "normal co-operation" amount to? It does not amount to a very serious threat. By that means we hope to end what we have come near to portraying as a German-led European conspiracy. That Euro-centric view of evil has come to look very odd as it has emerged that, so far from the ban being a special Euro-dodge, the Americans and the Canadians have had a ban for eight years, the Australians for about the same time and the 857 New Zealanders more intermittent. Are they all part of a Euro-conspiracy? If beef, as it may well do on present form, ever comes near to driving us out of the Union, should we for good measure and logical consistency resign from the Commonwealth and NATO also?
§ I fear that the mood of "romantic nationalism and churlish xenophobia"—to quote the chairman of the CBI last night once again—is liable to turn us into an ill-tempered old man, quarrelling with all his neighbours about dustbins, overhanging branches and parking in the road outside and as a result making himself more lonely and miserable and probably poor as well. I find too that Mr. Major's Statement bears all the unmistakable and rather pathetic signs of a weak man trying to use strong language.
§ The fact is that both from the short and the longer-term point of view our relations with Germany are as key and as central as they could be. They are crucial not only in themselves but also to our relations with our other principal allies and neighbours as well. There is no greater illusion than that we would improve our relations with the Americans by being more distant with Germany and the rest of the Union. Equally, Anglo-German relations provide much of the key to Anglo-French relations. That close partnership may sometimes seem awkward for us and occasionally may seem too close for the other 12 too. But if it were to collapse, with a reversion to the traditional hostility, it would be a disaster for Europe, Britain included, and for the world. Furthermore, there is no chance of Britain huffing and puffing it down from outside. If we want to make it less exclusive, our only proper, as well as our only practical, course is to behave to Germany—and indeed to France—more as they do to each other and less with the suspicion and non-cooperation which have become habitual to us.
§ The post-war German Government are not a particularly difficult government with which to get on. Taking the 42 years of the Federal Republic and the subsequent five years as a whole, they have a unique record of international responsibility, economic success and respect for liberal values and the supremacy of the rule of law. Their record has not been perfect of course. But if the question is posed as to which other country could push Germany off the gold medallist plinth as the consistently best-governed country in the Western world or outside it, it would be difficult to find an alternative candidate for the accolade. And that, even without the pre-1945 history, would be a formidable achievement. With that history the achievement is stupendous.
§ We will be very foolish, clumsy and shortsighted if we do not move quickly to restore our deteriorating relations with Germany. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.19 p.m.
Lord Campbell of Croy
My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, for his excellent introduction of this important subject. It has attracted many speakers to the debate so that each of us is restricted in time. I am myself very well aware of his long-term interest and participation in the subject. We 858 together attended at least one of the Königswinter conferences in the 1960s. I am only sorry that he felt it necessary to express criticism in the form he did of present Ministers. Königswinter was a way of promoting better understanding between Britain and Germany. The conferences have been very successful and still continue.
My family suffered considerably in both world wars, in casualties, killed and wounded. More than a year after the end of the war in Europe, I was myself still confined to hospital, recovering from wounds. All this made me, with others, the more determined to support reconciliation and building good relations with Germany, to prevent the seeds of a future war being sown in Europe. To me, the Schuman Declaration in the summer of 1950 was a most significant and welcome event. It has proved to be a landmark. Germany and France had agreed to pool their coal and steel resources and industries. The two industries were basic parts of their economies in those days. The two countries would be working closely to together. It was hoped that the old enmity would be dissipated. The Coal and Steel Community was born and became the core of the EEC which later developed around it.
Your Lordships will understand why I was glad to be a member of the Cabinet in 1970, 1971 and 1972, much involved in the negotiations which led to the United Kingdom joining the EEC in January 1973, more particularly as I believe we missed our chance when plans were being made at the Messina Conference in the mid-1950s and because our entry was later vetoed by President de Gaulle early in 1963 after our strenuous and successful negotiations. Had we joined on those earlier occasions, we could have participated in formulating a common agricultural policy very different from the one existing at our accession. We could have influenced the creation and development of other Community policies and institutions.
It is relevant to bear this recent history in mind because many of the issues on which Britain and Germany now differ arise from problems within the European Union and proposals for its future. It is as well to remember that evolution of the European Union began with the determination of Germany and France to bury hatchets and work together in 1950, a year when Germany was starting again to become an independent country. That led to an important relationship between Germany and France which has been beneficial in its effects and should be respected.
A substantial factor in German relations with Britain and other European neighbours is its size. After reunification, Germany greatly exceeds each of the others in population. That would still be the situation whether the European Union existed or not and whether we were in it or not. Reunification has been an upheaval for West Germany, which already possessed efficient industries and a strong economy. It has had to digest a run-down, heavily polluted East Germany. Moreover, it was a brave decision to extend the deutschmark to the East. West Germany has had to strain and suffer during the painful period of reunification. When that period is over, Germany will be larger and stronger than ever.
859 Of course there is concern that it will become the dominating nation in Europe. That is not new. It has been in view, on the horizon, for more than 40 years. At some time the Soviet Empire would contract or crumble, and East Germany would join West. Some of the British media and public fear that this largest member of the EU will exert most of the pressure for close integration. Recently, however, there have been signs of some misgivings within Germany on this.
For a moment, I shall draw attention to a simple misunderstanding. The word "federal" means different things to different people. Constitutionally, Germany, now including East Germany, is a federal system consisting of provinces—the Länder—each with its own legislature and administration. On that scene, "federal" means to Germans decentralisation, devolution and even subsidiarity. That is entirely different from integration and central control, which many British people take "federal" to mean. What most British people seem to want is a European Union of nation states. I am one of those. Those would be states taking their own decisions on subjects on which there was no need for central co-ordination or control. Most British parliamentarians appear to have the same objective.
Germany has been advocating, or appearing to advocate, a different policy, of close integration and an early start of a single currency. German trade unions and other German bodies have recently expressed alarm at the severity of the measures within Germany needed to attain the convergence criteria for qualifying to take part at the proposed starting date of 1999.
Time, and increasingly the wide realisation of difficulties, may help to resolve today's issues. Other problems will no doubt arise in the future between our two countries and good British-German relations must depend still on positive efforts on both sides.
§ 3.27 p.m.
§ Lord Marsh
My Lords, perhaps I may follow the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, in terms of defining the word "federalism". To avoid misunderstanding, I give the definition which I shall use in the course of my speech. I see "federalism" as a unified system which has a unified monetary system, which probably has a common currency and eventually perhaps a central bank, and which also has an agreed social policy and an agreed political purpose. That seems to be what people in the European Economic Community are aiming for, and I do not blame them for that.
I was slightly saddened by the reference of the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, with a great deal of whose speech, to my surprise, I agreed—because we have now been on separate sides for about 30 years—to the deterioration of Anglo-German relationships. I do not believe that there has been a deterioration in Anglo-German relationships. That may be because I speak as a proud Anglo-Saxon and the noble Lord speaks as a Celt, but I do not make too much of that. The fact is that German paranoia and sense of guilt about the 12 horrendous years between 1933 and 1945 are already exaggerated and a baleful influence among a particular generation in 860 Germany. It is not true that there is much anti-German feeling, certainly among the people I meet. The extent to which some Germans carry this burden, almost—I do not intend this to be offensive—wallowing in it, is not good for Germany and therefore cannot be good for Europe.
Anglo-German relations are dominated, as are Anglo-French relations, by a desire to see the United Kingdom firmly locked into the European Union. I do not see anything wrong with that. It makes a great deal of sense. A major step in that drive to political union is monetary union and a single currency. The other members of the European Union are not dependent on British participation in the EMU or a single currency. But those are the two essential ingredients to cement what will probably be the most extraordinary federation, if it comes to pass in full, that the world has ever seen, and we have experienced a number of federations. The former Soviet Union had its problems; in Yugoslavia, it was not all plain sailing; in Canada there is the question of Quebec. The situation is hardly perfect. Federations produce serious problems, and I believe this one would be very complex indeed.
So while the establishment of a European federation, which is, I believe, the aim, is not dependent on British participation, the logical nucleus of such a body would be France, Britain and Germany. Germany, however reluctantly—I believe that it would be very reluctant—would find itself primus inter pares in that triumvirate. I see no problem with that. In terms of geography, demography, economic power and history, Germany is the major power in Europe. It would make a lot of sense for the French and Germans to be the prime movers in trying to bring Britain into the Community as best they can. They know that there are very different views in this country.
I am surprised to find that there are so few Labour speakers today. Europe is predominantly Catholic and I am told that virtually, but with one Welsh exception, the entire Commission light candles every night for the election of a Labour Government as the development which will take the British into the Community. When the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, winds up, I hope that she will put them out of their misery and confirm that or reject it.
Equally, British economic prosperity is not dependent on membership of the EMU and to argue otherwise is to fly in the face of all the evidence. For the past 30 years both Labour and Conservative governments have presented the European debate as primarily about a series of economic arrangements to which only unbalanced xenophobes can seriously object. That was never the case and it is obviously not the case now. It is not an easy thing to say, but I believe that of all the countries in Europe involved in the last war, Britain's civil population emerged with less damage than anybody else. The Germans not only had, in common with France and Belgium, armies fighting across their countries and back again, but in addition Germany had the humiliation of becoming an international pariah. For those people, from the very beginning it was a political association of European states and a very close one, 861 designed to prevent a recurrence of something which I do not believe will recur, largely because of the power of the Atlantic alliance rather than any European union.
It is now "make your mind up" time. We are on the eve of an election where the question, "Are we in or are we out?", will be a major issue. Any concessions which we will get, and any concessions we have got, are purely transitional. The key argument for joining will be the less than inspiring cry, "We can't afford not to join." That is fatuous on an issue of such size. This is a politically stable, relatively affluent market of 60 million people, 30 miles from the European mainland. A trade war in modern society would be a nonsense and it would not happen, not least because of a number of groups, such as Mercedes Benz, Audi, Renault and Citroen, and the French winegrowers and Italian cheesemakers, who might have views on the matter also. There is no time to list in this debate all the other reasons for staying outside but it is a perfectly sensible option if we so wish.
With the permission of the House I would like to quote the objective view of inward investors of Noriko Hama of the Mitsubishi Research Institute who is reported as saying,Like it or not, the world is a more seamless and borderless place".The article in which those remarks appear goes on to say that the more Europe pushes towards further integration, the greater the risk of serious economic and political dislocation, which would be the biggest threat to such investment. Noriko Hama is then quoted as saying,Britain's inability to become wholly European may count as its greatest asset where inward investments from Japan are concerned".I can give other quotes from the same area because, unlike "little Europeans", for the past 20 years I have earned most of my living outside this country. I have also been paid in several different currencies, I am pleased to say.
The Fabian Society's motto is, "The inevitability of gradualness." So far we have drifted along, slightly behind, but always in the general direction. We have had a few concessions to meet our domestic political problems but, by the very nature of the organisation, they are, and can only be, temporary. Britain is a significant element in European political, economic and defence issues. It is in our mutual interest that we remain good neighbours, but being a good neighbour does not necessarily mean that it is a good idea to share a bed. As a good Anglo-Saxon I believe that it is high time that we made a clear decision. I have no doubt at all that that decision should be maximum co-operation in matters affecting defence and trade, a strengthening and widening of NATO, and a polite but friendly rejection of the membership we are being offered.
§ 3.36 p.m.
