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Lord Bethell: My Lords, will my noble friend allow me? I am sure that he knows that that vital phrase is included in the preamble to the Treaty of Rome and that our Government signed it in 1972, as did all the other governments. There is nothing new about it.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, I never suggested that there was anything wrong with that. If my noble friend bears with me, he will find that I am indeed coming to the text of the treaty itself. I quite agree with what he says. However, it is Article A of the Treaty of European Union, which is sometimes referred to as the Maastricht Treaty.

The rest of the first sentence of paragraph 4 of the gracious Speech and the whole of its second sentence look just as difficult to achieve. The Community's determination to go ahead with its social policy and with its plans for monetary union clearly demonstrates to all but the most starry-eyed Europhile that it has no intention of becoming outward looking, economically liberal or flexible. Nor does it have any chance of improving its competitiveness and economic well-being under these policies.

To support these statements I pray in aid the Government's excellent attitude to and their opt-out from the Community's social policy. I pray in aid the landmark publication of my right honourable friend Mr. Heathcoat-Amory at the end of July, A Single European Currency: Why the United Kingdom Must Say "No". As far as I know, no one in government or elsewhere has put forward any reasoned or detailed disagreement with Mr. Heathcoat-Amory's pamphlet, which shows forcefully why the UK must refuse ever to join the proposed single currency and also why we should do so now. My right honourable friend writes with all the authority of a former Minister for Europe and, until his

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resignation, the Minister in the Treasury responsible for following our negotiations on EMU. So I submit that this is not a publication which can just be ignored.

I do not know whether my noble friend Lord Bethell has actually read the publication. If he has not, I shall be happy to give him a free copy and I hope that it might inform his views on the single currency. I shall of course put a copy in the Library in case any other noble Lord would like to read it.

I come then to the last sentence of paragraph 4 of the gracious Speech which foresees enlargement of the Community by including countries in Central and Eastern Europe. On 15th October your Lordships debated the excellent report from the Select Committee on the Community's enlargement and the common agricultural policy. There was general agreement that enlargement cannot take place on anything like existing treaty terms without reform of the crazy and ruinous common agricultural policy. Indeed, my noble friend Lady Chalker stressed that again this afternoon.

However, in our debate several of your Lordships confirmed the widespread resistance to such reform from the other signatories. The Government believe that the necessary reform of the CAP could be achieved by a qualified majority vote rather than by the unanimity which will be required for the treaty changes to which I alluded earlier. In my brief intervention on 15th October (at cols. 1631-32 of the Official Report) I set out how the qualified voting majority system works under the treaty. I asked my noble friend the Minister to agree that it made reform of the common agricultural policy, and therefore enlargement of the Community, well nigh impossible. My noble friend did not answer the point then and the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, who followed me in the debate, was good enough to say that he had not been able to understand it. Since I was unlucky enough not to receive an answer to the same question in our debate on the IGC on 15th April, I fear that I must repeat the question again.

Under the Treaty of Rome there are at present 87 qualified majority votes among the 15 member nations. Sixty-two are required to carry a motion and 26 to block one. The United Kingdom has only 10 votes. The principal paymasters of the CAP are Germany with 10 votes, Denmark with four votes and ourselves with 10 votes, which makes 24 votes in the hands of those who pay the piper. There appear to be 54 votes in the hands of recipient countries under the CAP, which must explain some of their reluctance to reform it. But Germany, although a paymaster, is also surprisingly against reform. As far as I can understand, that leaves only Denmark and ourselves as enthusiastic reformers, with all of 14 votes between us, which is a long way short of the 62 votes required to carry reform. Indeed, as many as 64 out of a possible 87 votes appear likely to be ranged against reform, which is why I keep putting to my noble friends on the Front Bench that reform of the common agricultural policy and the enlargement of the Community which it might make possible at best look unlikely.

As I have put this point several times to my noble friends on the Front Bench, I should be very grateful for an answer today, or at least some time later in writing.

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My noble friend may be able to go some way towards agreeing with me, in which case he may say that the difficulty over the reform of the common agricultural policy and enlargement suggests that new members of the Community should be admitted on varying terms under the doctrine of "variable geometry", as it is known, so wisely espoused by the Government. But here again, alas, we come up against exactly the same difficulty: a large majority of the signatories to the Treaty of Rome are federalists and so do not agree with variable geometry either.

Before I leave the question of enlargement, there is one other question that I have been putting to the Government for some time without receiving an answer. It is whether in their view any enlargement of the Community is likely to increase the power of the centre--that is, of the Commission, the Court and the parliament--towards member nations or whether it is likely, as I believe the Government originally hoped, to diminish that power. The Eurocrats in Brussels clearly hope for an increase in their powers, which they claim will be made necessary by all the extra languages and different legal systems which will have to be absorbed. I wonder whether the Government have given any thought to what is actually likely to happen. Again, of course, one fears that the United Kingdom will be more or less alone if it wishes to see enlargement leading to any reduction in the power of the Commission or the Court. But I hope that my noble friend can set my mind at rest.

Before leaving the detail of the gracious Speech as it affects our relationship with the European Community, I would very much like to welcome paragraph 5 in which the Government say that they will continue to pursue the global liberalisation of trade. Indeed, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the World Trade Organisation are steadily making the Treaty of Rome and the single market redundant from a commercial point of view. The WTO aims to have removed tariff barriers entirely by the year 2020, and already some 44 per cent. of all goods which are traded in Europe do so at a tariff rate of zero. Average tariffs on the rest now stand at some 3.5 per cent.

But the treaty still retains its original political intention, which is an ever-closer union between the peoples of Europe. It is here that the real controversy starts, because a growing number of people in this country are beginning to see that the United Kingdom might do better to leave the treaty altogether. Among all the controversy which surrounds this suggestion I single out three contentions which those of us who wish to withdraw have to face. The first two go something like this: our inward investment only comes to us because we are members of the Union; our European partners would victimise us out of existence if we left the treaty. I notice that the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, took this position quite strongly in her opening remarks today.

Since we last debated the European issue generally two publications have emerged which refute both these contentions. The first was written in April by Messrs. Burkitt, Bainbridge and Whyman, who are respected academics at Bradford University. It is entitled There is

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an Alternative (to our membership of Europe). The second was published earlier this month by the Institute of Economic Affairs under the title Better off out? I shall put copies of both publications in your Lordships' Library also. As far as I know, no one has taken serious issue with the detail of their findings or with their general conclusions. These are that most of our inward investment comes to us because of our good labour relations, low inflation and low tax rate, because we speak English and, yes of course, because we have access to the single market. But they see no reason why we should not retain amicable access to that market if we withdraw from the treaty itself. Since we trade in deficit with Europe, we could easily negotiate a position such as that enjoyed by Switzerland, which still exports more per capita to the Community than we do, even leaving out her banking side. In short, both publications lead one to conclude that we might be rather better off economically outside the Treaty of Rome.

That brings me finally to the most important contention of all. That is that blood may flow again in Europe if Chancellor Kohl is not able to achieve his dream of a federal superstate. I am sure that Chancellor Kohl is in good faith when he says things like,

    "European integration is in reality a question of war and peace in the 21st century",

as he did at the University of Louvain on 2nd February this year. I regret that my noble friend Lord Bethell has left the Chamber because I wish to share everything he said about the anti-German feeling which appears to erupt in various broadsheets, which I do not make a habit of reading.

Herr Kohl's spokesman, Herr Karl Lamers, has been even more precise. He said:

    "Never again must there be a destabilising vacuum of power in Central Europe. If European integration were not to progress, Germany might be called upon, or tempted by its own security constraints, to try and effect the stabilisation on its own and in the traditional way".

