|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, before my noble friend sits down, was I right in thinking that he separated economic union from political union? If so, is he saying that economic union does not lead to political union?
Lord Gillmore of Thamesfield: My Lords, a number of noble Lords have drawn attention to the financial turmoil in east Asia. I should like to dwell on that for a few moments because it is a deeply worrying development. It is certainly worth a good deal more attention than this House, the other place or British media have accorded it.
What began as an apparently small financial crisis in Thailand spread, at great speed, throughout the region and is evolving now into an economic crisis which brings in its train a dangerous wave of political and social turmoil, most notably, of course, in Indonesia. The shock waves have spread still wider. No economy is likely to remain unaffected, particularly as, in my view, the crisis in east Asia is far from being over. At the very least, the economies of the region will need three or four years to begin proper recovery and that means that things will get worse before they get better.
The causes of the crisis have been analysed extremely extensively. International banks in Europe and the United States did not look closely at the credit worthiness of individual borrowers. They lent in large measure to domestic banks which in turn lent on without a proper assessment of risks and all too often on a basis of relationship, not on analysis. Combined with inadequate local business and banking structures, a lack of transparency and proper regulation, that meant that borrowers in Asia and lenders in the west were involved in a process which, with the benefit of hindsight, was set to produce grave problems.
The question is whether the west--the United States and the countries of the European Union--can do anything to help and, if so, what. There are a number of actions which we can and should take although it is important that we should neither overestimate nor underestimate our ability or influence. We should not overestimate our capacity because many of the remedies lie in the hands of the regional countries. They will have to devise the solutions to improve the regulatory systems and increase the transparency and accountability of their corporate structures.
It is most definitely not a question of western or eastern values, expressions which, in my view, seem to be almost entirely devoid of meaning and unsusceptible to sensible definition. Indeed, in the European Union and the United States, we cannot claim to know the answers. As recent events have demonstrated, far from it. Therefore, we are not in a position to preach even if that were likely to be diplomatically wise or practically effective, which it is most certainly not. However, by working discreetly with our friends, we can help them devise new systems which stand a chance of re-creating a confidence without which recovery will be very difficult.
Japan is critical, as the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, made clear. It is still the second largest economy in the world and accounts for somewhere between 70 per cent. and 75 per cent. of the total Asian economy. While it is not true to say, as some have alleged, that Japan was a link in the causal chain of present distress, its own severe difficulties mean that it is not in a position to play a part in the recovery programme within the region--the very role which, as the noble Lord, Lord Sandberg, said, its position, size and importance warrant. Its own recent package of measures to stimulate demand, large as it is--198 billion US dollars--may not be the right answer, or at least the whole answer. In a sense, it is a larger dose of old medicine. It does not address the key questions of credit worthiness; nor does it tackle the necessary reform of
It is absolutely vital that every effort should be made to preserve the recent achievements made in the international trading system. It would be tragic, would it not, if, after all the progress made in the Uruguay Round and in the creation of the World Trade Organisation, the current crisis in east Asia led to a reversal in the trend to open and barrier-free trade. It is quite wrong to blame, as some have done, global free trade for the crisis in east Asia. Indeed, the chances of recovery will depend on maintaining and strengthening it. Here again, I believe the British Government have, as indeed they have always had, a central part to play. I hope that the Minister will be able to reassure us that the British Government, acting not only in conjunction with their partners in the European Union but also in their own right, will do their utmost to ensure that present difficulties in east Asia do not become an excuse for retrograde action in the international trading system.
The region of southern Africa has vast human capacity and tremendous national resources. It has the potential for extremely strong development and growth. If it were successful in that, the region could be the catalyst for economic growth and sustainable development wider than the region and, indeed, across the whole of Africa. But in order to succeed, the region needs very strong international support to help it to overcome the legacies of apartheid--poverty, the lack of education and the lack of a proper health service.
However, at present, despite the kind words of support on the assumption of President Mandela to the leadership of the country, when it comes to issues such as trade, peace in the region, stability and debt, I believe that much more should and could be done by the international community. We are now at the final and critical stages of the negotiations between the European Union and South Africa on a free trade area. Many promises have been made, the latest being at the Cardiff European Council, to conclude the free trade agreement discussions by autumn 1998. It is said that as one gets older, the blood gets thinner and one feels the cold more. I am bound to say that the weather outside feels a little bit more than autumnal to me. But it is necessary and vital that the pledge should be kept. The successful conclusion of agreement is important not just to South Africa itself, but also to South Africa's neighbours in the Southern African Customs Union--Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Namibia. A successful conclusion to a fair agreement will have implications for the wider discussions on the African-Caribbean and Pacific group
The talks virtually broke down in September and there were subsequently crisis meetings between Alec Erwin of the South African Government and Commissioner Pinheiro. They thrashed out a compromise deal on 5th October which the South African Government were prepared to accept. Unfortunately, Commissioner Pinheiro was having a great deal of difficulty in persuading other members of the Commission to go ahead and attempts have been made to unpick it.
Basically, there are three sticking points. The first is the continuing protectionism of some EU member states over allowing South African agricultural goods better access into the European market, especially in the context of CAP subsidies. There is a problem, which may not be very serious, in relation to the appellation of South African port and sherry. The EU wants to ensure not only that South Africa does not use those terms in the EU market, but also that it should not be allowed to use them in third country markets or even within the South African development community.
Finally, there is a continuing insistence that there should be some discussion about the Spanish gaining access to South African fishing waters. My experience of the Spanish and the coastal waters of the UK is that they break every rule; they take no account of fish stocks; but I had better not go too far down that road or we shall be here all day. However, I know that in order to gain access to Namibian waters, the Spanish--they had some fishing rights further north--used to paint out the names and numbers of their vessels, go in and fish, then go out again and paint in the numbers when they went home. That must be bad.
The European Union insists that free trade is the way forward for developing countries and the noble Baroness, Lady Young, made that point, too. It also pointed out that it needs to be a two-way process: it is not free trade for the European Union into third world countries and their access being blocked into Europe. South Africa wants a fair deal and a quick deal. It is necessary for it to have that deal if it is to tackle its problem of poverty. I believe that at the stage we are now at in those negotiations it is necessary for political clout to be used by the member states to compel an agreement to be signed to fulfil the pledges. I am sure that my honourable friends in the Government will provide that.
I should like to turn to the situation in Angola and I mention that because it may be that some of my remarks will be taken out of context. We live in a complex world and I am not sure that we understand the dynamics of international affairs. When the Cold War ended, many people expected there to be great international benefits to the world at large; sadly, those have not been seen.
It is worth reminding ourselves that in those bad old days each side had its "client" states and "client" dictators; each side tolerated human rights abuses provided they were carried out in the name of "socialism" or "the free world". I welcome the demise
I want to refer specifically to the situation in Angola. Jonas Savimbi, the leader of the rebel movement UNITA, used the old Cold War dynamics. He exploited them to the full in order to obtain arms, equipment, and money and to do what he liked. It was said--and is probably true--that the MPLA Government was strongly Marxist. Even after the end of the Cold War the fact is that Savimbi remained a favourite of the United States. The dreadful consequences of the years of civil war were finally comprehended and the UN took steps to try to bring about an end to it. It did finish with the Lusaka accords of 1994. But where are we now?
Once again we are on the brink of an all-out war. There is serious fighting in the northern regions of Angola and UN monitors who were sent to oversee the peace process have had to withdraw from the UNITA-controlled areas. There is an increasing refugee crisis with severe humanitarian effects on the people of the region. The lack of world attention to that situation, particularly to Jonas Savimbi's blatant disregard of the peace process, is extremely serious. Savimbi never actually signed the peace process, but I am glad that the Government recently said, through Mr. Tony Lloyd, that there is no doubt that the main obstacle to the peace process is Jonas Savimbi.
The British Government endeavoured to apply sanctions. At this stage, I wish to record my satisfaction that at last, one year after the Government told the United Nations Security Council that in pursuance of the sanctions resolution the UNITA representative (Mr. Kindeya) had been ordered to leave the country, the Home Secretary has said that he must go. I understand--although it is uncomfortable for me to accept it--why he is still here. I was one of those, and I am sure that there are many in your Lordships' House, who argued very strongly that immigrants to this country who have certain rights of abode should not
I am glad that Kindeya has now been told that his appeal to remain has been refused. However, he will undoubtedly exploit the appeals procedure further and all I ask is that my noble friend persuades the Home Office to speed up the process a little. I do not say that we should not carry out the immigration laws, but that we should not let the issue drag on. Dragging it on does two things. It may appear to be a minor issue and therefore not to matter, but delay sends the wrong signals, first, to Jonas Savimbi that we are not serious about applying sanctions and, secondly, to the Angolan Government that we are not interested in bringing Savimbi to heel. We are right on the edge of a very serious conflict.
