It is the privilege of our small NGO, HART, to be with our partners in these forgotten conflicts, such as those in the Kachin and Shan states and in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile. We return humbled and inspired by their courage, resilience and dignity. I conclude with one story to illustrate the courage of these people.

I introduce a very brave young woman, Nagwa, our partner in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains. Education has to be provided outdoors, as schools are especially targeted, but every effort is made to teach the high-quality Kenyan curriculum and to arrange for pupils to take the official examinations. Therefore, when the time arrives for pupils to take their exams, they travel from all over the Nuba Mountains to gather in one place—outdoors, as any school building will be targeted by Khartoum’s bombers. Nagwa told us how she sent a message to each child asking him or her to bring a large stone. About 1,000 pupils arrived. When they had all gathered outdoors, Nagwa explained why she had asked them all to bring a stone. She said, “When you are doing your exams and you hear the Antonov bombers coming, you will each take your stone and calmly put it on top of your papers. You will then run, hide in the rocks or lie flat on the ground. Then, when the planes have gone, you will go back to your place and remove the stone. Your examination papers will not have been blown away by blast or wind”. Talk about “exam pressure”.

These courageous people in Sudan and Burma have suffered far too much for far too long. I passionately hope that the Minister will be able to give a message today which will bring them help and hope, and measures to help promote the peace and justice that they truly deserve.

Now, like every other noble Lord present in your Lordships’ House, I eagerly await the maiden speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Helic.

2.32 pm

Baroness Helic (Con) (Maiden Speech): My Lords, I am humbled and honoured to speak for the first time in your Lordships’ House. I am grateful to noble

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Lords on all sides for welcoming me and for the kind words that have been said during the debate. I particularly thank Lord Jenkin, who was the first to greet me, my sponsors, my noble friends Lord Howell and Lady Hodgson, and staff for their kindness and endless patience.

I gather that it is customary in a maiden speech to say something about myself: to explain how a one-time Bosnian refugee from a town so small that you can hardly find it on a map, who was born in communist Yugoslavia and raised on a diet of brotherhood and unity, and who dreamt of being a Shakespeare scholar or a rock star came to Britain on 3 October 1992 and has now been afforded the greatest of honours—to serve this country, in her own small way.

I could speak about having to flee my home, being forcibly separated from my family, losing everything and being arrested just because I belonged to the “wrong” religion, but I feel a reluctance to do so today, as this story, which seems to be mine, is in fact a story about the United Kingdom. What seems more important to me is what it says about the United Kingdom and why it is still such a great country.

That I stand here is testament to this country—to its tradition of fairness, tolerance, decency and openness. Britain allowed me in, gave me refuge and opportunity, and never once put a wall in front of me. I think of the family who gave me a home when I was a stranger, the university that took me in when I had no papers, and the friends whom I came to know. They were a pillar of strength and support to me. They have been the guardians whom my late parents would, I am sure, wish to thank today.

I will also never forget my first proper job in this country, as an office clerk in the Library of the other place. It gave me the chance to learn about Britain’s great democratic institutions and put my feet on a path that I am still on today. In the 17 years since, I have had the privilege of serving in some of those institutions, including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office—surely the finest foreign ministry of any nation.

My experience has taught me that every one of us who has come to this country and has been given the privilege of calling it our own has responsibilities: to defend it, to respect its laws, to cherish its democracy and to better it when we can. Being a citizen of the United Kingdom means not just carrying a passport but sharing an obligation to live by the rules and work for the common good.

Looking around the world today, there is much to celebrate. We have never been closer to each other, never so connected and never so well informed. Yet in this same world there are states that bully and trample their neighbours and smaller countries. There are so called “non-state actors” that are distorting a peaceful religion and using it as a brutal ideology. There are 54 million refugees and stateless people who have only their bare lives and international handouts to hold on to. There are conflicts in which humanitarian law has been replaced by the massacring of civilians and the rape of women, men and children, where nothing is sacred any longer, and where the siege of cities, the starvation of civilians and the flattening of villages and towns have become the new norm. Sadly, there is

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a lack of collective leadership. Where previously we had grand coalitions and Marshall plans, there are ad hoc arrangements and donor conferences.

I am proud of our country’s record on providing humanitarian aid to refugees around the world, but we know that we cannot donate our way out of these crises. We have to find solutions, as I know the Government are committed to do. As someone who has seen war, this is also a day when I want to plead that Britain as a whole does not ever turn its back on the world—if not for the sake of others, then for our own. If we allowed our red lines to be crossed, our leadership to be missing or doubt to be cast over our commitment to defence spending, we would weaken ourselves in the eyes of those who wish to undermine us or to hurt others.

We are told too often that Britain has lost its ambition and influence internationally, but we have the skills and experience needed. We should have the confidence and determination to use them and never hang back when we should be at the forefront. We must remain a strong and determined country that has a spine of steel to defend itself as well as international peace and security, and the patience to see through what we have begun. Libya is a recent example but Bosnia is again a case in point. It is a unique and beautiful country that I am sure will overcome separatism, small but worrying seeds of extremism and bullying and interference by countries such as Russia. But it will do so only if we do not abandon it to those forces. If we cannot protect multiethnic societies in Europe, we will have little chance of ensuring the protection of minorities in the Middle East and beyond.

I conclude with a final thought. Our strength rests also on our moral authority—on policies that serve our nation’s interests through the wider good. I urge the Government—and I know that the noble Baroness the Minister needs no persuading of this—to pursue and further expand the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative. It angers and saddens me that 20 years after tens of thousands of women endured hell in rape camps in Bosnia, the world is tolerating the rampant abuse and enslavement of women and girls in Iraq and Syria, and that rape and torture are becoming the preferred tools of militias and terrorist groups across the world—with impunity.

When I entered this Chamber on 24 November, I fell under its spell. It represents centuries of a country striving to better itself and the world. I am honoured to be here and I look forward to playing my full part.

2.39 pm

Baroness Hodgson of Abinger (Con): It is a privilege to follow my noble friend Baroness Helic and to congratulate her on her outstanding maiden speech. I have had the pleasure of knowing her for a number of years now. She has a remarkable life story, as we have just heard. She served as a special adviser for a number of years, latterly working for William Hague, notably during his time as Foreign Secretary. She has made a particular contribution in highlighting the issue of sexual violence. It is such a great pleasure to welcome her to this House. I look forward to working with her in years to come. I also congratulate my noble friends Lord Howe and Lady Anelay on their appointments.

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As we have already heard from a number of other remarkable speakers, in an increasingly unstable world, promoting the British values of social justice, democracy and human rights is more important than ever before. The last Government worked hard to highlight the importance of gender equality and female empowerment internationally, and the Conservative election manifesto made clear that this work would continue. I warmly welcome this, because there is still a long way to go and much work to do.

Why is this so important? Women raise families and thus how they are treated affects the whole of a society. Today, women constitute two-thirds of those living in extreme poverty. Although they form 60% of the world’s working poor, they earn only 10% of the world’s income and own less than 2% of the world’s property. The year 2015 is critical for gender equality and development. Besides being the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action, we hope that the sustainable developments goals will deliver a stand-alone goal on gender equality.

Today, however, I would like to focus on two areas. The first, following on from my noble friend Lady Helic, is the preventing sexual violence in conflict initiative—I declare my interest as a member of the steering board. Conflict is a major driver of inequality, which affects women disproportionately. Today, we live in a very unsafe world, with so many countries experiencing conflict: Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan—as we heard from the noble Baroness, Lady Cox—Libya, Mali, Syria and Yemen, to name but a few. In all these countries, rights for women are pushed back and the women become voiceless. Rape, as we have already heard, is used as a weapon of war, destroying lives and communities. Too often, after the fighting has ceased, sexual violence remains embedded within the society.

The UK is leading a global transformative shift in attitudes to sexual violence. This was always going to take time and needs a consistent, sustained approach capitalising on the momentum built so far. Recent events illustrate the need. Last week, I was in Iraq, where ISIL has abducted and raped thousands of women. There are authenticated reports of the many Yazidi women who have been sold into prostitution in Syria. I heard of one girl who had been sold 21 times. The fall of Ramadi last week created yet more internally displaced, vulnerable people in a country already overflowing with IDPs and refugees, posing enormous dangers for them.

In Iraq, much excellent work is taking place by Her Majesty’s Government, through the diplomatic service, DfID and the military. Many ofthe Iraqi women I met talked about the PSVI. The PSVI was in the Conservative manifesto as a foreign affairs priority, so please can the Minister reassure the House that this remains the case and that it continues to be well-resourced?

Following the international high-profile events last year—the summit in London and events at embassies around the world—the UK is seen as a global leader on this issue. Therefore, what kind of message would it send to the world if, after all the leadership and resources that the UK has invested, we walk away from this now when so many people across the world look to us on this?

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Secondly, the UK leads on the women, peace and security agenda at the UN Security Council. This year is also the 15th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, the ground-breaking resolution on women, peace and security. The UN Security Council is conducting a high-level review to assess progress on its implementation.

The nature of warfare has changed. Today, wars are no longer fought on battlefields; they are fought in communities. It is estimated that civilians make up 90% of deaths, 70% of whom are women and children. As Major General Cammaert, a former UN peacekeeping commander, said:

“It is now more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in modern conflict”.

Over the past 18 months, as a member of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme, I have had the privilege of making a number of visits to our Armed Forces, both here and abroad. I pay enormous tribute to them for their courage, dedication and professionalism. They are truly impressive. Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting some members of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, who are training Peshmerga troops not only in military tactics but in the protection of civilians, including training on sexual violence in conflict. Often, the first person a survivor meets is a soldier, and this training means that soldiers will know how to respond and help them. This is ground-breaking work that reflects the needs of modern warfare and needs to be integrated into the training that we provide to other militaries as well as to our own soldiers. The MoD is starting to make progress on this important agenda. However, much more needs to be done and we need to increase the momentum.

Unlike the majority of NATO members, the MoD lacks a senior dedicated military officer committed to the women, peace and security agenda—a protection of civilians expert. Creating this post would ensure that policy on UN Security Council Resolution 1325 is widely disseminated. Developing doctrine, both stand-alone and threaded across other UK doctrines, would also ensure that the civilian context in today’s warfare is always considered, thus enabling UK soldiers to protect vulnerable groups and include women in post-conflict reconstruction. After all, if our own soldiers are training international military on how to respond to survivors of rape, surely a gender perspective should be included in UK training and operational orders.

To conclude, we have the chance over the next five years in the UK to build on the momentum already created and to make historical strides forward that will benefit millions of women across the world.

2.47 pm

Lord Judd (Lab): My Lords, I am confident that I speak for all my colleagues on this side of the House in saying how much we enjoyed and admired the maiden speech by the noble Baroness, Lady Helic. It was, by any standard, outstanding and augurs well for her contributions in the future.

Women’s issues, world poverty, development, climate change, migration, terrorism and security, economic issues, trade, health and the rest: there can seldom have been a time in human history when it has become

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more clear that the world is totally interdependent. The issues raised in these spheres simply cannot be managed or met within the national context. Interdependence is inescapable and international co-operation is essential. The paradox is that, at the time that this is becoming so evident, people are becoming insecure when faced with globalisation and looking for security in a closer sense of ethnic, cultural and national identity. Indeed, there is a disturbing resurgence of quite aggressive nationalism in too many places in the world. The challenge for political leadership in the world, at this time of all times, is surely about enabling people to find security in their identity and culture, not to deny it, but also generating an understanding throughout society that it is simply impossible for people to consider sustainable development for their children and grandchildren and the future without viable, effective international institutions. This applies to the arguments about the European Union. I shall never forget serving on Sub-Committee F of the European Union Committee when we were dealing with opt-out, listening to expert after expert, people with operating responsibility, telling us in words of one syllable how indispensable and invaluable their co-operation with Europe had become to tackling the job of our own national security.

But it is not simply about Europe; it is about the wider world community. I was very glad that the noble Lord, Lord Hannay—I am almost tempted to say my noble friend Lord Hannay—spoke so powerfully about the importance of the appointment of the next Secretary-General and of ensuring that we have methods and arrangements in place which can secure the best possible appointment for humanity, and about how indispensable it is that the process is transparent. What has happened to the UN over the years is lamentable, because it has in the practical politics and immediate agendas of too many Governments slipped into the position of being a receptacle when no other arrangements have worked. There has been a cynical approach to the UN. For the reasons that I have explained, I think that time for re-emphasis of the importance of the UN is essential. It provides a global authority and a global context for key decision-making. In the context, for example, of intervention for the protection of people, it gives an opportunity for the global, widest possible endorsement of what is being done so that it cannot be pushed into a position in which it is seen as partisan. That is talking about absolute standards. And it is why, when talking about absolute standards, the debate about human rights is so essential.

I have a favourite quotation, which I keep by me, which states:

“Free men and women denounce these vile crimes, and when this world struggle ends with the enthronement of human rights, racial persecution will be ended”.

That was from Winston Churchill in 1942, in the midst of the bitter conflict of the Second World War. He understood that human rights were not a sort of optional extra for a nice kind of society. He understood that they were part of an international struggle for decency and stability. He saw that human rights were going to become a central foundation stone of sustainable, decent, civilised society.

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As a youngster in 1948, I was very privileged to be taken by my father to a conference in which he was involved in Geneva. At that conference, I met Eleanor Roosevelt. I was 13, but I shall never forget the experience: what a powerful woman she was; what an impact on her the war had made. Human rights, again, were not about an effete, nice way of arranging society; for her, they were seen as absolutely essential to the cause of international stability and peace. That is why the European Convention on Human Rights that followed was so important. In our considerations of human rights and European issues, let us please remember that the real importance of the European court is that it demonstrates in the administration of justice that you are not dealing with partial, subjective interpretations of what human rights should be but that you are working for the fulfilment of a shared international ideal and objective of what they should be. If we start undermining the effectiveness and role of the court of human rights, what are the Russians going to do? With all our anxieties at the moment and all the evidence of what is disturbing about Russia today, where will we be when Russia starts saying, “Ah, well, in our interpretation of human rights, these are the standards to which we should be working. Your standards are about Britain”? That is why—the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Coventry brought this out splendidly—we should judge ourselves in terms of the contributions that we are making to strengthening the international collaboration and the international struggle to achieve higher standards. We all have skeletons in the cupboard—none of us is perfect—but in that context what matters is reaching out to what we know society could and should be.

This is what I hope will come out from the review that is about to take place of all our foreign policy and defence. What do we believe in? What do we want to work towards for humanity as a whole? Believe you me, there is no future for our own children unless we are working towards the cause of humanity as a whole, because our children are indivisible from the children of the rest of the world.