Those of us who wish to leave the Treaty of Rome do not share Herr Kohl's and Herr Lamers' apparent lack of faith in their own people. I note also that younger Germans of my generation and younger do not seem to share it either. We fear that what they are trying to build is more likely to lead to the Balkanisation of Europe than the Europe of nation states, the "partnership of nations", so wisely favoured by Her Majesty's Government. After all, when did a truly democratic country, such as the modern Germany, last cause a war? I wish that Herr Kohl would reflect on that question, but it seems that he and his European friends are in much too much of a hurry to do so. So, I believe that eventually we shall have to let them go ahead without us, perhaps in some form of union less drastic and dangerous than the one that they now contemplate. Then, not for the first time, Britain will have saved herself by her exertions and, let us hope, Europe by her example.

8.10 p.m.

The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, on the whole this has been an outward-looking debate, but I wonder whether in our obsession with sovereignty inside the EU

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we have become too Euro-centric. Like others, I want to see the strengthening of our economic partnership and greater political co-operation, especially in foreign affairs, with the minimum loss of national identity. I am also pleased to see develop a new form of Ostpolitik, if not enlargement or association, which will shake up the common agricultural policy and loosen the grip of central bureaucracy.

However, I am mainly concerned about the gap between fortress Europe and the rest of the world, especially those Commonwealth countries with which we share common experiences. I believe that there is a reawakening of interest in the UK of the potential of our bilateral aid and trade overseas. We have just heard the noble Lord, Lord Gillmore of Thamesfield, speak on that in enthusiastic terms. To that end I am pleased to know of Her Majesty's forthcoming visits to Pakistan and India. Such visits will undoubtedly bring further mutual understanding. Trade with India is already flourishing, thanks largely to Indian deregulation, and with the vast potential market there I hope to see a renewed commitment to our varied aid programme.

There is always a nice mixture of altruism and single-minded ambition in Britain's foreign policy motives. It is an ambiguity of which we have accused the French since before the Napoleonic wars but which we rarely admit in ourselves. It stems from our colonial history, but continues in many new disguises. We would like to turn our present aid beneficiaries into our future trading partners. We would like to use our diplomatic skills to further our economic advantage. We would, of course, like to sustain our English language and our culture overseas.

But whatever our economic motives, aid is also a responsibility. As one of the developed nations--we heard from the Minister that we have the third largest source of private capital--we have an obligation to the weakest populations in those other countries. Pakistan, India and Nigeria, for all their wealth, are still among the lowest 48 on the UN's human development index. They join poorer countries on the list such as Tanzania, which is suffering from the Great Lakes disaster at the moment, the Sudan, Nepal, and Uganda, still recovering from its old crises, with which we still have strong ties, and countries in considerable distress like Afghanistan about which we heard earlier and which is now almost the lowest on the scale.

I welcome the ODA's renewed emphasis on the poorest groups, but I wonder whether the Treasury--now allowing less than 0.3 per cent., the lowest-ever proportion of our national income and that at a time when we have commitments to eastern Europe--has really grasped the importance of overseas development within our foreign policy. The Chancellor's initiatives on debt, which have even won him admiration from the aid agencies--not short-lived, I hope--show that there is a glimmer of hope on the issue.

I wonder also whether we have appreciated the vast human resources displayed by our aid agencies, voluntary organisations and churches which, incidentally, form a significant constituency in this country as well as overseas. Have we recognised that

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they, too, are our representatives abroad and agents of a new kind of human foreign policy? Have we evaluated their role alongside the United Nations and conventional armed forces in international security? Occasionally we read of the plight of an individual aid worker in Somalia or Rwanda, but there are thousands of expatriate staff and their co-workers who are seeking to improve conditions overseas. We do not give their work nearly enough recognition in public life, however hard the ODA is helping to promote them. I congratulate the ODA on its openness towards those organisations and on its willingness to consult them. Through a small charity working in Afghanistan, I have come to see that co-operation first hand and I hope that it continues through the present crisis.

Social development is now an accepted office in embassies and provides valuable links with the voluntary sector on issues such as poverty and human rights. That is another reason for supporting the Foreign Office and the diplomatic community. But the non-governmental organisations have a wider agenda than aid and one which goes beyond the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and affects other departments also.

Recently 10 such organisations issued a powerful joint manifesto on development and the environment. I should like briefly to mention a few of the key issues with which they are concerned. They coincide with the wider framework of development to which the Minister referred. They would like an expanded, better targeted, more visible aid programme which reaches beyond aid to social and economic development. They would like the acceleration of debt relief programmes through the new World Bank and IMF initiatives, with particular reference to the poorest and most indebted countries, such as Uganda, to which the Government are already committed. They would like more shared understanding of the effectiveness and long-term advantages of aid, based on evaluations of successful, sustainable programmes which help the poor and protect the environment. They would like greater awareness by the public and consumers of the origin of food and the many other imported goods now in supermarkets to remind trading companies of their responsibilities to the producers of those goods. They would like UK legislation which will help to end sex tourism, commercial exploitation of child labour, and other abuses of the UN conventions on the rights of the child, on slavery and on the rights of indigenous peoples.

In conclusion, I hope that the Government will stand firm on the principle of gender equality, which has already been mentioned and which is now being challenged by the Taliban, among others, in the name of Islam. I hope that the Minister can confirm that the Government will support United Nations agencies in continuing wherever possible to give women's rights and education the highest priority against that difficult background. I know that the views held on that and many other issues by the development agencies have helped both to reflect changing public opinion and to shape and influence the development of our foreign policy, and I am sure that they will continue to do so.

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8.18 p.m.

Lord McNair: My Lords, today's debate gives me an opportunity to tell the House about a visit to Germany which the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, Professor Antony Flew, Dr. Dennis O'Keeffe, Mr. David Rosser Owen and I returned from on 2nd October. The reason for our visit was to take evidence from witnesses who represent religious and ethnic minorities in that country. In the space of a week we met people from 17 different groups.

We think of Germany as a modern, progressive industrialised and democratic country. Indeed, it is all of those things, but by the end of the week we had the feeling that behind all that was another reality. As I recount some of what we discovered, the House may come to understand why we came to feel that Germany, in parallel with all its great achievements, is moving perceptibly in the direction of becoming a highly conformist, theocratic state.

Apart from the Turks, Kurds and a group called VPM, which has a philosophy of education and socio-ethics, all of the other groups interviewed were solely religious. The Turks and Kurds have religious as well as ethnic affiliations which can complicate their international and inter-community relationships in Germany. For example, in Britain we take for granted that if someone is born here he or she is automatically British. In Germany that is not the case.

One oddity brought to our attention by the witness from the Centre for Turkish Studies was that university applicants of Turkish origin had to attend an office at the university which was different from that used by German students. I was not sure whether that separation applied only to Turks or to all non-Germans. In any case, it applied mainly to Turks because they were Germany's largest minority. All of the members of the committee were already aware in general terms of the difficulties faced by Turks and Kurds. However, they were astounded by reports received from representatives of smaller religious groups, including new Christian denominations and religious movements.

The first group on which I touch briefly is the Charismatic Christian Church in Cologne. We took evidence from Pastor Terry Jones and co-Pastor Charles Robinson. That active Charismatic Christian Church has been administering to people in Cologne for many years. Over the weekend it has an attendance of about 1,200 people. That church reported an intense media campaign to discredit it, coupled with an attempt to remove its tax-exempt status. The most disturbing matter described was the attempt to reduce the charitable status. The Church received a de-registration order which stated that it did not contribute to the cultural, religious, social or spiritual value of German society. That appeared to the committee to be a rather arrogant position to adopt in respect of someone else's religion. It certainly goes beyond the limits of state neutrality in matters of religion. Pastor Jones and his colleagues are now engaged in a court battle to reverse the decision.

