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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): My Lords, it is an honour to open your Lordships' debate on the gracious Speech. I look forward in particular to the maiden speeches of the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, and the noble Lord, Lord Carew.
This is an important debate. I shall only be able to touch on some of our foreign policy concerns. Those will include the Commonwealth and development. My noble friend Lord Howe will concentrate on defence and security policy.
I begin with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference from which I returned yesterday. The suspension of Nigeria's membership showed the Commonwealth standing up to a government who continue to defy the Harare Declaration on good government. Nigeria's abuse of human rights has been persistent. Her suspension of habeas corpus is unprecedented in the Commonwealth. The execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his eight co-defendants was a callous act by a government who have repeatedly failed to observe normal civilised behaviour. Nigeria presents a crucial challenge to the whole international community. Britain is therefore consulting closely with partners about how best to encourage fundamental changes in the governance of Nigeria. But there is a long way to go.
CHOGM also took important steps to ensure that Harare principles on good government are applied throughout the Commonwealth. We established a standing group of eight foreign ministers, including Britain's, to advance Harare Declaration principles. That work must demonstrate the continuing value and relevance of the Commonwealth for its members.
In Auckland the conference endorsed the view that the rule of law and autonomy are essential ingredients for Hong Kong's continuing success after 1997. Recent proposals to amend the Bill of Rights caused justified alarm there. The British Government will continue to work with the Governor to encourage China to provide the people of Hong Kong with the reassurance that they need.
Finally, at CHOGM, as elsewhere, much was made of Britain's refusal to join in condemnation of France's current series of nuclear tests. Our position is clear and consistent. We share with France a belief in the continued need for deterrents. We share responsibilities as a nuclear weapon state. We are not prepared to criticise France for a decision which she deemed necessary to fulfil her responsibilities.
Let me turn to Britain's wider role in foreign affairs. It shows our unparalleled ties throughout the world which are crucial in maintaining our position as the fifth largest economy and the fifth largest trading nation. Equally, our membership of all the major international groups, including the Security Council, means we have a wide range of international responsibilities. We respond to those responsibilities with substantial and
As the noble Lord, Lord Owen--whom we welcome to our debate today--will know well, Britain has done as much as any country to limit the fighting in Bosnia and bring help to the victims of that war. Alongside a massive humanitarian effort, masterminded by ODA, we have worked with our allies to push the parties towards peace. The London conference in July highlighted the consequences of any further attack on the safe areas. In August we were obliged to carry out that threat, through the UN's Rapid Reaction Force and NATO airpower.
While the prospects for peace look more promising at this moment than at any time in four years, there is still a great deal to be done. A settlement will demand compromise from all sides. Last weekend's agreement on eastern Slavonia is an encouraging sign; but there are many more tricky issues to be discussed and developed. Implementing the settlement will involve rebuilding not just the shattered economies, but also the shattered lives and shattered trust that one sees as one travels from town to town in central Bosnia and wider; even in Croatia and, I am told, in Serbia. Those tasks will require the support of NATO and non-NATO countries in a military implementation force; the assistance of the OSCE in arranging democratic elections; and the help of the international financial institutions and countries around the world in the job of reconstruction. That job of reconstruction will be enormous. Britain will continue to play a major role in that effort. But we cannot begin until there is peace, otherwise the work will simply need to be repeated.
This House knows as well as any place that Bosnia has shown the continuing need for Europe and North America to work together to uphold international security and stability. The Cold War threat has gone, but the reinforcement of the transatlantic partnership remains one of the Government's highest priorities.
As the world's two largest trading blocs, Europe and North America have a common interest in an open international trading system. Together we must build on the conclusions of the Uruguay Round; together we must ensure a strong, effective role for the World Trade Organisation; and together we must establish a multilateral agreement on investment in the OECD. That way we can lead towards multilateral trade liberalisation by working to create a transatlantic open market, which will benefit all those involved.
A revitalised Atlantic partnership will also promote security in Europe and beyond. The NATO Alliance is central to that work, and US engagement in Europe essential to our security. That is why strengthened defence co-operation between Europeans must reinforce not weaken the transatlantic link. That is the key aim of our presidency of the Western European Union which begins in January next year. We shall work to enhance WEU capacity for crisis management, peacekeeping and humanitarian operations; and to thicken the WEU's links with the alliance.
A revitalised transatlantic partnership is not an alternative to European Union membership. Both are vital because we are both an Atlantic and a European nation. Indeed, our commitment to Europe makes our role proactive. We work to improve Europe; to address the needs and concerns of Europe's people; to stimulate economic activity in order to bring more jobs. I know that Britain sometimes attracts criticism for pressing our approach rather than simply accepting other people's without question. When I hear this I often wonder what the critics would prefer. Do they wish us to subordinate the interests of Britain to those of other countries? I think not. Britain must never be afraid to question if we think a policy is wrong, and indeed to fight that policy advance if we believe it not to be in Britain's best interests. That is exactly why we declined to sign the social chapter and reserved Britain's position on a single currency. Today the need for labour market reform is increasingly accepted across Europe; and the difficulties and uncertainties of economic and monetary union are increasingly recognised.
Our approach in the Inter-Governmental Conference that begins next year will be similarly pragmatic. We shall seek reforms that are in Britain's interests and in Europe's: a more effective common foreign and security policy; efficient institutions ready for further enlargement; more emphasis on subsidiarity; and improved co-operation in the fight against drugs and crime. We hope, too, that, through Europe, we shall be able to take that fight against drugs and crime to other nations and help them, because this problem knows no boundaries.
There is a wider common challenge facing Europe and the transatlantic partnership. It is to extend eastwards the security and prosperity we have built over five decades in western Europe. A strategy to meet this goal includes enlargement of the European Union and NATO. But this enlargement alone cannot be a sufficient answer. In the first place, it will be some years before new members could join either body. In the second there will be countries which do not join in a first wave; and some may never join. So we need a wider strategy. In this, three priorities stand out.
First, we must support the efforts of central and eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union to build their own future prosperity. Their greatest need is the market access which is within Europe's gift. Secondly, we must build up the network of partnerships available in bodies like the OSCE and the Council of Europe; with NATO through the Partnership for Peace; and regional co-operation such as that around the Baltic and Black Seas. Thirdly, we must forge an even stronger partnership with Russia. We already work together in the UN Security Council, in the Contact Group, and in the G8. But we must now develop more regular and formal consultation between Russia and the North Atlantic Council. We want to work closely with Russia in implementing the Bosnia peace settlement; and in the implementation of the Conventional Forces in Europe
In the Middle East the welcome progress over recent years towards peace was tragically disrupted by the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin. This is a terrible loss for the people of Israel but it must not be a loss for peace. The Government's firm hope is that all leaders in the Middle East will resolve to take forward the peace process for which Yitzhak Rabin gave his life. We shall now work with Prime Minister Peres, who deserves all our help. I hope he will get it from every nation which believes in peace.
In the West Bank the redeployment of Israeli troops is continuing. Britain is working to support the Palestinian elections due in January. Since John Major's visit to Gaza in March, Britain has committed more than £8 million in new aid to Palestine. We hope to see progress soon on the Syrian track too, so that the benefits of reconciliation may spread still further. But the recent bombing in Riyadh was a further sign of the costs of extremism in the Middle East. That, on top of the tragic assassination, shows that we can never afford to be off our guard.
The aid programme is one of the most vital parts of the web of links of which I spoke earlier. Britain will continue to maintain a substantial and highly effective aid programme. We gain widespread recognition for the valuable contribution development makes to reducing poverty and promoting sustainable development in the poorest countries, especially in Africa and south Asia.
Long-term development depends on creating the right political and economic framework. When providing aid we shall continue to bear in mind recipient governments' determination not only to use it effectively; but also their own behaviour at home; their human rights record, their levels of military spending and their will to tackle international problems such as drugs trafficking and money laundering. The determined efforts of Britain's aid workers, official and through the NGOs, who are engaged in long-term development projects deserve to be rewarded by the active participation of the recipient countries. But they also deserve much more positive media attention in this country for the tremendous job that they do overseas in so many difficult circumstances.
Our emergency aid is always in demand. This autumn saw the most difficult hurricane season in the Caribbean for several years. The ODA provided £1 million to deal with the effects of the hurricanes, and £3 million in response to the continuing volcano threat in Montserrat. These are but small examples of work that goes on all the time, usually unsung and certainly only publicised in disastrous situations.
There were also exceptional rains in Asia. Britain provided flood relief to eight countries, from Pakistan to North Korea--that was only on humanitarian grounds. In Africa there are still substantial needs in the Great Lakes region. We shall continue to respond to
Our aid programme is wide and effective. It needs to respond not only to the short-term disasters but to do its long-term preventive work. This year our multilateral contributions have exceeded our bilateral contributions for the first time. Our rising contribution within the Edinburgh ceiling to the European Union means that this trend will continue. That is why we are determined to ensure that all multilateral institutions are as efficient and effective as possible. We are determined that EU aid spending will be as effective as bilateral spending, and that the UK should receive just credit for the substantial contribution we already make and will continue to make over the years to come.
We have a similar determination in the United Nations to gain reform and greater efficiency. Your Lordships will recall the Halifax summit communique and, more recently, the Prime Minister's speech at the 50th anniversary celebrations of the UN. He made it clear that the time has come for a thorough review of UN bodies. I can tell your Lordships that Britain is not alone in calling for that. There is a close identity of views on this issue not only among the G7 countries, as might be expected, but in Russia and most recently at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting--now with 53 members including Mozambique. Therefore, we know that most of the world sees a great need for greater efficiency in the United Nations, and the United Nations must take a more targeted and a better managed approach in all UN programmes. We in Britain shall be doing our best to help that reform forward because the United Nations must modernise if it is to do the job for which it was set up 50 years ago.
In a short time I have touched on some of the vital world issues in which Britain is involved. There is no way in which I can touch upon them all. Our foreign policy is proactive and it is dynamic. Both bilaterally and multilaterally we are respected and trusted. We remain a powerful contributor to solving global and regional problems. We intend to go on doing so because it is through such a foreign policy that we shall continue to promote the best interests of the British people and when the best interests of the British people are being promoted, it is actually very good for the rest of the world, too.
Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I too very much look forward to the maiden speeches of the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, and the noble Lord, Lord Carew. In the search for peace and prosperity in the world, the coming year presents us with many challenges. The progress that has been made in the Middle East must continue without losing its momentum, following the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin. The fragile ceasefire in the Balkans must be sustained and a peace must be negotiated. Long-term solutions must be found to the tribal conflict in Rwanda and Burundi and the ethnic strife in Sri Lanka. The pointless civil wars in the Sudan and Angola must be ended before more lives are
Closer to home, the IGC, to which the Address refers, will raise a series of vital questions about our future in Europe. The future role of NATO in a world changed beyond recognition since the end of the Cold War must be resolved under a new Secretary-General. The newly democratised countries of eastern Europe will seek our help in sustaining democracy, ensuring their security and building market economies through the enlargement of the EU. The campaign must go on to put pressure on those countries--and there are still far too many of them--whose human rights records are indefensible. The development of those countries which have been left behind in the material progress that has benefited so many others during the 20th century perhaps poses the biggest challenge of all.
In nearly all these matters the United Nations will continue to play a vitally important part. During this year we have celebrated its 50th anniversary. I fear that few of us will be around for its 100th anniversary, but we must work together to ensure that our children and grandchildren can benefit from a body dedicated to the international resolution of conflict and the eradication of poverty and disease, which is both effective and properly resourced to do its job. The failure to pay their dues on the part of a number of nation states, including the USA, means that the UN is now bankrupt. No new appointments are being made, wages and salaries are frozen and no new research is being initiated. While of course accepting the need for reform in the interests of efficiency and greater value for money, referred to in the Address and by the Minister, the Labour Party deplores the failure of the Americans to fund the UN adequately. Of course, the UN is not always successful and some operations fail, but the world would be a far more dangerous place without it.
In the debate on the Address last year I referred to the need for greater clarity on where and how the UN should intervene in conflicts and the need to avoid muddled mandates of the kind we saw in Bosnia and Rwanda. I also spoke of the importance of creating a more efficient peacekeeping apparatus which is ready to be deployed when needed, and asked whether the Government could not take steps to shift some of the defence budget towards peacekeeping, given the very small part of it dedicated to that activity. Sadly, the Government still seem to be locked into the defence priorities of the past. Another year has passed and little progress has been made. But my noble friend Lord Judd will say more about defence, including the proposals for legislation in the Address, when winding up.
It is not only the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UN. On this very day, 16th November, 50 years ago the first meeting of UNESCO was held in London. Is it not high time that the Government recognised that UNESCO has put its house in order and that the UK should now rejoin it? Is it not an important part of our international obligations to support the education, scientific and cultural work of the United Nations? Eminent people working in these fields from every position in the political spectrum have been calling for
During the past year we have discussed Bosnia on many occasions in your Lordships' House. We on this side continue to believe that the part the UN has played in trying to ensure a peaceful resolution to the conflict there and in providing peacekeeping troops and troops to ensure the passage of humanitarian aid, has been an honourable one. Failures there have certainly been, but to blame the UN rather than its member states that have sometimes put impossible requirements on it is mistaken. Above all, it is the intransigence of the various parties that must be blamed for earlier failures to end this war. Fortunately, a ceasefire is holding out and there now appear to be better prospects of peace under the American-led negotiations than there have been since the war started. I hope that in the year to come we shall not again need to be called to the House for an emergency debate on Bosnia and that there will be no further need for frequent Statements on that subject. There are at least some grounds for optimism.
Perhaps I may now turn to a happier subject--at least for some of us--the European Union. It is of course not a happy subject for the party opposite because of its deep divisions. At the Conservative Party conference last month we heard one of the most disgraceful speeches made by a senior politician in this country on foreign and defence policy in my memory. Mr. Portillo, the Secretary of State for Defence, treated us to a nationalistic, rabble-rousing rant, designed to stir up mistrust and dislike of our European neighbours as the Prime Minister looked on, smiled and applauded.
It was a speech which saddened many people in Europe and of which Mr Portillo and the Conservative Government that have promoted him to high office should be deeply ashamed. But he showed no shame, nor any understanding of the damage he had done to Britain's standing. The universal criticism of his speech in the responsible press and among people who believe members of the British Cabinet should be above the kind of cant to which he treated us produced only arrogant self-justification on his part. Perhaps the Minister would tell us, when he winds up, whether or not he endorses the views expressed about the European Union by his right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence. Perhaps he could also comment on the prospects for sensible co-operation with our European partners on defence matters while we have a Defence Secretary who throws insults at Brussels and seeks to give his opinions an ersatz heroic stature by associating them with the SAS.
We share the Government's view that the IGC should endorse the need for most CFSP decisions to be unanimous. Perhaps I may ask the Minister whether the Government believe that it is possible to take action on foreign and security policy in the name of the European Union without the support of all the large member states. Is there a danger that opt-outs by large member states, such as the UK, would undermine joint actions? Can the Minister also tell the House whether or not the Government favour the IGC agreeing to a treaty amendment specifying ways in which the European Parliament should be consulted on foreign and security issues?
The Labour Party is fully committed to NATO remaining the military instrument of collective defence in Europe. However, we should be foolish to ignore the pressures within the USA on the American Government to reduce their commitments to Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. For those reasons, Europe must work to create a capacity to co-ordinate military operations in support of common policies. We support the Petersberg Declaration on the WEU. While opposing the incorporation of the WEU into the European Union, we hope that the IGC will examine ways in which links between the WEU and the EU can be improved.
The past year has seen the successful enlargement of the European Union. We welcome the further eventual enlargement of the Union, not just to Cyprus and Malta, but also to the new democracies of eastern Europe. We are very pleased that Her Majesty the Queen will be visiting Poland and the Czech Republic. Everything possible must be done to help the countries of central and eastern Europe to play their full part in Europe and to achieve the economic growth which will in turn help to secure long-term political reform there. Their stability is in our interest as well as theirs. However, it is difficult to see how that enlargement can take place without reform of the CAP and the structural fund.
Again, in the debate on the Queen's Speech last year, the Minister said that we must reform the CAP, but another year has passed and the Government have singularly failed to use their influence to make progress on CAP reform. That regrettable fact will hardly surprise your Lordships since our Foreign Secretary
While countries such as Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic work to create the economic conditions that would make possible their membership of the Union, we must work to create the conditions within the Union that would make it possible. Meanwhile we can try to extend the European agreements we already have with them by creating a European political area--rather like the European Economic Area--to allow prospective members to take part in EU deliberations prior to their eventual accession. We also need to try to help and encourage them to work with each other.
What those countries also want, with a varying degree of intensity, is membership of NATO. Understandably they see that as guaranteeing their security. The Russian Government, however, perceive it as a threat in which the barrier between eastern and western Europe is simply shifted to the east and they are left isolated on the wrong side of it. While NATO enlargement must surely be on the medium-term agenda, it is difficult to accept that membership in the near future for Poland, for example, is in the interests of either existing NATO members or the Poles themselves. Given the unstable political climate in Russia with an ailing President, and a presidential election next year in which communists and nationalists will compete in exploiting xenophobia, NATO enlargement to the east poses huge risks by playing into their hands. Meanwhile we must do all that we can to promote and support economic reform in Russia, the only route to the prosperity for which the Russian people yearn.
In the third world there are still millions of people, not only denied the fruits of prosperity, but only just surviving at subsistence levels. In these circumstances, is it not our duty as a rich developed nation to do far more in providing development aid? Can the Minister tell us how she defends this Government's lamentable record with respect to spending on aid? In 1979 we were spending 0.5 per cent. of GNP; today we are spending only 0.3 per cent. Leaks claim that the aid budget is to be cut again. We all sympathise with the Minister in dealing with the Treasury in the context of a Government obsessed with tax cuts as their only hope of re-election. But leaks suggest that many other departments are not going to sustain such proportionately high cuts, so why should the ODA? Altruism, as well as our long-term interests, dictate that it should be otherwise. Is the Minister going meekly to accept a further cut in the aid budget, when four out of five people in this country say they want it to stay the same or even be increased?
May I also ask the Minister what, if anything, the Government have done to encourage Britain's defence industries to find alternative markets? Selling arms to poor countries often far beyond what they need for defence purposes is a major source of their debt problems: estimates suggest that nearly a quarter of all third world debt has been incurred by the purchasing of arms. I congratulate the Government on the lead that they have taken in promoting debt-forgiveness in sub-Saharan Africa and on the role they played in formulating the Trinidad Terms. But would it not also be sensible to try to deal with the causes of debt and prevent it occurring in the first place? The excessive sale of arms to third world countries has also helped to fuel some of the most damaging internal conflicts, exacerbating the destruction of housing and crops and increasing loss of life.
The sale of arms to repressive regimes is cause for even greater concern. The Government's duplicity in relation to arms for Iraq has long been exposed and received further confirmation in the recent judgment in the courts on the use of "gagging orders". We on this side of the House look forward to seeing Lord Justice Scott's report, when we shall return to this matter.
Perhaps I may say, however, that I was staggered by the complacency of the Minister's reply in this House the week before last on the granting of export licences for the sale of CS gas and rubber bullets to the Nigerian police. Given the human rights record of General Abacha, I cannot see how the Government can have been so confident that those purchases would not be used by the Nigerian security services for illegitimate, repressive purposes. As the Minister said, the judicial murder last week of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others has led to a wave of revulsion around the world. We strongly endorse the Commonwealth decision to expel Nigeria. By its own actions, Nigeria has condemned itself to pariah status. We also welcome the Prime Minister's call for an embargo on arms sales. Does that now mean that there will be no further UK sales to Nigeria? I hope, incidentally, that in the course of the coming Session we can have a full debate on the sale of arms, in all its ramifications, including human rights.
In looking forward to the coming Session of Parliament, the House will all too often need to be reminded of human rights violations in many parts of the world. We in the Labour Party salute the work done by Amnesty International in fighting to protect the rights of minorities and those in opposition to regimes which pay scant regard to democratic freedoms. In the past, the most common form of human rights violations involved authoritarian governments locking up those who opposed them; today the world is scarred by new forms of violations in which ethnic conflict, accompanied by serious human rights abuses, has grown in the context of weak governments unable to contain it. I hope that we can agree on the need to take a firm stand against such abuses whenever they occur and to support a strong role for the UN human rights machinery.
It is in all our interests to want a safer as well as a more just world. A comprehensive test ban treaty next year is of great importance for the safety of us all. My only regret is that the Government dragged their feet for
Let me end where I started, with the Middle East, where I believe there is plenty of common ground between us. The peace process must go on, as Yitzhak Rabin would have wanted. Indeed, if following his death it can gather extra momentum, he will not have died in vain. The campaign of hatred, sustained by religious dogma, mounted by extremists on the far right in Israel, must not go unchecked. The vast majority of Israelis want to live in peace with their Palestinian neighbours. As they know, withdrawal from the West Bank is a precondition to Palestinian self-rule and long-term peace. Now is the time for action, with renewed negotiations between Mr. Peres and Mr. Arafat. As the Minister said, further dialogue between Israel and Syria is also needed to resolve their differences. I believe that the Government support that view. In the words of Mr. Rabin himself, there has been:
Lord Thomson of Monifieth: My Lords, I join with the two noble Baronesses who have spoken from their respective Front Benches in saying how much we look forward to hearing the maiden speech of the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, who will follow me, and of the noble Lord, Lord Carew. My noble friend Lord Mayhew will speak on defence and my noble friend Lord Redesdale will speak on overseas aid. In the time available to me, I propose to concentrate on Britain's relations with the European Union, and to follow up, rather more fully, the brief comment made by the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, about the curious speech of the new Foreign Secretary, Mr. Malcolm Rifkind, a few weeks ago at the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House.