What else can we do to try to bring Savimbi to heel? He has been given opportunity after opportunity. Kofi Annan has seen him and he has made promises. Everyone who goes to see him comes back saying, "He really means it this time"; but he does not. Again he lets loose the dogs of war.
There are calls from the southern African countries for Savimbi to be indicted as a war criminal and I certainly believe that his actions warrant that. I agree with those people who say there is no point in applying sanctions unless they are credible. One thing we can look at very seriously is cutting off his satellite communications facility. Someone may say that he could still use a mobile phone system, but that is not quite the same as using a satellite communications system in his headquarters. I do not think he knows what is happening outside. I think that if he were faced with the cutting off of this international satellite communications system he would know that we were serious.
So what do we do? Do we still speak to Savimbi? One part of me says that we should totally isolate him and have nothing more to do with him. As several successive United Nations reports have stated, he still commands a large number of well-trained troops and he is still in command of very sophisticated equipment. The stuff that he handed over under the Lusaka protocols was ancient and not much good to anybody. So the dilemma is whether if he is compelled into isolation he will go back into the bush and start fighting. If he is brought back and makes more promises, will the Angolan Government finally lose patience and try to end this by a military solution--in which case he goes back to the bush? I do not believe there can be a quick surgical way of ending the situation in Angola.
What is at stake are the lives of human beings. Many thousands died in the last civil war and we certainly do not want to see another one. I hope that at the end of this debate and in the days to come the Government will make it clear that they will use every possible means to bring Savimbi to heel. If we are saying that the United Nations Security Council resolutions must be adhered to and that if they are not we will send in the bombers, other people will be entitled to ask, "Why do you ignore Africa?". I believe that there is a huge possibility of
Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, one viewpoint that has, mercifully, been entirely absent from your Lordships' debate this evening on foreign policy has been the very fashionable contention that nation states can no longer manage foreign policy and that the whole matter must be delegated or assigned to higher, supranational and new globally constructed bodies, and that the days of clearly defined national interests have been lost in a whirl of interdependence and globalism. It is very wise of your Lordships to avoid going all the way along that track.
Nor am I trying to rubbish the whole concept of a common foreign and security policy in the European Union. It has value. I think that collaboration and close alliance with our leading continental allies is extremely valuable in certain circumstances, but it can only take us so far. As the noble Lord, Lord Owen, demonstrated, when we get to Iraq the whole thing falls to bits because France is going in another direction. There are many other instances where there are bound to be differences and delays which could damage foreign policy purposes. The classic case, of course, was the premature recognition of Croatia, which led to much bloodshed; and there will be many more such instances in the future.
Nor am I seeking to discard the important central tenet to which we have clung for many years: that we must be very close to our American allies and work with them on every possible occasion for the security of the globe, and particularly of Europe. But they, too, pursue policies which can become extremely fragmented. The idea that there is a single American foreign policy is, alas, not true. There are many, even in the town of Washington, and it is quite often very hard to pin down who is in charge. There, too, there is a great deal of fragmentation. As the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, said in a fascinating article he has written in the current issue of Foreign Affairs, this random quality of American policy, although we try to follow it from time to time, leaves much to be desired. Certainly it does not justify our American friends constantly criticising the Europeans and the British for not having a clear foreign policy, when their own policy is very far from clear.
So I am not rubbishing any of that, but I recognise and indeed am warming to what I sense is the position of the Government: that we do still need an agile, subtle, very clearly defined and diamond-edged foreign policy of our own, which we must pursue in very rapidly changing world conditions. They have been changing so much even in the past year that many of the things we have talked about, such as the line-up in the Middle East and the modalities of European policies, which have completely changed, need redefinition all the time.
I should like to suggest two areas where I believe we could bring reinforcement to the tasks of redefining our national foreign policy and of supporting the appropriate international bodies, and to do so in a constructive way which would not necessarily put us, as my noble friend Lord Cockfield mockingly suggested, at the very heart and leadership of Europe. That is not the right language at all, as he rightly said, but we should try for a position where we could make extremely constructive contributions to the development of a stable, peaceful and prosperous Europe. We could also make extremely strong contributions to the stability of the wider world.
First, I should like to say a word about the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth gets one mention in the gracious Speech, rather by a side wind. I am pleased about that: I am grateful for small mercies. I also see in The Times today, although it may not be reliable, that the Republic of Ireland is thinking about joining the Commonwealth. That at least should make people open their eyes, whether it is true or not, to the fact that the Commonwealth is a remarkable thing. It is a new resource; it is not an old sentimental club. It is a fantastic network, which corresponds much more to the nature of the real new world order than people realise, and possibly more than some of the great centralised trade blocs, which of course are based on a different pattern of trade and global investment. There was a good start, when the Foreign Secretary announced the new mission for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and its foreign policy at the beginning of the present Labour Government, when the Commonwealth got quite a good mention. Then we had the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting when everyone made a lot of speeches. However, now the subject seems to be disappearing again. That is a great pity and a real neglect of a very powerful resource of this country which can be developed as a network.
Let me detain your Lordships for another second or two with some figures, though figures are often tedious and many statistics are suspect. Over the past ten years, from 1987 to 1997, Britain invested abroad about £210 billion and received back over that same period in dividends about £172 billion. In return, foreigners invested here about half that: £85-£86 billion. So here was a huge "value-added" for the nation. Most of that investment was not in the European Union, and so while concentrating on getting things right in Brussels, we must not, for heaven's sake, make that the only policy. Other pillars of policy are needed. Eighty-two per cent. of the direct foreign investment from this country, which forms our overseas assets, is in non-European Union countries. There is a very large chunk of it in the other great English-speaking nation, the United States, and
Therefore, however strongly we may feel that the European policy must be right, that we must have good relations with our continental neighbours and strike the right balance between being absorbed into an over-centralised political union while at the same time playing a very active part in Europe, the realities--and realities are a very hard business--suggest that we should also be attending to our global relationships and to our relationships in the rest of the Commonwealth.
I hope that the Commonwealth will play more of a part in that aspect of our foreign policy concerned with our business interests and our links with other nations around the world, which are interested in good conditions for investment, one of which is the political condition; namely, that there should be good governance and democracy and proper concern for human rights in those countries. If they do not get that right the investment will not go there. That is one pillar that I should like to see put in place in our foreign policy. It does not seem to be very evident in the gracious Speech, but I hope that more can be made of it.
The other pillar relates to the European scene. The noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, raised the question of enlargement, as have many other speakers. They were right to do so; indeed, enlargement is the whole purpose of Europe. It is why the war was fought. Unfortunately, it was found in 1945 that the battle for the reunification of Europe had been lost, but then we fought the battle all over again and virtually won. The idea that the whole process should be delayed by endless negotiations about Bulgarian strawberries or Polish shoe leather, and so on, is most disappointing.
I believe that the British Government should make their own distinctive contribution to European policy by being the real champion of enlargement. Indeed, far from getting off to a flying start, I fear that the latter is rapidly running into the sand. One has only to visit the capitals of eastern and central Europe to hear the gloom with which they report their preliminary discussions with Brussels. Endless difficulties are being raised there of the kind which, in many cases, are literally insoluble. They are certainly insoluble until magic has been done in relation to the reform of the CAP, and other such measures.
We should recognise that Britain has always had very close friendships with eastern and central European countries. We helped little Estonia get its independence. We helped Hungary, which wanted a British leader, between the wars. Indeed, the other countries of eastern and central Europe looked again and again at Britain for an example and for support. We went to war for Poland. All the time those countries are looking back to us and asking, "Where's your help? We realise that you're busy in Paris, Bonn and Brussels sorting out your affairs, and so on, but you were our friend". At this very moment the Estonians are celebrating the 80th anniversary of what? I dare say that no one in the Chamber has the slightest
What is our policy towards those three gallant Baltic states? As President Clinton said only the other day, there will be no security in Europe unless there is security in these three little states which have had such a tragic history. Is it our policy to see them divided? Estonia is apparently to be invited to the application process of the EU, while the other two are to be left out. Are we arguing any differently? Are we saying that they should be treated as one, which I think would be a better approach? Are we encouraging them into the World Trade Organisation? In short, are we working with the people who regard us as their friend and look to us for using our, in the European context, big-power status to see that their interests are carried forward in Brussels?
