Motion made, and Question proposed,
That the Promoters of the King's Cross Railways Bill shall have leave to suspend proceedings thereon in order to proceed with the Bill, if they think fit, in the next Session of Parliament, provided that the Agents for the Bill give notice to the Clerks in the Private Bill Office not later than the day before the close of the present Session of their intention to suspend further proceedings and that all Fees due on the Bill up to that date be paid ;
That on the fifth day on which the House sits in the next Session the Bill shall be presented to the House ;
That there shall be deposited with the Bill a declaration signed by the Agents for the Bill, stating that the Bill is the same, in every respect, as the Bill at the last stage of its proceedings in this House in the present Session ;
That the Bill shall be laid upon the Table of the House by one of the Clerks in the Private Bill Office on the next meeting of the House after the day on which the Bill has been presented and, when so laid, shall be read the first and second time and committed (and shall be recorded in the Journal of this House as having been so read and committed) ;
That all Petitions relating to the Bill presented in the present Session which stand referred to the Committee on the Bill, together with any minutes of evidence taken before the Committee on the Bill, shall stand referred to the Committee on the Bill in the next Session ;
That no Petitioners shall be heard before the Committee on the Bill, unless their Petition has been presented within the time limited within the present Session or deposited pursuant to paragraph (b) of Standing Order 126 relating to Private Business ;
That in relation to the Bill, Standing Order 127 relating to Private Business shall have effect as if the words under Standing Order 126 (Reference to committee of petitions against Bill)' were omitted ;
That no further Fees shall be charged in respect of any proceedings on the Bill in respect of which Fees have already been incurred during the present Session ;
That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House.-- [The Chairman of Ways and Means.]
Debate to be resumed tomorrow.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mrs. Lynda Chalker) : Discussion is expected on follow-up to the European Council and on relations with the United States, eastern Europe, Gulf states and African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.
Mr. Baldry : I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Will she confirm that the Foreign Affairs Council collectively will leave China in no doubt as to Europe's total abhorrence of recent events in that country? Will it clearly signal that any help in relation to China's future economic performance will depend upon its demonstrating a preparedness to behave towards the people of Hong Kong in a manner that commands the support of the European Community? Is not the best guarantee for the people of Hong Kong the preparedness of Europe and the civilised world in general to act together in their relations with China?
Mrs. Chalker : China should be in no doubt about our view. In Madrid on 27 June, the member states agreed on four actions : the suspension of military co-operation ; an embargo on trade in arms with China ; the suspension of ministerial and other high-level contacts ; and the postponement of all new co-operation projects. At the United Nations in Geneva we raised the issue of human rights in China and we are taking every opportunity to enforce our condemnation of the violent repression of peaceful demonstrators and the tragic loss of life. Yesterday, European Community colleagues agreed that the troika should make a demarche in Peking to underline the Community's position and to convey the request for independent observers to have access to trials and to prisons.
China is in absolutely no doubt that Hong Kong and the remainder of the world believe that matters went very badly wrong, and that it is for China to show its preparedness to work with the remainder of the world.
Mr. Alton : When Ministers are considering Hong Kong, will they also examine the position of Portuguese citizens in Macau who will be given the right to live in any European Community country after Macau returns to China? Does the right hon. Lady accept that it will create a difficulty-- indeed, a major discrepancy--if Hong Kong citizens are not treated in the same way?
Mr. Temple-Morris : During that meeting will my right hon. Friend raise the increasingly important questions of the enlargement of the Community and what constitutes Europe? Will she bear in mind her distinguished school days at Roedean when, I hope, she was taught that Turkey was not part of Europe? Does she agree that the sooner that that is made clear to everyone, including Turkey, the better off we will all be?
Mrs. Chalker : Turkey's application to the Community, which is currently with the Commission, will produce an opinion by the end of the year. Whatever the aspirations of Turkey and many other countries, I remind my hon. Friend that the Community is united in the belief that its top priority is to complete the single market. Enlargement is a matter very much for the future.