Mr. Rifkind took the opportunity, very sensibly as the new Foreign Secretary, to set out how he saw the role of British foreign policy as we approach the end of the century. It was an interesting speech--I commend it to noble Lords on all sides of the House--and, as one would expect of someone of Mr. Rifkind's intellectual quality, an able analysis. Since a great deal of foreign policy is bipartisan in Parliament, there was much within it that can be agreed. But at its heart, as the noble Baroness indicated, there was, as regards our relations with the EU, an important and fatal flaw. Mr. Rifkind used the words, "In some areas,"--he mentioned specifically a single currency--
The new emphasis of Britain's new Foreign Secretary surely flies in the face of the Prime Minister's original aim, now largely unfortunately overtaken, of keeping Britain at the heart of the Union. The noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, for whom I have the greatest respect and whose views on Britain's relations with Europe I have known over many years, called the attitude proactive. It is difficult to see how that description fits what has happened over the past year or two in the conduct of our policies. The view also flies in the face of Mr. Rifkind's own aim elsewhere in his analysis when he said:
Noble Lords may remember that the retiring United States ambassador to Britain pointed out recently that the US saw its principal diplomatic relationships now as being collectively with the EU and not bilaterally with Britain. If we wanted, he said, to influence American policy, we had to do it through our influence over European policy.
The Foreign Secretary's gurus in deciding to go down the strange road of being ready to sacrifice influence in what Mr. Rifkind regards as our interests form a curious collection-- Palmerston, President de Gaulle, and the Swiss confederation. I would argue that Switzerland, that splendid, prosperous, small, neutral country, has sacrificed both its interests and its influence by not joining the EU with other EFTA partners and that the obstacle to its taking such a momentous decision, which large numbers of its leaders wished to take, was its excessive devotion to local referenda. I must not, however, be tempted down that lane.
I am certain that Palmerston would turn in his grave at the idea that the UK, with its worldwide interests, its leading role in the Commonwealth, its seat on the UN Security Council, its high quality Diplomatic Service and defence forces, should model its world role on the Swiss confederation. As for President de Gaulle as a role model, the Prime Minister has many engaging and indeed admirable personal qualities, but President de Gaulle he is not!
No one suggests that Britain should not fight its national corner in the Union. Goodness knows, there is plenty that is wrong with the EU, as the report on fraud, in the publication of which your Lordships' House played a leading role, revealed just a few days ago.
As the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, emphasised, Britain has an influential part to play in developing positive European co-operation in both foreign policy and defence. I do not believe that in creating a European Union Palmerston would have been content to hand over the leadership to France and Germany, with Britain standing on the sidelines. The reality is that for a country such as Britain, it is a major national interest to seek a major influence over European Union policy-making. Sir Leon Brittan, vice-president of the European Commission and a distinguished former Minister in the Conservative Administration, put the matter plainly at a recent CBI conference. He said solemnly, from all his long experience in Brussels:
I have concentrated on the views of the new Foreign Secretary because the way in which he set them out in the lecture was important; they were considered views. He is not a Euro-sceptic and there is a simple explanation for his new gloss on Britain's European policy. He is using his considerable intellectual ingenuity to try to give an intellectual respectability to the policy that the Government have been developing during the past year or two; that is, of increasingly being the odd man out in the European Union.
As the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, said in her final remarks, the purpose of that policy is to appease the minority of Euro-sceptics in the Conservative Party. The Government have become more concerned with influencing their own rebels than with influencing their European partners. They are more concerned with domestic party interests than with Britain's international interest. It is a pathetic fallacy that Britain's national interest may be best served by sacrificing Britain's influence in the European Union. Exactly the reverse is
The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, I am grateful for the opportunity of speaking for the first time today. I feel quite at home in this debate, having spent most of the past 30 years working mainly abroad with non-government organisations such as Christian Aid, Save the Children and CARE. I know that they are well-known names, but I can confirm from direct experience that they are highly professional bodies which do a lot of valuable work without public acknowledgement.
Over the years, I have seen how small aid projects can transform people's lives. During my last visit to India, for example, I saw how easily savings and loans schemes give the poorest a chance to free their families from the hideous grip of moneylenders or bonded labour. In other countries, such as South Africa, I know how critical the work of the Churches and the voluntary agencies has been, and remains, to the struggle for democracy and human rights.
During the same period I have watched the British Government, as part of a reassessment of their responsibilities to the third world, opening up to the voluntary sector to become more a partner than a post-colonial proprietor. I am proud to say that, thanks to all our propaganda in the 1970s and 1980s, the Government now regard voluntary agencies as an essential channel of aid and development, last year providing £158 million through the Joint Funding Scheme and other programmes to British and local NGOs.
When overseas I have tried to look at Britain from the outside. Diplomats know full well that our most persuasive foreign policy is not through NATO, or the European institutions, or even the corridors of Whitehall. We command respect in the world because of our democracy, our language and our culture, our legal system, our broadcasting and our aid and technical assistance programmes.
We all know that a lot of aid, both government and non-government, is inappropriate. The Pergau and Narmada dams are two widely-accepted examples of official aid going wrong. Non-government aid has many advantages but it also suffers from bureaucracy and other innate problems of aid-giving. Development economics is a sophisticated science, but it does not necessarily teach experts how to manage a good project. This comes mainly from a philosophical understanding of what local people want and need, and with a minimum of outside technical input. Britain is getting better at it, but I believe that we still have a lot to learn.
However, our own world understanding has to come before our desire to adjust other people's lives. I have had a growing conviction that, as a nation, we are relatively uneducated as regards understanding the third world and, indeed, the second world. Very few people have heard of the ODA let alone of the problems that it is trying to solve.
Development education is not secondary to our support for other countries; it is a part of it. We need more world awareness in our national life and in our education. We need to promote the longer-term aims of development. Some companies have made major contributions through education, training and sponsorship. The charities, assisted by the media, have worked overtime in order to improve public understanding of aid and the environment and to explain what they have been doing.
I recently helped to produce new teaching materials on India for 11 to 14 year-olds, published by the educational charity Worldaware. I am frequently struck by how little first-hand information and education on developing countries exists in UK schools. And yet young people are continually asking about these countries and a wealth of information exists. It requires special skills to produce this material and not many organisations are equipped to do it well. The best are the various charities which draw on their expertise and on information from projects on the ground.
We are still not doing enough for our 16 to 19 year-olds. The GAP agencies have been very successful in attracting the interest of young people and placing them abroad in temporary teaching and other voluntary work. I welcome the new initiatives taken by the Development Education Association, with ODA support, by the Central Bureau for Educational Visits and Exchanges, now part of the British Council, and by Education Partners Overseas to improve opportunities for young people. International links and exchanges are time-consuming and expensive. But when sponsorship is organised and there is a good project link, young people have experiences which they never forget and which are always useful in later life.
I believe that our educational publishers could produce more high quality materials for older children within the curriculum. Through the ODA, the British Council and the DTI, there is a massive export of education and training from the UK, but relatively little import into British schools of the cultural wealth and experience of developing countries, unless a teacher, pupil or returned volunteer has actually been there. We are a multi-cultural society and it is time that we made a bigger national effort along those lines to stimulate that work through the charities.
Let us not pretend that overseas aid is just giving something away to others, as some of its critics say. It means a more equal sharing of ideas, more understanding, advocacy and educational work, and diplomacy through involvement. And of course, it means also more jobs back home. All those who go out to give, find that they return with more. It is the educational equivalent of debt repayment which, like the loaves and fishes, can bring back more than the credits themselves. The NGOs, including their local counterparts in host countries, are well placed to assist with that process, but they should not have to do it on their own.
I do not mean to be controversial but there is some alarm about our Government's present intentions. UK bilateral aid to Africa and the Middle East will decline 16 per cent. in real terms over the four years to 1998, although in July, the Minister hoped that it would be less.
The Treasury is taking a tougher line against aid cuts, more than the Minister had been expecting, possibly as much as 12 per cent. That could mean a bilateral cut of up to 40 per cent. which is equivalent to cutting the whole of bilateral aid to Africa. Ten organisations lobbied in September not for more aid, as one might expect, but simply to ensure that aid remained the same. They are not whingeing; they are supporting the status quo.
There are a number of other concerns but I shall mention only one. Debt, as mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, is still a high priority for the poorest countries, as the Government well know. A multilateral debt facility is needed urgently. One example from Oxfam tells us that Uganda spends only 2.5 dollars per head on health and 30 dollars per head on debt servicing.
For all those reasons, I hope that we can keep the level and reputation of our aid programme, especially its valuable support for the NGOs, and at the same time keep our young people informed and aware of the world around us, because they will be the voters and future taxpayers who will ensure that that process continues.
In conclusion, I should like briefly to thank the House for welcoming back my family which has been represented here for 11 generations. On my father's behalf, I should apologise for a gap of more than 30 years. As your Lordships will know, my father (who was known familiarly as Hinch) made an outstanding contribution in the other place. Many of your Lordships, some of them here present, tried in vain to keep him there when Central Office had clearly had enough!
Lord Cockfield: My Lords, it is both my pleasure and my privilege to congratulate the noble Earl on a most distinguished and interesting maiden speech. Odd though it may sound, I actually knew the noble Earl's father when he was a Member of another place and when I was one of Her Majesty's Commissioners of Inland Revenue. We shared many a long night in this House, because at that time another place sat in your Lordships' House and the Government sat where the Opposition now sit. The officials, of whom I was one, sat in what is now Black Rod's Box. Everything was topsy-turvy. But the noble Earl's father had the reputation of a man of great convictions but unfailing courtesy. I am sure that the noble Earl himself has richly
Overseas aid and overseas development is a particularly difficult field because there is a clash between the very limited resources available and the very large demand which exists. Reconciling the two is an exercise requiring great intellectual ability and integrity. We shall look to the noble Earl for advice on those matters in the days that lie ahead.
