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Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, the building is not temporary. It is a permanent building. We have always said that there is one other building like it whose roof has been up for 30 years and so far has not required maintenance. Even if the roof of the Millennium Dome were to require maintenance after 30 years that would be similar to most people's houses.

Secondly, as regards the operational level, we said on 22nd September 1999 that we would publish visitor figures at the end of each month rather than on a day to day basis which would lead to adverse criticism when the figure was low and favourable views when it was high. The operational level of numbers coming in is entirely satisfactory for January which must be one of the worst months for visitor attractions. Despite that, we are getting more visitors to the Millennium Dome this month than any other visitor attraction in the whole of the United Kingdom.

Thirdly, it is normal for a station such as Westminster to be closed on new year's eve for the purposes of security. If crowds had gathered around Westminster and the station was open, that could have led to difficulties. For security reasons, it was a sensible way to get the people who had been at a party in the Palace of Westminster--it included a large number of millennium award winners--from the Palace of Westminster to the Dome on that evening. The line as a whole was not closed.

Business of the House: Debate this Day

2.57 p.m.

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That the debate on the Motion in the name of the Lord Carrington set down for today shall be limited to six hours.--(Baroness Jay of Paddington.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Armed Forces Discipline Bill [H.L.]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

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Moved, That the amendments for the Report stage be marshalled and considered in the following order:

Clauses 1 to 10,

Schedule 1,

Clauses 11 to 13,

Schedule 2,

Clauses 14 to 25,

Schedule 3,

Clauses 26 and 27,

Schedule 4,

Clause 28.--(Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

The International Situation

2.58 p.m.

Lord Carrington rose to call attention to the international situation; and to move for Papers.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am not sure whether, like the noble Lord, Lord Fellowes, whose presence in this House we greatly welcome, I am making a maiden speech. I must therefore crave your Lordships' indulgence. I have not had the opportunity of asking the right reverend Prelate opposite whether reincarnation involves anything so ghastly! However, I have no intention of making a very controversial speech. After all, foreign affairs should be bipartisan and more often than not is--that is, apart from the European Union, about which it would be extravagant to claim that there is any agreement between political parties or, indeed, within political parties. But that is a debate on its own and I do not propose to discuss it this afternoon.

On many occasions in your Lordships' House, I have listened to noble Lords who have come up from another place say that they are making their maiden speech in this House from exactly the same Bench as that from which they made their maiden speech to the Commons when it sat in this Chamber. But I did not make my original maiden speech in this House; I made it in the King's Robing Room. When thinking about what to say today, I was struck by how different the circumstances were then from what they are now.

At that time, after six years of war, we were, alas, beginning to realise that the so-called agreeable Uncle Joe was not quite the character that the British people had assumed him to be. The dangers that we faced as the Soviet Union subjugated eastern Europe were manifest, not least because of the robust speeches and policy of that great man, Ernest Bevin. We were, although we did not know it at the time, at the beginning of 40 years of Cold War; of threat of a nuclear world war; of vast expense on armaments; and of the deployment of manpower for defence purposes which could much better have been used for other purposes. There were difficult times during those 40 years, but NATO and the resolution of the West prevented a war. And 10 years ago, the Soviet Union collapsed.

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As a result, today we face totally different problems--not so dangerous, but equally challenging. Your Lordships will remember that, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was much talk of a new world order and the expectation that the United Nations would be able to solve any future problems.

It did not happen, partly because two new elements frustrated our hopes and complicated international relations. Whatever the disadvantages and penalties of the Cold War, it imposed on all nations, not just East and West, an imperative to avoid taking any action which would cause either of the super-powers to clash and involve the world in a catastrophic war. A discipline was imposed on everyone. It is, for example, inconceivable to imagine the break-up of Yugoslavia in the days of Mr Brezhnev. It would have been far too dangerous for the Yugoslav people. In those circumstances it would have been most unlikely also that Saddam Hussein would have invaded Kuwait.

Now countries are much more concerned with their own national interest and prepared to pursue policies which, in previous days, would have been considered too dangerous. Furthermore, the United Nations is only the sum of its members and cannot be expected to solve problems on its own without the support, encouragement and sacrifices which that entails. The Secretary-General, for whom I have great admiration, has done his best, but when you look at the problems which face the United Nations, particularly those in Africa--the Congo, the Ethiopian-Eritrean war, Angola and Rwanda, you name it!--it is clear that it has been hamstrung by the lack of support and interest of those not directly involved.

In the days of the Cold War, both East and West would have been so nervous that the other would become influential and dominant in any part of the world that aid, both military and economic, would have poured in. We have only to recall, for example, Soviet aid to Ethiopia and Angola. There are no easy solutions to the lack of political will. I notice that in the Queen's Speech the Government stated that they intend to help to reform the United Nations. I should be interested to learn from the noble Baroness, Lady Scotland, exactly what they have in mind.

It seems to me that there are two things which we might do which, in a small way, might help. We should, I believe, encourage and strengthen regional organisations, particularly in Africa, which could act as agents of the United Nations Security Council, in much the same way that NATO did in Bosnia. Regional organisations are much more likely to be aware of the problems which could arise and are much more concerned about the consequences of conflict in their area. Secondly, the Secretary-General should be provided with sufficient staff, either at his headquarters or in the regional organisations, to provide early warning, intelligence and military advice. He is woefully short of all three.

The lack of political will, to which I have referred, has affected the capacity of the United Nations to deal with the various problems which have arisen in the past 10 years. There have, of course, been occasions

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when the United Nations has become involved and has been successful, or, at any rate, partially successful, as in the Gulf War, but the reason for that success was the wholehearted involvement of the United States, which feared the consequences in both oil supplies and the stability of the region. But as countries have become more preoccupied with their own affairs, and as the dangers of war have receded, so, generally speaking, national self-interest has advanced. If the dangers do not affect the vital interests of most countries, they are prepared to pass resolutions in the United Nations but do very little else about it. The United Nations' involvement in Yugoslavia falls into a rather different category and I shall say a little more about that later.

The second new element in this post-Cold War era has been instantaneous information which is available in every home, every fireside, on the evening news or in the press or on the media. Night after night, viewers can see harrowing pictures of starving children in Africa or the plight of refugees in all parts of the world; the misery and the suffering. Understandably, this has had an enormous effect on public opinion and on media comment.

It is said that "Something must be done", and there is great pressure on governments to do something. However, in some cases, what they are supposed to do is far from clear and, in many cases, those who are asking for action do not see themselves involved in any military or financial consequences. It is very difficult for governments to resist such pressure. The obvious example of the "something must be done" syndrome was the United States' involvement in Somalia, where no United States' interests were involved and which resulted in American casualties and a strong negative reaction in the United States which has had its consequences.

No doubt the noble Baroness will be relieved to hear that I do not intend to speak of an ethical foreign policy. Perhaps I may say that she dealt admirably with that question before Christmas. She said, and I hope I do not misrepresent her, that each situation had to be dealt with on its merits and that we had to choose the best way to do this--as indeed, in my experience, all previous governments have done.