Mr. Robertson : Should not the next Foreign Affairs Council consider the whole question of economic help for eastern European countries that are struggling towards more democratic systems? Has not the West's response so far been feeble, half-hearted and lamentably inadequate, given the economic plight facing the democratic reformist forces in Poland and Hungary?
If the West is genuinely interested in the return of political choice to those nations and in keeping a check on the forces of reaction that threaten them, is not a more generous and imaginative response from Europe urgent? When will this country put in hard cash, even if it is tied and conditional? Sympathetic words about freedom are a poor substitute.
Mrs. Chalker : That matter was discussed thoroughly yesterday under the heading of European co-operation. The Community is in the process of negotiating an economic and commercial agreement with Poland, and the position in respect of other countries will be investigated in detail when the opportunity arises. We have no doubt whatsoever that those countries should be assisted to make their own moves towards real democracy and to the modernisation that they need.
Mr. Michael Morris : When my right hon. Friend meets her colleagues, will she raise the worrying problems arising in southern Asia, particularly in Sri Lanka? It appears that unless the Indian presence leaves Sri Lanka by 29 July there will be a mass exodus to Europe.
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Sir Geoffrey Howe) : I expect to meet President Delors at the economic summit in Paris from 14 to 16 July, where a range of international economic issues will be discussed.
Mr. Orme : When the Foreign Secretary meets the president, will he discuss the social charter? Will he also withdraw his recent offensive remarks about the charter and recognise that it means a great deal to working people throughout the Community? Why is Britain alone in opposing it?
Sir Geoffrey Howe : I do not feel the need to withdraw any offensive remark. I made it very plain that we attach great importance to the social dimension of improving economic co-operation in Europe. We do not believe that a Communitywide charter imposing obligations across the board is the best way of achieving that. To impose a whole range of legislation of a uniform kind on different societies would not be in the best interests of any of them, and would be inimical to our successful fight against unemployment. The best test of a social charter is the way that the United Kingdom has succeeded better than any other European country in bringing down unemployment.
Mr. Cyril D. Townsend : Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that it is high time that the European Community built on the Venice declaration? Following the Likud block vote on the peace process in the middle east, is it not time to look again at Israel's privileged commercial position in relation to the Community?
Sir Geoffrey Howe : My hon. Friend may not have noticed that at the conclusion of the European Council meeting in Madrid last week we issued a long declaration on the middle east which built, as he wants, on the Venice declaration. It made a number of significant additions and drew attention to the continuing deterioration of the situation in the occupied territories and to the action that should be taken. Yesterday, European Foreign Ministers agreed that the question of giving economic help to the occupied territories should be examined.
Mrs. Clwyd : Will the Secretary of State press for the European Community's ambassadors' report on human rights abuses against the Kurds in Iraq to be made public? Will he also condemn, and ask the Community to condemn, the mass deportation of the Kurds from northern to southern Iraq which is a disgraceful abuse of human rights? Will he press for journalists and other observers to be allowed into the Kurdistan section of Iraq as soon as possible?
Sir Richard Body : To revert to the supplementary question of the right hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Orme), will my right hon. and learned Friend remind Mr. Delors when he next meets him that he purloined the term European social charter ; that it was drafted in the Council of Europe and ratified by our country very soon afterwards ; and that we were in the forefront of the countries that put it into practice?
Sir Geoffrey Howe : My hon. Friend is right to draw attention to the parallel between the documents, although "purloin" overstates the case slightly. At the Rhodes European Council it was concluded that a study should be made of the existing provisions of the Council of Europe social charter. There is a sharp distinction between that and the present draft of the European Community social charter : the latter would impose obligations across a wide spectrum, in contrast to the former. My hon. Friend is also right to point out that we are among the countries that have ratified the charter ; I think that I am right in saying that three Community countries have not yet done so.
