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5.16 p.m.

Lord Moynihan: My Lords, when I had the honour to make my maiden speech in another place 14 years ago, I did so against the backdrop of a world facing stark ideological division. I argued in that speech that we must be prepared fully to understand the nature of systems which are inimical to the principles of freedom and democracy; that we must not allow individual voices to be muffled or public opinion to be suppressed; that we must counter the possibility of communism creating a world where individual liberty extends no further than thought and where freedom of thought is exorcised by political indoctrination.

Even the most seasoned and perspicacious analysts would have been challenged to predict the far-reaching changes which have taken place, fundamentally altering the global political geography: the end of the cold war; the ebbing of communist influence in many states; the ending of apartheid in South Africa; the emergence of liberal democracy as the most successful model for modern society; the rise and strength of Islam and its subsequent impact on relations with the West; the advent of new global communications technology, fuelled by the spectacular rise of the Internet and the information superhighway; and the mounting ascendancy of environmental issues on the international political agenda. The old challenges have been replaced by a new set of no less complex challenges.

There is a growing consensus that without appropriate action the social price of environmentally unfriendly policies may ultimately bankrupt us. But this road is mined with moral ambiguities. Who indeed will pay to bear the brunt of the environmental burden in the next century? Will it be those northern hemisphere countries which rose to prosperity while abusing the environment, often in ignorance, or will it be those poorer states, increasingly prevented by today's dogma from exploiting their natural raw materials, often their main resource, which could net them similar achievement and prosperity? There are no easy answers and I hope that international solutions, including the trading of international pollution permits, will figure among the policy initiatives surrounding this important issue.

As we meet the new millennium there is a sense of great uncertainty about the future that we face. For me, this future is tinged with hope, but a sense of faltering hesitancy is somewhat cloaking the achievements and advances that have been made. I believe that it would be a mistake to think that in shaping tomorrow's political landscape we need to reinvent the wheel. We have the right tools within our grasp. Over the past decade we have been attempting to learn how to use them to their best advantage. I contend that we must not allow them to become rusty or blunt through neglect and lack of use.

The first of these tools is the importance of competition in the global market upon which our future economic prosperity depends. Everyone is familiar with the maps of the world produced by the newly-favoured UNESCO which show the countries sized proportionately to their GDP. Those maps show North America, Japan and Europe dominating the globe. If we

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imagine another map where the countries are drawn in proportion to their average economic growth rates for the past 10 years, we see a very different world. The Pacific Rim dominates that map. Taking a 10-year period, the mature economies of Europe and North America may well be dwarfed by the giants of Latin America, South East Asia and, thereafter, by China and India.

I believe that current GDP figures tell us where we are now. Growth rates tell us where the world is going. Throughout history, economic power changes have been a leading indicator of political and strategic power changes. The key to our European role in this equation is the recognition, accurately articulated by Sir Ronald Hempel, in his outstanding paper Beyond the Millennium, that,

    "we face social and political pressures which our major competitors in other parts of the world do not."
He added,

    "Conquer inflation and create jobs, they say, and all will be well. But behind these worthy ideals lurks an even more serious imperative: competitiveness, or rather the lack of it. Unless we solve the problem of European competitiveness, industry will continue to decline, imports will rise and unemployment will continue to be the spectre at the feast".

In the gracious Speech, the Government are committed to taking,

    "a leading role in the European Union".
I believe that we have a duty on this side of the House to apply the competitive test to every directive, Bill and regulation we consider, for, if we impose measures which lessen our competitive edge, we actively create unemployment, the damaging social ills of which are recognised on all sides of the House.

The next tool available to us in foreign policy is the support for privatisation, which goes hand-in-hand with competition. While out of politics for five years, I had the honour of witnessing the impetus of privatisation which has taken hold globally since the collapse of the Berlin Wall; particularly in the growing central Asian and South American markets. The impact of privatisation has been of enormous importance to UK industry since it became our leading export during the 1980s.

