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Miss Lestor : Is the right hon. Lady aware that two of her hon. Friends and my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson) and I have just returned from a conference in Madrid that was held by western European parliamentarians of all parties and members of the front-line states, at which much concern was expressed about South Africa's biased activities against SWAPO in relation to these elections? It is very important to have observers not only at the time of the elections but between now and the elections, and that many people go to observe what is taking place both before and after the elections, up until April when the process is finalised.
Mrs. Chalker : I am most interested to hear what the hon. Lady says. I hope that she will tell me in detail about the conference that she attended in Spain. I am well aware of the allegations. As she knows, the implementation of the United Nations plan is a matter for the United Nations secretary-general and his staff, in whom we have every confidence. We have seen the SWAPO reports and have also heard a number of other reports about what may be going on. It is important that the negotiations, which have established a joint commission to investigate these allegations, be allowed to continue. The joint commission should look into all allegations in order to ensure free and fair elections, which we all want.
14. Mr. Norris : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on Anglo-Israeli relations.
Mr. Waldegrave : I refer my hon. Friend to the answer that I gave earlier to the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody).
Mr. Norris : I join in the congratulations to my hon. Friend on his conduct during his recent visit to Israel. It would be a tragedy if the attitude of the Government were interpreted in Israel as either deliberately combative or unhelpful. The Government's attitude should be-- and I understand that it is--based on the profound belief that long-lasting security for Israel will be achieved only through a peaceful solution. In that context, when Mr. Shamir refers to the occupied territories as the liberated territories, he moves back the peace process.
Mr. Waldegrave : It is absolutely essential that those who wish to help in this area do not contribute to the sense of isolation in Israel, which sometimes causes the problem. Those who wish to take forward the peace process must be able to assure Israel that there is no question about her security. We find it difficult to understand why a peace structure based on treaty with her neighbours, together with her formidable armaments, will not enhance her security, and why it should undermine it.
Mr. Galloway : Does the Minister accept that, with the possible exception of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner), the whole House was greatly impressed by, and admired the skill, clarity and courage of, the statements that the hon. Gentleman made on his trip to the occupied territories? He
Column 890walked there in the distinguished footsteps of his predecessor--the present Minister of State, Department of Health-- and more than filled his shoes.
In spite of what the Minister said about a perceived danger of Israel feeling a sense of isolation, is it not clear that the words that he spoke in Israel and which the Government continually speak about this issue are falling on deaf ears? How many more deaths, how many more broken bones and how many more snubs to British Tory Ministers will it take before the Government decide to get a little tougher with Israel to push it to the negotiating table?
Mr. Waldegrave : I do not want to misinterpret the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner), who does not seem to disagree with the content of what I am saying but wants to monopolise its expression himself. I repeat what I said earlier : I do not believe that it is a matter of exerting pressure or threats against Israel. The one thing that Israelis do not respond to is threats. On the other hand, those who really want a secure and permanent future for Israel should not be backward about trying to follow through the arguments to explain why we take a different view from that of the Israeli Foreign Ministry.
Mr. Dykes : At the risk of overdoing the praise, which is justified, may I add my words of congratulation on my hon. Friend's outstanding and memorable visit to Israel? He struck a balance between obvious sympathy for the historical and actual position of Israel and the need to persuade the Israeli authorities to take the peace process further.
Was my hon. Friend able to convey to the Israeli Government the essential truth that if a proper international peace is achieved, Israel will have a 1,000 per cent. guarantee of its total security in the future, as opposed to being at odds with the entire international community?
Mr. Waldegrave : I am grateful for my hon. Friend's remarks. All who have the long-term interests of Israel at heart should be saying what he said, which is that she can exist in a fortress of armaments only for a limited time. Doubtless she can exist like that for many years, but permanent peace and the freeing of all the talent that Israel now has to put into armaments for channelling into all the other things that David Ben Gurion and others saw as the real vision for Israel all depend on Israel working with her neighbours.
Mr. Heffer : Is the Minister aware that some of us who have consistently supported Israel's right to peace and secure borders over the years are sad that the Israelis have not responded to Yasser Arafat's declaration, thereby giving some of the more extremist elements in the PLO the grounds on which to begin activities against Israel, when there could have been serious peace discussions in the middle east?
Mr. Waldegrave : The hon. Gentleman has put his finger on an important point. There are extremist factions, some of them backed by Syria, who have an interest in the failure of what Mr. Arafat has done. It seems to the Government--and, I think, the Opposition--that it was right to welcome the steps that the PLO took, because we have both been urging it to take them
Column 891for many years. If we had not responded, that would have been an incentive to the extremists, so I take the hon. Gentleman's point.