§ Baroness Seear
My Lords, over the centuries it has been a major, if not the major, concern of British foreign policy to make certain that there was no overweening power in Continental Europe. If one traces our history back through the centuries, that was a dominant factor long before the time of Napoleon, who, I suppose, is the 862 example which springs most readily to the minds of most people. Today what is the equivalent of Napoleon in Continental Europe? Surely it is the German-French alliance inside the European Union.
We were all very pleased to welcome President Chirac last week, but I imagine that no one believes that, if he had to make a choice between his links with Germany and his relations with us, it would be the United Kingdom that he chose. That great central alliance and power in Europe is there as a dominant feature of today's politics. That is what we have to take into account when we are talking about our relations with Germany today, which I understand is the subject of today's debate rather than questions about monetary union and what is going on inside other areas of the European Union.
That desire to be part of the European Union and to see that its strength is balanced between what happens inside Europe and what happens outside is surely of major importance. We need to be certain that we can hold our position against that strong organisation. Let us remember that it is all the stronger because today it is Germany and not the United Kingdom that is the favourite friend of the United States. So it is the strength of Germany and France that we have to add to the considerable support of the United States which we have always been too inclined to assume would always be favourable towards us rather than to any other of the European countries. We need to ensure our position and there is no time to be lost in doing so.
As my noble friend Lord Jenkins made clear, Chancellor Kohl has always been a good friend to us and a very good European, wanting to see Germany linked to a strong European Union and not being a loose cannon in Europe, as it could so easily be. However, we must remember that Chancellor Kohl belongs to a generation which is passing away. There is another Germany, a younger generation, born after the Second World War. It is perhaps not so easy for Members of your Lordships' House who remember the Second World War well to realise that it is a different Germany now. We can exaggerate the dangers of that change, but we would be foolish not to recognise that there has been a change. Although many people in Germany continue to be as strongly pro-European and as strongly opposed to the revival of nationalism as those in the generation of Chancellor Kohl, it is true that there are others in Germany.
I do not want to follow those who have spoken excessively nervously about the revival of nationalism in Germany. A great deal has been done by the existing German Government to ensure that that revival is checked and reversed. However, those elements still remain. If we want to make our peace with Germany and want to return to being at the centre of the European Union, combining with Germany and France, now is the time to do it. We cannot leave it for another generation because we do not know what will happen. Of course, rationally, Germany should continue as at present, but the one thing above all else that we know in politics is that purely rational arguments never dominate. Emotional factors can so easily enter the equation.
863 We do not know what the next generation will be like, so now is the time to make sure that our position is as it should be and that we, like other countries in Europe, are inside the Union and have a close and good relationship with the Federal Republic of Germany. We have established good relationships in the past, but we are now undoubtedly allowing them to slip away as voices in this country, which are given far too much publicity in the press both here and in Europe, undermine the work that has been done in the past. It may not be possible to make that change and to reverse the current situation if we leave it too long. Now is the time to do that.
It should not be too difficult because there are many forces on our side helping to make it easy to return to a good relationship with Germany. We have many German students in this country. They come here willingly and I am delighted that so many of our universities, both old and new, are developing joint schemes whereby students spend a year at a university in Continental Europe and become Europeans. It rubs off on them. They do not do it self-consciously; being European comes naturally to them as they study alongside fellow students from Germany and other countries in increasingly multinational universities. The right conditions exist for developing the kind of relationship that we should and could have with Germany if we set about it in the right way. However, egged on by many people who should know better, we seem to be rejecting that opportunity.
But what a price we pay for not having good relations with Germany. If we want an example of the high price that we are paying, let us look at what has happened with beef. As I understand it, when we first knew about our beef problems, we did not try informally to tell our colleagues in Europe about what had happened, our state of knowledge and the difficulties that we faced. We did not use the informal channels which are open to friends, but only to friends and to those who have had a good relationship over the years.
As my noble friend Lord Jenkins said, when he was President of the EEC and had difficulties with one or other country around the table, he could go along to the Germans apropos the French or to the French apropos the Germans and say, speaking of the other, "Get them off it. Get them to do what is needed to be done". But did we do that when we knew about our beef troubles and when we must have foreseen how great the difficulties would be? Did we have friends to whom we could say, "Look, we are in a hole. Can you help to get us out of it?"? Surely that is the way in which foreign policy should be conducted. If we had done that, would we now be having our current difficulties with the other countries in the EU, even though the Commission is on our side and has said that there should be a change in that policy? We do not have the friends. Although I do not like the phrase "cultivating friends" because it sounds as though one does it for what one can get out of them, the fact remains that we have not cultivated any friends. It is useful to have friends, to be able to use them informally and to be ready to be used informally by them.
864 We have not done that and we are paying the price. That is just one example of the extreme folly of failing not only to develop, but to hold on to, our friendships. I say "hold on" because we had those friendships once. Those friendships are valuable and if we do not grasp them now, we may not be able to do so in the future.
§ 3.45 p.m.
§ Lord Beloff
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, to whom we owe this afternoon's debate, is well aware that I am a greater admirer of his literary talents than of his political judgment. The noble Lord's literary talents were most recently exemplified in his magnificent life of Gladstone. In the course of that biography, the noble Lord tells us of the events which led to Gladstone being called, "an old man in a hurry". Chancellor Kohl at the moment is a little younger than Gladstone was at the time of the Home Rule crisis, but the description might equally be applied to him. He is after all trying, as the noble Lord, Lord Marsh, pointed out, to create in Europe, including this country, a single European state—whether it be called "federal" or a "united states of Europe" is beside the point.
The interesting thing is not that Chancellor Kohl should be trying to do that—it is perfectly legitimate for the head of a great nation to have a foreign policy—but that he himself says—the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, echoed this—that he is doing it not because he wants to dominate Europe but because he believes that the Germans themselves need to be contained in some way in a larger Europe.
The problem that worries me is why Chancellor Kohl should be so suspicious of his own countrymen. A few years ago when, as has just been pointed out, relations between this country and Germany were very good—I remember the early Königswinter Conferences—we would not have thought of questioning the new Germany's commitment to peace and democracy and to repairing some of the damage that it had done during those terrible years. On visiting Bonn a couple of times not all that long ago to represent the Anglo-Jewish community in a meeting between German Ministers, including the President, and representatives of the Jewish communities in Europe, I was impressed and moved by the steps that the German Government were taking to ensure that such events were never repeated on their soil.
So, one begins to wonder what has suddenly triggered that suspicion of the Germans by their own leadership and how seriously we should take it as an argument for creating a European superstate. Is it really necessary that that should come about in such a way? I can think of one reason—although it might not be the reason that would commend itself to Chancellor Kohl. We are told that one of the objectives of creating such a European state or federation is that it should have a common foreign policy, yet looking at recent events one country which has clearly stood out against the common foreign policies of the western countries in at least two instances is Germany. The problems which it has caused by its independent action in relation to the former Yugoslavia have often been discussed in this House.
865 I should like to draw noble Lords' attention to another area—relations with Iran. Iran is probably the most dangerous country in the world at the moment. If it acquires nuclear weapons, that will be without question the case. The United States and Britain—our relations with the USA are much closer than the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, endeavoured to imply—and many other countries have done their best through economic pressure to try to bring an end to that appalling and aggressive regime.
Germany has stood out against that. It has preferred to keep its valuable commercial links, and it has gone even beyond that in, as now has become public, relations with the Iranian security services which pass beyond the bounds of decency and which of course have been a major obstacle to clearing up the appalling affair of Lockerbie.
It may be that Chancellor Kohl does not think that Germany, left on its own, is likely to pursue the foreign policies which would commend themselves to a Europe of nation states. But since he was in power, at least on the surface, during that period and presumably knew what his foreign ministry and intelligence agents were doing, it is hard to take that seriously. Is it that he sees some defect in the German national character? Does he believe that Germans are likely to run to extremes whenever some issue touches them deeply?
That is my impression of the beef crisis, to which inevitably we have been asked to turn our attention today. It is clear from what one reads of the Germans' reaction to this minimal danger to their health from healthy foods, including that produced in their own country, that if one touches some kind of a nerve in the German people, particularly if, after all, the Government are the Government who have persuaded them of those dangers, suddenly the Germans go off the deep end. That may be another reason for Chancellor Kohl's haste. It is a reason—in addition to those advanced by the noble Lord, Lord Marsh, with which I find myself in agreement—for saying that Chancellor Kohl is wrong; that it is possible to have friendship between Britain and France, France and Germany, Germany and Britain; that a Europe of co-operating nation states is still a possible goal and that Britain is right to insist upon it.
§ 3.53 p.m.
§ The Earl of Longford
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, said that he admired enormously the literary gifts of the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, but did not have the same high view of his political judgment. The noble Lord will of course forgive me for returning a similar compliment. I have undiluted admiration for him as an orator. He is a tub thumper, but the best sort of tub thumper. I wish we had more of them here, because it would liven things up. However, when it comes to political judgment, I should have thought that he would have to defer to the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, who, after all, has held high positions. The noble Lord, Lord Beloff, has operated in the academic sphere.
When I listened to the noble Lord I remembered when I was Minister for Germany 100 years ago, or whenever it was. An eminent man whom I admired enormously 866 said to me, "You know, my wife and I never liked the Germans. We once had a maid we were very fond of, but she was an exception". So I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, will make an exception on behalf of that German maid, or at least one other German person.
I shall return to the subject of the debate. I wish that the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, had been Foreign Secretary in 1950, a time referred to, incidentally, by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy. At that time I was visiting Dr. Adenauer. I had the name of Minister for Germany, but I was visiting him as Minister of Civil Aviation. He overrated my importance, which was in fact small. It was at the time when he was forming the coal and steel pact with Mr. Schuman. He said to me, "Do go back to Mr. Bevin and plead with him to join". He did not realise that I cut no ice in that quarter. But that is what Dr. Adenauer was pleading for in 1950.
In fact at that time the official line taken by the Treasury in a famous memorandum was that to join Europe at that point would be to tie ourselves to a corpse. That takes us back some time. The House will forgive me if I use these few moments to reminisce because I was Minister for Germany. Looking around the Chamber I cannot see anyone else who held that position. I was not all that important. I was responsible nominally for 26,000 members of the Control Commission. I was Minister for Germany in 1947 and 1948. It was a traumatic period.
The crucial event in 1947 did not occur in my sphere, but at the Council of Foreign Ministers when the world broke into two halves. That was in December 1947. I was sitting there as an acolyte slightly behind Mr. Bevin's chair. I acted for him once when he was unwell. The atmosphere in 1947 might be best understood if I retail an anecdote. In December 1947 he took me to a dinner at the Russian Embassy being given for Mr. Molotov, the Russian Foreign Secretary. Mr. Molotov, Mr. Bevin and I were sitting there. Mr. Molotov, through an interpreter of course, courteously asked me, "Have you studied Karl Marx, Lord Pakenham", as I called myself at that time. Through the interpreter I said, "I am afraid that I have studied Karl Marx. I have lectured on him as a university teacher, but I am afraid I am not a Marxist".
Still courteously, Mr. Molotov said that it could hardly be expected that a good Marxist would be found in the House of Lords. Mr. Bevin knew the answer to that one. He answered back and said—I shall not try to copy his accent or form of speech—"The Members of the House of Lords are the only people in England who have the time to read Karl Marx". One might have thought that that would have settled Molotov. However, he was indomitable. He came back through the interpreter and said, "Mr. Bevin ought to study the works of Marx in the commentary of Hilferding". Again, Mr. Bevin, who I am sure had never heard of Hilferding, was undefeated. He said, "I have read Hilferding and I found him tedious". So that disposed of Mr. Molotov.
