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Sir Peter Emery (East Devon): Does the hon. and learned Gentleman agree that that is consistent with the resolution adopted in Edinburgh by the North Atlantic Assembly--all 16 members of NATO--who are working towards that form of nuclear armament solution?

Mr. Campbell: In acknowledging that, I pay tribute to the right hon. Gentleman, who is a member of the standing committee of the North Atlantic Assembly and has been extremely active in these matters. He promoted a resolution through the last meeting of the North Atlantic Assembly, with which he will no doubt deal in more detail. In that resolution, he underlined the need for financial assistance in order to keep existing nuclear weapons in certain parts of the world safe as they deteriorate lack of proper maintenance and as a result of control.

What about promoting a nuclear weapons register? The Foreign Secretary endorsed the idea in opposition in April 1995. What about serious efforts to promote a strategic arms reduction treaty for all states with nuclear weapons? I remind the House that it is clear that, as a result of economic pressure, the Duma and the Pentagon are now rethinking nuclear policy, to the extent that the Pentagon is apparently contemplating recommending that the United States could go below the permitted levels in the strategic arms reduction treaty 1--START 1. Surely if the economic pressure is such that reduction is in the mind of nuclear weapons states, this is a propitious time for fresh initiatives.

There is one reference in the Gracious Speech that excites my attention, my admiration and even, I suppose, my disbelief. That is the reference to the common foreign and security policy. Regular attenders on these occasions will know that I have from time to time made speeches on the topic of the common foreign and security policy. Even I, optimist that I am, would have to acknowledge that they have not always been well received in the House.

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The Prime Minister's speech to the North Atlantic Assembly in Edinburgh, and his article in The Washington Post, which was mentioned earlier, are a welcome recognition of the need to improve co-operation in European defence. One might even describe it as an example of constructive government.

What is required is a European security and defence identity that allows Europe to maintain an effective partnership with the United States, but is sufficiently developed to enable Europe to handle crises such as Kosovo. Not only has Michael Portillo spoken on the subject, but Lord Hurd said recently that we need a Europe which in relation to the United States is


a theme that he repeated in the Churchill lecture at the Guildhall earlier this week before a distinguished audience that included the shadow Foreign Secretary, whom I did not hear dissenting publicly from Lord Hurd's proposition, although later he may have raised the issue with him privately.

Mr. Howard: Does the hon. and learned Gentleman recall that my noble Friend Lord Hurd said in his extremely interesting speech that it was not as a consequence of an absence of machinery that Europe was not providing a valid partnership--precisely the point that I made this morning?

Mr. Campbell: Interpreting not just the language, but the body language and the temperature of what the right hon. and learned Gentleman said, it would have been a little difficult to perceive him as being in precisely the same camp as Lord Hurd on the issue. I am happy to let the record show where the right hon. and learned Gentleman stands.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman is right to make the point about institutions. Any debate about increased defence co-operation must not be allowed to grind into the quicksand of an interminable wrangle about a possible institutional framework. Increased co-operation will arise out of political will. It is right for the Government to say that now is the time to try to assemble that political will.

Lord Hurd made another point of substance, which was that an acknowledgement by the countries of Europe that they need to take defence seriously in order to further a common foreign and security policy requires them to accept that they cannot have the political influence without paying for the military capability. That means resources. If we are serious about greater co-operation in European defence, we must look around Europe and see the levels of gross domestic product at which defence is currently funded by some of those who are apparently the most enthusiastic advocates of greater co-operation. They cannot have the political influence unless they are willing to pay the military and the financial price.

Mr. Jenkin: Does that not underline the futility of the hon. and learned Gentleman's policy? How could Europe mount a serious operation--for example, in the former Yugoslavia--without the communications, command and control, and heavy lift capacity provided by the United States? Is it realistic to contemplate our investing in such infrastructure in Europe, when all the countries around Europe are reducing their defence budgets, as we are?

