That brings me to my justification for mentioning this. In this debate, where we are focusing on our defence powers and must look at our recent wartime experiences, there are just five people speaking who are able to recall in adolescent memory—childish memory really—the world before the start of the Second World War and our close interest as we grew through that war of how it started. It is the duty of my generation to point out that in the 1930s a great European power considering itself to be disappointed and belittled by history—I am talking about Germany and the Treaty of Versailles—threw up a dictator, Hitler, who gained immense popularity by annexing neighbouring territories on the grounds that they spoke the same language as his. He did so at a time when our defensive forces were greatly diminished. Your Lordships will already be thinking of the remarkable speech made a few minutes ago by the noble Lord, Lord West. I am thinking of the spectacle of virtually the entire British Army being swept into the Channel in a matter of weeks, some time after a Prime Minister came back from conversations saying that all would be well for the foreseeable future.

I look to the east and I see a country that considers itself to be belittled by history—the break-up of the Russian empire, as it was—throwing up a dictator who gains immense popularity at home by annexing neighbouring territories on the grounds that they speak the same language as his people, and doing so at a time when our forces have been hugely diminished. Those forces must not suffer the fate of the British Expeditionary Force in 1939-40.

We are at a crisis of security, and I endorse all noble Lords who have said that we have to turn our attention to our defences and to our organisation. The only way to protect the peace of our people is to make it clear to aggressors that we have not only the means but the will to inflict such punishment on those who threaten us that they will not be prepared to take us on. That involves convincing them that we are not only able and willing to use these resources, but ready to. I cannot see NATO, at the moment, scrambling to the rapid defence of western Europe as it now stands. I sound a threatening note.

May I turn briefly to other matters that have arisen? We need forces to defend our society to enable us to conduct our role, contributing to the development of an equitable and stable world community, and within it an equitable, stable, fair and sound British population. What have we done for that so far? One thing that was very undersung in the general election—if indeed it was mentioned at all—was the extraordinary work that has been going on in the last few years through the Troubled Families programme. It started with six government departments making available £448 million. We are talking joined-up government here, also involving all 152 upper-tier local authorities in England. Key workers from those departments were allocated one to one to the whole-family care of people who were struggling. More than 105,000 families’ lives have been turned around, enabling people to get jobs, contribute to the community, come out of prison and live civilised lives in communities that they were disrupting. That programme has now been extended by £200 million in

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the first year of a five-year programme to reach up to 400,000 other families. This is having a real effect on cities and on the lives of citizens in this country, and I do hope the Government stick to that and carry on with it more aggressively.

There is also the realisation, which some of us have been preaching for decades, that it is much better to intercept children before they become criminals, rather than to try and fail them afterwards. At the moment, we have a high crime rate. We catch a percentage of the people who commit crime. A percentage of those go to court. A percentage of those—the numbers are getting smaller and smaller—have their cases heard and brought to a conclusion. Of those, a percentage are convicted, of which a percentage are put into programmes for rehabilitation, a very small percentage of which are actually turned around into decent citizens. How much better to spend a fraction of that money on early intervention—and by “early” I mean very early. I was impressed to see that the Early Intervention Foundation runs a troubled families programme parallel to the one I have just described, which goes into families when the children are born. Its work has been shown by academic research to reduce criminality and increase productivity and the contribution made to society.

We have been asked to stick to 10 minutes. I may be becoming incoherent, but I am also becoming enthusiastic and I would like to go on. “Go for it”, I say to my noble friends on the Front Bench. “Get to our young people and see that they turn into decent citizens, not refugees from the police”.

6 pm

Lord Clinton-Davis (Lab): My Lords, several hours ago, the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, paid a deserved tribute to a friend of us both—the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe of Aberavon. I can well remember when I was a commissioner in Europe that the noble and learned Lord was universally welcomed by people in the Commission and elsewhere. I think, therefore, that the noble Lord’s tribute was well deserved, but there our partnership must cease.

Perhaps I may say to the noble Earl, Lord Howe, that I welcome his appointment. He is universally popular in this House. One of the things that endears him to us is that in his past role he was both critical and supportive, but what is most welcome about him is his integrity. I thank him very much.

There are three possibilities so far as Britain and the European Union are concerned. First, some who are known as Eurosceptics would assert that we should not be part of Europe at all, a view which I reject utterly. Secondly, we should accept Europe as it is, subject to minor amendments. The Prime Minister has declared that this is beyond the pale. The third possibility is that we should stay in the European Union but pretend that we can effect fundamental changes and reforms. I think that that is based on something of a pretence which is designed to mislead several sections of the Prime Minister’s party and, more significantly, the British public. It is the route favoured by the PM, but I hope that, even at this late stage, he will move away from it.

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It is now inevitable that we will have an in-or-out referendum on the EU, but is it right? There have been no basic changes to the European Union over the past few years, which represents an enormous obstacle to the Prime Minister’s plans. Secondly, the Prime Minister, even now, is somewhat fuzzy about his intentions. I was a former commissioner in the EU, playing an influential role in helping to develop its policies. The amount of debate that goes on within the Commission is enormous and sometimes it prevails, but it does not always.

On EU law, it is often difficult to come to firm decisions. I know that only too well because I witnessed it during the time I was a member of the Commission. Everything proposed by the Commission is scrutinised by national Governments and Parliaments, by the European Parliament and its various committees, and by European Union institutions. To suggest that there is inadequate consideration is palpably absurd.

Of course, mistakes, however rare, can occur, but that also applies to national Parliaments, including our own, as we have seen from the present Queen’s Speech. To withdraw from the European Union—this remains a possible route favoured in the main by Conservative Back-Benchers—would, in my view, be absolutely disastrous. Those favouring this course say that nothing very substantial would change. Frankly, I dispute that. It is both unrealistic and it plays with fire. Our trade with the EU is huge and it is put at risk by this sort of talk. Furthermore, we would have virtually no chance of influencing EU policies if we were outside it.

From an international point of view, this possibility of withdrawal is to be avoided at all costs. The United States and others have expressed the view that the possibility of our withdrawal from the EU is nonsensical. I agree. Britain would, of course, continue to trade whether in or out, with countries within the EU but our membership provides an invaluable link with other countries. It is indisputable that our EU membership is vital. Even Boris Johnson could not persuade otherwise. Trade, however significant, is not the sole criterion. From a political stance, Britain—a middle-ranking power—could no longer let its voice be heard if we moved to leave the European Union.

I have tried to present the reasons for staying in the EU and indeed, within the European institutions, which are not always part of the EU but play an invaluable role in framing our law. As a lawyer, I think that we have learnt a great deal from the EU and we have a great deal to impart to it as well. I hope, therefore, that we will not put this in jeopardy.

Lord Ashton of Hyde (Con): My Lords, can I remind the House of what the Deputy Chief Whip said? If we are to finish at a reasonable time—and, more importantly, have adequate time for Front Bench speeches—although I know that there is no advisory limit, it would be very much appreciated and helpful if noble Lords restricted themselves to about seven minutes.

