(No. 2) Bill--
Lords amendments agreed to.
1. Dr. Kim Howells : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations have been made to the Government of Peru in relation to the coup in that country ; and if he will make a statement.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Tristan Garel-Jones) : The recent events in Peru are a substantial setback tdemocracy in that country. In company with our Community partners, we have expressed deep concern at the suspension of constitutional rule and reports of human rights violations. We urge the early re-eastablishment of democratic institutions and respect for human rights within the framework of the rule of law. The Peruvian charge d'affaires was left in no doubt of our position when he called on me at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 22 May.
Dr. Howells : If the principle of delivering non-humanitarian aid to Governments who are prepared to move towards liberty and democracy is to mean anything, will the Minister ensure that the Peruvian President is made aware of the fact that the people of this country consider that the days of South America being ruled by dictators are long gone? Will he further ensure that our partners in Europe understand our policy on that matter and that we deliver no aid to that country, other than the most vital humanitarian aid, until we have proof that democracy has been re- established?
Mr. Garel-Jones : We discussed those matters at length last week in Santiago, Chile, with our Community partners and with members of the Organisation of Amercian States. We are working with them to try to bring about a return to democracy in Peru as soon as possible. As the hon. Gentleman says, we must take other action to reinforce that position and we have already suspended balance of payments assistance promised to President Fujimori during his visit to this country earlier this year. We have also suspended consideration of the write-off of certain
Column 810Peruvian debts owed to the Government, as well as action on aid proposals. We shall, of course, continue with existing humanitarian aid programmes.
Rev. Ian Paisley : Will the Minister tell the House what representations have been made by members of the joint Houses of Parliament of Peru to the British ambassador, and what action he intends to take about them?
Mr. Garel-Jones : I cannot answer the specific question, but the hon. Gentleman will wish to know that we are aware that there is substantial support for President Fujimori inside Peru and that our efforts and those of our Community partners are directed towards seeking to help him to return to democracy as soon as possible. I understand that on Monday of this week he made a statement that elections for a constituent assembly would be held on 18 October. That seems to us a hopeful step towards a return to democratic rule in Peru.
Mr. Foulkes : Although we welcome what the Government have already done, and the Minister's statement today, the Minister will have read the Amnesty International report published yesterday, which shows that the human rights situation is much worse than we feared. Members of APRA--the Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana--in particular, are under threat and there is no indpendent judiciary. It is, therefore, necessary to convey to Mr. Fujimori--and I hope that the Government will take strong action to do so--that unless there is not only a return to democracy but an end to human rights violations, the Government, through the EC and the United Nations, are prepared to take much firmer action.
Mr. Garel-Jones : I take the hon. Gentleman's point and he can rest assured that any action that we take, with our Community partners and in co -operation with the Organisation of American States, will aim to assist Peru to rectify the mistake that we believe has been made.
Mr. Jacques Arnold : Although my right hon. Friend is correct in stressing our support for the spread of democracy in Latin America and in disapproving of the action of the President of Peru in overturning the power of his congress, will he please bear it in mind that the President has to cope with a terrorist movement--Sendero Luminoso--which in many ways is worse than the IRA? It does not have popular support in Peru and it did not have the courage to test its popular mandate in either the recent presidential elections or the elections for the congress.
Mr. Garel-Jones : My hon. Friend's point is well made. That is why we have to balance our reaction to these events with the knowledge that there is substantial support for President Fujimori in Peru. Much of that support derives from the fact that the Peruvian people have suffered for more than a decade now from one of the most violent terrorist organisations on the face of the earth.
2. Mrs. Ewing : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his European Community counterparts on the situation in the former state of Yugoslavia ; and if he will make a statement.
Column 811The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Douglas Hurd) : The Yugoslav crisis has been discussed at every recent meeting of European Community Foreign Ministers. I made a statement to the House about it yesterday.
Is the Secretary of State now discussing specifically with his counterparts the possibility of the implementation of a naval blockade and air cargo inspection to ensure that sanctions are effective in resolving the problems, especially in Serbia? Has he had any specific discussions with representatives of Greece-- [Interruption.] --one of the European Community partners, given that Greece may suffer as a result of the sanctions?
Mr. Hurd : I answered questions on the hon. Lady's first point yesterday. I am not sure that a naval blockade or an inspection of air cargoes would add very much at present to the efficacy of the sanctions. A monitoring committee of the Security Council in New York will keep an eye on the matter. We are in very close touch with the Greeks, not only on the question of Macedonia, on which they have especially strong views, but on the whole question. They are bound, and accept that they are bound, not only by the European Community decisions, but by the mandatory decision of the Security Council.
