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So I urge the Foreign Secretary to prioritise knowledge. We must go for qualified people, not quantified objectives. We want Neil MacGregor diplomacy, and knowledge of a hundred subjects, not McKinsey diplomacy and a world view in a hundred objectives. Good, trained people are the bones, muscles and sinews of diplomacy. The fat of the Diplomatic Service has long gone, and you cannot wield the knife again without losing "global reach and influence".
I have one more point. The Foreign Secretary this morning did not mention Korea. Korea is a key member of the G20 and one of the world's top 10 economies. Its stimulus package was the greenest in the G20, and its growth rate beats all in Europe. It should be a key UK export market, particularly as the Koreans happen to like us. The last Foreign Secretary to visit Seoul was the noble Lord, Lord Hurd of Westwell, in 1993-17 years and six Foreign Secretaries ago. My point is not that that is insulting, although it is, but that it is counterproductive. Of course there have been meetings in the margins of multilateral meetings and in London, but would we honestly claim that we understood the French if we met them only in Brussels, New York and London?
The fact that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe, went out of his way when Chancellor to get to know his French colleague 30 years ago produced major dividends when Monsieur Delors went to Brussels and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe, went to the Foreign Office. The fact that the noble Lord, Lord Hurd, went out of his way 20 years ago to visit Rome for private meetings with his then Italian colleague paid major dividends straightaway for me as the UK negotiator in Brussels. I watched my Italian colleague's instructions change overnight, to his chagrin. The Foreign Secretary should not take it amiss when the Foreign Office says to him, "Please, please go away". The advice is good, and he should act on it. I hope he will make it a personal objective to visit all his colleagues in all 19 of the other G20 capitals in his first year in office.
It is my pleasure to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Maples, on his maiden speech. We have worked together in another place, and I learnt then from his wisdom and maturity. It is also a pleasure to congratulate the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe. As always, he has impeccable timing, given the Foreign Secretary's speech this morning, such that I wonder whether there was a degree of collusion. However, having had a very quick look at that speech, I just wonder whether I should move a postponement Motion, because it would help all of us if we had a moment to sit back and reflect on what he said. It was a very good speech and we should look very carefully at what was said. We all agree that a starting point is the interests of this country as broadly defined, and promoting them as best we can using the assets that we have accumulated over the years, a point which the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, made very well.
Our interests do not change from one Government to another. Although any new Government will seek, as new boys on the block, to show what they are doing newly, the fact of continuity from one Administration to another is too often neglected, because so many of the problems are unchanged. New problems always intervene-the contingent and the unforeseen.
Let us consider some of the key areas. In Afghanistan, although there is now the suggestion of withdrawal by 2015, the speech of the Defence Secretary yesterday
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We had one glorious unilateralist intervention in 1982, but could we now repeat that Falklands intervention? Where are the ships? The intelligence help that we had at the time from the US may well not be replicated, if we consider what Hillary Clinton is now saying about the Falklands. Let us beware of a unilateralist approach, or even a bilateral approach. Rightly, in respect of the European Union, the Government are stressing our relationship with France, but that should not be done as if we want to sideline our relationship with the European Union as a whole.
How well has the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Government responded to the concept of knowing ourselves, our history, our assets and the changing external world? The starting point is perhaps not the speech made today but the speech made by the Foreign Secretary last July to the IISS. That was a very good speech. The analysis was very clear. The only marring element, in my judgment, was that it was extremely negative about the European Union-that line of policy which dare not speak its name. The fact is that there is day-to-day consultation with our European partners at all levels, which is a major moulding factor on our policy formulation, and in key areas, such as the Balkans, the common security and defence policy, post-Lisbon, is so important. That is very much encouraged by the United States. Whether one thinks of what we are doing as Europeans in Africa, in Operation ATALANTA or in the western Balkans, the US is very happy that we Europeans take the lead. We should not fail to recognise that.
Turning to this morning's speech, we are to have a more energetic and agile policy. The emphasis was certainly on the BRICs, but I felt rather like Monsieur Jourdain-that we have been doing this all the time. Everyone agrees that we need to get closer to Russia, but sometimes perhaps we have to hold our nose a little. We have had to put some of their excesses, such as Litvinenko, behind us. India? Yes. However, there was a wise article by Jo Johnson MP in the Financial Times earlier this week on India. We should recognise that our US relationship is very important, but perhaps not so "special".