One other specific point that I want to mention is on disarmament. Disarmament is not a sort of optional extra when things are going well. In any sane international security policy, in any sane defence policy, disarmament and arms control are a practical and essential part. We have huge responsibilities as a nuclear power. We have huge responsibilities for the effectiveness of the non-proliferation treaty. We must never forget that, as part of originally securing the non-proliferation treaty, the existing nuclear powers gave an undertaking that they would work constructively and consistently for reducing their own nuclear arsenals. There is a major issue of credibility here as we go into the vast expenditure implications for overstretched parts of our security services of a new, regenerated Trident. I am not saying that it is right or wrong—that is not my argument—but there are immense implications for our credibility and leadership in the world if we are saying that we have a responsibility, spelt out solemnly at the time when the treaty was created, to work consistently and positively for the reduction and elimination of our nuclear arsenal.

The new Government face huge challenges, and I believe that a constructive Opposition must help them find the right way forward. However, in helping them

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to find the right way forward, the one issue on which I am certain that we all have to agree is that we are part of an international community, and let us for God’s sake start talking about our role in it—what we want to join, what we want to strengthen internationally—rather than about everything that we want to withdraw from internationally.

2.58 pm

Baroness Ludford (LD): My Lords, I, too, welcome warmly the noble Baroness, Lady Helic. I strongly appreciated her speech and look forward to her work. I was somewhat involved in EU-Bosnia relations as a Member of the European Parliament, including in the successful campaign for visa-free travel for the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina at least to the Schengen zone. I must confess that I am not sure what has happened regarding the UK visa regime.

I shall focus largely on the UK’s role in the European Parliament. The Prime Minister and the Government have taken a huge responsibility upon themselves in their professed ambitions on the linked issues of Europe and human rights. At stake are our United Kingdom and the UK’s position in the European Union. That is very risky and radical for a Conservative and Unionist Party—or “brave” as Sir Humphrey might say.

The Queen’s Speech promises a,

“strong and lasting constitutional settlement”,

and in his introduction to the Queen’s Speech, the Prime Minister said that the intention was to,

“bring every part of our UK together”.

At the same time, the Government envisage very divisive plans such as a possible Brexit and scrapping the Human Rights Act, which provides some of the glue for both our domestic union and our participation in European construction. The union could indeed become unstuck, as my noble friend Lord Alderdice said. The election promises are chickens coming home to roost, and perhaps the sound of flapping in No. 10 is those chickens, but they are putting a lot at stake.

Bedevilling the whole exercise is the fact that these plans stem not from a strategy of national interest, but one of party interest to buy off the revolting Eurosceptics and attract UKIP voters in the election. So the travails of a fractious and divided party are yet again inflicted on the country. The noble Lord, Lord Collins, reminded us that the Labour Party has historically indulged in the same exercise. I wonder whether the Prime Minister will end up using the same term about his Europhobe rebels as his predecessor John Major did. Certainly, the Prime Minister is destined to practise forlorn appeasement, as one commentator in the Financial Times today says.

The Queen’s Speech promises to,

“renegotiate the United Kingdom’s relationship with the European Union and pursue reform of the European Union for the benefit of all member states”.

The problem, as other noble Lords have mentioned, is the tension, and indeed contradiction, between those two goals. To start with, the reference to the UK’s relationship with the EU is odd, as though we were already like Norway, Switzerland or Iceland, or indeed Serbia, Ukraine, Bosnia or Macedonia which

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are not inside. I would have thought that a better phrase would be our position “within” the European Union.

On the substance of the renegotiation, an opt-out from ever closer union is already recognised in practice, and anyway, that phrase is relevant only to the eurozone. That goal will be easily achieved. Ensuring that the rights pertaining to the single market are not prejudiced by eurozone rules is a valid goal, but that has largely been achieved through work under the last Government. The Foreign Secretary this morning confirmed that the Government wanted treaty change, particularly on EU migration and the attached welfare benefits, since apparently government lawyers have advised to this effect. But France and Germany, to name but two, have expressly said that they do not want early treaty change. They have made that crystal clear. So the Foreign Secretary’s threat that the UK will quit the EU unless the Prime Minister’s reforms go through, by which I think he meant renegotiation, is upping the ante in a dangerous and unproductive fashion. It will consume a lot of negative energy and end up by slamming into a brick wall. The best that might be achieved is a declaration about future treaty change, but will that be accepted by the Eurosceptics?

The Conservative Party manifesto refers to having,

“already taken action to return around 100 powers”.

Anoraks such as us will know that this refers to some justice and home affairs measures, ranging from the modest to the minor, because the Liberal Democrats in the last Government ensured, with huge support in this House, that we stayed in the 35 important ones. So it is disingenuous to say that 100 powers have already been repatriated. What exactly are the other things that the Government want to return to the national level? Are we talking about powers, competences or individual measures? It is entirely unclear. Why not work with the legislative reforms pursued by the Commission Vice-President, Mr Timmermans, and work with the grain?

Another thing that is mentioned is the power for Westminster to veto any EU law. That is a non-starter and, indeed, was previously labelled by the Prime Minister as impossible to deliver. National Parliaments should instead make more use of the yellow and orange card system and work in partnership with the European Parliament, and press the European Commission, when it gets that strong signal, to seriously rethink, as it did not on the European public prosecutor. That is an example of where reform is indeed needed.

There are great inconsistencies in the Conservative pronouncements on Europe and the world. The manifesto promises to complete ambitious trade deals, but in the small print acknowledges that these would be EU deals with the US, China India or Japan. Similarly, the Queen’s Speech looks,

“forward to an enhanced partnership with India and China”,

but, again, that partnership will to a large extent be channelled through Brussels.

In contrast to these unilateral measures, pursuing reform on a multilateral basis with our partners and allies could be highly productive and could be based on what turned out to be an excellent balance of competences exercise by the last Government. That

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would be a worthwhile and positive exercise that could get widespread support throughout the European Union. It would be the opposite of what the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, called a zero-sum game. It would give us a leading role in the EU and build on the attempt to make constructive alliances that was undertaken in the last Government, not least under the Europe Minister David Lidington, who I am pleased to say has stayed, as well as the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, in the Foreign Office. I should belatedly also welcome the steady hand of the noble Earl, Lord Howe. The focus should be on strengthening the EU as a whole to cope with all the modern challenges and pressures that we face. As the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, said, the reforms pursued must benefit the whole of the EU, not just be a monument to British exceptionalism.

We will have a chance to go through the mechanics of the Bill, which I have only just received and not had a chance to read yet. I can at least welcome that the proposed question is to be, “Should the UK remain a member of the EU?”, which for a host of reasons is the right question. I am concerned that it seems that the Bill will leave the Minister to make regulations, which was not the case with the referendum on the alternative vote or the Scottish referendum, so we will probably want to look at that. We will also want to examine in great detail the proposed electorate, which is unclear at the moment. I am glad it is proposed that we in this House should get the vote—perhaps that is a good precedent for a vote in the general election—but we need consistency on, for example, votes for 16 year-olds and what will happen to Brits abroad or EU citizens resident in this country.

I have time only to say that I strongly welcome and agree with the remarks of the noble Lords, Lord Anderson of Swansea and Lord Judd, on human rights. It is impossible to be a leading member of the EU while boycotting the human rights system, which is woven into the European framework of peace and security. It would of course upset the devolution settlement. The noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, stressed the impact on our relationship with the Republic of Ireland.

Not only is there no inherent contradiction between our role in the EU and our global role, we can in fact be strong internationally and punch above our weight only if we enjoy the strength in numbers that the EU gives us. I hope that the new Government, unlike their party election manifesto, recognise that fact.

3.09 pm

Lord Williams of Baglan (CB): My Lords, much of the comment in the press on the most gracious Speech as it relates to foreign policy has dwelt on the commitment by the Government to a referendum on our membership of the European Union, but I am pleased that in this debate we have moved over a terrain much greater, covering the Middle East, Asia and Africa, international human rights and the United Nations. My remarks will focus on some of those issues, beginning perhaps with the Middle East.

I was struck by the comment in the gracious Speech that the Government will continue to focus on degrading and ultimately defeating terrorism in the Middle East.

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That is quite an extraordinary remark, coming one week after ISIS captured not one major city in the region, but two—Ramadi, in Iraq, and Palmyra, in Syria—to add to its existing control of Mosul, the second city in Iraq. ISIS now controls about 50% of the territory of Syria, and somewhat less of the territory of Iraq.

Leaving aside the reality of a further deterioration in the situation on the ground, I am struck by how modest our contribution is in the struggle against ISIS. I take very well the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Ashdown, that we should not be looking purely at the military struggle against ISIS. Our contribution is a handful of Tornado jets, now about 25 years old. That compares ill with other countries’ contributions. Australia, for example—a country much further away from the Middle East than we are—is contributing several hundred special forces on the ground, far outweighing the overall British contribution. How can this be, welcome though the Australian contribution is? After all, we are a member of the P5, with a population more than twice the size of Australia’s. Surely we should be shouldering our responsibilities to a greater extent.

What this and other indications underline is a further retreat from what I consider a meaningful and robust foreign policy, consonant with our permanent membership of the Security Council and, indeed, with our past history. The noble Lord, Lord Ashdown, underlined the importance of a political and diplomatic strategy to deal with the deep and profound problems in the Middle East, and I echo that, but I see no sign of that in the most gracious Speech.

Two main issues confront the modern Middle East. One is a vicious sectarianism between Sunni and Shia Muslims that has taken a deep and profound hold on the states of Syria and Iraq and that will be very difficult to remove. Indeed, Syria and Iraq, like Libya in north Africa, are now hollowed-out states bearing no resemblance to what they looked like 20 years ago. The reconstitution of those countries as nation states as we understand that concept is a very distant prospect that is likely to take decades, not years.

The gracious Speech was also striking in that sadly it said nothing about what used to be termed the Middle East peace process—a term that now ill fits the situation in Israel and Palestine. I can think of no point in the last 30 or 40 years when one could have been more pessimistic about the situation on the ground. That is despite the fact that in the leadership of the Palestinian National Authority, Israel has a partner in Abu Mazen— President Mahmoud Abbas—who is probably more moderate than any other Palestinian political leader. He is certainly far more moderate than any Palestinian leader could afford to be after his period in power. Israel should be looking for opportunities to move forward with a peace agreement, and our Government should be supporting that. We need to see more evidence of that, and its absence in the most gracious Speech is striking.

We also see in the most gracious Speech mercantilist attitudes coming to the fore, as in the comment that the Government look forward to an enhanced relationship with India and China. What about Japan? Japan is a

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democracy. There is no mention of that, or of the fact that it is actually the second largest foreign investor in the UK. India, of course, is a great democracy that we admire greatly, and a member of the Commonwealth. China, we need to remind ourselves sometimes, remains a one-party state, governed by the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of China. The economic realities on the ground may be far distant from any concept of Marxist socialism, but the politics remain that of a Marxist party. There is no freedom of expression in China. There is no freedom of religion. Religion is “tolerated”, but it is policed by state entities governed by the Communist Party. When I was in the Foreign Office during the Blair Government, I was actively involved in a human rights dialogue with China. It made very little headway. It continues, and I welcome that, but we also need to recognise some of the realities of contemporary China.

At precisely the same moment when the Government are looking forward to an enhanced relationship with China, Beijing is engaged in an increasingly assertive posture in the South China Sea, with frequent incidents with ASEAN countries but also with the United States keen to maintain freedom of the seas. Only this week, a United States Air Force aircraft was warned by the Chinese that it was approaching their territory and likely to be acted upon if it did not alter its flight path. The likelihood of a serious incident is, in my view, very real. Indeed, I remind the House of the incident over the island of Hainan in 2001, when a US aircraft was forced down and its crew detained for some weeks. That, or something more serious, could happen all too easily in the months and years ahead.

To the outside world, whether Europe, Asia or the United States, we are seen as turning inward. To our most important ally, for the past 75 years we have increasingly been seen to be, to use that very American word, worrisome, whether over the EU referendum, which is seen in Washington as dangerous and incomprehensible, or over a Chancellor petitioning for Arab or Chinese investment as if Britain was a financial haven and not a member of the P5.

I was in Washington last week and met many people from the foreign policy community, but I am sorry to say that many of them raised questions about the direction of this country’s foreign policy. Many of those people are close to the Administration of Barack Obama. Colleagues will perhaps remember the comments made, I believe, two years ago by Phil Gordon, the Assistant Secretary of State, about what he perceived as the lack of wisdom in Britain allowing consideration of a withdrawal from the European Union.

The Government have a major task on their hands in addressing the growing concern in Washington, which has been our closest ally for so many decades, about the direction of British foreign policy. One principal foreign commentator, Fareed Zakaria, wrote an article in the Washington Post on 22 May stating:

“Britain has essentially resigned as a global power”.

That is not an isolated view but one that is taking hold in the US media and in Congress.

I conclude by commenting on the remarkable speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Helic. I was deeply moved by it, partly because I served in the United Nations

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mission to Bosnia and Croatia in the early 1990s. I saw many terrible things during those years. Since then, I have been a prosecution witness in the trials against Milosevic, Karadzic and General Mladic. Some justice has been seen in the International Criminal Tribunal on the former Yugoslavia, but I am struck that we are not going to see justice for the perpetrators of massive human rights violations in Syria and Iraq, whether by ISIS, President Assad or any of the other forces that are fighting there.

I am also struck by the fact that, in conformity with our tradition over the decades and the centuries, we have welcomed the noble Baroness, Lady Helic, as we have other refugees who have come to this country escaping war. I am deeply saddened by the fact that we have welcomed so few Syrian refugees. We have been watching on our television screens what is happening to thousands upon thousands of refugees trying to escape north Africa and come to the shores of Europe. I find it unfathomable—an expression used in Washington—that the United Kingdom has opted out of the agreement to accept 40,000 Syrian refugees. When we compare our figures with those of other countries in Europe, I am afraid that there is little to be proud of.

3.22 pm

The Marquess of Lothian (Con): My Lords, I, too, offer my heartfelt congratulations to my noble friend Lady Helic, who I had the pleasure of working with in 1995 on defence matters and for whom I have tremendous admiration. We heard a great speech from her today.

I would like to ask a question: in a new Parliament with a Government with an overall majority, is it too much to hope that after decades of drift we might at last seek to develop a clear foreign policy strategy to guide us through the turbulent years ahead? There will of course be times when we must simply react to events; we cannot avoid that, but we should remember that in reacting to them we will by definition always be behind the curve. What I look for in a foreign policy strategy is something that keeps us ahead of the curve. To achieve that, we have to honestly learn the lessons of the past.

