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Lord Hurd of Westwell: My Lords, the noble Lord is perfectly right to say that it would involve the Commission, but not in the context of its right of monopoly of initiative and execution under the Treaty of Rome. The Commission would, as it were, be sitting alongside in an intergovernmental process.

Lord Owen: My Lords, the noble Lord is aware that, according to Article 21 under Title V concerned with CFSP, the Commission is responsible, with the presidency, for informing Parliament. That is fine in relation to foreign policy. I suggest that many of us would be very anxious if the Commission was also responsible for informing the Parliament on defence matters. Further, under Article 27 the Commission is given more powers. The troika which is increasingly used in foreign policy, rightly, involves the Commission. Would we be equally happy to see the troika involve the Commission, admittedly with the new Secretary-General Javier Solana? I do not believe that it is acceptable that the Commission should be involved in troika operations that have defence and military implications. Under Article 23,

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decisions with defence or military implications are excluded from qualified majority voting, rightly so. Therefore, we have already made that distinction and we need to build on it.

It may be that this is a matter for the intergovernmental conference and the meeting in December in Paris. But at Helsinki the statement of the presidency charged the Council with the task of formulating interim committees and structures by March. Will we see the Commission represented on military committees or committees in possession of intelligence information? That would have considerable implications for the United States. These are important questions.

The Prime Minister deserves support for going that extra step at St Malo, but I worry that as yet there has not been sufficient attention to detail to clarify the picture. This is a matter of fundamental importance to this House. Whatever our views about other aspects of the euro, I do not believe that there are many people here who want to see defence taken out of intergovernmental co-operation and consensus. The noble Baroness will be able to reply. However, as a lawyer she will look carefully at the words of the treaty. The Minister appreciates that very often in the past we have been told that they have no long-term implications but perhaps five, 10 or 15 years later the Court has been able to make an interpretation with profound implications. All I say is that we should watch this area very carefully over the next couple of months.

7.47 p.m.

Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, having listened to most of the 29 speeches so far in this debate, to misquote Oliver Cromwell I feel that perhaps I have sat here long enough. We have heard superb speeches. Everyone has thanked my noble friend Lord Carrington, and I heartily join in those thanks to him for getting this debate going this afternoon. The exercise has been a superb one. Everyone has praised the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Fellowes, even though apparently it is out of order to do so. I was particularly thrilled that he chose the subject of the Commonwealth. Throughout the 1990s some of us campaigned to bring the Commonwealth further up the agenda in British policy and to promote the idea of the Commonwealth as a resource for the future that we would be foolish to put aside rather than an old boy's club or something to join unenthusiastically.

In passing, while many people have made nice remarks about the Commonwealth, the actions of the policymakers in this country have not always been quite as strong as the words. There is a good deal more campaigning to do, and I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Fellowes, will join in it.

Listening to these very fine speeches, I wonder whether we are debating foreign policy in an obsolete framework. Have we grasped that huge forces are eroding the power of the nation state, in particular to take a decisive role in shaping its own foreign policy?

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My noble friend Lord Inglewood made a remarkable speech whose implications are clear. We talk about our foreign policy being this or that but the skills we used in the past to seek to shape world affairs in our interests have to be replaced by completely new skills. I do not refer only to the obvious and significant point that the media stage is central, with the phenomenon of the so-called CNN crises, and that decisions about what is a humanitarian intervention, and responses to the cry referred to by my noble friend Lord Carrington as "Something must be done", all too often are driven by the media. I believe that the media stage is central to all politics and all international affairs. It is not quite as powerful as some of our media friends think it is--not least because they all disagree with each other. Nevertheless, that is a powerful influence on foreign affairs and becoming totally so in the information age.

A further powerful restraint has grown up recently. It is linked to the information network system. It is the growth of the great civic non-governmental bodies like Amnesty, Greenpeace, Oxfam and Medecins sans Frontieres. Such bodies can now dictate foreign policy. They can so mobilise legitimacy and support publicly in many countries across borders that they, too, can drive policy makers in directions in which they might not necessarily wish to go. While the policy makers may be calling for the caution which my noble friend Lord Skidelsky rightly said should inform all those interventions, the great civic bodies backed by a mass of public opinion--an interactive and digitally driven opinion--may be pushing them in quite different directions.

Further, our nation states, in particular the older ones, are being weakened by pluralism and localism. That may be good for democrats up to a point but it can rapidly boil over into extreme inward-looking tribalism and anarchy and can begin to shatter the whole civic order and compromises on which our nation states were originally put together. That is occurring in many parts of the world, in some parts violently. In our own part of the world, it is happening quietly and we hope non-violently; but it is occurring. It leads great authorities like Professor Norman Davies, who has written a vast volume on the isles, to conclude at the end of the whole history of the British Isles that breaking up is imminent. I think that he is totally wrong. Nevertheless, it is extraordinary that such authorities should air such thoughts. That should send strong alarm bells to all those who talk of the formation of policy to protect our civic cohesion and our nation state and ensure that its interests are pursued.

