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9.59 p.m.

Lord Judd: My Lords, much of this debate has been a useful reflective occasion containing a good deal of wisdom, experience, expertise and indeed, in the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, prophecies worthy of an Old Testament prophet. I look forward to going over it all again in Hansard as there is valuable comment to digest, but now I must congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Blaker, and the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, on their sparkling maiden speeches. On the evidence of their performance today we shall all look forward to their contributions in the future, even if occasionally we do not altogether agree with their analysis or conclusions.

I must also endorse the observations made by my noble friend Lord Cledwyn in his formidable speech. We all admire the commitment and personal integrity of the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker. If only the Government as a whole listened to her and reflected her standards of compassion, insight and concern, Britain would today be a brighter, happier and more honest place. But sadly the accumulated evidence all too clearly demonstrates that they do not.

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Perhaps I may start with a few words on the Crown Agents. In examining the proposed new legislation our sole concerns will be whether the proposed changes enhance or damage the work of the Crown Agents and whether they will better serve the interests and needs of the United Kingdom and the international institutions and overseas nations with which we seek to co-operate. The Government assure us that a wide cross-section of relevant organisations will be included in the new foundation. We shall examine very carefully exactly what that means. What we will not countenance is the transfer of yet another well-tried and proven public service to some less accountable quango packed with Government supporters.

Four years ago this month the Berlin wall came down and people on both sides of the Iron Curtain rejoiced at the prospect of a more secure and stable world. My noble friend Lady Blackstone spoke of the grounds for hope in South Africa, the Middle East, Cambodia and Haiti. I strongly endorse that positive analysis of what can be when the will and leadership to make it happen exist. But still, by contrast, as my noble friend emphasised, for too many millions the dream of 1989, if for them it ever was a dream, has faded with the spread of regional and intra-state conflicts across the world.

During my time as director of Oxfam I became mesmerised by the degree to which conflict diverted us from our commitment to long-term development. When I completed my service less than three years ago more than 50 per cent. of our work worldwide was conflict related. In Africa it was more than 70 per cent. The human and economic cost is sickening. In the Second World War some 50 per cent. of the war-related casualties were civilian; today, the figure is probably in excess of 90 per cent.

The non-governmental think-tank, Saferworld, with which I am glad to work professionally, has today launched a report entitled The True Cost of Conflict. Against the recent background of Rwanda and Somalia, where in orchestrated campaigns of violence up to 1 million men, women and children have been butchered, this report covers seven other case studies.

In former Yugoslavia it records that 200,000 have died and that 20,000 Moslem women have been raped. Over 500,000 refugees have fled to countries in the European Union. The cost of UNPROFOR, including the deployment of 31,000 troops, has reached 1 billion US dollars.

In East Timor 210,000 people of a population of 650,000 have died since the Indonesian invasion in 1975. Child mortality is the world's second highest. Following the invasion, virtually no foreign investment has come to East Timor.

Between 1989 and 1991 Iraq's gross domestic product fell from 66 billion US dollars to a mere 245 million US dollars. The costs of the Gulf War to Saudi Arabia have been at least 62 billion US dollars.

In Mozambique between 10,000 and 15,000 civilians have been killed by landmines. Some 70 per cent. of the schools have been destroyed and two fifths of the population are illiterate. The war has cost Mozambique 15 billion US dollars--four times its 1988 gross

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domestic product. Between 1981 and 1991 the world had to mobilise 6 billion US dollars of foreign aid for that war-torn country.

In Sudan, since 1983 500,000 people, mostly civilians, have died. Up to 1 million have been wounded and 6 million have been displaced. In 1992 the Sudanese Government spent more than 1 billion US dollars on arms. All infrastructural development has been halted and much has been destroyed. US companies have lost over 1 billion US dollars worth of investment. In Kashmir 3,000 businesses and shops had been destroyed by 1991. Tourism dropped from 700,000 visitors in 1988 to 10,000 in 1992. In Peru, 600,000 people have been displaced. Sendero Luminoso guerrillas have caused some 22 billion US dollars worth of damage. And so the grim story continues across the globe--Angola, Liberia, Afghanistan, the former Soviet Union, and the rest. That is why my noble friend Lady Blackstone was so right to emphasise what a genuine commitment to pre-emptive diplomacy involves.