Mr. Kaufman : Following the question put by my right hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Orme), may I ask whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman recalls that, when he last answered questions and I asked him what was Marxist about the social charter, he cited the placing of workers on the boards of companies? Will he therefore--drawing on his knowledge of the work of Karl Marx--provide marked copies of the passages that prescribe that workers should be placed on the boards of companies, and draw them to the attention of Chancellor Kohl of the Federal Republic of Germany, where it is
Column 957Government policy to place workers on boards? I am sure that Chancellor Kohl will be dismayed to learn that he has been pursuing Marxist policies.
Sir Geoffrey Howe : The distinction that we wish to draw is between an approach that depends on dividing industry into two sides and our own approach, which has been exemplified by the massive extension of employee share ownership. At the time of my first Budget about half a dozen schemes were in existence ; about 1,600 are available now. We do not consider it helpful, when Britain has been making such massive progress in that respect, to begin creating a new system founded on the division of industry.
If I were to seek advice about any aspect of the teachings of Karl Marx, I should be delighted to appoint the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) as my research assistant.
Sir Geoffrey Howe : I attended the meeting in Paris. Developments in the Soviet Union and eastern Europe were the main subjects. We discussed Mr. Gorbachev's visits to Paris and Strasbourg. Our agenda also covered the middle east, southern Africa, the Horn of Africa, Cambodia and China. I stressed the importance to Hong Kong of international support. We agreed statements on Cambodia and the conference on security and co-operation in Europe, copies of which have been placed in the Library of the House.
Mr. Taylor : Was my right hon. and learned Friend able to discuss with his Community colleagues President Gorbachev's latest plans for the architecture of the common European home? Did they note President Gorbachev's warning that the superior western European economic system should not try to tempt the eastern bloc countries away from their Socialist principles? Does that not mean that the eastern European countries are free to live in their own rooms in the common European home, as long as they employ Soviet interior decorators?
Sir Geoffrey Howe : We did not discuss the matter in such meticulous architectural detail as my hon. Friend suggests, but we agreed that Mr. Gorbachev's speech called for no direct response from us. The Twelve will continue to make their best contribution to the development of East-West co -operation by underlining, above all, the attractiveness of the western model. We emphasised the fact that the common European home is based on European Community designs on western European foundations, and we hope that countries in the rest of Europe will be free to follow that example.
Mr. Tony Lloyd : In pursuing the idea that Community countries should co-operate over their attitude to China, does the Foreign Secretary believe that his position is somewhat clouded by the fact that the British Government, through the Department of Trade and Industry, are still actively sponsoring trade missions to China? Does that not undermine what he is trying to achieve?
Sir Geoffrey Howe : The hon. Gentleman will find that those matters are being considered separately and very carefully, case by case. For example, the proposed Sino-British Trade Council exhibition which was to have taken place in Peking next November has been postponed, and other matters are being treated in a similar way. However, there is no intention- -nor should there be--of imposing an economic embargo or economic sanctions on China. None of our European Community partners has adopted that view ; nor has the United States or Japan.
Sir Peter Hordern : Was my right hon. and learned Friend able to pursue the goal of closer European economic co-operation by reminding the Council of Ministers of the admirable speech of Karl Otto Po"hl in Munich on 22 June in which the president of the Bundesbank said that he saw no great purpose in forming either a common European currency or a European central bank? Would it not be better to pursue the policy of the president of the Bundesbank--of a step-by-step development--than to go forward in rash philosophical leaps, which seems to be the metier of Mr. Delors?
Sir Geoffrey Howe : I share my hon. Friend's admiration of the speech by Karl Otto Po"hl. It was very forcibly drawn to the attention of the European Council at the meeting in Madrid, which was attended by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and myself. It was also no doubt in the minds of the Finance Ministers who met on Monday this week to discuss the matter. It was they who discussed it, not we the Foreign Ministers. However, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer certainly underlined the very important point that has been made by my hon. Friend : that we must address the matter stage by stage, according to the principles that he has outlined.