15. Mr. Tredinnick : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made towards implementing the measures agreed at the Brussels summit of February 1988 to control the growth of the European Community's budget.
Mrs. Chalker : The 1989 Community budget included CAP provision some £1,320 million less than the agricultural guideline. Own resources called up for the budget were substantially below the relevant sub-ceiling in the new own resources decision.
Mr. Tredinnick : Can my right hon. Friend give some indication of the inquiries being conducted by the Government into allegations of widespread fraud within the common agricultural policy? Will she give some indication also of the pressure that she intends putting on our European partners when that fraud is discovered, to ensure that prosecutions take place?
Mrs. Chalker : My hon. Friend will have noticed the comments of my right hon. Friend the Paymaster General in the House last Thursday, and my own comments in a debate on 23 February. On both occasions, we sought to give more detail. We are working on further suggestions for seeking out fraud and stopping it. It is important not only to detect but deter. The Court of Auditors' report highlights the problems of fraud, and we shall support all cost-effective measures against fraud in the Community, wherever it may be. That is why we are making concrete suggestions to counsel for combating both fraud and the mismanagement of resources.
Mr. Robertson : Is the Minister aware that acceptance of the super- generous Brussels budget deal was inextricably tied up with the drive to completing the 1992 internal market? Does the Minister agree with Sir John Hoskyns who, in a speech last week at the Institute of Directors, called a social dimension to 1992
"a nonsense and Sixties-style social engineering"?
Or does the right hon. Lady prefer the view of the London ambassador for the most prosperous country in Europe, West Germany, who called for
"a European charter of fundamental social rights, including collective bargaining autonomy, freedom of association, and sex equality"?
Is the Minister on the side of the dinosaurs or of the economically powerful?
Mrs. Chalker : The Government have always been on the side of economic strengths. Many of the comments made in Sir John Hoskyns' speech to the Institute of Directors seemed to discourage business from preparing for the changes of 1992. If they have done that, the speech did no service to Britain. Of course we must right those things that are wrong. However, the most important part of the single market programme is moving ahead to dismantle barriers. There is no sense in imposing regulations on business that will deter the creation of employment and job opportunities. If we are to have a sensible social dimension in Europe, there must be wider access to training and retraining, better standards of training and retraining, implementation of the health and
Column 892safety at work directive agreed last December, equal treatment in social security, and free movement of labour. Having rolled back the frontiers of Socialism in Britain, there is no way that we will see them re-established in Brussels.
Mr. William Powell : Can my right hon. Friend say how much fraud against the EEC has taken place within the frontiers of the United Kingdom, and how many prosecutions of United Kingdom nationals have occurred for fraud involving EEC budgets?
Mrs. Chalker : I cannot give my hon. Friend such details without notice. I shall write to him with the details that are known. Figures mentioned in the press have been highly speculative. We do not doubt that very large sums have been involved across the Community as a whole, and that fraud is a serious problem. The nature of the fraud means that it is impossible to give precise figures now, but action must be taken all the way to reduce such frauds to a minimum. Even if I cannot give my hon. Friend the details that he wishes, he should be in no doubt about our recognition of the need for action and our determination to take it.
16. Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the current situation in Afghanistan.
Sir Geoffrey Howe : We welcome the withdrawal of Soviet troops. The unrepresentative regime installed and armed by the Russians remains in place. We believe that it should go now, so that bloodshed can end and a representative Government can take office.
Mr. Cohen : Why are the Government backing a rag-bag group of terrorists who, if they ever achieve power--God forbid--would be a deadly cocktail of the Ayatollah and Pol Pot? Now that the Russians have left, will the Government stop arming that group of fanatics and terrorists and instead get on friendlier terms with the authorities to try to deliver Afghanistan from war and feudalism rather than leaving it to endure incessant hostilities?
Sir Geoffrey Howe : The hon. Gentleman's perception of the matter is wholly at fault. The Government who are still clinging to power in Kabul and who were installed and armed by the Russians, against the wishes of the great majority of Afghans, represent virtually nobody but themselves and control virtually nothing outside Kabul. It is only when that Government step down and allow the Afghans to choose a Government representative of the Afghan people that the fighting will come to an end. That is what we all want to see.
Mr. Ian Taylor : Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that the Government of Mr. Najibullah have blood on their hands from the hundreds of thousands of people killed in Afghanistan or driven into refugee camps in Pakistan during the Soviet occupation? Will my right hon. and learned Friend work closely with the Government of Pakistan to try to restore order to that region?
Sir Geoffrey Howe : I agree entirely with my hon. Friend. The Najibullah Government have caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Afghans and have driven millions of them to refugee status. It is only when that Government step down and make way for a Government who represent the Afghan people as a whole that there will be a prospect for the peace that we all want in that tragic country.
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