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Miss Nicholson : In my work with the Save the Children Fund, I grew to learn of the value of a cash donation and immediate aid. I draw my right hon. Friend's attention to the fact that credits given by other nations, although they may sound large numerically, mean little in terms of cash as they have to be repaid and cannot immediately be used. Will my right hon. Friend pass on this place's warm tribute to Mr. Lech Walesa during his visit to London and say how glad we all are that Her Majesty's Government are helping his country to come out of a long darkness into the light of democracy?
Mr. Hurd : I shall certainly pass on my hon. Friend's message to Mr. Lech Walesa. She is right in her earlier point. Food supplies are crucial, and we contribute to the European Community's supply of free food to Poland. She is also right that this is one of the many occasions when those who give quickly, give twice. This is what we are doing-- [Interruption.]
Mr. Butterfill : I join my hon. Friend the Member for Torridge and Devon, West (Miss Nicholson) in congratulating my right hon. Friend on an imaginative package. I reinforce her view that to give cash at this time is doubly important. When Poland is so heavily burdened with debt, it would be wrong to offer loans, and I congratulate the Government on offering cash. It is especially pleasant that it is being made available when Lech Walesa is starting his visit. In what sectors will cash be available? Will it be available for the financial advice that is so urgently needed?
Mr. Hurd : The know-how fund, which is already being spent, has moved into action quickly. It is designed for projects, which are being examined, to underpin the creation of Polish democracy. That goes fairly wide, and we are willing to consider all suggestions for sensible projects that come under this general heading.
I mentioned the cash, but I should also mention the trade package that has been agreed in two Council meetings in Brussels which will substantially improve the possibility of Poland earning her own living. We have done our best--rather successfully--to make sure that any burden that may fall on the Twelve as a result will be evenly spread across the members of the Community.
Mr. John Evans : Will the Foreign Secretary give an undertaking that, whatever discussions he has with the Polish and Hungarian authorities about democracy in those countries, he will not discuss trade unionism with them because he is liable to be told that in those countries trade unions are freer to take action on industrial affairs than they are in Great Britain?
Column 703Mr. John D. Taylor : Will the Foreign Secretary consider giving some financial assistance to encourage younger people in Hungary and Poland to visit the United Kingdom to see how parliamentary institutions work and to make contact with the youth movements of our political parties?
Mr. Hurd : Polish visitors have been coming here already with that aim in mind, and I shall consider any sensible and realistic proposals to that end. That will be part of the underpinning of new democracy in those countries.
Mr. Soames : Will my right hon. Friend pay tribute to the work of the Great Britain/East European Centre under its distinguished chairman, Mr. Alan Brooke Turner? Given the great importance of these matters, will my right hon. Friend see what he can do to increase the grant that the Home Office generously gives to that excellent organisation?
Mr. Hardy : The Foreign Secretary will be aware that one of Poland's great problems is environmental pollution. As the Polish economy recovers, as we hope that it will, that problem may get worse before it gets better. Will the right hon. Gentleman consider joining Sweden and certain other member states of the Council of Europe which are giving direct assistance to Poland to try to counter the graver features of these problems?
Mr. Hurd : The new Polish Government are struggling valiantly with a range of problems, and I am sure that environmental pollution is one of them. I am not dismissing the importance of what the hon. Gentleman has said, but there must be priorities and the importance of getting free institutions started and enabling the Poles to get through what may be a rough, hard winter are the two matters to which we are putting our minds, as the package that I have announced shows.
6. Mr. Stanbrook : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the progress achieved towards adopting a European Communitywide simplified system of extradition.
Mr. Maude : The recent agreement between EC member states has so far been signed by nine member states. United Kingdom implementation of this measure, which we support, will require some further revision of our extradition laws.
Mr. Stanbrook : In view of the need for harmonisation to meet the threat of international crime, including drug trafficking, does my hon. Friend agree that our extradition arrangements with the member states of the European Community are in a terrible mess? The Extradition Act 1989, which is a consolidation measure, does not include the Republic of Ireland or the Suppression of Terrorism Act 1978. That measure was supposed to provide for us to accede to the European convention on extradition, but progress has been slow. In fact, no real progress has been made. We are still negotiating an old-style treaty of extradition with Italy, and have been doing so for about 15
Column 704years. Is it not time that we got down to the problem, instituted a backing-of-warrants system applying to the entire Community, and trusted the judicial systems of our fellow member states to implement it?