Now I believe that we need to move forward, with a new approach to privatisation. In Bolivia, for example, I had the privilege to work with the exceptional President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada to develop the imaginative capitalisation programme. The social objectives of winning popular approval and establishing a universal pension programme were directly linked with the urgent need to attract foreign capital investment into the once state-owned enterprises. This social dimension, directly linked to classical privatisation, was a fundamental ingredient in the success of Bolivia's capitalisation programme.

The point behind this is that the key issue for the future is that, if commercial success is to be achieved, investors and companies must work alongside governments as partners; must develop new and imaginative models for co-operation and must remain sensitive to the socio-political priorities of governments around the world.

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The third essential tool I would like to focus on is the importance of global communications and the exchange of knowledge. Open and easily accessible channels of communication promote the growth of democracy, for democracy has deep and strong roots. Its fruits may be delicate, but they are well worth protecting because they feed all people with hope and opportunity. They are the fruits of representation, liberty and the rule of law. They nurture freedom for the individual. They protect the inalienable rights of all of us and they must be defended against external aggression as against internal subversion and anarchy.

In harmony with my noble friend Lord Cranborne, I hope that the House will forgive me for highlighting one particular area of foreign policy in which immediate action can be taken; an area where a traditional form of communication is internationally acclaimed as an upholder and promoter of democracy. Indeed, this is an issue which in the past led me to abstain on a vote in another place for the only time during my career, not without considerable cost. I sincerely hope that in the many parts of the world, including those where democracy and market economies are emerging from the ashes of the communist world, strong and enduring support will be given to the BBC World Service. For millions of people the World Service has provided a beacon of fair and respected news coverage in parts of the globe which have been dominated by half-truths and state influence, if not control, over the media. It is trusted as a voice more than any of its free world rivals, but it needs fulsome support. We have a duty to support it vigorously. I welcome the recognition that, in this maiden speech, that may no longer be regarded as a controversial request.

The Government can, and I hope will, do much to help in all these areas. I stand before your Lordships genuinely cognisant of the duty placed on me as a Member of your Lordships' House; a duty and an honour which I will never be able to match in kind, but one which I will undertake to the best of my abilities.

5.27 p.m.

Lord Tordoff: My Lords, I am inclined to start by saying, "Well, follow that!". That was as good a maiden speech as I have heard in the 16 years or so I have been in your Lordships' House. This is the first time that I have had the honour and pleasure immediately to follow a maiden speaker. I could not have picked a better occasion. It was timely, well thought through and wonderfully well delivered. It is certainly my wish, and I am sure that it is also the wish of the whole House, that the noble Lord will attend the House frequently and expand on what he has been saying today.

It is customary on these occasions to make reference to the noble Lord's predecessor. I have difficulty with that. I knew his predecessor when he sat on the Liberal Benches. Unfortunately, he took his liberalism a little too far, with the result that the noble Lord had to dig his way through a difficult tangle. But we are glad that that is behind him and he is with us today. He has a strong Liberal ancestry. His father was a predecessor of mine as Liberal Chief Whip in 1950 and before that as the chairman of the Liberal Party Executive.

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Unfortunately, in those dark days for the Liberal Party, he decided that there were other places he wished to go. If he had seen the result of the last election perhaps he would have been more content to stay where he was.

But we welcome the noble Lord here. I spent some time with him in Kenya when we were together looking at the elections in that torn country. I was struck then by his clarity of thought. His summary, which could well have made the whole of our report, was very brief indeed. He said, "If someone asks you whether these elections were free and fair, I would say that they were not quite not".

I must now thank your Lordships for my reappointment yesterday as Principal Deputy Chairman of Committees and therefore as the Chairman of your Lordships' Select Committee on the European Communities. As far as I can see, it was a close-run thing between me and a chap called "nemine dissentiente", but I think that I won in the end!