Technically, this is the second day of debate and not the first day, despite what is said on the list of speakers. Once again we have to discuss the European Union in the same debate that deals with foreign affairs, defence and to which overseas aid was added last year. In some ways, that reflects a position which exists in the European Union itself where the heads of government are accompanied by their foreign ministers to form the European Council, which is the supreme body in the European Community, now the European Union. We have the immense advantage of having my noble friend Lady Chalker of Wallasey to steer us in her opening speech in this debate.
But I recognise at the same time that the main interest will centre inevitably on foreign affairs in the narrower sense of the term. I was astounded when listening to the gracious Speech yesterday--I shall not say I was dreaming but if I had been, this would certainly have woken me up--when I heard the following statement:
That is not unprecedented because when my noble friend Lady Thatcher was Prime Minister she tried to veto the inter-governmental conference which led to the Single European Act. Unfortunately, the only allies that she could find were the Danes and the Greeks, and I have always said that if I were going into battle, they would not perhaps be the first allies that I should choose. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, she changed her mind and participated in the debates which led up to the inter-governmental conference and the Single European Act. Thereby, if somewhat belatedly and in repentance, she made a significant contribution to the progress of the European Community as it then was.
Whether that is the explanation for what occurs in the gracious Speech or is it that the Government did not really know what to say and thought that they had better say something? That reminds one of what Fowler in his Dictionary of Modern English Usage described as meaningless words and phrases. It is interesting to see what he added to it. He said that this is a phenomenon more suitable for the psychologist. I am not a psychologist and I do not propose to pursue that path.
However, whatever the Government feel about the European Union and the 1996 Inter-Governmental Conference, the prosperity of this country is inevitably tied up with our membership of the European Union. About that there can be no argument whatever. Sixty per cent. of our external trade is now with other members of the European Union. As the European Union expands and, I hope, increases in prosperity, our economic link with it will become more and more important. It is vital that we should foster and further that link.
I turn to the Inter-Governmental Conference which is to be held next year. Although I know the Government wish that all these things would only go away, nevertheless the Inter-Governmental Conference will not go away. Unfortunately, at the moment they are going down very much the wrong path. The Maastricht Treaty sets out very clearly the terms of reference of the IGC. They are to be found in Article N(2), to be read in conjunction with the fifth indent of Article B. I explained this matter at considerable length in your Lordships' House on this very day of the same debate last year, at col. 72 of Hansard of 17th November, 1994. I repeated it on 9th January, 1995, at col. 24. On the principle enunciated by the Bellman in The Hunting of the Snark, I repeated it once again on Thursday, 30th March, 1995, at col. 1709.
The remit of the IGC is to consider the effectiveness of the mechanisms and institutions of the Community. Admittedly, there is a reference to a revision of the policies, but that is specifically tied to the effectiveness of the mechanisms and institutions. This is not to argue about words; it is of critical importance. Unless one's mechanisms and institutions work properly, one cannot properly and efficiently get one's policies carried into effect. At the moment, the mechanisms and institutions do not work properly and efficiently. The primary job of the IGC is to get that right.
In the years that have passed since the Maastricht Treaty was negotiated everybody of good intent and otherwise has tried to add further items to the agenda. The appalling situation that has resulted can be seen from the interim report of the Reflection Group chaired by Mr. Carlos Westendorp. That is a most horrific document. Quite deliberately and properly, it makes no recommendations. It sets out all of the issues that have been raised and the considerations affecting them. It is an object lesson on the way that matters go wrong. Fortunately, it is reported that the Reflection Group is to produce a final report that is much more focused on what really matters. Let us hope that it does.
If one has a policy and one wants it to succeed, one has to define it clearly. One has to define the steps that need to be taken to achieve that policy and ensure that one advances on a narrow front. The moment one allows all kinds of people to board the ship, one ceases to make progress. This was the battle that I had to fight over the Single Act and the single European market. I had to stop all kinds of boarders who tried to add this, that and the other. Had I not stood firm, ultimately with the support of the Commission and Council, the single market would never have been achieved, because energies would have been dissipated over a wide field. I do not say what the policies should be, because it is a very
Beyond the IGC, the most important issue that now raises its head--and every effort has been made to shuffle it back into the shadows--is the financing of the Union. That issue has been cheerfully postponed until 1999. Just as unless one gets the institutions right one will not be able to go ahead with enlargement, so unless one gets the finances right equally it will block the process of enlargement. I am sure that we all agree on the desirability of enlargement, which appears in the gracious Speech. That issue has to be sorted out urgently.
At the centre of this process rests the common agricultural policy. However justified the CAP was at its inception nearly 50 years ago, when Europe had gone through a period of starvation and self-sufficiency in food was an enormously important objective, it is widely accepted that that was a long time ago and today the CAP serves no real economic interest. It has become essentially a welfare system for the farming community. From the economic point of view, it does far more damage than help. It pushes up the price of food, thereby pushing up the cost of living. The cost of living is a major factor in wage negotiations, and so it pushes up wages. If wages are pushed up, competitiveness is reduced, and thereby the industry of the European Union is damaged. But that is not the end of the story. If it pushes up prices, it pushes up all government expenditure on welfare benefits. That is also a negative aspect.
One also has appalling scandals. Not only have we had the tobacco scandal, to which my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter has repeatedly drawn attention, but also the scandal of vast quantities of wine that never see a bottle but are distilled into alcohol for industrial use. One has large crops of vegetables and fruit--oranges and nectarines--of every description, which are grown only to be bulldozed into the soil before they get anywhere near a consumer. The nearest those crops get to a customer is to draw subsidy from Brussels. All those matters have to be addressed, not just because of the budgetary effect, but because they will be a block to enlargement. They have to be dealt with if we are to go ahead as we wish.
I raise these matters, not in any criticism of the Union, but because I want the Union to be a success. It can succeed only if it works efficiently, is run properly and citizens have confidence in it. At the moment, it is difficult to say that they have at least unalloyed confidence in it.
I conclude with a brief word on economic and monetary union--in effect, the single currency. Whether deliberately or by accident, we have manoeuvred ourselves into a position where the heat and burden of the day are carried by other people and at the end we decide whether or not to come in. Many people would regard that as a most astute manoeuvre. I shall not argue about that. The position is that we wait and see whether or not the single currency is a success.
In fact we simply need to make the single currency legal tender. If we did that, it would be totally unnecessary for the Government to do anything else at all because the decisions would then be taken by the market. The Government as a great supporter of market forces ought surely to support that sort of approach to monetary union. Indeed we would be in the position where we had distanced ourselves from the heat and the burden of the day and, at the end, if it was a success, we could come in without having to do anything about it at all, as the answer would have been found by the marketplace. Once the single European currency was made legal tender, it would be the market which would sort out the problem; it would not have to be sorted out by government. I leave that thought with the Government.
Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos: My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, on his excellent maiden speech. It was knowledgeable and timely and was based on his own personal experience. I know that we all look forward to hearing him again in the future.
I often ask myself whether affairs in the international field are better or worse than they were, say, five or six years ago. Is the world a safer place now than it was then? Is the third world more content and better off than it was then? Is the United Nations more effective in maintaining world order? Are we as a country doing all we can to preserve world peace and assist the poorer nations?
There is, of course, a limit to what Britain can do. We no longer rule the waves. We must work assiduously through the organisations which have developed over the past 50 years; that is, through the United Nations, the European Union, NATO and the Commonwealth. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to work through these important bodies. The British Government have an enormous responsibility in doing so.
We are fortunate to be members of the Security Council. That gives us the opportunity to promote practical policies relating to all the problems which concern us, from Bosnia to Rwanda. Are we making full use of that opportunity? I am not fully satisfied that we are, although I believe that on the whole Britain has been reasonably constructive over the years.
Then there is the European Union, dealt with by the noble Lord, Lord Cockfield. Here, over the years, we have never succeeded in establishing ourselves as a leading nation. That is a tragedy. We have too often appeared to be "the odd man out". This does not mean that we should be trotting along after France and Germany on every issue, but I wish we were a little more skilful in our treatment of major policies. We shall have the opportunity to influence events next year in the Inter-Governmental Conference, referred to by the noble Lord, and we must take advantage of it.
All this change has been made possible by the collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of the Berlin Wall and the emergence of the old Soviet satellites as independent countries. However, enlargement will bring its own problems. The gracious Speech refers to government action against fraud. We have noted the report published this week by the Union's Court of Auditors which states that £400 million has been lost due to mismanagement and fraud. Some say that the figure is much larger than that. I cannot be precise but perhaps the noble Earl can enlighten us. I hope he can confirm that this matter will be considered at the conference next year. If we are to welcome new members we should make sure in the first place that they are joining a well run and fraud free Union. That should certainly be given priority.
It is sad that criminals should be milking the European Union when so many people throughout the world are dying of disease and starvation. I shall deal briefly with one of those areas. My noble friend Lady Blackstone and the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, mentioned the large region of central Africa known as the Great Lakes; that is, Rwanda, Burundi and the neighbouring states. The genocide in Rwanda and the massacres in Burundi have left those countries in an appalling crisis. I shall give some figures. More than a million refugees remain at this moment in Zaire. They have been told that they will be forcibly repatriated if they do not return to Rwanda by the end of this year. In Tanzania acute tensions exist between 700,000 refugees and local people. That may lead to further tragedy.
Ethnic cleansing continues in Burundi and deaths there are estimated at 800 people a month. We are advised that the key priorities in this area, as in others are justice, relief assistance and economic rehabilitation. It is a grim state of affairs and clearly a matter for the United Nations. As noble Lords will remember, that body set up an international tribunal to try those responsible for violations of international law but up to now it has not announced a single indictment. That is a great misfortune. The fact is that the Security Council has passed resolutions calling for co-operation with the
I know that the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, has studied the problem and visited the area and that she has deep sympathy for the communities there. But I am bound to say that there is widespread concern lest the Government cut overseas aid. We are on the threshold of the Budget and we know that the Chancellor and his colleagues have an eye on the election. The gracious Speech refers to the Government's substantial overseas aid programme. But the reality is that the Government are sadly not over-generous in the field of aid. As a percentage of GNP it stands at 0.3 per cent., under half the recommended target of 0.7 per cent. Cuts by Britain now would be a terrible blow at the very time of most acute need in the areas I have mentioned.
I say to noble Lords opposite that if we fail to meet aid targets our country will be denying its responsibility towards poorer countries and damaging its influence in the Security Council, the G7, the Commonwealth and the European Union. I appeal to the Government to think very carefully before they take action which will damage our influence and our reputation.
These are very difficult times, but there are also promising developments which we must not overlook. Apartheid has ended, and we have a new South Africa under a great leader. The Cold War has ended although there are political difficulties and uncertainties on the horizon. The peace process in the Middle East continues notwithstanding the tragic death of Yitzhak Rabin. Is this not the time for the Government to show that they can give a lead by placing principles before contrived policies in the hope of winning an election?