Mr. Campbell: The hon. Gentleman has allowed two facts to escape his notice. First, the strategic defence

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review proposes the acquisition of four C17s or their equivalent, by way of heavy lift capacity, and the acquisition of roll on/roll off ferries. One of the most welcome aspects of the strategic defence review, in so far as it seeks to promote an expeditionary strategy, is that the Government seem to be bent on acquiring the capability necessary to support that strategy.

The second point that the hon. Gentleman omitted in his customary zeal to be part of the debate was that the concept of combined joint task forces was accepted as long ago as 1995 by the United States. NATO resources--command and control, intelligence and heavy lift--would be made available to the Europeans for operations in which the Europeans had an interest in participating, but which were no part of the responsibility or the interest of the United States.

We should always be grateful that the United States helps in situations such Bosnia and Kosovo. We should be ashamed that that help is necessary. The total spent on defence in what we used to call western Europe shows that we do not have the political will to make more effective use of resources.

We shall judge the Government's foreign and defence policy over the period of this Parliament on its merits, and where the national interest is served we shall support them. If we believe that they have fallen from even their own high standards, we shall say so. We consistently supported the previous Government on the Maastricht treaty, because we believed that it was in the national interest to do so. That will drive our attitudes towards the foreign affairs issues that arise in the next 12 months.

We shall try to hold the Government to the ethical dimension of their foreign policy. I doubt whether we shall be quite as partisan as the right hon. and learned Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Howard), but I do not believe that the country would expect that of us, any more than it expects it of him.

11.21 am

Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North): I welcome the debate. I endorse the view of the hon. Member for Hertford and Stortford (Mr. Wells), who wanted debates on specific areas of foreign policy such as development and international trade policies, which have just as much impact on world affairs and on the affairs of this country as the issues that will be raised in this debate.

We should consider the problems facing the world, and what contribution we are making to solving the difficulties. I believe that one of the most important issues facing the planet is environmental destruction, which continues despite various conventions and the Buenos Aires climate summit. The gap between the richest and poorest in the world is growing, and the increasing impoverishment of many of the poorest people in the poorest countries will come to haunt us as a richer country. It cannot be right that some parts of the world have falling living standards, falling life expectancy and increasing poverty. Linked to that is the systematic abuse of human rights around the world, which often leads to armed conflict when regimes abuse human rights and try to oppress their people.

I hope that those matters will be debated in the near future in the international economic arena, because the multilateral agreement on investment talks broke down owing to the differences between the north and the south,

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and over environmental issues. We need to develop policies for a sustainable planet and ensure that human and other forms of life survive, because they depend on each other. We cannot do that at the same time as encouraging a rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels, transport around the world and a growth in trade, which we know full well cause enormous damage to the environment. Agreements on investment and trade must be focused more on environmental concerns than on the needs of global corporations, which seem to be running the world's trade system.

In Europe, we are subjected to constant pressure from business to reduce labour costs and to increase competition and investment. Much of that demand is driven by the conditions in low-wage economies, where few rights are enjoyed and low unit labour costs apply. At the end of this century and into the next, we should strengthen the work of international institutions such as the United Nations and, particularly, the International Labour Organisation, to eliminate child labour across the planet and to ensure the basic rights of people at work to join trade unions and to have representation. Because those rights are denied in many countries, working conditions are bad, which pulls down the working conditions of people in more developed economies in other parts of the world.

I want to refer to defence spending. Before Opposition Members get too excited, I shall declare--goodness knows how many times I have done this--my membership of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. I joined it at the age of 15, I have never left it and I have no plans to do so, and I am a member of its national council. That is all on the record, so my views are well known.