However, in my scale those are the lesser factors. The major influence that constrains the area in which foreign policy can be formed is that the world stage is now stuffed with institutions all vying to play the global role which they allege the nations can no longer play by themselves. They may be right. We have referred to the United Nations. In the Financial Times two days ago, Mr Kofi Annan said that there is a new norm of intervention. He asked who should decide what the norm was. However, the clear implication

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was that he thought the United Nations institutions, suitably reformed, should do so. That is the axe he grinds.

The World Trade Organisation tried to please everybody and ended in a spectacular failure at Seattle as a result, mobilising many lobbies hostile to liberalisation of trade yet ignoring the fact that over a third of world trade is not even visible to the statistics of the world trade policy makers, let alone all the capital flows and investment flows which are far more decisive nowadays than old-fashioned movements of goods or even services.

The G8 meets and tries to influence policy with decreasing success because it does not fit into the modern world. The World Bank has decided that it has a new social role. If one reads what Jim Wolfensohn says, it has become an international care counsellor. That has taken it far away from banking projects. Whether it is qualified to do that I do not know. The IMF is completely confused as to whether it should be larger or smaller.

We have not debated the European Union today. Nevertheless, there is the confusion between those who want it to be a superstate--I believe that they will almost certainly fail--and those who think that it should be a looser body.

The defence capability, about which the noble Lord, Lord Owen, spoke with such eloquence, is significant. Underlying it is this chorus that somehow Europe must become a rival to the United States, a superpower on its own: that it must have a destiny, a say in the world, and so on. Behind that is the view that some separate eurotechnology can be devised which will equip the new European capability. It is an absurd notion. In the globalised world the technology of Japan with its microchips, the United States with its surveillance equipment, and Europe with some of its hardware are all wrapped up together. No soldier can proceed on the lowest profile policing operation in Europe without relying on American and Japanese technology. The proposition that there is a separate part to be carved out for European technology and weaponry, or a European defence capability which can act on its own without American infrastructure or air support, is completely absurd; the more so in the global order in which we now live.

Those organisations are vying for the support of the nation states. There are others. We have mentioned the Commonwealth. It is a fabulous trans-regional network, and is growing all the time. It fits well into the new order. It is not a hierarchical organisation. It is part of the network which has no centre. There are NAFTA, Mercosur, ASEAN, APEC, the Nordic Union and an endless string of organisations all wondering whether they can be "the global force" or whether they should merely stick to being associations of member states.

What is my conclusion to all the thrashing which is going on in a turbulent international scene? It is that there will be no world government. There will be no global government to deal with global issues (to use the glib phrase). Nor will there be any demise of the nation

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state. That is a very fashionable view. Many are the gurus who say that the nation state is too small because it cannot cope with the global issues; or it is too large because it does not tune in to the local sentiments and needs of communities and therefore is finished. The obituaries are written frequently. If we want to start on a sensible line of thought about what influence we can have on foreign policy, far from dismissing the nation state at this stage of our history we should do everything possible to reinforce and strengthen it, and not pull it to pieces from below or above.

Certainly the nation state has to change. We all know that national governments will have a smaller role in society, not least because they will have more and more difficulties in raising revenues, which are their oxygen. We know that national government will be a humbler outfit because their economic pretensions that they can control the economy have been blurred. We know that people increasingly want national governments to concentrate on the core functions of law and order, property rights, competition and ensuring that we have an educated society, and to avoid the more fanciful initiatives that governments like to take.

Above all, I suggest to your Lordships that we need the confidence to ensure that the nation state can be held together and able to perform in the global order: that the nation state, in a sense, is coming to the rescue of the global situation; and that we need great agility and confidence to perform that role.

I conclude with a quotation which comes, oddly, from Boutros Boutros Ghali, who was a wise old Copt, badly treated by Washington, and not necessarily a great supporter of nationalism or mini nationalism. He said;

    "The globalisation now taking place requires a profoundly renewed concept of the State. Between the isolated individual and the world there must be an intermediate element. This element is the State and national sovereignty. They respond to the needs of all human beings for identification. In a world both impersonal and fragmented such a need is greater than it has ever been in history".

If we base our foreign policy on that cardinal principle, we shall not go far wrong in an increasingly turbulent and dangerous world.

8 p.m.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, we have had a most interesting debate. I have been struck by the broad consensus on many Benches about what the British contribution should be. I want to follow the analysis of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, of the international situation in general rather than follow those who spoke of specific regions or countries. However, there is one exception; I want to reinforce what the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said about Pakistan and what the noble Lord, Lord Desai, said about South Asia in general. I remind noble Lords that we are to debate Pakistan next week.

South Asia is an important area for Britain. I have been involved in electoral politics in West Yorkshire for many years, and it is impossible to forget that Kashmir is a local issue in Bradford. Indeed, the

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Salman Rushdie affair began in the politics of the Asian community in Bradford. We must be involved in the politics of South Asia, for if they go badly wrong it will affect the internal politics of this country.