There are two areas where we could have a far stronger foreign policy without in any way upsetting the major thrust of our policy in relation to the EU, the Atlantic alliance and the wider world. As other noble Lords with much greater experience than I have said, we are moving into an extremely dangerous period worldwide. The turmoil is not over. The stock market thinks that it is, but I suspect that those concerned will receive a nasty surprise. The major crisis points of the world are getting worse. The economic crisis of east Asia, as the noble Lord, Lord Gillmore, very eloquently said, is leaking into politics and tensions are rising between China and Japan, which is extremely worrying. Indonesia is in chaos and we do not know where Malaysia is going. There are very difficult times ahead. Our bilateral relations with these countries and our experience in dealing with them in the past, especially Japan which regards us as a special friend, will be absolutely vital in ensuring that there really is a new and stable world order. We should keep our eyes very firmly on that goal.
Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne: My Lords, we sometimes seem to talk as if war and peace were one of only two positions that we could adopt; that is to say, either the one or the other. I want to suggest that there is another state in between which people living in conflict times and conflict zones experience. It is one of survival and one of rebuilding their lives after peace is declared. My few remarks tonight are dedicated to the making of the culture of peace, which I see as a condition which can be fashioned and experienced throughout war and after war has finished her bloody business. I believe that much can be done. The United Nations is our major instrument for this. It offers mechanisms if we care to take them up, but only if we do.
One of the major problems during and after war is the plight of refugees or displaced people. The major instrument for dealing with that is the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. I look now to Iraqi refugees inside the Islamic Republic of Iran. Iran has half a million Iraqi refugees and 1.5 million Afghanistan refugees. Iran receives 11.4 million dollars from the UNHCR to look after those refugees. There are
So much can be done, but only if we look at the situation constructively. Will the Government press the UNHCR to give considerably more of its budget to Iraqi and other refugees in the Islamic Republic of Iran? I refer particularly to the excellent beginning of a new relationship between Her Majesty's Government and the Islamic Republic of Iran on which I congratulate them.
The United Nations has been exceptionally taken up over the past eight years or more within Iraq itself. Recently, a letter to the Independent on 24th November of this year from Church of England leaders and other religious leaders and signed by Bishops, together with a leader published in the Independent at the same time, seemed to suggest that the suffering of the Iraqi people is caused by the United Nations. Perhaps I may swiftly put that misconception to rest. I do not even need to refer to yesterday's debate in another place when some very curious misconceptions were put forward, but correctly combatted by Her Majesty's Government and other speakers.
I should like to remind the House that Resolutions Nos. 706 and 712, which are the resolutions which allow Iraq to have oil for food, medicines and other essential civilian needs, were passed very early in August and September 1991 and that Saddam Hussein's rejections of those resolution lasted nearly six years. I recall it well. It was only after the resultant hardships began to spread well within the tentacles of his own regime that he accepted their implementation.
Despite the distinction that the UN properly makes--and which our Government have always made--between Saddam Hussein's regime and the Iraqi people, I suggest that Saddam Hussein has been determined to use their suffering as a propaganda tool and as a means of blackmailing the UN into lifting sanctions before he complied with other resolutions, especially as regards his weapons of mass destruction. I suggest that the arguments of those in the other place and in the United Kingdom who blame UN sanctions for the misery of the Iraqi people, show that they have been brainwashed into accepting Saddam Hussein's propaganda. It shows that he has succeeded in shifting the blame from his shoulders to those of the outside world. I remind noble Lords that the delay in processing Iraqi purchases under the current oil-for-food scheme, which is due to vigilant vetting by the United Nations, has been made necessary by the continual attempts of the regime to buy material for the security services or luxury items for Saddam Hussein's cronies. I use that word properly. Commodities such as whisky, marble for his palaces, equipment for cosmetic surgery or military use
I believe that the lifting of sanctions would be a betrayal of the Iraqi people themselves--they have suffered three decades of rule by the present criminal clique--unless we have something to offer in its place. Will the Government make it a condition of lifting sanctions to restore the Mesopotamian marshlands of Iraq? I believe that scientifically it is a feasible solution. It is a physical possibility. The damming of the Tigris and Euphrates was a massive exercise. It can be stopped by demolishing the dams. The Tigris and the Euphrates could then flow back again into those ancient marshlands, which pre-date the last ice age and which contain so much human history and did contain 750,000 people. They are a lost tribe. Many of them are now dwelling as refugees in Iran. I expect the Government to make it a condition for the lifting of sanctions or discussion about that, to force Saddam Hussein to restore at least a part of the marshlands of Iraq so that the historic marshland people can be returned after the war is over.
Will the Government fully commit themselves to supporting the Iraqi opposition in its wish to remove Saddam Hussein? It is wonderful that Her Majesty's Government twice this week saw a number of the opposition groups. Who else might Saddam Hussein attack? I remind the Government that it is nearly 100 years since Britain signed a treaty in 1899 to protect the sovereign state of Kuwait from outside invasion. Next year marks the 100th anniversary. Will the Government re-confirm the United Kingdom's commitment to defend the sovereign nation of Kuwait which remains so highly vulnerable to Iraq which still contains weapons of major mass destruction?
On 5th October this year the US Congress passed the Iraq Liberation Act to support the Iraqi opposition with military assistance and training. I am suggesting that the UN organisation, properly supported, had the requisite force to bring democracy to the Iraqi people. UNSCOM has had wonderful successes. While the USA has passed that law offering military intervention, it does not support one of the major UN organisations, which is a proponent of peace; namely, UNESCO. I congratulate Her Majesty's Government on re-joining UNESCO and for the modest progress that has been made subsequently. It is clear why there is no commission as there is in other countries. The reason is that the Secretary of State for International Development is committed to conquering poverty. In place of a
However, the great gap in the membership of UNESCO is the USA. It is a gap in terms of the English-speaking world being a part of the United Nations scientific, cultural and education organisations. The President of the United States, Bill Clinton, wrote,
Will Her Majesty's Government press President Clinton to rejoin UNESCO for the sake of the culture of peace which UNESCO promotes and for the sake of the English language, which is part of UNESCO's remit? We need the United States of America in UNESCO. The United Kingdom was the penultimate country to rejoin UNESCO. It is best placed with the continuing special relationship with the US, particularly at this moment, to press the US President to rejoin UNESCO now.
Finally, I ask the Government to work hard in the United Kingdom and in the European Union to forestall the culture of war. The White Paper on strategic export controls has not yet been put into legislation. There is much that our Government should and can do to enhance the European Union code of conduct. We are in a special position now in that we have opened the debate on European defence. I quote the Government's own phrase. Surely that is an end to the isolation and it is effectively Britain's breakthrough. The negative has become the positive, offering a step towards a European defence agency and common European defence programmes. I believe that that is a true and proper integration pointer for the European Union. The previous policy, promoted by successive governments under the Conservatives, was against the WEU and in favour of NATO. It is now more broadly understood that Britain is at last in a position to significantly affect
Baroness Park of Monmouth: My Lords, it is not fashionable--nor even considered rational, perhaps--to continue to see Russia as one of the serious threats to the peace of the world. It will be said, with truth, that she now has a working relationship with NATO, through the Founding Act, she is an active supporter of the OSCE, she is part of the NATO operation in Bosnia, she works with the G7 and so on. There is, too, the sad fact that Russia is in a severe and continuing economic crisis. The soldiers have not been paid, but there is no electricity to supply the bases. And, as the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, rightly and movingly said, the people face hunger and privations this winter on a tragic scale. How can such a country be a threat?
What makes Russia, as a state, a threat and dangerous is her major and continuing contribution to proliferation. I was very pleased to find that proliferation was one of the main themes of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert. The SDR recognises that the greatest risks to international stability lie in the Gulf. Although the use of biological and chemical weapons is banned by international law, there are some opponents who may be tempted to regard their use or threat as a counter to superior conventional forces, and there is worrying evidence of wider proliferation. The Minister gave us some telling statistics. The paper on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction recently circulated to us by the two Ministers speaking in this debate, gave us some idea of the potential threat from Iraq alone. I look forward to receiving the summary of the conclusions on our national defence response to proliferation.
So where does Russia come in when we are considering the growing menace of proliferation, ranging from missile delivery systems and weapons of mass destruction to biological and chemical know-how? Russia is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a noble people and a state apparatus which has changed very little in the past 10 years. Jekyll, on the 27th October, was discussing with President Clinton's representative for non-proliferation the Russian Security Council's active role in creating an effective mechanism in Russia for control over dual-purpose technology export. The relevant law was to be reviewed by the Duma. In passing, I may say that the Duma is still considering the Start II Treaty, years down the line, and Russia's signature of the Chemical Weapons Treaty was only ratified this year by the Duma and has not yet led to the destruction of most of her chemical weapons despite extensive financing by the West. Her signature to the Wassenaar Agreement, replacing COCOM, was promptly reneged upon.