I would, however, make one criticism. I do not think it was wise of the Foreign Secretary to condemn the military coup in Pakistan in the way that he did. Those of us who have been in Pakistan fairly recently know that both political parties in that country were corrupt, incompetent, unpopular and highly damaging to the welfare of the people of Pakistan. Of course, it is undesirable and deplorable that a government regime should be overthrown in a military coup, but provided the intention is to restore a democratic government, condemnation should at least be postponed.

It is, however, in our involvement in Yugoslavia that there are lessons to be learned. There can be no doubt that the European Union, NATO and the United Nations became involved in that country for the very best possible motives. There is equally no doubt that both in Bosnia and Kosovo grave mistakes were made. The initial mistake was the

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premature recognition of Slovenia and Croatia, a recognition which inevitably triggered the Bosnian war. It is as well to know, if one considers intervention in a civil war, on whose side one stands. In this case, the European Union and the United Nations decided that their role was to keep the peace and not take sides. The result was that the United Nations troops were forbidden to fire their weapons except in self-defence, while at the same time designating safe areas which they were unable to defend unless they themselves were attacked. The result was that all three sides--Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian--felt that the United Nations forces were neither friendly nor helpful.

The fact is that nearly 10 years on the outcome of all this--after much ethnic cleansing and tens of thousands of casualties--is much the same as if we had never intervened at all. There is no real prospect of a federal Bosnia, and the United Nations will be committed for an indefinite period.

Some of your Lordships will remember that when the Government announced their action against the Serbs, as a result of Serbian refusal to accept troops in their country, I felt obliged to say that I thought this was a grave mistake. What was it supposed to achieve? It did not prevent the expulsion of Kosovans, rather it caused it. It did not succeed in getting rid of President Milosevic. He is still there. It did succeed in destroying a great deal of Serbian infrastructure. It did succeed--though, unintentionally, of course--in ethnically cleansing most of the Serbs in Kosovo; not perhaps as effectively as President Tudjman ethnically cleansed the Serbs in the Krajina. The result in Kosovo is alarming. No Serb is safe. In many areas, some of the Kosova Liberation Army, whose reputation is appalling, are in charge. By all accounts--although we hear little about it--the United Nations and the European Union are failing in their attempts to normalise the situation.

In addition, in the long term, we, the international community, are faced either with giving independence to a Kosovo run entirely by Kosovo Albanians--with the gravest possible consequences to the surrounding countries if such a decision were taken--or seeking a solution in which Kosovo remains a part of Serbia, a solution wholly impracticable in the foreseeable future. The one thing that is certain is that United Nations troops will be there for a very long time indeed.

Before such an action is taken in the future, it would I think be well to look far enough ahead and weigh the consequences of what one is about to do. The 19 countries of NATO certainly did not do that on that occasion.

The events of 1989 also had one other very significant consequence and one which I am not entirely sure has been sufficiently recognised. The United States has become absolutely dominant, not just militarily--although it is certainly true in military terms that, with

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the exception of China and the nuclear capacity of Russia, there is no other country with the capacity to intervene worldwide in a military sense--but in terms of economic and industrial superiority. Unless the United States gives a lead on global issues, nothing much is likely to happen.

From the United States' point of view, the area of the world which it must now consider to be the most important is the Far East; its relationship with China; the problems of Korea and of Taiwan, and its relationship with Japan. These must loom much larger in US eyes than its relationship with Europe which is now no longer a priority. It seems to me that the Atlantic relationship, from our point of view, is as important as ever it was. NATO is the only organisation in which the United States is involved in European affairs. Consequently, it has as much a political importance as a defensive one. We must be very careful not to do anything which damages that relationship. Indeed, the reverse must be true. We must do everything to nurture it and strengthen it.

There has been much discussion recently over the proposals for a European security and defence identity. It is of course as a result of a rather belated realisation by the European countries that their military capacity in Kosovo was woefully inadequate as compared with that of the United States. That is, indeed, true. The amount of money which European countries individually spend on defence is not translated into any collective European capacity to act without the involvement of the United States. It is quite right that the Europeans should address these deficiencies. It is, after all, an extension of the old burden-sharing argument.

I, therefore, have no quarrel with what is intended, although I must tell your Lordships that, in my judgment, the likelihood of this resulting in any significant improvement in European capacity is rather remote. That can be achieved only if European countries are prepared to spend more money on defence. Even the most starry-eyed optimist would feel some misgivings on that matter. We in this country, although we have on the whole been more robust in this than our European neighbours, are in danger of under-equipping and over-committing our much reduced Armed Forces. Nor do I think that the involvement of the European Union or Commission in defence matters is likely to be beneficial. As the membership of the European Union grows and includes more countries traditionally neutral, the likelihood of any agreement to use a European military force will diminish. I hope that I am wrong about this. In any event, it is absolutely essential that the Americans should not feel that the European security and defence identity is either a weakening of our allegiance to NATO or a challenge to it. I should be very grateful if the noble Baroness who is to reply would give an undertaking that American doubts--and there have been American doubts--have been firmly and once and for all put at rest.

It would be wrong to end on too pessimistic a note. How much better off we are in the foreign and defence field than we were 10 years ago. Central Europe is, once again, part of the democratic West. We have had

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removed the threat of a nuclear world war which hung over us for so long. But there are difficult problems ahead. We in the West must remain capable of playing our part and acting wisely in an increasingly confused world. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.

3.19 p.m.

Lord Desai: My Lords, we are grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, for initiating the debate. It is a rare reincarnation and all the more welcome for that. I am glad that the powers that be saw to it that the noble Lord was retained in the House to give us the benefit of his wisdom, as he has done today.

It is also a humbling experience to follow the noble Lord when at least four former Foreign Secretaries and four former Cabinet Ministers are yet to speak. Someone probably does not like me very much, which is why I have been put in this number two slot!

I want to concentrate on two issues, both of which will overlap somewhat with what the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said. The first is the reform of the United Nations. It is an important question and has very much to do with what has happened since 1990. When the United Nations was set up there was a presumption that the five big powers would form a condominium to take care of the world. As it happened, they did that, but not in a friendly way because they were antagonistic towards each other. As the noble Lord said, the balance of the cold war kept a regime if not of terror then of some fear. The balance was maintained so that little minnows were not allowed to misbehave themselves, as they have since 1990.

The UN survived the cold war in a peculiar frozen form, but it has not found a better way of operation since the break-up of the Soviet Union and since the break-down of the assumption of condominium in the absence of the cold war. What the United Nations needs first is greater democratisation. By that I mean that the five Security Council permanent powers must be made more subject to the rule of law than they have tended to be. I should like to have the Security Council expanded, keeping the five permanent powers but also adding perhaps seven or 10 more. Much more than that, we cannot have permanent powers defying human rights, indulging in armaments sales or carrying on in international relations as if they were above international law. What the world needs now--there is a great deal of talk about globalisation--is a framework of global governance. By that I mean a set of rules to which every country, large or small, will be subject. We should also have some way of enforcing those rules. It is not an easy issue.

