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The Foreign Secretary said a little about the parameters of a potential deal. He talked about demonstration carbon capture and storage sites, which may be allowed to be developed and paid for in Poland and elsewhere. I hope that the Minister for Europe can say a little more in her winding-up speech about the Governments thinking, without necessarily showing their hand too much, on
where the compromise might be. It seems to us that we should be helping Poland and other countries that are so dependant on coal to restructure their energy generating industries. That is a sensible thing to doit is in our interests and their interests, too. The question is whether money can be found through the auction of the permits and some of what is earmarked for Poland and other countries in a similar position. That seems to be the way forward, as well the demo sites that the Foreign Secretary mentioned. I hope that the Minister for Europe will be able to say a bit more about that critical issue. With respect to Germany, Chancellor Merkel pushed hard for progress on climate change during the German presidency of the European Union, and we should not allow her, of all people, to lead the backsliding in respect of the number of sectors that will be covered by the regulations.
I deeply regret the fact that the right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks did not cover this critical issue very much in his speech. The Conservatives position on climate change and energy policy is looking rather shaky. They objected to those parts of the Lisbon treaty. One would have thought that, even if they agreed with no other parts of the treaty, they would at least have agreed with the parts relating to climate change and energy policy. This makes their position look not only inconsistent, but frankly bizarre. It also reflects their rather chequered record on these matters in the European Parliament. Their MEPs do not always support the more progressive environmental legislation. Only the other day, a Conservative MEP, Roger Helmer, who is actually on the climate change committee of the European Parliament, said that the climate change negotiations were
the greatest collective flight from reality that we have ever seen.
If that is the position of Conservatives elected to the European Parliament, they clearly do not want to lead on this critical issue at European level. They would be in a disastrous position, should this country ever have the madness to elect them to government.
Mr. Davey: There are one or two other people who share the views of Roger Helmer. Their position is about as isolated in the European debate as that of the Conservative party. It will interest the hon. Gentleman to know that the summit on Thursday and Friday will deal with the Lisbon treaty. As we can seeor cannot seefrom the draft conclusions, it is not clear what is going to be discussed. It is not clear whether ground will be given on the issue of the Commissioner, or how the summit will deal with the other concerns of the Irish people that were clearly evident in the referendum, whether on abortion, corporation tax or Irelands position on neutrality, or deal with other issues that have emerged in the debate. The Foreign Secretary was absolutely right, however, to say that we should leave it to the Irish Government to explain to us and to our European partners the way forward that they wish to take
Mr. Davey: The hon. Gentleman may say that, but we all know that the only way in which the Irish could ratify the Lisbon treaty is by putting the question to the Irish people once again. It will ultimately be up to the Irish people to decide whether the Lisbon treaty is ratified.
The truth is that the Tories desperately want this issue to be resolved. They want it to go away. If the Irish situation is not sorted out, and if the Lisbon treaty is neither ratified nor confined and buried, the Conservatives would have to put the issue to the people, if they were to be electedthat is a very big if, of coursebecause that is their policy. If the outcome were a no vote, it would be interesting to see what the following four years of Conservative foreign policy would consist of. It would be an absolute disaster. They would have no influence in Europe, and no influence in Washington. They would have even less influence than they have now. That is the unspoken dilemma on the Conservative Front Bench. They are wishing for something that is not their policy.
Daniel Kawczynski: The hon. Gentleman is being extraordinarily disparaging to the British people by saying that their decision in a referendum would somehow make our foreign policy inconsistent and impossible within the EU. Surely if the British people had a vote, it would give any Government of this country a huge mandate to renegotiate our position within that framework.
Let me move on to discuss some of the external relations issues that will be debated at the forthcoming summit. The right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks rightly talked about Zimbabwe, and I agree with many of his remarks. We welcome the tighter EU sanctions announced earlier this week. I share the Foreign Secretarys concern that Russia and China might still be a block for a future resolution at the UN Security Council. I understand that Britain is keen to go to the Security Council to seek another resolution. That has certainly appeared in the press, although I see the Foreign Secretary shaking his head, so perhaps the Minister for Europe will clarify the matter later.