Mr. Campbell-Savours : In the light of the great concern that is being expressed by the people of Hong Kong about their future and of the fact that in his first reply the Foreign Secretary said that these matters were raised at the meeting, what is the position of the various Foreign Ministers? Is there an understanding that the problem cannot necessarily be resolved within the United Kingdom? Do people accept that there must be some form of international settlement?
Sir Geoffrey Howe : The primacy of the United Kingdom's position is accepted on all sides. The Foreign Ministers at their meeting this week recognised--as on previous occasions when they have discussed it--the importance of bringing home to the People's Republic of China our shock at what has happened there. That was why we agreed yesterday that the Community ambassadors in Peking would make specific representations about the need for observers at trials and in relation to imprisonment. We also sustained the decisions already taken in relation to economic, political and military matters and agreed that those principles would be followed.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Waldegrave) : In a major statement in Madrid last month the EuropeanCouncil appealed to the parties to seize the present opportunity to achieve peace. The Twelve made it clear that the election proposals put forward by Mr. Shamir could contribute to the peace process but that the PLO must participate in negotiations. We fear that the Likud decisions last week, if translated into Israeli Government policy, will make progress much more difficult.
Sir Dennis Walters : Does my hon. Friend recognise that the Shamir offer to hold free elections on the West Bank has now been exposed for the fraud that it always was? He was saying privately weeks ago that it was merely a device to buy time. Now he has had to come out publicly. What do we intend to do now to get the peace process moving in a serious manner?
Mr. Waldegrave : We intend to deal with the Israeli Government, not with internal party factions. We shall urge the Israeli Government that the peace proposal that they made had the germ of an idea in it, that it should be developed and that it should not be limited in the way that the Likud motions seek to limit it. We shall urge the other side--the Palestinians and the PLO--not yet to despair of developing those election proposals.
Mr. Wood : Does my hon. Friend think that any international measures could be taken to ensure free and fair elections in the occupied territories? Is my hon. Friend pressing on Israel and the United States the need to have an international peace conference before there is further and much more serious loss of life?
Mr. Waldegrave : Yes, and the Twelve reinforced that commitment to a peace conference. Our sense of urgency is increasing day by day with every new tragedy, including the terrible killing of 14 people in a bus on the way to Jerusalem. Every one of those tragedies, on either side, shows how little time there is left.
Mr. Steel : The Minister cannot separate the identity of the leader of the Likud from the identity of Prime Minister Shamir, when they are the same person. Does he think that the recent statements from Mr. Shamir go back on the undertakings that he gave to Her Majesty's Government, the Twelve and the United States Government? Will he therefore take a more vigorous stance on the matter?
Mr. Waldegrave : I understand the right hon. Gentleman's concern. It would be unwise for me to predict the final outcome of the Israeli Government's position. As we know, there may be changes in the coalition. We stand by our view that that proposal for an election seemed to offer the hope of progress, and the last thing that anyone should be seeking now is to abort it before it is properly born.
Mr. Ernie Ross : The Minister must realise that Mr. Shamir's statement last Wednesday, as Prime Minister of Israel and as the leader of the Likud party, had two clauses. The first sought to ensure that there should be no negotiations with the PLO, no Palestinian state in any part of the Eretz Israel and no sovereignty over any part of the
Column 960Eretz Israel. Clause 2, which is far more important, sought to make all those decisions binding, in the Cabinet and in the Knesset, on all Likud members. How can we expect the Palestinians or anyone else to accept that any Israeli peace plan remains?
Mr. Waldegrave : I feel no more optimism than the hon. Gentleman does after the events of that Likud meeting. However, I am well aware, as is the hon. Gentleman, that some members of Likud, such as Mr. Ezer Weizman, take a very different line. Before we despair of the Israeli Government's position, let us finally see what it is.
