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Lord Beaumont of Whitley: My Lords, when Cato the Elder ended all his speeches "Carthago delenda est", he may have bored the Roman senate into the groundand I would not be surprised if their Back-Benchers did not learn to join in the chorus every time. But he established the rule that if you want something badly enough, you must risk being a bore. Eventually, he got what he wanted.
So it will not surprise your Lordships if I start this speech with a bitter complaint that in the large ranks of new arrivals in your Lordships' House, some of whom are most welcome, particularly my old colleagues from the Liberal Party, there is no nominee from my party, in spite of the increase in the Green vote, demonstrating that our already valid case for one has been reinforced, not least by our vote in Brighton Pavilion where we ran the Conservatives to a very narrow margin for second place, and considerable gains in local councils.
Having got that off my chest, though like Cato I shall return to the matter until justice is satisfied, I turn to the gracious Speech, although more to what was hardly mentioned in it than to what was. We have hardly finished a war to get rid of non-existent weapons of mass destruction before we find ourselves reviewing the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, of which we are in breach, as recently pointed out not only by "Bremner, Bird and Fortune", as I imagine all your Lordships saw, but by that even more authoritative publication of Chatham House, The World Today, which I am sure all your Lordships read. The latter, and the former, have pointed out that the British nuclear deterrent relies on US missiles and warhead components and that therefore the two countries are in breach of Article 1, which clearly states that,
"each nuclear-weapon State party to the Treaty undertakes not to transfer . . . nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices . . . or control over such weapons or explosive devices, directly or indirectly".
Apart from anything else, that breach means that we are constrained into a far closer relationship with the present sole superpower than any nation ought to be. And what is it all for? I hope that there is no one in your Lordships' House who would ever contemplate the use
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of such a weapon under any circumstances whatever. As for the argument that the threat is enough and a weapon in itself, not only is such a threat totally immoral but it becomes over time more and more incredible.
If the Prime Minister wanted to seal his name on history, he could do so best by starting to lead the countries who have or threaten to have weapons of mass destruction out of this immoral, vicious, threatening quagmire. If anyone wants to see the possible results of that quagmire, they should look at page 2 of the New York Times supplement of the Daily Telegraph today. It would not be easy to lead the way out of that quagmire, but it would be great statesmanship. So thinks the Green Party, and so think I.
Lord Lea of Crondall: My Lords, first, I want specifically to congratulate my noble friend Lord Triesman on being appointed Minister for Latin America. I was going to say, "Muchas felicitaciones", but I do not know whether he is already away on his Spanish course.
I am chairman of the Anglo-Bolivian all-party parliamentary group, which was set up to reflect the huge good will towards Britain on the part of the Bolivian parliamentarians, whom we first visited in 2000 and who came over here last October. It so happens that I shall lead a small delegation to Bolivia in August, along with the noble Baroness, Lady Hooper, and the noble Lord, Lord Lamont. We look forward to having a meeting with my noble friend the Minister in the coming weeks and, inter alia, to involving the United Kingdom gas companies, BP, BG and Shell. Those extractive industries, relative to the size of the Bolivian economy, are enormously important. The Bolivians, over 200 or 300 years, have had a painful history as regards the extraction of minerals. One can understand that. However, as parliamentarians we hope that they will be able to build bridges.
One of the lines of thought is that the extractive industries should do more to find ways of transferring technology so that more value-added can be created in the host country. In that way, the local populations will be able to feel that they own the beneficial effects created by multinational organisations. In that case, it could also directly benefit the local people, including the indigenous population, by providing things such as gas pipes in towns and villages. Those people would be able to see how the role played by the multinationals is connected to improvements in the quality of their life.
That is a general point about technology transfer. Although the multinational corporations are in a strong position and we certainly want the world to see more foreign direct investment in the poorest nations, the extractive industries incite passionsone could also mention logging and many other industriesas few others do.
The host countries have title to these resources. We do not know how stable it is, but the current price of oil is about $50 a barrel, double the recent price. There
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will therefore be great pressure to get more oil and gas on to the market. The global background is that ever more oil and gas supplies are in politically sensitive areas. Need one mention the Caspian, the Middle East or Russia? Germany is now more than 50 per cent reliant on Russian gas.
Our delegation will also briefly visit Paraguay, another country with a very low GDP per head. We have just closed our embassy there. Like others, I wonder about the long-term economic implications of some of those decisions.
The only point I can put on the other side is one with which not everyone will agree: the role of the European Union regarding the continent of South America. About three-quarters of the DfID-type funds going to that continent go via the European Union. A great deal of the official business of embassies is conducted through the weekly meetings of the missions of the EU countries. I welcome the idea that that can produce experiments in multinational diplomatic services under the EU umbrella.
The EU is of growing importance also on the continent of Africa. I am very pleased that, in the autumn, Sub-Committee C of the European Union Select Committee, of which I am a member, will conduct a study on the growing interface between the European Union and the African Union, dealing not just with the mechanics of the relationship but with how we can together build support for the African Union's emerging role in governance and on questions of security and economic development. The background is that, at the moment, 10 per cent of the world's population receives only 1 per cent of the world's foreign direct investment.
As many Members have pointed out, what will dominate our foreign policy discussions in the next year will very much depend on what happens in France on 29 May. We cannot second guess the outcome now. Whatever happens, however, Europe is the league that we are in. It is also the league to which every football club and football supporters' club in Britain would like to belong. The idea that we could be out is so ludicrous that, as and when we have our referendum on the European constitutional treaty and people stop to think about it, the majority in this country will appreciate the need to say "Yes".
I should like to illustrate the importance of common positions in the European Union by taking the example to which the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, just referredthe current conference in New York on the review of the treaty on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The conference is being conducted against the setting of an emerging crisis over Iran which I think will turn out to be much more serious than that over Iraq.
The noble Lord, Lord Hannay, who speaks with great distinction on all these mattersnot least on the United Nations, having been a member of the high-level panelconcluded, tongue in cheek, I think, with a list of seven or eight potential UN achievements that would make us all better off. The only thing he did not mention was the logical conclusion that, "If pigs could fly we would solve all these problems".
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One of the reasons why we have so many difficulties with structural changes in the UN is the fact that the Americans are not committed to the multilateral system. It is breathtaking that they want the treaty to be made much more specific on a number of aspects of military nuclear development as long it does not apply to them. People from Washington actually go on the record saying such things. It is breathtaking. The UN will have to concentrate on that type of question rather than on the reform of the Security Council, which I am afraid is already producing ill will. China/Japan is obviously one issue; Germany, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Egypt, Nigeria, South Africaall of those couplings are very difficult. The only way in which the current Security Council five can retain their present role is by demonstrating that they are bound by all existing United Nations treaties. Sub-Committee C will get stuck into all those UN matters in the coming few weeks. The importance of that problem cannot be exaggerated.
Perhaps I may make one final remark. I think that this debate has underemphasised the fact that, in the past two or three years, we have not seenalthough we have in the past few weeksa commitment by the Americans to speak to Europe through the institutions of the European Union. "Bush Mark 2" and Condoleezza Rice are making it clear that the EU common position is a way in which foreign policy will be handled more and more. That is a good sign.
As other noble Lords have said, one should like to say many other things. We must get a result on the non-proliferation treaty. We must be careful to observe Article 6 on being committed to disarmament. Before I get my marching boots on like I did 50 years ago at Aldermaston, we must show that we are committed to the EU common position that calls for as much emphasis on disarmament in the non-proliferation treaty review on Article 6 commitments as there is on non-proliferation. That is the only basis on which the rest of the world will agree to make progress.
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