6.10 pm

Lord Palmer of Childs Hill (LD): My Lords, I am the first Lord to speak with a restriction applying. I would like first to speak on defence. I hope that the

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Minister will confirm in her reply that, in the uncertain world in which we find ourselves, the Government will keep to the commitment of spending 2% of GDP on defence. However, I hope that the Minister—I might say Ministers in this case—will go further and undertake to place in the Library a breakdown of that proposed expenditure for 2015-16 and 2016-17.

What concerns me is that without a detailed commitment there is too much scope for the battle cry to be, “Onward to creative accountancy”. What is to stop the MoD meeting its target by moving heavy items of expenditure from one year to the next? In simple terms, what is to stop the bringing forward of expenditure of a new frigate or some F35B assault aircraft, and thus, with a flick of a pen—or nowadays a mouse—to meet the pledge, but not, as in the Conservative manifesto, to,

“maintain our world class Armed Forces”,

so they continue to guarantee our security; or, as it said in the gracious Speech, to do,

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

The other minimal commitment in the manifesto was not to reduce the Army to “below 82,000”. My questions to the Ministers are: what about the size of the Air Force and the Navy? Can we please have a commitment as to their size as well? In the reduced Army, how many officers are there at the rank of brigadier and above—and indeed, what are the comparable figures for the Air Force and the Navy? A simple calculation will show the number of such officers per 1,000 men and women. How does this compare with the forces of other active military nations—take your pick from France, the United States, Australia, Israel or Saudi Arabia? Can the Government justify any disparity?

We have heard and will hear of areas of concern to the UK defence establishment. In the rest of my speech I will highlight the lack of a realistic strategy regarding the ambitions of the Republic of Iran, which are a danger beyond the Middle East. We all hope for a diplomatic solution that will be durable and will ensure the prevention of Iran’s warlike nuclear ambitions, but the parameters of the framework agreement with Iran fall well short of the goals originally set by the P5+1 and President Obama. There is much speculation about the differences that remain between the negotiating parties, which makes me anxious, as it surely gives Iran the space to push for yet further concessions in future talks.

I contest the argument made so often in your Lordships House that Israel is the source of all the Middle East’s woes. Iran’s regional ambitions are no longer just ambitions but reality. One needs only to take a snapshot of the region to see Iran’s fingerprints in Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq. Iranian officials continue to sponsor terrorist groups, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, and, in recent months, have continued to incite acts of terror against not just Israel, but supporters of Israel across the world. I quote Mohammad Hossein Nejat, deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guard, who stated that,

“nowhere in Israel is safe now and the Israelis should wait for their death everyday ... the Zionists shouldn’t feel safe in any part of the world”.

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He later added:

“Hezbollah and us are one single hand … and anything that they do is as if we did it”.

Given the nature of the Iranian regime—its pattern of seeking to deceive the international community on its nuclear programme; its support for global terror and its regional ambitions to control; its repeated calls for a world without Israel; and its clandestine weapons efforts—I remain concerned about whether Iran will abide by any undertaking or treaty it makes, as has been suggested by other noble Lords, and whether any inspections regime will be sufficient to monitor its full compliance. The IAEA, which will be mandated to conduct the inspections, has faced repeated obstacles from Iran, especially when it comes to the possible military dimensions of the Iranian programme.

We are near to the lifting of sanctions. They will be difficult to put back in place should Tehran subsequently seek to violate commitments made, given the realities of co-ordinating with other countries. As Iran’s economic recovery becomes more durable and its economy in general becomes less susceptible to the impact of what are called snap-back sanctions, where sanctions will be suspended and then reimposed—I cannot believe it—in the event of Iranian non-compliance, economic pressure will diminish as an effective tool to respond to non-compliance. Can the Minister say when she replies whether it will become more likely that the US, the EU and the UK will be forced to choose between either tolerating Iranian deviousness or deploying military force or some further diplomatic initiative or treaty, as was detailed eloquently by the noble Lords, Lord Ashdown and Lord Alderdice, to enforce the deal and prevent it unravelling?

The framework agreement entirely fails to address a number of critical issues, including Iran’s development of ballistic missiles, human rights abuses galore and support of international terror groups galore. Indeed, negotiations in Switzerland occurred at a time when Iranian-backed Houthi rebels seized control of the Yemeni capital and Iran extended its presence in Iraq and attempted to establish a new front in the Golan Heights in co-ordination with Hezbollah. How can we be sure that Iran does not spend the reported $30 billion to $50 billion in repatriated escrowed oil revenues to fund terrorism?

Finally, can the Government comment on Iran’s extensive ballistic missile programme—in effect, a nuclear weapons delivery system—which has been omitted from the nuclear agreement despite being in breach of United Nations Security Council resolutions?

6.17 pm

Viscount Craigavon (CB): My Lords, before addressing my speech on international development and DfID, I personally give my thanks to the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, for her sure-footed role and enlightened guidance over the years. We will miss her charming and persuasive Dispatch Box manner.

We are now grateful to have in this portfolio the noble Baroness, Lady Verma, who has been listening to this debate and demonstrated her experience in this field of international development early in the last

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Government. We look forward to working with her. We should also be grateful to benefit from the continuing back-up of the same Minister, Justine Greening.

I should like to speak on the subject of population dynamics, which is the current phrase for the interaction of population with other factors such as conflict or climate change, and encourage the Government to go further in acknowledging the central role that population concerns play in so many areas of DfID’s remit.

I have had the benefit of seeing the draft of a report on recent hearings by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Population, Development and Reproductive Health on population dynamicsand the sustainabledevelopment goals, whichwill be publishedon 11 July, World Population Day. The final form of the SDGs are still to be negotiated in September this year at the UN. This Government have a good record in this but it is hoped that they can join, if necessary with EU partners, or take the lead in any negotiations to emphasise the importance of population assistance in so many fields and at least to hold to what have already been set out as targets relating to sexual and reproductive health and rights. The previous MDGs in this area fell far short of what was hoped for, but there is a good chance that these new targets are supported by strong indicators to measure their effective implementation. Also in that context, there should be an emphasis on better-quality data in future to help make the case and to underpin serious investment in this area; for example, data to help convince on the central argument of the extent of the unmet need for contraception, as well as to quantify the various shortcomings and conflicts that need our assistance.

There is no doubt that greater resources are needed in this field. In its annual report of 2013-14, the International Development Committee in another place concluded that it was,

“concerned by the reduction in spending in some areas vital to achieving key MDGs such as reproductive health and recommend that DFID significantly increase spending in this area”.

Regular international conferences, some in Europe, following up the International Conference on Population and Development’s Programme of Action, have passed motions which recommend that at least 10% of official development assistance should be spent on reproductive health and family planning. Although we are better than many countries on this measure, which is difficult to quantify, we might now be nearer 7.5%. Such funds are money well spent and it is accepted that for every pound laid out on this, value of many times that is achieved. While focusing on these important goals, we should not forget the resource consumption and carbon emissions caused particularly by developed countries. For those who believe in climate change and global warming, these exacerbate the problems in many developing countries.

I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Helic, on her remarkable maiden speech, in which she underlined the area of conflict that is multiplied by shortcomings revealed in population dynamics. I hope that the Lords ad hoc committee that she has been instrumental in setting up can concentrate our focus on preventing sexual violence in conflict and helping to support its victims.