Sir Philip Goodhart : Does my hon. Friend really think that the peace process in the middle east will be helped if we refuse to sell gas masks to Israel at the same time as we contemplate selling military aircraft to Iraq, a country which has used poison gas against its own citizens?
Mr. Waldegrave : The latter decision has not yet been taken. I hope that the House will recognise the difficulty of the former very emotive decision. Equipping the armed forces of a state for fighting with chemical weapons is dangerous and difficult. We, as the principal sponsor of efforts to achieve a worldwide ban on chemical weapons, must be very careful about that. The application that was informally submitted was not simply for children. If such an application was clearly only for civilian and defensive use, we would consider it very carefully. The House would be the first to criticise us if we were seen to be equipping armed forces for chemical warfare.
Mr. Kaufman : Will the Minister of State join me and my hon. Friends in sending sympathy to the relatives of all who were killed in the bus outrage last week and to the relatives of the Palestinians who are being killed every day in the occupied territories? Does he agree that those sterile, pointless and tragic deaths will continue as long as there is no settlement in the middle east and that instead of putting pressure on the Israeli Labour party to remain members of a Government who are going back on what he agrees was a minimal but perhaps helpful commitment, the United States Secretary of State should be putting pressure on the Likud to go to the conference table? It is unacceptable that one bigoted faction should stand in the way of ending this terrible confrontation.
Mr. Waldegrave : I gladly associate myself with what the right hon. Gentleman said, as I am sure do my right hon. and hon. Friends. I have been trying not yet to despair of the Israeli Government's position as I hope that there are people in Likud who will take a wiser view and prevent the Israeli Government from drawing back from an already minimalist position.
Will the House and the right hon. Gentleman forgive me if I ask him to join me in sending one other condolence which is relevant today--to the McCarthy family and other friends of John McCarthy on the death of Mrs. Sheila McCarthy, the mother of the British journalist held in Lebanon? The heartlessness of his captors in the face of his mother's appeals to be reunited with her son before she died can invite only universal condemnation. Obviously, we continue to make every effort to secure his release. We beg those who are in a position of influence to help with that release to do so unconditionally. We recognise that the break in relations with Iran, which was not of our making, has made the task more difficult, but we hope that
Column 961the new leadership in Iran will be willing to help in that task. These people are high on our agenda and are not forgotten.
Mrs. Chalker : All European Community directives apply to Gibraltar except those in areas from which Gibraltar was excluded in the arrangements for United Kingdom accession ; those from which Gibraltar is specifically excluded ; and those whose subject matter is clearly of no relevance to Gibraltar.
Mr. Colvin : Because of the heavy impact of European Community decisions and laws on the people of Gibraltar, no territory would have had a better turn-out in the recent elections to the European Parliament had those people been entitled to vote. The six Members of the European Parliament from Luxembourg represent, on average, 35,000 voters. Does my right hon. Friend agree that on that basis, Gibraltar could have one MEP in the European Parliament?
Mrs. Chalker : There is no comparison between Luxembourg, which is an independent state, and Gibraltar, which is not. The interests of the people of Gibraltar have been well represented in the Community by Her Majesty's Government and in the European Parliament by the group of United Kingdom MEPs known as the Gibraltar and Europe representation group. They have served the interests of Gibraltar well, and I know that they will go on doing so. I refer my hon. Friend to the observations on this matter that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary made on 20 June 1984. They still stand.
Mr. Dalyell : Have British Ministers any reason to disbelieve the claim by the Spanish authorities that the IRA team had six members, not three as claimed? This is the same question that I put yesterday to the Ministry of Defence.
7. Mr. Cash : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on Her Majesty's Government's relations with the Greek Government following that country's general election results.
Mr. Cash : I endorse what my right hon. Friend has said. Does she recall that it was the former Greek Government who introduced the social charter into the cauldron of European politics? Will she encourage the new Greek Government to adopt a slightly less abrasive approach?