The IGC approaches. The Government do not have much time in which to get involved in the process and perhaps to shift the emphasis of this country's approach to the IGC. However, today I should like to raise a matter which has been discussed widely at various meetings throughout Europe during the past six months or more. I refer to the question of the democratic deficit, about which everybody talks but nobody knows what to do, and to the role of parliaments, both national parliaments and the European Parliament. This House has now scrutinised European documents and European directives effectively over a long period, although we may not be at the top of the pecking order in that regard these days. The Danes and the Finns have slightly overtaken us in terms of dealing with legislation because they mandate their Ministers before sending them to the European Councils. I beg leave to doubt whether anything would ever happen in those European Councils if everybody did that, but those countries seem to find it appropriate. Indeed, they seem to find it easier because they have coalition governments and in that way they know that they are carrying their parliaments behind them.

This House has an enviable reputation of researching issues in depth and then producing reports which are widely read and digested on all sides of Europe. Our work fits extremely well with that of the Commons. I should now like to pay tribute to Mr. Jimmy Hood, who was the chairman of the Select Committee on European Legislation in another place throughout my earlier period of tenure. That has now changed with the change of government. It is unfortunate that it appears that the Commons will now take quite some time to reconstitute that Select Committee. Indeed, it may not be reconstituted before the IGC meeting in Amsterdam, although I hope that I am wrong on that.

Together, both Select Committees have made a strong plea about the importance of getting information from Brussels to our national parliaments and our scrutiny committees in good time. I believe that I have said previously in your Lordships' House that many of the documents seem to be sent from Brussels by a man with a forked stick. Things are improving, but we are still

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not in the position that we should like to be in because electronic media cannot yet be used. Apparently, there is some incompatibility between what happens in Brussels and what happens in various European capitals. However, until such documents can be transmitted quickly, we cannot properly do our job of scrutinising European legislation on behalf of the citizens.

In a report last year--it was followed by a report from this House--the other place said that there should be at least a month from the delivery of documents before a Council decision has to be made. I am glad that that has now been included in a draft from the Dublin Summit and that a new protocol is to be added to the text of the treaty, stating that a four-week period shall elapse between a legislative proposal, as defined in Article 151 of the treaty establishing the European Community, being made available in all languages to the European Parliament and the Council. That is all right as far as it goes, but there is still the question of when the clock starts ticking. We have suggested--this seems to be gaining wide support in the Conference of European Advisory Committees--that that four-week period should start when all the translations are in the hands of the national representatives in Brussels. In other words, the clock should start ticking only when all the documents reach UKREP. I believe that we could then do our job much better.

The position with regard to first-pillar documents has improved in recent years. Unfortunately, that is not true of second and third-pillar documents. We have had hardly any second-pillar documents. That is perhaps more understandable with regard to foreign and security affairs because this House and another place are bound by the Ponsonby Rules in relation to our own foreign policy. However, it is important that we begin to open up what happens in the Council with regard to third-pillar matters. The Council deals with important matters such as human rights and other matters affecting everybody's daily life, yet there is a disturbing pattern of secrecy. We have no clear idea of what is on the Council's agenda. There are no detailed reports of what has been agreed and we do not know how our Ministers have voted on the issues before the Council. That seems to me to be the negation of democracy. If we are here as a parliament to check the Executive, we have a right to have such information. I hope that this Government will begin to blow such secrecy wide open.

Many of us have been surprised that there is no freedom of information Bill in the gracious Speech. I know that the noble Baroness, Lady Symons of Vernham Dean, who is to reply to the debate, is a great supporter of the Freedom of Information Campaign and I hope that she will continue to be so now that she is in office. I welcome the noble Baroness to the Dispatch Box and do not want to load her with too many questions, given the number that have already been put to her. Nevertheless, the Government's attitude towards secrecy in the Council must improve. We thought that the judgment of the European Court of Justice in the Carvel case (when Mr. John Carvel of the Guardian was refused documents by the Council Secretariat) had started that process, but it seems that the Council

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Secretariat is trying to avoid the consequences of that judgment to the best of its ability. Sub-committee F is conducting an investigation into the affairs of the third pillar and will start to do so again once the Select Committee is reconstituted.