We should never again undertake military interventions without a clear idea of what we are seeking to achieve, why it is in our national interest to do so, how we will end our involvement, and what we will leave behind. Had these previously been our guidelines, we would have exited Afghanistan some 10 years before we did. We would never have gone into Iraq and Libya, and more recently we would not have started bombing ISIS in Iraq. We have left Afghanistan dangerously unstable—an instability which I now hear China is seeking to mediate. We have left both Iraq and Libya in varying stages of chaos and civil war. As I feared in an earlier debate, bombing ISIS has achieved little except to increase Islamic antipathy towards us, and with it the threat of domestic terrorism.

While we now recognise our error in regarding the so-called Arab spring as an Arab version of events in eastern Europe in 1989 and treating it as such, we have formed no alternative approach to what is fast becoming an Islamic winter. That does not mean that we should

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consider intervention. The danger of ill-considered intervention is that while we may not originally have had a dog in these fights, to use the American expression, by the time we finish we tend to have bred one or two. To add to that confusion, we seem no longer to know who our enemies in the region are. We are tacitly looking for Shia militia support in combating ISIS in Iraq while vocally supporting Saudi bombing Shia militia in Yemen, even though the Houthis are the most effective forces against the considerable threat of al-Qaeda in that country, which indeed poses a direct threat to us here in the United Kingdom.

More broadly, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, I believe that we should have carefully considered Russia’s historical antipathy to western forces along her borders or even within her territory. The extension of NATO to Poland and the Baltic states was inevitable, but we should have been more understanding of Russian unhappiness at it, particularly the proposal to base missiles on Polish soil.

Our immediate and enthusiastic support for the 2008 revolution in Georgia—and even more for the Maidan square protesters in Ukraine last year—inevitably in reaction encouraged Russian popular support for Putin’s otherwise unacceptable aggressive actions, including the annexation of Crimea. With that support he is able to do things that otherwise he might have been prevented from doing. We have, as a result, resurrected shades of the Cold War when we should have had a strategic plan for reaching out to the Russian people as potential partners in a new future. Even now, as feelings on both sides harden further, we still have no strategy to develop a more measured attitude towards Russia. We even seem to have abandoned our old Cold War aim of preventing Russia becoming too close to China. It was interesting that it was the Chinese president who stood alongside Putin at the recent VE Day celebrations in Moscow when we short-sightedly refused to go. Whether these failures were political misjudgements or the results of inadequate official advice is unclear. However, what is clear is that we cannot afford to go on getting it wrong.

Now we are faced with another great threat—potentially the gravest of them all—of major population shifts caused by a mixture of civil conflict, drought, deprivation and persecution, all of which could directly affect our national interests. I see little sign of a real strategy to deal either with the causes or the effects of this threat. I have to say that shooting holes in boats off the Libyan coast is hardly a long-term plan and in any event is a pretty strange response, given that our original involvement in Libya was to protect the people there. We must urgently, and with purpose, develop a realistic strategy for meeting this growing challenge, which will not go away.

Finally, we need to look more closely at our own potential for soft rather than hard power—the pursuit through diplomacy and Special Forces of hearts and minds and not just half-baked military intervention. Within that, we need to build a clear strategy which can place us once again at the centre of the international stage. Above all, for too many years we have not, as we must ensure that resources match military commitments and vice versa. This is not a matter of political choice

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for a Government but one of moral duty, and one in which we have failed for too long and which we must now put right.

3.28 pm

Baroness Crawley (Lab): My Lords, I, too, welcome back the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay to her Foreign Office brief, and I welcome the noble Earl, Lord Howe, to his new roles. Both are highly respected Ministers in this House. I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Helic, on a quite outstanding and moving maiden speech, which took me back to my own brief time in Bosnia in the early 1990s.

I am afraid that there will be a hint of Private Frazer from “Dad’s Army” about my short contribution to our debate on the gracious Speech. It is not really that I think, “We’re all doomed”, but I cannot shake off a certain grumpiness, having had some difficulty three weeks ago in persuading enough of the electorate to vote Labour. When it comes to general elections I am a bad loser, and one of the policy areas on which Labour colleagues and I have lost out is on the rules of engagement for an in/out referendum on our membership of the European Union.

However, three weeks seems to be a very long time in politics. Now that there is something of a cross-party settlement in favour of an EU membership referendum, I ask myself: what will our UKIP colleagues have to do next to stay in the game, especially now that the referendum Bill has been published? Will they have to up the anti-European rhetoric even further? I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, is not in his place. We may well hear calls for all civil servants to come to work wearing Union Jack waistcoats, or for Britain to withdraw from the Eurovision Song Contest—mind you, after our performance last Saturday night, they might have a point.

Meanwhile, it is a sad day as we realise that British foreign policy has been well and truly “Faraged”. Can it really be true that we all now at heart fundamentally agree with the basic UKIP proposition that there is in existence a sound ideological, economic and practical argument against the UK’s membership of the European Union? Has it really come to this?

Let me predict: when the referendum takes place, whatever the wording of the question, whatever the speeches for or against, whatever the content of the pro et contra campaigns, it will not be exclusively about the EU. It will be impossible to isolate the issue in some kind of purified political quarantine: all the grinding axes, the cosmopolitan contrarians, the disaffected voices in the regions and nations, probably all the foxhunters and certainly all those incidentally disappointed by the Government of the day—there will be plenty of those—will get on to the pitch to create an ersatz general election. We, unlike, say, Switzerland, have no tradition of coherent single-issue plebiscites and, my goodness, will it show.

The referendum could actually settle nothing. It could institutionalise and perpetrate a sterile and retrogressive debate. Imagine: what if the no campaign achieved, say, 35% to 45% of the popular vote? Will our anti-EU propagandists retreat back to the saloon bars of provincial England to talk only of golf and Joanna Lumley for the rest of their lives? I think not.

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Here I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, and the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, in wishing for a done-and-dusted settlement. And what if the no campaign achieves, say, 51% of the popular vote? Will the Prime Minister really walk that very day to the Dispatch Box in another place to announce a timetable to formalise the divorce from Brussels? I wonder. Referendums do not always decisively turn the ratchet; they sometimes just drive the car deeper into the ditch—ask all my Labour Party friends in Scotland.

Maybe we can resolve this whole issue today by way of a pub quiz—or a Bishops’ Bar quiz, say. What is the answer to these simple questions: would the leadership of the People’s Republic of China see its vital interests well served by a plebiscite in the UK that repudiates our status as a member state within the EU? Yes, is the short answer. A decoupled Britain and a weakened Europe, neither capable of standing to their full height amid the rapids of globalisation, would be a good day at the office for a Chinese leadership brazenly devoted to worldwide economic hegemony. Would the Scottish National Party like to see the UK vote to exit the EU? Yes, I think is the short answer, for such an outcome would legitimise its otherwise shallow claim that Scotland needs and deserves a separate political destiny now, as the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, warned.

Would the international financial community, all those companies which invest in manufacturing here and all those firms which sell foods, fashions, medicines and motors into the continent from Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester wake up the morning after a no campaign’s success and conclude that the leadership of UK plc had been secretly replaced by dastardly aliens? Yes is the short answer.

At the start of our recent general election campaign—for the month of March, to be precise—Britain’s trade deficit on goods had, according to the Office for National Statistics, risen to more than £10 billion. As we would, I am sure, all agree, this is not a good prospect for our economy which is on offer here. Were there to be a vote in favour of exiting the EU in the near future, do we think—continuing our quiz motif—that this would: (a) help correct the trade deficit, narrow it down to zero or head it in the direction of a surplus; (b) have no impact of any kind; or (c) exacerbate the trade deficit, with consequently increased pressure on sterling? Do we really think that the serious problem of our trade deficit would be positively addressed by a successful no campaign? Of course not.

No one is saying that these are not difficult times for Europe and for us Europeans. The politics of fragmentation and the realities of austerity are all too prominent in Greece, Spain and France, but the centre has to hold. In France, the Front National wants an exit referendum too. People such as Marine Le Pen abominate the whole concept of a solidarity Europe, a place where progressive values are shared and, yes, spread eastwards, and a place where national businesses, big and small, can find their way to millions of consumers who may not actually speak the same language as they do. Is Britain, after all we have been through and all the progress we have made as a society and an economy, really going to throw in its lot with the likes of Madame Le Pen? I very much hope not.

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In conclusion, frankly, whatever the deal the Prime Minister secures in the negotiations now under way, we will all have to compromise to back it and mobilise all our friends, neighbours and colleagues to maximise the yes to Europe vote when the time comes. We need to get a resounding 75% of Britain voting yes for it to be done and dusted. That is the scale of the challenge we have unfortunately brought down on ourselves. In order to achieve that resounding yes vote, we have to convince the British people that their future lies in a Europe that works for them. We are not yet “all doomed”, Private Frazer, but the clock is ticking.

3.38 pm

Lord Hylton (CB): My Lords, I believe I can claim to be the first member of this Parliament to visit, just last week, the canton of Jazira, in what can be called a free Syria. It exists in the far north-east of that country and is one of three mainly Kurdish cantons. These make up what Kurds call Rojava—that is, western Kurdistan. The other two cantons are Kobane, which has already been much in the news, and Afrin, still further to the west. The problem is that ISIS has infiltrated itself up to the Turkish frontier, thus cutting off all three cantons from each other. I suggest that the allied strategy should be to drive ISIS out of the two pockets of land that it occupies, thus reuniting the three cantons. This would help to sever ISIS from Turkey, stopping its flow of recruits and other forms of support.

After crossing the River Tigris, with the approval of the Kurdish Regional Government, I was warmly welcomed by the authorities of Jazira Canton. They provided an escort, transport, an interpreter and comfortable accommodation. I was able to meet members of the elected assembly and of all the political parties, as well as the Executive. I also met young men and women being trained for democratic life and practice, which I found very interesting. I visited a large refugee camp with Yazidi people from around Sinjar and Arabic speakers from Rabia, both of which are across the border in Iraq.

When Assad’s forces and officials fled the north-east of Syria in 2011, the Kurds, as the largest single group, might have seized power. Instead, they decided to create common citizenship with the Assyrians, the Arabs and other smaller minorities. They call this system “self-administration”. It has a constitution providing for the separation of powers and for the ending of capital and corporal punishment, and torture. A social contract has been adopted, strongly proclaiming equality for women.

ISIS has made attacks on Jazira, but these have been held back by the local self-defence forces, who are all unpaid volunteers. The atmosphere in the four towns we visited was peaceful and friendly, despite checkpoints on the main roads. Morale was high and harvests had begun. Sheep and lambs were being exported to Iraqi Kurdistan. I urge Her Majesty’s Government to visit the canton and see for themselves. This can be done quite easily from Irbil.

I have four further suggestions. First, Jazira has a grain surplus. Because of the difficult access, much of last year’s crop is still in store, unsold. Will the Government

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persuade the World Food Programme to buy these cereals, together with a proportion of the 2015 harvest? Secondly, will they persuade the KRG to allow the construction of a second pontoon bridge across the Tigris? The sections for a stronger bridge are already lying idle on the Jazira bank. To do this would double or treble the transit capacity, to the benefit of all. Thirdly, will they examine the state of the oil field, which has some 1,300 wells, only 30 of which are now producing just for local use? The immediate need is for an efficient small refinery to replace very crude methods that cause pollution and involve the flaring of surplus gas. In the longer term, crude oil could be exported via the KRG and Turkey. Fourthly, and perhaps most difficult of all, will the Government seek to persuade Turkey to open its border enough to allow medical and relief supplies to enter all three cantons, perhaps under the supervision of the usual international agencies? This is essential to meet local needs and those of Syrians who have fled the civil war into the cantons. I am providing the Department for International Development with precise details of the medicines needed. I believe that I have met people who would become friends of this country if only we could act effectively to help them. In any case, we should do so for ethical reasons.

As I have a few minutes, I will turn very briefly to our aid budget, now pegged to 0.7% of GNP. DfID seems to have had some difficulty recently in spending this effectively and has had to rely to a large extent on consultants. I therefore recommend that it examines with great care the two cases of Lebanon, where I was in March, and Tunisia, where a British charity of which I am a trustee helped to facilitate the national dialogue which has enabled reasonable political progress to happen. Those two countries, Lebanon and Tunisia, have each taken in more than 1 million refugees—in the first case from Syria and in the second including some migrants from the rest of Africa. As it so happens, one might say that they are also the leading lights of democracy in the Middle East, so I urge that great priority should be given to those two cases.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Con): My Lords, I hope it will be helpful to the House if I suggest that if the House is to rise at about 7.30 pm, it would be extremely helpful if noble Lords who are to speak could spend about seven minutes on their contributions. We will otherwise find that the House has to sit late, which I am sure is not the wish of your Lordships. I would be most grateful for your Lordships’ co-operation.

3.46 pm

Lord Marlesford (Con): My Lords, I shall get going pretty quick. I very much agree with what my noble friend Lord Lothian said. I hope that now we have another five years, we will have a foreign policy so that our influence on international affairs is more perceptive, subtle and creative than it has been in the last five years. We have in this country the history, experience and wisdom—and, as the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, was emphasising, as a P5 member of the Security Council we have the power to make it so.

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I am sure that the greatest challenge to world stability at the moment, and indeed to our own national security, is the deadly threat from political Islam and its Islamist warriors with their weapons of jihad. By “political Islam”, I do not for one moment suggest that the great majority of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims are in any way a threat. Political Islam no more speaks for them than the IRA did for the Catholic people of Ireland. Despite claiming the authority of God for all that they do, in one sense the Islamists are really very secular. Like Marxists, political Islam is convinced that it has the whole and complete answer, and that any other view should be dismissed and indeed suppressed. It therefore rejects not just pluralism and the dialogue that democracy provides but even the nation state.

I want to focus particularly on the present surge in the volume of refugees, which is one consequence of the instability that has developed since the start of the Arab spring, which we and many other countries welcomed when in January 2011 Tunisia’s jasmine revolution overthrew a 23 year-old dictatorship and replaced it with something better. Sadly, that swallow did not herald further good news. Far from a flowering of democracy, we have seen one secular Government after another threatened or replaced with theocracies that epitomise intolerance, are medieval in their cruelty and fascist in their brutality, and seek to designate half the human race as inferior to the other half.