The United States is the single most powerful country in the world. I do not have very much against that because, by and large, the US has behaved responsibly in international relations for the past 50 years, has kept the peace and in many instances, as in Somalia, has behaved beyond where its self-interest was involved and has tried to help the world. My worry is that, increasingly, the US may not want to play that role. The behaviour of the US Congress, more than the US executive, is alarming. The failure to ratify the CTBT is

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worrying. Its behaviour in regard to paying UN dues is worrying. I hope that the next presidential election will produce a recommitment of the US executive to keeping the US's active role, not just as a policeman but as a general worrier and problem solver for the international system. If the US were once again to become isolationist, the anarchy in international relations would be much worse than it is right now. We all have a duty to tell our friends across the Atlantic, as many as we can, that they cannot renege on their responsibilities.

I agree that Europe should do more by way of defence. I agree also that it is unlikely that Europe will do more for defence. There is a great deal of irresponsible talk about the European Community, powered by the euro, being an independent regional economic power. That is tosh. I do not think it will become an independent economic power unless it is willing to pay the price--and Europe is not willing to pay the price of being an independent economic power. Europe may well decide to co-operate constructively and helpfully with the United States and cajole and help the United States to fulfil the role which it has fulfilled so far and which I hope it will continue to fulfil.

The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, made some very helpful remarks about NATO. There is no doubt that NATO is an effective military arm, but what Bosnia and Kosovo proved is that it lacks a policy-thinking dimension, a point made by the noble Lord. In a sense there is a gap in NATO. There needs to be a political forward-thinking arrangement in NATO so that a view can be taken of the future evolution of the international system. Right now, that task is not being performed in any single place. Every time there is a crisis, there is a temporary getting together of sherpas and their superiors. That will not do.

Perhaps I may give, as an example, the recognition of Croatia, which was a great mistake. I have heard my noble friend Lord Healey, who unfortunately is not in his place, say in this House--I quote him from memory--that the recognition of Croatia was part of a deal to allow the UK to opt-out from the euro system. That may be the case. Deals are always made in politics. But someone should have checked across the Atlantic with the Americans whether that was a good thing to do. What happened? Immediately, Europe receded to its position after the first world war, where the French and Germans could not agree on how to behave in the Balkans and a great many bad things happened thereafter. Therefore, I believe that NATO needs a political long-range thinking arm for itself.

What is puzzling is that, while in the economic sphere we now recognise that there is no such thing as national sovereignty, that no country can write its own ticket as far as concerns its fiscal or monetary policy and that, like it or not, with the discipline of the market, one cannot run untrammelled deficits, there is still a great deal of attachment to political sovereignty and we are still allowing countries to do things within their borders which no bond market would allow in the economic sphere. It is that strong attachment to national sovereignty, especially among newly independent

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countries, that is causing a great deal of trouble and strife in the international sphere--whether in Azerbaijan, Kosovo or countries in Africa. They are behaving as if having sovereignty means the right to make trouble, not just against other countries but against their own people. The twin problem of interstate wars and states waging war on their own peoples is very serious. Part of a global governance framework will have to be enforcement of a consistent regime of human rights. The UN or some other body will have to take a position that certain kinds of violations of human rights are not allowed, regardless of whether those take place within the boundaries of a country. That will not be easy, but globalisation or a global role--whatever you call it--entails certain kinds of political consequences. If we are to have a world in which capital mobility and labour mobility may be carried on across boundaries, that means also that people's human rights must be safe across boundaries. No matter where people go, they have the right to be treated in a civil fashion and not just to be treated at the whim of the country in which they are.

Finally, I have just been to Sri Lanka, where I spent a week as an election observer and two nice weeks on holiday. South Asia is in an extremely worrisome state. I do not have time to say any more on that subject, but be it India and Pakistan, the Tamil-Sinhala war or the strike on the eastern and western periphery of India and Pakistan respectively, there will be problems. I hope that Her Majesty's Government are aware that there will be expectations of them when the crisis comes. I hope that they are doing quite a lot to prevent a real outbreak of conflict in the region.

3.30 p.m.

Baroness Rawlings: My Lords, I must congratulate my noble friend on setting the scene so brilliantly for today's important debate by clearly identifying the crucial issues and widening the current debate further than the European Union. I greatly look forward to the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Fellowes.

With respect to all the expertise in your Lordships' House on this vast subject, I shall confine my few remarks to the Balkans: the part of the globe which we were all taught at school is the "powder keg of Europe". No event has defined perceptions of that peninsula so profoundly as the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914.

    "It is an intolerable affront to human and political nature that these wretched and unhappy little countries in the Balkan peninsula can, and do ... cause world wars".

That was written by John Gunther in his Inside Europe in 1940, which was part of an immensely popular "Inside" series. Luckily, last year did not produce a world-scale war. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the communist system was the most important political milestone during my time in politics.

I should like to focus on one of the new democracies which then emerged. The Kosovo war had an enormous effect on Bulgaria. It was, after all, in its back yard. Fifty thousand Bulgarians live in Serbia. It was inevitable that Milosevic would put pressure on Bulgaria via

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them. As a result, many of their exports were, and still are, unable to reach their markets. Tourism was badly hit. Many foreign investors feared to put money in Bulgaria. They rightly now look to us for help.

Early estimates from the Vienna Institute for Economics suggest that as much as 100 billion dollars will be needed to create stability in the Balkans as a whole. The Stability Pact for south-eastern Europe is full of fine intentions, but, alas, promises little or no money. Kruschev said that,

    "politicians are the same all over, they promise to build a bridge even when there is no river".

The Bulgarian Government and Parliament took many courageous decisions in siding with NATO, providing corridors for our aircraft and by supporting the EU oil embargo. Those were not easy decisions.

Bulgaria's adopted ethnic model is one from which other countries in the region could learn a great deal. The Turkish minority is now well represented in both the national parliament and local government. That inclusive approach is a far cry from the forced assimilation used by the former communist regime in the 1980s, and one which has led to a strong relationship between Bulgaria and Turkey. The programme in progress now, of improving conditions for the Roma, will help to create an inclusive society in which they too will have a contribution to make.

Perhaps Bulgaria's greatest success over the past two years has been its progress in promoting regional co-operation and good relations with its neighbours. The signature last year of a joint declaration between Bulgaria and Macedonia is particularly significant. It has effectively put an end to the language dispute and brought about a historical transformation in Bulgaria's relations with Macedonia. All of that progress shows what can be achieved by looking into the future instead of living in the past.

That is the progress that the European Union and NATO want to see in their future member states. The rewards are long-term prosperity and stability. The Bulgarian Government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Kostov, celebrate over two years in office. The efforts they have made to reform their economy and to peg the lev to the euro in that short time is remarkable. It took western Europe decades to build thriving market economies. I know that the process is difficult; that it inevitably involves pain. No doubt the answer is to try to combine the benefits of the market with social justice, not to abandon reform.

I realise that for many Bulgarians, progress towards EU membership must seem frustratingly slow. We in the West must do more to demonstrate clearly that it is an attainable goal, even though many feel that it is increasingly a bottomless source of inaccessible funds. It is vital that the gains they have made should not be lost as a result of Kosovo. We must use the Kosovo conflict as an opportunity to accelerate and entrench the reforms already under way, not as an excuse to delay them.

At the Luxembourg Summit in 1997, Bulgaria was no longer locked into the second-wave countries waiting for entry. At Helsinki in December, the European

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Council invited Bulgaria to start formal accession negotiations to accede to the European Union. Those moves are unmistakable signals that the European Union is serious about welcoming Bulgaria into its ranks.