Noble Lords will not be surprised to hear that the conference broke up soon afterwards. It was not on a British initiative, but an American initiative. Mr. Bevin 867 was rather reluctant. Once the conference had broken up he was active in promoting the Atlantic alliance. All that happened during my year. The policy was changing the whole time almost without my being able to know about it. The change was going on.
I was sent out to operate the Potsdam policy which treated Germany as a criminal country, but beneficent influences were at work. As time went on they gained a foothold. The noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, paid a tribute to the work of the education department. There were the Churches and also those who helped to organise the new German trade unions. In the end a great work was performed.
One does not know what would have happened had Russia not proved herself to be the enemy of the West. I said to one high Foreign Office official on one occasion, "You seem to be making plans for a pension scheme for the Control Commission for the next 25 years". He said, "I should be very sorry if I did not think we were going to be there that long". That was the atmosphere at the beginning: keep down the Germans for 25 years. However, as time went on all that disappeared.
I went out to Germany influenced by great men like the Bishop of Chichester, the late Victor Gollancz, and Dick Stokes, preaching a message of forgiveness. I told the near-starving children of Düsseldorf that they were right to be proud of being German. When I returned to the Foreign Office some high person said he hoped I would not mind if next time a public relations officer and also a new interpreter were attached to me. My message was to be redefined the next time I went to Germany. After I ceased to be Minister for Germany and became Minister of Civil Aviation a high Foreign Office official showed me a memorandum which began by saying that we could not hold back the Russians with one hand and hold down the Germans with the other.
I come to what I believe to be the right approach to Germany. I quote the last words that Dr. Adenauer said to me in 1948. I was accorded permission to go out to Germany to attend a conference on Europe at The Hague. The leader of the conference was Winston Churchill. Afterwards, I asked Dr. Adenauer whether he had spoken to Mr. Churchill. He said that he had not and that he had been told that Churchill had said that Germans were either at one's throat or one's feet and at the hour of his country's humiliation he would not impose himself upon him. Churchill went up to him and shook him by the hand and Adenauer never forgot it. Irrespective of party—whether it be Dick Stokes or now, the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, or Winston Churchill—there is only one approach to the Germans: one should hold out the hand of friendship.
§ 4.1 p.m.
§ Lord Harding of Petherton
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, for initiating this debate. I apologise in advance to your Lordships for not speaking on such a high note as previous speakers. I agree entirely with my noble friend Lord Beloff, who made a brilliant analysis of the situation. I also agree with the noble Lord, Lord Marsh.
868 I should like to speak about Anglo-German relations on the grounds of having served with the Army in Germany on three different occasions, albeit 28 years ago. However, I believe that the same situation exists now, although there are not quite as many British troops in Germany today. I first went to Germany in 1947. I and another newly-commissioned officer travelled by train from the Hook of Holland to Delmenhorst near Bremen to join my regiment, the 11th Hussars. I had never seen such devastation as I saw in every town and city through which I passed as a result of Allied bombing throughout the war. That has a significant bearing on the way in which the Germans look at war and conflict. Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne—all the cities—were virtually destroyed and flattened. No building was upright. Unless one saw it one would not believe it. That is why I believe the Germans are anxious to avoid any kind of war and Chancellor Kohl wants to anchor Germany to the rest of Europe in a very close federal state, or whatever it may be called. The German people are frightened of their past and frightened that some among them may behave in the same militaristic, xenophobic and nationalist way. We must try to convince them that they should not lose confidence. Germany is a nation state like any other in Europe and they should have more confidence in themselves.
Most of my National Service with the regiment was spent in Berlin, to which my squadron was sent soon after I arrived. The officers' mess was in an ordinary house in a street near the ex-German police barracks where the squadron was billeted. When I left to go to Oxford just before the airlift I well remember one of my German neighbours rushing into the street while we were loading up the jeeps to implore us not to go. She believed that the Allies were abandoning her and all Berliners to the Russians.
After Oxford, I became a management trainee with Imperial Tobacco. Nine months later the company and I discovered that I was not suited to that career. I was lucky enough to obtain a regular commission in the same regiment. I served in Germany for three periods, two with my own regiment and the third as a staff officer at divisional headquarters. On both occasions the regiment was stationed at Hohne. It was a big army camp three miles from the town of Bergen-Belsen. The site of the concentration camp was in woods about two or three miles away in the opposite direction. I went there once but did not take my wife. It was a horrible place. It is said that no birds sing there.
As armies in foreign countries do, we lived our own lives and were mostly divorced from the local population. That still happens in Germany. However, I met Germans in many walks of life. I had learnt German at school and could carry on some kind of conversation. I got to like many of them and admired their well-known qualities of order and discipline. I do not have those qualities to any degree and I admire those who possess them. I saw and talked to more Germans than many soldiers, as I was secretary of the regimental draghounds for two years. I had to spend many hours of my spare time seeing German farmers in the Alter valley, which has countryside like ours with fields of grass and hedges, and persuading them to allow us to 869 ride with our hounds over their land. German land tenure at that time (and perhaps now) was very fragmented. Each farmer owned a field here and there, which meant that I had to see as many as a dozen farmers for one day's draghunting. Most of them were splendid, hardworking people, invariably friendly and cheerful. I do not remember receiving a single refusal once they realised what was being asked of them. It was obvious that they thought the English were mad but were too polite to say so. Their own draghunting took place in the forests over very small made-up jumps going in single file by seniority.
On one occasion another cavalry regiment had taken over the draghounds from us. The village concerned was Ahlden where King George I incarcerated his first wife, Sophia Dorothea in the local castle. Later he divorced her and married his second wife. The new secretary had not done his homework. When we arrived with our horses and hounds we were confronted by complete opposition. It appeared that the jägdmeister—the local man who oversaw the shooting, with whom I had dealt—had died. The new one, who was the landlord of the pub, was totally opposed to any draghunting. The noble Duke, the Duke of Norfolk—I have not seen him in his place today—was then Major-General Miles Fitzalan-Howard, our divisional commander—and a very good one. We wheeled him forward to negotiate. He managed to persuade the Germans to allow us to ride round the course without the hounds. The locals objected to the hounds because they believed that they would disturb the game. They did not object to the horses.
My noble friend Lord Beloff put it far better than I am able to. The problem is that Germans do not have confidence in themselves as a nation. They fear their own past and that the worst features of it will return. I firmly believe that they have nothing to fear at all. Their future and that of the rest of Europe would be far more secure if they looked upon themselves as a nation the same as any other European nation. The European Union would have a far better base and a far better future if they did so. Trying to develop a federal state of Europe—or whatever you call it—is a terrible mistake. Not only would that be a terrible mistake—as I think the noble Lord, Lord Marsh, implied, as did the noble Lord, Lord Beloff—but it would undoubtedly cause more friction and, in my opinion, would lead to political and economic disaster.
§ 4.10 p.m.
§ Lord Annan
My Lords, many people have said today that our relations with Germany are excellent. But nothing in my view impedes good Anglo-German relations more than the British press. I do not speak simply of the tabloids; the quality press in this country has declined enormously. That press consists largely of the opinions of columnists. The news is slanted to deliver personal jibes rather than information. Indeed, the only newspapers in English here which I think are worthy of the name of serious newspapers seem to me to be the Financial Times and the New York Herald Tribune. 870 What is alarming is the pervading anti-German tone of the press, whether it is the Daily Telegraph, which uses Euro-scepticism as a bludgeon against the Germans, or the Daily Express seeking to increase its circulation and thinking that the best way of doing this is by bashing Germany. Let us consider the Independent, which gives space to articles by Conor Cruise O'Brien. When the Wall came down, O'Brien suggested that it was only a question of a few years before a bust of Hitler would be seen in every German window. More recently he suggested that as Germany, like all European countries, was faced with an immense growth in the numbers of old-age pensioners, Germany would probably treat those old-age pensioners as it had treated the Jews and institute mass euthanasia. No one thought it odd that this self-righteous newspaper gave space to such nauseating rubbish.
The treatment of Chancellor Kohl and of his speech at Louvain is characteristic. Let me say at once that it was a clumsy speech. The Chancellor is not a man of exquisite finesse. But when he said that unless Europe united we might face another world war, the press deliberately misrepresented him and interpreted that as a threat, as if he were saying, "Unless you do as Germany orders, you will be attacked". No one who has followed German foreign policy since the days of Adenauer can possibly believe that that is what he meant. Indeed, even the writers of thrillers, bereft of Smersh and the KGB these days, have reverted to the days of that great classic, The Thirty-Nine Steps. Frederick Forsyth in his recent thriller suggests that we are perfectly right to fear a Fourth Reich.
Our commentators rarely ask what problems Germany faces; and they are of course immense problems. German policy has been governed from 1945 by remorse for the bestialities of Hitler's regime. That is why no country can compare with Germany's record of giving asylum to the dispossessed, even though this policy leads to the occasional skinhead attacks on foreign workers and may indeed be in part responsible for the policy—which, like the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, I deplore—towards Iran. The number of old-age pensioners is of course augmented by the increase in foreign workers. The problem that Germany faces is of course a grave one which we all face. Some 42 per cent. of the population of Germany will shortly be pensioners. In Ireland the figure is 27 per cent. The noble Earl, Lord Longford, will take comfort from the fact that the Pope's prohibition on birth control at any rate brings one blessing, and that is a balanced population in which there are enough young people to support—at any rate in theory—the old-age pensioners.
This long-term problem and the short-term problem of rebuilding what used to be the East German Republic—not to speak of recreating Berlin as the capital city of a unified Germany—are going to keep Germany preoccupied for years to come. But we in Britain still continue to ask: has Germany changed its nature and are the Germans a different people or will we once again be faced with a bullying authoritarian Germany determined to seize the hegemony of Europe?
871 The state created by Bismarck died in 1945. In a sense the Weimar Republic was an extension of that state in which the Kaiser and the Chancellor ruled through a narrow-minded but highly efficient civil service, with little parliamentary input. Whatever else the Nazis did, they destroyed the old elites in Germany. The aristocratic general staff of the army and the old style conservative bureaucracy perished. The Germans call 1945 zero hour, meaning the end of an era—a black hole into which the past just disappeared. Historians here will agree that that never happens in history. However, the machinery of state changed in Germany, and in particular the decentralisation of powers to the Land governments bears little relationship to the Wilhelmine State.
The elites have also changed. There were always stories of Nazi party members still in positions of power, but de-Nazification was not cosmetic. In the British zone alone 350,000 Germans were excluded from office. Moreover, the discontents that engendered Nazism have passed and the vision of the world, the Weltanschauung, of Germany today has utterly changed. The Germans remember what Nazism was like and the hatred of Germany felt by the countries they occupied or fought in World War II. They know that that hatred has not totally subsided and is still latent. That is why they behave as they do towards other countries. They behave often with great tact, particularly towards the State of Israel. They also know—certainly in East Germany—what communism is like. The Stasi in East Germany was just as efficient as the Gestapo. It is little else but an insult for our journalists to suggest that German culture, and indeed human nature, have not changed.