I hope that Britain and France would not be the only countries arguing for another UN resolution to get better international action on Zimbabwe. We should ask the EU High Representative to join us at the table
to argue in favour of such a resolution, and particularly for a referral of Mugabe and a number of those in the ZANU-PF leadership to the International Criminal Court if they failed to leave office within a stated period. We must use the law as a mechanism to force Mugabe out, perhaps by telling Mugabe and his henchmen, If you do not leave power in the next three to six months, we will harry you for the rest of your lives with a warrant to arrest and prosecute you. We all know that we cannot do that without a UN Security Council resolution, because Zimbabwe is not a signatory to the ICC treaty. It is important for us to try to persuade Russia and China to go down the legal route of trying to remove Mugabe.
I want to reiterate a point that I made earlier when I intervened on the right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorksa point about the importance of giving the right to work to Zimbabwean asylum seekers. I believe it is absolutely scandalous that British politicians stand up, wring their hands about how dreadful Mugabe is and say that we are relatively powerless if South Africa and others do not act, when they themselves refuse to act for those Zimbabweans who are here and whom we know we can help today and tomorrow and until they are able to return home. Liberal Democrat Members will thus challenge both Government and Conservative Members on how serious they really are about helping Zimbabwe in the future; if they are not prepared to help even the Zimbabweans who are living here, their words are, frankly, meaningless.
Another issue that I hope the summit will deal with is whether the EU should send forces to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We have debated the matter in exchanges during Foreign and Commonwealth questions. On the last such occasion, the Foreign Secretary effectively told me, No, that is not the right thing to do; we need a single command structure under MONUCthe United Nations mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I was told that I was completely wrong and that the Belgians and Dutch supported his idea.
I am afraid that the Foreign Secretary is wrong. We could have an EU force in the DRC with a separate command structure that relates to MONUC, as we did in 2003 under Operation Artemisthat is perfectly feasible and he knows it. Furthermore, as I understand it, earlier this week, the Belgians, Dutch, Finns and Swedes were arguing in favour of an EU deployment. Not only that, but the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon was also asking the EU for such a deployment. The people who head the MONUC mission want EU troops now. It may be great news that the UN has sanctioned another 3,000 troops for MONUC, but we all know, despite the letters from the Prime Minister to a number of countries around the world, that those troops will take some time to arrive. Estimates vary from four to six months. During that period, the EU should send our troops to defend people in this really difficult time, as there could be a massive humanitarian crisis if we fail to act.
I call on the Government to change their mind on that. We have a chance on Thursday and Friday to change the position. If the Foreign Secretary made such a change, he would have our total support, and I hope we could then work with our EU colleagues on securing
such a solution. I think that that would strengthen the work being done on a political solution for the east of Congo.
There are a number of other countries that I could rattle through, but we shall probably deal with them tomorrow. However, I want to touch on Russia, because it has formed part of the debate. I particularly want to discuss the invasion of Georgia and the South Ossetian crisis. I think that both Conservative Front Benchers and the Government got it wrong back in the summer, when they argued for early and accelerated NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine in the immediate aftermath of the crisis.
the formal process
kicked off yesterday with the establishment of a Nato-Georgia commission.
For the first time, he said, there was a process for membership. The implication of what both he and the leader of the Conservative party were saying was that they wanted to fast-track that process, which I believe would have been a disaster then and would be a disaster now. It sends all the wrong messages. That does not mean that we should allow Russia to have a veto; the issue is whether it makes sense for Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO now, and whether we should sign a treaty with them in the context of article 5 of the North Atlantic treaty. I believe that that would be completely absurd. I really do not understand the position of either the Government or the Conservatives: I think that that position is deeply reckless.
Mr. MacShane: I think that both the Governments position andif I may speak for the Conservative Front Benchthe Conservative position are clear. It is the sovereign right of Georgia and Ukraine to decide their alliances. It is not for patronising, pro-Kremlin, wishy-washy liberals in London to say to the people of Georgia and Ukraine that they cannot join if they so choose and if they meet the criteria. Respect their sovereignty, and I will try to respect the intelligence of the Liberal Democrats.
Mr. Davey: I think that, as usual, the right hon. Gentleman has not only oversold his case but made himself look rather silly in doing so. He should know that this is not just a question of the Georgian and Ukrainian Governments joining NATO, but a question that arises for every single existing NATO member country. Strict criteria should govern which countries we give mutual defence guarantees for, and to be honest, given the rapidity with which NATO has expanded, I do not believe that some of those criteria have been applied as rigorously as they should have been in the past. It certainly does not look as though they were applied, in the heady days after the attack, by either the Foreign Secretary or the Conservative leader.