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I very much support the speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Flather. One of her complaints was that there was very little mention of women in this debate. My final quote is actually from the Prime Minister, entirely on women, so I hope that gives her some comfort. It is from a very positive speech made by the Prime Minister at the 2012 London Summit on Family Planning. He said:

“When women have opportunity, resources and a voice, the benefits cascade to her children, her community and her country. So family planning is just the first step on a long journey towards growth, equality and development. But it’s an essential step—saving lives and empowering women to fulfil their potential as great leaders of change”.

I hope that DfID will forcefully continue to recognise and spread the vital role of reproductive health and rights in so many areas of its concern.

6.22 pm

Lord Selsdon (Con): My Lords, I admit that I have rather enjoyed myself today. It is a sort of day out. I feel in a rather difficult position because I have always believed that the United Kingdom is global but now, suddenly, someone is trying to confine this to Europe.

I will begin with a little quote that I like:

“Roll up that map; it will not be wanted these ten years”.

That was after the Battle of Austerlitz. The first question I ask myself is: are we European or are we solely British—are we global or are we insular? The short answer, as we have heard today, is that we are a global power or a global country and we must proceed as such. That leads us to the question: if we are not European, how are we global? Are we going to be confined by some demand of the public, which we had a few years ago?

As we come to the question of a referendum, I remind your Lordships that back in 1971, when we had a Motion on the,

“decision of principle to join the European Communities on the basis of the arrangements which have been negotiated”,

the Lords gave a majority of 89%; in the Commons it was 60%. That was a fairly strong response. Then in June 1975, when we had the referendum with the question:

“Do you think the United Kingdom should stay in the European Community (the Common Market)”—

as many of us preferred to call it—there was a total electorate of 40 million, a turnout of 64.5%, and 64.5% said yes.

That meant that 66 out of 68 counties had also said yes and that it was only Shetland and the Western Isles which said no. At that time, Alec Home said:

“In this House and out of it, there is widespread recognition that we have reached the time of decision, and that the proper place for that decision to be taken is Parliament”.—[Official Report, Commons, 21/10/1971; col. 912.]

Callaghan also pointed out:

“Tonight is no more than the first skirmish in the struggle, in the course of which we shall, I hope, by debate and discussion between ourselves, establish what is Britain’s correct relationship with Europe and what is our rôle in the world … ahead”.—[Official Report, Commons, 28/10/1971; col. 2202.]

This great country of ours is, and has to be, global and one therefore almost has to ask, “Are we European or are we global and worldwide?”. When we look at

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our trade, we have always had something of a deficit in our balance of trade in manufacturing. That is partly because we do not manufacture enough at home and have then been required over the years to import more and more. But when we look at invisibles and the service industries, we are far and away the most influential and dominant in the world. Again, I have been asked, “What happened to the British Empire?”. It did not suddenly dissolve. If I am asked, “Are we all British or European?”, the feeling I have is that we are not European but global. As my noble friend Lord Howell has made clear from time to time, surely we can count the Commonwealth and our relationships there as part of our network. To say that we are just a European country rather downgrades us, in a way. Where does Europe start and the Middle East begin? Where do things end?

I have found over time, as I have explained before in your Lordships’ House, that wise men used to choose young Peers who came in rather reluctantly and put them on to difficult little jobs. I was given the Middle East and told by Lord Jellicoe and Lord Shackleton, “My dear chap, get involved in the Middle East. It is going to take a long time to come alive but we would like someone to be alive at the time when that happens”. It was the same again with Lord Shackleton and eastern Europe. He took me with his team over to Moscow, where I had never been. We had to speak in the basement and then found that it had been bugged but he said, “Remember this: the Russians are no fools”. Today we look at Russia and ask, “Are we dealing with Russians or dictators? Is Russia a cultured country, or what?”. After that time, I had the privilege of going round most of it and I went to Ukraine. I sat next to Ukraine at a conference because UK and Ukraine went together, and the Ukrainian said, “We must do some things together. Why don’t you come and see what we can do?”. I went out and found that it was an extraordinarily interesting country. I have raised the point in the House before that when we went round the missile factories, we realised that they were in a very profitable and successful country but one dominated by a neighbour whom they did not wish to retain.

I will now sit down but I have a simple question. I believe that we are and should be global. I am very grateful to my noble friends here who have spoken in the past but they tend to be a little parochial, so in that belief, may I recommend strongly that we become a global nation?

6.28 pm

Lord Hunt of Chesterton (Lab): My Lords, first, I congratulate the noble Earl, Lord Howe, on his return to the MoD, where I worked for him when I was head of the Met Office, which was then part of the MoD.

The Queen’s Speech refers to some of the most dangerous issues facing the UK and the whole world, in climate change and the effect of nuclear weapons. On nuclear weapons, we have to consider their past, their present and their future. In his opening address the noble Lord, Lord Collins, emphasised the challenge of global poverty and population, which I will not discuss.

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I believe that the Government should do more to publicise and explain the vital role of international organisations in their work, especially the United Nations and the European Union. They could be more vigorous in doing so. Using these agencies is the responsibility of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, within which there was formerly something called the United Nations department, which we have debated here before. I was debating across the Floor with the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, on that question. This UN department co-ordinated the UK’s role in the United Nations agencies. It is now called the international organisation department, because it takes a broader view of many other organisations, including regional organisations such as the Arctic Council and the European Union. I know something about that, having represented the UK in several such organisations, particularly in relation to the international environment, when I was chief executive of the Met Office.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office should surely also be a great promoter of the ideal of internationalism, as we heard this afternoon from my noble friend Lord Judd. Even though in our Prayers, as I noted yesterday, we pray for the Royal Family and for the Queen to vanquish our foes, we do not do much praying to get on with other countries. Perhaps we should change the order of the Prayers from the beginning. That might be an interesting development.

In other countries, of course, every aspect of international policy is more strongly led by Governments, for example in the cultural sphere, from language teaching to communications—although of course in the UK the BBC is at arm’s length from government—education, foreign school visits and the twinning of cities. I put down a PQ about whether the Government are interested in the twinning of cities. No, they are not interested; it is nothing to do with the Government. Perhaps that could be changed. It is quite an important way in which people get to know each other and schools around the world communicate. Surely the event in the recent election campaign of a young pupil controversially talking to the shadow Education Secretary about his concerns about foreigners in the UK showed that these issues have to be considered very seriously.

The FCO also needs to be much more proactive in encouraging other parts of government to work with United Nations agencies. There is sometimes a rather snooty view that we do everything better in the UK and that we do not need to work with them. I believe that this is really important, particularly if we can provide more funding in a way focused to particular topics. For example, the amount of money spent by these UN agencies on water is very small indeed by comparison with meteorology, which is a bizarre choice, but that is the historical situation.

This is of course even more essential as the resources in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have declined—a point made very strongly by the noble Lord, Lord Sterling, this afternoon. If we have a declining Foreign Office capability, and the privatisation or even decline of many of our laboratories, surely it becomes even more important for the UK Government to work in a very constructive way with these agencies and their experts. The amount of money being put

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into these international agencies by other countries whose incomes are increasing, for example China, is of course becoming more important.