There is one final point that I wish to make. Germany, like ourselves, is cutting public expenditure. Among the victims are exchange schemes for the young and foreign language courses. The Goethe Institute has been particularly badly hit and in our schools once again there is a downswing in the numbers learning German. One of the triumphs of the British Control Commission in Germany after the war was Robert Birley's determination to build—as he put it—bridges between the two countries through exchange visits, of which Wilton Park was the best known institution and Kõnigswinter was the successor. Let us not allow these initiatives to perish, for it was those initiatives of building bridges with Germany that have made our relations with that country (even now, with the beef crisis) and the feelings ordinary people have towards it more enlightened. It is that initiative of building bridges which makes our understanding of Germany and our feelings towards it more enlightened. We are better informed about that country than we are about any other country in Europe.
§ 4.20 p.m.
§ Lord Lyell
My Lords, first, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, for giving us this opportunity to discuss what I believe is a particularly important subject. Secondly, I want to declare an interest. I look across the Chamber and see the beaming face of the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe. Alas, the noble Baroness, 872 Lady Serota, is not in her place. From the all-party notices which appear, it can be seen that there is a free German class for Members of your Lordships' House. The noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, and myself, being Scots and accountants, believe that that is far too good an opportunity to miss.
It is interesting that 42 years ago, at the college led so superbly by the headmaster, Robert Birley, who was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Annan, my noble friend Lord Forteviot and myself made our first faltering efforts to learn the German language. That has not necessarily led to my speaking in today's debate. I am still stumbling along trying to make some progress.
The noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, and myself, being, as I said, Scots and accountants, have three watch words: to look, to learn and to listen. I looked at aspects of trade with Germany for the last year for which records are available. It is interesting that we had exports of £15 billion and imports of £18 billion. Therefore, the Germans are our second most important customer in that regard. Of course, the surplus is in Germany's favour, but there are many reasons for that.
The noble Lord, Lord Marsh, referred to aspects of trade. They are a key element of this debate. There are many other fascinating cultural, literary, scientific and sporting links with Germany into which I do not have time to delve. I see the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, gloating about what may happen in June but he can develop that matter when he speaks. I am sure that many noble Lords with experience of visible and invisible trade will be speaking in the next debate. However, a number of experts will also be speaking in this debate.
In relation to both visible and invisible trade with Germany, I wonder why the City of London is filling up with enormous German financial institutions. The Financial Times at least once a week contains massive advertisements in German for jobs with the Deutsche Bank, the Dresdner Bank and Landesbank. That very powerful and competent nation appears to believe that a great deal of talent exists here in London. It knows of our great tradition of "We can—and now".
As regards visible trade, I wonder why BASF, one of the major German chemical companies, and Bayer have very large production facilities here in this country. As the noble Lord, Lord Butterfield, will know, the pharmaceutical industry believes in very strong trade links between ourselves and Germany.
As an accountant I look at the enormous engineering, scientific and technological skills we have in this country. In Germany I compare Baden-Würtemberg and Swabia with Bavaria or Munich and Stuttgart. Seven or eight years ago I paid my first visit to the city of Stuttgart. It has great engineering traditions; for example, Bosch, Daimler Benz and Porsche. However, the entire city was very green. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, will know that the other magnificent product of Stuttgart is its most delicious wine. It will take on anything that can be found in France. I know. I have sampled it; I am a great fan of it.
Munich has Messerschmitt Bõlkow Blohm, the large aerospace company, and BMW. That particular company has very close links with the British motor 873 industry. Why is it that Professor Pischetsrieder, who runs BMW, has established such close links with Rover? Is it because he is an Anglophile, which he certainly is, or is it that he believes that it will be a very fruitful working relationship with the Rover and Land Rover groups? First, the Rover group has extremely good products and a good brand. Secondly, there are very good production facilities here. Thirdly, there is the question of costs. The noble Lord, Lord Marsh, referred to that matter. Fourthly, it is an excellent example of successful international co-operation between two nations. That is not just taken for granted. I ask your Lordships to consider what happened with the massive integrated get-together between Renault and Volvo—France and Sweden. That did not last long and was not successful. But the Rover and BMW project is successful and will go from strength to strength. Indeed, that is the thought of Professor Pischetsrieder.
Several speakers have referred to what the Germans call Rinderwahnsinn—BSE. I thought that it might be a major element in our exports of about £16 billion to Germany. But surprise, surprise! I discovered from the Ministry of Agriculture that in nine months of last year this country exported 776 tonnes of beef which is roughly 1,000 tonnes of beef per year. We exported something in the region of 60,000 tonnes to France. Therefore, is this massive war of words between representatives of this country and Germany in relation to beef anything more than a storm in a soup cup?
I promised the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, that I would obtain some literature, not the type referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Annan, although he mentioned also the Financial Times. However, the literature I have obtained is certainly at the same level and perhaps lower than the tabloids to which he referred. Those tabloids have been running a campaign against beef. They have been saying that BSE will cause all sorts of harm. But that has damaged deeply the German beef industry. Therefore, they cannot blame all their problems on us.
I enjoyed listening to the powerful speech of the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins. However, I wonder whether he is seeing ghosts where none exists. I believe that in five, six, or 10 years' time, BSE will turn out to be no more than a ripple in Anglo-German relations. But those five, six, or 10 years will leave a mark—and I mean no pun—on the beef industry in my own county of Angus, which is so well known to the noble Lord, Lord Mackie, as well as in Germany. However, on the basis of trade and all our other links, I believe that Anglo-German relations are strong and that they will become much stronger over the next 10, 20 or 30 years.
§ 4.28 p.m.
§ Lord Mayhew
My Lords, I put my name down to speak in this debate with a single aim in view; namely, to try to persuade the noble Baroness, when she comes to reply, to explain the Statement made by the Prime Minister in the Commons yesterday. There has been very little talk of that; yet it has great relevance to the subject we are discussing.
I agree very much with the positive statements about Anglo-German relations that have been made. I have a long and quite intimate experience of Germany and the 874 German people. But I have always felt—and I thought it was the Government's policy too—that unity in Europe must be built organically from the bottom up out of popular demand and out of experience of joint action on problems which must be solved jointly. That is what I thought. It can never be built from the top down, and I am profoundly suspicious of ideology and dogma in that matter. Indeed, bearing in mind the tides of European opinion today, the European Union might be wise to be content with, as I believe M. Santer said about the Commission, doing less and doing it better. That is my view.
If so, the action announced yesterday by the Prime Minister, if that is also the view of the Government, is a very strange way in which to proceed. We cannot tell exactly what the threats are and we cannot tell how they will work, if at all. We know that the Government do not propose to withhold their contributions to the budget and we know that they are not proposing to absent themselves from meetings. Where decisions are not taken by majority vote, our voting may be eccentric but it will not be significant. Presumably the one immediate threat is that the Government may veto decisions on which unanimity is required. Can the noble Baroness say whether that is in fact the position?
The implications of the situation are remarkable. Does it mean vetoing resolutions irrespective of the merits of the issue? Does it mean vetoing resolutions which might benefit Britain or which might benefit friends of Britain upon whom we shall rely to help us over the beef issue or to support our long-term objectives in Europe? It seems inconceivable that that could be the Government's intention. Otherwise, I suppose that the further threat is of sabotaging the September talks. Is that the Government's intention? I believe that we should know. It makes no sense to me at all and seems extremely foolish.
Unless the Minister can explain a little more the pros and cons of what the Prime Minister proposes, we are bound to wonder whether it is part of his European policy or whether it is designed to gain some degree of unity in the discredited party which he leads. I must say that that seems to me the most likely explanation. The polls suggest that electors believe that this is the worst government we have had since polls began. The electors would be right. The Prime Minister knows that he must do something and do it quickly. It seems that he has fallen back on the disreputable resource familiar to political leaders over and over again in history—namely, the resource of xenophobia. That enables him immediately and successfully to rally behind him all the xenophobic Members of Parliament and, no doubt, some of the xenophobic vote.
With the election coming, the Prime Minister might be said to be following the old Millwall football tactic: when losing at home, call down the hooligans from the terraces. Alternatively, as expressed in a more dignified manner by The Times today:By choosing confrontation, the Prime Minister has for the moment united the vast majority of his party".Yes, he has indeed done so. But what a way to do it—to choose confrontation with our European neighbours. Unless the Minister can reassure us to the contrary, it 875 seems to me an historic example of a political leader putting the unity of his party before the interests of a nation.
§ 4.33 p.m.
§ The Earl of Onslow
My Lords, I am a Euro-fanatic. I love Europe, I love its civilisation and I read much of its history. However, I see the present method by which it runs our affairs as a complete disaster: a ridiculously protectionist agricultural system which pays rich men to do nothing; the subsidy of poisonous tobacco to third-world countries; a fisheries policy designed to destroy the fish stocks in the North Sea; combined with a desire to overregulate everything that can be overregulated from the size of buses to what kind of oak trees we can plant. These alone show that the present arrangements are a disaster and that they must be reformed, in the old liberal sense, root and branch. When my father died in 1971, the first practical thing that I did when I came to your Lordships' House was to vote enthusiastically for the accession treaty. I regret to say that I could now no longer do so.
For most of modern history—and by "modern history" I mean since the Reformation—Anglo-German relations have been excellent. We have only to think of Prince Eugene, Frederick the Great, Marshal Blucher, the Hanoverian dynasty and the Saxe-Coburgs. As the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, will know, Gladstone showed great sympathy to Prussia when the Duc de Gramont, with whimsical irresponsibility, encouraged by an hysterical French public and a bossy empress, declared war upon her in 1870.
Bismarck and Disraeli's statesmanship and co-operation saved European peace at the Congress of Berlin. On the other hand, France, from Richelieu's cynical bribing of Gustavus Adolphus to break Wallenstein's siege of Stralsund to Blücher's exhaustion of his entire French vocabulary on meeting Wellington at La Belle Alliance with the immortal words "Quelle affaire", which is all that he could say at the end of the battle, has invaded Germany 30 times in 200 years. Not surprisingly, that produced a Germany which was, by the end of the 19th century, insensitive and vulgar.
After the defeat of that strutting and aggressive vulgarity in 1918—we must remember that, at that time, the world as it had been known for a thousand years from the Rhine to Vladivostok had collapsed into chaos and disorder—something happened in Germany: she constitutionally elected by proportional representation with 43 per cent. of the vote a vegetarian who banned foxhunting. No, I am not talking about a liberal democratic county councillor; I am talking about one of the two most evil men that the world has ever seen. I do not have to exaggerate, nor is it possible, his wickedness nor to outline the wickednesses to which he led Germany. But it is also impossible to exaggerate the superb behaviour of Germany since the war. She has set a shining example of contrition and retribution and has demonstrated the great Lutheran benefits of hard work 876 and good behaviour. She has justly been completely forgiven but, as my noble friend Lord Beloff said, I do not think that she believes it herself.
France, with a certain "Richelieuian" cynicism, thinks that, with a superior French intellect and a German angst, she herself can govern Europe. Chancellor Kohl, I regret to say, seems to encourage that attitude. That is not the way forward. It would be much better to look at the concept of the Council of Europe as practised by those great Foreign Secretaries, Castlereagh, Metternich and Talleyrand. That concept demonstrated how governments of different political complexions could work for the general peace and progress of Europe: a Europe with which we could trade, with which we could be friends, to which we could travel and, above all, in which we would not boss each other about.
So my plea to Germany is this. Forget your guilt as others have forgotten theirs. Remember with pride your contributions to painting, industry, architecture, chemistry and philosophy, let alone music and the Reformation. Even remember the great von Moltke is reputed only to have smiled twice: first when he was told that his mother-in-law was dead; and, secondly, when he was told that Metz was impregnable. Incidentally, he also translated The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon into German.