Today the Independent carries an article that we should all read. In it the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reports that a record total of 27 million people around the world have fled their homes because of persecution and war. Twenty seven million people in the world are suffering terribly at this moment. It is on that that we should concentrate our attention. The Government can be assured of our support if they make a greater effort to help them. They will have the approval of the British people who are as concerned as we are about this matter. They can be assured of our support if they leave income tax as it is and apply our resources to help the world's poorest countries and their suffering millions.
Lord Carew: My Lords, I am most grateful to have the great honour to be able to make my maiden speech in reply to the part of Her Majesty's gracious Speech in relation to foreign affairs with particular reference to Ireland.
I must declare a special interest in that my peerage is one that is both of the United Kingdom and of Ireland. Although my family home has always been in Ireland, I was educated in England, and from the late 1950s until 1965 I had the great privilege to serve in the Royal
My late father dedicated many years of his life to the work of the Royal British Legion and had the honour to be its chairman in 1963. He made his maiden speech exactly 20 years after taking his seat. The subject of his speech was ex-servicemen living in Ireland and the bettering of relations between these two islands. It is that latter object that I should like to make the subject of my contribution to the debate.
I should now like to concentrate on Ireland. Without question Article 10 of the Joint Declaration of 15th December 1993, signed by both Her Majesty's Government and the Irish Government, must be respected. That includes the handing over of arms, or whatever similar terminology is used. There can be no question of a temporary cessation of violence by the paramilitaries to see what the political process will offer.
Throughout the troubled political years the peoples of both the United Kingdom and the island of Ireland have remained firm friends. Family relationships play a large part in that, as indeed do the many sporting activities between these two islands. I remind your Lordships of one special occasion when sportsmanship was seen at its very best--the occasion when the English rugby team came to Dublin to play Ireland at the very height of the troubles. The crowd of some 45,000 gave the English team a six-minute standing ovation as they ran on to the field of play. It was a very moving occasion. The other great sporting occasion--an annual one--is the visit of the British showjumping team to the Dublin Horse Show. The British team is very popular with the Irish public.
I remind your Lordships also of the occasion in 1991 when Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal, in her capacity as president of the International Equestrian Federation, paid a visit to the European three-day event championships at Punchestown, some 20 miles from Dublin. There was an attendance of 100,000 people, and throughout the day the Irish crowd continually thanked her for coming to Ireland.
The ceasefire continues and although the peace process may be difficult and slow what matters is that the final outcome is a lasting peace and that there will be no repeat of the last 25 years of violence. To that end, the greatest possible praise is due for the time, effort and priority that is being devoted to the peace process by both Her Majesty's Government and the Irish Government.
In conclusion, I am sure that your Lordships will join me in wishing both governments, as well as the political parties in Northern Ireland, a successful outcome which will lead to that lasting peace to which the people of both these islands so look forward.
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, on behalf of the whole House I should like to begin by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Carew, for his six minute maiden speech. The fact that his peerage is of both the United Kingdom and Ireland is an apt symbol of the important theme of his speech, and we much look forward to hearing him speak on that and other subjects in the future.
Like the noble Lord I much welcome the continuing commitment to peace in Northern Ireland expressed in the gracious Speech. Getting where we are now, with more than a year's cessation of violence, has taken a great deal of skill and determination. We cannot take that position for granted. No less skill and determination will be needed for the next phase to make peace permanent. I know that we also welcome the continuing support for the Middle East peace process. As Mr. Rabin's tragic assassination has reminded us, making peace involves not only sophisticated negotiating skills but courage. Indeed, making peace involves no less courage than making war.
It is good too to note the continuing pursuit of a comprehensive test ban treaty and a determination to develop the capacity of the United Nations and regional organisations to prevent conflict. It is easy for people to be critical or even cynical about the performance of the United Nations. But, as its recent 50th anniversary celebrations reminded us, its achievements are both many and significant. If we wish to avoid a new imperialism on the one hand, or endless conflicts on the other, with states breaking up into smaller and smaller entities, there is simply no other alternative. Regional organisations and the United Nations can and must be supported and made more effective in their role of preventing conflict.
People are sometimes sceptical about whether aid really does any good. Perhaps I may quote some words of James Speth. Speaking in 1995 to the Council on Foreign Relations in the United States, he said:
The other aspect that I wish to mention briefly is debt relief. The Government have been associated with several important initiatives on debt relief, but the problem is still enormous. On 1993 figures, the least developed countries owed 127 billion dollars, amounting to 67 per cent. of their combined GNP. Many of those least developed countries owe an even higher percentage. It means in practice that money desperately needed for basic development, healthcare and schools goes instead on interest payments. The genuine concern of this Government on that issue, and their real achievements, should not blind us or make us in any way complacent about how much more still needs to be done.
Perhaps I may give just one example. This year the Jamaican Government will pay back in international debt service four times the amount spent on their health service. At the moment churches are turning their vestries into clinics staffed by volunteers on Saturday mornings. But that is no substitute for a proper health service--and Jamaica is relatively well off. As we have already heard, Uganda pays back in interest about 10 times its health spending.
The main issue of the moment is multilateral debt. It represents a substantial proportion of the debt that is being repaid from 25 or so countries, including Jamaica and Uganda. Currently there is no method of reducing that debt stock. The British Government have taken a welcome lead in pressing the World Bank and the IMF to bring proposals for multilateral debt relief for decision to the spring meeting. That is the right spirit of urgency.
A key problem in multilateral debt reduction is where the resources will come from. Experts believe that some could be found from sales of IMF gold and some from the World Bank's reserves or net income. It is very welcome that the British Government have also pressed for the IMF to sell some of its gold in order to fund its structural adjustment facility. It would be extremely useful if Her Majesty's Government would widen their proposal so that IMF gold sales could be used to fund multilateral debt relief more generally.
As we have heard, there are always competing claims for our attention and many pressures on the budget, but in the scale of human need those 1.5 billion people living at or below starvation level must, I believe, have continuing priority.
Lord Healey: My Lords, I propose to concentrate on those issues which are correctly identified in the Queen's Speech as central to British foreign policy: the maintenance of international peace and stability; the relationship between NATO and Russia; the fight against terrorism, organised crime and misuse of and trafficking in drugs; and of course the United Nations itself. Bearing in mind the advice of the French duke who was referred to recently, I fear that I shall not have time to talk about aid problems. I believe that they have been well dealt with by my noble friends Lady Blackstone and Lord Cledwyn, the right reverend Prelate, and above all in the excellent maiden speech from the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich. He expressed--rightly in my view--the important role which NGOs should play in those operations abroad and the importance of educating our own people, in particular our children, on the problems with which they have to deal. I fear too that I shall not be able to talk about the Irish problem. I am therefore delighted to find that I share an Irish ancestry with the noble Lord, Lord Carew. I have always felt it a great advantage to be able to dilute my Yorkshire muck with a little Irish magic.
The end of the Cold War has produced a new world disorder. The collapse of the Soviet Empire, like the collapse of all empires throughout history, has led to an appalling series of armed conflicts at a time when the
The problem is that colonial powers have always drawn frontiers of states with little regard for ethnic realities and the feelings of the peoples who compose them. So it is no surprise that at the present time, of the 82 armed conflicts at present in train, 79 are taking place inside national frontiers. Some are appallingly bloody. One million people have already died in Afghanistan; another million in Rwanda; and, it is believed, perhaps a million in the Sudan as a result of civil war and consequent famine. As my noble friend said, the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees just announced that some 27 million people have been driven from their homes across frontiers, or to other parts of their own state, as a result of the type of armed conflicts I have mentioned.
Even in the western world, nation states as they emerged in the 19th century are now threatened both from inside and outside. Internally, minorities are demanding more autonomy: in Scotland; in Quebec; in the Basque country and Catalonia in Spain; in Corsica in France; and in northern Italy, which wants to secede from the rest of Italy because it does not want to pay taxes that go straight into the pockets of the Camorra and the Mafia. The American revolution is a great warning to us all that when a demand for autonomy is made, if it is not met at least half way, it may be followed by secession.
In addition to those internal problems, the authority of nation states is now being threatened by the globalisation of many key activities in all societies. Finance is now globalised. The latest figure quoted is that £1,300,000 million dollars a day cross the exchanges almost entirely in search of speculative profit. These capital flows are far more important than what governments do for exchange rates, the flow of trade, investment and output. I have never been able to understand why so many of my friends in the other House are so exercised by the possibility that Jacques Delors or M. Santer might rob Britain of its sovereignty when George Soros did it in a day three years ago. They did not even seem to notice and nothing has since been done about the problem. I am glad to see that the noble Lord whom I regard as my noble friend in these matters agrees with me.
In addition to the globalisation of finance, there is the globalisation of business. Forty-seven of the biggest economies in the world are not the economies of nation states but those of trans-national companies. There is the globalisation of investment. People now put up new plants wherever the relevant skills are cheapest and closest to the market for their output. There is the globalisation of pollution. We were warned the other day by the European Commissioner for the Environment that there are 100 Chernobyls waiting to happen in the
Crime is now globalised. It is estimated that 1,500 billion dollars a year are laundered as the proceeds of crime, one-third of them being the proceeds of drug trafficking. So far, the criminals are co-operating across frontiers far better than are the governments who are supposed to control their activities. Indeed, it was stated at the conference on crime that took place in Naples last year that the Sicilian Mafia forges dollars for the Russian Mafia, who, as I am sure noble Lords know, spend them to buy properties in Chelsea, Kensington, and even, I hope, Pimlico, where I happen to live.
Most important in some ways is that information technology, which made possible this globalisation, is now undergoing an explosive expansion. Satellite television and the fax are already destabilising governments from Saudi Arabia through Iran to China. But it looks as though the Internet may threaten the stability even of governments in the western world unless some means can be found to control the information spread by it. So far, nobody has even suggested a way in which it might be controlled. These global problems defy all attempts at national or even regional solutions.
For solutions we shall have to turn to global organisations such as the specialised agencies of the United Nations, the IMF, the World Bank and the GATT. We may even have to create new global organisations to deal with some of these problems.
At present all these problems are left to regional superpowers. But that is clearly not enough. We see the total failure of the Russian Government to control the fighting both inside and outside Russia, in the Caucasus area. We see the failure of the western superpowers to control what happens in the Balkans, and even more so in Africa, in which the western world shows very little interest at the present time.
As was said by other speakers, the 50th anniversary of the creation of the United Nations led to a flood of whingeing complaints from representatives of governments all over the world about the failures of the United Nations. However, the fault lies not with the institutions, which have no powers except those given to them by national governments, and whose powers have to be exercised at present through national governments. The fault lies with national governments, and above all in the field of security with the so-called big five, which enjoy the veto in the Security Council.