That committee received some interesting evidence from Mr. Tony Bunyan of Statewatch, from which I discovered to my surprise that once documents which are secret have been passed to me and I have put them to my sub-committees and my sub-committees have invited people to give evidence on them, those documents are secret no longer. I seem to have extraordinary powers which I did not previously know were available to me. I shall certainly use them to the best of my ability. Despite the Carvel judgment, Mr. Tony Bunyan has had enormous difficulties in getting documents from the Council. He has been to the ombudsman, who has told the Council to come up with the goods, but the Council has said, "It's none of your business". It seems astonishing that the Council Secretariat--and the Council itself--is prepared to say to the European ombudsman, "This has nothing at all to do with you; it is entirely a matter for the Council because it is a third pillar matter".

I believe that the British Government voted in favour of that proposition. A number of other delegations gave an explanation of their vote in the other direction. I refer to the delegations of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden, so we are not speaking about a small number. Their explanation stated:

    "While the Ombudsman is not competent to deal with matters falling under Titles V and VI of the TUE, these Delegations consider that this case concerns an inquiry of alleged maladministration in the application of Council Decision ... for which the Ombudsman is competent".
I hope that the British Government will join those other governments in supporting the competence of the ombudsman to break open the great wall of secrecy which surrounds the Council and its activities.

I should like to mention just one other matter--and this comes from me personally rather than from me in my role as chairman of your Lordships' Select Committee. Another subject which has been discussed with me in a number of meetings this year is the question of a uniform electoral system for the European Parliament. This causes considerable perturbation in Europe because the way in which the electoral system in this country works and the distortion in numbers that it creates has unbalanced the European Parliament. The Socialist Group in the European Parliament is significantly greater than it should be because of the large number of Labour Members in that group. I hope that the fact that the electoral system causes that to happen will not deter the Foreign Secretary from pursuing the initiatives that he has already taken by saying at the recent publication of a book by the noble Lord, Lord Plant, and Mr. Michael Steed that it is the intention of the Government to proceed to a uniform proportional system for European Parliament elections in 1999. I should like some reassurance from the Government Front Bench that that still remains the position.

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Your Lordships' Select Committee will continue to scrutinise to the best of its ability (which I believe is quite high) European matters, but it can do better if it has access to documents which at the moment are regarded as far too secret by the Council and its secretariat.

5.41 p.m.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I also thoroughly enjoyed the excellent maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan. I follow the intervention of the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, by saying that I also care a great deal about the Government's pledge on a uniform electoral system not only as a matter of principle but, in the best spirit of constructive opposition, to suggest that it is in the Government's self-interest. Two years into a Labour Government when the honeymoon has worn off the voters will have the opportunity to punish the Labour Party in the European elections in 1999 by voting for whoever else they wish. I suggest in all humility that in those circumstances it is in the interests of the Government, as well as a matter of their previous pledge, to make sure that a proper and democratic electoral system is by then introduced.

In contrast to the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, I welcome the new Government's mission statement. I look forward to the Government carrying out the Labour Party's pledge to introduce a White Paper on foreign policy. I remember well the Statement by the Labour Foreign Secretary in, I believe, March or April 1974, that he would take steps to introduce a White Paper on foreign policy to ensure that the public were properly educated on these matters. Somehow or other it got lost then. I recommend that the new Government pull out the files on James Callaghan's Statement and reconsider how much more useful it is to be open.

The one part of the mission statement that left me rather queasy was the pledge to make the United Kingdom a leading player in a Europe of independent nation states. Last night I was in the Foreign Office listening to an excellent annual lecture by Professor Keith Robbins on the United Kingdom as a multinational state and its implications for foreign policy. After all, the United Kingdom is not a single nation state. Devolution, to which the new Government are committed, emphasises the extent to which we are a multinational state and raises the question of how far a Scottish parliament, and for that matter a Welsh assembly, will have their own interests to represent in Brussels and elsewhere. This rather Gaullist language redolent of sovereignty and nationalism of independent nation states fits rather uneasily with a stronger commitment to international co-operation which occurs elsewhere in the Statement.