Economic integration is one side of the coin; security is the other. In that connection, we should commend Bulgaria on its drive to create a multinational peace-keeping and peace-making brigade with units from Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Albania, Macedonia, Romania and Italy. The fact that the headquarters of that brigade is now in Plovdiv, commanded by a Turkish general with a Romanian and Bulgarian deputy and a Greek director of political affairs, is a remarkable feat.

We can see the enormous progress that Bulgaria has made, but those advances are not always evident to people for whom daily life is often a struggle. Many people in the former communist world, including Bulgaria--public opinion polls confirm this--are upset nowadays, disappointed, or even disgusted by social conditions. Many people believe that once again, democracy or not, there are people in power who cannot be trusted, who are concerned more and more with their own advantage than they are with the general interest. Many are convinced that honest business people operate at a disadvantage, while dishonest profiteers receive the green light.

After nine years of trying to build a market economy, many people wonder why the economy is not doing better. They wonder why prices, including rents and utilities, are rising faster than pensions and social benefits. They yearn for the good old days when the state nannied everyone. The answer to such criticism is that the time has come, 10 years after the departure of Todor Zhivkov, that Bulgaria must not look to the dark past. A French philosopher said,

    "That all men would be brothers is the dream of people who have no brothers".

How easy it is to forget the tragic legacy of 45 years of Soviet socialism: a politically and financially bankrupt state; a devastated economy; and 11 million dollars of foreign debt--much of it untraceable in foreign bank accounts.

Despite this pessimistic note, Bulgaria has managed to remain an island of peace and stability. There are huge social and economic difficulties in transforming its economy and society. A full commitment to reform is the only way.

Finally, I make a brief request to the Minister to urge her colleagues not to react to, but rather to anticipate, future crises. With concentration on Bosnia and Kosovo, there is a risk that we may underestimate the growing pressure for independence in neighbouring Montenegro, the only surviving sister republic in the Yugoslav federation. This could turn the small coastal republic into another Balkan trouble spot, capable of threatening the stability of the whole region.

These are critical times for the rebuilding of eastern Europe. We have profound cause to be grateful for the wisdom and generosity of other nations in the late

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1940s when western Europe's economies were devastated. We need the same vision, far-sightedness and even sacrifice now in the interests of eastern Europe; otherwise a great historic opportunity may be lost.

3.41 p.m.

Lord Fellowes: My Lords, I am grateful for the honour of addressing this House for the first time, and conscious that I do so at a momentous time in its history. I beg your Lordships' indulgence as one whose previous experience in the world of speeches has been in the field of construction rather than delivery. I am grateful also for the opportunity to make my maiden speech in a foreign affairs debate, since it gives me the chance to speak about a subject which is dear to my heart at least, and which still holds a place, albeit a tenuous one, in the affections of most British hearts--the Commonwealth. It is my subject, not for reasons of sentiment but rather for reasons of common sense and looking to the furtherance of British interests.

Britain's affection for the Commonwealth, to which I referred, has, it is no use denying, cooled in recent years. That has been brought about by a mixture of indifference, of misplaced embarrassment about our colonial history, of disdain for the weaker or less democratic, in our terms, members of the "club", and of irritation with the more moralistic positions sometimes adopted in the past by some Commonwealth leaders. It is not too late, in my view, to reverse the cooling process.

A major factor in bringing about such a change for the better should be a realisation of what the Commonwealth has to offer Britain. It has three unique qualities for us. First, the Queen is its respected head, giving us unique influence in its deliberations. Secondly, its membership links us to every level of international organisation and trade association, containing as it does the Queen's largest realms--Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, some of the most robust of emerging market countries like South Africa, trading specialists such as Malaysia and Singapore, and tiny countries, some poor, some not, but many of whom speak for the third world. Thirdly, the Commonwealth's language, like that of the Internet, is English. In terms of global communication, therefore, this must give the Commonwealth a very real advantage.

At a time when our relationships with Europe and with the United States are under constant scrutiny and when the World Trade Organisation has failed to reach agreement on an agenda for its next round, surely Britain should be devoting more time and resources to developing and nurturing its Commonwealth ties.

The Commonwealth is not perfect. It is not alone in that, but under the lead of its Secretary-General, Chief Anyaoku, sadly soon to retire, it has acquired in recent years a new-found realism and sense of purpose, and we would, I believe, do well to make the most of them.

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In that context, I was delighted to hear that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has reached agreement on a deal to secure the future of the Commonwealth Institute in Kensington. As a future trustee of the institute, I hope that this is a straw in the wind to show that the Commonwealth still matters to us. Indeed, I hope that it signals a renewed enthusiasm in British Government for an institution which is, in its strange, unpredictable, sometimes exasperating but always generous-hearted way, closer to this country and to its people than most of those other international organisations to which we devote more time and money and which, to say the least, from time to time disappoint us.

On a practical note, I should like to make two points to take us from the general to the particular. First, could not Britain take a lead in giving the Commonwealth a role in solving the World Trade Organisation impasse? As I have said, the membership is unique in its origins and diversity and has an interest in a successful outcome at every level, from the G8 to the third world. The need for a solution is acute and would provide a focus for the Commonwealth which it has sometimes lacked in the past when proposing other initiatives. Furthermore, the Commonwealth is already providing technical assistance to developing countries, giving it a foundation of influence in those countries on which to build. The Commonwealth could ensure that the voice of those most in need of a WTO solution--the poorest countries--is heard at the highest levels.

Secondly, and to finish, would it not be a splendid thing for the Commonwealth to be able to welcome back Ireland as a member? I pray that it may come about, and sooner rather than later.

3.46 p.m.

Lord Jenkins of Hillhead: My Lords, it gives me particular pleasure to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Fellowes, on his first speech in this House. As he himself said early on, his recent experiences have been more or less in the drafting than in the delivering of speeches. But in his performance this afternoon I believe he showed that he can do both with an equal understated elegance and effectiveness.

The noble Lord was for almost a decade the Principal Private Secretary to the Sovereign and before that he had been Assistant Private Secretary to the Palace for, I believe, 13 years. Inevitably in those circumstances, a certain patina of the courtier is bound to have been acquired. But in my experience of the noble Lord, which is quite considerable, it conceals an acute probing and even a radical mind. I have long thought that it is no accident that the three Prime Ministers who in modern British politics have presided over the most reforming changes--Gladstone, Asquith and Attlee--were all men who, outside their central purpose, were of a conservative (with a small "c") habit of mind. Perhaps the noble Lord reminds me a little of that. I hope we shall hear him often again, and we shall not mind if he lets some of the radicalism come to the surface.

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We are grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, for initiating this debate and for the way in which he did so. When the noble Lord last addressed the House--I believe in March of last year--he said:

    "As this is probably the last speech I shall make after 54 years in this House I crave your Lordships' indulgence".--[Official Report, 29/3/99; col. 27.]

Well, I am very glad to say that that was a false prophecy and that today he is an inspiring example of life after death.

The noble Lord was an early advocate of reform of your Lordships' House. I regret that the scheme which he worked out with the then Labour government in 1967-68 did not go through. But I always thought that any scheme for reform of the House of Lords which excluded the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, would be a mistake. I am delighted to say that that has not been the case.

