Read the Third time, and passed.
Order for consideration, as amended, read.
To be considered tomorrow.
Mr. Brown : Obviously, both countries deserve to be recognised. Having said that, is not it clear that there can be no peace in the middle east until the Palestinian question is resolved? Will the Secretary of State set an example to his Israeli friends and recognise the Palestine Liberation Organisation as a Government in exile? Will he also allow it to set up an embassy in London? These questions are important.
Sir Michael Marshall : Does my right hon. Friend agree that there is a place for parliamentary contacts where we have no diplomatic relations? Does not the record in recent years show that such contacts can facilitate the resumption of diplomatic relations, especially if tackled on an all- party basis by Members of this House?
Mr. Hurd : I agree with that in particular cases, but perhaps not in all cases. I congratulate my hon. Friend on his recent success in the Inter -Parliamentary Union. Under his leadership there can be new opportunities for that organisation.
Column 252the Madrid peace talks, does the Foreign Secretary believe that it is any longer sensible for Ministers to continue to refuse even to talk to the PLO?
Mr. Hurd : The right hon. Gentleman is confusing two matters. It is certainly important for us to keep in touch with the Palestinians, which is why I answered the original supplementary question carefully. We keep in touch. I saw Mr. Faisal Husseini earlier in the year and the Minister of State, my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg), has met other Palestinians. I have already answered the question about contacts with the PLO.
Sir Robert Rhodes James : Although there is strong and real appreciation in the middle east of the British involvement in the Madrid peace process--not least among the Palestinians, as well as the Israelis-- will my right hon. Friend confirm that there are no ministerial contacts with the PLO?
Mr. Hurd : That is the position. The Palestinian part of the peace process is extremely important. By general agreement, the Palestinian component of the joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation handled itself extremely well--indeed, with distinction--at the Madrid conference. There is a balance within the Palestinian group. We want to act carefully in order not to disturb that balance. It is important for us to keep in touch with the Palestinians. We shall continue to do so on the basis that I have described.
Mr. Kaufman : Will the right hon. Gentleman join me once again in congratulating Mr. James Baker on the notable and indispensable part that he played in bringing about the Madrid conference? Will he pay tribute to all who participated in that conference, including the Palestinian representatives? Does he agree that if the Israeli authorities prosecuted Hannan Ashrawi, it would be an act of folly which would be destructive in further stages of the middle east peace process?
Mr. Hurd : I agree with the right hon. Gentleman's first remark. I have encouraged Secretary Baker to continue to give his personal impact to those negotiations because that is essential, and he is clearly willing to do so. As I said, the Palestinian delegation distinguished themselves in Madrid. I could see no advantage, and considerable disadvantage, if Hannan Ashrawi were to be prosecuted in the way that the right hon. Gentleman described.
The Minister for Overseas Development (Mrs. Lynda Chalker) : By 1992 -93, we will have more than tripled the original £15 million budget allocation for the know-how fund. At this stage we have no plans for further increases.
Mr. Rathbone : I welcome that positive action by the Government. Will representations to other Governments be as strong as possible to encourage them to make the sort of contributions to the know-how fund and to know-how activity that is absolutely crucial for the developing economies in central and eastern Europe, and without which they will never develop democratic politics as well?
Column 253Mrs. Chalker : My hon. Friend knows that the know-how fund is greatly admired by other donors and is very much appreciated in eastern Europe. We are told that it is the most flexible and fast-reacting source of aid, and that is exactly why we have pursued that route. We agree that it is the best way to help those countries to establish sound democracies and a sound economy.
Dr. Kim Howells : The Minister will be aware that one of the most serious problems affecting the economies of central and eastern Europe is an energy shortage, which is mainly due to the destruction of hydrocarbon supplies from the Soviet Union. Will she ensure that all encouragement is given to the undoubted expertise in oil and gas exploration and technology in this country to aid the Romanians to revive their ailing oil and gas industries?
Mrs. Chalker : I am aware that a number of United Kingdom oil and gas companies are extremely interested. They have not come to us for specific assistance under the know-how fund. Should they do so, we shall obviously consider it sympathetically in line with the priorities that we have set. Romania has a slightly smaller programme than the other countries, but we wish it to return to the path of good government and sound economics, and the fund is part of that.