Having sat for an hour or more in the Locarno Room last night and looked at the backdrop to the presentation of the mission statement of the Foreign Office, I ask the noble Baroness who is to wind up why it is that Iceland is portrayed on that backdrop as twice as large as the United Kingdom.

In the spirit of constructive opposition, I should also like to comment on the defence by the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, of the record of the previous

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Government. He spoke about the past 18 years. I should like to speak about the past eight years. It seems to me that the previous Government went most wrong in its failure to adjust to the end of the Cold War, to think through the implications and to explain them to the British people. During the election campaign I read the excellent book on how we managed the unification of Germany written by Condoleeza Rice and Philip Zelikow, who were members of the National Security Council under President Bush. In that book the closeness of German-American co-operation in the process of German unification is detailed and the obstructiveness of the British Prime Minister and the unhelpfulness of the British Government are painfully set out. The slow move from resistance to German unification to a general cultivation of anti-Germanism, and from there to transatlantic nostalgia, was very much part of what went wrong in the atmosphere in which the previous Government made foreign policy. My criticism then and since of Douglas Hurd as Foreign Secretary was that he was always prepared to argue that very little had changed rather than try to explain to people how rapidly and radically the international context was changing. Malcolm Rifkind went further in his transatlantic nostalgia, as the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, has suggested, by promoting the totally illusory and unsaleable idea of a transatlantic free trade area which would never have a chance of passing the US Congress. Of course, from this I exempt the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, who in that Government played an extremely valuable role in emphasising the importance of the third world and defending a shrinking development budget from those who wished to attack it.

Following the recent decisive election result self-righteous Euro-phobia has come to an end. I spent much of the election in the south west of England where the Referendum Party mounted an extremely strong campaign in a number of constituencies, including Yeovil. There were as many Referendum Party posters visible as there were Conservative Party posters. The outcome of the campaign was, as many noble Lords will recall, that Liberal Democrats won a great many of those constituencies and the Referendum Party failed to save many deposits. As a result, I hope that the rather puritanical comments about some being saved and the rest being sinners that we have heard from various Benches and seen in the columns of The Times, The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, so clearly rejected by the British people and compounded by the disappearance of Sir James Goldsmith to foreign parts again, will be replaced by a little more humility and readiness to admit that they may be mistaken and they are perhaps not saved.

I should like to say a word about the Conservatives' record on defence and what we may hope for on that subject from the new Government. A couple of weeks ago a German official remarked to me that the biggest paradox of the Conservative Government was that under Michael Portillo as Minister of Defence the British defence commitment had moved closer towards European integration than ever before, that we had taken part in the Rapid Reaction Force with a multinational division, that we had formed a Franco-British air wing

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but that, at the same time, the Government had been doing their best to hide that from the British people. I urge the new Government, as one of their first actions in relation to defence, to make it clearer to the British people just how closely integrated with our European allies our defence has already become.

There is much one can do to symbolise defence. Mrs. Thatcher always symbolised defence when she went to Germany by standing with our boys in tanks without a single German in sight. President Mitterrand always had the sense to ensure that when he went to Germany he stood together with the German Chancellor to watch German and French troops marching together. The Franco-British air wing was allowed to fly under the Arc de Triomphe on 14th July last year. I am not aware that it has yet flown in public on any ceremonial occasions in Britain. Perhaps the next Queen's birthday may provide an occasion.

With the next 14th July, we shall be approaching the 50th anniversary of the occasion on 14th July 1948 when the 1st Battalion of the Scots Guards, with the Scots Guards' band, marched down the Champs Elysees as part of the 14th July parade. It would be welcome were the new Government to suggest to the French that we might mark that by doing the same again, and then perhaps even have the unit which has always seemed to be the most under-appreciated and the most militarily integrated in Europe (the British-Dutch Marine Amphibious Force) holding the guard outside Buckingham Palace. A little bit of symbolism in the right direction would help get rid of all the old symbolism in the wrong direction from which we have suffered.