So what is Hyde doing meanwhile? One of Mr. Primakov's first acts was to appoint his First Deputy as head of the newly-created interdepartmental council for military-technical co-operation with foreign countries and to require that the new head of the state arms company should be a former member of the
The Russian Atomic Energy Minister is to visit the Bushehr-1 nuclear power station being built by the Russians in Iran. The Ministry is also hoping for a contract from the Kudankalam nuclear power station in India. There is of course no reason whatever why Russia should not tender for civil nuclear contracts. But we should not forget that, without the cryogenic rocket motors which Russia sold to India some years ago, after giving a commitment not to do so, India would not have the means of delivering her nuclear missiles and becoming a nuclear power. It is scarcely reassuring that, according to a Russian official discussing the export drive for the X-35 anti-ship missile, Russia may adapt for carrying X-35 missiles all the 40 SU-30 MK multi-role fighters that India is to receive before the year 2001--with an increased range of 300 kilometres, and the prospect of a shore-based version for use in the tropics.
Last month the Russians demonstrated their improved Grad and Smerch missile systems to the attaches of 30 Middle Eastern and Far Eastern countries. They are still building Topel missiles. However, what must and should concern us most perhaps is what has been delicately described in Russia as,
I hope, incidentally, that support will be given for the dangerous, difficult and sophisticated intelligence-gathering operations that will be needed. Intelligence in this area will be one of the most important weapons in our defence strategy.
But the Russian people have changed, more than perhaps Mr. Primakov and the nomenclatura may have realised. The Russian Government will need help to confront the terrible human problems that the country will face. We should give that help--but with a price. Instead, therefore, of proposing--as I believe has been suggested to the Iraqi so-called dissident groups in London--that the UN should set up a tribunal to try Saddam Hussein, we should, I suggest, be exerting the strongest possible pressure behind the scenes on Mr. Primakov to make Saddam comply with the UN resolution on inspections, and to ensure that the inspections are carried through to the end. Russia has a particular responsibility in this area because of her disregard of non-proliferation. I believe, with regret, that to call Saddam to a tribunal--satisfying as it would be in many ways--would unite his people behind him and give him the status of a martyr in the Arab world. Do we want that? Primakov needs our help. This should be the quid pro quo.
I would have liked also to see a Berlin airlift-type UN humanitarian operation mounted in Iraq, Kosovo and Sudan. But I recognise that the issue of territorial sovereignty would ensure that neither the Russians nor the Chinese would ever support it. What is important is that we should use Russian leverage to the full rather than dissipate our overstretched forces in another Gulf war which might not end quite so quickly or cleanly as the last. I feel great concern about the way in which our forces are used as a kind of political football, which we do not seriously intend to kick.
I have another, quite different, concern about which I would like briefly to speak. That is the war in the Congo, where I served from 1959 to 1961. I was there when the mutiny happened and when the country fell into disorder and turmoil. I am concerned about the part being played there by the unfortunate Zimbabwean troops despatched there by Mr. Mugabe. The troops must be absolutely disoriented. They will have no common language; they are far from home without logistical support; they are demoralised, and they may well find themselves fighting other Commonwealth troops from Uganda. Indeed, I believe that Mr. Mugabe wants that to happen. They will certainly be surrounded by totally undisciplined and unfriendly tribesmen, and this war, so far from Zimbabwe, is costing their country millions.
Meanwhile, at home, Mr. Mugabe is breaking his word to the IMF and to us and is seizing farms without compensation. He will very soon have utterly destroyed the economy of his country. Is there to be no Commonwealth meeting? I strongly support the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, in deeply regretting that the issue seems to be being left to a French
The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, I am encouraged to see that international development has taken precedence over foreign affairs, at least in the title of today's debate. Perhaps this demonstrates a new emphasis in Her Majesty's Government's policy.
This Government have taken a huge stride towards the United Nations GNP target in international development spending and intend to reverse the decline under the previous government. Last week saw the all-important IDA 12 replenishment in Copenhagen which is a significant increase in the World Bank's lending to the poorest countries. If, as I suspect, UK officials had a lot to do with that increase, this is a time for congratulation after many years of retrenchment.
As we inevitably become more critical of this Government over time, as policy is turned into practice, we must not forget that the present Secretary of State for International Development has won more Cabinet support and Treasury backing than any other aid Minister. Long may she and her junior Minister continue to reflect many of the concerns which the NGOs and Churches have wanted to impress on the Government for some time. Let us recognise that Britain has a lot of influence on the course of international development and is in a strong position to lead the campaign against world poverty. Because of this, and because of the commitment of so many people in this country, I should like to see an even bolder public stance towards aid in general.
I should declare an interest as a new board member of Christian Aid and a confirmed supporter of CARE International and Save The Children. I was in Uganda recently on behalf of three local Ugandan charities and in a moment I will give an example of Britain's support for African development.
One important reason for celebration is that the ODA, now the DfID, as an agency of development, is held in high regard by the international aid community. With proper funding and direction it can wag the dog; it can influence aid and foreign policy harmonisation in the Community and among some of the more sluggish OECD donors, notably the United States which still seems to need geography lessons and in many respects has not yet even understood what the United Nations is for.
This does not mean, however, that Britain has got it all right. Some say that we are already depending too much on rhetoric--for example, of meeting the international DAC targets. Few NGOs are satisfied with the quality of British aid on the ground and its ability to reach the very poorest people. I am not clear how governments are going to respond to the new international criteria for aid effectiveness and good
I am pleased that our Government will continue their support for NGO humanitarian work in Africa, especially to help women and children and the victims of AIDS, which, as we have heard from the UN this week, is on the increase in Africa. In Uganda I visited the Ugandan Women's Efforts to Save Orphans, headed by the First Lady of Uganda, the Women Prisoners Resettlement Project beside Luzira Prison, and the integrated health project near Jinja, which helps AIDS victims and works for prevention of the disease.
I believe that in our secular state we still underestimate the value of Churches in development. In many poor countries, especially those of Africa, the Churches are the most active in the campaign against poverty. My wife and I attended a service in Kampala's Pentecostal Church and were amazed at the attendance, commitment and content of the service. AIDS is still a greater enemy of the people in east Africa and southern Africa than any of the political or rebel movements, and people in Uganda are constantly exhorted by their clergy, teachers and health workers to take more health precautions.
British aid agencies are active in the campaign against AIDS, supporting a range of small initiatives to spread education and awareness, care for the sick and dying, and prevention of further outbreaks. I attended the opening by the Princess Royal of the new Mildmay International AIDS Centre near Kampala which will train health workers and give advice to up to 100 outpatients a day. The DfID is behind this as well as several initiatives by British NGOs like Christian Aid and Save the Children to combat the AIDS epidemic alongside the Ugandan health services.
Britain is also involved through UNAIDS, the Medical Research Council and local Ugandan charities in the monitoring and control of the disease, which is now actually on the decrease in Uganda. There has been a progressive decline in HIV prevalence rates in ante-natal clinics since 1995, especially in urban areas. This is good news which we do not hear from other parts of Africa.
On Uganda's western borders, the civil war in the Congo, which has been mentioned many times, still threatens to spread into east Africa and elsewhere, although for the time being it has been contained. The international agencies are sustaining new waves of refugees in Tanzania and Burundi. As Oxfam points out, the new fashion for "African" solutions should not be
Finally, I turn to Iraq. I firmly believe that, while standing firm on weapons' inspections, we should pay more attention to the plight of the Iraqi people. In an age of satellite communications it is perhaps more possible to keep humanitarian lines open to ordinary people than it was under Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia. We should recognise more publicly that, in spite of the propaganda war on both sides, there is suffering in many sections of the community. British NGOs working there testify to the breakdown in many essential services and we must continue to demonstrate to them that on a human level we are doing what we can to help.
There are signs that sanctions are hurting the Iraqi people more than they are hurting Saddam. While it is true that food rations are being distributed more efficiently, nutrition levels are still low and protein foods are expensive. For example, a small chicken costs a monthly salary. Health services are declining and drinking water is often unsafe. Partly for these reasons, and also to earn extra income, more children stay away from school. I am not certain that we are hearing enough about this in government statements where it may be seen as weakness to feel too much concern for victims of Saddam's hideous tyranny. On the contrary it is a strength to demonstrate our continued support, whether through oil for food or charities, for a people who are at the mercy of such a dictator.
I ask the Government only whether they are doing enough to support British and Iraqi organisations which are genuinely working day and night to help the Iraqi people through this crisis, and to ask them whether they can do any more to improve the somewhat inadequate means by which the UN agencies are delivering aid.
Lord Jenkins of Putney: My Lords, the noble Earl is widely respected for his sustained interest in the poor, the suffering and the starving in many parts of the world. I shall not follow him down that path partly because I do not know enough to do so and partly because I want to refer, if I may, to the comments of my noble friend Lord Gilbert. My noble friend opened the debate in his usual competent fashion. He said that as a result of remarks I had made to him he had altered his entire speech. I have had to alter my entire speech because of the remarks he made in response to my remarks.