Mr. Atkinson : Is my right hon. Friend aware that during a recent visit I made to Albania on behalf of the Council of Europe, politicians of all parties expressed a keen interest in receiving British know-how, but were disappointed that we have yet to establish a British embassy in Tirane"? When does she anticipate that that can be resolved?
Mrs. Chalker : We must keep the matter under review. The economic and political position is very confused in Tirane". We understand Albania's anxiety for British representation, and I shall keep that very much in the forefront of our consideration.
Mr. Robertson : May I associate myself with the praise that has been heaped on the know-how fund? It has been an enormous success in central and eastern Europe. Throughout most of those countries the universal view is that Britain should do more to enhance its reputation through the fund. Will the Minister ensure that pressure is put on the Treasury, and kept on, to ensure that appropriate resources are made available? Will he further ensure that there is no inflexibility in the criteria, so that British know -how in areas such as local government and social services can also be exported?
Mrs. Chalker : I thank the hon. Gentleman for his remarks. We are grateful to him and to all the other people who serve on the advisory board of the know-how fund. We should concentrate our help on banking and financial services. They are not the only priority, but they are the highest. The banking system and the economic reforms must work in those countries before anything else can happen. It is a crucial part of their economic regeneration, and it is on that basis that other services can follow. I very much hope that the work that we are already doing will lead to initiatives being taken by those countries as a result of the guidance that we have given at local government, as well as national, level.
3. Mr. Pawsey : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on developments in United Kingdom-Nepalese relations since the general election there earlier this year.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Mark Lennox-Boyd) : I recently visited Nepal and was greatly impressed by the commitment of the Nepalese people to the multi- party democratic system of government under a constitutional monarchy. I was also gratified by the immense good will and friendship towards Britain which I encountered on all sides.
Mr. Pawsey : I thank my hon. Friend for another illuminating and helpful reply. I believe that he has just returned from his second visit to Nepal--a country with which this country has had good relations for about 175 years. Can he say what further action we may take to establish democracy firmly there?
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : We are immensely keen to help consolidate democracy in Nepal. We provide a substantial amount of aid, and £1 million of our aid money is committed for good government projects. Those projects are still to be selected. Following the imaginative suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Thorne), in recognition of Nepal's return to democracy we are presenting to the Nepalese Parliament a throne for its Speaker.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : Yes, certainly those are all included in our aid programme which, as I have said, is substantial, amounting to some £17 million a year. That is nearly double what it was four years ago.
Mr. Thorne : I thank my hon. Friend for his kind remarks. Bearing in mind that 500,000 Nepalese soldiers served with the British forces in the two world wars, that no fewer than 50,000 were either killed or seriously wounded, that 13 won Victoria Crosses, that 13 British officers serving with the Gurkhas also won Victoria Crosses, and that under "Options for Change" we are proposing to reduce the number of Gurkhas from 8,000 to 2,500, can my hon. Friend assure the House that the Foreign Office will take into account the reduction in what amounts to aid, currently provided through pay and pensions, in its future plans for aid to Nepal?
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : We are all impressed by the Gurkhas, and anyone who has visited Nepal and seen them in operation is even more impressed. We are helping with some specific problems that will occur in the run-down, such as the expansion of the former military hospital at Dharan. My hon. Friend will be aware that the terms of redundancy that are to be provided will be a significant improvement on previous terms. There is also a significant programme to help with the resettlement of former Gurkha soldiers.
Mr. Hurd : This question is constantly reviewed. Those Yugoslav republics which want independence will get it, but recognition now would not stop the fighting. We have to judge whether recognition of two republics now would increase the very real danger of civil war in other republics.
Mr. Alton : Now that the German Government have signalled their intention in the foreseeable future to recognise Croatia, would not it be a morally important statement for the British Government to do likewise and stand alongside this cruelly treated people? Now that humanitarian sea lanes are to be open, does the Foreign Secretary accept that there may also be merit in the British Government promoting the idea of an internationally enforced sky protection zone over Croatia to prevent incursions and the further bombardment of Croatian cities? Such a sky shield would protect people from further massacre and the destruction of Croatia's heritage.
Mr. Hurd : European Community Governments will probably continue to act together on this matter. As I have said before, my worry is that if we recognise the two republics that the hon. Gentleman mentions, we may force the pace and create an explosion in Kosovo, Bosnia and Macedonia, where there are tensions and possibilities of bloodshed and civil war that go beyond anything that we have seen even in Croatia.