Sir Nicholas Fairbairn : Does my right hon. Friend think that the hon. Member for Moray (Mrs. Ewing) does not see the parallel between Yugoslavia and Great Britain, in which all attempts at ethnic fragmentation, when 80 per cent. of Scots live in England and half those who live in Scotland are not Scots, are fallacious and wrong? The Government did well to protect the Union.
Mr. Hurd : I admire my hon. and learned Friend's ingenuity. I cannot say what was in the mind of the hon. Member for Moray (Mrs. Ewing). My hon. and learned Friend compels attention across the world as a flower of Scottish democracy.
Mr. Hurd : The whole House will want to join in wishing Mr. Patten well as he prepares for this demanding job. His role and that of the Government will be to administer Hong Kong justly and efficiently until the transfer of sovereignty in 1997, and to do everything possible to lay secure foundations for preserving Hong Kong's way of life and economic success beyond that date, as provided for in the Joint Declaration.
Mrs. Mahon : How can Chris Patten expect or demand the respect of the Chinese Government when the British Government have failed to democratise the Government in Hong Kong? May we have an assurance that Chris Patten will not spend his expensive time collecting funds for the Tory party?
Mr. Hurd : The hon. Lady is notably misinformed. The Government have begun the task of introducing democracy--directly elected representatives-- in the Legislative Council. That is something that no previous Government have done but which we now have under way. The question is one of pace, as the hon. Lady knows : it is a question of how much further progress we make in 1995 and of how we ensure that the process continues after the transfer of power. The hon. Lady ought to know better than to ask such tendentious questions.
Mr. Renton : Like many hon. Members on both sides of the House, I welcome the choice of Chris Patten as governor. He is a friend and colleague of hon. Members on both sides of the House and I believe that he will be an outstanding governor. Further to the answer that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has just given, can he tell the House a little more about what decisions he expects to be taken regarding, for example, the future composition of the Executive Council and the number of elected members on the Legislative Council in the run-up to 1997? Obviously, those matters are of continuing and great interest to Hong Kong.
Mr. Hurd : I do not think that the new governor will want to rush to conclusions on these matters as soon as he takes over. He would be wise to want--I am sure that he will want--to consult widely after his arrival, to weigh up all the factors and then to put his advice to us. That will take time. I would not expect conclusions on the kind of matters that my right hon. Friend mentioned to emerge until the autumn at the earliest.
On the specific point concerning the 1995 LegCo elections, we have said that we shall be discussing those elections with the Chinese side with the aim of ensuring as much continuity as possible. Decisions on electoral arrangements will need to take account of such discussions ; they are, I think, some way off.
Column 813would belong was clearer than it is today. Can my right hon. Friend confirm that, as a British Crown colony, Gibraltar will benefit from all the provisions of membership of the EC ? Can he tell us why Gibraltar is at present expressly excluded from the air services agreements in Europe from which other member states have benefited ?
Mr. Garel-Jones : My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Gibraltar's membership of the Community is undisputed, its having become a member by virtue of Britain's accession in 1973. As my hon. Friend will know, the attachment to the air liberalisation agreement of the implementation of the airport agreement has meant that the air liberalisation agreement has been withheld for Gibraltar. We have urged Gibraltar to implement the airport agreement : we believe it to be in its interests to do so.
Mr. David Young : Will the Minister take on board that fact that time is of the essence in discussions of this matter because the financial infrastructure and plans of Gibraltar depend on the air agreement ? Can the Minister assure us that the Government will do everything possible to expedite those discussions ?
Mr. Garel-Jones : The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. Implementation of the airport agreement would substantially reinforce the efforts of the Gibraltar Government to promote Gibraltar as a financial centre. We do not believe that the airport agreement has the sovereignty implications that the Gibraltar Government believe that it has. We have urged them over a number of years to proceed to implement the airport agreement.
Mr. Donald Anderson : Portugal is an excellent friend of this country and it is close to Spain. Is there not now a unique opportunity under the Portuguese presidency to make progress on the airport issue ? Will the Minister give the people of Gibraltar a clear assurance, to allay any anxieties, that their democratically elected Government will be kept fully in the picture on any tripartite discussions about the future of the Rock ? Will he also tell us the current status of the reference to the European Court of Justice ?
Mr. Garel-Jones : The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. The Portuguese presidency is uniquely well placed to help the United Kingdom and Spain to resolve the issue. All parties are extremely grateful to the Portuguese presidency for its enormous work on the issue which we hope will be crowned with success. With regard to the case before the European Court of Justice, a preliminary hearing on admissibility took place on 5 May, but the European Court has yet to pronounce on it. We think that it is likely to do so in July. It would be difficult for me to comment until we know whether the European Court has ruled that it is admissible.