Western naivety in believing that any ruler who does not meet the standards of democracy that we expect should be removed has trapped us in this Sunni/Shia conflict. From this conflict springs the Sunni-based political Islam, which for nearly a century has been manifested mainly by the Muslim Brotherhood founded in 1928 in Egypt.

If the Muslim Brotherhood is the trunk of political Islam, its roots are the extreme Sunni doctrine of Wahhabism, and the various jihadist groups such as al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and the rest are the branches. When, in April last year, apparently to the surprise of western intelligence, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria—ISIS—was formed, it created a canopy for the whole tree of political Islam. ISIS is now a threat to every state in the Middle East, and presently it has a free run. Saudi Arabia is under pressure, both from the ISIS threat to the royal House of Saud and from the Wahhabi clerics by whose consent it rules. The new king, Salman, seems to be relying more rather than less on those clerics.

The UK seems still to look for the removal of the Assad regime in Syria. Does HMG believe that this is inevitable, and if so, are they really prepared to contemplate Syria being run by ISIS? The British Foreign Office line was from the start a serious mistake, which both Russia and Israel recognised. To comment on what the noble Lord, Lord Ashdown, said, it is not so much the lack of diplomacy, but the ill-conceived and ill-informed diplomacy that has been the problem. What is the strategy of the UK towards ISIS? It appears that the US has no strategy at all other than to keep boots off the ground. What the US needs is sound advice.

In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood has taken up arms in Sinai, where it is killing judges in an attempt to neutralise the judiciary. I suggest that HMG invite

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President Sisi, whose country is under attack from Islamist terrorism, to come to Britain to discuss how the West could, perhaps in collaboration with countries such as Egypt and Jordan, deal with the threat.

In recent months, the refugee crisis has been manifested in the Mediterranean by the vast numbers seeking to reach Europe by sea from Libya. Nearly 40,000 boat people have already landed in Italy this year. Rightly, the EU, including the UK, has responded to the tragic drowning of some thousands of these refugees. There is a moral as well as a legal obligation to save those in peril on the sea. However, as under the present arrangements this involves conveying those rescued to Italy, this in practice means offering a safe passage to Europe for all those who embark on the voyage. I do not believe this is sustainable.

The EU quota proposals are not only politically unacceptable to a number of EU states, including the UK, but are not viable under the Schengen arrangements, because those accepted into one country under a quota system can go to another. Indeed, these Commission proposals show how out of touch with its ultimate electorate the EU Commission can be. The quotas would in any case amount only to the tiniest proportion of those waiting to move to Europe. There are already some 4 million refugees from Syria in other parts of the Middle East. There are millions more, including those from African countries—a mixture of asylum seekers, refugees, economic migrants and certainly some Islamist jihadists—ready to take ship from Libya to Europe.

The only way forward is to set up, with a United Nations Security Council resolution, a transit camp in Libya where all would-be migrants could be screened and assessed and to which those rescued at sea could be transferred. Given that Libya is a failing state, it might even be necessary to create a UN protectorate. The cost of all this, including the military requirement to protect and guard the camp, which would involve feeding people and providing healthcare and, for children, education facilities, would have to be paid by the EU. Britain would have to both play and pay its full part, which could come from our well-funded overseas budget. It would of course be far more cost-effective because the resources available would help a far greater number in the camps than those who entered Europe before they were properly assessed.

The growing use of rubber dinghies with outboard motors, with only sufficient fuel to get them to sea and into a disabled and thus in-peril situation, from which they have to be rescued, also poses a more sinister threat. Suicide jihadists could fill a dinghy with explosive, which they could then detonate when alongside a rescue vessel—even HMS “Bulwark” could be at risk.

3.54 pm

Lord St John of Bletso (CB): My Lords, the gracious Speech referred to our Government’s commitment to re-engage with and tackle the major international security, economic and humanitarian challenges, as well as to efforts to degrade and defeat terrorism in the Middle East. Briefly, I will focus my remarks today on some of the key challenges in Africa.

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Fortunately, last year’s Ebola epidemic in west Africa has, in the main, been contained—except for Guinea, which is still struggling. We have also been relieved by the recent presidential election in Nigeria, which went off far more peacefully than everyone anticipated. However, the scourge of terrorism has badly affected Libya, Mali and Somalia. We have also seen horrendous attacks by Boko Haram in the north-eastern region of Nigeria. Despite high expectations after the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi in Libya, negotiations to achieve peace settlements have become harder and harder. Many noble Lords have spoken passionately today about Libya, which has become a melting pot for extremist groups including Ansar al-Shabaab, ISIS, al-Qaeda, LIFG and even Boko Haram, all of which are opposed to the legitimate Government forced into exile in Tobruk. The House of Representatives was meant to be based in Benghazi and the Ministers in Tripoli, but it is simply not safe for any of them to be in Tripoli.

ISIS has succeeded in consolidating control in unstable political environments in the Middle East but has now turned a lot of its attention to Libya, which has become its key focus in Africa. Boko Haram, which means “the movement against education”, has recently modelled itself on ISIS and is even using its flag. Regional Arab states have lost patience with the United Nations’ attempts to broker a peace deal in Libya after almost a year of going nowhere. The European Union’s promises of action have brought only fresh delays. As we are all aware, ISIS has shown itself to be adept in deploying what Joseph Nye calls both hard and soft power. It has proved itself fluent in social media, particularly YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and the production of apps that appeal to radicals. This has provoked the US and its allies and recruited support from outside the Middle East. I have two questions for the Minister who will wind up today’s debate. What support can be given to the Libyan army to counter the extremist militia and ISIS threat? Secondly, in a more global context, what measures are being considered to counter ISIS’s social media campaign? I do not think that much has been done in either of these respects.

Time restricts me from speaking about South Sudan. My noble friend Lady Cox spoke eloquently about the challenges in Sudan. South Sudan currently faces a major humanitarian and refugee crisis, while Riek Machar and his supporters continue to try and destabilise the legitimately elected Government of President Salva Kiir. I was in Juba just a few weeks ago. It would be helpful to get some indication from the noble Baroness as to what our Government are doing with our international partners to restore peace and stability to this young democracy.

I end by briefly making reference to current developments in South Africa and Zimbabwe. As a regular visitor of South Africa and having spent more than 28 years living in the country, I have been deeply alarmed by the recent demise of this great nation. So many of the remarkable achievements of Nelson Mandela in promoting reconciliation, harmony and economic growth have been shattered by the incompetence, mismanagement and lack of accountability of President Jacob Zuma’s Government. Not only has maintenance

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of the national electricity grid and the ailing water distribution system been severely neglected, but corruption has been rife. Recent xenophobic attacks are largely the result of people’s frustration at the failure of the Government to tackle the scourge of unemployment and poverty. This deterioration has been widely criticised by the IMF and former friends of the liberation movement.

In the light of these developments, what strategy do our Government have for boosting trade and investment in line with the binational agreement between our respective countries to double two-way trade by the end of 2015? In the words of that magnificent man Bishop Desmond Tutu:

“Our rainbow nation that so filled the world with hope is being reduced to a grubby shadow of itself … The fabric of the nation is splitting”.

I find this deeply alarming.

In February, I led a private delegation to Zimbabwe. It was my first visit there for many years. While I was pleasantly surprised and encouraged by many of the meetings with Ministers and senior businessmen, the immediate prospects for the economy are extremely bleak. The country desperately needs a clear political and economic road map, entrenching the rule of law and the protection of human rights. Zimbabwe has huge potential and its people hold huge affection for Britain—but without economic growth, the country risks another humanitarian crisis.

The noble Earl in his opening address referred to the success of our aid budget and other programmes enhancing healthcare, improving nutrition and boosting job opportunities and trade in developing countries, as well as assisting in reducing global poverty. I wholeheartedly support our Government’s commitment in this regard and look forward to building on the successes of the past.

4.03 pm

Baroness O'Cathain (Con): My Lords, the gracious Speech states the following:

“My Government will renegotiate the United Kingdom’s relationship with the European Union and pursue reform of the European Union for the benefit of all member states. Alongside this, early legislation will be introduced to provide for an in/out referendum on membership of the European Union before the end of 2017”.

This morning, 11 words hit our screens—the words of that promised referendum question, namely:

“Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?”.

So we are now on the starting blocks. This was a manifesto commitment, and I hope that it will gain cross-party and cross-Bench support during the passage of the Bill in this House and a similar amount of support in the other House.

For the last five years the subject of the EU has been at the forefront of my work in this House, as chairman of the EU Select Committee’s sub-committee dealing with the single market, referred to by my colleague the noble Lord, Lord Kakkar, in his wonderful speech. We have dealt with the single market, employment and infrastructure, and it has been a wonderful experience

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to be involved in the scrutiny of directives, proposals and the super information documents emanating from the EU Commission. The excellent work done by the committee members, the staff of the committee and the overall EU Select Committee make me very conscious that we are privileged with time and resources allocated to the scrutiny of EU measures and our ability to call witnesses to help us through and make us understand in much greater detail what the EU is all about, how it works and how it is fundamental to our future. There is also a serious issue of getting agreement to make changes which are not solely for the benefit of the UK but which would benefit all member states and make the EU more relevant to the wider world.

I only wish that the general public and all Members of Parliament could have such a wide breadth of knowledge as we have gained and been given. I say this because I fear there is an abundance of wrong information being repeated day after day in all branches of the media, and the chattering classes are not the only ones who get the wrong end of the stick. Mark Twain got his statement only half right when he said that those that do not engage in informed debate are uninformed and those that do are misinformed. I passionately believe that we must have a serious informed debate, and not just for politicians.

Before any date for this referendum is fixed, it is surely our duty to ensure that the voting public are clued up about the EU and the advantages of being a member. This is particularly important to the youth of this country. After all, it is their future we are proposing to change radically or sensibly. We certainly need all the time between now and 2017 rather than the suggestion by the noble Lord, Lord Triesman, that the referendum should be done and dusted in 2016.

The facts about the EU should be just as well known as any subject on the school curriculum. The problem is that the EU is boring to most people. Who wants to begin to understand economics? I say that as an economist. Who wants to delve into comparisons between growth rates in the UK and its position in the league tables of the other 27 members? Indeed, if I were uninformed, I would give up in despair that the so-called facts about our GDP that sent us into a temporary depression just a short time before polling day 21 days ago were revised upwards two days ago. Yes, I am aware of all the reasons, but does it encourage people to get more involved?

Reports on developments in Brussels are full of acronyms. Just look at one of our Select Committee reports. Each one will invariably have a page of acronyms at the back, and sometimes more than one page. Useful information produced to help us understand is almost always extremely turgid. I believe it is the complete antidote to insomnia. Is there any chance of encouraging the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 or the rest to set their most creative producers the task of dreaming up an informative, attractive, exciting format comparable to “Top Gear”, not on car crashes, but on how the EU started and why? The UK has such a good story—once we were able to convince the French that we needed to be a member, we were instrumental in transforming the whole continent in 1989, which is again a great story of UK involvement. Members of the EU need

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us and tell us that they need us—just visit the Baltic—and we have been at the forefront of giving a good example, endeavouring to encourage erstwhile undemocratic states with questionable judicial systems and precious little freedom of religion, speech or thought to be members of a group of nations which trade, exchange students, learn new ways of doing things and benefit from co-operating in research and development, in effect making the EU and the world a better place.

Like everything we do, say or wish for, there are always problems and/or misunderstandings, but mostly these can be ironed out by strengthening still further the links we have with all member states. What is quite extraordinary is the respect the UK engenders in the EU. We sometimes forget that although we are a relatively small country with less than 1% of the world’s population, our influence throughout the world is huge. In so many areas we are envied, not least for our system of government, the Civil Service and the judicial system, and we are admired for our universities and our culture: our literature, film, music performances and composition, visual arts and architecture. I admit that I am sometimes taken aback by the breadth of it all. To recognise the magnificence of our prowess in architecture, just go to Millau in France.

The UK has always been at the forefront of helping others, and we can certainly help some of the less fortunate states in the EU. By doing so we can help the whole, and at the same time increase our security. The UK was not part of the original European Coal and Steel Community, which led to the Common Market, but now so many want us to stay, and are very anxious about what would happen if we left. The EU was the germ of an idea of Winston Churchill, whose dream, or so we are told, was that there should never be another war on the landmass of Europe, such was the impact the horrors of two world wars had on him. Our current relationship with the EU does not work anything like it should, or could, and it needs to be changed. The problems have to be sorted out. The Prime Minister has already got to grips with that, and civil servants have produced major studies of competencies. We need to convince the other member states of the validity of our case for some change.

There is also a serious malaise in some countries whose accession we supported, which are having a very difficult time. A recent publication by the Henry Jackson Society, entitled The State of Democracy After 25 Years: Lessons from Central and Eastern Europe, details how the euphoria following the 1989 revolutions has been dissipated by the global financial crisis of 2008 and the effects are still with us. It gives chapter and verse about how the EU member states of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia have rolled back on the progress made since their accession. That is worrying, not only for the countries involved but for the security of Europe as a whole. Corruption, abuse of power, attacks on the media and increasing links with authoritarian regimes are all part of a backward slide in democracy. The EU as a whole needs to help that situation, and needs to help with the concerns in the Baltics. In fact, it needs the UK and other member states to settle unfair and unjust problems between them and ensure that Winston Churchill’s dream is fulfilled.

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To sum up, we have a future in the EU, and the 11 words we heard this morning are clear and concise. We now need a full-scale campaign to ensure that by the time the referendum takes place there will be a wider and deeper level of knowledge about the EU which will eliminate all misinformation. It is so important.

4.12 pm

Lord Davies of Stamford (Lab): My Lords, I will make three introductory remarks and will then say a word about the EU referendum, which has been much discussed today, and about Greece, which has not been mentioned at all.

First, the maiden speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Helic, was absolutely brilliant—one of the best I have heard in three decades in either House—and I congratulate her most warmly. Secondly, all of us throughout the House were delighted to hear of the reconfirmation in her role of the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay. She picked up her very complicated brief very impressively in an extraordinarily rapid time in the last Parliament, and has always displayed the greatest conscientiousness and courtesy in her dealings with every Member of the House, which is deeply appreciated. Thirdly, I second the proposals of the noble Lord, Lord Howell, to set up a permanent international affairs committee in this House. That has of course already been welcomed on all sides of the House.

I think that all of us on this side of the House recognise that the Government have a mandate to go ahead with an EU referendum. Personally, I hope that it can be concluded as quickly as possible: first, to reduce to a minimum the economically damaging uncertainty before it takes place, and secondly, to ensure that if we remain in the Union we can have an effective presidency in 2017, which we certainly would not be able to have if we were conducting a referendum campaign at the same time. However, no one will be under any illusion—and certainly not our negotiating partners on the continent—that the whole of the Government’s policy on this matter is not based on a series of contradictions and self-delusions.