The attitude that Germany is adopting at present causes Euro-stress. We should encourage her to adopt the attitudes that I propose because, then, Euro-stress will be less. Unless we have less Euro-stress, the whole arrangement will collapse into recrimination. Europe has forgotten war: it is not going to happen. Louvois will never again sack the Palatinate; Murat's reserve cavalry will never again pursue the beaten Prussians across the Landgraffenburg; von Bredow will never again lead another death ride of Mars la Tours, nor von Kluck turn before Paris; nor will Sepp Dietrich lead a dying lunge of exhausted Panzers through the Ardennes. Europe and Germany must realise that we have all grown out of the habit of war. Then and only then will we truly be at ease with ourselves and be able to get on with a true, genuine and useful co-operation of European states.
§ 4.40 p.m.
§ Lord Taylor of Gryfe
My Lords, first, I must declare an interest. I receive a monthly cheque from the Deutsche Bank as my pension. However, my association with Germany is much lengthier. I went to Germany originally as a youngster and joined the Young Socialists (Sozialistische Arbeiter Jugend) in the last days of the Weimar Republic. Despite our propaganda and our marching up and down, we failed to prevent the ultimate tragedy of Nazis coming to power.
I returned to Germany during the Nazi period to organise the illegal escape of some leading Socialists who at that time had to be escorted over the border; and I returned once more to Germany at the end of the war as an official of the United Nations relief organisation, UNRRA, in the rebuilding and reconstruction of the defeated Germany.
877 We had learned a great deal from the experience of the previous post-war period. We had squeezed the Germans by the Versailles Treaty and that, coupled with the Depression of the 1930s, meant that Germany suffered seriously and Nazism was the consequence. In the post-war period of 1945, we had the benefit of the Marshall Plan, but we had also recognised that in order to defeat the new tyranny of communism from Russia we had to help rebuild a democratic Germany.
In the period from 1945, Germany has had a remarkable recovery. It is not only an economic recovery. Germany has established its credentials as a good European partner and as a generous contributor to the international community. The absorption of the DDR five years ago was a remarkable achievement and a remarkably stabilising influence on the structure of Europe.
Germany inherited a broken-down economy. The wage rates in the DDR were 35 per cent. of those in West Germany; they are now 74 per cent. of the rates. Pensions were 40 per cent. of the rate in West Germany; they are now 70 per cent. That is a remarkable economic transformation and a vast contribution to stability in Europe.
From Yugoslavia alone the Germans have taken in over 400,000 refugees. In this House we have been much concerned with debating immigration and refugees. The contribution of the Germans by absorbing refugees is quite remarkable. I am sure that when the noble Baroness replies to the debate she will acknowledge the contribution that Germany has made in overseas aid. Something like 361 billion deutschmarks have been contributed by the Germans to overseas aid.
In contributing to the revival of the economies of Eastern Europe, each individual German, man, woman and child, has contributed 360 deutschmarks for reconstruction in Eastern Europe. The equivalent figure for the United States is 36 deutschmarks. That represents 1 billion deutschmarks and is 45 billion more than the remainder of the Western European countries. That indicates that Germany is not a great monster thirsting for power but a prosperous economy contributing to the overall stability of Europe; and for that we are indebted.
Reference has been made to the acknowledgement of guilt in connection with the treatment of the Jewish community during the time of Hitler. The Germans passed a law which provided that they would meet the claims of Jews who had been persecuted during the time of Hitler. Under this legislation 4.4 million claims were submitted, and 99.9 per cent. of the claims of the Jewish people have now been met. When one considers that those claims are being met by a generation which does not remember the persecution of the Jews, it indicates that Germany has acknowledged at least some of the debt of those awful years.
In the debate inevitably we have talked about Europe. There is a danger, in particular as a result of the beef crisis, that there will be an anti-European campaign as part of the election. Some Members of Parliament will certainly use that xenophobia to create a false patriotism in order to save their seat. However, we in this country 878 seem to imagine that we are the only people who treasure our traditions: that we are the only people who cherish our culture. Other countries are just as proud of their institutions and cultures; and they are able to co-operate together in a European community.
Someone wrote in the Economist this week that,in a global economy of independent elements individual voices have to sing in harmony if they are to command an audience".I believe that it is our duty to sing in harmony with Europe. Those who do not accept the implications of Internet, international communications and the need for greater communities should walk into Whitehall and listen to the young people with backpacks speaking German, French and various European languages. They are Europeans. Many of us still think of Europe as being "out there". But we are part of Europe. We must accept and rejoice that we are part of Europe.
§ 4.48 p.m.
The Earl of Clanwilliam
My Lords, we must all be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, for introducing the debate, in particular with his knowledge of the problem. I was struck by his reference to the allied military government in the post-war years. It is perhaps ironic that it was the allied military government who established the Länder which are the basis of Federal Germany today.
Noble Lords on all sides of the Chamber have touched on the history of our association with Germany since the war. However, I believe that we are discussing the future. Our future association with Germany is inextricably linked with European monetary union—the only issue which drives Germany and this country apart.
Historically, Germany has been perceived in an historic role of expansionism, hidden perhaps in the clothes of protection from its own follies. Expansionism is not unique, but it may be somewhat out of fashion. Was it Bismarck who said that it did not matter who ruled France, a monarch or a president, so long as Germany controlled the economy? Is that not still the ambition today?
We are in close association with Germany. We have close ties with it commercially, in trade and with our Armed Forces. Our sailors work and train together. We heard from the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir John Slater, at a meeting the other day that there is friendly rivalry tinged, I believe, with the memories of previous naval occasions. We have problems with the Euro fighter all because of the Germans' inability to share the costs. As President Chirac kindly and generously acknowledged, our military, naval and air forces are probably the most effective units in Europe. I believe it is the judgment of our military leaders that the Atlantic alliance is of paramount importance, while the rest of us in the United Kingdom certainly do not want an inward-looking Europe.
European monetary union reflects the urge to establish monetary control, regardless of the achievement of political cohesion. Indeed, the plan is to establish political cohesion, force majeure, by enforcing some federal system. The noble Lord, Lord Marsh, described it. But if we are to go down the road of the 879 Länder, we will have to divide ourselves into Wessex, Mercia and Anglia and go back to the old days. That is not on, so we cannot have that form of federalism.
Relations are governed by perceptions. While the noble Lord, Lord Annan, excused Chancellor Kohl for his remarks about war, nevertheless it is offensive in both uses of the word and seems to evidence a sense of paranoia about Germany and its own ambitions.
Indeed, one has to ask: if there is to be a war, who will start it? Such talk does not contribute to sensible debate or to confidence in Germany's good faith. It is propounded that political union will follow monetary union as night follows day. That is not so and we have heard from my noble friends Lord Beloff and Lord Dacre how such a policy has been doomed to failure time and time again in Europe.
Our relations with Germany would be remarkably improved if the Germans could understand such reservations as are held sincerely by ourselves, not only by many, if not a majority, in this country but also in many other countries throughout Europe. For such a policy to mature, there must be an overwhelming desire on the part of voters for a change. The polls show that that is not so. A majority of one is not enough. As we know, a majority of one can allow an elected parliament to survive to the next election, and, as we shall shortly show, through one parliament to the next.
But EMU, on the other hand, is immutable and can only result in coercion of fiscal policies and social unrest. It is something that the Germans do not seem to accept. They appear to ignore it while they press on with their old concept of a Europe dominated by a monetary system. It is perhaps too late for them to turn back voluntarily. My fear is that this plan will be forced upon the peoples of Europe and that will be a greater danger to peace in terms of internal revolutions than we can at present imagine.
Our good will towards Germany is unlimited, but if the Germans persist, we can only watch from the sidelines in despair as they drive the juggernaut through. Far better that our reservations be considered and not ignored by them.
§ 4.54 p.m.
§ The Earl of Sandwich
My Lords, I speak from a few personal experiences rather than from the breadth of expertise shown by other noble Lords. I can, however, declare a special interest. Today would have been my father's 90th birthday and I have therefore looked to him for guidance. He was a prominent anti-Market campaigner, but also very pro-German and one of the first ex-service MPs to visit Germany at the end of the war. He remained in contact with German parliamentarians and regularly attended Kõnigswinter. I was privileged to join him and Richard Crossman on a memorable East German visit in the bleak mid-1950s, becoming perhaps the first and last English boy to have received an ovation from the East German parliament, the Volkskammer. I inherited from both my parents a fondness for Germany and German music. I went on to 880 study German at Eton and Cambridge and then worked for several months in a publishing house in Munich. I felt then and feel now a citizen of Europe.
One result of all this was that I reacted strongly against my father's anti-Market sympathies. But anti-Market is not anti-Europe. I always respected the distinction he made between nations and community, between Europe and its constituent parts. That, of course, is at the heart of today's debate. While there are doubtless a few extreme chauvinists left, even in this House, those who oppose the EU in principle are often nostalgically concerned to preserve a national identity which no longer exists, at least not in the form they remember or would like to perpetuate. For this reason it is sad to see in the BSE crisis a glimpse of the old nationalism we have left behind. I tend to agree with the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, that this may even be detectable in the Prime Minister's Statement yesterday, though I believe that it belongs more to public relations than to his conviction.
We heard again this week that the Germans are concerned for their health. And so they should be; and so should we be. But there is no point in our moaning that the Germans are taking this crisis too seriously when we know that our own government scientists put out the health warning in the first place. Surely we must recognise that we need steadily to improve standards in the whole of Europe and not to complain, as I heard a Minister complain on Monday, that we had come to expect more solidarity from our European partners.
Germany, in fact, has come to represent high standards of excellence in many fields. So has this country, but many of us prefer to buy VWs and BMWs because of their reliability and track record or to pay a little more for the likes of Mosel or Gewürztraminer because of their high quality. The same is true of health and hygiene. Perhaps we will have to pay a little more for standards in this country. Of course, the Germans have their own problems, especially in the east, in reconciling standards. But we have to come to terms with the fact that some of our beaches and some of our methods of animal food processing may have fallen below reasonable standards. I have a personal problem with drinking water, where I think that the Commission may have pushed us too far. But that is the whole point of Europe. We have the advantage and opportunity of making comparisons among friends and allies. Of course, these are all sensitive matters, but we must beware of reacting too swiftly to informed criticism, which can easily be misread and can lead to prejudice.
I am one of those who feels that Germany deserves a little more respect and understanding than it currently receives from this country, especially since reunification. As the noble Lord, Lord Annan, said, some of the tabloid comments are little short of insulting, though I doubt that the Germans take them too seriously; and they should not. But I wonder whether the Minister has any suggestions for improving our educational knowledge of Germany, perhaps through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office or the British Council, in addition to the schemes and many cultural exchanges which exist. I regret that more of us are not speaking German, as the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, said, 881 or visiting Germany's wonderful attractions compared with those of other countries. My theory is that we think that the Germans are too like us. When on holiday, we search for something more mysterious and different. Yet there is plenty of mystery and interest to be found over there. Like the term "British", which for some reason is not applied to this debate, "German" is a generic cover for a variety of different regional and minority cultures.
It is just because we have so much in common with Germany that we are able to work together so constructively in many fields. Many noble Lords have experience of industry, the Army and diplomacy. In my subject area of overseas aid there is a lot of collaboration going on between government and non-government agencies based in our two countries. Not long ago I wrote a report on church aid agencies in Germany and the UK for Christian Aid. There are hundreds of aid programmes throughout the world where ecumenical resources are now shared and many decisions are taken jointly. The central Asian region and Eastern Europe are areas where the German churches' experience is also proving invaluable.