Column 814take every opportunity of impressing on the Government of India our concerns over human rights in regard to Kashmir, and the need for a political process there, and on the Government of Pakistan the need to prevent material support being given to the men of violence in Kashmir.
Mr. Battle : When does the Minister expect the Indian Government to respond positively to the proposals made last year by this Government that international independent organisations should be allowed in to investigate violations of human rights? Serious violations of human rights in Kashmir are reported daily and they affect many of the families and relatives of our constituents.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The hon. Gentleman is right to draw attention to those problems. Human rights abuses are totally unacceptable wherever they come from, whether from terrorists or, as they have undoubtedly come, from the security forces of the Indian Government--although there has been much exaggeration about that. We have emphasised to the Indian Government the need to respond to those terrorist threats by respecting human rights and the rule of law. We are encouraged by their decision to establish an independent human rights commission and I talked to the high commissioner about that only two weeks ago.
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : Of course, as my hon. Friend knows, we are friends of the Indian and Pakistan peoples and we wish to maintain that friendship. We are balanced on that important issue. We know that it must be resolved. It is a serious problem which has led to three wars in very recent memory and we will do anything that we can. However, any intervention on our part must be with the agreement of both sides.
Mr. Kaufman : Is the hon. Gentleman aware that his bromidic utterances this afternoon contrast markedly with the encouragement that the Foreign Secretary gave to Kashmiri voters in Luton when he was seeking to rustle up Conservative votes there--that this Government were going to try to do something specific to deal with a problem that has lasted far too long, has resulted in many deaths on both sides and serious violations of human rights and in respect of which the United Kingdom has a unique role and responsibility?
Mr. Lennox-Boyd : The right hon. Gentleman is quite wrong. The Government's position has not changed. We make our views absolutely clear. I am happy to follow every word that my right hon. Friend has said. May I also add that when he went to India he insisted on the need for a political process in Kashmir. That is also fundamental and we stand by that position.
Dame Jill Knight : Is it not the case that, apart from the efforts being made with the Indian Government, some pressure ought to be put on the United Nations, bearing in mind that two Security Council resolutions--the first dated April 1948 and the second dated January 1949--still guarantee that the Kashmiri people shall have a plebiscite on their future? Why can we not put pressure on the United Nations on the matter?
Column 815Mr. Lennox-Boyd : As my hon. Friend knows, those resolutions are about 40 years old, a lot of water has flown under the bridge since then and there were also resolutions calling for a plebiscite for the state of Jammu and Kashmir to decide whether to accede to India or to Pakistan ; the question of independence was not at issue. We believe that some political process to enable the Kashmiri people to state their wishes for the future is the way forward.
Mr. Hurd : In spite of the lack of final agreement at the CODESA 2 conference, some real progress has been made in the negotiations. We welcome the commitment by all parties to continue those negotiations and will continue to give full support to the process of reform. We are deeply concerned about the amount of violence. We urge all political leaders to support the peace structures which are now in place.
Mr. Hain : Does the Foreign Secretary agree that the South African Government's dogmatic insistence on a 25 per cent. blocking veto for whites is totally undemocratic and that it calls into question President de Klerk's sincerity, especially since his security services are involved in political killings which are running at 12 a day ? Surely the South African Government would be best advised to pursue the majority rule course which successfully accomplished the transition in Namibia and Zimbabwe.
Mr. Hurd : One would not guess from what the hon. Gentleman said how narrow the point of difference is. On the majority necessary for regional devolution in the constitution-making body, the ANC proposes the decisions being taken by 70 per cent. and the South African Government by 75 per cent. That is an important, but relatively narrow, point of difference. I very much hope that it can be bridged, but I do not think that it will be if we, or anyone from outside, start to lay down the law about it.
Sir George Gardiner : Does my right hon. Friend agree that the cause of democracy in South Africa is ill-served by those in this House who champion the negotiating position of one of the parties to the negotiations --the ANC--to the total exclusion of other, equally legitimate interests ? Is it not by far the wiser course for us to leave the South Africans to settle it among themselves ?
Mr. Hurd : The constitutional negotiations must be concluded between themselves. The line that we have taken on the matter under two Prime Ministers has been vindicated by events. As a result we have an ability to help, which is accepted on both sides, and we are giving help, for example, by encouraging those involved in the peacekeeping process to take advantage of policing experience in this country.