My particular recollection of him goes back--more relevant to today's debate--to when he became Foreign Secretary in 1979. I was then president of the European Commission. I saw him in action in Council after Council--one might almost say endless Council after Council. He was something of a breath of fresh air. He was eager to create a new atmosphere of British co-operativeness--to put Britain at the heart of Europe, if you like--and to show a Conservative government, difficult though it is to believe today, putting an end to Labour foot-dragging in relation to Europe.

He did that very skilfully indeed. But that particular phase was brought to an end by a few swings of his mistress's handbag. I need hardly say that I use the word "mistress" purely in a power-relationship sense. She caused quite unnecessary offence in handling the issue of Britain's budgetary rebate. She was right about the money but she could have achieved just as much without causing that unnecessary offence.

That interplay between two conflicting British attitudes to Europe, with the more hostile and suspicious attitude nearly always coming out on top, has been symptomatic of Britain's not very successful attitude to Europe over 50 years now. The amount of damage that equivocation on the issue has inflicted--I leave the country aside for the moment, although that is more important--upon successive Prime Ministers has been immense: Harold Macmillan, in turning it down, marked the end of his successful phase; Harold Wilson, although more in opposition than in government, suffered damage to both his authority and his confidence by his equivocation; the noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher, and Mr Major both suffered. Some were literally brought down by their inability to handle the European issue. They tried to deal with it with too much equivocation and I pray that the same will not be said in the future of the Blair Government.

In the meantime, I note with amusement the extraordinary chasse croise which has been taking place between the Foreign Secretary and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Mr Brown used to be the great European and Mr Cook the sceptic. Now it

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seems to be the other way round. That may be regarded as a singular example of the power over Ministers of those two great departments of state--the Foreign Office and the Treasury. The Foreign Office, at least since the 1960s, has been pro-Europe and the official Treasury, as it likes to call itself, with all its great talents, has been too reticent. But I do not quite believe that that is the explanation. I do not think that Mr Brown takes quite enough notice of the official Treasury, apart from anything else. But in any event, I congratulate Mr Cook on his recent forthrightness, which I greatly hope will continue.

That leads me to the question of a moral foreign policy, about which the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, while saying he would not, indulged in a little, perfectly legitimate, tease. What can be said is that, on the whole, a moral foreign policy is better than an immoral foreign policy. It is perhaps also better to let others pin the tail on the donkey rather than announcing it before you have pursued it too vigorously in advance.

In any event, that is not something which can be pursued by any government without regard to consequences. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, was a courageous critic of the Kosovo war. I was more of an agnostic and he was, therefore, more courageous than I was. But it is very difficult now to see what good we have done for the Kosovars.

I end with a more sombre thought. It is not clear to me on what basis of morality we bombed Belgrade over Kosovo but do not bomb Moscow over Chechnya. I am very glad that we do not bomb Moscow. I do not believe that there is a single member of Her Majesty's Government--perhaps not even a single Member of your Lordships' House--who would wish us to do so or who would recommend making high-level raids on Moscow. It is really the old Maxim gun jingle, "For they have got the hydrogen bomb and the Serbs did not". Therefore, there are certain hard facts which must be taken into account in any foreign policy dealings. We must temper high ethical foreign policy with reality.

As the noble Lord said, I must not end on too pessimistic and sombre a note. We are probably better off and more secure than we have been at most decade points over the past 50, if not most of the past 100, years. That should be a recipe not for complacency but for dealing as effectively as we can with the real problems which still confront us.

3.55 p.m.

Lord Howe of Aberavon: My Lords, it is my privilege to follow the noble Lord in expressing our pleasure at the appearance in the House this afternoon of the noble Lord, Lord Fellowes. From these Benches, I congratulate him on the quality of his speech. We know of his career of discreet but distinguished service to our head of state, the head of the Commonwealth, as he reminded us. The speech which he made drew powerfully on that experience.

Perhaps I may make a very immodest comparison. I found that one of the better qualifications for my appearance, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, at the

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meetings of the International Monetary Fund was the fact that I had always previously been, a few days before, at meetings of the Commonwealth Finance Ministers. That gave one an opportunity of seeing the broad sweep of experience in that organisation of which he reminded us this afternoon. We look forward to hearing from him again in the future on many occasions.

My thanks also go to my noble friend Lord Carrington for initiating this debate and for the way in which he exploited his immense experience to set those topics in the broad sweep of history. Perhaps I may draw on two rather microcosmic episodes which enable me to do something of the same kind. In the past few weeks, two events which are, in a sense, a hangover from my six years in the Foreign Office have occurred.

This week we had present in London the Foreign Minister of Iran, Mr Kamal Kharrazi, and a few weeks ago there was the arrival in Tripoli of our own ambassador, Mr Richard Dalton.

The House will remember that the breach with Libya goes back to the brutal shooting of Police Constable Yvonne Fletcher in 1984. At that time, we had no other option but to break off relations with that country. The breach with Iran came before my time but the provocation was equally serious. Some people have said that it is the first time for 21 years that we have had here an Iranian Foreign Minister. In fact, there was a brief episode in 1989, during my time at the Foreign Office, when I had my second meeting with Mr Ali Akbar Velayati, who was then the Foreign Minister. We met in London and agreed to reopen diplomatic relations with that country. Just one week later, ironically on St Valentine's Day, came the fatwa against Mr Salman Rushdie, and we were back to square one.

I believe that the decision to restore normal relations with both countries, although, as always, a difficult balance to strike, is undoubtedly right after the long interval in each case. It shows that if a week in politics is a long time, a decade in diplomacy is a very short time. One must look at those relationships in the context of the need for continuity. I have no doubt that, on that basis, engagement with countries and regimes even of the kind with which we are now dealing, not for the sake of comfort or cosiness but for the sake of promoting British interests, is absolutely right.

If continuity is characteristic, as I think it is, of foreign policy relationships, it is often necessary, as others have already pointed out, to approach those matters, tempering views of principle with pragmatism. I believe that it was Bismarck who said that any man who sought to pursue a foreign policy founded solely on ethics is like a man seeking to walk through a forest of saplings with a horizontal piece of wood clamped between his teeth. That is not a very happy prescription.

However, it underlines the "unwisdom" of the proclamation made by the Foreign Secretary at the start of his reign. Since then I believe that he has learnt

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some useful lessons in humility. He now understands better than he did then the need for a Foreign Secretary to have the support, advice and guidance of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and of the Diplomatic Service of which we may be justly proud. I am sure that my colleague predecessor, my noble friend Lord Carrington, and my successor, my noble friend Lord Hurd of Westwell, in that office will recollect many of our opposite numbers in other countries saying of our Diplomatic Service that, second of course to their own, ours was the best in the world. Certainly I believe that is true.

That prompts me to ask a question that we should always ask: are those organisations adequately resourced now? The overseas budget, which includes the British Council and the BBC, takes less than one-third of 1 per cent of public expenditure, but the workload has increased enormously. When Ernest Bevin first went to the United Nations, there were 46 member states; when my noble friend Lord Carrington went there, there were almost three times as many; when I went there, there were almost four times as many; and now the figure is about 190.