I hope that the ODA will further develop its excellent relations with the BMZ, the German Development Ministry, which has in itself been a valuable example of co-ordinated European foreign policy. The gradual and controversial involvement of the German military in humanitarian assistance has been an important new element in European defence and aid co-operation. One plea I would make to the Minister is to study the ministry's attitude to non-governmental organisations more closely. Germany has been very generous with funds for organisations, both in volume and as a proportion of its gross national product.
The Government are quite reticent about relations with Germany. I am sure that in overseas aid and trade there has been something close to harmonisation, and it may be time for us to acknowledge that more publicly. Federalism in the sense in which Chancellor Kohl uses it, as the noble Lord, Lord Campbell, pointed out, is all about using the ingredients in the pudding, not about the pudding itself.
On that culinary note I will close with just one word from Bavaria which could by itself help to remove any current difficulties and prejudices, though I recognise that it may also be divisive. Its power, its Vorsprung, must never be underestimated, and I hope that even in their present plight our farmers and consumers will give it the place of honour it deserves. I commend it to the Prime Minister for lunch. It is, of course, die Weisswurst—the Bavarian white sausage.
§ 5.2 p.m.
§ Lord Pearson of Rannoch
My Lords, inevitably much of our debate has covered our relationship with Europe, which Germany seems to want to be much the same thing as our relationship with Germany. There really is not much doubt about the sort of meaning that Herr Kohl and his party put upon the word "federal". In April 1992, for example, he said that the Maastricht Treaty had laid the foundation-stone to realise the dream of the founders of the European Communities, which 882 was to create a United States of Europe. That is a dream which many of us believe he clearly holds today. It is that sort of federalism which is not what most of us in the United Kingdom want. We want a Europe of nation states, as other noble Lords have mentioned. But the drive to full European integration is now such that many of us seriously believe that we should be better off outside the European Union altogether.
Here we really must start to distinguish between the damage which we suffer from membership of the European Union and the benefit we derive from access to its single market. The noble Lord, Lord Marsh, mentioned the views of Mrs. Noriko Hama of Mitsubishi; I would mention similar views held by Mrs. Haruko Fukuda, the deputy chairman of Nikko Europe, who says that our inward investment comes to us because we speak English, we have attractive corporation tax, good labour relations, low inflation and—yes, my Lords—access to the single market.
So the question becomes: would we lose that access if we left the European Union but stayed in the European Economic Area, for example like Norway, which is booming, or were even to be out altogether like Switzerland, which now exports three-and-a-half times more per capita to the European Union than we do, even ignoring her banking side?
The next question becomes: would our European competitors really gang up on us if we left the Union but wanted to keep our access to the market upon which overseas investment into this country depends? I submit that they would not do so. They would be prevented from ganging up against us by the GATT, which we signed collectively as members of the European Union but also individually as sovereign states. And the foreign exchange markets would soon show them the error of their ways if they cut off their noses to spite their faces and jeopardised their massive trade surplus with us.
If the beef saga has done anything, it has woken up the British people as to how powerless their Government have become to defend our national interest in Brussels. That leads some of us—an ever-increasing number—to believe that the Treaty of Rome must therefore be radically revised, and if it cannot be radically revised, we should leave it.
I remind your Lordships that the treaty ordains that our agriculture, environment, transport, European culture and relationship with the single market are subject to the qualified majority vote. It is worth spelling out what the terms of that qualified majority vote are. There are 87 such votes among the 15 member states: 62 are required to carry a motion and 26 to block one. We have only 10. So, for example, British buses are in trouble because only Sweden, with 4 votes, and Ireland with 3 votes, support us against a directive which is designed to make them uncompetitive internationally. That gives us only 17 votes, not enough to block the directive. There are many other examples of similar cases where the qualified majority vote cannot help us to protect our commercial interest.
Likewise, the 62 votes necessary to change the ruinous common agricultural policy are unlikely to be available because France, with 10 votes, Italy (10), 883 Spain (8), Belgium (5), Greece (5), Netherlands (5), Portugal (5), Denmark (3) and Ireland (3) will not agree, or are most unlikely to agree, to forgo its largess, which is largely conferred by Germany with 10 votes, Sweden with 4 and ourselves with 10. The treasonable common fisheries policy is even more entrenched because unanimity in the Council of Ministers is required to change it; and neither Spain nor Holland is likely to agree to do so.
Much store is set in modern European politics on the word "widening" or "enlargement". But if the common agricultural policy cannot be revised, the Community cannot afford to admit new members unless they are allowed to join on varying terms or through the variable geometry referred to by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary on Friday. To pretend otherwise seems to me to be rather cruel to the countries that wish to get in.
In view of the firmer stance taken by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister yesterday, I put it to my noble friend on the Front Bench that we shall soon have a golden opportunity to put all this right—because our European competitors will need our consent to delay their timetable for monetary union. It must be obvious now that the countries of Europe are not going to meet the convergence criteria. We have the word of Herr Nõlling in The Times yesterday as the latest example of doubt in that regard.
So we could allow our European competitors to play with what I regard as the dangerous toy of monetary union at their end of the nursery, but only if they give us all our toys back to play with at our end of the nursery. If they do not agree, we really should go and join the grown-ups.
§ 5.10 p.m.
§ Lord Thomson of Monifieth
My Lords, to put it mildly, this is a timely debate. As my noble friend Lord Jenkins confessed in his opening remarks, we put down this Motion a week or two ago because we felt it right to devote part of our precious debating time to our relations with Germany, at a time when we believed that great damage was being done to Britain's national interest by the xenophobic attitude of parts of the Tory press and Tory party. We did not foresee the dramatic worsening of the beef crisis that took place this week with the blocking minority of European Union vets preventing progress being made towards lifting the ban and the consequent rush of blood to the Prime Minister's head in the other place yesterday. That, I am happy to say, has not added xenophobia to the tone of your Lordships' debate, as one would expect, but it has certainly added to the xenophobic tone of the press today. When noble Lords see tonight's Evening Standard, they will find that that particular infection has crossed the Channel and the press on the mainland of Europe are equally hysterical about Britain's position at the moment.
As for the beef crisis which has intruded on our debate today, it seems to me that what I regard as the perverse judgment of the European vets at their meeting 884 on Monday shows every sign of being overturned in a week or two by the normal processes of the European Union. I do not feel that it was wise of the Prime Minister to aggravate mad cow disease by engaging in a dose of mad politician disease. We understand—nobody better than those of us who have served in Brussels—the sense of frustration that he and the Government feel. But patience rather than petulance would have been the wiser course for the Prime Minister to have taken.
I prefer to look back to the time when the Prime Minister first took office. I remind noble Lords that he said how proud he was that the very first speech that he made outside the United Kingdom was when he was with Chancellor Kohl in Bonn. In that speech he made his famous commitment:I want us to be where we belong—at the very heart of Europe, working with our partners in building the future".Sadly, since then Chancellor Kohl has been allowed to replace Jacques Delors as the prime scapegoat in the demonology of the Eurosceptics. As the noble Lord, Lord Annan, said, Chancellor Kohl, who is perhaps not the greatest orator in the world, has had his speeches very badly distorted by sections of the British press. Personally, I was rather touched by what he said on the steps of No. 10 Downing Street after his last meeting with the Prime Minister. He made the disarming confession, which a number of us may share, that he had been moved as a 17 year-old by the rhetoric of Sir Winston Churchill at Zurich calling for a united states of Europe. But, he said, as a European, he knows that Europe and America are different. He said:We're still British and French and Germans and Swedes. It's not the same as being from Texas, or Minnesota, or Oregon, or New York".He added:Never in my life have I been a supporter of a European superstate".It is important to put the true views of the German Chancellor on the record.
The truth is that after the crimes of Nazism and the horrors of the Holocaust, the West has been singularly fortunate in the character and quality of the post-war German Chancellors. I mention Adenauer, Brandt and Helmut Schmidt. I well remember Helmut Schmidt making the speech of the day at a Labour Party Conference when the Labour Party was going through the same Eurosceptic traumas as the Conservative Party are presently suffering. In German leaders we have enjoyed a succession of great Europeans. We could have done with more of them in this country. For it is great Europeans rather than great nationalists that the world needs for the next century.
The current anti-German hysteria owes a great deal to the legacy of the instinctive anti-Germanism of the noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher. My non-parliamentary colleague, Professor Alan Watson, has recently written a fascinating chapter on the relations between the former Prime Minister and Chancellor Kohl. It includes her extraordinary remark when celebrating the 40th anniversary of Anglo-German friendship through the Kõnigswinter Conferences, referred to by a number of noble Lords. She mentioned to some of the most 885 distinguished Germans there that it would be another 40 years before anybody in this country would trust Germany.
We all respect the noble Baroness's conviction politics, even when we disagree with them, but there is no doubt at all that in relation to Germany they have been disastrous. The present Prime Minister bravely tried to make a fresh start when he took over, but the tide of jingoism in his own ranks has been too much for him.
There has been some mention of the psychology of the Germans and their sense of insecurity. I am always rather puzzled by what I regard as the curious lack of self-confidence in this country which lies behind the patriotic bluster about Germany and indeed about closer European integration generally. We did not lack self-confidence when we had to stand alone in the Second World War. We did not show any lack of self-confidence when Prime Minister Churchill gave his own vision of a united states of Europe or when he proposed a British-French union. I listened with great interest to the noble Lords, Lord Taylor and Lord Annan, who said that after the war we played a leading part in shaping the new democratic structures which rose out of the ashes of Nazism. After all, we had plenty of constitutional expertise in planning federations throughout the Commonwealth. There were never any hang-ups about the "f'-word in the Empire. It seems curious that we are so deeply hypnotised by it today. Indeed, we were a good deal more successful in the post-war years in contributing to modernising German government and German trade unions than we were in modernising our own institutions.
The debate has come down to the question of the best way for Britain to conduct her European foreign policy during the early years of the next century. The noble Earl, Lord Onslow, said that Europe has forgotten wars. Tell that to the citizens of former Yugoslavia!
The noble Lord, Lord Beloff, and other noble Lords suggested that the right way to go forward would be to return to a Europe of co-operating nation states. I prefer the advice given to us by my noble friend Lady Seear. I believe that the only serious way forward for Britain is to be a leading and influential participant in the multilateral alliance of the European Union. France and the other members of the European Union need Britain firmly inside the Union as an active participant to balance the population and economic strength of a united Germany. The balance of power in Europe, so long the concern of British diplomacy, as my noble friend Lady Seear said, now has to be managed inside the institutions of the Union.
The noble Earl, Lord Onslow, mentioned the classic concept of the Concert of Europe of our Victorian predecessors, whom he greatly admired, and rightly so in the circumstances of the time. But the Concert of Europe now takes place inside the Council of Ministers.
The Government have for the moment set themselves on a new policy of non-cooperation in the European Union—we await some details from the Minister to the questions asked by my noble friend Lord Mayhew. We can only hope that on both sides (on our side with the 886 policy of non-cooperation and on the side of our partners with their ban on British beef) there may be the swiftest possible reconciliation of these matters before the Government find themselves further down the slippery slope so warmly recommended to them by the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, a moment or two ago.
Of course, we can opt out of the European Union in due course. We can do it either totally or by salami-style slices of opt-outs. But the result would be to leave us as an offshore island off the mainland of Europe—indeed, as an offshore island of Ireland when it came to it.