As the hon. and learned Member for North-East Fife (Mr. Campbell) said, there was no mention of disarmament policies in the Queen's Speech. We are one of the five nuclear weapons states. We have apparently decided to go ahead with the Trident submarine fleet--as we went ahead with Polaris--and have maintained an American nuclear weapons capability for a long time. Will the Secretary of State for Defence, when he winds up the debate, say something about the cost of the Trident fleet? The money that has been spent has sustained the American defence industry in preparation for its next tranche of orders. Will my right hon. Friend confirm that there will be no orders for any other nuclear weapon system when Trident finally reaches the end of its life? As a gesture towards a peaceful future and nuclear disarmament, will he detarget Trident, take it off patrol and consider eventually decommissioning it?

If we are serious about a non-nuclear world, we must take some steps in that direction. The new agenda coalition resolution that was put to the United Nations is a good step forward. It was supported by a wide variety of countries: Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Slovenia, South Africa and Sweden. The resolution includes the words:


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    I am disappointed that that resolution was not supported by the British Government or by any of the nuclear weapons states.

Unless we seriously discuss disarmament issues through the forum of the United Nations, who are we to protest when India, Pakistan, Israel, South Africa and other countries develop the capability of producing--if not produce--nuclear weapons? I participated in the debate in the House in July, which totally and absolutely condemned the nuclear weapons testing by India and Pakistan. We were right to do so, because it was a waste of resources.

It is appalling that countries that desperately need money for education, health and development spend money on nuclear weapons. We must recognise that they are saying that if it is good enough for five nuclear weapons states to expand their nuclear capability--in Britain through the acquisition of the Trident submarine--it is good enough for them. Are not our protests difficult for people in those countries to take? We must do far more about nuclear disarmament, otherwise the non-proliferation treaty will mean nothing, because it will be broken with impunity by a large number of nations.

I intervened on the Foreign Secretary's speech to raise the issue of Israeli nuclear weapons. I have no truck with Iraq or any other country in the region that holds weapons of mass destruction. I am no supporter of or apologist for Saddam Hussein. We should be equally critical of Israel for having a nuclear weapons programme, and for the abominable treatment of Mordecai Vanunu, who had the courage and honesty to say what was happening in Israel. For his pains, he was hijacked from Rome, tried by a secret court and imprisoned. He has spent 11 years in solitary confinement and two years in a more normal prison environment. He is a prisoner of conscience. He has gained nothing from it: he merely blew the whistle.

We should examine what the United States is doing with its plutonium-powered Cassini project, which is a sling-shot nuclear device through space. It is unnecessary to use plutonium in space unless there is a military purpose--unless it is thought somewhere in the Pentagon that the total high ground might be the nuclearisation of space. That gives great cause for concern. I hope that the British Government will raise the issue in international disarmament talks.

I absolutely agree with the point that the hon. and learned Member for North-East Fife raised concerning arms sales. If we, as a country, allow arms to be sold to countries that abuse human rights, that have dictatorial Governments, and that have no respect for freedom of speech, freedom of association and all the provisions of the universal declaration of human rights and the convention on the rights of asylum in the Geneva convention, we are hardly in a position to complain about those abuses of human rights. It is a bit thin if we complain about human rights abuses in Indonesia when we have provided planes and weapons that have been used against the people of East Timor. Likewise, we are providing arms to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, both of which have appalling human rights records. Similarly, I suspect that the war in eastern Turkey is not helped by the provision of arms to the Turkish army by many western countries.

As we approach the end of the century, we should aim to reduce military spending, to spend nothing on nuclear armaments and to look towards a more peaceful future.

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The Italian Parliament is actively investigating a proposal for an alternative peace tax, equivalent to conscientious objection. Such a tax would enable people to pay their money in for peaceful purposes--for UN-type peacekeeping operations, and for a more peaceful and peacekeeping role for our armed services instead of the more aggressive role that they currently play.

I have tabled several questions to the Ministry of Defence and the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the issue of diverting money raised from taxation into purposes more peaceful than that of subsidising the development of the United Kingdom arms industry. That would be a good direction to take as we enter the 21st century, as an alternative to increasing arms production and, with it, the likelihood of wars. An awful lot of wars are going on in the world at any one time--largely driven by the demand for resources, and largely fuelled by the imbalance of wealth and power in our planet.