In that time there have been huge increases in the workload. Since 1950, the world's population has doubled; in the past 20 years the number of Britons travelling abroad has increased five-fold; and our own population has been transformed. In 1951, the ethnic minorities in this country totalled 35,000. That number has now multiplied by 100, and includes many so-called "dissidents" and "refugees" from disintegrating empires besides our own which breed problems on an ever-increasing scale. Over the past two decades, the Diplomatic Service has been reduced in number by 25 per cent so that its total strength is now less than half that of France and significantly lower than that of Germany. It is a question that we must continue to pose in the House as we seek to impose ever larger responsibilities on that service.

If we are to make the most of the talents of that service and of our influence, in a phrase that my noble friend Lord Hurd is always anxious to disclaim, which I am happy to reclaim from him, we have "to punch above our weight" and then to work, so far as possible, by developing closer partnerships with a range of organisations and people--but not in everything. Trade promotion, for example, is essentially national.

Partnership is important in many other areas. In defence, as my noble friend Lord Carrington has pointed out, the NATO relationship is fundamental; it is the bedrock of our defence security, above all because it continues to lock in the commitment of the United States to the security of this continent. Alongside that, and as part of it, our relationship with the European Union is the most important of all our international partnerships because it is the closest, most continuing, intimate and pervasive. Some years ago, even my noble friend Lady Thatcher said:

    "Britain does not dream of some cosy, isolated existence on the fringes of the EC. Our destiny is in Europe, as part of that Community".

I believe that that is still true today.

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For us, transatlantic relations, as Harold Macmillan and Ambassador Raymond Seitz pointed out more recently, are essentially intercontinental. The idea of some stronger, bilateral United States/United Kingdom relationship in preference to, or at the expense of, our relationship with the European Union is negative and damaging. There are many illustrations of why we cannot rest all our eggs in that basket, however important it is. I emphasise the importance of the relationship with the United States.

The role of the United Kingdom is at its most influential, not in an exclusive relationship with the United States, but as part of the European Union/United States relationship. That is enormously important, not least in the context of the European security and defence initiative (ESDI). That first stirred in its present form when Prime Minister Chirac, as he was in 1985, brought the Western European Union back to some kind of life. It was sustained by the government of my good friend John Major and by the then Defence Secretary, Michael Portillo.

In response to the long-felt want on the other side of the Atlantic, Strobe Talbott said:

    "The United States is for ESDI. It's in our interest for Europe to be able to deal effectively with challenges to European Security well before they reach the threshold of triggering US combat involvement".

My noble friend Lord Carrington made that clear. The conditions that he outlined are important, but the principle--the need to establish a stronger, more competent European defence performance--is also vital.

Finally, on the United Nations, my noble friend in the work that he produced as chairman of the committee Words to Deeds underlined as he did again in his speech this afternoon, a need for stronger and more reliable enforcement machinery, not for its more frequent over-active use. The goal is to do it better, not necessarily more often. I worry about the contrast between that restrained ambition and the entirely worthy ambition mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Desai, in his speech and the article of the Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, in the Financial Times in the past day or two in which he said:

    "The principle that massive and systematic violations of human rights--wherever they may take place--must not be allowed to stand".

That is a noble sentiment, but in the days when I used to be involved in drafting election manifestos if I saw the word "must", I would say, "Hang on, what is going on?" If I saw the word twice or three times, I thought it was going just a shade too far. Of course, international law like common law is growing. Of course, the power of the United Nations can grow in that kind of way, but we must take care to avoid the real risk of discrediting the United Nations organisation and, indeed, the credibility of international law itself if we over-reach ourselves.

We need to keep our ambition in check otherwise we shall continuously be presented with an infinity of opportunities for the law to be mobilised and for the United Nations to be mobilised in its support. Theoretically, the law can cover most options. The real

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question--this is the lesson of the Kosovo experience--is: can it do so in practice? The most important matter for me is that we should take great care while we seek to extend the rule of law not to test that rule to destruction. We must harness and cherish that legal resource, rather than risk destroying it altogether.

4.7 p.m.

Lord Judd: My Lords, I am sure that we are all grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, for giving us the opportunity for this debate. Whatever our political position within the House, many of us have constantly admired his statesmanship and humanity.

From these Benches I want to say how good it has been to hear the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Fellowes. He brings to our deliberations a unique experience and perspective. We have heard it well deployed today and we shall look forward to hearing it often in debates of this kind in the future.

Whatever the provocation, Russian punishment of Chechnya has been sickening in its brutality and scale. Nobody with any compassion or humanity could stand idly by and fail to register deep concern and to seek ways of ending the fighting and building peace. However, we must ask ourselves difficult questions. How far, for example, are we responsible for what has happened? Have we perhaps failed to use the past 10 years as imaginatively as we might have done to produce a different situation? Surely the biggest single challenge for foreign policy and diplomacy since the collapse of the Soviet Union was to embrace Russia and draw its leaders into the responsible management of global affairs.

Of course, that was never going to be an easy task. Wounded pride, economic incompetence, opportunism and the Mafia have all been forbidding obstacles. As we sought to expand NATO, to enlarge the European Union and to strengthen still further our ties with Washington, did we put sufficient consistent energy and commitment into our political relations with Moscow? Did our support for Russia show the same imagination as that of the United States for Europe in the aftermath of World War II? Perhaps, in effect, we have humiliated the still massive bear.

The cynical--sinister even--use of a "popular" war by the new Russian leadership to win its election may yet be judged by history to have been a nightmare at least partly of our making. As with Germany after post-First World War Versailles, the possible cost in terms of nationalistic macho may now be becoming clear; and there remains a sobering nuclear dimension.

We all know that what is perceived as "reality", or what is manipulatively presented by those who themselves know better as "reality", can become a political reality however unsoundly based. A widespread perception in Russia, and not only Russia, is that whatever the West's protestations of humanitarianism, the intervention in Kosovo had much to do with power politics and access to Balkan energy supplies. The recourse to NATO for the political as well as military direction of the action is

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seen as having been a deliberate means of sidelining Russia. We may deplore that--I do--but we have to understand that this perception is there if there is to be any hope of preventing a slide back into international relations reminiscent of the Cold War.

While we may explain them as incidental, we also have to recognise that references at Rambouillet to market economy and access by NATO to all parts of Yugoslavia are frequently used as evidence of a wider agenda than peace-making alone. They are portrayed as evidence of a need to present Belgrade with an unacceptable package because of a prior commitment to military action.

When I was in Albania and Macedonia for the Council of Europe last April, I saw for myself the mud, squalor and acute suffering of the ethnic Albanian refugees. The war had not prevented the miserable flood of people and the destruction of their country. In August, in Kosovo, Montenegro and Yugoslavia--again for the Council of Europe--I saw the Serb refugees and the particularly pitiful plight of the Roma. The war had clearly not stopped ethnic oppression and atrocities. I also saw the long-term cost for the people of Yugoslavia of the large-scale destruction of economic infrastructure. It was sobering to hear an opposition mayor, standing in the midst of industrial devastation, wryly observing that it was difficult to rally pro-Western support against such a background. He also observed that the bombing had given the government in Belgrade an excuse which they could use for all economic misfortune when in fact the economy had been in dire straits before the war.

