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One of the key items in our armoury is the Chinook helicopter. We have all heard a great deal about it in the past few years. It is a staple in our Army, as it is in that of the United States. It is truly a maid of all work. It has saved, is saving and will go on saving many lives just by transporting troops by air without the risk of roadside bombing. It is, of course, large, expensive and extremely reliable. Do we have enough? Are the seven Chinooks that were being renovated by Boeing now in service? I know that some of them are; I am not sure whether they all are. What about the 22 new Chinooks that we have heard about? When will they start to be deployed in Afghanistan?
Our medical and recuperative services are without doubt the best in the world. We must strive to maintain them as such and improve them if possible. Our Army in Afghanistan comes first and rightly so, but the future is upon us and I should like to know how the aircraft carrier project, which is so vital for the Royal Navy in particular, is proceeding. The two great ships will allow the Navy to project power across and around the world. What would they then do? They would protect our sea lanes and therefore our trade. They would enable us to keep the peace merely by the threat that they would convey. They would be a very important factor in conveying humanitarian aid to any part of the world, as has been very recently demonstrated in Haiti. What is the latest in-service date for each carrier and will it coincide with deliveries of the Joint Strike Fighter, which will provide both defence and assault facilities for the carriers? Are we retaining flexibility in the construction of the carriers so as to encompass conventional takeoff and landings as well as short takeoff and landings? Do we have the prospect of enough trained soldiers to man both great ships as well as they should be, as well as new destroyers and RFAs coming on stream? The carriers will carry aircraft, helicopters-assault and rescue and transport-marine
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Lord Clinton-Davis: This has been a remarkable debate, largely unreported, and has in my view demonstrated the value of this Chamber. None can be more remarkable than the speech of my noble friend Lady Flather. I thought it was fantastic. In paying tribute to her, I also pay tribute to my noble friend Lady Kinnock. I thought her speech was equally fantastic and I thank her very much for it.
Yesterday, the Leader of the House spoke of the coalition's duty to promote "freedom, fairness and responsibility". How does that maxim apply with regard to the European Union? In its statement, the coalition said, rather remarkably:
Virtually every action that the Government have taken and every statement uttered by the Conservative Party regarding the European Union before and during the election belies that intention. The reaction was grudging. It was sour. They were playing unashamedly to the anti-European Union lobby which dominated the Conservative Party and, I believe, still does.
The Liberal Democrats took an opposing stance. They are, without doubt, pro-European. I can only believe, therefore, that this particular paragraph was inserted to appease them. But what of the majority of Tory MPs and Peers? How can these two irreconcilable views come together? What of the Bill Cashes of this world and their ilk who are now in a majority in the Conservative Party? We come to the next paragraph in the coalition document. It states:
But what if there is a change of circumstances and virtually the whole of the EU opts for a transfer of powers? Are the Government prepared to stand apart? Will we still have a referendum if only UKIP and other right-wing extremists are opposed? What a waste of money that would be.
I recall only too well how the then Danish coalition reacted in the middle of the 1980s. The Farmers' Party, a small minority, was able to hold up pretty well all European legislation on transport. I know that because I was the Commissioner at that time. It led to the fury of all other Members. We could make progress only when we could operate according to a qualified majority, but that was not always the case. The Danish Parliament, led on these matters by the Minister concerned, was able to destroy the credibility of the Commission and the European Parliament. Are we in for another dose of that, except that this time it will not be the Danish Parliament but the Tory Party here and in another place which will be held responsible?
My noble friend Lord Anderson referred to the Tories' choice of ally in the European Parliament-what Nick Clegg described as "a bunch of nutters" and racists. This was vehemently rejected by the Tories, and all other right-wing democrats recoiled in horror at what they were proclaiming. Nick Clegg was 100 per cent right on that. What does the coalition now think? The noble Lord, Lord Howell, for whom I have a great regard, lived down to this nadir. He did no duty to the House. He of course said he would return to my intervention, but he never did. In my opinion, he has not filled his role with great dignity today, notwithstanding the plaudits which have been hurled around this House.