As the reform of the United Nations is debated, if we in the United Kingdom are to justify our continued place as permanent members of the Security Council we must be in the vanguard of putting pre-emptive diplomacy and conflict resolution to the top of our foreign policy priorities.

The noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, referred to the UN as being no more than the sum total of the commitment of its member states. She is right. But that is why it is to our eternal discredit that as permanent members of the Security Council we were party to the decision to reduce the UN presence in Rwanda at the very time when the Secretary General and others were calling for it to be increased. Many thousands of dead and bereaved today might have been saved had we supported in time a greater presence. If we are serious about a positive as distinct from a reactive foreign policy, it is now that we should have the dangers of renewed conflict in Rwanda, and of new conflict in Burundi, Kenya, Togo, Nigeria and Zaire high on our agenda. The cost of failing to act in time may well otherwise once more prove formidably and bloodily expensive.

Before I leave that theme, I must raise the matter of Gambia. With all the Government's emphasis on democracy, human rights and good governance, exactly what are they doing directly, as well as with others, to restore democracy there? If the international community cannot deal effectively with a little group of misguided military adventurers in that small country, I shall begin to despair for the future of humanity. No responsible discussion of security can ignore the arms trade. Each year the world spends 250 times more on the arms which fuel conflict than on peacekeeping. It is surely a crude paradox that almost 90 per cent. of the arms sold to the third world are sold by the five permanent members of the Security Council. It is surely ironic that the cost to the US alone of Operation Restore Hope in Somalia, which involved rounding up weapons, roughly equalled the value of the arms sold to the Siad Barre regime during the 1980s; and it is bizarre that during the Gulf War allied troops found themselves facing weapons supplied by their own side.

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The time has certainly come for the international community to take urgent steps to regulate the arms trade. I suggest three priorities: first, to implement the common guidelines which have been agreed and adopted by member states of the European Union and the CSCE so that the arms exports to countries abusing human rights, or which undermine regional security, are effectively restricted; secondly, to extend the 1991 UN register of arms to include small arms so that trade in that most widely used category of arms will be scrutinised under the glare of an international spotlight--I believe that to be an absolute pre-requisite for effective control; and, thirdly, to take urgent action to deal decisively with the sale, stockpiling and use of increasingly sinister anti-personnel mines with all their truly terrible long-term, as well as short-term, human, agricultural and economic consequences.

In the meantime, notwithstanding the well-intentioned professions by the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, the Government must respond more convincingly to the growing and deep anxiety so well expressed by my noble friend Lord Desai and others in this debate about the apparent correlation between the deployment of substantial amounts of our aid programme and lucrative arms deals. It is too big a coincidence to swallow. Pergau has been one such story; Indonesia is sadly at least as significant. Thailand, Nigeria and Oman are other disturbing examples. All that, at a time when bilateral aid to poverty-stricken parts of Africa is scheduled to be cut severely over the next three years.

I understand--and the Minister will certainly correct me if I am wrong--that the Ministry of Defence Form 608 (Export Licence and Arms Working Party Applications) states:

    "It is government policy that aid may not be used either for the purchase of military equipment or"--
and this is the significant part--

    "to promote such purchase".
The Minister for Overseas Development will have the full support of the House in bringing home to her colleagues that we detect an alarming gap between stated policy and practice. But no doubt the Scott inquiry will have much more to tell us about all that.

No one wants to spend more than is necessary on defence--certainly not at the expense of civil, industrial and technological development, economic and social infrastructure, education, health, housing, environmental care, and the rest, which together make a quality of society worth defending. What, above all, is therefore essential is to define the perceived threats, the task, the purpose. If in the post Cold War era uncertainty, volatility, increasingly sophisticated international terrorism--perhaps nuclear, chemical and biological--are the dangers, then those are what our defence system must be geared to meet. If what is required is an ability to contribute effectively to international peacekeeping and international humanitarian operations like those we have seen so courageously, sensitively and committedly undertaken in recent years, then we should gear ourselves convincingly to just that. If analysis demonstrates the indispensability of United Nations standby forces or of a standing UN rapid deployment

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force backed by first-class UN command structures and intelligence, then that should be a central feature of our defence policy.