As we move into the new millennium, what can be done? First, while of course being firm and using all possible statesmanship to bring peace in Chechnya, the Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary and Defence Secretary should set the tone by working tirelessly and transparently for positive relations with Russia. The Secretary of State for International Development should, for her part, look closely at our aid and economic co-operation to be certain that they are geared as effectively as they should be to build upon Russian experience, rather than indirectly promoting dependency and resentment by a patronising culture or an undue bias towards the benefits of British firms and consultants. There has to be a convincing political context with all the authority of No. 10.

As one of only five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, similar commitment and authority must be put into demonstrating our determination to work through the United Nations. The significance of explicit--not implicit--UN Security Council authority for action is that it is there for all to see as action for the application of universally applicable principles and cannot easily be portrayed as partial. If vetoes are exercised, so be it. The world will see who is responsible for them. There then remains recourse to the General Assembly with the hope of securing a "Uniting for Peace" resolution in that wider body. I suggest that only if that fails has the time arrived to contemplate ad hoc action.

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The Balkans remain as complex as ever. Over simplification would be naive However, lasting stability will depend upon regional solutions. There is no shortage of people in the region yearning for economic co-operation in south-east Europe. But that will depend upon a change of government and policy in Belgrade. For that to be achieved we must, frankly, show more imagination than we have in Iraq. There must be carrots as well as sticks; available benefits to be focused upon by alternative leaders. At all costs, we must avoid shutting down any political dynamic instead of seeking ways to encourage it.

In Kosovo the challenge is to move from de facto international colonialism to genuine self-government. There has to be political accountability. That must mean elections, but not rushed elections which might simply legitimise existing highly questionable power structures. Preparation for the elections will be as important as the elections themselves, not least the development of the media. The rights of refugees will also be critical. In the meantime, the urgency and importance of bringing the number of civil police up to the necessary level and strengthening the administration of justice cannot be over-stressed.

As the common, foreign and security policy of the European Union begins to take shape, it seems to me that the repeated lesson at the end of the last millennium was that conflict resolution and proactive diplomacy must be put at the centre of policy. It would be a grave indictment of us all if we moved into the new age settling for the inevitability of reactive policy with all its humanitarian and economic costs. There were those who saw in good time what could happen in Yugoslavia. They were not heeded. Once more the world only focused when crisis was upon it. It is always easier to concentrate on rapid deployment forces, crisis management and peacekeeping than it is to promote peacemaking as the paramount imperative. It is there that the real challenge to our Government in the new age lies.

Moving about Belgrade and Yugoslavia last summer, I was awed by the technological prowess of precision bombing--the ability to take out exactly that part of a building, industrial complex or power supply which is the target, with genuinely little immediate collateral damage, whatever the long-term cost. That that can be done from a relatively safe height or distance with minimal risk for those delivering the blow has transformed the nature of warfare. There is a danger that powerful nations could move more rapidly into military action than in the past. That must not happen. If we regard war as on occasion part of a necessary political strategy, our generals and the governments they serve must become more, not less, politically accountable.

We live--we constantly speak of it--in an age of globalisation. Internationalism in that age is indispensable. But it is my conviction, after a life in international work, that to be sustained it has to be internationalism rooted in self-confidence and co-operation, not a dogma imposed by autocratic leaders.

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4.17 p.m.

Lord Hurd of Westwell: My Lords, I join others in congratulating and thanking my noble friend Lord Carrington for his excellent speech today and for his initiative in creating this debate. Whatever the shape of your Lordships' House in the future, it must be right that from time to time we should be able to look calmly at the present and future of our foreign policy without getting into a lather about party spin or tomorrow's headlines, as we are doing today.

I congratulate also the noble Lord, Lord Fellowes, on his admirable maiden speech. It is something we expected and something we thoroughly enjoyed. I entirely agree with what he said: that is, that the Commonwealth is not always capable of resolving the disagreements of the world. But it provides a forum for wide debate and cheerful, good humoured disagreement which is often an important prelude to getting the thing right. That is a characteristic of the Commonwealth which I have not found in any other international organisation.

Anyone who deals with foreign affairs lives under the tyranny of the unexpected. There is a tradition that a new Prime Minister is briefed by the Chiefs of Staff. If any of the three Prime Ministers whom I served had read an atlas after being told by Chiefs of Staff, "We believe Prime Minister, after careful thought, that what is needed in the British interest is to deploy several thousand troops in Bosnia, Kosovo and East Timor", they would have supposed that those Chiefs of Staff were temporarily demented, because in none of those places is there any conceivable British strategic or commercial interest. Yet, at the end of last year that was the position in which we found ourselves. Why was that? My noble friend Lord Carrington sketched the reason. Things were happening in all three of those places which not just the Government but also Her Majesty's Opposition and the bulk of opinion found to be unacceptable to the extent that they felt that we should play our part with others in stopping those events.

I do not myself doubt--although I notice a certain revisionism creeping into this debate with regard to Kosovo--that those enterprises were justified. However, as has been said, it is a mistake to elevate this into some universal, ethical rule. There will be plenty of wrongdoing and plenty of cruelty in the world in the next century in which we do not and will not be able to intervene simply because it is unreal to suppose that such intervention would be successful. Therefore we should not put ourselves--and the Government should not put themselves--on a pedestal in these respects. If you climb on a pedestal, your fall if things go wrong is that much farther and that much heavier. What we have to show--and are showing--is that it is the instinct of the people and of Parliament and of government to help where we realistically can.

I wish to develop this by mentioning three more specific points. First, as has been said, it is much easier to get into these situations than to get out. NATO now has in effect, with UN backing and with EU participation and money, two protectorates in the

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Balkans: in Kosovo and in Bosnia. The Government recently announced a reduction in the British troop presence in both Bosnia and Kosovo. Will the Minister say when she replies to the debate--or in writing--whether she expects the present levels of British troops in the Balkans to be maintained, whether she envisages further reductions or whether the levels will remain stable for the time being? Can she say anything--she probably cannot--about how long the Government now think that they are likely to remain?

I follow that by saying that in my view--it is shared clearly by others in this House--there is more likely than not to be further trouble in the Balkans before too long. We may well see violence breaking out inside Serbia--that is clearly a possibility--inside Albania or inside Macedonia as these are all fragile states. As my noble friend Lady Rawlings has already pointed out, there is a clear danger of conflict arising from arguments between Montenegro and Serbia.

In 1996 when there was a civil war in Albania we stood back and took no part in trying to sort it out. That luxury is no longer available to us. We are involved now, not as a result of any future decisions but as a result of the decisions which have been taken and the presence of our troops and their lines of communications in the Balkans. We are involved. It is important that those of us who on the whole support this Balkan commitment should encourage the Government, and indeed insist that the Government recognise that it is a deep, long and difficult commitment for a good purpose and that it cannot be brushed aside as something temporary and extraordinary. One consequence of the commitment and of the dangers which may continue in the Balkans is that it lessens our ability to intervene in other places, perhaps the Caucasus, the Caspian or Africa, where similar horrors may occur.