Let us bear in mind the significance of a mutual defence guarantee. It means that we would have to support our constituents going to different parts of the world to put their lives on the line, and we should do that only if we believe that it is in the collective interests of this country, Europe and NATO. Sometimes I think
that people are prepared to spread these mutual defence guarantees around like confetti, without serious strategic analysis.
Mr. Wilshire: I am grateful for the opportunity to give the House a rare treat,the right hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. MacShane) and I agree with each other. The hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Mr. Davey) has not given an answer to the right hon. Gentlemans entirely valid point that it is entirely up to the Ukrainians and the Georgians to apply for whatever they want to apply for. The answer that we have heard is that it is our right to say no, but would the hon. Gentleman care to answer this question? Is it their independent right, without interference by anyone else, to apply?
Mr. Davey: Of course it is. I do not see how whatever I have said contradicts that. Of course those countries have the right to apply, and we have the right to reject their application or tell them that they must do a number of things before they can be considered.
Let me move from the issue of Georgia and Ukraine to that of our whole relationship with Russia. Over the years, like the right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks, we have agreed with the Government on many issues involving United Kingdom-Russia relations, but my analysis of recent events is slightly different from that of the Conservative party. I actually think that Russia is far weaker than many people recognise. I think that with the collapse in the oil price and their economy in tatters, the Russians are in no position to be the scary bear that some people like to depict them as. I think that this presents Britain and the European Union with a real opportunity to try to influence Russian opinion and that countrys direction. I would go further: this is an historic opportunity. There have been two tendencies in Russian foreign policy over the centuries. One has sometimes been called the St. Petersburg tendency. It is a tendency to consider greater co-operation with European allies and to place Russia in the mainstream of Europe. Unfortunately, that tendency has often been overshadowed by what I call the mother Russia tendency. That is aggressive and unpleasant, and we need to stand up to it.
In diplomacy, given the historic opportunity we have with a weak Russia and a much stronger Europe, and with a new President of the United States who is progressive and rational, we should be talking to the Russians in the way that is proposed, to try to persuade them to see their historic destiny in mainstream Europe. That would change the whole dynamics of the security situation around the world.
This summit is particularly important because of the background of President-elect Obama and the impact of his relationship with our country and the EU. I am sure that this is already happening, but I hope that, certainly in some of the informal discussions, the Government will be pushing for the EU to engage actively and respond positively to some of the proposals coming from the new Obama team, whether in respect of Afghanistan and troop deployments, the European security and defence policy or burden sharing. Although it is not specifically on the agenda, I hope the Government will see this as a critical chance. We have to respond quickly to the new American Administration, both to
influence them and to show them that we are interested if they want to take a more multilateral approach and engage with the EU.
This summit is critical in getting the economics right, and also in getting the climate change and security measures right. We look forward to holding the Government to account, to make sure they argue Britains case and the case for Europe as strongly and effectively as possible.
Chris Grayling (Epsom and Ewell) (Con): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. As you will be aware, Mr. Speaker has on a number of occasions told Members how important it is that announcements are made to this House first, rather than outside it before Members are given an opportunity to hear the information in question. This afternoon, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions issued an announcement to the media that he intends to make an oral statement to the House tomorrow. He has done so before he has made that statement to the House, and he has issued to the media an excerpt from it. May I ask you a couple of questions, Madam Deputy Speaker? First, what redress do Members have in a situation where another Member apparently blatantly disregards the interests of this House? Secondly, since the Secretary of State has already issued an excerpt of that statement to the media, do you, Madam Deputy Speaker, have power to require him to come before the House tonight to make a statement at the end of business, rather than leaving that until tomorrow, after we have read about it in the newspapers?
Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. I am sure all Members present are very well aware of the Speakers ruling that he likes Ministers initially to make statements in the House. The hon. Gentlemans remarks are on the record and will have been heard. I will make sure that they are conveyed to Mr. Speaker so that he is aware of them.
Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley) (Lab): I want to talk mainly about Turkey this evening, because although I welcome Turkeys application to join the European Union and I hope that it is successful, there are certain conditions that must be met before it joins.
A few weeks ago, I was invited to give an address at the memorial service of a very notable Turkish politician who was the former Deputy Prime Minister of the country: Erdal Inonu. He was the son of a former President of Turkey, who followed Ataturk as the second President. I mention that because although it might appear from what I shall say today that I am only a critic of Turkey, I am in fact also a long-time friend of Turkey.
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