Mr. Maude : My hon. Friend is a formidable expert on these matters but I think that useful progress has been made. It would have been unusual for a consolidation measure such as the Extradition Act 1989 to include substantive amendments to extradition law. We shall bring into force when we can the useful but relatively narrow changes that the recent agreement embodies.
Mr. Hood : Does the Minister know that last night five hon. Members were extradited from Downing street as a result of their protest about the visit of the South Korean president? Why are we condoning the presence of such cut-throats in the Chamber and in Downing street?
Mr. Gale : Will my hon. Friend pay especial attention to the report of the Select Committee on Home Affairs on drug trafficking, when it is published? Does he recognise that an extradition treaty throughout the countries of the Council of Europe, as well as throughout the European Community, is vital if we are to win the war against drug trafficking?
Mr. Maude : It is essential that there should be good extradition arrangements which work in practical terms in an effective and expeditious way. These are essentially matters for my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary, and I shall ensure that my hon. Friend's useful remarks are brought to his attention.
Mr. Mallon : Will the Minister give an assurance that in the event of a European extradition arrangement being adhered to by all countries, the British Government will not take the first opportunity to derogate from it as they have done on 37 occasions in relation to judgments of the European Court and European regulations?
Mr. Maude : The hon. Gentleman's point is not related to extradition treaties. It is important to make extradition work in a practical and effective way and we shall continue to work towards that end.
Mr. Walker : I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Does my hon. Friend agree that Israel must have secure borders, that Israel is a democracy which changes its leaders through the ballot box and that attitudes within Israel are influenced by, and still troubled by, the fact that it was the Arab Legion which first occupied the West Bank?
Column 705can give an unequivocal yes to the second question ; Israel is a democracy and has the procedures of a democracy. The third part of the question, however, seems to be contingent on the idea that delving into history is the right approach whereas what is needed now is an act of trust to get talks going face to face.
Mr. Ernie Ross : Does the Minister regret the fact that on Friday no Minister dealt with the Government's attempt to resolve the Palestinian- Israeli question? Will he ensure that the proper concentration now being given by the Foreign Office to the problems of eastern Europe will not divert Ministers' attention from the clear abuse of human rights being perpetrated against the Palestinian people on the West Bank and in Gaza by the Israeli defence forces?
Mr. Waldegrave : I wholly agree with the hon. Gentleman. No one can deny the importance of what is happening in eastern Europe, but that should not mask the fact that in some respects things are going backwards in the occupied territories. The schools are closed again and we are joining our partners to protest about that, and the offices of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency are being harassed again. Those things are not tolerable and are against all the international conventions to which Israel is a party.
Sir Dennis Walters : Bearing in mind that for more than a year the PLO has made all the concessions necessary to make progress towards a peace settlement in the middle east and that the Israeli Prime Minister Mr. Shamir has remained obdurately negative while repression on the West Bank has continued unabated, is it not strange that we continue to talk at top level with Mr. Shamir but not with Mr. Arafat? Should not that situation be changed as soon as possible?
Mr. Waldegrave : What is essential now is to urge both sides to take the brave step of meeting face to face in Cairo, as proposed by Secretary of State Baker. The Israelis, with provisos, have accepted his five points and we are urging the PLO clearly to do the same so that the first, historic meeting between an Israeli Government mission and a Palestinian mission would have a chance to take place.
Mr. Faulds : Will the Minister convey to the Foreign Secretary my warm welcome on his return to his old stamping ground at the Foreign Office, where he will perform with much greater distinction than he did as a somewhat illiberal Home Secretary? Would it not be advisable for him in his new office, which he well merits, to make the strongest continuing representations to the Israeli Government about the appalling conduct of their forces towards the Palestinians in the occupied territories and towards the Lebanese in the continuing illegal Israeli occupation of the south of that country?
Mr. Waldegrave : It is never difficult to hear the hon. Gentleman and I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State heard him on this occasion. I join him in reminding the House that the Israeli occupation of parts of south Lebanon contributes to the problems of that country from which all foreign forces should withdraw.
Mr. Dykes : Will my hon. Friend confirm that there is a growing majority in Israel in favour of peace talks between the Israeli authorities and the legitimate representatives of the Palestinians, and we all know who they are? Will he
Column 706confirm that, despite delays, the possibility of such talks is better than ever, and that if the Americans do not lose interest in the peace protest they can best persuade the Israeli Government and Mr. Shamir to show the necessary courage to reach out for peace and peace talks?