Mrs. Chalker : I am well aware that my hon. Friend shares my view about the proposals that may have been drawn up by the Greek commissioner. The proposals that came forward for the social charter were agreed by a majority of commissioners and are Commission proposals. Discussion on this matter is taking place in Brussels. However attractive the idea may seem, the change of Government in Greece does not affect the position of the commissioner responsible.
Mr. Dykes : There is a certain amount of puzzlement in Athens because, when it comes to social charter provisions, the differences between countries and traditions are too great to make any similarity possible whereas in respect of the internal market, for economic and financial reasons, it is possible for us to achieve total harmony within a few years. Why is there a difference in the British Government's attitude to those two aspects?
Mrs. Chalker : As my right hon. and learned Friend said earlier, the difference is that we believe that the social dimension should help to improve economic performance across Europe. It is clear that the Council of Europe social charter, which provided a framework, was a very good text, but it did not extend to deciding at European level those matters that we properly believe should be decided by each nation state. We know that liberalisation and deregulation are the only way to achieve economic growth and a reduction in unemployment. We believe that we should be entitled, in accordance with the Commission's principle of subsidiarity, to decide which way the country goes.
Sir Geoffrey Howe : We have no substantive dealings with the Kabul regime, which has been rejected by a majority of the Afghan people. We look forward to the day when the regime is replaced by a truly representative Government with whom we could have normal relations.
Mr. Brown : Surely the Secretary of State has to come to terms with the fact, however unpalatable, that Dr. Najibullah's Government have survived, strengthened their position and defeated the forces of reaction militarily. Even Conservative Members have to come to terms with that. It is suggested by many, and even by moderate rebel leaders, that there should be some understanding and means of negotiation so that this so-called Afghan problem can be resolved. Will the Secretary of State take the initiative and arrange a conference so that the various warring parties can come round the table and reach a settlement which will mean peace in Afghanistan, which is so important to everyone?
Column 963The Najibullah regime was installed and armed by the Russians and was upheld against the wishes of the majority of the Afghan people. It controls less than one fifth of the country and its so-called reconciliation policy has failed. I prefer to accept the judgment of the 5 million Afghan refugees who have still fled the country and decline to return there to that of the hon. Gentleman.
Mr. Greg Knight : Did my right hon. and learned Friend take the opportunity recently of thanking Mrs. Bhutto and her country for all the help and support they have given to the people of Afghanistan over the past 10 years? Those people are still suffering the backlash of Soviet occupation.
Sir Geoffrey Howe : My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and I took that opportunity. The people and Government of Pakistan have borne a heavy load throughout that time and are much to be thanked by the world community and the people of Afghanistan.
Mr. Anderson : Is not the reality that the heady forecasts of a quick victory for the mujaheddin of perhaps six months or so ago are no longer valid and there is no realistic chance of a military solution to the internal conflict? The reported decision of the United States Administration to finance one more fighting season is wrong. It will increase the fatalities in that war-ravaged area. Will the Government, therefore, have the courage to say to the United States that the decision to finance one more fighting season is wrong and will they urge negotiations as the only basis for future stability in that country?
Sir Geoffrey Howe : The wish on which everyone is united is the emergence of a Government representative of the people of Afghanistan as a whole and that means a Government to whom the 5 million refugees can safely return, not the Government being sustained by the support of Soviet arms. The hon. Gentleman must recall that before the Russian withdrawal, massive quantities of Soviet arms were entrusted to the Najibullah regime and those supplies have continued in large quantities until today.
11. Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last met representatives of the Hungarian Government ; what matters were discussed ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Waldegrave : My right hon. and learned Friend met Hungarian State Minister Imre Pozsgay on 25 April. I have just returned from a three- day visit to Hungary where I met Prime Minister Nemeth, Mr. Pozsgay and a wide range of Government, party and Opposition leaders. I also laid a wreath at the grave of Imry Nagy and placed flowers at the memorial to Raoul Wallenberg. I expressed the strong support of the Government, and I believe the House, for the process of reform taking place in Hungary.