A recent House of Lords report on Arctic issues, Responding to a Changing Arctic, commented that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not have the resources to attend the meetings of the Arctic Council. The FCO said that it is not very important and it cannot do it. But it is interesting that, in some cases, non-governmental organisations from the UK are active observers in these UN or regional bodies. Perhaps that is a way forward if the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is so underfunded. Again, as the noble Lord, Lord Sterling, said—it is nice to quote from the other side of the House—other countries are rather surprised by the decline of the UK presence in these bodies. Indeed, remarks were made along those lines at a recent meeting of the Arctic Council.

Another reason why the UK should work with these agencies is their increasing technical ability. Again, as the noble Earl, Lord Howe, emphasised, 2015 is an important year for dealing with the big decisions in Paris to do with global climate change. This is the year in which, after many preceding meetings, there is going to be some attempt to derive targets. China, for example, was very reluctant to make climate change targets, but agreed that it would come to some agreement about them in 2015. The meetings earlier this year between the President of the United States and China were remarkable, and will perhaps be very helpful.

Of course, the important point is that this meeting will be held when there is great unanimity scientifically—even if not on all the Benches of this House. Indeed, the world’s media now accept this situation. Noble Lords might be interested to know that I was interviewed two days ago by the National Public Radio of the United States about some issue of climate change in urban areas around the world. The reference they had was from an article in the Moscow Times. I thought it quite something when the US National Public Radio quotes the Moscow Times. I looked up the article and it was a repeat of one I wrote two years ago. The world has clearly become quite international.

We now need investment to deal with these problems at a very practical level. I hope that that will be the outcome of the 2015 meeting. I indicate to noble Lords the International Maritime Organization that sits across the river here. I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Sterling, knows a lot about it. It has a very important role in determining fuel consumption by shipping. Shipping now produces 15% of the world’s carbon—and that may be rising. Of course, there are now regulations to do with that. Similarly, aviation has had a rise from 5% to 10% of carbon. If we can have non-carbon fuels, which British Airways and others are looking into, that would be important.

Urban areas around the world are increasing their energy use; it is estimated that Chicago will do so by 25%. Very practical measures are needed to reduce this, with new technologies for building. Of course, when it comes to the question of health, the World Health Organization was mentioned this afternoon by the noble Lord, Lord Crisp. There is also the Food and Agriculture Organization. These and all the other

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agencies come to consult the different government departments in Britain, but they also ought to involve many other experts in the UK because these organisations will make the practical steps to deal with the climate change issue. It is interesting that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is attempting to co-ordinate the agencies’ input to the climate meeting in Paris. I have spoken to two colleagues in the Foreign Office about this and believe it to be a very practical way forward.

On the one hand, the potential dangers of nuclear power are a major problem. On the other hand, the coalition Government put more effort into producing a UK nuclear policy. I believe that that is continuing. It is important to make full use of the International Atomic Energy Agency to produce a co-ordinated plan with other countries in Europe about a combination of nuclear power, a reduction of nuclear weapons and dealing with nuclear waste.

6.37 pm

Lord Hennessy of Nympsfield (CB): My Lords, I declare my membership of the Chief of the Defence Staff’s Strategic Advisory Panel but I speak in an entirely personal capacity this evening.

Whenever I contemplate the task faced by the framers of the forthcoming national security strategy and strategic defence and security review—whether they be Ministers, officials or the chiefs of staff—I experience two things: first, a genuine pang of sympathy; secondly, an echo of some words of Winston Churchill’s to a group of Conservative politicians with an interest in foreign affairs in 1936. This is what he said, and I promise not to slip into an impersonation as the sentences roll:

“For four hundred years, the foreign policy of England has been to oppose the strongest, most aggressive, most dominating Power on the Continent … Thus we preserved the liberties of Europe, protected the growth of its vivacious and varied society, and emerged … with an ever-growing fame and widening Empire … Here is the wonderful unconscious tradition of British foreign policy”.

Why the sympathy? If the drafters of the NSS and the SDSR 2015 suggested opening their documents with resolute paragraphs like that, they would be offered either gardening leave or counselling at the very least.

More seriously, the implication of the Churchillian insight is that while we like to think of ourselves as being guided by the drumbeats of our past which make us natural strategists, I have come to the reluctant conclusion that it takes a Kaiser, Hitler or Stalin to give us a malign threat against which we can organise and plan, shaped by Churchill’s “unconscious tradition”. Without that external mind-concentrator, we are prone to drift, laced with a tendency to preach above our weight in the world, which on occasion can so irritate other nations.

I am among those who still wish our country to punch heavier than our weight in the world where and when we sensibly can, with our allies—and so are the majority of the public, if an Ipsos MORI poll of last autumn is a guide. When asked whether the UK should still try to punch above its weight in the world, 52% of respondents said yes while 36% said no. Why am I with the 52%? It is not because I am suffering from an atavistic post-imperial spasm or from an itch after the amputation, as a friend of mine in the secret

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world likes to put it, but for practical reasons, based on a belief that most of the time our special blend of hard and soft power can be of benefit to the world, as well as reflecting how we see ourselves as a people sculpted by a singular past, with special and valuable contributions still to come.

What might a swift audit of our assets look like? An array of superb Armed Forces—tributes have been paid to them from across the House today, quite rightly—seriously stretched, but studded with some world-class specialities. We have a top-of-the-range nuclear deterrent based on a very special set of deals with the United States. We have a considerable overseas aid programme; a top-flight Diplomatic Service; a position as one of only three powers with global intelligence reach; and a P5 seat on the United Nations Security Council—all this plus a rich barcode of cultural and soft power. There is the BBC World Service and the British Council and a goodly number of world-class universities, as well as a scientific research output out of all proportion to our size and wealth. That is still a very formidable list. Yet we may be drifting without prior thought towards a rim beyond which the world, and our allies especially, will realise that we are no longer the deployer of the influence that we like to imagine ourselves to be.

There was hardly a whiff of foreign policy or defence debate in the recent election campaign, as many noble Lords have pointed out; there was a howling silence. The great 19th-century historian, JR Seeley, noticed that we had acquired the imperial version of our great power as if in a fit of absence of mind; we could be about to lose what remains of our post-imperial influence with an equal absence of mind. Certainly, if we start to spend less than 2% of our GDP on defence, we will experience what my friend Professor Paul Cornish of the RAND Corporation calls “mission uncreep”.

I finish with a few thoughts about a very real threat to our country that will appear in neither the national security strategy nor the strategic defence and security review, because it is simply too difficult. It is the possibility that by 2025, in just two general elections’ time, we will be out of Europe, shorn of Scotland and a very different country strategically, economically and psychologically. I fear that an exit from the EU would trigger another Scottish referendum that would result in a vote to separate. Were that to happen, we would have shredded ourselves. That could be the kingdom to come, but we must not sleepwalk into it. The first people whom we have to defend ourselves against are ourselves.