Secondly, I ask about authority. The preceding speaker, the noble Lord, Lord Judd, touched on this. The Security Council of the United Nations has a unique legal and political authority. That is to say the Charter states that the Security Council needs to authorise the use of force in international affairs except in self-defence. In the Gulf, in Bosnia and in East Timor that consent was obtained. In Kosovo it was not obtained. Why was that? It was because the Russian and Chinese vetoes sat like a roadblock on the UN road to action. Therefore we went round the roadblock. We are back now with UN authority in Kosovo and the UN resolution, but we circumvented the roadblock. We acted without the authority of the Security Council. That is a weakness in terms of international law and in terms of universal acceptance. What the noble Lord said about Russia illustrates that point. I do not think that it is enough for Ministers to say, as they have, that international law has moved on and that we now all have a duty to intervene where there are humanitarian horrors. If that is so, who is to be the judge? If the Security Council is pushed on one side, there is clearly a danger that everyone will be judge in their own cause and we may not always like the consequences of that.

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Finally, I wish to say a few words about the European response to these issues. I believe that the Government are right, with the French, to try to encourage our fellow Europeans to act together in humanitarian and peacekeeping tasks. I do not see that enterprise as a challenge or a rival to NATO. If I did, I would oppose it. However, I do not think that that is the case. We are talking about enterprises where NATO may not want to take a hand but to which NATO clearly would not object. I simply make two points. This message must be addressed not just to our continental allies but also to Her Majesty's Treasury, because what is involved is also a commitment on our part to maintain our armed services, their radios and their light weapons--to take account of the revelations of last week--and to make sure that we not only recruit men but can retain them.

I believe that it is a mistake to exaggerate the size of operations which could realistically be undertaken solely by European forces not just because the European forces of the right kind are not there, but because of the nature of the United States as a super-power. It is involved in policy. It is too big to stand aside. One of the difficulties which we faced in Bosnia was that the United States was deeply involved emotionally and politically at almost every stage but was not sharing the risks on the ground. That mismatch produced creaks and tensions inside the western alliance which required difficult remedial action. Therefore we should not let ourselves get into positions supposing that we are able simply as Europeans to act on the ground without the Americans in a major matter.

This leads to my conclusion almost regardless of which part of the world one looks at. We need European/US partnership. Anglo/American partnership is fine and has been a great success on many occasions through the century. However, if one looks at the Balkans, or at the Caucasus where there is likely to be substantial trouble, or at the Middle East, one sees that what is needed is not just Anglo/American but European/American partnership. Where that is lacking at the moment, as it is in our dealings with Iraq, we get ourselves into substantial difficulty and become as a whole ineffective. Therefore I believe that with all the different pressures and difficulties and our world-wide interests and concerns, the main duty of the Foreign Office and of British Foreign Secretaries now and for the foreseeable future is to create and sustain valid European/US partnerships wherever there is danger and tension so that our diplomacy and our Armed Forces, where necessary, act coherently and together.

4.28 p.m.

Baroness Stern: My Lords, I am glad to be able to speak in this important debate which is certainly something of a challenge before such a distinguished and experienced gathering. I congratulate my Cross-Bench colleague, the noble Lord, Lord Fellowes, on

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his maiden speech and thank him for what he said about the Commonwealth. I greatly agree with those comments.

I wish to discuss one of the consequences of the events of 1989 and the coming of the new world order that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, spoke of in his opening words. I wish to discuss the widening gap between rich and poor which resulted from that. I wish to speak specifically about one of the consequences and go very rapidly, if I may, from the general to the particular. I wish to speak about something that respects no national borders--that is, the re-emergence of infectious diseases--and, in particular, I wish to speak about the epidemic of tuberculosis that is taking hold rapidly in the countries of eastern Europe and central Asia.

Until 1990, countries in the former Soviet Union were reporting rates of tuberculosis very like those in Western Europe. Since 1990 there has been a rapid reversal. In 1990 there were 34 cases per 100,000 people in Russia; by 1997 the rate had increased to 82. In Azerbaijan, over the same period, the increase is from 37 per 100,000 to 60; in Georgia, from 28 to 155 and in Kyrgystan, from 53 to 120 per 100,000.

This epidemic is particularly acute in the prisons of the region. Most of the pre-trial prisons in the countries of the former Soviet Union are places of unimaginable overcrowding and squalor. Those of us who work in this House may think that we know something about overcrowding. We know about having one square metre in which to work--those of us who are lucky enough to have that amount of space--but we do not have to live here and we do not have to sleep here. Prisoners in these pre-trial prisons have so little space that they take it in turns to lie down and sleep. They sleep in three shifts, and the day sleeping shift misses the one hour in the fresh air every day. The food is meagre and nutritionally inadequate. There is very little natural light. It is an ideal environment for the spread of an airborne infection such as tuberculosis.

Medicines are in short supply; there are not enough for a complete course of treatment and they are bartered for other goods. Many prisoners take their medicines sporadically. This leads to drug resistance and they develop a strain of TB that does not respond to the normal drugs but only to a long course of drugs that are very expensive--too expensive, it is said, for a poor country such as Russia.

It is estimated that 10 per cent of the 1 million Russian prisoners have active TB and that between 20 and 40 per cent of those have a drug-resistant variety. In Kazakhstan, about one in five of all the 83,000 prisoners are infected, many of them drug resistant. In Mongolia, Latvia and Georgia the position is the same.

There are many reasons why this situation should cause concern in the international community. It is indeed an abuse of human rights to subject people to a prison term, or to put them into pre-trial detention, when there is such a high likelihood that they will contract a deadly disease there. Prison is an incubator

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and creates a pool of infection. Hundreds of thousands of prisoners leave prison every year and take their untreated or half-treated infection with them--and people travel to western Europe and to North America.

Action is needed on many fronts. Prison reform is urgently required so that prison conditions are less conducive to the spread of disease. Criminal justice reform is essential so that fewer people are sent to these overcrowded prisons unnecessarily. The work therefore being done by the Foreign Office under its human rights fund to assist with penal reform in Russia and in neighbouring countries is very worthwhile. I ask the Minister who is to reply to the debate whether she is satisfied that the amounts of money available are enough for this task, and whether she envisages seeking an increase in the fund for this and other similarly desperate situations when she becomes involved with the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review discussions.

Health reform is also needed. It is a reform that must include the prisons. If community health does not include prison health, much money will be wasted. I should welcome an assurance from the Department for International Development that the large health programme aimed at combating TB in Russia will include a genuine attempt to involve the prisons and the prison administration, where many dedicated doctors are working.

Finally, I should like to ask the Government to consider what can be done about the high price of pharmaceuticals. Why are the second-level drugs needed to cure multi-drug-resistant TB, AIDS and other diseases so costly that poor countries cannot afford them? Are they made from very expensive raw materials, or is there some other reason why the price is so high? Can anything else be done to improve a situation that is leading to so much suffering and so much early death?

4.36 p.m.

Baroness Young: My Lords, I, too, should like to start by thanking my noble friend Lord Carrington for introducing the debate. This has been, to say the very least, an eventful year for the House of Lords. I share with the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, my pleasure, and that of the whole House, that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, is still with us--not only for himself but for the great expertise that he brings to the House.

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