The VPM is a group that consists mainly of professionals such as teachers, lawyers, theologians, doctors, psychologists, people from other callings and

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parents interested in the psychology of education. That is a secular pressure group which is perhaps comparable with the British Campaign for Real Education, with which it has close links. It has been swept up by a network of sekte priests and sekte commissioners, largely because its stand against drugs runs counter to the views of powerful proponents of drug legalisation. It has been viciously attacked in the media as a sekte. In summary, its opponents have stigmatised VPM by the label of sekte and the authorities, media and public appear to have accepted that.

The committee also spoke to Herr Ignatz Bubis, chairman of the National Council for Jews. He told us that there had been an increase in the number of attacks on Jewish property and the desecration of Jewish cemeteries. He also clarified the difference in the meaning of two German words. I do not attack Germany. I want to see an improvement in the situation. He said that one had to listen carefully to the language used and there were graduations of dislike. The word auslander literally means a foreigner. For example, that term is applied to the British, Swiss and French. Non-whites are Fremde or strangers. Presumably, this means that the non-white minorities in Britain would count as Fremde even though they were mainly British citizens by right of birth.

Next, I deal with the situation in which the Church of Scientology finds itself in Germany. That seems to be the most frequently attacked group, perhaps because it is also the biggest. The attention devoted by the German state and certain officials to eradicate scientology (in the words of one CDU Young Union official) is extensively documented. The placing of Scientology in the cross-hairs was commented upon by the witnesses from the Unification Church and Sri Chinmoy. It was suggested to us by witnesses from those groups that the state and churches targeted Scientology as a prelude to, and an excuse for, the destruction of religious freedom for all religious and philosophical minorities in Germany. We were presented with a detailed and well researched briefing which included a sampling of incidents of discrimination. That briefing provided 60 examples.

We also received a copy of the application form to become a member of the Christian Democrat Party. There were two pre-conditions for membership. One was common to all such application forms known to the committee and my colleagues. It stated that the applicant was not a member of any other political party. The other was a declaration that the applicant was not a Scientologist. We were informed that all other major political parties took the same line; in other words, a German scientologist may not participate in the democratic process as a member of any of the main political parties.

Next, the followers of Sri Chinmoy express devotion to their leader's quest for peace in the world by organising concerts, marathons and other athletic events. Almost all of these facilities are within the gift of local authorities. They recounted instances where concert venues and sporting facilities are closed to them for no apparent reason. On one occasion they organised a marathon run only to find that they were not allowed to

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use the showers. The City Council of Cologne has decided that no public rooms are to be let to Sri Chinmoy groups.

Another group whom we met and interviewed was Orden Fiat Lux, a Christian healing group. Enormous efforts were being made to close it down. There is also a resurgence of cultural discrimination, which echoes German history. In the late 1990s attacks on artists who are members of an unfavoured sekte appear to be gathering pace. The technique employed is a refinement and intensification of the procedure in Germany known by the English word "outing" which is applied to professionals in any field, as the witnesses have clearly showed. In addition to the artists we interviewed, we were given documentation which described quite unacceptable discrimination. Reports in the media about two recent situations highlight the absurdity. In August 1996, as the release date of the Tom Cruise Film "Mission Impossible" approached, a spokesman of the Youth Union of the CDU issued a statement urging Germans to boycott the film because Tom Cruise was a Scientologist. The same fate was supposed to be meted out to John Travolta's film "Phenomenon".

We decided to try to find out from where this discrimination was coming. We concluded that there were several interconnected and mutually reinforcing sources of discriminatory attacks on the groups we interviewed. These can be distinguished as follows. Within the political and administrative structure there is a network of sekte commissioners, known in German as sektebeauftragter. Their task is similar to a network of religious sekte commissioners, to which I will turn later.

It was also reported to us that approximately 20 per cent. of elected German politicians were trained priests or pastors. There is a very close interconnection between church and state. From the evidence given, it appeared that the German state was spending millions of deutschmarks every year on anti-sekte personnel, propaganda and related actions. Some estimates are as high as 100 million deutschmarks.

Another example of direct discrimination by government is the state of Schleswig-Holstein. The state parliament has recently amended its data protection law to create a document centre containing information about individuals connected to sekten. That law is a specimen of selective legislation which strips away the fundamental privacy rights of members of groups labelled as "sekte" by excluding them from the data protection safeguards enjoyed by all other German citizens.

The Lutheran and Catholic Churches have a network of 140 sekt priests and pastors throughout Germany. Their function is to disseminate unproven, negative generalised propaganda about any group they choose to categorise as a sekt. In fact Pastor Terry Jones of the Christian Church of Cologne told us that the Lutheran and Catholic Churches categorise any group of which they disapprove--almost any group that is not Lutheran or Catholic--as a sekt to be closed down or disposed of.

We were astonished at the millions of deutschmarks and the thousands of man hours being poured into the campaign against minority religions. Our inescapable

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conclusion was that significant elements within the state and church apparatus have been brought to bear on these minority religions in an attempt to destroy them, but nowhere in our report do we suggest that events will inevitably follow a similar pattern to that of the 1930s. That would be unthinkable and quite impossible. However, there are unquestionably comparisons that can be drawn regarding the persecution of minorities, and those are of considerable concern to us.

I have gone some way towards introducing our report to the House. I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news when there is already so much bad news in the world. It is, I believe, a great strength of our House that we have such a diversity of preoccupations. The committee's report will be launched officially at a press conference tomorrow morning. It will be widely distributed thereafter. I shall of course send it to the Minister who so ably introduced the debate and to those noble Lords who were kind enough to wish us well on our mission. I hope that this will be the beginning of a focus on this aspect of political and social life in Germany which will bear fruit by changing the situation that I have described.

8.32 p.m.

Baroness Strange: My Lords, it is always an honour to speak in your Lordships' debate on the gracious Speech, and although you might not think to look at me that I resemble a very small minnow in this august pond, it is nevertheless a perfectly apt simile. Although it appears that there are sharks about waiting to eat me up, I continue to have confidence that they may not have the opportunity to do so. Furthermore, I do not believe in any of the derogatory remarks which were made earlier about Great Britain, because they are simply not true. In its own way, our country is as good and as great as she has ever been.

It is, I think, significant that the gracious Speech begins with two vital aspects:

    "National security continues to be of the highest importance",
and the emphasis on the importance and enlargement of NATO.

I should like to speak briefly, and indeed will do so, on these two points. I would just like to mention en passant that the War Widows Association of Great Britain, which exists to pick up the pieces left by wars, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, and I would like on its behalf to thank my noble friends Lord Cranborne, Lord Henley, Lord Astor, Lord Howe and Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish for all their help and encouragement to these ladies during the years which I have been associated with them. They have all been so kind.

National security must always be of prime, indeed, vital importance to any nation which wishes to continue to exist. Our security lies in the safe hands of our three services. I think that all your Lordships would agree that we have the best Armed Forces in the world, and although, unlike many of your Lordships, I am unable to speak from personal experience of the services, I have family connections and have also been fortunate enough under the auspices of the all-party Parliamentary

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Defence Study Group to visit and meet many of our servicemen and women, both serving in this country and abroad. We have all, as I know my noble friend the Minister, Lord Howe, will confirm when he winds up, been overwhelmed by the splendid calibre, unselfishness and downright decency of our British forces.