Following the analysis of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, we have seen a fragmentation of world politics in the past 10 years since the end of the Cold War. There has been a decline of outside interest or support to resolve local conflicts, to help strengthen weak states or to put back together collapsed states and societies in the developing world. We see the United States as the world's dominant military power and economy; what American scholars proudly refer to as "the unipolar moment" of American hegemony over the rest of the world. However, we also see within the United States an increasing air of doubt as to how far they accept their role as carrying the burdens of the world; an increasingly irresponsible Congress; and conspiracy theorists within the American Right. Whereas conspiracy theorists among the Right in Britain orient themselves towards the European Union, in the United States conspiracy theorists believe that the United Nations is a threat to American sovereignty.

That means that we in Europe need to engage in an active dialogue with the United States about the problems of the world and how we should share them together. I accept and share the concerns of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, about the weakness of global institutions--the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation and so forth--now that they lack the active American support which they received in the Cold War years. They do not yet have sufficient supplementary sources of support from European and Asian democracies instead. It is evident that the international situation requires stronger international institutions, both global and regional.

I welcome the broad consensus around the House that the key to the improvement of the international situation is a closer European-American partnership based on a more coherent approach by European governments to share foreign policy, together with a more active European pursuit of a transatlantic partnership. That must be the way forward, rather than the illusions which in the wilder shores of the Daily Telegraph editorial page and correspondence columns suggest that Britain should somehow be sunk into NAFTA alongside Mexico, in order to avoid closer co-operation with the French, the Germans, the Dutch and the Spanish.

Liberal Democrats have actively supported the Government in pursuing closer European co-operation through the St Malo Franco-British initiative and beyond. I wish only that the British Government had been more open in explaining to Parliament and the public just how far and how fast it is moving. In that respect, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Howell, on becoming chair of a new sub-committee of your Lordships' European Union Committee, which will examine the development of

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common foreign and security policy. I look forward to our debate on the first report of his committee which will shed some more light on such rapid developments.

Last week, I read the communique of the Helsinki European Council, and was struck by the number of decisions which the Government had not reported to either House of this Parliament. I understand that there is to be a permanent political and security committee in Brussels; a planning unit within the Council secretariat; a military committee also operating permanently in Brussels and a military staff; and that these will begin to operate in March 2000 on an interim basis before the treaty can be amended to allow them. I was also struck by the quiet way in which Javier Solana was appointed Secretary General of the WEU in late November alongside the secretary generalship of the Council Secretariat, thus moving those two organisations much closer together.

All of those moves are taking us towards a position in which we are not threatening NATO--and I strongly agree with the noble Lord, Lord Hurd, that we must not overemphasise the ambitions of ESDI--but which we hope will lead to a useful European contribution to peacekeeping and peacemaking alongside the Americans, responding to the long-standing American demand that Europeans should share more of the burden in our region and beyond of keeping the peace.

There is a firm basis for that in having George Robertson as Secretary General of NATO and Javier Solana as Secretary General of the Council. They are two people with whom American administrations are happy to deal, and whom they have dealt with for a long time. I encourage Her Majesty's Government to take a more active lead in pressing our European partners to do more on their own front. I disagree slightly with the noble Lord, Lord Owen, in suggesting that the Commission is the biggest problem in that respect.

The weak commitment of many other governments to translate rhetoric into practice is part of what holds us back. For instance, the Germans have cut defence spending this year and the Italians clearly need to raise the level of theirs. As regards arms exports and controls, we read of the current revelations in Germany and continuing problems in France; we are not entirely sure even about British policy on arms controls. As regards eastern enlargement, the question remains open as to how far the European Union and its member governments are willing to make the necessary trade and agricultural concessions to ensure that we can extend security, stability and prosperity across central and eastern Europe.

During the past week, we have seen the absurd situation in which the South African trade agreement, an important symbolic and practical gesture towards the stabilisation of southern Africa, has been held up yet again after three years by the Italian Grappa lobby, insisting that South African Grappa should not be allowed to be sold on world markets under that name. That is an appalling gap between rhetorical commitment and willingness to translate things into practice.

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There is still a long way to go before we have an effective European foreign policy, but I hope that this Government will continue to push in that direction. It is important partly because we do not always agree with the United States and we need to represent our interests more actively and energetically inside American congressional politics and within the US administration.

We have looked back 10 years to what has happened since the Cold War. Looking ahead 10 years and asking what we can hope for--what Britain should be doing to try to improve the international situation--I disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford. I do not believe that we should still be saying that world interests are Britain's interests. Britain lacks the resources to pursue world influence alone. There is no evidence within our public that they would be prepared to pay the additional taxes for a substantial increase in British defence expenditure, in the Diplomatic Service and in development expenditure of the kind that would be required.

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