Finally, one of our most important assets is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Yesterday, we had an announcement of several programme cuts. I fear that there will be further major cutbacks in the autumn Statement, including the closure of embassies. DfID is ring-fenced, and the Government should look
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On the vision thing, we must recognise the temptation for all new Governments to add "a new dimension" to foreign policy. I recall Robin Cook in 1997 talking about "a moral dimension" and economic ambassadors drawn from the business sector. Again, the brand new Foreign Secretary is talking about new approaches, a new vision, and new agility. Time, and practice, will tell.
Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, I too, congratulate the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe, on securing this debate, but even more on the wise words with which he introduced it. I would like to mention two themes from his speech. The first, which was music to my ears, was the outbreak which he perceived-he is quite right-of a greater degree of realism about our relationship with the European Union and how it can be immensely helpful in pursuing our national interests in a wider sense. The other theme on which he touched, which is also crucial, was picked up by the noble Lords, Lord Butler, Lord Hannay, Lord Kerr, and others. That was the danger of further reduction of the position and resources of the Foreign Office.
I have had my criticisms of the Foreign Office. Sometimes, it has been rather out of touch and tending to look backwards, but it is by any possible standards a class act, and we would be very foolish to reduce it to the point of ineffectiveness, because we perceive it as being part of a past world. It is not; it is very much part of the modern world.
I turn to the speech of the Foreign Secretary, which is welcome. To be honest, I was rather surprised to welcome it as much as I did. In his extension to a new perception of the way in which the world is moving, he reflects what has often been said to us in this House by the noble Lord, Lord Howell. Let me pick quickly on what I mean. The noble Lord, Lord Desai, pointed out that the procedures under which the economic resources of the West are steadily losing relative strength in comparison to those of Asia and, to a lesser extent, to those of Latin America, and so on, are borne out by the rather frightening figures projected by the G20. They are a probable rate of growth of, at best, 2 per cent in the western world over the next three years; of 12 per cent in China; of 10 per cent in Latin America; and of 9 per cent in India.
Let us be honest, that reflects a steady shift of power and influence in the world with which, as the Foreign Secretary said, we have to come to terms. The first way in which we have to come to terms with it is something that we have been very slow to address. That is that almost all the structures of international governance in the world reflect 1945, not 2010. One example is the failure of the six countries that have attempted to become permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to get anywhere in 2004,
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The voting powers of the International Monetary Fund are based on the financial commitment made by the countries concerned. That means that Britain has greater voting power on the IMF than India. It means that Italy has greater power on the IMF than Indonesia. It is absurd how our governance of the world reflects a time so long ago. One implication of the Foreign Secretary's speech-in fairness to him, he said that he would now strongly support an extension of the Security Council of the United Nations-was to recognise the world in which we live and to create systems of law and order that reflect that world.
Let me come very quickly to three examples of the implications of that speech by the Foreign Secretary. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, that one cannot reflect everything he said, but one can reflect, in immediate terms, on some of the implications. The first was the decision by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference only a month ago to compel the whole of the NPT to recognise the importance of an international conference on the Middle East under the chairmanship of the United Nations Secretary-General. That resolution passed virtually unanimously, with strong support from non-nuclear-armed countries-the NAM.
What does that mean for us? We heard an excellent speech from the noble Baroness, Lady Morris, about the growing links between this country and its Arab friends and neighbours, in particular, for example, the new relationship with the United Arab Emirates and the strengthening of some of our links with the Arab world. The implications of that are tremendously serious because they say that when that Middle East conference comes to be, the United Kingdom will need to understand and reflect the genuine concerns and interests of the Arab powers with regard to, for example, the state of Palestine, the future relationship of the Palestinian peoples and even such matters as Israel's silence on nuclear ownership and nuclear control.