But even the best apples will fall off a tree if you shake it long enough and hard enough. Our forces have been buffeted by the winds--or should I say "options"--of change and successive White Papers so that there are now far fewer of them than there should be to maintain our defence commitments. Those that are left are in danger of being demoralised by the continuous uncertainty. The latest gale has come from the sale of married quarters. We shall have to see--though in 25 years many of us may not be able to--whether the many guarantees which have been written into the sale terms will hold. We should always have a tree-planting mentality, and we should be planting oak trees, not Christmas trees. My plea is that we should let the winds of change die down and give our Armed Forces a decent period of stability.

Many of our Defence Study Group have gone to SHAPE today, are going to NATO tomorrow, and will return with more up-to-date information for our next defence debate. I much enjoyed our visit to High Wycombe in April with Air Marshall Sir Richard Johns and his European team, one of whom was French, which was encouraging. It was good to see such an important NATO establishment on British soil, having come from Norway and seen the Norwegians, like the splendid sports they are, bearing up well, with the change.

We discussed the possibility of Sweden joining NATO, and on my two visits to that country this summer I gained the impression that this was very much nearer, despite their historic neutrality. The three Baltic states still have a large Russian population and have other difficulties with old atomic installations. I cannot speak on Hungary or the Czech Republic. However, we had discussions with the Polish parliamentarians who visited the IPU this summer, and I was impressed by their anxiety to qualify both for the EU and for NATO membership. My youngest son has recently been working in a bank in Warsaw and his impression of Poland confirmed my own of the Poles that we had met. However, I think much must depend on what happens in Russia during the next 12 months. Our historic links across the Atlantic with our American allies have helped above all to make NATO the strong force for peace that it is. In these still uncertain times, it is reassuring to know that there is a strong force in place which can preserve our peace.

8.38 p.m.

The Marquess of Tweeddale: My Lords, I propose to speak briefly on one subject; that is, Bosnia. I regret to say that I cannot share very much of the optimism, muted though it perhaps is, which the Government seem to possess concerning the chances for peace following the Dayton agreement. Whatever the agreement says on the subject, many of the hundreds of thousands of refugees will not in fact be able to return home. Let us just look at the situation in Mostar, for example--a city

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which is split along ethnic lines but which is part of the Moslem-Croat Federation. What is worse still, the Serb part of the Dayton entity--Republika Srepska--is almost certain sooner or later to secede and to merge with Serbia proper.

That eventuality may not be envisaged by the agreement, but I fear that it is there, between the lines, as it were. That development will benefit not only the Bosnian Serbs; it will make Serbia, which--whatever the politically correct talk of warring "parties"--stoked up the Bosnian conflict up and ran the Bosnian Serb war effort, a winner. I ask myself whether it will be a satisfied winner in the long term. I have my doubts. Unlike Bosnia, whose history and boundaries have been surprisingly stable, Serbia has been on the move for the better part of two centuries.

The Bosnian Moslems are the losers here and have a perfectly justified grievance which will not go away. Earlier the Minister urged,

    "the Bosnians to take more and more responsibility for their affairs".
That exhortation comes strangely from a spokesman of a government who, by keeping the arms embargo in place for three years of the war, prevented the legitimate Moslem-led Bosnian Government from doing that very thing. I am afraid the result has been the kind of one-sided peace which, speaking in the Israeli context, the Minister said will not last.

8.40 p.m.

Lord Selsdon: My Lords, at this time of night it is almost easier to look backwards than forwards. Indeed, as one gets older it is easier to look backwards and more difficult to look forwards. I shall begin by looking backwards and wondering whether we have sectional interests in the world which revolve around the word "tribalism".

The time has come to nail one's colours to the mast and I stand before your Lordships today as a Goidel, like my noble friend Lord Lyell. As your Lordships will know, the Goidels were one of the earliest tribes in this country. The Bretons, who inhabited Cornwall, Wales and even parts of Aquitaine, Bordeaux and Brittany, were second, but it was really the Celts of Scotland and Ireland who made the world and developed the British interest.

Many of your Lordships may have come from other tribes; from those of the south east or northern Europe who crossed the Channel and developed. But those of us from poorer nations were forced to think of two things: migration and immigration. Your Lordships may find it strange that I should begin a debate on foreign policy and defence with those two words. The history of our nation has depended on importing people of calibre and quality with new technology and new investment, while at the same time exporting those from the poorer parts of our country or domain to develop and pursue our interests abroad.

It would be reasonable to say that, internationally, the British are more powerful in appearance than in reality. As we divide the world into the component parts of Europe, which we were told was to be the home market

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but which has suddenly become foreign parts, and as we look back at the history of our trade and development we realise that the United Kingdom has and will always have a world-wide role. It has nothing to do with the Channel nor our geographic location; it has something to do with our past.

If we review our assets and liabilities we will conclude that we are, internationally, perhaps the most successful nation in relation to our size. Our assets were mentioned by the Minister tonight. We are the third largest investor of private-sector capital in the third world. We control the second position in terms of capital investment worldwide. We are the largest dealer in foreign exchange, which makes one wonder whether the concern about entering the EMU is real or perceived. We have attracted more foreign investment than any other single country in the EU.

We have a remarkably stable government. Perhaps the weakness is that both Houses of Parliament sit too long and that there has been too much immigration from the other place and not enough migration in that direction from your Lordships' House. Those of us from ancient Goidel tribes who suffer from the concern of the hereditary principle know that never having a vote yet having to pay taxation--no taxation without representation--makes one realise that democracy does not exist here at home.

What is the point of a debate such as this? In 1974 my noble friend Lady Macleod and I had the privilege of responding to the Queen's Speech. I had to say that the linchpin of our defence policy was NATO. The linchpin of our defence policy is still NATO. But we seem to have moved ahead and seek to defend other people from each other rather than defending ourselves. We have no concern about the defence of the realm.

What is our foreign policy? No one has asked that question tonight. I once asked those in the Foreign Office what was our foreign policy. They asked, "Where, my dear chap?". I named a particular country and they said, "We always have a policy when we need one. We have several alternative policies and when a policy is needed we can bring forward the right one, but there is no such thing as a general foreign policy". My noble friend nods her head but we might look back and ask, who had a foreign policy and why?

Initially, foreign policy was always determined by the private sector. I speak not of Livingstone, Rhodes or Brazza, who I always thought was Italian rather than French, or even of King Leopold. They all went out into the world to gain, but they recognised that they had to do good and to get rid of slavery. Having listened to your Lordships today I know that the belief is that we should do good for other people as part of our duty in life. However, most people have forgotten what we should do in order to do good for ourselves. If we confine our interests to the European Union, which we do not, we shall be limited by the economic strength of those countries. We have a deficit in manufactures with Germany of £6 billion a year, even though it is our largest trading partner, but I believe that one should trade with people at a profit. There should be a balance of payment in one's favour rather than against one.

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Our competitors in the European Union--every nation is a competitor--have ideas and foreign policies of their own. I suggest that Germany's foreign policy is not actually a foreign policy but a policy directly related to its nearest neighbours. In general and for one reason or another, Germany has not sought to pursue a worldwide economic policy. On the other hand, France changes a little with governments and uses lovely Gallic expressions of, "On the one hand", "On the other hand", and "Somewhere in the middle is the right idea but we are never sure where the middle will be". France is looking for her own international developments.

We should have our own free, independent foreign policy while at the same time supporting international agencies with aid. If 50 per cent. of all our aid goes to multilateral agencies and the amount of spend which comes back to this country is not so great, there are two solutions. We can change that policy or increase the level of aid. I prefer the second alternative. Equally, if we are concerned about our own political and economic future we must acknowledge that the world is not necessarily our oyster but that we are a free bird which may fly as far and as wide as it wishes.