My second general point concerns human rights. The hon. and learned Member for North-East Fife suggested a Select Committee on arms expenditure and arms sales throughout the world; there is some merit in that. There is also a strong case for a parliamentary commission or parliamentary Select Committee on human rights issues worldwide, to give us more direct, hands-on experience of dealing with the issue. The Foreign Affairs Committee has to deal with foreign policy, human rights and the United Nations at the same time. I am not criticising the Committee; I am suggesting that there should be greater parliamentary scrutiny of human rights issues throughout the world. Such scrutiny takes place in many Parliaments.

Some countries regard human rights as partly a development issue--they argue that human rights are all about providing food, water, shelter, education, hospitals and housing. There is some truth in that. Indeed, the universal declaration of human rights says that human rights include all those aspects.

I do not want to detract from the status of human rights as a development issue, but in my opinion it is fundamentally wrong to suggest that human rights abuses never take place in developed countries. It is wrong that independent free trade unions do not exist--or that their leaders are arrested--in China, and that a free press does not exist in China and other countries. We must raise the issues of human rights globally. The universal declaration of human rights is now 50 years old, yet human rights continue to be abused pretty badly in an awful lot of places. That is one of the causes of refugee flows, but it is more likely to bring to power oppressive regimes that prevent people from expressing their views because those people know that, were they to do so, their views would be contrary to those regimes and the oligarchies that support them.

I welcome the Government's view that human rights are at the heart of our foreign policy, but they must be effective at the heart of it. That means taking hard decisions. I return to my point about arms sales. If we are serious about preventing human rights abuses, why are we selling any arms to Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and other nations that abuse human rights?

I am well aware of Madam Speaker's ruling on sub judice concerning the Pinochet case. However, it is right and proper for us to discuss the situation of Chile and relations between Britain and Chile. I have taken a close interest in Chile for a very long time. I regret to have to

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tell the House that I first visited Chile 29 years ago; I have followed the situation there closely ever since. Many of us, throughout the world, had a sense of enormous hope in 1970 when, in Chile, a Government were elected who were trying to conquer poverty in Latin America and promote land reform and free education. Many of us have a horror of the visions of 1973--of British-built war planes bombing the elected president out of office into death, and of the loss of life that occurred thereafter.

The other night, I heard Harold Pinter say on television that the situation in Chile was the equivalent of having a Fred West-type cellar in every town, as people were taken away and tortured, never to be seen again. That horror lives on in the lives of ordinary people in Chile. They are looking not for retribution, but for human rights and justice. A democracy is strengthened by an investigation of its past and by bringing to justice people who have committed vile and gross acts of torture. That is what the current debate and campaign must be about. Between 1973 and 1990, the British Government, to their shame, provided arms to the regime.

Although current international law may be inadequate in many ways, earlier this year, we set up the process for an international criminal court. That is a very important step forward. International tribunals may be the logical way forward. Surely, as a planet, we must say that, when people commit gross acts of violation of human rights, when thousands die, when thousands disappear, when books are burnt in the street and when tanks gun down protesters in the street, something must be done, and there cannot be a hiding place for those who perpetrate such crimes.

I hope that the people of Chile see some justice. If one has lost family and friends, and witnessed such violations of human rights, one expects the rest of the world to do something. If human rights are violated, it is not a matter for any one country. In 1945, the Nuremberg tribunal was set up because what had happened was a matter not just for Germany, but for the whole world. Equally, what happened in Cambodia was a matter for the whole world. There are many other unfortunate examples.

I hope that, as we near the end of the century, we shall be far more serious about human rights. Individual countries may have to pay an economic price for such seriousness. However, if we thereby make the world a better and safer place, so that dictators do not rise up with such ease and are not funded so liberally by so many vested interests worldwide, we shall have done something useful.


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