I had asked him why there was no reference to nuclear weapons in the gracious Speech. My noble friend said that he would take that into account when he introduced the debate. He did so but he did not answer the question which I had put. I believe that my surprise at there being no reference to that matter was justified. After all, the Labour Party manifesto stated that we would pursue the elimination of the nuclear weapon. That confirmed what was stated in a previous gracious Speech. In replying to questions that I have put to my noble friend Lady Symons she has made it clear that this is a primary interest of the Government.
It is interesting to note that there has been much activity in this area but none of it is mentioned in the gracious Speech. Therefore we still ask ourselves why there is no reference to this matter. I rather believe that we are being prepared for a profound change in the wrong direction in the Government's policy. It seems to me that the elimination of the nuclear weapon is on the backburner. If the Government had wanted to mention anything about nuclear weapons in the gracious Speech, they could have suggested to Her Majesty the words, "My Government have decided not to take any steps to implement the manifesto policy of seeking the global elimination of nuclear arms. My Government demonstrated the firmness of their decision in this matter when on Friday 13th November the vote of the United Kingdom was cast against eliminating the nuclear weapon at the United Nations and against an attempt to move positively in the direction of elimination".
The new agenda coalition resolution calls on the nuclear weapon states to demonstrate an unequivocal commitment to the speedy and total elimination of their respective nuclear weapons, and to pursue without delay and in good faith, and to bring to a conclusion, negotiations leading to the elimination of those weapons. The resolution was put to the vote. It was carried by 97 votes to 19. We were among the ignominious 19 who voted against the elimination of nuclear weapons. This could hardly have been included in the gracious Speech, but it is what happened and it is what is happening.
This is a profoundly serious matter. If, indeed, the close association of our Government with that of the United States--which, of course, has never declared itself in favour of the elimination of nuclear weapons and is to all intents and purposes determined to remain the nuclear boss of the world--means that on all occasions when, as in this instance, a resolution for elimination arises, we follow the United States into the negative area, although we may declare ourselves to have an ethical policy, our position is far from ethical. That ethical policy was called into question a little earlier in a different context by the noble Lord, Lord Beloff.
What is to be done under these circumstances? It seems to me that we must ask the Government to pursue their own policy in this matter and not to be guided always by the question of what is big brother, the United States, going to do. It is time we set out on our own. We should have supported the resolution. The resolution has now to be resubmitted to the United Nations. It
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, the gracious Speech gives us the opportunity to debate again what is perhaps the greatest issue facing the country today; our relationship with the European Union. After our debates last summer on the Amsterdam Treaty, this is an opportunity to take stock, to keep our feet on the ground and to ask the Government a few questions.
However before doing that, I want to put a point to your Lordships which has occurred to me only recently, but which I believe may be fundamental to our discussions on the future of Europe. I refer to the ambiguity in the word "Europe" itself. The word "Europe" has come to have two completely different, indeed contrasting, meanings and this is causing great confusion when we argue about the Treaty of Rome. On the one hand, the word "Europe" means the Europe of different nations, each with its different history, with its different and glorious culture, and each now--thank God!--with its own democracy. This is the Europe which we Eurosceptics know and love and which we wish to see continue and flourish, with the nations of Europe freely trading together. We would certainly see the United Kingdom as part of that Europe, inevitably and proudly.
But now comes the problem. Those who benefit from the Treaty of Rome have not only hijacked Beethoven's 9th Symphony to be the anthem of the superstate they plan to create. They have also hijacked the word "Europe", so it has now come to mean everything which stems from that treaty--all the stultifying bureaucracy and socialism and fraud which daily pour forth from the Commission and the other institutions of the communities. Thus the "European ideal" has become the whole terrifying plan to subject our national democracies to Brussels and the Luxembourg Court, conquering us by obfuscation and stealth.
So, we have to be very careful when we use the word "Europe". Do we mean the collection of different democratic nations which should be freely trading together, each inspired by its past, and free to guide its own future? Or do we mean the emerging superstate controlled by central bureaucracy in Brussels? I submit that it is this ambiguity which allows those who wish to see the superstate become a reality to accuse those of us who do not of being "anti-European" or even "Euro-phobic", or "dangerous nationalists" or "Little Englanders". For instance, it is surely the confusion created by this ambiguity which inspired the noble Lord, Lord Razzall, to describe my Starred Question about the proposed takeover directive on 5th October of this year,
So, I urge all Eurosceptics, at least, to use the word "Europe" only when they mean the Europe of nations which we know and admire and to use the expressions "Treaty of Rome" or "EU" or quite simply "Brussels" when we mean the dangerous venture upon which our politicians have so foolishly embarked. Let us be quite clear: we love Europe, but we hate the Treaty of Rome.
This brings me to perhaps the central deception practised by those who support the treaty, which is to pretend that the EU has done anything significant to promote peace in Europe since the last war or that it is likely to do so in future. Of course, if that were true, it would be worth putting up with almost any bureaucratic interference and economic disadvantage. But, as I have tried to point out before, it is not true. NATO kept the peace in Europe throughout the Cold War, and NATO will continue to do so, provided that it is not elbowed out of Europe by a jealous and incompetent EU which now, I fear, is a real danger.
The trouble is that the EU longs to be a superstate, and one of the essential attributes of a superstate is a foreign policy. So the EU has to have a foreign policy which means that it goes round poking its nose into conflicts in which it has no genuine status or interest, and where it is not welcome either. Croatia, Albania, Cyprus, Liberia and the Middle East come to mind here. The truth is that if Germany and the other European nations can keep their democracies, their people are most unlikely to allow their leaders to provoke a war. Democracy is the guarantor of peace in Europe, not the EU, which is scarcely a very democratic set-up, as we know.
To put this vital analysis to the test and to find out whether the Government agree with it, I wonder whether I could ask the Minister two related questions. First, can she tell the House of any instance when a truly democratic nation has ever provoked a war? Secondly, does she agree that conflict often arises in forced conglomerations of disparate nations, especially when the lid is eventually forced off? I submit that the answers to these two questions go to the heart of the claim that the EU somehow promotes peace in Europe, which is by far the most important claim made by those who promote the treaty.
Perhaps I could give your Lordships just one example of how crucial the Eurocrats regard this claim to be. Your Lordships may remember when the Commission refused to reveal how much mere money each member state was contributing net to its coffers, saying that EU membership was so valuable that it should not be subjected to such vulgar questioning. When pressed on this response on 19th October, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, M. Jean-Claude Juncker, defended the Commission's stance thus:
The gracious Speech reflected the Government's misplaced enthusiasm about several aspects of our relationship with Brussels and the Treaty of Rome. For instance, the Government appear still to think that enlargement of the EU is not only a good thing, but actually possible through adequate reforms of the crazy common agricultural policy and of the structural and cohesion funds. I would point out that there is a perfectly respectable case for saying that it is not in the central and eastern European countries' interests to join the EU, which would handicap their growing economies by forcing them to accept the 3,000 pages of the acquis communautaire and all the rest of the EU's red tape and waste, (but, of course, I admit that the CEECs like the subsidies they get while they are queuing).
However, I fear that there is not much point in asking the Minister how the negotiations to achieve those reforms are progressing, because I suspect that I will be given the same answer that I have always been given for the last eight years; namely, that the negotiations proceed hopefully. So, may I ask the Minister a slightly different question? Can the noble Baroness tell the House the date when we shall know whether those negotiations to reform the common agricultural policy and the structural and cohesion funds have succeeded or have failed? Is that date by any chance supposed to be March next year, 1999, or are we to spend another 20 years pretending that the voting structures of the Treaty of Rome will indeed allow the common agricultural policy to be reformed?
I know I must not ask the noble Baroness too many questions, but one more is important here. Can the Government confirm that they will not support the increased national contributions to the EC's budget, which will be requested to permit enlargement if agreement is not reached about these reforms? Other noble Lords have suggested that the alternative to such an increase in the money supply might be to delay the timetable for enlargement, which would, of course, be an excellent idea because it would probably mean that enlargement never takes place.
As I move towards my conclusion, I would point out that there is another deceptive claim, which is put forward by those in this country who support the treaty, and which confuses our national debate about it. This is the claim that "the majority of our trade takes place with the EU". This untrue statement beguiles many people, including leading businessmen, into believing that there can be no escape from the treaty or from economic and monetary union, which is perhaps its most dangerous aspect.