6.43 pm

Lord Popat (Con): My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Hennessy, today. This is my first opportunity to speak as a Back-Bencher for two years, and I very much welcome the freedom to pursue my own interests. The gracious Speech states:

“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”.

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The EU in/out referendum, and the prior renegotiation of our terms of membership, is likely to be the defining political issue of the next couple of years. It has certainly dominated our discussions here today. But it is also a form of navel-gazing, amending what we already have, rather than looking to our future economic and foreign policy priorities.

The majority of our future economic opportunities lie not in Europe, but in the emerging economies, and in particular in the emerging continent of Africa. As your Lordships’ House will know, I am passionate about Africa’s future. Africa and Britain have a great deal in common. This morning, my noble friend Lord Howell mentioned our shared history, language, rule of law, freedom, democracy and, most importantly, the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth binds us together.

We must wake up to Africa’s potential. It is home to the fastest-growing middle class in the world and the population is expected to double by 2045. As has been well-stated, six out of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies are in Africa, with economic growth averaging more than 5% in the continent, which is three times the European growth rate. Rapid urbanisation, along with increased GDP per capita, are creating a sizeable consumer class across Africa, which is in stark contrast to the economic performance of many European countries. As a continent, Africa represents one of the last growth frontiers in the world. In the past five years, we have increased our trade everywhere in the world. We have seized the initiative, particularly in Asia. Trade with China and other emerging powers is stronger as traditional partners have fallen behind. Yet here in Britain, we continue to view Africa through a time warp. This is a failure of successive Governments, who have focused on our aid commitments and the poverty of parts of the continent rather than on identifying trade potential. Our attitude to Africa has consistently been patronising and demeaning. With the exception of the extraction industries, British businesses have more often than not kept away, perhaps still influenced by the stigmas of the past.

I have been fortunate to have visited Africa on many occasions in recent years. Every time I am in Africa, I am repeatedly given the same messages: “We like you”; “We love you”; “We are part of your colony”; “We want to trade with Britain”; “You are our partner of choice, but we don’t see you around”. Our trade with Africa is worth around $35 billion. Over the past decade, the countries that have spearheaded investment in Africa have been China and India, with Chinese-African trade at over $200 billion last year. This is our failure. We are missing out on a chance to reduce our balance of trade deficit, increase prosperity and expand our diplomatic influence.

The difference between China and the UK is that our private sector is truly private. We have to do a much better job of convincing British companies to go to Africa. It is in their interest as private companies and in the interest of this country. We must show our private sector the opportunities in Africa and work with it to enter those markets. A major part of our foreign policy must be to reintroduce and rebrand Africa to the British business community. Some of the

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Government’s actions since 2010 have been steps in the right direction: boosting UKTI’s presence and resources, the appointment of trade envoys, restoring our focus on the Commonwealth at the FCO and the opening of five high-level prosperity partnerships in Africa. These are all encouraging, but they are baby steps in comparison to what really needs doing.

Last year’s US/Africa summit hosted by President Obama in Washington was perhaps the most prominent recent display of interest in African opportunities. It was a clear demonstration of commitment to a great continent of opportunities and an acknowledgement that trade will always have a longer-lasting impact than aid in building a country. Yet again, a competitor is getting in ahead of us, even though we have a substantial African diaspora in Britain that we can tap into.

I urge Britain’s business leaders and the Government not to get lost in the minutiae of European negotiations, and to give some thought to a report released by Deloitte at the end of 2014, Africa: A 21st Century View. It stated that Africa’s middle class is expected to increase to more than half a billion people by 2030. All those people could be buying British goods and services. If they did, it would bring incredible wealth to our great country—considerably more than any European settlement can manage. It is time that we sensibly thought about the future and embraced modern Africa. Let us stop talking about our aid commitments and poverty, and instead seize our opportunity. If we do not do it now, we may well be too late.

Finally, I pay tribute to the Minister, my noble friend Lady Anelay, who is a friend and mentor to me. I will for ever remain grateful to her for providing the opportunity to allow an African refugee such as myself to serve in Her Majesty’s Government.

6.51 pm

Baroness Falkner of Margravine (LD): My Lords, I start by welcoming the noble Earl, Lord Howe, to the foreign affairs and international defence portfolios. It will be a busy time for him, given the state of the world as we find it, but I am sure that he will bring his usual verve to the Dispatch Box. I also congratulate my noble friend Lady Anelay on coming back to this brief. Foreign affairs always benefits from a level of continuity, but I have to say that I found her to be an exceptional colleague, and I put on record my thanks to her for the many years that we worked together. I know that I speak for many noble Lords in this House when I say that across the Chamber we appreciated her initiative of having an informal advisory group of Peers, who were able to speak candidly to experts in the Foreign Office and other experts and explore foreign policy below the Dispatch Box-level. I hope that that practice will continue, because we very much appreciated it over the period we had it.

I cannot but say what a magisterial maiden speech we heard from my other friend, the noble Baroness, Lady Helic. Over the past five years she was the Foreign Secretary’s emissary—that is the word I would use—to the Liberal Democrats, and she did a great job of keeping harmony in the coalition’s foreign affairs team. We had a few disruptions over the European

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Union and the endless referendums that were proposed, but she was incredibly diplomatic and really helpful, and represented the very best of cross-party working that is achievable in this House.

I should say to her that I came here as a migrant as well—an economic migrant, in more benign circumstances than she did, and in the 1970s, some years before she did. I can only echo what she said about the fairness, tolerance and decency that those of us who arrive here find in this country. The two greatest privileges of my time in this country have been the pursuit of citizenship, which I obtained through naturalisation, and membership of this House. It is a privilege to reflect on that, having heard her express similar sentiments today.

I turn to the two significant themes running through this debate—and I will be very brief. First, on the Middle East, one of the reasons we have failed to think through an effective long-term vision of our interests in the Middle East is that, as several noble Lords have mentioned, our diplomacy was constrained by the most ill-advised appointment of modern international relations: that of Mr Blair as the Quartet representative. It was bound to fail because of who he was—we have heard much about who people are, and their backgrounds—and because of the narrowness of his remit, and that narrowness was designated as such because of who he was.

The second major flaw in our Middle East strategy is the lack of the publication of the Chilcot inquiry. It was the Liberal Democrats in 2009 who said to the then Labour Government that an inquiry of that scope and ambition could not successfully take place with any speed at all. I argued in this Chamber that we needed to have a two-part inquiry. Had we done so, now—some six years later—we might have had some method of ascertaining what our strategy should be towards the cauldron which the Middle East has now become. Alas, it was not to be.

The Queen’s Speech has also spoken about Britain’s role in the stability of the Middle East. I say to the Government that it will be on their watch in 2017 that we will have the centenary of the Balfour Declaration—100 years of the slow and painful erosion of the rights of those living in Palestine. I can only echo the comments of my noble friends Lord Alderdice, Lord Ashdown and others in their analysis of what damage is being done to our reputation as a UN Security Council permanent member by hitching ourselves to the US’s coat-tails in not awarding recognition to a Palestinian state. It is nearly 100 years since our attempts to help one people resulted in such palpable injustice to another, and that must weigh on our contribution to what can no longer be described as a peace process.