However, I was a little worried by the tone of the new Foreign Secretary's remarks the day before yesterday on the WEU. It seemed to me that the old Atlanticist nostalgia was still almost there. Stronger European co-operation is the only way forward for British defence within NATO, but within a European pillar for NATO. That is what the new Foreign Secretary should be saying rather than sounding as though he is deeply cautious, like his predecessor, about any closer engagement with those dangerous continentals.

I welcome the defence review. European and NATO integration, efficiency gains from further integration and a degree of specialisation are what one needs to pursue.

I shall end by talking about EU enlargement, which the noble Lord, Lord Healey, appeared to suggest was a new idea which we could clearly throw out of the window. We have, after all, as a country been committed to that since the NATO council of January 1994. Many people did not fully recognise that, and of course the Government did not do very much to explain to the public that that would lead to enlargement. But all of those countries which had formerly been Socialist had asked for NATO membership from 1990 onwards, and we had done our best, in a rather inadequate way, to respond.

Clearly what we need here from the Government is an open explanation of what is going on and why, and a number of speeches, preferably in Britain--

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Malcolm Rifkind made just one speech on NATO enlargement of which I am aware, and that was in Washington--on the underlying purpose of the expansion of NATO. We are, after all, approaching a key point in both NATO and EU enlargement in July this year when, first, the NATO council will announce which countries will join; and, secondly, the European Commission will publish its opinion on those countries which it regards as ready to negotiate for full EU membership.

The importance of giving messages to Slovenia, Romania and Estonia which do not leave them outside, and which do not just accept that we are interested in three countries and we shall stop there, both in the EU and NATO, is important for the long-term security of Europe.

We then go on from the 1997 IGC. We face a large number of changes in NATO and the EU. Indeed, enlargement is not possible without substantial changes in NATO or the EU. The Treaty of Amsterdam will clearly be a modest affair. Nothing in the election campaign was more absurd than Michael Howard's suggestion that the Treaty of Amsterdam would end the sovereignty of the British Parliament. The one thing we can be certain will be in the Treaty of Amsterdam is an agreement that there will be another IGC in four or five years' time. The Government will need to start educating the public about what they have in mind. Any British foreign policy and any British defence policy has to start in Europe with a proper partnership with France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain, conducted bilaterally and multilaterally through NATO, its European pillar and the EU. If the Government pursue that type of foreign policy we will do our best to support them, and when the Government fall short of that we shall oppose them constructively.

5.55 p.m.

Lord Jenkins of Putney: My Lords, this year's gracious Speech has received a better press than any of those annual occasions that I can recall. I say that at the beginning, because my contribution to the debate will point to a serious flaw in the speech. I should like to make it clear that in other respects I am as enthusiastic as some of the newspapers almost seemed to try to be. It had a splendid reception, which it deserved.

I can deal with the one point only in the time that I shall allow myself. In the penultimate paragraph of the penultimate page of the speech the Government say:

    "My Government will retain strong armed forces, including the nuclear deterrent".
That is the bold war-like note of firm military government. Then we come to a quieter sentence which strikes a different note. It continues:

    "Preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction will be a priority".

Which is the priority? There are two there. That is the only thing that the Government say about this awesome weapon: that they are going to keep it. On the other hand, they are going to advise everyone else not to have it. That is the confused message which comes across here, which is why it seemed to me to be worth while

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to point it out, in the hope that the Government were merely cramming it in the space and that they will have something more satisfactory to say about it when they look into it.

We are inclined to forget the awesome nature of what is called here the "nuclear deterrent". We are also inclined to forget the change that has taken place. When I served in the forces in the last war, the civilian was sacrosanct. I have mentioned the book I have once before in the House. I hope your Lordships will not mind if I repeat the reference. It was a small document issued to all commissioned members of the forces in 1940 to tell them what they could and could not do in war. It was called What Acts of War are Justifiable. It was written by the formidable and famous Professor A. L. Goodhart. It was to tell you what you could do and what you simply must not do if you proposed to be a civilised combatant. I shall not give the details, but Goodhart finishes by saying:

    "The separation of armies and peaceful inhabitants into two distinct classes is perhaps the greatest triumph of international law. The effect in mitigating the evils of war has been incalculable".
He finishes his last sentence:

    "It is to re-establish these in a world threatened with barbarism that this war is being fought".