The first contradiction is that the Government are acting in the national interest—they purport to do that—but as we know, the Prime Minister’s policy is just being driven by internal party-political considerations. That is why he changed his mind so dramatically on the referendum in the last Parliament. The Government have conducted a very useful exercise, the balance of competences review, which shows that there is no case at all for a renegotiation. All that is required is a normal pragmatic evolution of the European Union, which in my view would be the most desirable solution.

Secondly, there is a fundamental contradiction, in that the aim is clearly to appease the Eurosceptics. But of course the Eurosceptics cannot be appeased by anything other than our withdrawal from the European Union, and, in my view, the dissolution of the European Union itself will be required to satisfy them. So we are engaged in an exercise which cannot succeed in its intended purpose. The conclusions regarding the tactics to be adopted towards the Eurosceptics as a result of that are obvious, and certainly not the tactics that

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John Major adopted so disastrously for himself and his party, of which I was then fortunately, or unfortunately, a member.

Thirdly, the most serious contradiction in my view is that the Government say they are embarked on a course designed to change the treaty. However, you cannot negotiate a change in the treaty with other Heads of Government or State or with the President of the European Commission or the European Council for the simple reason that more and more countries have established that there has to be a referendum if there is a change in the treaty. We cannot complain about that. We did the same ourselves under the Europe Act, which I opposed in the previous Parliament.

Nor can you negotiate with an electorate, and you cannot even predict how an electorate are going to react to a negotiation. Surely we all know that. You cannot rely on the opinion polls, as we also know. It is more than likely that even the countries which geographically, politically and psychologically are quite close to us, such as Ireland and Denmark, will react very badly to being told that they have to go to the polls to revise a treaty—it is their treaty as much as ours—simply to help the British Prime Minister with a party-political problem of his own. Therefore, the prospects are not quite as easy or as bright as the Government often say they are.

My advice to the Government is simply, first, to abandon any idea of changing the treaty. In any case, the substantive objective that they have in that context—to get rid of freedom of movement—is the wrong one. Freedom of movement is an enormous asset to this country, as well as to every other member state and citizen of the Union. There are just about as many British people living on the continent elsewhere in the EU as there are EU citizens living here. Hundreds of thousands of young people are benefiting from the Erasmus programme and the educational exchanges. We will begin to regret all these things just a day or two after we abandon them, and we will not be able to get them back. It is a crazy policy.

I have no objection to extending the period of transition for future member states before they qualify for freedom of movement and I have no objection to making it impossible for people to claim out-of-work benefits when they come from other member states and do not have a job in this country, but I do not believe for a moment that you can deny them in-work benefits. You cannot have a situation in which people pay taxes and national insurance contributions alongside other workers in the same workplace but do not get the benefits. That is a sort of apartheid in the workplace, which would be utterly obnoxious to anybody in this country who believes in our traditions of fairness and equity, so it is quite the wrong road to go down.

I think that the Government should concentrate on positive things: completing the single market, getting a proper services directive, establishing a capital markets union—of which of course we must be a part—and getting a proper energy policy. There are lots of good objectives of that kind.

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I want to say a few words about Greece. It is said that Greece may be about to default. In my view, that is very likely. It is said that that would be a great and devastating blow—some would say a fatal blow—to the European Union or to the eurozone. I do not believe anything of the kind. Greece is entirely the architect of its own misfortunes. The malaise or curse from which it has suffered is, ironically enough, a curse which was first defined and given a name by Greeks: demagogy. You can read about it in Thucydides—it is all there; it has all happened before. Plato’s The Republic and Aristotle’s Politics are very different works and propose very different solutions but they are both inspired to a large extent by the need to combat the effects of demagogy in 5th-century Athens, as we all recall.

Demagogy consists of politicians offering unrealisable, irresponsible and incompatible policies, and that is exactly what has happened in Greece, although not just in Greece. A lot of people in Latin America have suffered from it, as Argentina currently does. A Government come to power and promise the earth, and then run up debts, which creates a crisis. The crisis then has its own costs. Somebody else comes to power saying, “Don’t worry about the costs. We have a magic solution here. You don’t have to pay for the costs or have any austerity. It’s all going to be fine. Vote for us”. That is exactly what has happened in Greece, and Syriza is a very bad example of the original Greek phenomenon of demagogy.

The bailout programme provided a wonderful opportunity for Greece to address some of its fundamental structural problems, such as overemployment in the public sector and excessive protection in the labour market. Greece was coming through that programme very effectively, as Spain, Portugal and the Republic of Ireland are doing at present. Spain is, I think, the country which is growing fastest in the European Union as we speak. Greece began to grow again last year and unemployment began to fall. Just at that vital moment, Syriza came to power and said. “Don’t worry about all this austerity, vote for us and everything will be fine”. Well, if it were to be fine simply because everybody else signed a cheque for Greece, it would establish the most appalling precedent. That would be a disaster for the European Union. It would be a most perverse action by the European Union, creating negative incentives and a moral hazard that could be extraordinarily damaging to the future of the European Union.

As we know, what actually will happen if Greece defaults is that the ECB will no longer be able to provide liquidity support for Greek banks. As a result, the Greek Government will have to support their banks. They cannot do that in euros—they will not have any and they cannot borrow any—and so will have to impose capital controls and go back to a sort of drachma mark 2. It is almost inconceivable that any sane person in Greece still has an account in Greece in euros, but of course it will always be the small people—the poorer, less sophisticated people—who suffer from these things. Those are the people Syriza, quite dishonestly, pretends that it is trying to support. The Greek Government, if they go on wanting to spend more money and running a primary deficit, as they do, will not be able to borrow that money from anybody in

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Greece, or outside, and will be monetising their deficit. Therefore, Greece faces the prospect of serious inflation, perhaps hyperinflation, and economic crisis. That will not be the case for the rest of the European Union and I do not believe that there is much of a systemic risk. The exposure of other banks in the EU to Greece is only just over €30 billion and much of that is already provided for. Of course the stress tests which the ECB undertook last year took account of the possibility of a Greek failure. If that comes about, it will be the fault of the Greeks alone. The lesson that will be drawn from it will probably be a very salutary one for all concerned.

4.21 pm

Lord Maclennan of Rogart (LD): My Lords, we just heard a very forceful speech, all of which I profoundly agree with. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Davies, for focusing on the European Union, which is, it seems to me, the centre of the debate today. Others have talked about the fallout in the Middle East and the disruption of Africa by extremists. All that is true, but if Britain is going to play a significant role in dealing with these problems, I believe that we have to be part of a strong Europe that can talk to itself about these issues, address the priorities and focus on these global issues. The European Union has the capacity to do that. It is falling apart, in some respects, at the moment, and that is partly because we in this country are taking on 27 members and not addressing the problems of the Union together in a concentrated way. It is inevitable that one against 27 will stimulate opposition. I believe that that is the wrong approach to reforming the European Union.

There used to be a Council of Ministers dealing with the single market. That has passed by, which is, unfortunately, a weakness. The service sector in particular needs attention if we are to see the 70% of the EU economy integrated into the Common Market. The service sector is the area where deepening the single market would deliver the largest gains. We lag behind the United States in that respect and it should be the focus of our Ministers.

There should also be regular meetings between the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament to discern and agree what should be the work programme of the Union. It is not the best way to do things to bat things across the net and to have each body feeling that it can bash out a policy of its own. There should also be an assessment of the impact of rule-making, which should be independent of the Commission. There are commercial bodies that the Council could agree to appoint to assess the impact of the measures being proposed.

The question of subsidiarity also causes anxiety. The Union has in many respects overlegislated, interfering in too pernickety a way with the trade of individual countries. There is a case for national parliaments having an institution in the Union in Brussels so that they are heard before the Union carries its initiation of policy too far. The national parliaments have a good record on showing their appraisals of these things. This country, particularly the House of Lords committee on which I have served and its sub-committees, has shown very effectively how best to analyse what is

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happening. The yellow-card proposal has not worked as yet. It would seem to me that if a third of the countries were to produce a yellow card it ought to stop the European Union in its tracks.

Some of the criticisms of the Union are made by those who suspect corruption and ill-directed use of budgetary funds. That could be better overseen by the public auditors. They have a record of producing their reactions too slowly. It takes up to two years sometimes, by which time the issue has flown away. That needs to be addressed.

As far as the European Union’s external policies are concerned, it was a great step forward to create the European External Action Service, but it needs to be more integrated domestically and with the Commission. The budget for the External Action Service is not, I believe, big enough. We should look at that because it could be the agency that enables the Union to take stronger action in the global problems that face us.

Finally, if we are to satisfy Britain’s requirements, we need to acknowledge that that the eurozone and those members not in the eurozone need to be working closer together. We need to have observers in eurozone meetings so that if the market might be damaged by proposed decisions, that danger can be raised as early as possible.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: I seek to be helpful again to your Lordships, but we are reaching a point where we will rise particularly late. Many contributions are well served if they are succinct. I hope that noble Lords will forgive me for interrupting again.

4.31 pm

Lord Crisp (CB): My Lords, I will use my few minutes to speak about international development. International development is, of course, intimately linked with foreign policy and is fundamentally about the UK’s place in the world and how it is perceived by other Governments and other peoples.

In what has been already described many times as a divided and dangerous world, the UK’s commitment to development is a force for unity and security. Those of us who travel in the poorer parts of Asia and Africa—and there are many in your Lordships’ House who do—know how well the UK and DfID are thought of by many people in those countries, so I first congratulate the Government on their continuing support for development. This is not just about money, although 0.7% sends a very powerful message of support, but about the golden thread that the Prime Minister has referred to of supporting civil society, commerce, the rule of law and so on. It is also about the fact that the UK operates with a degree more flexibility than other large donors—more as a partner while of course keeping proper processes in place.

This flexibility and sense of partnership are vital for the future and need to be further developed. This is happening in a world where power is shifting and to some extent splintering, as so many noble Lords have already said. New approaches are being developed that are more equal, less top-down, less about richer countries imposing solutions—less, if you like, of the West knows best and more about supporting local

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leaders, local ideas and local innovation, some of which we ourselves can learn from. We are moving towards a time of greater co-development beyond simple aid. As we help to strengthen other countries, we can also strengthen our own.

International development is not the only area where the UK plays this enormously positive and healing role in the world. The arts, science and sports are other obvious areas. I was very struck by the report on soft power produced under the leadership of the noble Lord, Lord Howell, with its analysis of the UK’s strength and its vision for the country as becoming the best networked country, with relationships in all parts of the world. That report rather underplayed the UK’s role in health. Depending on exactly how you calculate it, health is now the biggest industry in the world and the UK plays a massive global role. This is one area where the UK is truly a global power.

The APPG on Global Health, which I co-chaired in the last Parliament, commissioned an exercise to match the UK’s contribution to health globally across the four sectors of commerce, government, academia and the not-for-profit and philanthropy sector. It found, as you might expect, that the UK has a major impact in all sectors, overall coming second only to the US in impact, and doing better than the US in some areas. We will publish the report in a month’s time, with recommendations for maintaining and developing that role. My question to the noble Baroness is very simple: do Her Majesty’s Government recognise the importance of health being part of foreign policy, and what will they do to make it more prominently so?

Let me finish by returning to international development. The sustainable development goals, which we believe will be agreed in New York later this year, will be another force for unity and peace in the world. I want to make three simple points about them. First, during the process of developing them over the last three years, the great statement was that they should “leave no one behind”. I believe that needs to be absolutely central to everything that happens around the SDGs, and that the UK, like others, must ensure that this is not just a nice and pious statement. That means suggesting and ensuring that all the appropriate indicators are identified and measured, so that we have disaggregated data.

The problem is real. Who are the people who get left behind? They are the people you would expect: people with disabilities; women, often; ethnic and cultural minorities; rural populations. For the UK, meeting this commitment also means maintaining the recently launched and very welcome disability framework for UK aid, which has once again put the UK in a leading position globally.

Alongside that principle of leaving nobody behind, I hope and trust that the UK will strongly support the development of universal healthcare and universal health coverage around the world, helping countries to create their plans for doing so. That brings with it the recognition that it will involve a massive increase in the number of health workers needed globally. The UK has an extraordinarily good track record in the education and training of staff, and it could play an even greater part globally in that regard.

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Finally, and much more specifically, I turn to a topic in respect of which I ought to declare an interest as the chair of Sightsavers. I request that the Government maintain and enhance the investment they have already made in the elimination of neglected tropical diseases. There is still an enormously long way to go. We have seen around the world many examples of diseases almost being eliminated, only to return because we did not go the last mile. It is fantastically important that we keep up that process. It is also one of the most cost-effective of all health interventions, dealing with diseases that afflict the poorest people. It is an area where the UK plays one of the leading roles in the world; its scientists, as well as its health workers, are making real change happen.

4.37 pm

Lord Sterling of Plaistow (Con): My Lords, first, may I say how fortunate we are in having my noble friend Lady Anelay in the Foreign Office? From my experience over many years, which has been totally international, the Foreign Office is a key instrument of government, one of the most powerful institutions we have had through history, and probably one of the finest to represent and to exercise soft power. It is in the best interests of this country that its budget should be increased and not cut to shreds, as has happened in the past few years. It does a superb job internationally.

Given the time of day, one ends up covering quite a lot of things that other people have covered, but I want to come back to the gracious Speech. It states that,

“my Government will continue to play a leading role in global affairs, using their presence all over the world to re-engage”.

There has been a lot of talk today about what our foreign policy is. We have a foreign policy—it was clearly stated five years ago—and it was against that background that the defence review took place. However, the word “re-engage” is very true. I travel a great deal and meet a lot of people internationally, mainly because of the business interests that I am still heavily involved in, such as worldwide shipping.

We are sadly very diminished in world terms. What is more, for the first time people reckon that we have diminished ourselves; it is not that others have done it for us. Wherever I go, whether to the United States, China, India, Australia and so on, there is a feeling that somehow or other we are opting out. Frankly, given that my interests over all my working life have been totally international, I find that pretty sad because in practice, wherever I travel, people still look to us as a country for—to use an old-fashioned term—moral leadership, while a huge number of small countries look to us for help and advice.

