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Baroness Seear: My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Viscount the Leader of the House for repeating the Statement. I should also like to follow the noble Lord, Lord Richard, in paying tribute to the Foreign Secretary for, as appears in the Statement, 43 years of devoted work in foreign affairs in one role or another. That role must have been quite extraordinarily difficult for him to carry out over recent years.
The Statement makes it clear that a great many of the questions which were discussed are matters of central importance to this country. There are European questions which cannot be solved on a purely national basis. For example, the question of Europol and of international crime is essentially a Union matter as well as a matter for individual countries. Therefore, one is a little surprised to find, especially in view of the debates in this House and of reports which have been placed before us, that the role of the European Court is so ruled out as having no part whatever to play in a matter which is surely so plainly international and, indeed, supranational in many ways. It is likely that, sooner or later, the European Court will have to play a role.
However, when one looks at the other subjects which have been discussed, it is clear that they are all matters which are vital to the well-being of this country. Indeed, the Statement starts with reference to "growth and employment". If they are to be successful in this country, they must be seen at least on a European Union scale. They cannot be considered solely in national terms.
Of course, the same applies to the question of the single currency. I hope that we shall have an explanation on the apparent divergence between the Statement here and the points read out by the noble Lord, Lord Richard, as to the position that we are taking over the single currency. I should have thoughtand we on these Benches have been quite clear in our support for the eventual establishment of a single currencythat it was fairly obvious that some of the countries inside the Union will not be anything like ready for a single currency by the date which has been given. Therefore, one welcomes the suggestion that there should be a report from European Ministers on the matter. It is not a matter that could possibly be set aside. It is vital not only to European development; it is also vital for the development and well-being of this country as a country and as part of the European Union. Indeed, one could continue looking at all the points that have been made. The well-being of this country vitally depends on how such matters are handled at the European level.
It was most fortunate that the Prime Minister was able to meet and talk with representatives of the Irish Republic. I do not think I need remind your Lordships that, although it is not a specifically European matter as such, it is a matter of the very greatest importance. The opportunity that was given to the Prime Minister to deal with the matteror, at least, to advance it to some extentis one which is most welcome. It is not for me from these Benches to pay tribute to the Prime Minister; indeed, that is not my role and I have no intention of doing so. However, if the Prime Minister was able to advance his remarkable successes so far with the Irish question by his attendance at the Cannes summit, that at least would be something that has been gained. It is surely a remarkable achievement to have got even as far as we have in the Northern Ireland situation.
I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Richard, that it is shaming that our representatives had to attend the summit with English nationalists baying at their heelsbecause that is what they are. If the Tory Party continues to support an English nationalist body, the sooner it falls the better.
Viscount Cranborne: My Lords, I thought that I would be able to smile sunnily on the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, until her peroration. However, I should like to thank both the noble Baroness and the noble Lord, Lord Richard, for the generosity of their tributes to my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary. With their permission, I should like to convey the burden of their remarks to my right honourable friend.
If the noble Lord, Lord Richard, will allow me to say so, there were clear implications in what he said which, in view of the amount of time that I spent with my right honourable friend the Prime Minister in the past few days, I found a little distressing coming from the noble Lord's lips. He accused the document that I repeated to your Lordships this afternoon of being a personal manifesto from my right honourable friend and said that it was not an accurate reflection of what happened.
My right honourable friend has been urged, as I think the noble Lord would expect him to be, to sink his rhetoric into one particular objective in the past few days; namely, to forget anything that might deflect him from winning the leadership election in this party. My right honourable friend has been absolutely adamant every minute of the day in saying from the very beginning of his trip to Cannes, and in his preparation for that trip, that his first priority was to defend what he saw to be the interests of this country.
Viscount Cranborne: My Lords, I think it is fair to say that most of the results that my right honourable friend brought back amply demonstrate the extraordinary mastery of the issues which my right honourable friend has acquired over the past five-and-a-half years. Even if the noble Lord opposite cannot agree with that and he still feels that the summit was boring, I have to tell him that such matters which, as the noble Baroness emphasised, are extremely importantand I agree with her in that respecttend to be extremely detailed and do not always make very good theatre. However, they matter. I am very proud that this country has a practical man to represent it at international gatherings.
I was also extremely pleased and touched to hear the noble Baroness's tribute to my right honourable friend's achievements on Northern Ireland. I was also very pleased to hear the noble Lord, Lord Richard, allude to that fact. We do not know what the joint talks that have been agreed as to examining ways in which weapons could be decommissioned from the para-militaries will yield in the way of proposals. We must wish them well.
The noble Lord, Lord Richard, asked me three specific questions. First, I can confirm that the noble Lord gave the correct figures for Germany, Italy and France and that the United Kingdom's overall aid to ACP countries has not changed. What we have done is to protect our highly cost-effective bilateral aid programme. I believe that the House will be well aware of the remarkable job that my noble friend Lady Chalker has done to intensify the effectiveness of our aid programme during her tenure of office. It would indeed be a shame if the main thrust of what we do in that very important sphere were in any way diverted and if the controls and the focus which my noble friend has enormously improved were in any way to be diluted. We will still be the third largest contributor in the European Union. We will have as a result the best targeted bilateral aid programme. The OECD report that was recently produced on this subject confirms that.
Secondly, the noble Lord, Lord Richard, asked about the Rapid Reaction Force. He asked who will give it its orders. I rather hoped that I had made that clear when repeating a Statement in your Lordships' House not too long ago. It is clear that the Rapid Reaction Force is under United Nations command. I apologise to the noble Lord if he did not feel that my answer was clear, but I thought I made it clear what its purpose was. I know that the noble Lord understands very clearly the difference between peacekeeping and peacemaking, particularly in the context of what is happening in Bosnia.
Thirdly, the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, and the noble Lord, Lord Richard, also quoted charmingly, if I may say so, from the lengthy document which was produced as a result of the summit. I wish to remind both the noble Baroness and the noble Lord that my right honourable friend has secured an opt-out from the single currencyif and when it comes aboutwhether partially or completely. I do not wish to repeat in any way the careful explanation that my right honourable friend gave this afternoon in another place, and which I have repeated here, on the reasoning for that. All I can do is to recommend to the noble Baroness and the noble Lord that they should rereadI hope I do not sound too patronisingwhat my right honourable friend said. The reasoning seems to me to be impeccable. As the noble Baroness said, we are talking about matters of supreme national importance. I cannot over emphasise how much I agree with her on that point. It is only sensible therefore that my right honourable friend should remember, as indeed he has done, that we believe in the supremacy of Parliament in this place and that it is for Parliament to decide these matters.
Finally, I cannot resist coming back to the peroration of the noble Lord, Lord Richard. I could not agree with him more in one sense; that it is important to get this election over quickly. We shall do so. I can speak with some authority when I say that we have work to do but we will ensure that my right honourable friend not only wins but wins well. That will enable us to continue with renewed vigour to prepare ourselves for resisting the suggestions from the party opposite about what policies this country should follow on Europe in particular where as usual, like
Lord Boyd-Carpenter: My Lords, your Lordships' House is, I think, more than usually grateful to my noble friend the Lord Privy Seal for repeating the Statement and, if he will allow me to say so, for the excellent replies he has just given to the points that have been made by those opposite. I think the great advantage that we derive from the Statement is that it brings out clearly how very fortunate we are in our Prime Minister, and the hope that he will be able to continue to render these distinguished and able services without disturbance for many years to come.
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