My second example was brought to our attention only recently, and it was a bad example. It is the western dismissal of the attempt by Turkey and Brazil-two of the leading non-nuclear countries-to try to do something about Iranian proposals for refining nuclear materials. Instead of taking it seriously and suggesting that a further negotiation might bring about a real move by Iran towards putting most of her low-enriched uranium into safe situations, the West simply dismissed it, as if it were somehow an inappropriate intervention by those two great countries. That was deeply unwise and, to reflect where we are with the Foreign Secretary's remarks, not least about Turkey, we must start taking those countries seriously and show that we doing so. That does not mean accepting everything they say, but it means looking with great attention and care at what they propose.
My final example of this sort of situation is common to us all. It is the situation in Kashmir, Afghanistan and so on. I am not an authority, and I will not pretend to be one, but I think that increasingly the implications of the Foreign Secretary's speech are that
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Lord Bew: My Lords, I thank the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe of Aberavon, for securing this debate. There is now no doubt that the coincidence of the debate with the Foreign Secretary's speech has enlivened our discussions and given them a greater and sharper focus, so I also congratulate him on his good luck in his timing.
We have already heard from noble Lords, particularly the noble Lord, Lord Desai, about the economic transformations that the world is witnessing. It is quite clear to me that the Foreign Secretary's speech, which I broadly welcome, is actually a cold and fairly realistic response to those transformations in part. Because we have talked so much about economic changes, I hope I can say one word about politics. The noble Lord, Lord Maples, in his maiden speech, talked about the special relationship. It may, or may not, be the case that it is a sentimental illusion to which we have been prone-I make no comment. However, it is the case at this moment that the policy of the United States Government is a new type of foreign policy defined by a rejection of the concept of American exceptionalism and its role in the world. It may be that that will not be acceptable to mainstream American opinion over the next two years but, at the moment, that is the policy, and we have to take account of it because it has crucial implications for our foreign policy. One of the things about the Foreign Secretary's speech is that there is a tone of realism running through it. If there ever was a sentimental allusion, I do not see much sign of it in today's speech.
We must bear in mind that in the 1990s it was not absurd to talk about the 21st century as the American century. At this point, it may have been wrong, but one can see why at that moment serious people might have seen it in that way. At the end of the first decade of this century, it is very hard to see it in that way. The underlying principle of the Foreign Secretary's speech is a recognition of the new world in which we now live with its various transitions and changes.
I shall focus on an important theme that was not mentioned in the Foreign Secretary's speech this morning: our relations with Libya. On 12 October 2009, the noble Baroness, Lady Kinnock of Holyhead, repeated a Statement in your Lordships' House entitled "Libya". The Statement came in the aftermath of the controversial release by the Scottish Justice Minister of Mr Megrahi, who had been convicted of the Lockerbie bombing. Mr Megrahi returned to a hero's welcome in Tripoli, much to the dismay of the United Kingdom Government. In the course of a wide-ranging assessment and analysis of our relations with Libya, the noble Baroness stated,
The noble Baroness mentioned the possibility of a parliamentary visit to Libya and at the beginning of November, I took part in such a parliamentary delegation to Tripoli. I have to say that I am most grateful to our officials and Ambassador in Libya. I make the point that has already been made by the noble Lord, Lord Hannay: it is vital that our Foreign Office is able to continue to provide its professionalism in such important cities as Tripoli. It would be an astonishing act of national absurdity for us to do anything to weaken the way in which our Foreign Office works in such important places. We had a series of discussions over two days with Libyan Ministers and officials. They were very interesting, engaging, urbane, sophisticated, useful and helpful. On our return, the Foreign Office issued a statement. However, at this point, it is worth asking the new Government where they stand on the pursuit of this aspect of our relationship with Libya. Will there still be a dedicated unit in the Foreign Office dealing with this question? More generally, where do we now stand in our relations with Libya? This is an enormously complicated question in terms of the transitions within Libyan politics, our relationship with the United States and United States policy in the region. None the less, returning to the original remarks by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe of Aberavon, when we think of Libya, are we in the world where we think of hazards or in the world of opportunities?
Lord Garel-Jones: My Lords, one inevitably follows the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe, with a certain amount of trepidation. Noble Lords who listened to his magisterial speech today will understand exactly what I mean. That feeling of trepidation has been further compounded in my case by a number of very distinguished interventions from noble Lords. I begin by congratulating my noble friend Lord Maples on his maiden speech. He and I share what I think I might call a criminal past in another place and I know that the House will anxiously look forward to many distinguished contributions from him.