Mr. Waldegrave : I agree entirely with my hon. Friend. Yesterday I met the Israeli Minister, Mr. Mordecai Gur and had a very good talk with him. He reminds one that it is naive to think that there are no powerful voices raised in Israel on what he and I would regard as the right side of the argument. With the diplomacy now being exercised by the Americans and by the Egyptians, there is an opportunity to start a dialogue.
9. Mr. Duffy : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what consultation has been sought by the United States Secretary of State in preparation for the Malta summit meeting on 2 December between President Bush and Mr. Gorbachev.
Mr. Hurd : There have been frequent consultations, including a recent visit to London by the United States Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and the President of the United States met at Camp David on 24 November.
Mr. Duffy : That all sounds rather casual. Is not the Secretary of State aware that the North Atlantic Assembly, which includes some of his own right hon. and hon. Friends as well as some of mine, believes that the State Department had a special responsibility to consult all its allies before the Malta summit? Not only have such summits a changing significance as we move from a bipolar to a multipolar world, but there is genuine anxiety on all sides that there should be no more Yaltas or Reykjaviks.
Mr. Hurd : I do not think that the summits in which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister takes part tend to be casual affairs, and that is certainly not the case on this occasion. Nor was there anything casual about the way in which the United States set about notifying and consulting its allies on what is in prospect at Malta. On the contrary, the American Administration have taken great care both in public and in private to stress that the matters to be discussed are of prime interest to their allies, including this country, and that the American president has no intention of concluding agreements with the Societ Union in the absence of those allies at Malta. The president will himself be attending the NATO conference on Monday to report what happened at the summit. That follows the advance assurances and consultations which I mentioned, which could hardly have been more complete.
"From Malta to Yalta, we must not falter",
does my right hon. Friend agree that Gennady Gerasimov's use of the phrase "Malta to Yalta" was, given its implications, unfortunate? Does my right hon. Friend welcome President Bush's recent clear statement that he will not seek to make bilateral deals over the heads of the European allies, particularly in respect of arms reductions?
Column 707Mr. Hurd : I agree that Mr. Gerasimov's choice of phrase is sometimes a bit odd. I did not care for his phrase, "Sinatra doctrine", to describe an important statement of Mr. Gorbachev's views made in Helsinki. My hon. Friend is perfectly right in his second point ; I referred to the statement that he mentioned when answering the original question.
Mr. Grocott : Will the Foreign Secretary take every opportunity to urge upon President Bush that the key reason why the world has welcomed recent events in eastern Europe is that it rejects the concept of superpowers using small powers as instruments of their foreign policy? Will the right hon. Gentleman urge upon President Bush that just as the Soviet Union has stopped treating eastern Europe as its backyard, it is high time that the United States stopped treating central and south America as its backyard?
Mr. Hurd : One starting point of the changes in eastern Europe was the decision by Mr. Gorbachev that Soviet troops will not intervene in the internal pressures for reform in eastern Europe. There is no parallel to that in Central America.
Mr. Cyril D. Townsend : Does my right hon. Friend agree that the widespread events in eastern Europe give the British Government no excuse for postponing the further development of the European Community? Rather, we should take the opportunity to strengthen and enhance further the Community--and in particular, West Germany's role within it.
Mr. Hurd : We are all in favour of strengthening and enhancing the Community's role. The first step is to complete in practice that which we have already undertaken to do in principle. On that, we and the European Commission are perhaps the closest allies in pressing for the passing of the legislation required under the Single European Act. We are perfectly prepared to discuss the steps that should follow, but the best impression will be created if we successfully carry through that which has already been undertaken.
Dr. Thomas : Will the Foreign Secretary accept that large sections of public opinion in the United States are keen to use the opportunity created by Mr. Gorbachev to scale down the United States presence in Europe? Will the Prime Minister be an isolationist in NATO and oppose such reductions, as she has already been an isolationist in the Commonwealth and in the European Community?
Mr. Hurd : I do not think that that is the position. This year ambitious negotiations are taking place in Vienna--the conventional forces in Europe negotiations--in which we shall play a full and enthusiastic part. As the hon. Gentleman knows, the talks are designed to bring about a substantial scaling down. We are not opposed to a change--indeed, we have been one of the protagonists of change--but we believe that it should be orderly change so that nobody at any stage believes that legitimate security interests are being put at risk.
Mr. David Shaw : Will my right hon. Friend ensure that President Bush, in preparing for his talks with Mr. Gorbachev, is made fully aware that the problems of eastern Europe are due to the rigid adherence to Socialism in eastern Europe over many years? Will he ensure that President Bush points out to Mr. Gorbachev that as our
Column 708Prime Minister has had a successful policy of rigid adherence to capitalism there is much that we can teach the eastern bloc in terms of our expertise in defeating Socialism?