There is another possibility, to which the hon. Gentleman alluded. There is now a chance of progress via measures such as those that the EC has taken, and via the possibility of a United Nations peacekeeping force. We are pressing forward examination of those in the Security Council. The new element is that both the Serbs and the Croats have, for the first time, shown a general willingness to accept such a force.
Mr. Aitken : Will my right hon. Friend make it clear whether his answer, which displayed an understandable degree of elegant procrastination, will lead to the Government saying that the Yugoslav federation as we know it has no diplomatic future?
Mr. Hurd : I think that Yugoslavia as we know it has come to an end. It is not yet clear what kind of agreements the six republics might be able to reach about future co-operation, but they will certainly not be on the old basis.
Mr. Kaufman : As the right hon. Gentleman referred to action in the Security Council, and in the light of the fall of Vukovar and the continuing horrendous threat to Dubrovnik, will he seek to obtain agreement for a Security Council resolution imposing comprehensive sanctions, including an international oil ban, on the whole area, as a way of exerting pressure to bring the fighting to an end?
Mr. Hurd : The three EC members of the Security Council--Britain, France and Belgium--have reached agreement on what we want the Security Council to do. Our representatives are now canvassing support for that. I am not sure whether we shall get the support, but the plan includes the elements mentioned by the right hon.
Column 256Gentleman, and encouragement for the concept of a United Nations peacekeeping force once the appropriate conditions exist.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Garel-Jones) : Our relations with the Baltic states are good. We welcomed their independence in August. We now are offering them help in consolidating their independence and rebuilding their economies. We are already backing projects in three states through the know-how fund. My hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State visited the states in September immediately after we re-established diplomatic relations with them to underline our support. British ambassadors are now operating in all three Baltic capitals. They are doing a good job under difficult circumstances. Mr. Coombs : Does my hon. Friend think that the Labour party was acting in the best interests of Britain and of our Baltic friends when, in 1969, it did a deal with Brezhnev and handed over the Baltic gold?
Mr. Garel-Jones : The hon. Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson) looks anxious, as indeed he might, because one of the current concerns of the Baltic states is the return of their gold. That matter is high on their agenda, and the hon. Gentleman may recall that the Labour party has distinguished itself over the past 40 years by being wrong about practically every foreign policy and defence issue that has come before it. On few occasions has it shown less moral scruple than when it made a deal with Brezhnev to dispose of the Soviet gold. The Conservative party opposed that agreement--my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) was one of those who voted against it. We thought it wrong then and we still think so. We do not know what legal or moral basis there was for it. My hon. Friend will be relieved to know that my hon. and learned Friend, my fellow Minister of State, is having constructive discussions with our friends in the Baltic states on the matter.
Mr. Field : Will my hon. Friend confirm that as part of that remarkable deal the then Labour Government paid a £500,000 sweetener to the Soviet Government? Can he give a categorical assurance to the House that none of that money was used by the Soviet Communist party to try to destabilise this country and foment industrial disputes, as it has now admitted that it did?
Column 257Liberals here, the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel) and the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber (Sir R. Johnston).
I can give my hon. Friend the Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Field) no assurance about the eventual destiny of that money. At that time the Conservative party voted against the Bill because we thought that it was entirely wrong. The discussions that the Minister of State, my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) is now having with the Baltic states are taking place in a constructive atmosphere. We hope to reach a satisfactory solution to this matter.
Mr. Galloway: Coming from the party that went to Munich to betray Czechoslovakia-- [Interruption.] I find the recourse to a 20-year- old smear by the Foreign Office Minister most unseemly. It might have something to do with the forthcoming general election when any smear will do.
Since the Minister is so concerned about the gold belonging to the Baltic states, will he see justice done for the poorest country in Europe, Albania, whose gold is in the Bank of England and was stolen from that country four decades ago? [Interruption.]
I have a serious question. What representations have the Government made about the new proposal, particularly in Latvia, to restrict citizenship to those whose descendants came from the Baltic states and to those who speak the Baltic languages? Are we making representations to widen the terms of citizenship in those three states to avoid their being turned into three Ulsters?
Mr. Garel-Jones : Certainly, the hon. Gentleman has made an important point. Respect for human rights and minorities and, in particular, respect for those who speak minority languages or come from a minority ethnic group is an important matter. We have, of course, stressed to our friends in the Baltic states that their membership of the CSCE-- Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe--process and their aspirations to join the Council of Europe will naturally depend to a great extent upon their ability to meet international standards in such matters.