If that is all it was fought for, it was fought in vain, because at the time that that was being circulated the situation was gradually getting out of control. The civilian, instead of being sacrosanct, was becoming more and more the target. Coventry, Rotterdam and, gradually, the blockbuster which killed whoever was in its path--women and children--meant that the citizen was not sacrosanct. The citizen was sacrosanct in the earlier years, because then, if our bombers could not be sure that they were on the military target, they were under instructions to bring back their bombs. Indeed, many of them did so and dropped them in the sea.

It was not long before we were blockbusting ourselves. That eventually finished up with Hamburg and finally with the horror of Hiroshima, where hundreds and thousands of civilians were killed. So instead of the sacrosanctness of civilians, we have barbarism, as Goodhart called it, which is now accepted as a common occurrence. All we have to say about it is to call it the nuclear deterrent and say that we are going to keep it. We are going to keep a weapon which cannot possibly avoid killing civilians if it is ever used at all. If it is used, civilians will suffer as a result more than those in the Armed Forces. That is due to the very nature of the thing; it cannot be used otherwise.

That is why there is a rebellion against it among the Armed Forces who would have to use such weapons. One of the most remarkable developments in recent times is that of the Washington generals--that is, generals from all over the world, including Russia and America--who got together and said that this was a weapon which must be got rid of because it was not a legitimate weapon of war. As a matter of fact, that sentiment was uttered many years ago by Lord Louis Mountbatten. He said that it was not a weapon of war, it was a weapon of mass destruction.

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We pay lip service to the idea that weapons of mass destruction should not be used but we harbour one. We apparently imagine that it is all right to continue saying, "We are just going to keep this one but you must not have it; we do not want proliferation". That simply has not worked and it will not work. We tell the other non-nuclear nations that they must not have nuclear weapons. However, in the General Assembly of the United Nations it was made clear that those others are unimpressed with the nuclear powers who advise them to have nothing whatever to do with mass-murdering weapons while themselves spending vast sums of money on keeping their own civilisation smashers in good condition so that they will be ready to carry out their terminal job.

I believe that the situation deserves more than a single contradictory paragraph. What, then, should the Government have been saying rather than these two conflicting sentences? The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Carver, is due to speak after me in today's debate. Strictly speaking, I ought to have been following him but I am sure that he will be able to tell the House more than I can about the Canberra Commission, of which he was a member.

The Canberra Commission, including the noble and gallant Lord, is saying what the General Assembly of the United Nations has accepted by a massive majority. Indeed, it is what the Washington generals have also been saying but in slightly different words. The message varies in detail but basically they seem to be saying the same. I believe that that is an interesting development in the anti-nuclear struggle. Initially it started out on a national basis. I myself marched to Aldermaston. However, the emphasis has now changed. When we are talking in international terms, it is no use talking about unilateralism, and so on. When we were trying to set an example in this country in that respect, it was reasonable to talk about unilateralism. But, nowadays, that is old hat. Today the decisions must be taken on an international basis. That is what the General Assembly of the United Nations, the Canberra Commission and so on, are attempting to do.

As I said, they are all saying that nuclear states should get together and, gradually and certainly, reach agreement on a target for eliminating the nuclear weapon. It has been suggested that, if necessary, it should be done over a period of several years. I believe that to be a most encouraging development and one which deserves something more; indeed, it deserves at least a mention in the White Paper. The shared aim of those organisations from Australia, the United States and so on, is the aim of a world free from nuclear weapons. That should be our aim. It should be the aim of this Labour Government, and we should state that aim. There is nothing unilateral about it. The more it is studied, the more it will be seen to be plain common sense and the way to an objective that we all share, irrespective of our political positions. That objective is the very survival of our civilisation. With all its faults, it is the only one we have.

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