So, I hope it is worth putting on the record once again that at least 70 per cent. of our trade, or of our economic activity, takes place within the United Kingdom itself. Up to perhaps 30 per cent. of our trade goes to export, and government figures show that less than half of our overall exports go to the EU. So, less than 15 per cent. of our trade takes place with the EU. That means that at least 85 per cent. of our trade is done outside it, either here or elsewhere overseas. That 85 per cent. is the dog which is constantly wagged by its 15 per cent. tail, and one has to ask yet again whether it is any longer worth it. Why should the 85 per cent. dog go on putting up with all the destructive bureaucracy of the EU's acquis communautaire and with all its fraudulent waste? Why should we continue to stand idly by and see dozens of British interests destroyed, from our fishing industry to our international art market, from our working week to our system of mergers and acquisitions? If the Government are going to blandly reply, as did the previous government, that our membership of the EU is self-evidently a good thing, then I have to ask again why they do not call for an objective cost-benefit analysis of that membership. The answer, one can only conclude, is that they do not dare to do so because the result would go against their political rhetoric over many years.
If the Government do not dare to order such an objective cost-benefit analysis, they might at least attempt to reply to the highly respectable academic and economic studies which show how the UK could indeed be better off outside the Treaty of Rome. I refer here again to such studies as There is an Alternative by Baimbridge and others at Bradford University, and Better off out? from the Institute of Economic Affairs written by Hindley and Howe. Both of these studies have been published for several years now, and as far as I know no one has disagreed with them in detail or in general.
If the Government refuse to follow either of those courses, I fear I must accuse them of joining the conspiracy of silence among our political and bureaucratic classes which obscures the truth about the purpose of the Treaty of Rome. That purpose is and always has been the economic and political union of Europe, to the detriment of our national democracies; but our political leaders have either not understood that, or have lied to us about it. To appreciate the accuracy of this accusation, may I suggest that the Government and noble Lords read the article in today's Daily Mail by my good friend, Mr. Christopher Booker, entitled,
Even if our leaders do not want to face what Brussels is really up to, several Eurocrats are at last now openly saying that tax harmonisation must follow economic and monetary union, and indeed is even necessary for the proper functioning of the single market. Only yesterday, the German foreign minister, Herr Fischer, confessed that his ultimate ambition is indeed the European superstate which successive British governments have always said is not the object of the EU exercise.
If the British Government are telling the truth about not wanting the United Kingdom to become subservient to such a superstate, I would have thought that the time has come when they must start to look seriously at the many attractive alternatives to the Treaty of Rome.
Lord Hylton: My Lords, I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, will forgive me if I do not follow him on the European Union. I say that because I have noted with care what was said earlier from the three Front Benches and by some other noble Lords on the subject of Russia. I wish to continue where those speakers left off.
In recent months we have seen a sharp drop in the value of the rouble, default on some internal debt, the collapse of some banks, and attempts to renegotiate external debt. Many state salaries and pensions in Russia are in arrears. Currently, inflation is officially forecast at 5 per cent. or more each month and at 30 per cent. for the whole of the coming year. Commercial firms often pay their workers in kind and exist by barter. Isolated villages in the Arctic Circle are reported to be cut off, with no food and no helicopters to come to their rescue. In the big cities there are political and sometimes economic murders--one was mentioned earlier in the debate. Crime is rising, and with it the influence of the Mafia. A weak criminal justice system can barely cope, leading to long delays in the courts and overcrowding in the prisons. Those economic problems are adversely affecting neighbouring countries, notably Moldova, the Ukraine and the Caucasian republics. In addition, the harvest has been poor and serious food shortages are likely. There is a need to renegotiate substantial amounts of external debt. Meanwhile, the Russian armed forces are demoralised, perhaps understandably so, in the wake of failures in Afghanistan and Chechnya. It may well be that the conventional forces are weaker than they have been for a number of generations.
We are thus faced with a paradox: a weak state, yet one that is heavily armed with nuclear weapons; a country with a large space programme and some continuing development of advanced military equipment. Russia still has a seat in the United Nations Security Council and quite often sees itself as a world power. Yet on the very day that resolute and almost warlike words were used by Russia in relation to Serbia and Kosovo, she was applying to the European Union for food aid.
In these circumstances, I believe that the Western powers should adopt creative and imaginative policies towards Russia. Mutual arms reduction should be the objective, carried out in a balanced but not necessarily completely symmetrical way.
We should consider the cancellation of Russian external debt in exchange for verified destruction of nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction. That may perhaps bring some comfort to the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney. However, I would point out that such an approach is very much in line with ideas expressed from what is possibly the opposite end of the
Secondly, the question arises as to whether the European Union should provide food as a form of aid. Might it not be better to provide food now in return for long-term contracts for the supply of oil and gas from Russia. Such contracts might be at gently rising prices to encourage further exploration and new investment.
Finally, consideration should be given to reaching agreements limiting and controlling Russian arms exports to the rest of the world. Such exports can be very destabilising and thought may have to be given to how to convert and adapt existing arms factories within Russia. I hope that it will also be possible to include in future discussions the question of compulsory national service in Russia, so that we take into account the real needs of Russia and of the whole of the rest of the world. With goodwill on both sides, I hope it will be possible to work towards what might be called win/win outcomes which will benefit all the nations concerned.
The alliance embodies the transatlantic partnership between the European members of NATO and the United States and Canada. The objectives of the partnership between Europe and North American members of the alliance are primarily political, underpinned by shared defence planning and military co-operation, and by co-operation and consultation in economic, scientific, environmental and other relevant fields.
Throughout the years of the Cold War, however, NATO focused above all on the development and maintenance of collective defence and on overcoming the fundamental political issues dividing Europe. Today its focus is on promoting stability throughout Europe, co-operation, and by developing the means of collective crisis management and peacekeeping.
It was encouraging to hear the reference to the close liaison with our American friends by the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, when he opened the debate. I hope that his reference included Canada, a founding member of NATO and a participant in many of its peacekeeping operations. For example, between 1964 and 1988, 58 Canadian contingents served in the United Nations peacekeeping force in Cyprus. More recently, Canada has contributed peacekeeping contingents in central Africa, Bosnia and the Arabian Gulf. It also had a contingent in the Gulf War. Currently, the development
The Earl of Carlisle: My Lords, it is a pleasure, as always, to follow the noble Lord, Lord Shaughnessy, who dealt with NATO. The Minister, Lord Gilbert, informed us that there would be a debate on the Armed Forces and our role in NATO later. Therefore, I shall hold my fire on that subject for another day.
I am grateful for the opportunity to take part in this debate on the humble Address and the gracious Speech, although it is late in the evening. Having listened with great interest to the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, and my noble friend Lady Williams of Crosby, as well as the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, I feel no compunction on this occasion in drawing your Lordships' attention yet again to the Baltic region. We have heard of the direst problems of the Russian federation. I was in the Baltic states last weekend. My prognosis of the situation in the Russian federation is that it has collapsed. There is hunger and, although I do not relish it, I expect riots in the street this winter unless something happens. I expect the army to mutiny and civil war to break out shortly. I believe that the world is faced with the prospect of a collapsing Russia. I hope I am proved wrong.
The noble Lord, Lord Hylton, suggested buying up the nuclear arsenal. I advocated that eight years ago and so did others. It is a great pity that it was not done then because the money could have been put into capital investment to restructure Russian institutions. Others have advocated great food aid mountains going to Russia. Before that takes place, perhaps noble Lords and Ministers would bear this fact in mind: the collectivised farms collapsed, so did the privatised farms. The banks, controlled by robber barons, have foreclosed and bought up that food. Instead of selling it cheaply to the starving Russian people, they have exported it at higher prices across the borders into the Baltic states and elsewhere. They have seriously undermined the agricultural economies of those nations. So if we send food to Russia, I suspect it will be taken up by robber barons and sold outside the borders of Russia for profit.
Secondly, some of the nations such as Estonia and Latvia are trying to bring to fruition the long protracted and sometimes painful process of negotiating border treaties with a reluctant and broken down Russian federation. The signing of those agreements, which I think is imminent, will give great satisfaction to all. I hope that our Government will encourage both sides, Russia and the Baltic states, to sign the agreements. Estonia and Latvia need no encouragement. Thirdly, they need to pave the way for full accession to the European Union of the five plus one.
From these Benches, all seven speakers have consistently welcomed the Government's desire to play a leading role in preparing the European Union for the historic challenge of enlargement. But I suggest as a corollary that I wish to see the Government play a leading role in preparing those nation states who have sought accession to the European Union to help them with the historic challenge of enlargement.