The EU is going through a crisis, as are many others. It is at times such as this that we have to stand by the EU as staunch, somewhat critical, supporters, rather than as foes, which the Conservative Party is at present.
I wanted to speak of international aviation-for a few more days, I am the president of BALPA, the British Airline Pilots Association-but time does not permit that. However, the coalition Government are not able to hide behind that particular excuse. Through omission, they are failing the future of aviation, which I am convinced will constantly improve. Even more unfortunately, the coalition is risking the future of this country. It cannot ignore aviation as it does in this statement and in the contributions made today in this House by government Ministers.
Lord Burnett: My Lords, I welcome my noble friend Lord Howell to his deserved place in the Government. He is an acknowledged expert in foreign affairs. It is also a great pleasure to congratulate my noble friend Lord Astor of Hever on his appointment as a Minister in the Ministry of Defence. He served with great distinction as a shadow Minister, and I hope that the House will forgive a short reminiscence.
My noble friend Lord Astor was serving in the Life Guards in Hong Kong in about 1967 when violent rioting broke out with surging unrest. There were not many British forces to cope with this growing crisis. My noble friend first saw me, not on some enchanted evening and not across a crowded room. I was standing on the flight deck of a commando ship steaming into Hong Kong with 650 other members of 40 Commando Royal Marines, all in full fighting order. We had just come back from Aden and we had all our weaponry on the flight deck in full display. Everything from then on went quiet and we all had a wonderful run ashore. In fact, if my memory serves me right, we had a series of wonderful runs ashore.
There are valuable lessons for us from that incident. First, you never know what is going to happen and you have to plan for every eventuality. Secondly, one needs flexible Armed Forces with a strong amphibious capability, including support ships. Thirdly, you sometimes need a resolute and robust show of force that can defuse the most difficult situations. As I said in the defence debate on 6 November 2009, I take the view that defence spending should not shrink-especially now in the light of the dangerous state of the world.
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In that defence debate, I welcomed the decision to order four replacement submarines for Trident, with appropriate ballistic weapons systems. I welcome balanced multilateral reductions in warheads and we all hope that one day the world will be free of nuclear weapons. However, we live in an era where more unstable regimes are acquiring nuclear weapons. Trident and its replacement have a full strategic range of many thousands of miles and, unlike other alternatives, it is a credible weapon which is exceptionally discreet and almost invulnerable to countermeasures.
We shall shortly be embarking on a Strategic Defence Review. We must decide the level of our national ambition. What does this country want from our Armed Forces in the future? We must look at defence in its widest sense: not just at the teeth arms that serve us so well, but also at the tail. How many personnel, and how much equipment, are needed to fulfil our defence objectives? How many ships, and of what type, do we require, and what personnel do we require for the ships we seek to deploy? How many fighting brigades do we need from the Army and Royal Marines, and how many deployable aircraft from the Royal Air Force? What will provide us with the best value, flexibility and effect? If we decide on our ambitions, we must pay the full cost of implementing them. Ministers must take personal charge of the defence review. If they do not, there will inevitably be unsatisfactory and unworkable compromises.
We must now look ahead to the next one or two decades. We cannot base our plans solely on recent and current conflicts. As I said, we must find out what are the likely future threats and how to meet them. We need aircraft carriers to give us the essential political and military flexibility, given the major problems of securing overflying rights and the huge flexibility that these carriers provide. They can be deployed as troop carriers as well as fixed-wing and helicopter platforms. They can be deployed as support ships for humanitarian operations.
We in this House and country are united in admiration for, and gratitude to, the Armed Forces and their families for their courage, loyalty and stamina. We owe it to our Armed Forces and their families properly to prepare and equip them for all the tasks that we ask them to undertake. The British people will not forgive a Government who cannot provide powerful support for our many nationals overseas, our trade and our allies. The British people demand a Government who will guarantee the safety and security of our country.