The other aspect of our lack of strategic depth was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Baglan, and a few other speakers in this debate, and that is the strategic instability that we are seeing in Sino-US rivalry in Asia. The era of Deng Xiaoping’s advice to the Chinese people to hide their light and bide their time is over. It was Henry Kissinger who, in writing about the rise of US power in the late 19th century, said:

“No nation has ever experienced such an increase in its power without seeking to translate it into global influence”.

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What we are seeing in the rise of China and the consequent geopolitical upheaval will affect us all. This will not be a far-away country of which we know nothing and from which we can remain detached.

In 2013, the announcement of an air defence identification zone in the East China Sea was an attempt to “control” rather than merely “influence”. We now understand that China wishes to extend it to the South China Sea. Alongside this, we have Chinese attempts to reinterpret the legal understanding of national exclusive economic zones. So, while the general legal understanding is that international freedom of navigation is guaranteed within the 200 nautical miles that countries identify as their exclusive economic zones, we have attempts by China to redefine this in the South China Sea, where China has numerous territorial disputes with its neighbours and wishes to “control” freedom of military navigation.

China’s fear of US intrusiveness may well be justified but my point is that miscalculations and misunderstandings have the potential to create conflict. We, as a permanent member of the Security Council, cannot stay aloof from this. Therefore, in setting a strategy, it is incumbent on the Government to create a national understanding of the meaning of security beyond the economic sphere. In doing so, they need to start a national conversation about security having costs—costs that sometimes entail sacrifices in other areas, be they health, education or even the national religion of the United Kingdom, the NHS.

Yet beyond expert debates in this House and in the outer reaches of Whitehall, the debate about longer-term changes to the international order has barely started. As Mark Twain is reputed to have said, “History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme”. It is the role of government to be vigilant to that tune and to prepare the country for it.

6.59 pm

Lord Rosser (Lab): I begin by expressing my personal appreciation for the very good working relationship that I had with the noble Lord, Lord Astor of Hever, in his capacity as Defence Minister. Like others, I welcome the noble Earl, Lord Howe, to the interesting combination of new positions that he has just taken on in your Lordships’ House, and the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay of St Johns, in her continuing role as Foreign Office Minister. I also congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Helic, on her powerful and moving maiden speech, which has rightly been so well received.

This has been a thoughtful and thought-provoking debate. It covered a number of different issues that have a common theme in that they relate, to a greater or lesser degree, to what the United Kingdom’s current and future role in the world at large should be and how that role should be carried out in relation to the resources that can reasonably be made available.

One such issue is our membership of the European Union and the Government’s intention to hold a referendum. We will support the Government’s Bill, although we also want to see 16 and 17 year-olds have the right to vote in that referendum and thus have a say on whether our country should remain in the EU, just as they were given a say in Scotland on whether or

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not to remain part of the United Kingdom. We believe that it would be better for Britain if we stay in the European Union, but we believe in a European Union that is rather more than simply a free trade area. Millions of UK jobs are dependent on the trade and investment benefits that we gain from EU membership. However, the European Union has also, for example, helped to raise labour standards, including the right to paid holidays and to equal treatment for part-time workers. Measures and standards protecting and furthering the safety, rights, interests and quality of life of European Union citizens, both inside and outside the workplace, do not normally constitute unnecessary bureaucracy and regulation; they are an integral part of the concept of social partnership, which to date has been a key building block of the European Union.

It remains to be seen what changes and reforms will emerge from the negotiations that the Government intend to have with our European partners. The Government apparently intend to keep such matters to themselves. I think that the noble Earl, Lord Howe, referred to the key roles of the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Foreign Secretary, who would, he said, consult the Cabinet and their Conservative Party colleagues. There must be a possibility that although there may be a similar call from a majority of political parties, including the governing party, for our membership of the European Union to continue, the arguments advanced for so doing may not be quite so similar. Whether, if that happens, it will increase or decrease the prospects of securing a yes vote remains to be seen.

The Government have made a commitment to undertake a full national security strategy and strategic defence and security review and do whatever is necessary to ensure that our Armed Forces can keep Britain safe. We depend on our Armed Forces to a greater extent than is sometimes recognised and acknowledged. We express our gratitude to them for their commitment, which, despite issues over morale, to which reference has been made, extends literally to putting their life on the line on our behalf and accepting in serving our country the potential prospect of fatal or life-changing injuries.

I noted that in his opening speech the noble Earl, Lord Howe, said that he could not say too much about the SDSR at this stage. I would like to ask, then, whether the Government intend to issue a Green Paper on the strategic defence and security review in order to promote the widest possible national consultation and debate prior to final decisions being made. If not, by what means do the Government intend to ensure that there is an open and inclusive national debate on the security and defence challenges now facing our country and what needs to be done to meet those challenges? Also, when would such a debate have to be concluded to meet the Government’s timetable for finishing the SDSR? To what extent will the forthcoming strategic defence and security review be financially driven as opposed to being strategically driven?

The Prime Minister has previously stated that the size of the regular armed services will be maintained and that the regular Army will not be reduced to below 82,000. In the light of the noble Earl’s slightly

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vague comment that the Government will continue to recruit the regulars and reserves that we need, does that commitment by the Prime Minister still stand and does it extend to implementing the previously declared objective of increasing our Army Reserve to 30,000, or is the future strength of the Army Reserve one area where further defence cuts are going to be made?

There were no specific legislative proposals relating to international development in the gracious Speech, but in its election manifesto the Conservative Party undertook to uphold the commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income on international development. My noble friend Lord Collins of Highbury raised a number of points about the direction and objectives of our approach to international development to which I hope the Minister will respond. In particular, I ask her to say whether universal healthcare will be a clearly identifiable goal for the Government at the forthcoming negotiations in September in New York at the United Nations sustainable development goals discussions. I hope that she will also respond to the point raised by my noble friend on the need to ensure that the progress made in September in New York is clearly linked to the work and objectives of the UN Paris conference in December on climate change.

In his opening speech, the noble Earl, Lord Howe, referred to a number of foreign affairs issues of importance to the Government, as have many other contributors, including securing peace and security in Syria and Iraq, the defeat of ISIL, stability in Afghanistan, Ukraine, Israel and Palestine, and the nuclear programmes of Iran and North Korea, as well as a major EU-India trade deal and the strengthening of our economic links with China.

On Syria and Iraq, the fall of Ramadi and Palmyra has called into question the effectiveness for whatever reason of the Iraqi and Syrian armies. As the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, said, the US Defense Secretary has been quoted as saying that the Iraqi forces showed “no will to fight”. Is that a view that the Government share?

A UN Security Council report has stated that there are more than 25,000 “foreign terrorist fighters” involved in jihadi conflicts,

“travelling from more than 100 member states”.

It seems that the number of such fighters may have increased by more than 70% worldwide in the past nine months and that they pose,

“an immediate and long-term … threat”.

The situation in the Middle East is a major cause for concern, as we seem to be faced not only with the disturbing activities of ISIL and the consequential implications for security in this country but with the apparent reality that two of the region’s main powers, Iran and Saudi Arabia, are now involved in a quest for regional supremacy, and over Syria in particular.