Sir David Steel : While the Government have a commendable desire to give every possible assistance, including economic assistance, to South Africa during the transition to democracy, is the Foreign Secretary aware that there is some anxiety among South Africa's
Column 816neighbours in the South Africa Development Co-ordination Conference--all of which are poorer countries--that their needs might be forgotten. Can he lay those anxieties to rest?
Mr. Hurd : There is something in what the right hon. Member says. We are especially concerned because of the present drought, which is savagely affecting countries such as Zimbabwe and Zambia. The right hon. Gentleman may know--if not, we can tell him--of the extent of the help that we are giving, and encouraging others to give, in those circumstances.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Alistair Goodlad) : Under the leadership of the United Nations Secretary- General's representative, Yasushi Akashi, events are on course to meet the timetable of free and fair elections under United Nations auspices in April and May 1993. The United Nations transitional authority in Cambodia was established on 28 February. The repatriation of those Cambodians now in camps on the Thai-Cambodian border under the supervision of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees began on 30 March and cantonment and demobilisation of the armed forces of the four Cambodian factions will start on 13 June.
Mr. Heald : Given the political complexity of the situation in south -east Asia, can my hon. Friend confirm that the Khmer Rouge and the other parties to the Cambodian settlement are all co-operating fully with the United Nations temporary agreement?
Mr. Goodlad : My hon. Friend raises an important point. We are concerned at the Khmer Rouge's unwillingness to co-operate with UNTAC and we have registered our concern with it. It is vital that all the factions work fully and unconditionally with UNTAC.
Apart from those implications, the Government will have two main priorities for the United Kingdom presidency--the completion of the single market and preparation for enlargement negotiations. We will also take forward, from the Lisbon summit, the future finance negotiations now under way and develop closer relations with eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.
Mr. Gapes : In view of the Danish people's rejection of the Maastricht treaty, which they clearly saw as more about a bankers' Europe than a people's or social Europe, what proposals will the Government bring forward to
Column 817amend the treaty to get rid of the excessively restrictive monetarist provisions such as the 3 per cent. budget deficit proviso? Will the Foreign Secretary also accept his responsibility for the fiasco caused by the British Government's ridiculous opt-outs on the social charter and on economic and monetary union?
Mr. Hurd : I think that it would add to the clarity of the afternoon if I left questions about the Danish referendum to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister--if he catches your eye, Madam Speaker. Of course, the hon. Gentleman is right : the Community must work and develop for the benefit of its citizens. The completion of the single market and the practical measures needed for that are precisely in the interests not of bankers, but of citizens.
Mr. Burns : Will my right hon. Friend give the House a categorical assurance that during the British presidency and in the few weeks before that begins, the British Government will not agree to the renewal of Jacques Delors' post as president of the European Commission?
Mr. Hurd : No, Sir. Mr. Delors is a highly intelligent and dedicated public servant-- [Interruption.] --with whose views on the future of Europe we sometimes strongly disagree. No commitment or decision has been taken by the British Government as to whether he should continue in his present office after the end of the year.
Mr. Skinner : Why does the Foreign Secretary not admit that the Tory Government's wonderfully laid-out plans at Maastricht have fallen apart? Why does he not acknowledge that the halcyon days of the Common Market are over, that political union is now off the agenda, that there will not be a single currency for all the Common Market states, that the European bank has gone out of the window and that the Common Market is crumbling? The sooner the Tory Government and those on the Labour Front Bench understand that, the better.
Mr. Rowe : Will my right hon. Friend consider, during the British presidency, the enormous importance of the north-south divide and the contributions that the Community and the countries of the Council of Europe, of which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will also be president, can make in alleviating the tremendous poverty in many parts of the world? That poverty is putting great pressure on the frontiers of the European Community as people seek to enter the Community to escape from the conditions at home.
Mr. Hurd : My hon. Friend is quite right. That is one reason why we hope very much that before we take over the presidency it may be possible to reach agreement in the GATT round. We are not so far apart now. It is conceivable that agreement will be reached ; and, more than any measures of additional aid, success in the Uruguay round would help to solve the problems of the south to which my hon. Friend refers.
Mr. George Robertson : Is the Foreign Secretary aware that one of the most worrying aspects in Europe--and worrying to everyone in this House, including my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner)--is the rise
Column 818of racism, xenophobia and right-wing populism which seems to derive from increasing levels of unemployment throughout the continent? Should not one of the top priorities for the British presidency therefore be tackling the growth of unemployment? Is not the fact that that is not a priority evidence that the Government who do nothing about unemployment in this country are encouraging a do-nothing policy throughout Europe?