Lord Crisp: My Lords, in congratulating noble Lords on their appointments as Ministers, I warmly welcome the clear commitment to international development that I see coming from the coalition Government, despite the financial circumstances-and perhaps, even more importantly, because of them-and their clear determination to maintain and even enhance the leading role that the UK has played over the years. The UK
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I will talk about health and development, and I will touch on foreign policy. I will make three points. The first is about health workers, the second is about using UK experience and expertise and the third is about links to global security. In all of this, I will stress the interdependence of rich and poor countries. This point should underlie all UK policy in this and other areas.
There is a desperate shortage of health workers. I was sorry to see that this point was not mentioned in the brief coalition statement on international development. It is mentioned strongly in the Conservative Green Paper of last year, and I hope that it will be returned to in subsequent policy documents. It should be one of the most important areas for international development. Health is very much about human contact. It is about access to the advice and knowledge that health workers can produce. Too often in poor countries, we see children dying of diarrhoea because nobody knows how to rehydrate them. We see a lack of immunisation. We see the dreadful problems, referred to by my noble friend Lady Flather, of pregnancy-related illness, injury and death. Some of these things are very simple for trained professionals to deal with, while others are complex.
Moving from the personal to the general, I will say that we will not achieve the millennium development goals without more health workers in these countries. I am not talking about the same staff mix as you would have in the UK. This is not about many more doctors and nurses. It is about massively increased numbers of community workers-people trained to mid-level, nurses with extra skills that allow them to do Caesarean sections-and some more professionals. It is not about just transferring our model abroad. Nor is the problem simply one of migration. In the UK, we have benefited from large numbers of people from poorer countries coming to work in our health system. However, the best estimates show that over the past 35 years, 135,000 people who first had some health training in poorer countries have come to richer countries. That is a big number, but the need is for somewhere between 1 million and 1.5 million more in sub-Saharan Africa. Dealing with migration will deal with only part of the problem. In that context, I congratulate this and the last Government on the fact that the World Health Assembly last week passed a new code of conduct on health migration, to help to manage the problems that come from that.
The biggest issue is getting more people trained. It is about helping people to be trained in all those areas, whether they are community workers, mid-level workers or fully trained professionals. That must be part of the wider set of policies to retain, support and employ them. Training them is something with which we in the UK can help.
I turn to our expertise and experience. If the Government want to put a greater emphasis on getting more health workers into poorer countries, they can do so in many ways. One is simply to give more priority, with their partners, to the issue. PEPFAR, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, has made
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I also acknowledge a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Howell, about how much the world is changing. I spend a lot of time in Africa, and I see that poor people with creativity, without all our baggage of history and without our resources, can innovate. They can teach us things that we need to know about how to run health systems. I have written about this. I note that the private sector is starting to develop ideas along these lines. GE Healthcare, for example, has identified a number of products that it has developed in poorer countries for translation into richer countries. McKinsey, the management consultancy firm, has also identified that many of the greatest innovations in healthcare today are developing and being created in poorer countries. This is a win-win situation.
I turn finally to security. At its simplest, building relationships and partnerships and links across the world will help. We see it all over Africa, where there are many strong links. Before I started to work in Africa, I did not think that the Commonwealth was terribly important. I now understand how important it is in forging the links between this country and many countries in Africa and elsewhere. We also know that poor health services, and poor services generally, foster discontent. We know that there is great unfairness in how health resources are shared-unfairness about patents and about how drugs and health workers are shared around countries-which builds tensions. On the positive side, we also know that health can improve the economy, that an improved economy can build stability in a country, and that health can play a bigger part in future in the Government's plans for post-conflict resolution and reconstruction.
On global security, there is the question of the risks of disease. We know that new diseases will develop in the poorest countries. They will develop where health systems are poorest. It is in our interest that those countries have reasonable health systems, so that they can protect the security of the world and not just of themselves. That is why I echo other words of the noble Lord, Lord Howell: international development is about not just moral imperative but enlightened self-interest. He talked earlier about mutuality and respect. When we put this together, we are in this together. We should be talking much more about co-development and not just about international development, where we are seen as doing things to and for other people.
On a personal level, I shall be seeking discussions with other Members of your Lordships' House to see whether there is a need for an all-party group on global health. There are many specific groups which deal with specific issues but nothing as yet that looks at all the issues that join us together globally in health terms, at our interdependency and at promoting thinking and appropriate policies.