The truth is that the Franco-German reconciliation is at the heart of Europe today. It is not going to break up and they and those around them will go ahead on one timetable or another and create a single currency, create economic monetary union and create a closer integration. The question is whether we are going to be a major influential participant in that or simply stand on the sidelines having to react to decisions taken by others that will greatly affect us. That will be a pathetic option for a great country like Britain that still has a great deal to give the world.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ Baroness Blackstone
My Lords, like other speakers, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, for introducing this debate. But I must apologise for arriving a little late. I was caught in the most horrendous traffic jam, though I just about managed to refrain from road rage.
I welcome the debate both because of its topicality and importance and because of the personal interest in and affection that I feel for Germany, having spent time there learning German when I was at school. Indeed, one of the greatest disappointments of my life was my failure to win a travel scholarship to go to the University of Heidelberg, something I believe the Minister achieved.
Germany occupies a vital position in the world. It is easily the largest and most economically powerful country in the Community. Unsurprisingly, it is now considered by the United States Government and most of their senior advisers to be the most important European ally—a point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Seear. Its geographical position and economic power make it the most influential West European country in Eastern Europe—the former Soviet Union. It has chosen to build on its strength in relation to those countries through its investment policies.
While Germany is not currently a permanent member of the Security Council of the United Nations, any discussion of enlargement of the permanent membership—and there has been plenty—invariably includes Germany as a major contender for inclusion. The German constitution currently precludes the deployment of the German armed forces in conflicts outside Germany. But that may change, just as there may be changes at the United Nations. Meanwhile, Germany is a powerful member of NATO and a major contributor to it as well as to the cost of conflicts such as the Gulf War.
887 In those circumstances, Anglo-German relations are of the utmost importance and any deterioration in that relationship would be a cause for serious concern. It is, however, through our membership of the European Union that our relationship with Germany takes on greater significance, as a number of other speakers have indicated. And I have no intention of discussing the beef crisis other than strongly to endorse what the noble Lord, Lord Thomson of Monifieth, said regarding the value of "patience rather than petulance".
Before turning to Europe I should like to say something about the economic position of Germany, which has not been covered in this debate as much as I thought it might have been but which is very relevant both to our bilateral economic and trade relations and to future developments in the European Union.
It ill becomes members of the party opposite to crow about recent German economic difficulties. In their 17 years in power the Conservative Government can hardly claim to have made a resounding success of their handling of the economy. I will concede that they have achieved low levels of inflation in recent years, though at considerable cost to employment. But, if low inflation is to be the beacon of economic success to which we turn, the Germans have a better record than the United Kingdom throughout the period and still have a lower level than the UK today. Moreover, in spite of recent difficulties, German output is still considerably higher than that of the UK, so that on average standards of living are 15 per cent. higher for a citizen of Germany than for someone living in Britain.
In spite of the fact that growth in Germany was only at 1.9 per cent. last year and is predicted by most analysts to be rather lower this year, few doubt that the German economy will recover—for not only is Germany the largest European economy; it is also the strongest, in spite of current difficulties. Criticisms can of course be made of rigidities in the German labour market and the high cost of the social welfare system. However, high levels of investment in German industry and one of the best trained workforces in Europe have helped to sustain the underlying strength of its economy.
Predictions about levels of German exports this year, even from the usually rather gloomy Bundesbank, are positive and even last year Germany's substantial visible trade surplus had returned to pre-unification levels. My noble friend Lord Taylor of Gryfe referred to unification and its importance in building stability in Europe as a whole. Given the enormous bills that were involved in unification, in which West Germany reunited with a country of 15 million people with hardly a piece of industry or machinery in it which was not obsolete, it is not surprising that the German economy took a big knock. If its service sector expands, as many Germans now realise must happen, unemployment will fall and higher growth will follow.
While some members of the Conservative Party and some sections of the Tory press take pleasure in exaggerating the economic decline of Germany, German institutions remain strong enough to buy British companies in both the manufacturing and service 888 sectors. No one taking part in this debate could have forgotten, even if the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, had not reminded them, that quite recently BMW took over Rover—the last major British-owned car company in the UK—and the Deutsche Bank bought Morgan Grenfell, to give but two examples. Indeed, Britain is the most important destination for foreign investment by German companies.
Nor are economic troubles in Germany in our long-term interest. For all the talk about the importance of the Far East to UK exports, our exports to the rapidly growing countries of the Pacific Rim, after growing for some years, still only amounted to 5.9 per cent. of the total last year compared with 57 per cent. to the European Union, of which 13.1 per cent. was to Germany alone. Germany is our most important trading partner, topping the table for both imports and exports, and more important even than the USA. Incidentally, Germany is also France's biggest export market.
So low growth and unemployment in Germany invariably affect us adversely, given the significance of our trade relationship. Clearly Germany's economic situation matters a great deal in the wider European context. If it is unable to meet the Maastricht criteria within the timetable, economic monetary union is unlikely to happen. However, Chancellor Kohl's determination to move ahead to greater integration, including a single currency, is indisputable. As we saw yesterday, a package of social and economic reforms has been introduced in Germany to try to ensure that it meets those criteria. Speculation that it will not looks a little premature and is just another sign of wishful thinking by the British Government and their supporters.
Other speakers referred to Chancellor Kohl's speech in Belgium a couple of months ago when he suggested that,the question of war and peace in the 21st century really hinges on the progress of European integration".That is a bit plonking perhaps, but did it really justify the torrent of hostile comment in this country, led by the former Cabinet Minister John Redwood, who accused Herr Kohl of "looking backwards" and "living in the past"?
The implication of some of the cruder attacks was that Germany was threatening us with war if we refused to comply with further integration. In fact what Chancellor Kohl was expressing was what all those great German Chancellors to whom the noble Lord, Lord Thomson of Monifieth, referred, from Adenauer on, and indeed the founding fathers of the European Union and many others have always believed. As the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, and other speakers have pointed out, what today's German leaders fear is that the size and strength of a unified Germany will breed resentment in Britain and the rest of Europe. Binding Germany into a more integrated Europe is central to their strategy for dissipating such resentment. Paradoxically, in this country it seems to have done the reverse, at least among the Conservative Right-wing. Perhaps I may ask the Minister whether the Government accept the reality of German power and the potential benefits of Germany being locked into a partnership 889 with the rest of the European Union on current terms. Will she also dissociate herself from the remarks of her right honourable friend Mr. Redwood?
The enlargement of the European Union will shift the centre of Europe to the east, with Germany at the heart of Europe geographically, politically and economically. The countries of Eastern Europe frequently look to Germany, as their nearest Western neighbour and the Western European country with by far the closest economic ties, for support on NATO membership and meeting the conditions of joining the European Union. In this respect enlargement can only enhance Germany's influence.
Beyond Europe, the Foreign Secretary has floated the idea of a revised Atlantic community. I suspect that one of the motives on the Government's part is to placate the Euro-sceptics in their midst. The Minister may say otherwise. But whatever the motives, Germany would be at the heart of such a community. No American administration is likely to see it otherwise.
If this analysis is correct, Germany must be central to British foreign policy. We need to work hard to foster good relations. It should not be difficult. Herr Kinkel, the German Foreign Minister, recently made clear the importance he attaches to good relations with us and in particular to Britain playing a central role in Europe. He picked out the need for Britain to play a leading part in shaping European foreign and defence policy. If we are to rise to this challenge, a more positive stance in Europe and a more realistic one on such matters as majority voting will be needed.
There are bound to be disagreements from time to time. But when they occur, as most recently on BSE, the orgy of Hun bashing indulged in by sections of the British press is inexcusable, as the noble Lord, Lord Annan, and the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, have already said. I recently sat next to the German Ambassador at dinner, who had been justifiably shocked by the virulence of these attacks. It is bad enough from tabloid journalists. But when Tory MPs make tasteless remarks about Germans getting "too big for their jackboots", it is even worse and can only encourage xenophobia and anti-German sentiments. Some of the vulgar stereotyping that takes place is regrettably based on envy and the failure to come to terms with our own relative economic failure and national decline. Some people, I fear, have still not quite forgiven the defeated Germans for their economic success since the Second World War.
I hope the younger generation will see things differently and that more of them will spend time in Germany, as I was lucky enough to do. When I was there not only did I learn to appreciate Weisswiirst but also Weisswiirst mit Kartoffelsalat and Sauerkraut. These exchanges must go on. As the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, rightly said, we have to build on relationships from below and not just from above. While we may be unable to speak their language, they speak ours. There are rich educational and cultural ties. As the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, mentioned, more and more German students now spend time studying in Britain. There is then a strong base on which we can build a 890 constructive relationship with Germany. If we fail to build that relationship, we will only hasten our national and international decline.
§ 5.35 p.m.
§ Baroness Chalker of Wallasey
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, for raising the important subject of Anglo-German, or as I prefer to say British-German, relations in the House today. Some of your Lordships will recall that at the end of a debate earlier this year when we were discussing mainly European Union matters I felt moved to speak firmly about the very negative attitude towards Germany that had been expressed. I find that those who set out to stir up people's negative attitudes do themselves and our country harm. Along with the noble Lord, Lord Annan, who spoke of the British media in such forceful terms, I think it is high time that we started looking at what we stand for and what we want and stop pulling other people apart for what seems to be the sake of it.
I feel so deeply about this issue because I went to Germany as a young student in 1961. I was in Berlin when the wall went up and I was evacuated back to Britain. Because I have seen Germany through these past 30 or so years perhaps I can take a little more pride in the things that have gone right, a good deal of it, as the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, said, as a result of the tremendous help the United Kingdom gave Germany in the post-war years. We have nothing to reproach ourselves for in having done that and everything to be pleased about. It is a pity that at certain times we did not take the same lessons ourselves in our efforts to help Germany over some of her difficult developments. Therefore, I welcome this opportunity to review the state of our usual bilateral relationship with such an important partner in Europe.
I was rather disappointed at times by what the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, said. However, I shall put that on one side because I know that he wants our relationship with Germany to improve and our relationships within Europe to be good. My noble friend Lord Campbell of Croy judged the relations very accurately in what he said in his contribution. He paid tribute, although not in quite so many words, to the so-called "quiet alliance" between the United Kingdom and Germany which continues to function as well as ever. I was surprised that the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, spoke of the Chirac state visit but did not mention the annual British-German summit which took place as recently as 29th April in London. There the Prime Minister and Chancellor Kohl had useful and wide-ranging talks on a number of issues, many of which have been raised in your Lordships' debate today.
Their summit, like its predecessors, was the culmination of a series of meetings between Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Ministers of Finance, Ministers of Trade, Ministers concerned with the economy, Ministers of Defence and also Ministers of Overseas Development. Herr Spranger and I meet on a very regular basis and find that the meetings, which enable 891 us to discuss detailed policy, are an essential part of our working together in the European Union. I know that the meetings my colleagues hold with their opposite numbers are similarly helpful. That goes on, unsung maybe; but it is nevertheless vitally important for the kind of relationships which we should have with our leading partner in the European Union.
The talks of my right honourable friend the Prime Minister focused very much on the future development of the European Union. The debate tonight should be, and is, about British-German relations, but perhaps I may say a word or two about European Union and then leave the subject alone, for it is one that we debate with great frequency in this House. I believe that Germany deserves the time that I have left to speak tonight.
When we were talking about the future development of the European Union with our German colleagues, it was quite clear that they share our views on subsidiarity. They share our views on the importance of employment and are indeed quite jealous of the position that we now hold, with one of the highest rates of adult employment of any major country in Europe. They also share our views on the enlargement of the European Union.