As we move forward we are using the terrible modern word "collectivism". I recall some of my Ukrainian friends recently pointing out that I was a lackey of socialist bureaucracy; that I had no idea of how to get things done; that for money I relied entirely on governments and international agencies; and that there was no initiative. At the same time, this nation's greatest service has been to roll back the frontiers of collectivism.

I do not like the word "privatisation", but I shall pay lip-service to it. Privatisation has done so much to introduce freedom and to encourage investment and development. Whether one uses the term BOT or PFI, historically the private sector built the roads and the railways and developed the mines and the ports. Here we stand today with the greatest collection of capital in the world and the greatest foreign exchange dealings. Probably--dare I say it?--we are the most trusted nation and the one which within the European Union has the greatest political and foreign policy power should we wish to or know how to use it.

The Government are there to serve the people. The problem is that there are not enough Goidels or those of the Bretonic origin who go out into the world, either to the West or to the East to pursue and develop British interests because it pays them so to do. We have become a little inward looking but at the same time we have made our country the most attractive in the world for non-British people to live in. The low level of taxation for foreigners has attracted new investment. Ours is a great country in which to live.

There are moments of faint amusement, and I suppose the most anti-Germanic statement made today in the press was the decision of the Inland Revenue to tax the German footballers on their profits from the recent football challenges, which I think was unfair, but perhaps in order. The Government have done a lot. They do not really need a foreign policy. I do not believe that

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there is a need to do anything other than to react and to pursue our relationships, which we have done very actively.

Like my noble friend Lord Beloff, I find that there is a two-tier system. The private sector on the Continent of Europe does not necessarily follow the views of government. There is no problem in the relationships between those who trade, those who buy and those who sell. There is a great understanding, but ultimately there are different cults and different opinions in our blood. We have a good opportunity ahead of us. I would not like it to be squandered by collectivism and too much bureaucracy.

8.51 p.m.

Lord Hylton: My Lords, I am fascinated by the speculations of the noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, but I would like to be rather more specific. I am glad that the gracious Speech mentioned the search for a durable peace in the Middle East. I wish to concentrate on one part of that region, namely Israel and its immediate neighbours. At the end of last August a large group of Jews, Christians and Moslems from Israel, Palestine and some other countries met in Greece at Thessaloniki. After five days they issued a message of concern and encouragement from which I should like to quote:

    "Creating a climate favourable to negotiations is the common responsibility of Israelis and Palestinians. Both parties need to build trust by faithfully implementing past agreements and by NOT predetermining future negotiations by changing the situation on the ground. The collective closure of Jerusalem endangers prospects for peace. We are pained when people are denied access to places of worship, employment, education and health care. We urge the Israeli Government not to confiscate land, expand settlements, demolish Palestinian houses or revoke the residency rights of Palestinians from Jerusalem. Jerusalem is called to be a city of peace, but there is no peace now. Confidence-building requires that Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem and elsewhere be maintained".
The message concluded by proposing the widest possible peace education. Nobody will quarrel with that. It urged the Government of Israel and the Palestinian National Authority to regain momentum towards peace in accordance with United Nations Resolutions 242 and 338, the Oslo agreements of 1993 and subsequent agreements. I quote again:

    "Joint action in the name of our Abrahamic heritage is essential to turn principles into reality ... so that our peoples may enjoy their natural and human rights as God meant it to be."

The point of this rather long quotation is that it shows how, in spite of atrocities, hatred and fears, reasonable people from the three great religions centred on Jerusalem, many of whom had come together in Switzerland only three years ago, can meet and agree. They identified the key issues. Their approach was a problem-solving one which, if more widely adopted, can only lead to net gains for all concerned. I pray that their example may become contagious, together with that of another mixed body known as IPCRI, or the Israel-Palestine Centre for Research and Information. I have met with this body in both Jerusalem and London. It has always rejected violence and can draw on a wealth of expertise--political, civil service, military and academic--from both entities. It has already produced agreed documents on such difficult

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issues as the equitable division of water supplies or the future of Jerusalem. I believe that we should support all such bridge-building work.

I want next to mention places of pilgrimage. Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, and certain places in Galilee attract several million visitors each year. The United Nations has accepted that there should be unrestricted access to the holy places of the three great monotheistic religions. Such access, of course, must be unarmed and be in a spirit of pilgrimage. That principle is at present contravened because Israel, as the occupying military power, does not allow free access to Jerusalem for residents of Gaza and the West Bank. The principle has also been breached almost since partition in 1948 as regards bona fide Jewish access to the Temple Mount. There is a worldwide interest in upholding the principle of unrestricted access, which in turn will confer huge economic benefits from tourism to both Israel and the Palestinian authority. To implement this principle may well require a degree of supra-national organisation and control. This is not a matter, in my view, which should be postponed until after all other negotiations have been completed.

I turn now to the wider context. Peace agreements have already been reached between Israel and Egypt and between Israel and Jordan. That is greatly to be welcomed. In the first case, vast areas of land and several settlements were given up in return for a comprehensive agreement. The second case has already led to the beginning of the rational sharing of the waters of the Yarmuk and Jordan rivers. It is now possible to post a letter or to make a telephone call from Amman to Tel Aviv. However, we cannot be satisfied with partial success and I trust that the Egyptian and Jordanian Governments will use all their influence, diplomacy and persuasion to assist the Government of Israel to negotiate and reach agreement with the Palestinian authority, and then with Syria and the Lebanon.

Greater responsibility still lies with Western Europe and the European Union in particular. Nowhere is a common foreign policy more urgently needed. It is not enough merely to urge the parties to resume talks. It should be made clear that failure to honour the Oslo and subsequent agreements will carry penalties. Agreements on Israeli access to European Union markets could be revoked. Spare parts and military supplies could be stopped. Compliance with Oslo, which in itself reflected much earlier United Nations resolutions, includes the release of Palestinian detainees, freedom of movement between Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the withdrawal of the Israeli army from Hebron and other parts of the West Bank.

I therefore have to ask Her Majesty's Government: will they take the lead in the European Union to ensure that there is real action and not just correct, pious words? Will they take risks and be prepared, if necessary, for sacrifices in the interests of peace which will benefit all, both in the Middle East and in Western Europe? The noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, did not, I fear, go quite as far as I would have liked in her opening speech and I hope that I can persuade the noble Earl who will reply to be even more positive.

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Security is mutual. Without peace there can be little security. Everyone remains at the mercy of the bomb and the bullet. Co-existence requires the creation of a common frontier which is mutually and internationally recognised. Peace therefore calls for a Palestinian state, perhaps not tomorrow or immediately but in due course, and not just a series of bantustans divided by Israeli occupied corridors. I emphasise that such a new state need not be a threatening one. It would have only one seaport and no international airport. It would have no army and a large, and I am sorry to say, impoverished population. It is nevertheless the key to peace with honour and mutual respect.

The first stage of such a peace will be two fully functioning states in Israel and Palestine capable of addressing all local needs, including those of the large Palestinian minority within the state of Israel. The next step might then lie with the Jewish and Palestinian diasporas scattered throughout the world who together might join forces with United Nations agencies and other donors to remedy the bad living conditions of those Palestinians who happen to be in Lebanon and certain adjoining countries.

9 p.m.

Lord Mayhew: My Lords, we should all be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, not only for the constructive views he put forward but also for his personal participation in what sounded like a thoroughly positive peace initiative. He spoke also of the Israeli participation in the initiative he describes. It is always extremely important and helpful to remember that some of the best supporters of the peace process are Israelis, and that there is a large number of them. Half the voters in the recent Israeli election voted for Mr. Peres and the peace process. A large number of those who voted for Mr. Netanyahu voted for him because he promised to continue the peace process; a promise which, tragically, he has since failed to live up to.