Column 258meeting. We hope that enough progress can be made for that objective to be accomplished, and shall continue to give the Secretary-General of the United Nations our full support.
Mr. Squire : With the tragedy that is Cyprus today and the role that we have as a guarantor power, will my right hon. Friend confirm that he is prepared to use the framework of the Western European Union to press for an acceptable solution--acceptable to all sides in Cyprus? Will he bear in mind in particular that many Greek Cypriots are concerned about the Turkish guarantee that overhangs all the proceedings?
Mr. Hurd : The best instrument for reaching agreement in Cyprus remains the United Nations. My hon. Friend rightly referred to our job as a guarantor power and, in that respect, we must do everything we can with the Turks, the Greeks and the Cypriots to help Secretary-General Perez De Cuellar to make some progress in his remaining weeks of office. I had hoped that some progress would be made in the autumn and I am disappointed that that has not happened. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and I have tried, together with all those I have described, to put impetus behind the process. I hope that the new Turkish Government will pay full and constructive attention to what the Secretary General is trying to do.
Mr. Faulds : As British Governments of both colours have failed the Turkish Cypriot community in Cyprus, to whom they undertook certain responsibilities under the constitution of 1960 and the treaty of guarantee, would not it be advisable for the Government to be a bit more sensitive to the concerns of the Turkish Cypriots who do not want to see-- under whatever agreement, which may be too favourable to the Greek Cypriots --a return to the situation in the 1960s? In 1963, Makarios aborted the constitution and totally destroyed Turkish Cypriot rights.
Mr. Hurd : There is much more to the history of Cyprus than that. A heavy responsibility falls on Mr. Denktash, who is the acknowledged leader of the Turkish community in Cyprus. He has a strong responsibility not to be content with the status quo, but to exert himself to try to find an answer, community to community, to settle the dispute.
Mr. Tredinnick : Is my right hon. Friend aware that some British companies have not received the compensation due to them from the Turkish authorities controlling northern Cyprus? Does he agree that steps must be taken to persuade the Turkish authorities to give such compensation, because it is causing great hardship? A company in my constituency is in that position. Will my right hon. Friend undertake to look at the question afresh, please?
Sir Russell Johnston : Does the Foreign Secretary agree that an international conference as proposed simply would not succeed unless Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities admit that they have both been responsible for atrocities and extremism?
Column 259Governments and representatives of the two communities. There seemed to be the prospect of such a conference in the late summer and autumn and the chance that it might make progress. That chance has faded, but we must try to recreate it.
Mr. Anderson : Will the Secretary of State lay aside diplomatic niceties for a moment and say that that hope has receded since July as a direct result of the intransigence of Mr. Denktash, who has made no move despite the fact that concessions have been made by the other side? Is it not now time to say that clearly and to work with, we hope, the new Turkish Government, to bring pressure on Mr. Denktash to show some realism in the matter?
Mr. Hurd : I answered the hon. Member for Warley, East (Mr. Faulds) with my view about Mr. Denktash's responsibilities. I agree that the reaction and response of Mr. Denktash is an important part of unlocking the position.
Mr. Day : Does my right hon. Friend agree that one of the difficulties of the tragic situation in Cyprus is that the Greek Cypriot Government are recognised as the Government of the whole island, whereas the Turkish invasion was precipitated by the Greek Cypriot coup, which destroyed the 1960 constitution? The Government recognise that constitution as giving the present Greek Cypriot Government legitimacy.
Mr. Hurd : There is a lot of history to Cyprus. That is part of it, as is the Turkish invasion of 1974. We recognise the Government of the Republic of Cyprus as the Government of the whole of Cyprus. We recognise that it is crucial for any settlement that there be agreement between the two communities, as communities. That was all set out in the recent Security Council resolution to which I referred in my reply and for which we voted.
8. Mr. Dunnachie : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether Her Majesty's Government support the United Nations-led efforts to send a Portuguese parliamentary mission to East Timor.
Mr. Dunnachie : In view of the appalling massacre that took place last week in East Timor, will the Government call on the United Nations Security Council to discuss East Timor? Will they press the Security Council to send monitoring teams to East Timor? What action, other than bland expressions of concern, will they take against Indonesia?