I was obviously pleased when the Prime Minister announced that he was going to re-engage, and having been in business, I take it for granted that having a strong balance sheet is hugely important, so the Chancellor ensuring a strong balance sheet for this country is an absolute prerequisite. I look at this internationally, and have spent quite a lot of time in Russia. One reason that the Russians well nigh hate the United States of America is due to its extremely powerful

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economy and hard power. They have to respect that and they know that they would be defeated if they went up against the US.

What I really want to comment on today is the defence side. Perhaps I may give a little background. Two or three weeks ago I went to the commemorations of the liberation of the concentration camp at Belsen. The atrocities committed there were just unbelievable; we all know that. But what many do not know much about was that when we liberated Belsen, it was the Royal Medical Corps of the Army that went in to try to help save as many people as they could. A lot of people are not aware that many young nurses, doctors and volunteers went over there to work, risking typhus and goodness knows what else. Many of them died, but they looked after the survivors in that camp right the way through. I give that as an example of how through hard power you can also exercise soft power, and that is what I want to talk about a little further.

I have had a lot to do with the armed services ever since the Falklands War when many P&O ships went with the fleet. No one knows better what happened there than my friend, Admiral West—the noble Lord, Lord West of Spithead. Also, through Motability we look after the mobility needs of all the veterans and those who were wounded—some 17,000 of them right up to this day.

There are huge economic benefits in hard power. Defence and national security were ignored in the general election campaign. The subjects were hardly mentioned in the TV debates and got no serious attention in the manifestos of the main parties. Has the world suddenly become a quiet and peaceful place, full of people who love Britain? Are we free of threats and risks? Have ISIS and all the other forms of militant Islam disappeared? As Con Coughlin stated only recently in the Daily Telegraph, ISIS is probably our biggest single risk in the near future. Has Vladimir Putin given up his plans to assert Russian power in Ukraine and beyond? Have the state sponsors of cyberattacks stopped trying to penetrate corporate secrets and personal privacy? The reality is that the threats we face have escalated greatly over the past five years while the UK has been reducing its troop numbers and spending on equipment. This has left the brave people who volunteer to fight for this country short of crucial supplies. It has also left Britain in the rather ridiculous position of having aircraft carriers with very few aircraft ordered for them.

I fear that this dangerous situation is about to get worse. The new review of defence spending has already begun and I am afraid that there will be further cuts even though our defence forces are already very hollowed out. Some areas such as overseas aid are protected whatever happens. The National Health Service has been given a blank cheque. However, bizarrely, defence—one of the most fundamental responsibilities of any Government, which has been mentioned several times today—has no such protection. Even the commitment last year to our NATO allies to spend 2% of GDP has been dropped. I know that there are ways in which that 2% of GDP can be demonstrated, but it is not a fact, and it certainly will not be by the end of this review.

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I believe that in a dangerous world we need more defence, not less, and that our Armed Forces deserve the best available technology with which to fight. Trident is essential, and I strongly support its retention. But the issue is much wider. Hard power—the combination of cutting-edge technology and great human skills—is key. It is a great deterrent to our enemies that we will fight them when necessary. But hard power also helps to protect our interests in other ways, such as taking aid, as we did using HMS “Argus”, to west Africa, and helping the international effort to break the evil trade in people trafficking across the Mediterranean. As many noble Lords know, without world skills in cybersecurity, London would not have been able to host the Olympic Games.

Hard power cannot be maintained without a strong UK industrial base. It might be cheaper to buy everything from foreign suppliers but our interests might not always coincide with theirs. Some might want to keep the best technology for themselves. The idea that in the crucial science of cryptography Britain should put its security in the hands of others is laughable. No other serious country would believe in that. Professor Nick Butler and I commissioned a report from experts at King’s College London which makes it very clear that defence spending creates wealth for the country, good jobs and skills. Indeed, some of our finest brain power is involved in our defence industries and allied universities, apart from the huge spin-offs which benefit the whole economy.

One would have thought that with a general election there would have been much more debate on these issues, but sadly there was not. The British people deserve to be fully in the picture on national security matters, which after all also make an indispensible contribution to our prosperity and strength in the world. Politicians of all parties should confront these issues and tell us where they stand. We have some wonderful people. The armed services are all about people and morale. I shall finish by saying that many in this House have sons and grandsons in the armed services. If I had one going into battle, putting his life on the line on our behalf, I should like to feel that he had the best technology that the world can provide to give him the chance to survive.

4.47 pm

Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde (Lab): My Lords, in the reduced time available I shall concentrate my remarks on the defence aspects of the gracious Speech. It would be remiss of me as chairman of the Back-Bench Armed Forces defence study group in the House if I did not register our sincere thanks for the work that the noble Lord, Lord Astor, and the coalition Government have done over the last five years. The noble Lord made sure that all noble Lords across the House were kept up to date and briefed, and had meetings. We very much appreciated the way in which he approached his work. We are delighted that his replacement is the noble Earl, Lord Howe, who carries much respect in this Chamber, and has the broad shoulders that he will need in the forthcoming debates about the strategic defence and security review.

I want to concentrate my remarks on that. In 2010, the review took place, and it was generally, but perhaps

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not unanimously, agreed that it was superficial, cost-related—the costs had almost been decided before the review was conducted—and that the outcome was less than satisfactory. You can look at morale in a company to see how it is doing. For the first time I can remember, in the last couple of years we have seen the Armed Forces’ Pay Review Body’s annual report refer to the diminished morale among the Armed Forces. We depend on those personnel for our defence policy. Of course equipment is important, but it is the young men and women, and their families who support them, to whom we have to pay due attention. I hope that that will be a priority for discussion in this review.

The noble Earl, Lord Howe, mentioned that the work would be done and the report will be presented. I hope that that is not the process. I would welcome comment on that when the Minister winds up the debate. That was one of the problems last time: it was done in a hurry and there was not much external input into the report. The report was drawn up at a time when no one had any idea or expectation that we would have such incidents as Syria, Ukraine, Libya and the almost daily flying right up against our borders by Russian military planes. It is not an incursion of our air and sea borders, but they fly right up against them.

The noble Earl said that we live in an insecure world. He is absolutely right. I do not agree with people who think that we should just look inwardly. In this changing world, our internal security depends so much on what is happening outside our borders. So the strategic defence and security review is very important. It was the penultimate paragraph in the gracious Speech; I just hope that they were not listed in order of priority. I would have some concern if they were, but I choose not to think that. We will debate this issue and we need to look at how that 2010 review worked out. Quite apart from the additional operations, we had a reduction in our full-time service personnel, who were to be replaced by the reserves. That has not worked: we have not recruited the numbers that we were told we would.

There are two other promises that the Prime Minister may perhaps be forgiven for thinking, when he made them, that he would not be in the position he is in today. The first was during the NATO conference, where he urged all nations to spend 2% of GDP on their defence budget. There is a difference of opinion over whether we find and pay 2%. I do not believe that we do. I would like to be proved wrong, but that is something we need to address. It is no good urging other nations to do it if we do not.

The other promise that I would welcome comment on is this. When the very cutting 2010 review took place, part of the deal—I am a trade union negotiator so I can use only the word “deal”—between the MoD political people and the Chiefs of Staff was, “If you can deliver this successfully, I, the Prime Minister, tell you that come 2015 you will see a real increase in the defence budget and spending”: in other words, with the new Government. The Prime Minister, in the position that he is in and as the person who made them, now really needs to deliver those two promises. That is something on which we will hold the Government

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to account. If the Government assert that they are spending 2%, they need to establish that they are; we would like to see the figures.

I look forward to the debates that we will have and I certainly look forward to the noble Earl, Lord Howe, leading on behalf of the Government, so ably supported by the noble Lord, Lord Ashton of Hyde, who, until he was taken into government, was the secretary of our defence group.

4.53 pm

Lord Avebury (LD): My Lords, in September 2014, President Obama said:

“We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy”.

Those words were echoed in the gracious Speech, except that apparently we think that this is a phenomenon that is confined to the Middle East. In fact, the objectives of the terrorists are of a global nature, as I shall attempt to show.

On 19 March, the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, said that the strategy for clearing the Daesh out of Syria and Iraq was to provide military support to the Iraqi forces fighting the terrorists. This policy is now in ruins, with the ignominious defeat and expulsion of government forces from Ramadi, following a similar exercise in Mosul. US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has said that the Iraqi army has lost the “will to fight” but it would be more accurate to say that it never had the will. Only the Shia militias are capable of preventing the terrorists occupying Baghdad, let alone recovering Anbar province. They and the Kurdish Peshmerga are the effective military opposition to the Daesh on the ground in Iraq.

In Syria, as my noble friend Lord Alderdice has said, we cannot make up our minds whether the priority is to get rid of Assad or to eliminate the Daesh. The Kurdish YPG beat off a determined attack by the Daesh against the city of Kobane and has emerged as the only plausible ally for the US-led coalition. Is the UK helping YPG operations with military supplies and logistics, and what are our ultimate goals in Syria? The public need to know where we are going and that means not only with the military operations but also with the countermessaging strategy on which the noble Baroness said we are chairing a subgroup with the UAE and the US. It would be interesting to know a little more about what that subgroup has been doing.

The ideology of the Daesh is metastasising to other Islamic countries. Leaders of the Pakistan Taliban have pledged allegiance to the Daesh, and other Pakistani terrorist groups, which carry on relentless campaigns of murder and massacre against Shia Muslims and other religious minorities, including Christians, are dedicated to programmes of religious hatred and cleansing.

President Ashraf Ghani warned of impending terrorism by Daesh in Afghanistan in March, and sure enough, Shahidullah Shahid, claiming to be a spokesman for the group, said that it was responsible for a suicide bomb in Jalalabad on 18 April which killed 33 people and injured more than 100, many of them children. Most of the followers of the Taliban in both Pakistan and Afghanistan will switch to the Daesh, which has said that the two countries form part of its caliphate.

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In Nigeria, Boko Haram is reported to have declared allegiance to the Daesh, as the noble Lord, Lord St John, mentioned. In Libya, Daesh militants took over the cities of Derna and Sirte and are terrorising the local populations with summary executions and public floggings. They executed 21 Egyptian Copts in Sirte. Forces of the Government in eastern Libya under General Khalifa Haftar are said to be preparing a counterattack, but with no end to the civil war between the two halves of the country, the outlook is grim. I would like to know what the Government are doing to try to bring the two Governments together so that they can at least stop fighting each other and concentrate on the threat from the Daesh.

In Egypt, the local affiliate of the Daesh claimed responsibility on 3 April for deadly attacks on army checkpoints in the Sinai peninsula that killed 15 soldiers and two civilians. It has called on its followers to kill judges and court officials in retaliation for sentences passed on terrorists for offences in Sinai. As the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, mentioned, three judges were shot dead in El Arish in northern Sinai on 16 May.

In March, the Daesh bombed a Zaidi mosque in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, killing 137 people and wounding 350 at Friday prayers. Then, in April, it posted a video online of the execution of 15 Yemeni soldiers, and last Friday it bombed another mosque in Sanaa, wounding 13 people. The Saudi-led military coalition against the Houthis is weakening the only force that might prevent the establishment of a Daesh territorial base in Yemen. The noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, drew attention to the incompatibility of the Saudi coalition’s activities with those of the 80-nation coalition led by the United States, of which Saudi Arabia is a nominal member.

Last Friday, a Daesh suicide bomber blew himself up in a Shia mosque in eastern Saudi Arabia, killing at least 21 people and injuring more than 80 at prayer. The so-called caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, recorded an audio message calling on his Saudi followers to attack Shia targets, but the Daesh has a particular hatred for the Shia in every country.

Paradoxically, the Wahhabism of Saudi Arabia is similar to the theology of the Daesh, which in fact uses Saudi textbooks on Islam in its schools. The difference between them is political rather than theological because of the Daesh claim that its caliph has jurisdiction over the whole of the ummah and its practice of killing infidels in territory under its jurisdiction who refuse to convert to its particular version of Islam. Clearly, Islamist terrorists all over the world, including thousands here in Britain, see advantages in being part of a movement that is dedicated to the universal reign of Salafist Islam and sharia jurisprudence through conversion or conquest. An intermediate stage based on the maximum extent of Islamic rule in the Middle East, Spain, the Balkans, north Africa and south and central Asia makes it seem plausible, and that is the intermediate plan of the Daesh.

I agree with my noble friends Lord Ashdown and Lord Alderdice that whatever our differences with Russia on Ukraine and with Iran on nuclear development, we need the co-operation of these states on a new diplomatic initiative against the terrorists. Perhaps

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when the noble Baroness deals with that proposal, she would also like to say whether any fresh initiatives are contemplated to bring Turkey into the equation, which has been mentioned so far only in connection with humanitarian supplies to the KRG.

The Daesh is,

“the negation of God erected into a system of government”.

We need to wake up to the scale of this challenge and develop a robust answer to it, with the authority of the UN Security Council and the approval of the highest levels of religious authority in all the branches of peaceful Islam.

5.01 pm

Baroness Flather (CB): My Lords, I will focus on international development, but before I start I would like to say how much I enjoyed the opening given by the noble Earl, Lord Howe. It was his usual thoughtful, well-considered opening and it is good to see him in a new role. Perhaps he will not be on the Front Bench every day I come into the Chamber, as he was in the previous Session. I think he got a bit tired.

I would also like to say how much I associate myself with the remarks of the noble Baroness, Lady Helic. I feel very much in a similar position to her, although I came to this country much earlier and not from an area that was badly damaged or treated badly. This country has been good to me. I have enjoyed living here and I cannot now imagine living anywhere else. I am glad she said that and I absolutely agree that this is a country where you can make your own life. You do not have to be given it, you can do it yourself. Another noble Baroness across the Chamber is shaking her head.

I turn now to not so pleasant things. The topic is international development, but it is really about 1 billion people—women—who are not remembered. In India and Africa, and maybe in one or two other, smaller areas, you will find that there are 1 billion women altogether. The lives they lead are really not imaginable by people who live in this country. I use the word “imaginable” advisedly, because their lives are unbelievably horrible. They have no status. They are not even treated as human beings. If they get ill, people wait for them to die because it is so much easier if they die, because then they get another woman who is stronger and younger. It is really time for us to start focusing on the situation of women. We cannot change anything through international development unless we change the lives of women.

We have allowed this to go on and we have allowed the lack of family planning to go on. The population of the world is burgeoning. Have we not noticed that? Have we not noticed the impact of that? As there is no water and very little food, nearly 8 million children die before they are five years old, and 2.4 million children die when they are just born. This is a world that we should not be accepting. Some 290,000 women die every year in childbirth and still we do not focus on family planning. It has barely made its way into everyday language. People speak about it but they are still a bit edgy or nervous; it is not a subject that you talk about. I went to my local Rotary to talk about women and their situation, and afterwards a number

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of people said to each other, “We do not really want to hear these things”. No, they do not. Nobody wants to hear these things. A woman in India who gets HIV is not allowed to go to the clinic because then everyone will know that she has HIV, so she is kept in until she dies, or whatever. It is not a good world for women.