It would be most unfair to identify the Israeli people with the comparatively small number of racial and religious fanatics who, unfortunately, are the mainstay of the present Israeli Government. What the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, said was fully in line with the statements on Palestine made by the Minister and by the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone. Indeed at times this afternoon there seemed to be developing an unusual consensus on the subject of Palestine, interrupted a little by two brave dissenting voices, that of the noble Lord, Lord Weidenfeld, and that of the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, who spoke unkindly about the growing European involvement in the peace process. They spoke especially disparagingly about President Chirac. This increased involvement is taking place, and predictably it is opposed by the government of Israel and warmly supported throughout the Arab world, specifically by President Assad, President Arafat, President Mubarak and King Hussein. I was surprised to read the statement reported to have been made by Mr. Rifkind in Thursday's Guardian that:

    "No-one in the region wants Europe to get into some competition with the U.S. for influence".

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He also said that no one in the region wants the European involvement. But that could hardly be further from the truth. It would be truer to say that everyone in the Middle East wanted Europe to do this except for the Israeli Government.

It seems to me that the consequences can be positive. Of course it is objected that Europe is not united on what needs to be done about Palestine. On the other hand, earlier this month European Ministers issued a unanimous statement of three pages attributing the outbreak of violence to the failure of Israel to fulfil its obligations under the Oslo Agreement. They urged Israel to withdraw its troops from Hebron, to release political prisoners, to lift the ban on Palestinian workers entering Israel, to shut the tunnel entrance near the Temple Mount and to cease prejudicing Palestinian rights in Jerusalem. The statement was unanimous.

It can be objected of course that Europe has fewer cards to play on Israel than the United States. It is certainly true to say that Israel is even more dependent on the United States financially, diplomatically and militarily than on Europe. The Americans have more power than the Europeans to pressurise Israel. They have power to pressurise Israel if they want to, but they never want to--that is the point--and they do not. It is true that 40 years ago President Eisenhower instructed the Israelis to obey the Security Council and withdraw their invading troops from Sinai. They obeyed. However, to my knowledge not since then has any American president come near to showing the same willingness to exercise pressure over Israel, not even when--as over Hebron today--Israel is breaking an agreement signed by the United States. As I believe everyone knows, and as events constantly confirm, Israel is the friend and ally of the United States. The freedom of action of United States governments in the Middle East is strictly limited by the Israeli lobby in Washington. Few people wish to discuss this frankly, but it is an essential feature and everyone knows it.

I wish that the noble Lord, Lord Weidenfeld, was present now. I am sure that, like me, he has spoken to Israeli congressmen and senators about the media and financial pressures put on them in relation to Palestine. He knows of that. It is an anomaly that the United States should monopolise peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. They have done so for decades and it has not worked. Significantly, the only successful intervention in Arab-Israeli relations, the Oslo Agreements, was masterminded by Europeans, with the Americans deliberately kept at a distance.

In that field a couple of unofficial Norwegians proved more successful than half-a-dozen American Secretaries of State. There is hope still of saving the Oslo Agreements. It is to be hoped that the British Government and other European governments--after all, they provide 80 per cent. of international aid for the Palestinian authority and have considerable influence with the Palestinians, which is very relevant--took a higher profile and made a bigger contribution to peace in Palestine.

Another topical subject raised in the debate was that of the elimination of nuclear weapons. It led to a memorable debate between the noble and gallant Lord,

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Lord Carver, and the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont. We have to recognise that the desirability and legality of the possession of nuclear weapons is increasingly under challenge at this time, in part because of such reports as the Canberra Report and in part because of a recent judgment of the International Court of Justice.

I thought that the most persuasive parts of the Canberra Report were those dealing with nuclear disarmament rather than those dealing with nuclear weapons elimination. The report concedes that at best verification can only be 85 per cent. reliable. It is hard to persuade the United States or the Russians to get rid of their last 100 nuclear weapons when verification is only 85 per cent. reliable. I should not like to attempt the task myself. I wonder whether one would succeed in persuading Israel to abandon its nuclear weapons when weapons of mass destruction are accumulating in the countries hostile to it in the Middle East, or in persuading India and Pakistan, which, to their shame, have refused to sign the comprehensive test ban treaty. With verification at 85 per cent., I wonder whether one would succeed in persuading those countries to abandon nuclear weapons altogether.

I thought that the case for disarmament put forward in the Canberra Report was very strong indeed. I am sorry that there has been so little discussion of the matter, not only in this debate but in Parliament generally and in the media. How many people know that 158 members of the United Nations voted for the comprehensive test ban treaty and three opposed, including India and Pakistan? But that was a tremendous achievement. Before the Recess I raised the question of trying to appease the Indian Government by taking nuclear disarmament along with signature to the treaty. I have to concede to the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker of Wallasey, that, on reflection and in the light of subsequent events, I think she was right and I was wrong. The treaty has been signed, and that is a great advance.

When the Minister replies, perhaps he will respond to these questions. Where do we go from here? What action are the Government taking in relation to bringing the treaty to fulfilment? What other plans do they have to pursue the kind of disarmament and confidence-building measures that are outlined most persuasively in the Canberra Report?

A third major subject raised in the debate is the expansion of NATO. I have to confess to serious concern about the Government's approach. Mr. Portillo is to be commended for thinking hard about the matter and for setting out his ideas quite clearly, both in the debate last week in the Commons and in the columns of The Times.

My anxiety stems from the different priority that he and the Government are giving to NATO's relations with the countries of Eastern Europe and its relations with Russia. From every point of view, NATO's relations with Russia should come first. That must be so. It is the only country which in the future is a potential threat, a country that is divided, uncertain, unpredictable, suspicious, weakened and yet with a

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strategic nuclear deterrent which is wholly unimpaired. Our first priority must be to improve relations and establish trust.

I am worried that the Government and Mr. Portillo speak most precisely and energetically about NATO's relations with Eastern Europe but only vaguely about NATO's relations with Russia. Mr. Portillo naturally does not raise the question of Russian membership of NATO. Joint command of Russian and Western nuclear and conventional weapons is too remote to be usefully discussed. The best he says is that he will consult with the Russians; and he puts forward plans for co-operation on a number of sensible sounding confidence-building measures. But the rest is vague in the extreme. He wrote in The Times:

    "We need to work with Russia on the architecture of our new security. No one can describe exactly what the building will look like when finished. And for the moment even Russian defence ministers have other things on their mind".

Let us compare that with the precision and speed with which Mr. Portillo outlines proposals for extending NATO membership to the Eastern European countries. He writes:

    "At a summit next year, decisions will be taken to invite a number of countries to begin accession negotiations. I hope NATO will be able to welcome the first new members in 1999, its 50th anniversary".

The assumption seems to be that this headlong rush to embrace the countries of Eastern Europe will not seriously damage NATO's relations with Russia, which should be the first priority. Mr. Portillo gives no reason why that should be possible. All the evidence shows exactly the opposite. All the evidence is that it will have a disastrous effect on NATO's relations with Russia. The Russian Foreign Minister, Mr. Primakov, said:

    "Russia will never accept NATO enlargement, not because it has any right of veto but because it will not tolerate the worsening geopolitical situation and will stand by its interests".

The leaders of Ukraine and Belarus have condemned the concept of NATO's expansion in far less moderate terms than that. We were all interested in the remarks about Ukraine made by the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe. He hinted that the Ukrainians would be upset. Their leaders have said quite firmly that it is something they will not tolerate.

We are dealing here with the leaders. But what about the opposition in those countries: the extremists, the nationalists, the Communists? When American troops appear on the frontiers of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, and the Germans, and perhaps the Poles, with or without nuclear weapons, what are we to predict about reactions in those countries? It will be a godsend to the extremists against the democratic forces. It will be a godsend to the extreme nationalists and extreme Communists. It will be a great blow to the tender plant of democracy in those countries.