Mr. Hurd : What we are seeing in eastern Europe is a series of edifices which looked very impressive and which deceived many Opposition Members, but which turned out to have no foundations because they were not based on the consent of the people. By contrast, in Britain and in western Europe we have institutions about which we argue a great deal, but which have foundations and therefore will endure.
Mr. Kaufman : Since the Prime Minister, when she was in the United States for consultations with President Bush, said that unlike the German Foreign Minister and Lord Carrington she still believes in the modernisation of short-range nuclear weapons, will the Foreign Secretary tell us whom he envisages as the targets of those short-range nuclear weapons? Are they the millions of Poles who elected a Solidarity-led Government, the millions of East Germans who forced their way through the Berlin wall, or the millions of Czechs who have just overthrown the Communist Government in Prague?
Mr. Hurd : There is no difference between President Bush, the Governments of the Alliance, the German Government and our own about the comprehensive concept which lays down that first we complete the CFE negotiations, then we enter into discussions about the short-range nuclear weapons and then, if there is a need to discuss modernisation, we do so. That is the entirely logical and acceptable answer to which the Alliance is agreed.
Mr. Steel : Does the Secretary of State recall that after the meeting between the Prime Minister and President Bush there were several press reports, inspired or otherwise, which suggested that she was urging caution at the forthcoming Malta meeting in relation to progress on conventional force reductions? Will the right hon. Gentleman, in his new non-subservient role, make it quite clear that if the Malta summit results in speeding up conventional force reductions in Europe, the Government will welcome that?
Mr. Hurd : There is already an ambitious programme for conventional force reductions by negotiation with the Soviet Union. The president has made it clear--wisely, I believe--that he does not intend to negotiate aboard a ship in the Mediterranean new arrangements that go beyond that. To do so at that time and in that way would cause a peck of trouble within the Alliance. The president knows that, and it will not happen. What will happen through the usual machinery of the Alliance are, first, discussions on CFE and then the other steps that may be necessary. I have already mentioned the comprehensive concept and the discussions on short-range nuclear weapons.
Column 709Steel) when he was not even standing? Is it not the case that in this place we are all equal but that some are more equal than others?
11. Mr. Atkinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list those eastern European states that have expressed an interest in applying for full membership of the Council of Europe.
Mr. Waldegrave : Hungary formally lodged an application to join the Council of Europe on 16 November. On the same day Poland and Yugoslavia expressed their interest in full membership when the time was right, as they put it.
Mr. Atkinson : The qualifications for full membership of the Council of Europe are a pluralist democracy and respect for human rights and the rule of law. Respect for human rights is, as we understand it, under the terms of the European convention on human rights. Will my hon. Friend assure the House that those conditions must be fully satisfied by any applicant, however welcome the application may be?
Mr. Waldegrave : The Council of Europe has potentially a very important role to play as the forum or body that the newly emergent democracies of eastern Europe can join and thereby show that they are genuine democracies. It would be totally paradoxical if we watered down the criteria for membership at this moment. That would be to betray the people in those countries who are seeking to achieve full democracy and full human rights.
Mr. Waldegrave : I certainly agree with the hon. Gentleman, but I think that he would agree with me that it would be wrong to subvert the basis of an organisation which offers the reality of the common European house to which Mr. Gorbachev sometimes refers.
Mr. Michael Marshall : Does my hon. Friend accept that part of the interests of those countries which are seeking membership of the Council of Europe stems from the wise decision, supported by this House, to give them the opportunity to join the Inter-Parliamentary Union? In the light of the Foreign Secretary's earlier responses, will my hon. Friend confirm that the Government will take a broad view of our support for parliamentary democracy and its know-how funding so as to encourage the process of dialogue between parliamentarians in this House and in eastern Europe as prelude to Council of Europe membership?
Mr. Waldegrave : It is sad that Opposition Members below the Gangway find this all so tedious. Nothing can be more exciting to this House than seeing other countries seeking to achieve the freedoms that we have here. The Inter-Parliamentary Union contacts to which my hon. Friend referred have played a valuable part in the process.
12. Mr. Hanley : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what are the implications for existing treaties of recent events in the Soviet bloc ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Waldegrave : We welcome moves towards freedom and democracy in eastern Europe. They do not alter the need for us to maintain a sound defence, based on our NATO and Western European Union commitments.