Mr. Hurd : The best cure for unemployment is a recovery that is substantial and durable and does not fade away because panic measures have been taken too soon. The hon. Gentleman should also look at the experience of race relations in this country and deduce from that the importance of being able to keep in place effective frontier controls against illegal immigration.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Douglas Hogg) : The fifth round of bilateral negotiations between the partietook place in Washington on 27 to 30 April. Although progress towards resolution of the difficult issues involved has inevitably been slow, substantive discussions are now under way. The momentum of the peace process has been maintained in the five multilateral regional working groups which have taken place in various capitals over the last three weeks.
Mr. Hicks : To help the peace process, would it not be sensible when we assume the presidency to take an initiative similar to the Venice declaration to make it clear that Israel must withdraw from the occupied territories, that the human rights of the Palestinians living there must be restored and that all United Nations resolutions on the subject should be adhered to?
Mr. Hogg : We are, of course, committed to the provisions of resolutions 242 and 338. We think that the best way of tackling the problem lies within the peace process. Certainly the United Kingdom will do her utmost during her presidency to underpin the peace process now under way.
Mr. Ernie Ross : A recent report published by the Israeli central bureau of statistics states that the number of housing starts on the west bank and in Gaza climbed to 8,110 in 1991--a fourfold increase on the previous year. Bearing in mind the international consensus on the illegal nature of those settlements can the Minister tell the House when the Government last made representations to the Israeli Government on this issue?
Mr. Hogg : We do so repeatedly. I agree with what the hon. Gentleman says : the settlements in the occupied territories are indeed unlawful and an obstacle to the peace process. We make that point repeatedly, and I do so again now.
Column 819countries? And to what extent have the activities of the British Government and other Governments been successful in stemming that serious flow of armaments?
Mr. Hogg : My right hon. Friend is right. The flow of armaments into the middle east is a destabilising factor. We have tried to persuade a number of actual and prospective suppliers not to supply. We are of course heavily committed, in the process within the multilateral talks, to try to prevent the flow of arms into the middle east, but the truth is that until the peace process brings about a settlement of the essential dispute it is likely that arms will continue to enter the middle east.
Mr. Garel-Jones : The United Kingdom is deeply concerned at the recent suspension of constitutional government in Peru. A number of measures affecting our bilateral aid programme have recently been taken and the content of the bilateral relationship is currently under review.
Mr. McFall : President Fujimori's actions have created a democratic vacuum, with the result that the wretched people of Peru are faced on the one hand by the military, whose human rights violations are well documented, and on the other by the most ruthless terrorist group, the Sendero Luminoso, which is not content just to kill people but stuffs their dead bodies with dynamite so that they and perhaps also their neighbours are blown apart. In view of that, and in view of President Fujimori's statement that on 18 October there will be a renewal of constitutional rule, but that political parties will be excluded from the process, will the Government assure us that they will maintain the political and diplomatic isolation of Peru until the situation becomes clear and the democratic process is reconstituted ?
Mr. Garel-Jones : I think that I can give the hon. Gentleman half the assurance that he wants. We are not in the business of seeking the isolation of Peru : not only with our partners in the Community but with other democratic states in Latin America, we are seeking to draw Peru back into the democratic fold. The hon. Gentleman is slightly inaccurate in saying that President Fujimori wishes to exclude political parties. I recognise that what the president said is controversial. He said that those who seek election to the constituent assembly will not subsequently be able to seek election to whatever assembly is agreed by the constituent assembly. I do not think that President Fujimori has excluded political parties from the process, as the hon. Gentleman hinted.
11. Mrs. Roche : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when a Minister from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office last visited Cyprus to discuss the situation in the island.
12. Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to make an official visit to Cyprus to discuss progress towards a settlement ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Hurd : We give full support to the United Nations Secretary- General's efforts to bring about a just and lasting settlement in Cyprus. There are grounds for some sober optimism. All sides have now endorsed the ideas set out in Security Council resolution 750, and the secretary-general has invited the leaders of the communities to New York for talks on 12 June. We have had frequent talks with Cypriot Ministers, and with all other parties to the dispute, since the last bilateral ministerial visit, which was in 1983. It has been important not to cut across the negotiations by United Nations envoys in Cyprus itself, which are again active.
Mrs. Roche : Does the Foreign Secretary not appreciate that to the Cypriot community in this country the absence of a ministerial visit indicates that the 1974 invasion by Turkey and the continuing occupation of the northern part of the island of Cyprus is not a high priority for the Government? Does he not consider that the fate of the refugees and of the missing people in that country deserves a much more vigorous Government approach?