We can agree that the UK and Germany will continue to work together closely in all areas in order to make advances. That goes on all the time, but one would not have thought it at times from listening to the debate this evening. We all recognise that the German Government are much more enthusiastic about EMU than we are, but our summit on 29th April was a welcome further opportunity for the Prime Minister and Chancellor Kohl, as friends, to discuss the UK position and the German position.
That summit brought out the closeness of UK and German views on defence issues, too. The discussion covered the adaptation of NATO structures and the whole question of NATO enlargement and how it can be in the interests of both countries and in the interests of Europe and a wider peace. Therefore, I believe it is clear that defence co-operation with Germany is not only deep but wide-ranging. For his part, Chancellor Kohl underlined the importance that he attaches to Germany's relations with the United Kingdom, to the UK's role in Europe and also to his excellent personal relationship with the Prime Minister, which continues.
These meetings, along with the frequent and intensive contacts that I have already mentioned which regularly take place at all levels between British and German Ministers and between other politicians and officials, serve to demonstrate the strength of the ties that bind our two nations and the breadth of agreement that we enjoy on a wide range of issues. That is right. It is important and it must continue. It is something to which all of us involved, not only in the field of foreign affairs but in the reality of Europe and the future of this country, must pay due attention.
I have noticed how critically the commercial relationship between the United Kingdom and Germany has been built up by the BDI, which is the 892 German equivalent of the CBI, through contacts which have been made by the Anglo-German Industrial Foundation and through numerous contacts between trade organisations in both countries working together through chambers of commerce and the Handelskammer. There is a major network of relationships in trade and commerce. Now, with the growing investment by Germans in the City of London, we see a whole new financial network building up. That is right and proper: it is European, it is positive and it is good for Britain and Germany.
In 1994 the United Kingdom exported goods to the value of £17.7 billion to Germany and imported £22.7 billion-worth. If we compare this to the figures for 1973, when trade in both directions totalled only £2.2 billion, it is clear how this aspect of our British-German relationship has blossomed in the intervening years. Germany is the UK's largest market worldwide for visible trade. The bilateral investment, which has been referred to several times, is impressive.
I understand that there are now over 900 United Kingdom firms with a presence in Germany, and over 1,500 German firms, employing some 137,000 workers, have investments in the United Kingdom. Like Britain, Germany is a firm believer in open markets and a liberal international trading environment. We work closely together wherever we can in the European Union and the World Trade Organisation to pursue these common objectives. That is the way in which we can help not only our own countries but the overall improvement of trade on a worldwide basis.
However, the British-German relationship does not rest solely on trade and contacts between governments. That is why a number of your Lordships have underlined the importance of contacts and friendships between ordinary people which are equally, if not more, important. There are dozens of town-twinnings with Germany. Next year it will be the 50th anniversary of the twinning arrangements with Germany. There are about 8,000 Germans studying at UK universities but, sadly, not as many British students in Germany: there are only about 2,500. At school level there are no central statistics. Sadly, German is not a language which is much used these days in schools as it was perhaps in my day. I believe that that has something to do with the excellent teaching of English in German schools and the determination of every young German to speak English at every opportunity. There are about 20,000 school children involved in school exchanges each year.
I was very interested in the reference to Sir Robert Birley's Youth Bridge. It may interest noble Lords to know that the Anglo-German Association has started the Jugendbrücke again and it is working extremely well. We want to arrange more exchanges between young people, because where the exchanges are well built they are foundations which will prevent the problems which some people fear ever occurring again.
893 Another reference was made by the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, to the KÖnigswinter Conference, which has been taking place every year since 1950. Some would say that I am a little biased having attended the conference on and off for the past 20 years. I pay tribute not only to the founders but to people like Sir Frank Roberts and so many others who have gone on insisting that people from all walks of life, leading their own communities in their countries, should come together on an annual basis. It is a conference funded by both governments and business, where politicians, public servants, academics and others with an interest in British-German relations get together for stimulating discussions about issues of importance in both countries. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, that the conference has changed over the years, but it is none the worse for that. Some excellent discussions took place again this year in Cambridge.
Despite this close and solid relationship, it is a sad fact that there are negative stereotypes and prejudices which are sometimes played up by the press. That does not apply only to what is written about German people, although, as the noble Lord, Lord Marsh, said, they seem to suffer in our media more than most. We have to do our best to counter this negative phenomenon. At the summit in 1994 the Prime Minister and the Chancellor agreed to a range of co-operative projects designed to improve the understanding of the UK in Germany and of Germany in the UK.
The noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, asked me about raising the awareness of Germany, perhaps through the Foreign Office and the British Council. I am pleased to say that the progress of the 1994 initiative is the result of intense co-operation between the Foreign Office, the Auswärtiges Amt, the German Federal Information Office and the UK Central Bureau for Educational Visits and Exchanges. For almost a year now a German links officer has been working at the central bureau. She has put UK and German schools in touch with each other, and that is the beginning of a healthy new partnership. The directory of British-German co-operation has already been published and widely distributed both in this country and in Germany. I can commend it as a source of great information for anyone interested in doing business with Germany.
There were a number of references about the future of this country within the Community and to this country's relationship with Germany and that between France and Germany. We very much welcome the good relationship between France and Germany. We believe that it is vital for the stability of Europe. However, a good German-French relationship is not incompatible with good UK-French relations or good UK-German relations—and nor should it ever be so. We are not in competition with each other, as seems to be thought in some journals. Indeed, with both Chancellor Kohl and President Chirac here in the past three weeks, we have had more good opportunities to bring together the views of all three countries. As well as trying to cultivate good bilateral relations, we are actively looking for areas in 894 which we can co-operate on a trilateral basis because we believe that that is fundamentally important for the success of the European Union.
One good example of that is the UK's recent decision to collaborate with France and Germany in the development of the new multi-role armoured vehicle. That in turn will facilitate the involvement of this country in the Franco-German Armaments Agency and although nobody wants our co-operation to relate only to armaments, it is a good sign of sensible co-operation which can really work.
The noble Baronesses, Lady Seear and Lady Blackstone, both mentioned the United States and the relationship of the United States with Germany or with others in Europe. All three countries in Europe want a vigorous transatlantic partnership. It is essential for all three countries that we have that if we are to achieve good, sound foreign policy objectives. One of our top priorities is to sustain and enhance that.
My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary has decided to set up a new UK/US/German trilateral forum of parliamentarians from the three countries. I am certain that that will become quadrilateral in time because there is always the other dimension with France to be considered. There is no doubt that the initiative, with the support of the German Government and US Congressional leaders, which was announced by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister and Chancellor Kohl last month is a very important further step in our relations. It will take off with the first meeting towards the end of June in this country. On that occasion, we shall focus on the problems of welfare reform in western democracies. Other subjects will be considered at further meetings.
My noble friend Lord Beloff mentioned German relations with Iran. We are absolutely certain that the Germans share our concerns about Iran and the objective of bringing about an improvement in Iranian behaviour. All the evidence suggests that they have the same view of the situation as we have and as my noble friend expressed it.
In talking about the wider relationship, the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, challenged me in forthright terms to explain exactly what the Prime Minister's Statement yesterday will mean in practice. I recommend that the noble Lord reads yesterday's Hansard of the exchanges with my noble friend the Lord Privy Seal. If the noble Lord is not satisfied by that, perhaps I can advise him that we shall raise the question of lifting the ban on beef derivatives at all Councils and, if necessary, we shall ask for special Councils. There is a very good and sound reason for that: the ban is not based on scientific evidence. Furthermore, the ban is harming not only British industry but as long as it exists it will harm German industry, French industry and the beef industry in general. That is why it is right that the matter should be raised on every possible occasion.
Of course, if others are totally intransigent, we shall be prepared to block measures requiring unanimity. That has been done to us on many occasions. We do not like doing it; we hope that it will not be necessary; we hope that we shall resolve the matter quickly, but it is 895 absolutely right that we stand up for British farmers and the British meat industry. Given that others would not agree—despite our attempts to get them to agree during the past six or seven weeks—that was the option that we had to take and my right honourable friend rightly took it.
Perhaps I may advise the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, that we have co-operated previously on BSE. I shall write to the noble Baroness with details of the number of visits between scientists and the number of discussions between parliamentarians that have happened not just this year but in previous years. It is not true to say that we have not tried; we have, but we have not succeeded, so we shall try to find another way forward.
Many other points have been raised, but in the last minute that is now available to me perhaps I may say simply that if some of your Lordships think that I have painted too positive a picture of British-German relations, I am sorry but I think that it is right to look forward. I think that the future holds many positive opportunities for Britain in Europe, alongside our partners, Germany and France. This is not the easiest time to make such a statement from the Dispatch Box, but I do believe that, although our geography, history and constitutional experiences are different—in some ways, even our thinking is different—we are both mature democracies and we are both prepared to look to the ways in which we can capitalise on the benefits that we can gain from our close relationship.
Britain and Germany are, and will remain, key players in setting out how Europe will develop over the coming years. It is not just a question of the institutions of the Union, but of the Union's relationship and our two countries' relationships with the rest of Europe, especially with Russia and its former allies. Together, we want to see a strong Europe and a free Europe. We are both concerned about the dangers of instability and about competitiveness at home in the face of challenges from outside Europe. We are concerned about the need for a Europe which is deregulated internally and which adheres strictly to the principle of subsidiarity; about the need for financial discipline in the budget; about the need for a cohesive common foreign and security policy; and about the need for a strong and viable NATO.
Britain and Germany have come a long way since the dark years immediately following the Second World War. We are working together in more ways than I have been able to explain to your Lordships in these 20 minutes. The noble Earl, Lord Longford, was absolutely right: we did hold out the hand of friendship after the Second World War. Some of us are continually seeking to make sure that that handshake is firm and that those relations are based on understanding. I hope that that will long continue.
§ 5.57 p.m.
§ Lord Jenkins of Hillhead
My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for her reply. She always gives us a good answer and she certainly did this evening. The noble Baroness also always manages to combine what 896 I regard as her basic liberal, internationalist convictions with her loyalty to the Government in a very engaging and acceptable way.
I do not greatly believe in second-bite speeches and I shall not engage in any argument, particularly as I must apologise to the House for running two minutes over time in my opening speech. One of the things that eight-and-a-half years in your Lordships' House has taught me—much more than the standard 39 years in the other place—is the advantage of brief speeches and of sticking to the time limit. Therefore, I shall expiate my sin of this afternoon by taking hardly any time at all now and making only a few brief comments.
I thank all those who have participated in the debate. I was very much struck by the speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, and the noble Lord, Lord Annan.
The noble Lord, Lord Marsh, made a speech of striking eloquence. I did not agree with his conclusion, but that did not obtrude too much on the speech because it rather reminded me of speeches by the late Mr. Richard Crossman: you could never quite tell until the end which side he would come down on. I thought that the noble Lord underestimated the existence of a problem with Anglo-German relations. The noble Lord knows quite a lot about Japan; I am not sure that he knows quite so much about Germany. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Annan, who knows a great deal more, recognised that there is a problem.
The speeches that have been made by your Lordships this afternoon will have assisted somewhat in assuaging that problem. It is remarkable that we have managed to have a debate which has been so little dominated by the beef crisis. That shows your Lordships' capacity for taking a wider view.
I do not delude myself into believing that these words will be read in every Weinstübe in Germany, but I believe that they will be read by a limited number of influential people and that, on balance, they will have a substantial effect. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.
Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.