Mr. Hanley : The whole House must welcome the exciting and hopeful events in the eastern bloc in the past few weeks, but will my hon. Friend please say whether the United Kingdom will be negotiating as an individual country with individual countries or as a member of the European Community and of NATO with a still-existing Warsaw pact?
Mr. Waldegrave : The conventional arms talks in Vienna--the CFE talks--are taking place under the Helsinki aegis. Technically, we do not negotiate alliance to alliance, but the NATO Alliance should concert its efforts. The importance of that Alliance remains.
Mr. Winnick : All Labour Members of Parliament who believe in civil liberties in all countries greatly welcome what has occurred in eastern Europe. Does the Minister agree that the ordinary people of Czechoslovakia and East Germany deserve to be fully congratulated on the way in which they have demonstrated against dictatorships and won? Next week the Czech people will, we hope, end 41 years of dictatorship.
14. Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will publish a table showing the areas of legislative decision making over which the European Economic Community has no competence following the implementing of the Single European Act and the European Court decisions which have clarified its scope of operation.
Mr. Taylor : Would it not help if the Government published a table showing which laws we can still pass in this House in a democratic manner? Does it not worry him that so many laws affecting the people of Britain are made in Brussels, where direct democracy is a sick joke? In view of the rising tide of concern, at least on the Conservative Benches, about some of the recent activities of the EEC, will the Government agree at least not to close the door on the sensible proposal advanced by President Mitterrand and others that Britain should consider rejoining the European Free Trade Association so that we could trade freely without all the Socialist nonsense being applied by Brussels?
Column 711Mr. Maude : I do not think that that is really what was being suggested. In any event, I cannot go along with my hon. Friend's suggestion that that would be a suitable way for us to proceed. Our role should be to play a central part in the development of the European Community. We have become increasingly influential in the discussions that have taken place and in shaping the way in which the European Community develops, and our priority should be to work hard to ensure that that happens.
My hon. Friend suggested that we should provide a list of matters which still fall to domestic competence, but surely that is the wrong way round. The Single European Act and the treaty of Rome set out explicitly those matters in which member states agreed that there should be Community competence. Everything else remains for the domestic Governments of member states. We shall watch extremely closely to ensure that Community competence is not extended in a way that is not justified by the treaty. We shall challenge when appropriate in the European Court and argue our case as we have always done successfully in the past.
Dr. Godman : Does the Minister agree that the recent interim injunction issued by the president of the European Court of Justice that led to the Government amending the Merchant Shipping Act 1988 plainly demonstrates the power of the European Court and the Commission over national legislatures and national legislation? What steps are the Government taking to avoid a repetition of such a decision?
Mr. Maude : The hon. Gentleman will know that we argued strongly against that interim judgment--I stress that it is an interim judgment--but we believe in the rule of law and if a court adjudicates so as to require us to follow its direction, we shall do so. It seems slightly at odds with the hon. Gentleman's contention that the party that he supports is concerned that we should sign up to a social charter which would encourage the imposition on us by Brussels of matters which are properly for this Parliament to decide.
Mr. Colvin : I accept that the so-called Sinatra doctrine is the wrong strategy for east-west relations, but does my hon. Friend accept that it would form a very good basis for our attitude towards the social charter?
Column 712the European Commission. I refer to the principle of subsidiarity, which says that member states should do what they can--
Mr. Maude : I will say it again for the hon. Gentleman's benefit. The European Community should carry out only those functions which cannot properly be carried out by member states. I wish that Opposition Members would follow the same practice.
Mr. Hurd : There are almost 57,000 Vietnamese boat people living in camps in Hong Kong, 12,800 of whom are refugees. The remainder either await screening, or have been determined after screening not to be eligible for refugee status as defined by the 1951 United Nations convention and 1967 protocol.
Mr. Alton : Now that the Vietnamese Government, in another cruel and ironic twist, have said that they will not accept any refugees who are forcibly repatriated, will the Foreign Secretary tell the House where that leaves British policy? Does he accept that in the light of international opposition to forcible repatriation and the payment of blood money we should drop that odious and repugnant policy and put our efforts into finding an internationally acceptable, compassionate and civilised solution?
Mr. Hurd : We are talking about the repatriation of people who, after careful screening, have been found not to be refugees. The international community has accepted that the right place for those people is Vietnam. That was the nature of the agreement last summer. There is nothing unique about such repatriation. It occurs frequently in many places. I have read the press report to which the hon. Gentleman refers. As I told the House on Friday, we are discussing ways and means with the Vietnamese Government and that remains the position.
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