On the other side of the world, China has announced a military strategy to project naval power well beyond its own shores, affecting the overlapping claims involving several regional powers in the South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest shipping routes.

The Government have said that they will continue to support the Iraqi Government and the Iraqi Prime Minister. Can the Minister say whether the Government regard support to date as having been effective and

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what, if any, new or extended forms of support will we provide? The Government have also said that they will continue to seek a political settlement in Syria. What progress has been secured by initiatives in this regard to date and are any new initiatives or actions being considered?

As a nation we need to continue to ensure that any potential aggressor knows that, if attacked, we have the ability to hit back quickly and decisively, but, as has been said by a number of noble Lords in today’s debate, we have a key role to play in world affairs and in helping to address or defuse situations that represent hardship and a threat to the lives of innocent people, or a threat to our security and that of others whether directly or indirectly.

We cannot and should not opt out of our responsibilities, but nor can we act alone. We need to work with and through our allies, through other countries as appropriate and through international organisations to achieve objectives that will help to end hostilities and tensions and create the better and safer world that so many are denied and crave and desire above all else.

7.09 pm

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Anelay of St Johns) (Con): My Lords, it is a privilege to be able to close this day’s debate on Her Majesty’s gracious Speech. Today’s debate has yet again brought into sharp focus the range and scale of the challenges facing us all around the world. We can and will have a stronger voice for our nation on the world stage. We set out our action plan in our manifesto, and, as we made clear:

“Our long-term security and prosperity depend on a stable”,


“international system that upholds our values”.

Our eight-hour debate has been packed with insights and expertise. Rather like the coastal birds I watched at Brancaster on the north Norfolk coast last week, after an eight-hour debate I need to float across the surface—at my weight that is difficult—and dive down to gobble up some tasty morsels, but for the moment, I will have to leave the rest for another day. In answering some questions today, others will not go unanswered. I will seek to address them over the weeks ahead. Indeed, some I know are already the subject of Questions tabled for next week and Questions for Short Debate. Additionally, I shall ensure that we have the opportunity for a full meeting on the European Union Referendum Bill shortly after Second Reading in another place. It is right that noble Lords around the House on an all-party basis have the opportunity to question me and officials on that matter. I assure my friend the noble Baroness, Lady Falkner of Margravine, that indeed the foreign policy network will continue. I will consult the Front Benches about expanding the membership of that appropriately.

The Department for International Development’s success in tackling global poverty is world class and should be a source of pride for our country. It is not just the right thing to do; it is of benefit to the United Kingdom, and some of our press should take note of that. Our recent leading role fighting Ebola in west Africa clearly illustrates the ways in which our aid

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directly protects Britain from harm. We have delivered on our promises to meet the UN target of 0.7% of national income as aid and to enshrine this in law. That law takes effect next Monday.

The UK will continue to place girls and women at the heart of international development and humanitarian aid. The noble Baroness, Lady Cox, described conditions in Sudan and South Sudan and painted a clear picture of why international aid is necessary. But there are sometimes problems with delivery. She asked me specifically about cross-border aid into two areas, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. We are deeply concerned by the ongoing military activity in those areas and we have consistently called for humanitarian access. But I am afraid that we judge that the risks of providing cross-border support to be high due to the limited number of implementing partners and our inability to assess or monitor the programmes. However, we are keeping this policy under constant review and are working to develop an in-depth understanding of the humanitarian situation. I repeat my continuing admiration for the noble Baroness’s work in those areas and in Burma.

It is clear that we have a duty with regard to delivering programmes on health. I can say to the noble Lord, Lord Crisp, that by 2020 we have pledged to immunise 76 million children against killer diseases, saving 1.4 million lives. Projects such as that are crucial across the development agenda. As noble Lords have pointed out, 2015 is a vital year. We want the post-2015 agenda to eradicate extreme poverty and put the world on a path to sustainable development by 2030. As the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, and others rightly pointed out, it is the year of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. It is essential that we not only press forward on both those projects but look at them in a complementary way so that we are sure that we can achieve our goals. Certainly, the post-2015 framework will complement the work of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change with a stand-alone goal on climate change and relevant targets throughout the framework. The UK supports strong integration of climate sustainability—the noble Lord, Lord Hunt asked about climate sustainability—across the post-2015 framework, including the target of holding the increase in global average temperatures below 2 degrees centigrade.

The United Kingdom will continue to push for a strong and explicit gender equality commitment and a strong and explicit commitment to the empowerment and realisation of the human rights of women and girls in the post-2015 framework. This is a top priority for the United Kingdom.

Earlier today, when referring to the work of the MoD, my noble friend Lord Howe explained that to protect our citizens and country, we will keep our Armed Forces strong. I will not repeat all the statistics he gave, but he made it clear that we will keep to our commitment to the NATO defence spending target of 2% of GDP this year, and that, of course, we cannot make clear future spending until after the spending reviews. The same work has already begun on the 2015 SDSR. It will report in due course, and consultation is now afoot. We are preparing to consult

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a wide range of stakeholders. Several noble Lords, including the noble Lord, Lord West, asked about that issue.

Trident was not mentioned in the Queen’s Speech simply because legislation is not required, but we will protect the independent Trident deterrent. A minimum continuous deterrent at sea of a four-submarine platform will also secure thousands of jobs here. I hope that that confirms what my noble friend Lord Trefgarne wished to hear; indeed, I made such an announcement recently at the RevCon in New York.

We will also strengthen defence partnerships—from NATO to the Gulf and Asia. My noble friend—he is still a friend—Lord Wallace of Saltaire asked specifically about Bahrain. Coalition throws up many challenges. The one thing it brought me that was of more value than almost everything else was being able to work with him. I treasure that, and learnt a lot from it. I know that he will keep testing me, and we will have different views on things, but I wholly respect his point of view. He asked who is paying for the base at Bahrain. Bahrain has made a significant contribution to the cost of the new facilities, which will provide a bigger base for ships on operations. The UK is paying for the running costs of the base; the Bahrainis have placed no conditions on its usage.

My noble friend Lady Hodgson of Abinger asked whether we include protection of civilians training at MoD in operation orders. It is inculcated in all military training and is fundamental to how the UK military perceive their role. Routine training and operation orders do indeed include protection of civilians. We are rightly proud of our Armed Forces and all that they are able to deliver in protecting our country.

We are determined that the FCO, too, must have the right tools for the job. Our diplomacy will be as important as ever in tackling the challenges and maximising the opportunities to come over this Parliament. As noble Lords have pointed out, there are challenges aplenty. Today, we have indeed introduced the European Union Referendum Bill in the House of Commons, and our priority is to renegotiate the UK’s relationship with the EU and achieve reform of the EU for the benefit of all member states, followed by an in/out referendum by the end of 2017. The details will be a matter for later discussion, but I can say yes to my noble friend Lord Trefgarne—Peers will have a vote.