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : We are not in the business of making bland expressions of concern. I was answering precisely the hon. Gentleman's question. The developments that have taken place led to my right hon. Friend the Minister of State expressing the Government's worry to the Indonesian ambassador on 13 November. Ministers are following developments most closely. The Indonesian
Column 260Government have announced a commission of inquiry into the events in East Timor. We shall consider the position further in the light of that report.
Mr. Couchman : When my right hon. Friend the Minister of State next has contact with the Indonesian ambassador, will he express the abhorrence of the House at the indiscriminate shooting of men, women and children in Dili, which I visited three years ago with other hon. Members? Will my right hon. Friend stress that, if this country is to develop further productive relations with Indonesia, a most important country, such outrageous behaviour must cease?
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : I can certainly agree with my hon. Friend--that incident was most regrettable, particularly in light of the fact that the human rights record of Indonesia had been improving in recent years.
Mr. Foulkes : The Minister's complacency is appalling. Is he aware that the massacre in Indonesia was as intensive as that of the killing fields of Cambodia and took place in a country that Indonesia occupied illegally? As the Government are allegedly concerned about the appalling human rights record, why do they sell frigates, aircraft, missiles and armoured cars to Indonesia and provide military training for Indonesian troops? That position was intensified in September, when the Secretary of State for Defence visited Indonesia to seek out more military contracts. Is it not time that the Government stopped selling arms to a country with such a brutal regime? If they do not, they will be guilty of the worst sort of hypocrisy.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : We do not allow the export of arms and equipment likely to be used against the civil population. [Interruption.] Let me indicate the European Community declaration of 13 November, of which our support was at the forefront. The declaration vehemently condemned the violence and urged the Indonesian Government to ensure that members of the Indonesian armed forces and police in East Timor refrained immediately from using violence, and that members of the armed forces and police who were responsible should be brought to trial. We welcomed the news that the Indonesian authorities were mounting an investigation, which would have to be carried out promptly, fully and fairly.
10. Mr. Jacques Arnold : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on co-operation and co -ordination between Foreign Ministers of the European Community.
Mr. Hurd : I meet my European Community colleagues often. We have increasingly developed the habit of co-operation and common action among the Twelve. The system has worked flexibly and effectively to Britain's advantage.
Mr. Arnold : Given the record of the European Commission to interfere in every nook and cranny in this country and others throughout Europe, is it not clear that the foreign policy of this country and the European Community should continue to be developed by the
Column 261Foreign Ministries of the Twelve? Should not our efforts be put into improving the mechanisms and practices of co- operation between the Twelve?
Mr. Hurd : There is a lot in that. The Commission is present at the political co-operation meetings, which proves useful and important, but it does not have the monopoly of initiative, as it would have if the meetings took place under the treaty of Rome.
Mr. Ernie Ross : While we have co-operation and co-ordination, will the Secretary of State encourage our European partners to start a true dialogue with the Palestine Liberation Organisation? The Secretary of State will know that it was one of his predecessors, Lord Carrington, who was instructed by the former Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher), not to have formal contacts with the PLO in 1980. Given the success in getting the Israelis and Palestinians round the table, would it not make more sense for the Government to right that wrong and ensure that, during our presidency from July onwards, we talk directly to the PLO?
Mr. Hurd : I had three questions on this point a few minutes ago. I tried to explain then the basis on which we maintain contacts with the Palestinians. I hope that I chose my words with some care ; I do not want to add to them.
Mr. Cyril D. Townsend : In considering what possible action to take against Libya in future, will my right hon. Friend work extremely closely with his European Community opposite numbers? Will he take note of the number of Arab countries that have been strongly opposed to many Libyan terrorist activities over the years?
Mr. Hurd : I agree that, in handling the present situation after the issue of the Lockerbie warrants, we need to keep in close touch both with Arab friends and European partners, and that is what we are doing. I should have thought that the present requirement of the whole civilised world is relatively simple. It is that the Libyans should hand over to the United States or British jurisdiction the two named officials against whom the crime of mass murder is alleged in the warrants issued by the Advocate- General.
12. Mr. Beith : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent meetings he has had with his EC counterparts to discuss the development of democratic accountability in the European Community.
Mr. Garel-Jones : My right hon. Friend met our colleagues from the other member states of the Community for two days last week at Noordwijk. Strengthening democratic accountability in the Community was one of the issues discussed.