In that context, perhaps when the Minister winds up he will tell us more of what is to be discussed with the French in Chartres, I believe tomorrow. What of the reported proposals for a joint Anglo-French command to co-ordinate military operations outside the NATO area? What of the ideas for joint patrols and targeting by nuclear armed submarines and for an African standing force? How does all that relate to our lead responsibility as permanent members of the UN Security Council, as well as to our membership of NATO?

What would be a total waste of taxpayers' money would be to spend vast sums on defence arrangements that were unsuited or inadequate to meet the essential task. In that respect, it has to be said that it is still immensely difficult to see clearly exactly what is the Government's view of the challenges they are endeavouring to meet. It is therefore virtually impossible to establish whether what is being done is right or adequate to meet the Government's own objectives, if they have them. In the absence of this convincing sense of strategic purpose, anxieties are inevitably acute lest we have a piecemeal Treasury, as distinct from defence-led policy--one, incidentally, that naively separates out front line and support services when recent experience establishes the absolute imperative for their integration.

Yet again in this debate I found the thoughts of my noble friend Lord Kennet particularly stimulating. It would be lamentable if, in the post Cold War era, we allowed east and west once more to drift apart. Surely it is vital to bring the former Warsaw Pact countries into NATO as soon as their military and political developments make that possible. How soon do the Government believe that Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic can be fully integrated? Of course Partnership for Peace is a start; but it must never become an end in itself. It neither provides security guarantees nor makes provision for even associate membership of NATO. It sits uneasily beside the commitment in the gracious Speech to an enlarged European Union, eventually encompassing countries of central Europe.

International security in an unpredictable world demands disarmament. With whole economies and numerous jobs dependent on the arms industry, a serious commitment to disarmament requires a serious commitment to substitution. The US and the European Union with its KONVER programme have made a start. Surely we in the United Kingdom should follow suit, fully using the opportunities that are presented by KONVER to facilitate valuable defence technologies "spinning into", as the term goes, the civilian sector.

Meanwhile, as the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, pointed out, it is good to see the commitment in the gracious Speech to the extension of the non-proliferation treaty and the nuclear test ban treaty. But, as the noble Lord argued, "do as we do" rather than "do as we say" will be an important leadership role for the United Kingdom.

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What therefore remains deeply disturbing is that the Government, while having come down from the ludicrous figure of 500 warheads, still stick to a maximum 384 warheads for Trident, as against the present total of 192. What possible post-war rationale can there be for 96 warheads per submarine with Trident as compared with 48 with Polaris during the Cold War? How does such a commitment help with the non-proliferation treaty and beyond? Indeed, does it not run directly counter to Article 6 of the non-proliferation treaty, which requires signatories to reduce their nuclear arsenals?

By the same token--as has been raised in this debate--I hope that the Minister will be able to reassure us that no weakening of commitment is indicated by the absence from the gracious Speech of any mention of ratification of the chemical weapons convention. For me, the most important message from today's debate has been the concern with pre-emptive diplomacy and conflict resolution.

Let us never forget the underlying causes of conflict. It is all too easy to be simplistic; to characterise, for example, Rwanda as just another ethnic conflict. Rwanda was one of the poorest countries in the world; one of the most densely populated in Africa; one with an enormous debt burden; one whose economy had largely depended on a single commodity subject to wild fluctuations on the world market. All of those were major factors in the crisis. They were factors to which we in the north contributed. If we continue to live in a world where the rich grow richer and the poor grow poorer, where the result of accumulated unpayable debt is to crush the poor still further, we must expect to live in a world where conflict, coupled with international terrorism, increases, making us all poorer and more vulnerable in the end.

It is high time that we redrafted the role of the Security Council to take on board the economic, social and cultural dimensions of security. It is essential to make the Bretton Woods institutions more accountable for their role in world affairs; to bring home to them their responsibility for social justice, peace and security.

At home, the really bitter part of the Pergau saga was how on earth our all-too-limited aid funds--at an all time low as a percentage of gross national product--could be diverted for such a questionable project in relatively prosperous Malaysia when the demands of abject poverty remain so great. Nothing could be more appropriate than to see the £60 million already spent on Pergau put back into the aid programme to make good the projected £60 million cuts in aid to Africa over the next three years.

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