The Government are a listening government. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is a listening department of state. I notice clearly the difference between the Foreign Office of 18 months ago and this one. I congratulate them. If they are prepared to listen, I believe that not only must they listen to us here, but their Ministers and top civil servants must, before Vienna in December or after Vienna in January, February or March, visit the capitals of central and eastern Europe. Sir John Kerr has already been to Tallinn. We welcome the appointment of the honourable lady in another place, the Minister for Europe, Miss Joyce Quin. I hope she will visit those nations as soon as her programme allows. I shall tell the Minister in this House why. They want to see her, they want to listen to her, question her and reassure her in person and not just the ambassadors out there, well served as we are by them. The nations want to tell her the problems so that when she meets her opposite numbers within the European Union she can explain that she knows the problems personally.
Perhaps I may offer a few points on the Vienna Summit. We wish to learn, this evening if possible, how the Government intend to act at the Vienna Summit. Will they give an assessment of how the negotiations, commenced on 24th March with what is known as the five plus one, are progressing? Will they give any clues as to when the nations not in the five plus one may be
We are told rightly that we are not one of the superpowers and cannot achieve anything. On what should we concentrate? I believe that we should concentrate on what we do best. First, we have that priceless asset, the British Council. Recently I have received two Written Answers from the Minister on the British Council. I was saddened that its director-general, who began with such promise, resigned after nine months. I welcome the fact that a new director-general of the British Council is to be appointed. I am not happy that the British Council receives only £133 million per year which represents 30 per cent. of its budget. It has been cut to the bone. Can the noble Baroness and her colleagues in another place think again about whether the council can be given more? In central and eastern Europe the British Council is the lifeblood of our work in explaining to those nations our culture, heritage and language that they want to follow.
In conclusion, I believe that only second in importance to the British Council is the work of our military training teams. As the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, is aware, the nations of central Europe regard our military training and advisory teams as second to none. We have had the Strategic Defence Review. Let us consider this important service to central Europe for four reasons. First, it is an obligation. They remember the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact which I suggest would not have come about unless the Munich agreement had taken place. Therefore, we owe them an obligation. Secondly, this is a way of influencing their development along democratic paths. Thirdly--note the order in which I put it--it is a way of enhancing their security. Fourthly, we should do it for our self-interest.
Baroness Cox: My Lords, I welcome the explicit reference in the gracious Speech to the Government's commitment to the effective promotion of human rights worldwide. In so doing I wish to focus upon two areas of concern which stem directly from my work with the organisation, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW). I should therefore declare my interest in CSW and explain briefly that it is an inter-Church organisation that works for victims of repression regardless of creed. We never proselytise. We try especially to reach people who are cut off from other aid and advocacy organisations. Rather like the advertisement for a certain lager beer we try to reach the parts that others do not
These victimised peoples are frequently the target of military offensives, are completely isolated and suffer acute deprivation. They tend to be the forgotten peoples. Indeed, they have been largely forgotten in the debate in your Lordships' House so far. Our experience of working in these areas makes us aware of many problems of both principle and practice.
I deal first with Sudan. I begin by congratulating the Government on their robust position in support of the cruise missile attack by the United States on the chemical factory in Khartoum. The Sudanese democratic opposition parties who comprised the democratically elected government before it was overthrown by the military coup of the National Islamic Front are deeply concerned that the NIF is working closely with Saddam Hussein to develop chemical and biological weapons in Sudan and also with the notorious terrorist bin Laden to instigate new terrorist attacks in other countries in the not too distant future. There is considerable credible evidence to suggest that these anxieties are well-founded and that the American response was entirely appropriate. I welcome and support the Government's endorsement of the actions taken by the United States.
However, there are other respects in which I should like Her Majesty's Government to be rather more robust. As I hope to have the opportunity soon to table a Question on Sudan in your Lordships' House, I shall not dwell on details today. However I should like to raise in this debate a point of principle which relates to other situations as well as Sudan. I refer to the challenge posed by repressive regimes who victimise minorities within their own borders and simultaneously prohibit major aid organisations from taking essential supplies to those whom they victimise.
In Sudan this strategy is adopted by the NIF regime with its policy of declaring many no-go areas for Operation Lifeline Sudan and other major aid organisations working under its umbrella. A similar situation pertains in Burma where the SPDC, which, like the NIF, is a brutal regime that seized power by military force, victimises within its own borders ethnic minorities such as the Karen and Karenni peoples. The civilian minorities suffer military offensives, forced labour, use as human minesweepers, torture, murder or (for the Karenni) relocation in what are little better than death camps. Both the NIF and SPDC regimes refuse access by aid organisations to vast areas within their own countries and leave the victims of their military offensives and violations of human rights entirely bereft of aid and advocacy. Hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians suffer and die. They are cut off from any assistance that can alleviate suffering or save lives.
Will the Government pursue more robustly policies designed to require these regimes, and those in other countries with similar track records, to open up all of their territory to aid organisations? Additionally, or alternatively, will the Government adopt more vigorous
I turn briefly to another area of continuing concern: the Transcaucasus. I refer in particular to Azerbaijan, Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. The ceasefire that has held since 1994 is warmly welcomed. There are many positive developments that give cause for optimism. However, the situation is still precarious and a number of unresolved issues cause suffering both to Azeris and Armenians. The occupation by Armenian-Karabakh forces of the buffer zone around Nagorno-Karabakh was necessitated by Azerbaijan's continuing violations of previous ceasefires, with renewed bombardment of towns and villages within Karabakh. I was present on one such occasion when Azerbaijan suddenly renewed bombardment of the Karabakh capital, Stepanakert, within days of signing a ceasefire agreement. Azerbaijan denied the bombardment; but I can testify to the reality. I was there and brought back fresh shrapnel to prove it.
While it is important to look ahead positively and not to re-open old wounds, I mention that incident to highlight the reason why it was necessary for the Armenians of Karabakh to occupy that buffer zone, and to emphasise that they did not wish to extend the war outside their own territory. Therefore they do not deserve to be condemned as aggressors, as they have been, for their occupation of those areas of Azerbaijan. It was a matter of survival for the Armenians of Karabakh.
It is of course a cause of great concern and regret that many Azeri civilians have been displaced from those areas and now live in very poor conditions in camps in Azerbaijan. But the Government of Azerbaijan are using their discomfort as political propaganda. It seems strange that Armenia, with an equal number of its own people displaced from Azerbaijan by pogroms and massacres in Baku and Sumgait, and by the war, can find accommodation for their own displaced Armenians, despite problems caused by the appalling earthquake in 1988 and the blockade still being imposed by Turkey and Azerbaijan.
By contrast, the Azeris, without earthquake or blockade, and with massive help from oil investing countries, are still keeping displaced people in tents. A pertinent question might be to ask what the Azeris have done with UNHCR money and other massive resources available to them from oil investing countries.
I ask the Minister three related questions. First, will the Government endeavour to prevail upon Turkey and Azerbaijan to lift the blockade of Armenia which they are maintaining despite the ceasefire? It is a serious
Thirdly, can the Minister say whether there is any truth in the reports that the next OSCE summit meeting may be held in Turkey? If that is the case, will the Government vigorously oppose the suggestion? Turkey's role in the conflict between Azerbaijan and the Armenians of Karabakh, and its continuing blockade of Armenia, a fellow OSCE nation state, make Turkey an entirely inappropriate location. Also, Turkey's continuing record of gross violations of human rights of its own people who oppose it politically, and of groups within its borders such as the Kurds and the Assyrian Christians, should rule Turkey out of court as a host to the OSCE summit at which a security model for Europe is to be discussed. Therefore, can the Minister either reassure your Lordships' House that there is no substance in the concern that Turkey may be hosting a future meeting of the OSCE; or, if it is true that Turkey is being considered as a host, will the Government give an assurance that the United Kingdom will strongly oppose the proposal?
I hope that the issues I have raised which have direct implications for the relationship between foreign policies and human rights will elicit positive responses from the Government. Such responses would demonstrate the Government's seriousness of intent in promoting human rights worldwide and would simultaneously save the lives of countless people in Sudan, Burma, Karabakh and many other countries where repressive regimes are getting away with murder behind closed borders with impunity.
Therefore I hope that the Minister will be able to give those principled assurances for the credit of her own Government and for the comfort of many of the most deprived and acutely suffering people throughout the world.
Baroness Crawley: My Lords, as a new Member of the House, perhaps I may say what a privilege it is to take part in such a varied and reflective debate, packed as the House is with experts in the international
In Her Majesty's most gracious Speech, our new constructive leadership role in Europe was reaffirmed. In saying "leadership", I look toward the noble Lord, Lord Cockfield, whom I remember as an excellent commissioner in the European Commission. He made slightly heavy weather of the word "leadership" in Her Majesty's Speech. I remember distinctly that the noble Lord played a leadership role in introducing the European single market, for which we are grateful. Therefore, I am glad and proud that my Government have talked about a new constructive leading role in the European Union.