Bosnia is a very good example, At first, Britain and France were allowed by the United States, Russia and China to take the problem on. They treated it as a problem of peacekeeping. But of course there was no peace to keep by the time that the United Nations, led by Britain and France, began to intervene. When the Security Council decided that UN forces in Bosnia should establish safe areas, instead of providing at once the 35,000 troops that were known to be needed to keep those areas safe, they provided only 7,500, and those very slowly indeed.
The noble Lord, Lord Owen--perhaps I may yet call him my noble friend; no, the noble Lord (well, he may come back again, you never know)--with his American colleague, Cyrus Vance, produced a plan to stop the fighting two years ago. I believe that it might have worked if the United States had supported it. But the United States Government deliberately preferred to prolong the war by talking of ending the arms embargo on Croatia and Bosnia and by bombing. In the end, the United States took over from the United Nations under cover of a NATO organisation. To my amazement--I hope that there will be some comment from the noble Earl when he winds up this debate--the British Government agreed to a total reversal of their policy in Bosnia. The two pages of the Defence White Paper which dealt with peace-keeping were simply torn up and thrown away.
The fact is that the United States and its allies intervened in the civil war on behalf of the Croats against both the Serbs and the Bosnians. That is a point which becomes clearer with every day that passes. I hope that when he winds up, the noble Earl will explain why the Government decided to cross the Mogadishu line which General Rose, its very able commander in Bosnia, had insisted should not be crossed in a peace-keeping operation.
In fact, the United States, even before it intervened directly, had been helping both Croatia and Bosnia to break the arms embargo. Croatia now has a massive army which is very well equipped and which is costing 12½ per cent. of its GDP. It has built that army with the help of United States instructors and United States advisers. I learnt the other day that the Croatian Tiger Brigade, when it invaded Krajina recently, were wearing American uniforms.
Surely the British Government should have taken some notice of what was happening. Or did they not know? Or were they not told? What was their view of all that? It is now two years since the Americans wrecked the Vance-Owen plan; and now Ambassador Holbrook, on behalf of the Clinton Administration, is trying to impose an American plan for peace at Dayton, which is far less fair to the Bosnian people than was the Vance-Owen plan. In fact, it is the effective partition of Bosnia between Serbia and Croatia. In the meantime, 100,000 more people have been killed there. The invasion of Krajina meant that there were 200,000 Serb refugees; the invasion of western Bosnia meant that there were 100,000 Bosnian and Serbian refugees; and the invasion of eastern Slavonia, or its occupation even if it happens peacefully--it is far from clear that the agreement which was trumpeted in some of the newspapers the other day was reached--could lead to another 150,000 Serbian refugees.
The hero of that tragedy, applauded by the United States Administration and Opposition together, applauded in Britain by the noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher, and--I hate to admit it--by some of my Left-wing friends in the Labour Party in the other place is a man called Franjo Tudjman. He is a former communist general, who, when he became the leader of Bosnia, adopted the flag and insignia of the wartime fascists who fought with Hitler against the allies. He
The Holbrook plan, nevertheless, despite all that I have just said, seems to be hopelessly stalled in the talks in Dayton and the American Congress has said that it will not allow the American President to send 20,000 American troops to police an agreement, if an agreement is reached. I honestly do not believe that it would be possible to find a clearer condemnation of the concept that we can deal with these new global problems through intervention by regional superpowers, if only because--as has turned out to be the case with Bosnia--American action threatens to revive the Cold War with Russia. General Grachov is saying that he will arrange an alliance with China against the west. I do not feel that we need take him too seriously or that he will be there very long--I am delighted to see that my undercover friend the noble Baroness, Lady Park, agrees with me about that.
The plain fact is that the only answer to these global security problems is the United Nations. The question is: how can we give the United Nations the powers of its own that it needs to do something effective? Certainly it cannot solve all the problems of the world in the foreseeable future.
I suggest that there are two or three urgent steps that could be taken. First, the United Nations, as an organisation, should be given its own intelligence and conciliation machinery, so that where possible it could pre-empt conflict. It should be given a permanent small volunteer force, perhaps 10,000, with the transport to move it in days, to deter military conflict, being backed by forces earmarked by the big five and other members of the United Nations. Those proposals have been put forward very persuasively, in my view, by two exceptionally experienced British people: Brian Urquart, who for most of the post-war period was the main peace-keeping expert at the United Nations itself; and Sir Anthony Parsons, who was one of our ablest ambassadors at the United Nations, having to cover the very difficult period of the Falklands war.
What is terrible is that most of these proposals have been made by the United Nations Secretary General. They appealed to and were supported by many of the smaller countries; but they were vetoed by all five of the big powers. Making progress on those issues is far more important and possible than reaching agreement on reconstructing the Security Council, which I suggest--I suspect that the noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher, would agree with me--is more likely to take years than months to achieve.
Meanwhile, there is the risk of the total collapse of the United Nations in the next year or two, if the United States pulls out, as some leading members of the majority party in the Congress are proposing. The central problem--I agree very much with the noble
If the United Nations takes over some of the other problems that I have mentioned, it will need financing on a very much larger scale to deal with the financial and economic problems, pollution and crime. It will need an independent source of its own. I believe that there is growing support in the world now for the tax proposed by the Nobel economics prize winner, Jim Tobin, in the United States 20 years ago: financial transactions of a speculative nature should be taxed. A tax of only 0.1 per cent. on those transactions would bring in 80 billion dollars a year, which is 10 times the total annual cost of current United Nations operations. If we include taxes or the other activities which add to our problems--polluting activities such as the use of carbons, the arms trade, and so forth--then we could obtain even more.
I am not suggesting that that will be easy to achieve. That is why it is important in the short run to redistribute national contributions. But from now on we must regard the United Nations as central to our foreign policy. It is the only potential answer to the problems which we, in common with the rest of the world, now face.
Lord Finsberg: My Lords, I do not speak as often as I should like--your Lordships may not endorse that--though I count myself lucky today to be sandwiched between the noble Lords, Lord Healey and Lord Owen. I imagine many noble Lords will wait for tea until after the noble Lord, Lord Owen, has spoken.
My duties in leading the United Kingdom delegations to the Council of Europe and Western European Union keep me away from this House a great deal. Today's debate covers those two subjects and I should like to say something on each of them. But first, I pay tribute to my colleagues in both Houses, especially my noble friends Lady Hooper, Lord Newall and Lord Dundee, and the noble Lords, Lord Mackie and Lord Kirkhill, who, outside this Chamber, are also noble friends.
In the Council of Europe--mention of Russia has already been made today--the major issue is Russian membership. She has been a guest member for some time and now wants full membership. There are two courses open. First, we can wait until she reaches the standards of the Council of Europe in relation to human
Perhaps I may tell your Lordships as an example that in Russia today, if one is a prisoner, one will be put to work making cane furniture. One will be permitted neither to stand nor to sit; one must crouch. If one is an accused on remand in prison, one may have to wait up to two years for one's case to come to trial. There are no defence lawyers because there is no money to pay them. And one still cannot move freely from city to city inside Russia. It will therefore take at least five years for Russia to attain our standards.
The other alternative is to admit Russia now, when she is far from attaining acceptable standards, in the hope that she will improve. Behind, and in many cases in front of, the scene, governments are urging us to take the latter course of action on political grounds; namely, that it is better to have Russia inside than outside and that, if not admitted soon, she may go off in a huff and withdraw into some other organisation.
If we accept Russia now we will--not may--lower our standards immensely and will not be able to ask any future applicant to hold any higher standards. Our monitoring of countries like Romania and Bulgaria will be useless. Earlier this month the chairman in office of the Council of Europe Ministers--then the Czech Foreign Minister--said he hoped that we would admit Russia as soon as she met our standards. If she is admitted, she will be monitored to ensure that the undertakings she gives are honoured. But what if she fails to keep them? We have the power to suspend or expel a member. But would we dare, once Russia was inside?
Both courses are fraught with peril. I hope governments--I include all governments--will stop fudging the issue and come out into the open and say firmly (if they want it said) "Let Russia in now in spite of her standards, for reasons of politics and security". I ask my noble friend, when he sums up the debate, to come clean on that point and tell us whether or not that is the view of Her Majesty's Government. That will help those of us who will soon have to take decisions in the Council of Europe on Russian membership.
I turn now to the Western European Union which I am glad to say has become, over the past couple of years, the "flavour of the month". It was a Sleeping Beauty until it was reawakened some years ago by my right honourable friend Michael Heseltine, and has now been re-revived as the only sensible defence organisation that Europe can have. It is a vital component of an Atlantic alliance. Whatever may be said about defence in Europe, if we lose the North Americans, we are in real trouble.
How do we see European defence fitting into the new NATO concept? We must retain American support and American forces in Europe. On a recent visit to Washington I found somewhat conflicting views, not merely among members of the Congress, but also between the state and the defence departments. Two separate briefings left me wondering whether I was in the same country. We do not yet know therefore what
Somehow security must be given some form of substance and that substance must lie with NATO and the concept put forward 18 months ago at the NATO summit, but which seems to have stalled badly; namely, the combined joint task force. Again, I ask my noble friend to tell us why it stalled. The rumours are that it is because the Americans are blocking it. However, as the American President was part of the summit that endorsed the concept, I cannot believe that he is permitting his generals to block it. I should like to hear from my noble friend because we all find it to be extremely important.
The relationship between NATO and the Western European Union is important because of the recasting of NATO with its Partnership for Peace programme and the concept of the combined joint task force. The Baltic states are desperately worried about their future. They are members of the Council of Europe and keep quoting statements from Russian generals that they are in real danger because there are minorities in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia that some Russians want to embrace again. What does that mean? It may mean the end of democracy in those countries.
The Council of Europe is 50 years old and is made up of 38 member states. I have had the pleasure of being a member of its delegation since 1983 and of leading the delegation since 1987. It has now reached a crossroads, not merely in terms of Russia but also in terms of finance. In the light of what some governments said less than three years ago in Vienna, are they prepared to give it the resources it needs? It is the one body that is teaching democracy to the ex-communist states. No one else is doing that. We have brought into membership countries as diverse as Albania and Moldova. They are passionately keen on democracy. In passing perhaps I might say that the only embarrassing occasion I encountered occurred around 18 months ago when I was talking in Tirana to the Constitutional Committee of Albania about constitution making. Someone said, "Tell me, Lord Finsberg, how can you talk to us about a constitution when you do not have one in the United Kingdom?" I fudged my response; but they were very much aware of what was needed.
