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I wholly agree with the right hon. and learned Gentleman, but does he agree with me that what applies to the Scottish regiments definitely applies to the
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English ones, and that there are ways of doing what the Chief of the General Staff rightly wants to do without resorting to the super-regiment concept?
Mr. Michael Moore (Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale) (LD): My right hon. and learned Friend has made a powerful case for the Black Watch; will he endorse the case for the regiments in the south of Scotland? A particularly insensitive and nonsensical suggestion has been made that the King's Own Scottish Borderers and the Royal Scots should be merged into one of the new battalions within that super-regiment.
Sir Menzies Campbell: My hon. Friend makes a powerful point, which is consistent with my general case that we should maintain these connections because of the tremendous contribution that they have made in the past. This is not an argument about nostalgia or an argument for the old comrades. It is an argument for ensuring that what we retain is effective and continues to make the contribution to the Army in the future that it has made in the past.
I would like to say a few words about reform of the United Nations. The Secretary-General's high-level panel is due to report on 1 December. The UN's institutional framework inevitably reflects the political and strategic thinking of the time of its formationnow more than 50 years ago. No one could argue against the proposition that the UN needs to be modernised and made more effective and representative. The Security Council has to be expanded in a way that reflects the new political realities, but there must also be clear rules about the use of force.
In a speech in Chicago in 1999it is, in my view, not sufficiently well regarded or referred tothe Prime Minister made a powerful case for the right of intervention where there was systematic abuse of human rights. It was consistent with his approach to Kosovoan approach that I and my colleagues wholly supported. The Secretary-General of the UN himself said in a telling phrase that we should somehow be less concerned with the sovereignty of nations and more concerned with the sovereignty of individuals.
The argument for a right of intervention will undoubtedly run and be embraced: references will be made to it in the high-level panel's report. The criteria that need to be taken into account are the seriousness of what is taking place; the absence of alternatives; whether intervention is truly a last resort; the primary purpose; the proportionality of the means; the likely outcome; and the authority required. I offer those criteria in the clear understanding that they were not taken into account when the decision was made to take military action against Iraq.
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Two relationships will dominate foreign affairs for the foreseeable future: our relationship with Europe and our relationship with the United States. I want to reaffirm that we should understand and appreciate that the European Union has promoted and reinforced peace and prosperity, stability and democracy throughout Europe. We too often forget that in recent history, eight of the EU's new members were Soviet satellites, and three of its older membersSpain, Portugal and Greecewere ruled by dictatorships. I have no doubt whatever that our prosperity is underpinned by membership of what is now the largest internal market in the world, with some 450 million people and 20 per cent. of the world's gross domestic product.
The constitutionor, more correctly, the treatythat the Prime Minister signed a few weeks ago in Rome is an important step to facilitate the operation of an enlarged European Union. We should also acknowledge that the most recent wave of enlargement is an extraordinary achievement. Through the rigorous application of the Copenhagen criteria on social, economic and political concerns, the Union has helped national Governments extend to many millions more people the benefits of democracy, free trade, good governance, human rights and civil liberties. We will support the Bill that the Government intend to introduce to give effect to their obligations under that treaty. However, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Ross, Skye and Inverness, West (Mr. Kennedy) said yesterday, we are disappointed that there is no clear timetable for a referendum. We have heard the Foreign Secretary opining that a referendum might be held in 2006, but nothing firm has been stated.
Having introduced the Bill, the Government should then argue the case. It is certainly true that the case for a negative vote has already begun, but the case for an affirmative vote will begin to be effective only when the Government put their shoulders to the wheel and encourage, perhaps even instruct, all Ministers at all levels to show an enthusiasm for Europe, which has not been notable, shall we say, in recent weeks and months.
I wonder how it is, when Europe and America have so much in common both culturally and politically, that transatlantic relations have become so fragile. The explanation probably lies in the fact that as the US has grown in military and economic power, Europe has struggled to keep up. For America, NATO and other alliances are a matter of choice, but for Europe and the UK, multilateralism remains a necessity.
On this side of the Atlantic, we have failed to acknowledge the profound shift in American psychology that has taken place since 9/11. A hard-edged crusading America has recently been endorsed by its citizens. President Bush is not an aberration: the attitude and outlook of America have been transformed. But that does not deflect me from the overwhelming belief that Europe must maintain a strong alliance with the US. For the UK, too, it is not a simple choice between one or the other.
We must fully acknowledge the fundamental importance of Europe to our modern-day prosperity, stability and security. Equally, we should be under no illusion as to the force of American pragmatism and the determined pursuit of its own national interest. I believe that, unless we are fully engaged with Europe, our
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influence in America will inevitably be diminished. A Europe that presents a united front will be far more influential than an "old friend"even one to whom the award of the congressional medal has been madetrying to call in favours.
I am in no doubt that it is in the strategic and economic interest of Britain to build a Europe that is constructively Atlanticist. We must have a genuine US-European partnership of influence and we must try to persuade America to re-engage with the international community. We must try to convince the White House that American security will be not enhanced, but undermined, by unilateralism, the exercise of crusading power and the doctrine of preventive war.
We should call on the US to reinvigorate its support for the framework of international law and human rights that it was so instrumental in creating. The war against Iraq, Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib have all undermined America's international standing. We expect America to adhere to the principles on which it was founded: liberty, justice and the rule of law. We should miss no opportunity, working within a frank and candid relationship, to say that as often as we can.
I want to conclude by making a brief reference to remarks reported as having been made by the Leader of the House about the country being "safer under Labour" and, by implication, not safe under any other political party. To put it most charitably, I would have to say that those remarks were ill judged and should be withdrawn at the first available opportunity. I believe that they are offensive and provide a hostage to fortune. If, God forbid, some terrorist action takes place with loss of life, an assertion that Britain can be safe only under one political party may come to haunt anyone who has made it.
I also want to say, with some sensitivity, that it is not that long ago that some Labour Members of Parliament refused to supporteither through abstention or by voting against themthe renewal of prevention against terrorism provisions for Northern Ireland. They thought that they had good reasons for doing so. I, for one, and many others, never accused them of being soft on terrorism. Those of us who regard it as our duty to challenge any legislation that may have the effect of detracting from the civil rights and individual liberties of any citizen of the UK do not view it as acceptable to be traduced in this way.
We will examine every Government proposal on its own merits. We will exercise our judgment and scrutinise the Government. That, after all, is why our constituents send us here. It is what they invite us to carry out in their name. Any legislative proposals to deal with the problem of terrorism will be examined in that spirit, as will any proposals relating to foreign affairs and defence.
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