With all due respect to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Coventry, it is all right to talk about religion, but what has religion done for women? It has done nothing for them. Catholicism or Islam have positively been bad for women. If women are not allowed to have contraception, then in some areas, especially in Africa where there are so many Catholics, they may have seven, eight or nine children. Three or four of those will die of disease and hunger because the men do not bother. It is the women who have to feed them and find their food. That does not matter to anybody. It does not matter to the bishops. A bishop in Uganda recently said to all his priests, “Tell the women that they are going straight to hell if they use contraception”. This is not the kind of world that we should be living in in 2015.

In 1950, there were 2.7 billion people in the whole world. There are now about 7.25 billion in this world, and the demographics suggest that by 2050 there will be between 9 billion and 10 billion. I know that it is too late to turn the clock back, but we could at least stop it ticking on and on, forwards and forwards, and try to help especially the women who do not really have lives; they are either baby-making machines or just workers. It is said that women do three-quarters of the work but earn 10% of the wages and own 1% of the property in the world. It really is time that our attention is focused, when it comes to development work, on the women. They change very quickly if they are given the opportunity. They learn very quickly. They have nothing, so if you do anything for them they change.

On that note, I say to the noble Lord, Lord Collins of Highbury, that the garment factories are extremely important to women. Okay, they do not get paid the wages that women earn in this country, but they would have nothing without those garment factories. Please remember that that is all they have. Also, in regard to children working, a poor family cannot manage unless the children work. It is no use trying to be very moral and grand and saying, “Oh no, we do not want children working”. No, tell the companies that employ them that we will buy their goods if they let the children work for five, six or seven hours and give them a good meal. Do not say, “Don’t work”, because families cannot survive and will beg on the streets, which is no better. In fact, it is worse. So there are things happening in the world that we really do not know of.

The noble Lord, Lord Crisp, was the first person to mention women today. I told him, “You mentioned women”, and he said, “I knew that you would, but I was ahead of you”. I am often the only one who talks about women in this Chamber. I was the first person to talk about population connected to climate change. What are we doing? Okay, everything is going to change if we do not do this or do not do that, but if the number of people keeps on increasing, the climate

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will keep on changing. It is a self-evident fact; if you have 7 billion-plus bodies, it is not going to be the same as having 2.7 billion bodies.

Let us, therefore, start really looking at the elephant in the room and start working on population. Bill Gates, who spends the money perhaps of a small country’s GDP, says that he wants to eradicate malaria. That is wonderful, but every time he goes to eradicate malaria, there will be that big tranche of children who we will not have vaccinated. If he put his money towards family planning instead of malaria, we would see much better results than he thinks are made in respect of malaria.

5.10 pm

Lord Dobbs (Con): My Lords, it is always a great pleasure to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Flather. I would follow her anywhere. We have heard many fine speeches this afternoon—from my noble friend Lord Howe from his new position on the Front Bench, my noble friend Lord Lothian, who is not in his seat, my noble friend Lord Howell of Guildford, that very special maiden speech by my noble friend Lady Helic, and many others. It has been an excellent debate so far.

On my desk at home, there is a chunk of the Berlin Wall. I knew the wall: when I was a teenager in the 1960s, I used to run messages back and forth across it for families who had been ripped apart by its construction. Yet that wall came tumbling down, and it is worth remembering how it came tumbling down. Despite the massive arsenals that were built up on both sides, that wall—that physical expression of evil—was not blown apart by bombs. In the end, it was torn down by the bare hands of millions of ordinary people from the East, who saw in us, yes, an opportunity for economic advancement of course, but more profoundly a set of values in which they wanted to share.

I wonder how we would fare today if we were playing by the rules of the Berlin Wall game, where we are judged by the extent to which we manage to persuade rather than simply bludgeon. We have been doing a lot of bludgeoning in recent years. We often see the merits of our western values to be self-evident, yet I fear that there are many around the world today who do not see those values at all, even in places we have tried so hard to impress, such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. For some reason, many see us as aggressors rather than liberators, and we need to understand why.

We went to war in those places for two purposes: to rescue them from chaos and to make our own streets safer. However, in both of those aims, we have failed. We have not rescued the Middle East. We have not even rescued ourselves: our terrorist threat is now increasingly homegrown. A little soul-searching is in order. We need a thoroughgoing and fundamental review of British foreign policy, warts and all—and not one that is simply squeezed inside the confines of the SDSR. For instance, how much is it our priority to spread human rights and democracy elsewhere in the world? Instead, should the emphasis be more on seeking stability and security? Which of those alternatives would end up saving more lives? It is not an easy discussion but it is one we must have.

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We should welcome new ideas and new insights. The Cold War was a period of intense intellectual activity and of sometimes torrid self-questioning here in the West, by academics and analysts such as George Kennan and Henry Kissinger in the States and Sir Michael Howard and Professor John Erickson over here. Their analyses helped transform the world because, while communism stood still, we overwhelmed its people with ideas and fresh thinking. That is the way we shall eventually defeat ISIS: not by bombing it into oblivion but by denying it its followers, pursuing a policy of patience and persistence in which military activity is always subordinate to political and diplomatic strategy, not used as a knee-jerk response to glib commentators insisting that “something must be done”.

We got Iraq wrong. We got the Arab spring wrong. We got Ukraine wrong. We have meddled and muddled. We have not always lived up to our own standards. The Chilcot report seems likely to highlight some of those failings. Whatever that report says and whenever it comes, it should be seen not as an end but as a beginning, the first part of an ongoing and thorough, open inquiry where we test every aspect of our foreign policy and what it is that we need to achieve.

Yet, enough of the negative. In that analysis, we should not forget that we still have extraordinary scope for influence. We have the world’s fifth-largest economy and the world’s fifth most powerful Armed Forces. We commit a higher percentage of our national wealth to foreign aid than almost any other country. We are one of the most generous nations in the world. We are central members of the UN, EU and NATO. London, this wonderful capital city, is the most dynamic capital in the world. We have one of the richest cultures and one of the world’s most extraordinary histories. These are assets of real value. We do not travel alone in this world. We have many friends. Yes, we have the BBC. Though it needs a good kicking and fundamental reshaping and rebuilding, let us never forget what it does for our ability to use soft power—about which this House has written and reported on so eloquently in the past.

Here in Britain, we punch above our weight and, as I like to say, sing above the scale. We rescued Europe from dictatorship and despair more times than Brussels has managed a balanced budget. The walls that divide the world today are built not so much of concrete but of extremism, intolerance and ignorance. Our Britain is one of the finest and freest countries on the planet, a beacon of hope and values in a dark world. Our foreign policy should reflect that far better than it manages at the moment.

5.17 pm

Baroness Berridge (Con): My Lords, as I joined your Lordships’ House during the last Parliament in January 2011, the world was beginning to shift on its axis. It is quite remarkable when one reflects on those changes.

The tragic self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi on 17 December 2010 began the Arab spring and, by 14 January the next year, President Ben Ali was gone. Egypt was still under Mubarak, and the election of Morsi brought a theocracy experiment, another uprising, another election and another former general in President

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al-Sisi. Crimea was still part of Ukraine and Ukraine was at peace. The abbreviation IS was as unknown as the religious group Yazidi were to the world. North Korea went from obscure, closed nation to Hollywood fame and the new leader Kim Jong-un surprised the world with North Korea’s hacking skills utilised against Sony Pictures. Lampedusa was known as an Italian tourist destination, not a migrant landing base. For the first time in nearly 600 years, a Pope resigned and cardinals chose a jolly Argentinean who refuses to live in a palace. His transformational leadership of an institution then viewed as somewhat corrupt is now studied by Harvard Business School—and perhaps by football fans, as maybe the Pope could turn around FIFA.

Of all the things that also changed, there was the recognition of the role of religion in foreign affairs. It had never actually left but had become harder to see from this, the only secularising continent in the world. The role of religious actors in the period of history mentioned by my noble friend Lord Dobbs is now without doubt, particularly the role of the Catholic Church in bringing democracy and freedom to eastern Europe. However, even before Daesh, according to academics such as Monica Toft and Jonathan Fox, of the 16 ongoing civil wars in 2010, 50% had a religious basis. Other academic studies claimed that, when religion is a factor in a civil war, it is more brutal for combatants and civilians, lasts longer and is more likely to recur. So Foreign and Commonwealth Office training courses by the Woolf Institute on religion and expert teaching on ethno-religious violence to the stabilisation unit are most welcome.

Within the Queen’s Speech, whether it is defeating terrorism in Middle East, national reconciliation in Iraq or the political settlement in Syria, religion needs to be understood as part of the problem, maybe, but also the solution. Erdogan’s desire to be executive president in Turkey, which, if it happens, will subordinate the parliamentary process there, cannot be fully understood unless one remembers that the last caliphate was not in Iraq—it was Ottoman. Regional peace needs the HDP Kurdish party on 7 June to break through the 10% threshold to get parliamentary representation to thwart the supermajority that Erdogan is in danger of achieving.

Over the last Parliament, there was the same realisation in relation to human rights abuses, which were due not to politics, resource battles or ethnicity but to religious identity. Whether it involved Shias in Pakistan, Yazidis in Iraq, Baha’is in Iran, or Christians in Syria, the fact you are “the other”, defined by religious difference, was a factor that determined these people’s fate. As the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury last summer seemed to be alone in stating, what we are seeing in Iraq violates people’s freedom of religion and belief, as set out under Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. British men and women have gone to join this, after a liberal, pluralist education, and I think we have many questions to ask ourselves in relation to that. There was a clear commitment in the Conservative manifesto that:

“We will stand up for the freedom of people of all religions—and non-religious people—to practise their beliefs in peace and safety, for example by supporting persecuted Christians in the Middle East”.

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So I hope that my noble friend the Minister can give some detail as to how the commitment will be worked out in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and DfID under this Government.

These issues matter to the British people. No, I am about to rely not on opinion polling to support that assertion but on what I personally consider to be much more reliable. Hold an event here in Parliament and see how many MPs and Peers you can get to attend—and not just pop their head through the door but actually attend. At the launch of the Open Doors World Watch List for countries where Christians are persecuted here in Parliament in March 2015, 74 Members of Parliament attended, including two members of the Cabinet.

The Queen’s Speech also outlined,

“an enhanced partnership with India and China”,

and many people may respond that it is all about trade, really. But in a world of globalised communication, human rights abuses have the potential to damage deeply corporate brands. Perhaps companies are worried about investing in Burma now, and not just because it seems that progress to democracy may have stalled. What will their consumers, especially Muslims, think of a company that invests there while Rohingya Muslims are denied citizenship and when their temporary ID cards are prevented from giving them a vote in the election? Human rights and trade are increasingly interconnected, and I do not just mean the trade in humans that clearly this has led to with the Rohingya Muslims. It goes without saying, perhaps, that it may be the sponsors of FIFA that prove to be more powerful than even the FBI in bringing about similar change.

I wish to end where I began in my speech on the 2014 Queen’s Speech, with a country that has for the first time broken down along religious lines, the Central African Republic. United Nations OCHA summarised recently:

“After more than two years of conflict in the Central African Republic, the humanitarian situation remains appalling: more than 2.7 million people—out of a total population of 4.6 million—are in dire need of assistance and protection. Close to a million people remain displaced in and out of the country”.

There is encouraging news that recently all the rebel groups agreed to release the estimated 10,000 child soldiers they had recruited. The Bangui forum process of national reconciliation has started and elections are now rescheduled for the end of 2015. We have contributed, most particularly with the deputy head of the UN peace-keeping mission being the former UK ambassador Diane Corner, but what further involvement does the UK anticipate having in terms of the state building, civil service reform or tax reform that we were so successful in bringing to many east African countries?

One looks to various measures to assess a country’s progress. Unfortunately the CAR is now 185th out of 187 on the Human Development Index. It is now bottom of the league of the Legatum Prosperity Index for the whole of Africa.

The CAR has a group of people who have more than the average awareness of its existence. I am told that the tea-time audience on BBC1 is most aware of it. It is the “Pointless” audience. “Pointless” is a quiz

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show where you get the most marks for thinking of the answer that nobody else is aware of. In a recent question on the Francophone countries in Africa, the CAR was one of the answers. The measure of progress for the CAR will be when it is no longer a “Pointless” answer.

5.25 pm

Lord West of Spithead (Lab): My Lords, I would like be associated with the praise that has been heaped on the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, the noble Lord, Lord Astor, and the noble Earl, Lord Howe. Of course, the noble Earl is the son of a naval officer and so by definition a splendid chap—although having suffered studying classics at school, I am a little less sure of his expertise in Latin verse.

When I spoke after Her Majesty’s previous gracious Speech in June 2014, I commented sadly that defence hardly featured, as was the case in the three previous Queen’s Speeches since 2010—and this time there is even less.

“My Government will undertake a full strategic defence and security review”,

is hardly an earth-shattering announcement, bearing in mind that it had already been decided that there should be a review every five years. The next bit is,

“and do whatever is necessary to ensure that our courageous Armed Forces can keep Britain safe”.

That is the prime duty of any Government. Would we expect the Government to allow our courageous Armed Forces not to keep Britain safe? We must not delude ourselves. Defence has not been mentioned that much today. We are at a turning point. Unless more money is found for defence, defence is in a crisis. When one turns to the government website to expand on the sparse statements in the speech, it states that the 2015 National Security Strategy and SDSR will ensure that Britain remains a leader on the world stage, maintain our world-leading Armed Forces and build on the enormous progress that has been made since 2010.

Let us look at those statements in reverse order. The first is that we will build on the enormous progress that has been made since 2010. Let us be clear: since 2010, there has been an approximate 9.5% reduction in defence expenditure, which research by the International Institute for Strategic Studies has shown has reduced our military capability by approximately 30%. In other words, it has had a catastrophic effect on our defence capability. Defence is in crisis—so is this progress?

The next statement is that we will maintain our world-leading Armed Forces. Our people are fantastic, as has been said by many speakers, but there are not enough of them, and pressure on resources means we are in danger of no longer being world-leading. As the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Baglan, stated, the US President, and many senior US military leaders and opinion makers in America have expressed huge concern about our military capability and our ability to act as an ally.