Two weeks ago I returned from monitoring the elections in Croatia. The noble Lord, Lord Healey, was right about Mr. Tudjman, whom I first met when I monitored the elections some two years earlier. He is not a man with whom I should like to have dinner. He is certainly not a man who should be president of a country whose parliament is trying to be democratic. There is a very real difference between Tudjman and his parliament. At the end of the recent elections I issued a press statement to say that they were basically free and fair in spite of a flawed election law. They produced a reasonably democratic parliament in spite of Mr. Tudjman's wishes. There is hope but the problem is that the parliament does not always exercise its strength sufficiently.
When we are looking at these broad issues we have to try to decide where the interests of the United Kingdom lie. Of course they lie in the United Nations; of course they lie in the European Union; but when one comes to consider issues of defence one must not subordinate the interests of this country. I should like to ask one question of the Opposition spokesman when he comes to speak. Do the Opposition support the view that the Western European Union should not become a part of the European Union? That is the view of my delegation, including my Labour colleagues, in Strasbourg. It would be helpful to know so that one could say to Mr. Westendorp, whom I have now heard twice, that in the view of the United Kingdom, irrespective of which government are in power, the WEU should not be subordinated to the EU. I agree very much about what was said about Mr. Westendorp's Reflections document, which has a couple of paragraphs on defence. No member of the Reflections group has any connection with defence. It would be helpful to hear whether the Opposition go along with that view.
If one looks at the whole issue of defence, one is forced to accept that the situation now is more dangerous than when we had the Warsaw Pact and NATO glaring at each other. In our heart of hearts we realise that both feared what would happen if they clashed. What is now more dangerous is having a collection of individual states and in Russia a collection of generals who are gaining more and more power. The elections we shall see in December may give us a duma that will be highly unpleasant and highly dangerous to the concept of security in Europe. As long as we can remain firm, as long as we can try to involve the Russians, as we seem to have done in the "peace" process now going on in Dayton, Ohio in terms of the way in which we have separated NATO command of any Russians going there from the Russians themselves, we may be able to reach the year 2000 without further trouble. But I would say that within a decade, whatever decision is reached in Bosnia, we will have the same trouble happening all over again, because nothing will keep those three disparate parts together for very long.
Lord Owen: My Lords, when we last debated the former Yugoslavia at the end of May many of us feared that the situation would get worse before it got better. None of us expected it--certainly I did not--to get as bad as it did in July and in August. It is not often recognised quite how much ethnic cleansing went on in the summer months. Fifty thousand moslems were forced out of the eastern enclaves of Zepa and Srebrenica in appalling circumstances--very likely savage massacres--and 150,000 to 200,000 Serbs were forced out of the Krajina where they had lived for more than three decades. There has been created over a concentrated period of time a pool of refugees in former Yugoslavia, the worst that we have seen since the war started in 1991. I very much hope that we will see a peace settlement come out of Dayton, Ohio, and I believe that we will. But there will be exhaustion, a map forced by soldiers and a degree of ethnic partition that
However, the story is not all bad. The humanitarian mission remains important and will remain important through this winter. But I wish to try to draw some lessons from the former Yugoslavia because I believe that they are urgent. The most important one relates to NATO, since in all probability it is going to be asked to take the main lead role in implementation. Perhaps I may first say a few words about NATO. It is an organisation which I have supported all my political life. I do not believe that internally it has ever been as fraught as it is today. That a European of such distinction as Ruud Lubbers, 12 years prime minister, a prime minister who actually managed to convince people in Holland of a need to deploy cruise missiles and showed immense courage and loyalty to NATO, should have been treated in such a way is absolutely indefensible. We must ask quite openly how this could have occurred.
In 1978 I remember approaching the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and asking him whether he would consider being the Secretary General of NATO. I cannot believe that things are that different. I did so then on behalf of the then American Secretary of State, Cyrus Vance, the then French Foreign Minister, M. Guiringaud and the then German Foreign Minister, Hans-Dietrich Genscher. He was not being asked to put his name forward to go for interviews or being asked to put his name forward to have a possibility of a job. He was being asked to take the job knowing full well that if he said yes he would get it. I have to say that he asked permission to go off and speak to his mistress, as he affectionately called her. When he came back from having talked to the future Prime Minister, with a smile broadly across his face, he refused. I said, "I think that means that you have been promised my job if your party wins the election", to which, of course, the answer came with the election. He later served with distinction in the role of Secretary General.
It is a crucial post and people are now talking perhaps of the Spanish Foreign Minister, who is extremely able and whom I would in many ways like to see in that post. But in this present fraught situation, with the United States having real difficulty in Congress over NATO implementation of any peace settlements, surely this is a time for Europeans to say to the United States, "If it would help to have a Secretary General from the United States, let it be done". There is nothing sacrosanct in having to have a European as the Secretary General nor, in the present circumstances, is it vital to continue always with an American General as the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. We ought to be thinking very imaginatively and quickly about this situation.
There is a real problem in Congress at the present moment over NATO. Incidentally, many of us feel that a very eminent senator, Sam Nunn, who has announced his decision not to stand for the Senate again, would make an extremely good Secretary General of NATO. I urge the Government and European Foreign Ministers and heads of government not to stay in a trench on this
I do not know whether noble Lords have read the article by General Boyd in the summer edition of Foreign Affairs. He served for three years as the deputy American commander in Europe. His condemnation of what has been going on and outspoken criticism are very important for realising the tensions that developed as NATO officers serving in the UN became convinced, rightly or wrongly, that NATO was conniving at breaking the arms embargo in terms of air drops; in breaking the "no fly" zone in terms of landings being made or drops being made on airfields inside Bosnia Herzegovina, and planes coming in under the shadow of NATO planes. These are serious allegations which were widely believed. They began to erode confidence in the integrity of NATO. I really believe that there is no organisation whose authority and credibility it is more important to restore. NATO has done so much in the past and can, in my judgment, do much in the future. On the positive side, it looks as though it will be possible to have implementation by NATO of any peace settlement in Bosnia Herzegovina, which may go even wider into Croatia and eastern Slavonia that also involves the Russian Federation. It will be very important for all organisations to handle the Russian Federation with considerable skill over the next few years. No organisation does that apply to more than NATO in the way it approaches enlargement.
Here again, having achieved Partnership for Peace, and having pursued it carefully, with a great deal of skill shown by the European Union, particularly the Federal Republic of Germany, we suddenly have a change of policy from Washington and we are suddenly into wholesale enlargement.
I believe that we have to listen carefully to the anxieties of the Russian Federation about enlargement. Poland is the crucial geo-strategic country in Europe and it must become a member of NATO. We must explain to the Russian Federation why that does not challenge or threaten its stability but, rather, enhances it, as will be the case throughout the whole continent. I cannot understand why NATO membership should be chosen as the lead item for Poland's stability. I cannot understand why America does not say, "We shall enlarge as fast as the European Union enlarges its membership", and so put the onus on the European Union to find the money and to make the internal reforms in order to make it possible for Poland and the Czechs to join NATO on or before the year 2000. We shall make a great mistake if we do not go ahead with EU enlargement. Under the present financial arrangements it is expensive to do, particularly with the unreformed common agricultural policy, but it is of great geo-strategic importance. It would be far more effective and sensible to enlarge NATO and European Union membership simultaneously, with the addition of those two countries. It will do a great deal to allay the justified anxieties in the Russian Federation that it does not face wholesale enlargement. It will understand if it is done in the context of European Union membership.
I now pass to the European Union itself. The noble Baroness gave me every possible support over the three years I was in the former Yugoslavia. I would like to make it clear publicly how much I value that personal support and also how impressed I was that, although she may have had problems with her aid budget, she found money, often at very short notice, for essential UNHCR operations. I always knew that I could come to her and get money. I know also that that is a feeling held by Mrs. Ogata and others associated with the UNHCR.
I now turn to the European Union and how it faces these problems. The noble Baroness used the word "proactive" of the Government's European Union policy. I would like to take her up on that and see an example of it. I make no secret of my opposition to federalism or a United States of Europe. I am a life-long believer in the European Community and now in the European Union. Nothing I have seen in the past three years as a European Union negotiator has diminished my belief in that organisation or in its essential nature in the area of a common foreign and security policy. It is utter nonsense to believe that that will be achieved by any form of majority voting, qualified majority voting, or 15 minus one, or any formula that one likes.
There is only one way in which a common foreign and security policy can be achieved. That is by inter-governmental consensus and a discipline that when governments do not feel very strongly about something they take a back seat and allow the majority view to take place, but also there is an inherent acceptance that a nation, however small, with a vital national interest has to be accommodated if the European Union is to achieve a sustainable, viable common and foreign security policy, over a period of years. There is no bureaucratic fix for a common and foreign security policy, and let us have no more nonsense talked about such fixes. Frankly, I am beginning to believe that the Federal Republic of Germany is understanding this as it develops its own foreign policies, as it has every right to do as a serious, new democratic country in which most of us have total and absolute confidence. I do not always agree with those policies, but the Federal Republic of Germany is entitled to hold them whether they concern Croatia, eastern European countries, Russia or whoever. It stands up for those policies and fights for them, as France and Britain and other countries will.
Therefore, to get a common foreign and security policy it is necessary to tackle the hinge at its weakest point, and that is between the heads of government in the European Council and the Foreign Affairs Council, which is within the treaty. The European Council has been included in the Maastricht Treaty, but it is essentially still an inter-governmental organisation. President Chirac has made an interesting speech arguing for a secretary general to be appointed by the European Council. I do not see that as a threatening move towards a federalist United States of Europe, but as a sensible way of preparing the European Council and trying to develop a leadership role for the heads of government at that level.
The powers of the secretary general should be no more than those that we give to the Secretary General of NATO. The task is to try to achieve a consensus. There has never been a vote in NATO and it has not needed majority voting or anything like that. Furthermore, the secretary general should be appointed by the heads of government and not fall within the other institutions of the European Union. He should not be answerable to the Commission or in any way linked to it. He should not be under the European Court and should not be answerable to, or appointed by, the European Parliament. He should be the main link between the WEU and the European Union through the heads of government. I personally would not object if that person was double-hatted and was also the Secretary General of the WEU. If there is to be a secretary general for the European Council, I believe that he should have close links with the WEU otherwise we shall have endless overlaps which we need to avoid.
The other institutional change which must come about is in the United Nations, which others have mentioned. The Security Council makes decisions about the lives of the troops that wear blue berets. It is high time that every single ambassador or permanent representative in the Security Council for that period of rotating membership, knew that the decisions he took could affect troops in his own country. Membership of the Security Council would require a country's commitment that a UN rapid reaction force should be at the disposal of the Security Council when it makes decisions in the first instance to put troops in. That would concentrate the mind of the Security Council wonderfully because it would have to match its rhetoric to the realities on the ground. No decision is taken more carefully or after more thought by the British or French Cabinets or the American President (or however it is done in any of these countries) than the decision to commit troops to risk their lives.
