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Mr. Henry Bellingham (North-West Norfolk): Before my right hon. and learned Friend moves on from Iraq, may I point out another blot in the Government's conduct? While there are literally millions of Iraqis still waiting for better services and a better infrastructure, is he aware that the Foreign Office has now appointed a gender equality adviser on about £150,000 plus a year and other expenses? Surely this is political correctness gone mad and a ridiculous insult to the Iraqi people.

Mr. Ancram: That certainly indicates two things: first, the Government's priorities in relation to what is happening in Iraq, and secondly, how bad the planning was for the post-war period in Iraq, if it was planned for at all, that they should have to make these arrangements now.

Mr. Straw: Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman say in which year between 1979 and 1997 the previous Conservative Government published a strategy paper of their foreign policy?

Mr. Ancram: We did not need one because we understood—[Laughter]—the principles which go to make up a foreign policy. Let me inform the House of a little more about the White Paper. An official in the Foreign Office talked about the purpose of this. He said:

He went on:

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After seven years this Government have realised that they have to start thinking very carefully. Their foreign policy over the past seven years has all been catch phrases and soundbites. In 1997 we had the "ethical foreign policy". That did not last long before it ran on to the rocks. Two years ago the Prime Minister gave us

which was closely followed by

They, too, have passed on. In the Gracious Speech there is no sign of a consistent foreign policy: just one more soundbite. It talks about helping

What on earth does that mean in practice? Yet more words. No shape, no direction, no purpose—just a series of reactions, or in some cases a shameful lack of reactions, to events as they happen.

Chris Bryant: The right hon. and learned Gentleman is accusing the Government of a foreign policy of catch-phrases and of not doing anything in concrete terms. Is not the truth of the matter that the Conservative Government let Kosovo bleed and only this Government took action?

Mr. Ancram: If the hon. Gentleman had been in the House, he would have heard the detailed debates on the Balkans and our discussions on the strategy and priorities in that area. We have here a Government who make much of their active engagement, but there is no philosophical strand behind what they are doing, no purpose and no direction.

I was coming to the omissions from the Gracious Speech, because they are indicative of the way in which the Government approach foreign affairs. Where is there any mention of Zimbabwe? I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Sir Nicholas Winterton) about the horrors perpetrated by the tyrant Mugabe on the suffering people of that once thriving land. If we believe in releasing oppressed people from despotism and restoring democracy, why does that belief seem to disappear into the sands of the frontiers of Zimbabwe?

Why when the people of Zimbabwe look to us for international leadership to end the deliberate starvation, murders, beatings, ethnic cleansing, abuse of human rights and suppression of free speech—all of them hallmarks of Mugabe's brutal regime—are we so feeble in our response? Why are we so half-hearted about targeted sanctions? Why do we not do what the Americans have done and take action against those who bankroll Mugabe? Why do we continue to baulk at raising Zimbabwe in the UN Security Council? Why do we always walk by on the other side? The time for appeasing Mugabe is over. Quiet diplomacy has failed. It is time to play hardball.

David Winnick: The Mugabe regime is absolutely disastrous. No one is likely to disagree with that, but can the right hon. and learned Gentleman explain why we stood on the other side when the genocide took place in Rwanda, where it is estimated that some 800,000 people perished? I do not remember any call from the Conservative Government of the time for intervention.

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Why did we show such indifference to what was happening in Bosnia? The reason I supported the action in Kosovo, apart from anything else, was to demonstrate that what we did not do in Bosnia we should do in Kosovo, and we did—congratulations to the Government.

Mr. Ancram: If the hon. Gentleman went to Zimbabwe, as I did, he would discover one thing, which filled me with shame. The people of Zimbabwe, black and white, said to me, "You know this country. You were involved in it. You have something to do with what is happening now. You have a responsibility to take action." They heard the Prime Minister say at his party conference that he would not tolerate the behaviour of Mugabe or his henchmen and then they saw nothing happen at all. They feel betrayed. I felt shame because they feel betrayed by a British Government.

The Gracious Speech refers to the celebrations that will mark the 100th anniversary of the entente cordiale with France, a country not over-renowned for its cordiality to us. Why then is it silent about celebrations to mark the 300th anniversary of British sovereignty over Gibraltar? The Government should be seeking to rebuild the shattered bridges of trust with the people of Gibraltar, who have always been loyal to this country. It should be a natural instinct to want to celebrate 300 years of British history and to reassert British sovereignty over the Rock. I understand that the big day will be 4 August. What plans have the Government to mark that great anniversary, and who will attend on behalf of the Government? Will the Foreign Secretary be there? Will the Prime Minister be there? Can the Foreign Secretary undertake before the House that the Government will not seek to dissuade the Queen or any other member of the royal family from taking part?

Mr. Cash: Will my right hon. and learned Friend note that it appears that the Government are not intending to take part in, or for that matter to make provision for, proper commemoration of the anniversary of the Normandy landings? Does he agree that the Government should make such provision?

Mr. Ancram: Indeed. This year will be a great test of the Government's patriotism, pride in the history of this country and belief in the importance of Britain. We will see over the next 12 months just how sincere their protestations about believing in Britain are.