Since coming to power 18 months ago, and more recently since the successful completion of the British presidency, the Government have been determined to be a full player in the new Europe of the 21st century. Not any more the rehashed, reheated point scoring of the 1970s referendum platforms, or the massive attack of xenophobia that strained to breaking point our European Union relations in the 1980s. Nor any more the political impotency of the 1990s, of being afraid of our own European shadow while the rest of the world wanted us to be a force to be reckoned with in Europe.
This Government are fully aware of their responsibilities in mapping out the new European agenda which will encompass up to 27 countries--not that far into the next century--declaring central and eastern Europe open for business, open to democracy. Only 10 years ago the prospect of the countries of central and eastern Europe being in a position to prepare for accession to the European Union would have been pure fantasy politics.
Successful enlargement of the European Union will stimulate economic growth and competition by boosting the single market through the addition of 100 million consumers. European Union enlargement has been seen as a great opportunity for British businesses because it offers the tantalising prospect of truly continental economies of scale, enhanced by technological transfer and improvements in the organisational skills of British businesses. Those are all derived from the creative pressures of expanding markets.
The more sobering financial consequences of enlargement--they were referred to by my noble friend Lord Tomlinson and the noble Lord, Lord Thomas--exist and have to be met full square. They relate to how the structural funds, in particular the CAP, are reformed and how those structural funds are spent within a tight budgetary framework. And while many regions of Britain have benefited enormously from those European structural funds, including my own region in the West Midlands, we have now to plan for a new Europe with reordered priorities while continuing to lobby for the best deal we can achieve for those in greatest need.
In Her Majesty's most gracious Speech, reference was also made to the Government's determination to encourage preparations in the United Kingdom for the introduction of the euro in other member states. As
Very soon, within many of our most important business sectors, firms will begin to issue invoices and make payments in euros. Whether as a business person you own a small company with one or two continental customers or a large multi-national with subsidiaries across the whole of Europe, the euro is definitely coming to a bank near our British businesses.
I have never hidden my view that the euro can potentially bring great benefits to British business and jobs but it will represent a test of our willingness to adjust and to exploit new opportunities. The euro will inevitably make the whole European market-place more transparent and more competitive. That will be good news for British consumers as more downward pressure is put on price. It will be good news too for those businesses which invest wisely, train consistently, prepare diligently and innovate constantly.
Many of us will rightly argue that the macro-economic benefits of the euro are clear enough: ending exchange rate risks and costs; strengthening the single market; driving down inflationary pressures; encouraging investment and growth. But we must adjust to the new commercial climate and culture which will define our presence in Europe over the decade to come.
The European references in Her Majesty's gracious Speech make possible a further progressive stage in our new constructive relationship with all our European partners. I am sure that that will be welcomed by all far-sighted noble Lords.
Lord McNair: My Lords, I shall start with Africa and two conflicts there and some of the reaons that I believe are the causes of those conflicts. I shall then go on to my hopes for a way forward in relations between the government of the Sudan and Her Majesty's Government. Finally, I shall look at progress with some of the intentions which the Government made explicit in the White Paper on international development.
The noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, and my noble friend Lady Williams of Crosby both made reference to the conflict in the Congo. It is necessary in studying the origin of the conflict to look at the recent history of the region. After the chaos of the post-Amin and post-Obote period the world breathed a sigh of relief when President Museveni came to power, anticipating a period of stability.
But stability is what we have not had. President Museveni has actively played a conspicuous role in destablising both the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region. In fact the only country where, as I understand it, he has not done so is Tanzania. He overthrew the government in Rwanda and was implicated in putting a leader of his choice in Burundi. He has also been
It was against this background and despite that record, or perhaps because of it, that in 1996 the American Government publicly announced that they were giving 20 million dollars of military aid to President Museveni with encouragement to continue destablising the biggest country in Africa; namely, Sudan. How much covert assistance accompanied this public display of generosity it is impossible to gauge. I do of course accept that mutual destabilisation is an age-old tactic of unfriendly neighbouring states but it is irresponsible of a powerful country to meddle in the politics of an already unstable part of the world.
It is true, however, that the present conflict in the Congo follows on from the situation I have just outlined. President Kabila came to power with the help of President Museveni. Once in power, President Kabila made it clear that he would not do the bidding of his sponsor. The resulting conflict has involved the forces of President Musevini and Rwanda, on the one hand, trying to unseat President Kabila and on the other, in support of President Kabila, the forces of Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola and, I believe, Botswana. Perhaps the Minister will be able to tell the House how far she agrees with this analysis of the origins of the conflict in the Congo.
The noble Lord, Lord Kennet, suggested we try to help the Americans out of the morass into which their voracious sense of mission leads them. I wholeheartedly support that sentiment and my comments about American foreign policy are made in sadness rather than in anger but this is not the only time that the world has reaped the harvest of the dragon's teeth sown by our powerful ally. The United States used Osama bin Laden as their conduit for funds to the mujehadeen fighting to remove the Russian-backed regime in Afghanistan and have presumably come to regret their choice of partner in that endeavour.
I do not need to rehearse the events of Friday, 20th August, but the effects of the American attack with cruise missiles are not only felt in the unfortunate but predictable interruption to British-Sudanese relations. The Al Shifa plant was, at the time of the attack, supplying, I believe, a large proportion of the human and veterinary medicines consumed in the Sudan. The attack was thus an act of unbelievable, and cynical, cruelty against a country struggling to achieve development for its people, a country struggling, with valuable assistance from the people and Government of this country, to cope with famine superimposed upon and made worse by the effects of civil war.
Nobody seriously believes, now, that the Al Shifa factory was producing chemical weapons. The Prime Minister's reaction to support President Clinton was unwise, as I am sure he was informed in communications from the FCO to the Prime Minister's Office. A friend in need is a friend indeed as the saying goes but if, to alter the wording slightly, the deed is insupportable and designed merely to divert attention
I have, since my first visit to Sudan in September 1994, hoped for the peace and development that are a precondition for good human rights practice for that country and also to help achieve improved understanding between our two countries. I was therefore saddened by the reaction of the Sudanese Government to the Prime Minister's statement and I am ready to help in whatever way I can to re-establish full diplomatic relations and to continue the improvement that was already occurring in our relations with that country before 20th August of this year.
The United States still condemns the present government of the Sudan as one who supports international terrorism. My Lords, this policy position should be studied in the context of the report in an American publication that the State Department has withdrawn a hundred reports that support this contention. Ex-President Jimmy Carter asked the State Department in 1993 or 1994 to show him the evidence. He had the necessary security clearance and was able to discuss the situation in detail with officials. Afterwards, he said that he had seen no evidence. The State Department had no evidence, only "strong allegations".
In concluding my remarks about the Sudan I turn to the Department of International Development and, like my noble friend Lady Williams, I welcome the inclusion of international development in the title of today's debate. The Minister for International Development has started well. She has shown compassion and concern for the people of Sudan. Food aid is reaching Bahr al Gazal by a number of routes, according to the answer to my recent Written Question from the noble Baroness, Lady Amos.
I have to declare an interest here as a patron of the Black International Construction Organisation. BICO, in its acronymic form, is a non-profit organisation dedicated to exactly the aim I have quoted from page 68 of the White Paper. I am concerned to see that intention come to fruition. BICO consists mainly of African professionals in the construction industry--architects, surveyors, quantity surveyors, civil engineers and so on--all extremely keen to play a part in developing the developing countries in Africa. Its members are planning a conference on Good Governance in the Construction Industry in Ghana for February of next year and hope to encourage British civil engineering companies to participate in the conference.
I should like the Minister to tell me what progress has been made in giving effect to the undertaking in the White Paper and what more the department feels it could do to strengthen the involvement of migrants and ethnic minorities in the development process.
Finally, after previous personal remarks I should like to say how pleased we are on these Benches at the Government's initiative to end racial discrimination in the Armed Forces, particularly the Army. My noble friend Lady Williams told me that she was present at a seminar addressed in forthright manner by Colin Powell, the American General (perhaps he has now retired; I am not sure). I understand that General Guthrie responded in equally forthright terms that from 0800 hours the following day there would be no more discrimination in the British Army! That is excellent news and I hope it means that the mind of the MoD is now even more focused on this matter than it was already.
Viscount Waverley: My Lords, my brief remarks should not be interpreted as trespassing on yesterday's Law Lords' decision. Indeed, I sought sound advice this afternoon and will keep within approved parameters.
That said, almost every point made will have major consequences; not only the relationship between United Kingdom and international law, but matters in relation to the international criminal court and beyond to the immediate conduct of relations on a global scale. It will now be essential to distinguish carefully between crimes committed against humanity, sanctioned at the highest level of the state, and those crimes which might be of a similar scale committed within a state but without sanction from its head.