Finally, I urge the Government to do three things: first, to embrace the notion of interdependence and the linked point of co-development as underlying policy, taking further the previous Government's work on Health is Global as their global strategy; secondly, to embrace and promote the need for more health workers-do not let people die for lack of simple advice and help-and, thirdly, to use the experience and expertise here in our universities and health service, as people are ready to play a role and people are ready for a lead.
Lord Eatwell: My Lords, a few months ago, we all hoped that the financial crisis that engulfed the western world in 2008 and 2009 was at last fading into history. That hope was, sadly, misplaced. The past few weeks have witnessed growing economic turmoil in Europe, and Britain is suffering from that turmoil. It is in Britain's fundamental economic interests that the difficulties in the eurozone are resolved. However, instead of expressing concern, the Government bask in self-satisfied complacency, crowing that because Britain has not adopted the euro the eurozone's problems are not our problems. Nothing could be further from the truth, for three fundamental reasons.
First, the economic health of our economy is inextricably tied to the economic health of the rest of the European Union. It is obviously in our interest that those to whom we sell more than 60 per cent of our exports should be prosperous, providing a growing market for British goods. But perhaps of even greater importance is the financial stability of Europe. If the eurozone were to collapse, the resultant financial apocalypse would engulf us all. Europe's financial stability should be a major goal of British foreign policy.
Secondly, it has become evident over the past few weeks that the economic institutions of the European Union in general and of the eurozone in particular require fundamental reform. Without major changes to the institutions of monetary and fiscal management, the persistent weaknesses of the past decade will persist, and we will all be buffeted by recurrent storms.
This need for reform is the third reason why we in Britain have such pressing concerns. The necessary reforms will require at the very least treaty revision and perhaps a new treaty to strengthen European institutions-a treaty that will require Britain's active participation.
The shape of necessary reforms has been defined by the emerging difficulties of the past few months. The mismanagement of the Greek economy, exacerbated by the collapse of world trade and hence the collapse of shipping revenues, led to cumulative severe pressures on the bond sales necessary to fund the Greek government
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The reaction in European capitals was to initiate a protracted, indecisive debate on raising the funds for a Greek "bail-out". As vague pronouncements were piled on indecision, the fear of default increased, so that when the €40 billion bail-out was at last agreed, it proved inadequate as a defence against the rising tide of default pessimism.
The incompetent handling of the Greek crisis stands in stark contrast to the rapid and effective measures taken by the United States Government in the Mexican crisis of December 1994, which was very similar. In the latter case, investors in Mexican government tesobonos faced a complex mixture of currency risk and default risk. Yet the $50 billion package assembled by the Clinton Administration in a few days, predominantly in the form of guarantees, stemmed the run and rapidly restored confidence. As Alan Greenspan recounts in his autobiography:
If a credible eurozone institution had guaranteed Greek bonds at the outset, the immediate crisis would be over, at negligible cost. In the face of continued European paralysis, it took a telephone call from President Obama to avert disaster, if only temporarily. At last a €750 billion guarantee fund has been established, with the assistance of the IMF. However, delay has fed the flames of volatility and it is now not clear that even this sum will be enough. A more damaging sequence of events would be difficult to imagine, but worse is to come.
Having at last chosen to follow a sensible guarantee strategy, the eurozone Governments, led by Germany, plan to resuscitate the growth and stability pact-an Orwellian label if ever there were one for a pact that has delivered neither growth nor stability. The eurozone has been gripped, as has the coalition, by deficit hysteria, with all Governments being forced to commit to massive precipitate cuts in public expenditure. The path to recovery is to be paved with unemployment and bankruptcy. As the Financial Times leader argued yesterday,
To avoid these disasters for Britain, fundamental European reform is required. It therefore serves Britain ill that on his first visit to Berlin since assuming office, Mr Cameron chose to wave around his veto like a virility symbol. He said that,
Britain must make a positive and substantial contribution to the institutional and regulatory reform required in Europe. Our financial services industry
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