What will happen to the Baltic states? Obviously they cannot become members. We cannot put the shield of Article 5 of NATO over countries with huge Russian minorities, countries we have no possibility of defending in any case. They are therefore isolated and the presence

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of NATO forces on the Russia frontiers will greatly increase the urge of the Russians to exert more authority over the Baltic states.

What will we gain from all this? The Baltic states are only one example of the difficulty of knowing where to draw the line. Hungary joins, but what about Romania? The Czech Republic joins, but what about Slovakia? We risk a great deal of trouble. We are likely to exacerbate the old disputes between some of these countries. The decision-making capacity of NATO will in any case be muddled up by the increase in numbers and it may also have to compete with vigorous internal disputes between the new members.

Who will pay for this expansion? The extra defence commitments will call for extra resources, more resources than those contributed by the new members.

In conclusion, I do not say that the expansion of NATO is wrong in principle. I say that we must put our relations with Russia first. I hope that the Government will note the anxieties expressed during this debate and will agree that further thought and discussion are needed before action is taken as envisaged by Mr. Portillo.

9.23 p.m.

Lord Judd: My Lords, I must first declare an interest. I have for much of my life worked--and still work--both professionally and voluntarily in the spheres of international, developmental, humanitarian and security affairs.

This has been a wide-ranging, informed and, I think we would all agree, at times powerful debate. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Worcester bade us a memorable farewell. We shall miss him. I believe we could do with a great deal more of his direct candour in our debates.

At times I thought that the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Carver, was going to hijack the entire debate with his powerful intervention. I recalled, as he was speaking, that it was my privilege to be a junior defence Minister when he was Chief of Defence Staff. As I said to him informally earlier today, they were very special occasions when I was allowed to sit in at discussions about strategy which he led. The Canberra Report is worth reading. I commend it to those who have not yet been able to study it. The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, demonstrated in his very direct way that there is not unanimity in response to the report. I hope that on some occasion we can have a fuller debate and examine its significance more profoundly.

I listened with some interest to the noble Lord, Lord Beloff--I always do--and to the noble Lords, Lord Weidenfeld, and Lord Pearson of Rannoch. There is one question I should like to put to them at this stage. It seems to me arguable that there is considerable statesmanship, wisdom and courage in German political leadership because the German leadership of the day is determined to lock a powerful Germany into a European Community. The question we have to ask ourselves is: what will be the long-term price should, for example, a young, nationalistic German politician at some time

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come onto the stage if our only response to that statesmanship is to spurn the imagination at present being shown?

The noble Lord, Lord Beloff, took us a little further in the debate today. I was intrigued. He argued that in perhaps a few hundred years' time the situation may have changed. People in Europe may have come to see their mutual interests and how the things that hold them together across frontiers are more important than the things that divide them. At that stage things which might not be appropriate now would become appropriate. I put this to the noble Lord. Why, with all his powers of debate--we all enjoy his powers of debate--does he not lead in the process of transforming public opinion instead of remaining a prisoner of existing prejudice?

I listened with some pleasure to what the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, and others said about the BBC overseas service. All I can say is, "Well said". We on this side of the House totally applaud such sentiments. To undermine one of the hallmarks of Britain at its best and an institution which has won goodwill for Britain right across the world and to introduce divided career loyalties among staff who in the past have guaranteed its success by their undivided commitment to that service is madness.

I must say how much I enjoyed the thoughts of my noble friend Lady Gould. We have not heard from her for some time but her speech was worth waiting for. What she had to say about the importance of women in the international community needed to be said. The power of womanhood in international society could represent a tremendous force for progress. It is sad and worrying that at the moment we see the danger signals that instead of advancing we may be being encouraged to retreat.

The noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, knows better than most that I want only to sing a duet whenever he speaks. I find myself so much at one with his sentiments.

Many of the contributions deserve detailed follow-up but I hope that I shall be forgiven if I concentrate on themes which struck me as the debate proceeded. We live together in a tightly knit, if frequently fraught, world community. It is difficult to think of a significant social issue which will confront our children and grandchildren that can be successfully handled within the context of our nation state or indeed of the European Union alone. The economy, finance, trade, the environment, pollution, global warming, climate, rising sea levels, conflict, refugees, migration, terrorism, the arms trade, food security, health, drug trafficking and crime--the list is formidable. All demand effective and urgent international co-operation and relevant global strategies.

We have been repeatedly reminded that this is the last gracious Speech before the general election. In that election the British people will almost certainly elect a government to take us into the next millennium. Would that the gracious Speech had reflected the vision, the insight, the statesmanship and the courage to face up to the century ahead! I fear that it totally failed to do so in its preoccupation with the short-term game of political tactics. I fear that it will be come to be seen as a historic

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opportunity missed, one more occasion when politics became still further demeaned by yet another betrayal of future generations.

I am deeply saddened and not a little fearful when I look at decent and imaginative Members of the Front Bench opposite trapped in a morass of popularism, repeatedly entangled with the sinister forces of xenophobia and nationalism within the ranks of their own party. It is not edifying and it does not augur well for democracy. The key to successful democracy is surely creative tension between, on the one hand, yes, accountability; but on the other, strong, firm leadership. Where is that leadership in government today?

Next month the World Food Summit will take place in Rome against the backcloth of one of the most beautiful and magnificent cities in the world. But the real backdrop to that summit is the appalling deprivation to which so many people in the world are still subjected. More than 800 million do not have enough to eat, while half a billion are chronically malnourished. That is despite more than enough food in the world to feed everybody--perhaps one-and-a-half times as much as is required. I hope therefore that the United Kingdom will take a lead in examining the rules of world food trade as well as its volume.

The Uruguay Round forced governments in developing countries to liberalise their agricultural markets but at the same time failed to deal with direct and indirect subsidies paid to northern producers and designed to gain market share. Far from a level playing field, that often presents farmers in the developing world with an impossible mountain to scale. For example, how can the 500,000 corn producers of Mindanao in the Philippines who earn less than 100 dollars a year relish a playing field which pits them in direct competition with US producers who enjoy subsidies 100 times greater than their income? What in fact happens is the destruction of local markets and a vicious circle of declining local production and growing dependence on imports.

In December Ministers will gather for a meeting of the World Trade Organisation in Singapore. The WTO has a vital role to play in opening up world trade, but we must never overlook the social dangers. I hope therefore that in Singapore the United Kingdom will give a lead on the issues of child and forced labour and the denial of the right to free association. The World Trade Organisation badly needs a social convention dealing with those matters. While we must be careful not to use such a convention as our own protectionism by the back-door, it could help to prevent irresponsible companies from travelling the world in search of ever lower social and environmental standards--a practice which compounds the deprivation of other parts of the world, frequently wrecks the environment and also threatens British workers.

More than 1,000 million people still miserably cling to life on less than one dollar a day, 1.75 billion have no access to safe water and more than 35,000 children die every day of every year in painfully distressing circumstances from preventable diseases. In an age of unprecedented wealth, of the most incredibly

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sophisticated technology, how can we continue to condone that? How can we condone millions more going prematurely to their graves, never having begun to fulfil their potential? That is why the Overseas Development Administration is so essential and why it should have the authority and status of a fully-fledged department of state. The ODA should be there to ensure that the values which ought to be central to our own national life are applied in meeting our responsibilities as members of the global community as well.