The Prime Minister is determined to make the EU work better for people across Europe. He has launched intensive negotiations with European leaders. Broadly, the issues for consideration are sovereignty, competitiveness, fairness—particularly between eurozone and non-eurozone states—immigration and welfare. We are realistic about the challenges ahead, but we are confident that, with good will and understanding from our European colleagues, we can indeed find solutions that address the concerns of the British people and improve the EU as a whole. I can say yes to my noble friend Lady O’Cathain—the Government will make the results of the negotiations widely available to all.

Several noble Lords raised the issue of ISIL and extremism. Perhaps I may say at this point that I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, for his letter

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and for the points he made today. We will be considering carefully his practical suggestions, particularly those which followed from his recent visit to a difficult area—Syria. I can also say that of course it is essential that the UK remains at the forefront of international efforts to degrade and ultimately defeat the real threat posed by ISIL, al-Qaeda and affiliated groups. In October last year I said in this House in my first Statement on these matters that this is not a matter of now or next year, it is a matter for a generation—something which the Prime Minister has made clear. We are not going to be discouraged from that path.

I was asked about our extremism strategy. It was delayed for the usual procedural reasons during the period leading up to the general election, but it will now be published and taken forward over the next several months, and I would expect the main findings of the Muslim Brotherhood review to be published alongside the extremism strategy.

As well as playing a leading role in the global anti-ISIL coalition, we are working hard to degrade ISIL’s flow of finance and foreign fighters, and to counter the twisted narrative that ISIL promulgates around the world. As I always do, I listened to every word of the noble Lord, Lord Alton, when he talked about the depravities of people who use the excuse of religion to carry out almost unbelievable atrocities. I would also say that our work includes the reconciliation work referred to by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Coventry. We will work tirelessly with partners and the United Nations for political solutions in Syria and Iraq. Over the past year we have contributed significant aid to Iraq and Syria, and we will continue to do so. That is vital not only to relieve the acute suffering of the Iraqi and Syrian peoples, but to protect British nationals at home and abroad from this grave threat.

Some Peers referred to Russia and Ukraine. We remain firm in standing against Russia’s illegal actions, and Her Majesty’s reading of the gracious Speech yesterday made that clear. We do not seek confrontation, but we will continue to engage to resolve the issue of Ukraine. Further, although it is not business as usual with Russia, it has to be business on several levels, particularly when we are talking with Russia at the United Nations on other matters. It is essential that the Minsk agreements are implemented in full. We are also providing technical and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, but we are of course insisting that there should be reform of its signs of corruption, too.

Several noble Lords referred to issues around migration. We are determined to take a comprehensive approach to dealing with the migration crisis in the Mediterranean. The deaths of thousands of migrants have shocked and saddened us all, and the immediate priority is to save lives. What is HMS “Bulwark” doing? More than 700 people have already been rescued and the ship continues its work in support of the Italian rescue co-ordination centre in Rome. However, we must also address the crisis at source. We need to destroy the trafficking and smuggling networks that are run for vast profits by those who have absolutely no care for human life. We need to step up our work with transit countries to strengthen their borders, and we are involved

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in ongoing discussions with the Libyan authorities on just that matter. We need greater engagement with source countries to address the reasons why people feel compelled to undertake such hazardous journeys. Finally, we need an effective, humane programme to return migrants who have no legal basis to stay in the EU, otherwise it will be unfair to those who are yet to make the journey. When do you say, “No. You are the 1,001st. We will let you suffer in the Mediterranean”? That is not the responsible way to behave. We have a proud history of offering asylum to those who need it, but I agree with my noble friend Lord Marlesford that a mandatory system of resettlement is not the answer to the current crisis.

Several noble Lords raised the issue of Palestine and Gaza, and we will have Questions on that next week. I will say again that we remain committed to a two-state solution. It is the best way to deliver peace and security for both the Israelis and Palestinians. However, we would like to see an agreement that ensures that Hamas and other militant groups permanently end their rocket and other attacks on Israel and that Israel ends its expansion of its illegal settlements—illegal in international law.

I was asked by the noble Lord, Lord Collins, and others, about Iran. With regard to our negotiations, we are very hopeful that they will come to a proper conclusion after the technical stage. They have been very tough, but whatever happens when we reach that conclusion, one can be sure that verification on a continuing basis is core to securing that successful agreement. That is essential for the safety of us all. The noble Lord, Lord Alderdice—again, I want to call him a friend—was right to draw attention to the importance of working with Iran. We should not simply wait until all is resolved and then dive in. Any relaxations of sanctions must wait until we are sure of the deal and that it is being adhered to. Clearly, there is also an important role for our actual relationship with Iran. Certainly the work done by the FCO and DfID in the background is to try to work on human rights.

In the coming years we will continue to champion freedom of religion or belief at the Foreign Office, including support—I can say to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwark—for persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Where freedom of religion or belief is protected, extremist ideologies should not be able to take root. The noble Lord, Lord Wallace, asked about our interface work. It will continue—even stronger than ever.

We will continue to champion women’s rights around the world. We know that women and girls are powerful agents of change and of peace. We know that the wounds of sexual violence cause not only untold suffering but undermine prospects for peace. I add my voice to others who have paid tribute today to my noble friend Lady Helic and the work that she has

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done, and particularly to her maiden speech. I also pay tribute to my former colleague William Hague. They ensured that the United Kingdom has led the world in tackling sexual violence and conflict. Our manifesto is clear that we will continue this leadership. I can assure noble friends and noble Lords generally that we will do just that.

The Foreign Secretary has today asked me to lead FCO efforts to ensure that the agenda is prominent in all our international work. I will travel to Geneva next month to discuss our future programme with the ICRC and the UNHCR, and I look forward to meeting the United Nations Secretary-General’s special representative on sexual violence and conflict shortly. We will continue to pursue the work vigorously, and when I say that it is what I mean.

I was asked other questions with regard to other areas, which I think I might just be able to squeeze in. The noble Lord, Lord Hannay, asked about United Nations security reform with regard to the appointment of the Secretary-General. I can say that we want to seek consensus about the appointment, but on his very first day in his post our new ambassador to the United Nations, Matthew Rycroft, engaged in work which shows that we will be taking a leading part in ensuring that there are changes whereby clear deadlines for candidates to declare themselves should take place, and that the selection process should be more transparent. There should be encouragement of greater scrutiny of candidates and it should promote more applications from women.

The noble Baroness, Lady Cox, raised Burma. We continue to remain supportive of the peace process and welcome the progress made towards a nationwide ceasefire and political dialogue. We have no second thoughts about how difficult this will be and we are ready to assist where we can. It is a matter on which we are providing expertise to broker a deal between the various parties and we regularly discuss the peace process with the Government.

Throughout this debate, colleagues around the House have asked, “What is our future?”. Our ambition for people around the world is the same as for our citizens. Those who work hard and do the right thing should be rewarded wherever they are. Everyone should feel safe to pursue their aspirations wherever they might be. Our nation’s security and prosperity can be guaranteed only if there is sustainable growth and stability around the world. We stand ready to protect our citizens; to ensure that work on sustainable development goals goes forward; to ensure not only that climate change is taken seriously but that we achieve a resolution at the end of this year; and to ensure that this country is what it is—Great Britain.

Debate adjourned until Monday 1 June.

House adjourned at 7.30 pm.