Today's debate poses a fundamental, underlying question: what are the objectives of British foreign policy as we face the challenges and hazards of the 21st century? I believe that we stand at a crossroads where we have to ask ourselves a basic question. Do we believe that Britain's interests and the values that she seeks to uphold warrant a global diplomacy? My answer is yes.
However, I fear that over recent years we have failed to give our foreign service the tools for the job. Punching above our weight, to quote my noble friend Lord Hurd of Westwell, who certainly did just that, is fine, but you need, at the very least, some boxing gloves to do it and not a cricket bat, as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Kerr.
The cost of the Diplomatic Service in 2010-11 will be £865 million, which is 0.1 per cent of the national budget. In today's straitened times one hesitates to describe that or any other sum as paltry but, just to put it in context-I intend no criticism of the programmes concerned with these comparisons-that figure is less than one-third of what the Department for Work and Pensions spends in a week, it is almost identical to the
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Can Britain or should Britain have a global diplomacy? There are three possible answers to that question. The first is no. Let us face the fact that we are a second- division power. Let us stop dancing around the world kidding ourselves that Britannia rules the waves. Let us try to manage our decline into the second division with as much propriety as we can. We may even gain a few brownie points as we go: we could offer up our seat on the Security Council to the European Union.
The second answer, and perhaps the most cynical, is what I suppose one might call the middle way. We could say nothing and keep trimming. The man on the Clapham omnibus will not notice. It has been going on for the past few years. I focus on Latin America, but this scenario is replicated in other parts of the world. Between 2003 and 2005, we closed our embassies in Paraguay, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. I have a horrible nightmare that somewhere down the road, in 50 years' time, we will end up with two embassies in the whole of Latin America-in Mexico and Brazil-and, in any other country, British citizens and companies with problems or interests will be invited to go to the EU representative, who by then, no doubt, will be described as an "ambassador plenipotentiary".
I bow to no one in my support for the European Union. I am an unashamed Europhile. I strongly support the work of the noble Baroness, Lady Ashton, and the new European Foreign Policy Unit. However-I am confident that this view is widely shared in your Lordships' House-I do not see the European Union as a substitute for the nation state. I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Howell, who will reply to this debate, may, along with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, share my view that we need a global diplomacy and that Britain's interests and values warrant such a foreign service.
An increase of 2.5 per cent in the diplomatic budget year on year for the life of this Parliament would cost £21,625,000 this first year. Again, just to put that figure in context, the Department for Work and Pensions spends more than 20 times that every day and it is less than we spend on combating infectious diseases of livestock for international development.
My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary is as ingenious as he is clever. He will not, I am confident, want to announce that he is leading Britain down into the second division, nor will he wish to opt for a continuation of the surreptitious decline that we have witnessed over recent years. I am afraid that it is Hobson's choice for the coalition Government, the Foreign Secretary and the Chancellor. It is: find the money, William, and pay up, George. In the previous century, Britain moved, I think with a certain dignity, from "Rule Britannia" to "Cool Britannia". Failure to
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Lord Wright of Richmond: My Lords, I am sure it will not surprise my former boss, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe of Aberavon, if I decide today to talk about the Middle East. We have had many recent discussions in this House on the situation in Gaza. I would like to return to the long-standing problem of Israeli colonisation of the West Bank and the eviction of Palestinians from east Jerusalem. There are still some 500,000 illegal Jewish settlers on the West Bank, and Peace Now claims that this number is still growing. Palestinians are still facing daily frustration at more than 500 checkpoints and the dreaded wall is still expanding, particularly in the west Bethlehem area, blocking many Palestinian farmers from their own land. The resulting level of unemployment, although not quite as appalling as in Gaza, is nevertheless very serious.
Even worse is the continued eviction of Palestinian residents from east Jerusalem, now including four members of the Palestinian legislature-the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, referred to them-who have been ordered to leave on the grounds that the interior ministry has revoked their permits as "residents of Israel". According to the ministry's own information, in 2008 alone, 4,577 Arab residents of east Jerusalem had their permits revoked. The Israeli authorities have ordered the recent demolition of 65 Palestinian-owned structures and the displacement of 125 people, including 47 children.
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