The last statement is that we will ensure that Britain remains a leader on the world stage. Why do our Prime Minister, Chancellor and Foreign Secretary think that historically we had influence on the world stage? It was because as well as all our soft power, which many speakers have talked about, and which is amazing and important, we had military capability—but we are

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losing it, so their input will become irrelevant in key global decision-making. As the noble Lord, Lord Sterling, explained so well, the status of our nation is changing by default without any debate—and I do not think people realise this—because of the reduction in our military capability. As my noble friend Lord Anderson of Swansea said, we have already seen that our Prime Minister was completely absent from discussions on Ukraine between Chancellor Merkel and Presidents Hollande and Putin.

Others have spoken about the shortcomings of the last non-strategic security and defence review and the importance of the national security strategy, so I will not go on about that. I will say only that the timescales are much shorter than people think, because it will have to feed into the comprehensive spending review. The hearts of a number of us leapt when our Prime Minister told all NATO members in Newport to spend a minimum of 2% of GDP on defence. It was strong, positive stuff, but I am not sure that the Prime Minister intends to practise what he preaches. Can the noble Earl or the noble Baroness say whether our defence spending as a percentage of GDP will be 2% for 2015-16? This CSR will hardly affect it—surely it is almost decided already. RUSI believes that it will be 1.88%, no matter how you play with the figures. Do we really intend, in the remaining years of this Parliament, to meet the 2% target we set our allies?

However, the yawning gap in Her Majesty’s most gracious Speech is the lack of mention of Trident. This was seen as so important by the Conservatives that the right honourable Michael Fallon wrote to every household in Barrow before the election saying that voting for the Labour candidate would put the deterrent at risk and hence all their jobs. More widely, a key plank in the election campaign was scaremongering about Labour and the SNP not replacing the deterrent. Of course that was rubbish, but bearing in mind how important it seemed then, where is the reflection of the manifesto commitment to four replacement submarines in the Speech? Why is it not there? Is it of so little consequence?

I was one of many signatories to an open letter to the Prime Minister printed in the Times, which put the urgent need for a decision very clearly. It said:

“In an uncertain world where some powers are now displaying a worrying faith in nuclear weapons as an instrument of policy and influence, it would be … irresponsible folly to abandon Britain’s own independent deterrent. That fact … encapsulates the enormity of the … Main Gate decision … for the security and ultimately the survival of our nation”.

It noted that the Vanguard submarines are coming to the end of their lives, and that,

“due to the age and fragility of the existing fleet”,

their replacement “cannot be delayed further”.

However, the Prime Minister and Chancellor do not have a good track record. The submarines could have been ordered early in the last Parliament, but the decision was postponed, and Trident was instead relegated to becoming a political football. Let us strike now, rather than wait until next year to make this crucial decision, when deals will be being done on human rights and the new RIPA legislation, not to mention the Scottish elections and the EU referendum. We should ensure that the decision for replacement of our

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submarines is made this year. The vast majority of Conservative and Labour MPs will vote for it, a manifesto commitment can be rapidly met, and the ultimate safeguard of our national survival will cease to be a political football.

Can the noble Baroness say whether there is any reason why a decision in principle should not be taken by the House of Commons before the Summer Recess to go ahead with the new submarine programme? Main Gate should ideally await formal contract placing—and people will unnecessarily obfuscate—but that should not preclude a Commons decision on four boats enabling continuous at-sea deterrence. The paving debate on 4 November 1992 on the Maastricht treaty ratification provides an excellent precedent. It is crucial to put this whole argument beyond question, and an early vote would clear the air. Does the Minister agree with me that that is the case?

Lastly, I know that all noble Lords would be very disappointed if I did not mention the Royal Navy. Successive cuts mean that we have 19 escorts to protect British global shipping, which is run from London; to escort our forces, which are necessary for global reach and protection of our dependencies; to help ensure the stability necessary for our worldwide investments; and to meet our commitments as a permanent member of the Security Council. Only 19 escorts is nothing less than a national disgrace. We must order the 13 planned Type 26 frigates now, as was promised by the Government before the election—and that should be the start of a rolling programme of frigate-building to ensure a constant load for our defence industry, building up over time to a force of about 30 DD/FF, which is what this nation needs.

As a nation, we should be proud of our Navy, its people and what it achieves around the world, day in and day out, but we are balanced on a knife edge. Without an increase in defence spending we are on a road to disaster. The Navy and the other military forces in this nation will not be able to do what the nation expects of them. Is that really the intention of the Government?

5.34 pm

Lord Loomba (LD): My Lords, I welcome the gracious Speech and the opportunity to speak on international development in this debate.

The United Nations has decided to adopt the sustainable development goals for 2015 to 2030. The post-2015 MDG framework, which is being prepared by the UN at present, will aim to fill the gaps and build on the successes achieved since 2000. It will also target areas in a more specialised and specific way to ensure that the progress that has been made is not lost and that the areas and issues that need the most help are not left out.

In the UN report, The Road to Dignity by 2030, the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, sets out his vision, saying:

“We have a shared responsibility to embark on a path to inclusive and shared prosperity”.

It is a well-known fact that prosperity and sustainable development in today’s world are mainly dependent on the education of children and the socioeconomic

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empowerment of women. This is where I declare my interest as founder and chairman of the Loomba Foundation, a charity which I set up in 1997 to help widows around the world. The Loomba Foundation is now a UN-accredited global NGO which cares for widows. The foundation designated 23 June as International Widows Day—a day of action to raise awareness of the plight of widows and their children around the world. International Widows Day was unanimously adopted by the UN at its 65th General Assembly in 2010.

A new report commissioned by the foundation this year highlights that since the last research study in 2010 the number of widows has grown to more than 258 million, a rise of 9%. This number is on the increase due to many factors: poverty, war, such as the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, famine, the continued spread of HIV, and the Ebola epidemic. As more and more women become widows, so the demographics of this group have changed. Many younger women, through cultural practices such as forced marriage and the acceptance of child brides, are marrying at a younger age and then, in turn, becoming widows. The latest census shows that more than 269,000 children became widowed before the legal age for marriage in India. The problems that widows face are the intensification of poverty through loss of income and lack of employment opportunities; health risks such as malnutrition and infectious diseases; the fact that males are often prioritised for schooling and healthcare; social marginalisation due to begging or prostitution; social attitudes that accuse widows of witchcraft; and a lack of inheritance rights.

The UN report sets out the importance of justice and effective governance. It says that a country’s success must be measured not only by its GDP but in,

“ways that go beyond GDP and account for human well-being, sustainability and equity”,

which means that widows and their particular problems, especially surrounding inheritance rights and their status in society, need addressing. The deprivation faced by widows and their children is a human rights issue of such magnitude that it demands action by the UN and other international bodies and special consideration in development programmes.

The Loomba Foundation report 2015 recommends, among other things, increasing advocacy on behalf of widows, especially surrounding cultural beliefs, the reform of legal systems and the provision of legal advice, increased social service provision by NGOs, better welfare systems, improved literacy and, of course, microfinance programmes. Ban Ki-moon, in setting out his “call to dignity”, asks that it be answered by,

“all our vision and strength”—

something I hope that the Government will respond to in a positive, imaginative and proactive way.

Widows are victims of double discrimination: they are women and they are widows. That was the main reason that the UN agreed to recognise International Widows Day when we already had International Women’s Day. It was also acknowledged and accepted by the DfID Minister in one of my debates in the last Government. My communication with DfID this year

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has confirmed that the Government support widows through their international programmes. However, I would like to ask the Minister whether, at the UN sustainable development summit in New York, in September, the Government will take a lead to ensure that issues relating to widows and their children are specifically included in the post-2015 MDG framework.

5.40 pm

Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB): My Lords, in welcoming the talented team of Ministers who have responsibility for international affairs and security issues, I see that it is clear from the debate today on the gracious Speech that there is no shortage of challenges facing them. In my remarks, I should like to follow those who have spoken about the challenge that is posed by ISIS.

Last week, the barbaric beheadings in Palmyra, accompanied by the blitzkrieg of antiquities and ancient colonnades, graphically illustrated the nature of the depraved ideology that animates ISIS or Daesh, while, in a double victory, its capture of Ramadi underlines the serious threat that it poses and, as other noble Lords have said, the urgency with which we must re-evaluate our military and diplomatic approach.

ISIS may call itself a state but, despite its name, it is not a state, merely a cruel ideology. As a report published today reminds us, ISIS continues to attract adherents from the United Kingdom, including young women whose allegiance and imagination we have failed to capture. The orgy of violence for which ISIS has been responsible, and which has already destroyed the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud, along with Hatra and Khorsabad, accompanied by the carnage and slaughter of innocent people, cannot be left uncontested, neither at a military level nor in the battle for ideas. We are pitted against an ideology that thinks nothing of defiling Shia mosques, destroying Christian churches, blowing up Afghanistan’s Bamiyan Buddhas and eradicating the Sufi monuments in Mali. It was Edmund Burke who remarked that, “Our past is the capital of life”. What we are witnessing is an attempt to eradicate the past and eliminate humanity’s collective memory, while cynically smuggling and selling on the antiquities that are not destroyed to fund this campaign of mass murder.

Last month, jihadist ideology led to the deaths of 147 students and staff in Kenya’s Garissa University College, with Christian students specifically singled out; to the burning alive in a kiln of a Christian couple in Pakistan by a mob of 1,300 people while their young children were forced to watch; to the abduction of young girls in Nigeria by Boko Haram; to the beheading in Libya of 21 Egyptian Copts who were working there; and to the beheading of 30 Ethiopian Christians trying to flee these depravities.

Since 2011, more than 4 million Syrians have been killed or forced to flee their homes, with around 30,000 people added every single day to the 140 million people worldwide who are affected by conflict or natural disasters such as that which has occurred in Nepal. Is it any wonder that the desperate, from Rohingya Muslims to Middle Eastern Christians, take to the high seas to try to escape? Since 2011, of the 4 million Syrian refugees, the United Kingdom has offered shelter

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to just 187, a point that my noble friend Lord Williams referred to in his excellent speech. Let us compare that to the 1.2 million refugees that Lebanon has accepted. Of course, the long-term answer is for people to be able to return to live in peace in their own homes, but we are further away from that than ever.

Echoing what the noble Baroness, Lady Helic, said earlier in her magnificent maiden speech, I say that today’s realities in the region were spelled out by the United Nations Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict—an issue in which I know the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, has taken a particular and significant interest. The special representative reported last week that young Iraqi and Syrian women, particularly from the Yazidi community, are subjected to the most traumatic, degrading and inhuman treatment before being sold in slave markets to the highest bidders. Human Rights Watch reported on the girl, referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady Hodgson, who had been traded more than 20 times, but that same report describes how traumatised girls had been banned from using headscarves after some used them to hang themselves. At the start of this Parliament, I hope that the Government will take more effective action to have those responsible for such atrocities brought to justice before the International Criminal Court, a move that we should initiate in the Security Council. Championing and upholding the rule of law is the antidote to this ideology, not assassination squads or endless bombardments.

We also need to create more safe havens, a point which my noble friend Lord Hylton and I and other noble Lords from all sides of your Lordships’ House addressed recently in a letter to one of the national newspapers. We need to do that in the affected regions to stem the flow of migrants. We need also to promote Article 18 obligations. When a country like Saudi Arabia passes legislation defining atheists as terrorists, beheads its citizens, and refuses to protect the right of minorities to follow their beliefs, or to have no belief, is it any wonder that such actions are mimicked by Daesh? The noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, referred earlier to Saudi pressure on the United Kingdom to draw up a report on the Muslim Brotherhood. Perhaps when the Minister comes to reply she will tell us when that is likely to be published.

At the heart of all these issues is the challenge of learning to live together and of respecting difference. Our failure to make the battle of ideas a priority was underlined recently in a reply to the Member of Parliament for Westmorland and Lonsdale, Tim Farron, when it was stated by the Foreign Office that just,

“one full time Desk Officer”


“wholly dedicated to Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB)”,

and that,

“the Head and the Deputy Head of HRDD spend approximately 5% and 20% respectively of their time on FoRB issues”.

Understanding authentic religion and the forces that threaten it is more of a foreign affairs imperative than ever before, and the resources we put into promoting Article 18 should reflect that reality. I hope that freedom of religion and belief will be a specific priority in the FCO business plan and that the Government will

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make common cause with the Labour Party, which gave a manifesto commitment to appoint a special envoy to promote Article 18. I also hope that, in the battle of ideas, we will think again about our foolish cuts to the British Council budget, from £190 million to £154 million. We should not emasculate the BBC World Service. We should promote the Commonwealth, as the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, said in his remarks, particularly as an agency for education in parts of the world that will change only with the opportunities of education.

In conclusion, it is sometimes suggested that Britain should retreat from the world and relinquish our international responsibilities. How right was that great Pole Maximilian Kolbe, who was murdered by the Nazis at Auschwitz, who said:

“The most deadly poison of our times is indifference”.

Such indifference would be bad for Britain and even worse for the rest of the world.

5.50 pm

Lord Elton (Con): My Lords, like many other noble Lords, I start by congratulating the absent noble Baroness, Lady Helic, on her admirable maiden speech. She has a valuable new perspective for us and the gift of focusing it down very precisely in excellently clear language, as well as the seductive gift of expressing it in terms that make us feel even better about our own self image. When she is free of the restraints of the conventions concerning maiden speeches and the prudence of new membership, I hope that she will develop and hone her critical faculties, because what we really need to hear is not how good we are but how much better we ought to be and how we can be. I am sure that she has a great deal to say on that.

The scope of this debate has been admirably demonstrated by the brilliant speech of the noble Lord, Lord Alton, in its geographical and moral terms. I hope that noble Lords will forgive me for focusing briefly first, for reasons that will become clear, on the forum within which it is being conducted. I find a certain curiosity in the fact that we are very much concerned with the size of the membership of that forum, which, following the resignations taking effect that were published in today’s Order of Business, will be one more than it was in 1945. When I joined this House, the membership was over 1,100, and it still continued to function effectively thanks to the Salisbury convention from the day when the Labour Party had a government membership of 16 in this House and the Conservative Party of 400 had an overall majority in the House as a whole right up to recent times.

I mention that because at the back of my mind are the disadvantages with the scale of the influx that we now have. There is pressure on our machinery at a very large cost to the taxpayer. This is not a debate in which to go into the reasons for that, although I would like to do that at a future date, but I would like to bring to the attention of the Government what I believe to be the general consensus of this House and the public that maybe we should diminish the flow into this House. We have already accelerated the exits from this House. We are not accelerating death, but political death is being accelerated by pressurised retirement.

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