Frankly, the way in which the Security Council makes those decisions is too far removed from reality. One reason for that is that very frequently only three or four members of the Security Council actually have troops involved in the operations on which it is making the decisions. It is that mismatch that has bedevilled the problems of Bosnia Herzegovina. I believe that its decisions would be very much enhanced if there were a direct link between the Security Council and on-the-ground peacekeeping.
Perhaps I may make a final point. There is currently much controversy brewing up around the war crimes tribunal that has been set up in the former Yugoslavia. The London conference asked Mr. Vance and myself to look at the question. We were conscious of the advantages of amnesties in Rhodesia when it became Zimbabwe, in Namibia and in South Africa. Our intention and inclination was, if at all possible, to leave open the possibility of amnesty. We eventually concluded that it was not possible to do that in these circumstances and recommended the establishment of the war crimes tribunal. That tribunal has now been established. I find it very hard to conceive of circumstances in which the tribunal should not continue with its work for at least a period of time. The fact that
Some of the people who are subject to arrest orders and who are under investigation should continue to come under investigation. Those arrest orders should be held over, even if the countries concerned will not voluntarily give up those involved so that they can come to the Hague Court. Governments change and time changes, but let those people at least be pariahs in the world, unable to move outside the enclave in which they can have temporary security. Although it is difficult in Dayton and elsewhere to achieve a peace, I do not believe that that peace would be enhanced by abandoning the war crimes tribunal.
Lord Hooson: My Lords, I am sure that the whole House will greatly have appreciated the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Owen, particularly as it dwelt on his experiences. I was particularly interested in his earlier remarks about NATO and the importance of the appointment of the next Secretary General. I did not entirely agree with the noble Lord's observations on the European Union. It seemed to me that the noble Lord was falling into the trap into which so many British statesmen appear to have fallen in the post-war period. They have failed to distinguish between the short-term and the long-term interests of this country. It may be that the short-term solution which is so conditioned by reality is often in conflict with the long-term advantages of certain other developments.
I shall not follow what has been said so far, except on the issue of Europe. One looks in vain in the Queen's Speech for any meaningful sign of a "strategic vision" from the Government with regard to this country's future. It was said yesterday that we shall have simply a continuation of the policies of the past 15 years. However, that really means a temporary loitering in a wistful "little Englander" approach while failing to give a lead and positive guidance in the inexorable progress towards an integrated, entwined and interdependent western Europe which is itself the foundation of any real economic progress during the past 25 years.
Let us consider the boasts that are often made about inward investment in this country. The sums are indeed considerable. But how much of that inward investment would have taken place if we were not a member of the European Community--and a fully committed member at that? The belief of the Euro-sceptics, more and more reflected in government pronouncements, that we can tactically achieve a European free trade association in the whole of western Europe while preventing further economic and political integration is just a pipedream. Many of the Government's tactics are widely interpreted in Europe as stances or proposed measures designed to delay real progress in Europe. But for what purpose? To pursue outmoded nationalism and independent nation states when we should be thinking of how we can have the maximum benefits of economic potential and
Subsidiarity is a concept with which we can all agree, from whatever viewpoint we approach the European problem. However, subsidiarity within the European context will also necessitate subsidiarity within the national context. European laws and regulations will have to apply all round, but they will surely have to be administered and applied at the closest possible level to the lives of the ordinary citizens of Europe, including in the United Kingdom. That is why the constitutional issues which the Labour Opposition are now highlighting more and more--and which my party has always highlighted--are so important for our country. They relate also to our foreign policy and to the future of Europe. They are of great practical importance, but scant appreciation of that point is apparent in the gracious Speech.
I hope that your Lordships' House will take the lead in counteracting what I regard as the baleful influence of the Euro-sceptics on the Government. If our European partners called our bluff and put it to us bluntly that the stark choice facing us is to accept the inevitability of the implications of the Treaty of Rome and the eventual integration of the European Union--it will take a long time--or to give up membership and to withdraw from its benefits, there would be a dramatic change in the political climate here. The threat of the inward investment of the past 30 years being dramatically withdrawn would also concentrate the mind on the real foundation of our present prosperity.
It seems to me that aggressive and self-glorifying nationalism is still one of the great curses of our century, as we see to our cost. I speak as one who represents a minority culture. I have always been proud of my Welsh identity and anxious to maintain Welsh culture. All the countries of Europe will have to face the fact that English will probably become the commercial language of Europe. Every country in Europe will eventually face the problem of how to maintain its national culture and language while accepting an international commercial language.
It seems to me that nationalism, even at the end of the 20th century, has an undoubted power and force which, unless controlled and modified, is almost bound to be totally destructive. Therefore, I trust that we shall recognise that we have to dampen down the nostalgic yearnings, so apparent at the Conservative Party conference this year, for a return to the age of nation states in this age when, as the noble Lord, Lord Healey, pointed out, world communications at all levels have made them impossible to sustain. Changes occur every day in our commercial life which show the degree of integration that already exists. International companies are no longer really subject to any national control. We have to live in, and plan for, that kind of world. This is a time to stand back and look at our own institutions and to ask how on earth we can adapt our national institutions for both our international and regional needs in the next century. It is a great problem.
It is useless to think that our partners within the EU will change the CAP basically within the next five years. They will not do so. I agree entirely with the noble Lord, Lord Cockfield, that the justification for the CAP in the early days was--if I may use the term--entirely social. The policy prevented the migration of millions of people from the agrarian lands of Europe into the great cities, which could have caused an enormous social problem. It still would, even if it were abrogated to a large extent. Therefore, in reality, I do not believe that our European partners will agree to extend the CAP to the eastern European countries.
What approach would the US take if, within the next five years, we were to succeed in having an enlarged EU with all the benefits that that enlargement would bring? How would it envisage a free trade area with that in it? In time, that will come about but it is entirely mistaken to put such propositions forward at the moment. I cannot believe that they are intended seriously. They are a cloak for what is happening in Europe. The enlargement will come about in time. There will be an intermediate phase in the early days to accommodate the eastern European countries. There is hope for an eventual Atlantic free trade area some time during the next century. Those issues are highly desirable.
The real progress that will be made in the next few years will be, first, the European currency. I was much taken, although I had never thought of it, by the solution advanced by the noble Lord, Lord Cockfield, of leaving it to the market. Whether we like it or not, the European currency, in one form or another, will be achieved by the end of the century. We have to face the reality of that situation. The easy way out for our country may be to follow the advice of the noble Lord, Lord Cockfield, and let the market take over, because it undoubtedly will. Within a short time, the integration of Europe will follow as day follows night.
The gracious Speech fails to show that the Government have strategic aims. I was reminded of a phrase used by my noble friend Lord Jenkins of Hillhead in his memorable book on Gladstone, which I have recently finished reading. He describes Gladstone's
Lord Stallard: My Lords, when I first read the agenda of subjects for debate on the various days, I had some difficulty in deciding, first, whether to speak at all, and, secondly, what to speak about. There are a number of subjects about which I should like to say something--my interests in housing, health, social security and so forth--but I felt that because of a recent experience I should deal with a problem which is with us, and has been with us for a long time, and which we should look at in depth. I refer to the problems of the island of Cyprus which I visited recently. I had a couple of nasty experiences in the city of Nicosia.
I was heartened to hear previous speakers recognise the problems that exist and the need to support the UN and to strengthen our influence at the UN. At the same time they mentioned the problem of human rights, ethnic cleansing, unlawful occupation, refugees and so on. All those ingredients exist on the island of Cyprus; they have existed for a long time.
The Queen's Speech makes no direct reference to the problem of Cyprus. I do not know why. It is a continuing problem, which should be at the forefront of many people's minds. However, there is mention of the need to support the UN. There are 100 resolutions before the United Nations and the Security Council, and in relation to the Geneva Convention, all of them saying much the same about the situation in Cyprus, all of them condemning the occupation of northern Cyprus and calling for the demilitarisation of the island. The resolutions are repeated annually. Speeches are made. Everyone agrees. Nothing happens. They are repeated the following year. It has been going on since 1974, not quite so long as the situation in Northern Ireland, referred to by one of your Lordships, but getting on that way. It may even be heading in the same direction unless we can put a stop to some of the activities in northern Cyprus.
I mention demilitarisation because that is an important aspect of the whole issue. I was glad to read the other day a speech by the President of the Republic of Cyprus at the 50th plenary session of the UN. He referred to his own proposals for the demilitarisation of Cyprus. He proposed the complete demilitarisation of the Republic of Cyprus, the withdrawal of Turkish occupation forces, the disbanding of the national guard of Cyprus, the handing over of all arms and military equipment to the custody of the UN peacekeeping force, and the placing into the UN account of all moneys saved from the purchase of arms which would be used for infrastructure development projects beneficial to both
We talk about demilitarisation but not enough urgency has been given to the proposals made, not for the first time, by President Clerides. His recent repetition of the proposals gave a clear outline of the way in which he sees progress being made. We must respect that because of his close contact with the situation.
The noble Lord, Lord Carew, mentioned Northern Ireland and the need for some decommissioning of arms before we sit down to talk about peace. It is said that if we do not talk about the decommissioning of arms we do not need to talk about peace.
As regards Cyprus, someone has offered to decommission all the arms, to withdraw, to finance a national peacekeeping force, and to place all the money saved into an infrastructure development project. Why do we not grasp that offer and say, "Obviously, it is an ingredient that we need if we are to get a peaceful solution in Cyprus."? We are being given the opportunity to say, "We believe that that is a necessary ingredient before any peace talks can take place, so let us take it and begin the urgently needed talks".
I am glad to see that the noble Lord, Lord Finsberg, has returned to his place. I had not intended to mention the noble Lord but I wish to refer to his comments about the report from the Council of Europe. When I was in Cyprus I heard many people express concern about recent developments in the Council of Europe. They believe that by going outside the protocol and the organisations that have been set up and by taking almost unilateral action the Council has acted in a manner that is a little off-putting. They also believe that an invitation addressed to the president of the Turkish authorities in the north of Cyprus indicated a recognition of the regime that exists there, which is in opposition to all United Nations' resolutions stating that it shall not be recognised by anyone. When I was in Cyprus I read reports of worries that the Council's action appeared to be elevating the position of those who have taken control of northern Cyprus beyond the wishes of the United Nations and the international communities. Therefore, I was disappointed that the noble Lord, Lord Finsberg, did not take the opportunity to put the matter right because he must be aware of some of the concerns expressed.
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