May I come to Europe, or more specifically, the proposed European constitution? Over the past few weeks, the Government have been all over the shop. We have been told constantly by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary that that wretched constitution is essential to make the enlarged Europe work. As of Monday this week, it is apparently merely "highly desirable". For months, we have been told that the constitution does not involve fundamental change. Now we are told that, unless it is changed, the Government will veto it. The Foreign Secretary proclaims that the constitution

yet a

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the words used in the newspapers on Tuesday, otherwise known as the Foreign Secretary, suggested totally the opposite. We have had a week when, in the mouth of one man, two totally contradictory positions have been put forward. It will be interesting to see how he negotiates when he gets to Naples and whether he has made up his mind when he gets there.

No wonder the promised roadshows to sell the constitution have never seen the light of day. The Foreign Secretary would not know what to sell or how to sell it. It would be charitable to suggest that he and his team are merely incompetent and confused. It would not be the first time he has changed his mind on Europe. In October 1979, this great pro-European opposed the accession of Greece to the EEC because it would be

Three years later—I love the language that the Foreign Secretary used in those days—he was at it again, urging upon this House

What wonderful words. He went on.

And he calls us viscerally anti-European! That was what I suppose we can call the first Straw. Now we have to deal with the last Straw.

The Foreign Secretary talks about red lines. He knows that references to tax harmonisation, a single foreign and defence policy and social security are small parts of the treaty as it stands, if they are there at all. They are arguments that the Government should certainly win. He hopes that the British people will believe that he has fought for them and won, and that somehow, therefore, the constitution is all right; but the British people will not so easily be fooled, and even if those red lines had real merit, the Government must explain why, after months of negotiation, the red line on foreign policy and indeed on other matters appears in the latest Italian proposals to be moving in totally the opposite direction.

We do not believe in red lines. Like the Prime Minister three years ago, we do not believe that the constitution is necessary or desirable. We just want to get rid of the constitution, but we have a right to test the Foreign Secretary's position. If he were serious about red lines, he would tell us what specifically he wants to see put in the constitution and what specifically he wants taken out. Where among the so-called red lines is the Chancellor of the Exchequer's call three weeks ago for tax harmonisation to be explicitly excluded? Where is the prohibition on making the charter of fundamental rights legally binding, as promised by the Prime Minister on 15 October 2000? Where is the specific prohibition of the creation of a defence capability outside NATO? Where is the removal of the "escalator" clause, which if left intact will allow the EU to take control of defence and foreign policy without any reference back to national Parliaments?

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If red lines are to be credible, they must be more than the red herrings paraded this week. If the Government really meant business, those would have been included in the off the record briefing that we heard on Monday. This matter is too serious for smoke and mirrors. That is why in the end the British people must be allowed to decide in a referendum.

A Bill to allow for such a referendum on the new treaty should have been in the Gracious Speech. There is a referendum Bill in the Gracious Speech. It is on the wrong referendum. It is on the single currency, which will not happen, rather than on the constitution, which the Government for all their smoke and mirrors are apparently determined will happen.

It is a measure of the contempt that this Government have for the intelligence and good sense of the British people that there is not to be a referendum. We believe in trusting the British people and we will continue to campaign to allow them to have their say.

I make no bones about the fact that we are opposed to this or any European constitution. That is our red line. It is not just a matter of detail, although losing control of our asylum policy and perhaps of our oil are of immense importance. This constitution is a step change away from the Europe of nations towards a single European state. The rest of Europe knows it. As the Belgian Prime Minister said only yesterday, the constitution will be the "capstone" of a "federal state". He knows it. We know it. Only the British Government deny it. It is time that the Government came clean.

We want a Europe that is a genuine partnership of sovereign nations, which recognises differences as strength and not as weakness. We want to see the completion of the single market and the implementation of the Lisbon agenda. We want real deregulation. We want to promote greater accountability. We want to restore the primacy of the national Parliaments in the European Union, with power emanating from them and not from Brussels. We want a Europe for its peoples and not for its elites.

We want a Europe that can genuinely work in partnership with the United States; the phrase is mentioned in the Queen's Speech. That means creating a Europe with the flexibility to do so. It does not mean imitating the Prime Minister by being pro-American one day and pro-European the next. It does not mean, either, the fudged language of the Anglo-French summit on Monday, where we had the incredible spectacle of the French President praising the military capability of NATO—a military alliance in which the French refuse to participate and which it remains their intention to corrode. Nor was it served by the bland way in which the Prime Minister dismissed fears about the creation of a European military capability outside NATO, both in operational and planning terms.

We on this side of the House value NATO as the cornerstone of European security. That phrase used to appear in the Gracious Speech, but—interestingly—it was not present this year. We believe that the wholehearted commitment of the United States to NATO is vital, and we deprecate the tacit anti-Americanism that motivates some European leaders to seek a separate European military capability. It is not good enough for the Prime Minister to give repeated assurances about the primacy of NATO when

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indications from Paris and Berlin suggest a totally different intent. Playing fast and loose with NATO is dangerous for this country, for the transatlantic partnership and for the security of Europe.

The Foreign Secretary's speech was the speech of a man who has lost his way in a Government who never had one. As usual, he was long on rant and short on reason. He faithfully replicated the almost total lack of direction in national matters that marked the Gracious Speech. That lack of direction is now damaging our country. It is overstretching our armed forces, undermining our security, squandering our reputation for reliability and trustworthiness abroad and doing Britain down. Let us hope that this empty Gracious Speech marks the beginning of the end of this failing Government. For the sake of our country, that would not be before time.

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