Well-targeted development assistance works. I have seen it working often for myself. To provide it is our moral duty. But as so often with sound morality, it is in our enlightened self-interest as well. As the Minister said, it creates markets and investment opportunities; it reduces the breeding grounds of conflict; it tackles at source many of the problems which stem from poverty; and it is altogether more cost-effective than vast expensive relief and reconstruction operations when preventable disaster happens. But quality matters greatly. Why, despite the solemn commitments at the Social Summit in Copenhagen, are we making such slow progress--still little more than half-way toward the target of 20 per cent. of our development assistance for basic needs? Why still so small a proportion of our total aid budget for basic education and health in the poorest countries? Why so much aid to countries which spend so extensively on the purchase of arms, not least from Britain? What of the questionable commercial culture chipping away at the developmental integrity of aid programmes and perhaps inevitably leading to episodes like Pergau? Why, too, no lead on the untying of aid when, extraordinarily, the ODA's own studies have concluded that to give such a lead would be in the UK's interests no less than in the interests of the third world? And what of human rights? How much real significance is in fact given to them in determining aid programmes?

As has already been remarked, with so much of our aid programme now going through multilateral channels, not least the European Union, the need to throw British weight into constantly striving for quality and cost-effectiveness in these programmes cannot be overstated. There is a great deal to be said for multilateralism, but it must be effective. Too often, we have to face it, it is not. It has been distressing to see Britain's commitment to aid declining; down from 0.51 per cent. of our gross national product--our national wealth--in 1979 to just 0.29 per cent. and falling in 1996. And this amidst government claims of economic recovery and strength.

The Minister likes to refer to private investment. But private investment, although vital, seldom targets the poorest. And whatever the Minister may say, it is sad that we now stand at only 14th out of 21 in the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD league table in terms of the proportion of our national wealth we devote to aid. Surely, as one of the only five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, we ought, as indeed should the other four, to put our commitment and our example where we want our status and influence to be. The decline must be halted and reversed. We shall be delighted if that

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happens in the Budget next month. But if it does not, we on these Benches will reverse the trend when we come to office.

In all this sorry saga there has been one ray of light. The Chancellor deserves the appreciation of us all for the part he has played in achieving international agreement on the alleviation of third world debt. Debt was crucifying some of the poorest countries. What has now been agreed at the international financial institutions will potentially make a powerful contribution to the fight against world poverty. But we shall need to be vigilant. The opportunity could all too easily be frittered away. Everything possible must now be done to ensure that the benefits are effectively targeted on poverty reductions.

The role of the international financial institutions has not always been so helpful. It is no coincidence that the IMF reforms and the consequent deterioration in living standards preceded the genocide in Rwanda. Coming on the heels of the collapse in the world price of coffee, the IMF strategy for change in Rwanda showed a disturbing lack of sensitivity to the tensions and dangers of that country. Prior to the genocide, Western nations showed crass indifference to the tensions of the region, and when civil war erupted and then turned into genocide, Western reaction, to our eternal shame, was studious disengagement while half a million people perished. Over two years later we still remain politically disengaged despite the fact that in the Rwandese refugee camps, in Burundi and now in Eastern Zaire we are witnessing bloodletting and intimidation on a truly dreadful scale. In Central Africa emergency aid has been the substitute for a meaningful political policy. The result is chaos and the sickening danger of the worst and most evil chapter yet to come, with violent human catastrophe overtaking the region as a whole.

Humanitarian action, and when necessary military action, can be part of political action. But as we saw so clearly in Somalia, they can never be a substitute for it. What is needed now, and fast, is a political analysis of the Great Lakes region as a whole and a political strategy for working towards viable stability. We look to the Minister to give us that lead.

Again and again we are seeing that conflicts and their consequences are inherently difficult and exorbitantly expensive to resolve when they have become violent. It really is essential that we make conflict prevention and proactive diplomacy priorities. I am amazed that Ministers of Finance across the world are not insisting on this. We need to equip the international community with the means of identifying potential conflicts before they erupt in violence and we need to follow up that early warning with preventive action. Both the United Nations and the European Union, in its moves towards a more successful common, foreign and security policy, have central parts to play. The Government should be pursuing this within the Intergovernmental Conference on the European Union. An ability to develop this critical work should be high on the list of relevant criteria by which the choice of the strongest possible next Secretary-General of the United Nations is made.

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It is almost a cliche to say that the challenges which face us today are totally different from those of the cold war. Yet there is little evidence that that has been grasped by the Government as they have implemented draconian Treasury-driven cuts in our military capability. The defence budget has fallen by 27 per cent. in real terms between 1986 and 1996. As a result, Britain now has a dangerous mismatch between commitments and resources. In addition to ensuring the security of our islands and dependent territories, our Armed Services are being repeatedly faced with challenging new missions as UN peace-keepers and supporters of humanitarian operations, which are tasks in which they have excelled.

Globally, we are faced with changes in the balance of power which will see vastly increased significance for East Asia. Already military spending in East Asia as a whole is equal to that of NATO Europe. At the same time there is the deep and profound crisis in Russia and the former Soviet Union. So far, we have all been pretty lucky, but how long will it last? How do we relate the Russian trauma to the expansion of NATO? How do we avoid provoking what we want to avoid?

The noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, and the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Carver, are right to be concerned. NATO expansion must at all costs obviously be carefully considered in the context of the need for confidence-building and peace-building in the wider theatre, especially with Russia. The objective must be to bring Russia into the international community and not to exclude her with God knows what consequences. Meanwhile, there is clearly room to continue developing welcome flexibility within NATO as it stands by emphasising the role of the Western European Union, not least in humanitarian and peace-keeping tasks. The growing importance of the OSCE is also significant for Europe's wider stability. It deserves more United Kingdom encouragement.

Against all that I argue that it is inexcusable that, with all the momentous shifts in the global context, there has been no comprehensive review of the world situation and what it means for our Armed Services. Such a review is an imperative. We on these Benches are pledged to undertake it when we come to office. We owe it to the dedicated men and women of our Armed Services and to all who support them, not least in the defence industry. They all badly need to be able to look ahead with confidence to what is expected of them.

The review will obviously have to encompass the vital role of arms control, disarmament and security policy. For now I shall just endorse what my noble friend Lady Blackstone has already said--how much we welcome the Government's commitment in the gracious Speech to ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and to negotiations on the convention to ban the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other explosive purposes.

However, we are sorry that the Government did not go on to include among their objectives a freeze on the numbers of nuclear warheads, with no more on Trident than on Polaris; a negotiated multilateral no-first-use agreement among nuclear weapon states, strengthened

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security assurances to non-nuclear weapon states; more assistance to the countries of the former Soviet Union with the dismantling of their nuclear weapons and with the improvement of safety standards at their nuclear bases and civil nuclear power stations; the effective implementation of the chemical weapons convention; a strengthening of the biological and toxic weapons convention; a European code of conduct to ensure that conventional arms exports from the European Union are not to be used for aggressive purposes, for internal repression or to be purchased at the expense of meeting the basic social needs of the populations of the importing countries and reinforcing the United Nations conventional arms register. We believe all these to be priorities.

In conclusion, the Scott Report underlined the need for greater accountability and transparency in the conduct of arms exports. Parliament must never again be kept in the dark about the destination of British-manufactured military equipment. Unrestrained arms sales can too easily threaten regional security, undermine the goals and achievements of overseas development policy and even, as Saddam has demonstrated, threaten our own security.

Reflecting on our debate today, it is clear to me that we can no longer settle for a purely military approach to security. Security must be seen in a mature and comprehensive perspective. Defence policy and overseas development policy, for example, should not be separate endeavours, each to be pursued in isolation; they should be complementary, reflecting our determination to ensure that we live up to our responsibilities in the 21st century both to the world community as a whole and, by doing that well, to our own children and grandchildren.

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