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House of Lords

Thursday, 28 May 2015.

11 am

Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Southwark.

Introduction: Lord Dunlop

11.08 am

Andrew James Dunlop, Esquire, having been created Baron Dunlop, of Helensburgh in the County of Dunbarton, was introduced and took the oath, supported by Lord Strathclyde and Lord Lang of Monkton, and signed an undertaking to abide by the Code of Conduct.

Introduction: Lord Maude of Horsham

11.15 am

The Rt. Hon. Francis Anthony Aylmer Maude, having been created Baron Maude of Horsham, of Shipley in the County of West Sussex, was introduced and took the oath, supported by Lord Hurd of Westwell and Lord Forsyth of Drumlean, and signed an undertaking to abide by the Code of Conduct.

Oaths and Affirmations

11.20 am

Several nobles Lords took the oath or made the solemn affirmation, and signed an undertaking to abide by the Code of Conduct.

Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill [HL]

First Reading

11.24 am

A Bill to make provision for the election of mayors for the areas of, and for conferring additional functions on, combined authorities established under Part 6 of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009; to make other provision in relation to bodies established under that Part; to make provision about local authority governance; and for connected purposes.

The Bill was introduced by Baroness Williams of Trafford, read a first time and ordered to be printed.

Psychoactive Substances Bill [HL]

First Reading

11.25 am

A Bill to make provision about psychoactive substances; and for connected purposes.

The Bill was introduced by Lord Bates, read a first time and ordered to be printed.

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Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill [HL]

First Reading

11.25 am

A Bill to amend the Charities Act 2011.

The Bill was introduced by Lord Taylor of Holbeach, read a first time and ordered to be printed.

Airports Act 1986 (Amendment) Bill [HL]

First Reading

11.26 am

A Bill to amend the Airports Act 1986.

The Bill was introduced by Lord Empey, read a first time and ordered to be printed.

Easter Trading Bill [HL]

First Reading

11.26 am

A Bill to reform the law of England relating to Easter trading; and for connected purposes.

The Bill was introduced by Baroness Turner of Camden, read a first time and ordered to be printed.

Regulation of Political Opinion Polling Bill [HL]

First Reading

11.26 am

A Bill to make provision for the regulation of political opinion polling in the United Kingdom; and for connected purposes.

The Bill was introduced by Lord Foulkes of Cumnock, read a first time and ordered to be printed.

Accessible Sports Grounds Bill [HL]

First Reading

11.27 am

A Bill to make provision about greater accessibility of sports grounds; and for connected purposes.

The Bill was introduced by Lord Faulkner of Worcester, read a first time and ordered to be printed.

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Online Safety Bill [HL]

First Reading

11.27 am

A Bill to make provision about the promotion of online safety; to require internet service providers and mobile phone operators to provide an internet service that excludes adult content; to require electronic device manufacturers to provide a means of filtering internet content; to make provision for parents to be educated about online safety and for the regulation of harmful material through on-demand programme services.

The Bill was introduced by Lord McColl of Dulwich (on behalf of Baroness Howe of Idlicote), read a first time and ordered to be printed.

Committee of Selection

Membership Motion

11.28 am

Moved by The Chairman of Committees

That in accordance with Standing Order 63 a Committee of Selection be appointed to select and propose to the House the names of the members to form each select committee of the House (except the Committee of Selection itself and any committee otherwise provided for by statute or by order of the House) or any other body not being a select committee referred to it by the Chairman of Committees, and the panel of Deputy Chairmen of Committees; and that the following members together with the Chairman of Committees be appointed to the Committee:

L Bassam of Brighton, L Faulkner of Worcester, L Laming, L Moser, L Newby, B Smith of Basildon, B Stowell of Beeston, L Taylor of Holbeach, V Ullswater, L Wallace of Tankerness.

Motion agreed.

Queen’s Speech

Debate (2nd Day)

11.28 am

Moved on Wednesday 27 May byBaroness Bottomley of Nettlestone

That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as follows:

“Most Gracious Sovereign—We, Your Majesty’s most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your Majesty for the most gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament”.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Earl Howe) (Con): My Lords, it is a privilege for me to open this debate on Her Majesty’s gracious Speech, in which we will consider the Government’s priorities for foreign

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affairs, European affairs, international development and defence in the year ahead. We have a long and distinguished list of speakers in front of us, but we look forward with particular anticipation to the maiden speech of my noble friend Lady Helic.

It is also a pleasure for me to represent defence again after an interval of almost 20 years, but first I pay tribute to my predecessor, my noble friend Lord Astor of Hever, who did such a fantastic job over the course of the last Parliament. He brought harmony where there might have been discord and ensured that the debate, while lively and sometimes vociferous, was always conducted in a productive and positive spirit.

When I was last in the MoD, I was responsible for taking through an Armed Forces Bill. That will be one of my responsibilities once more this time around. However, that is one of the few similarities between then and now because the world we contemplate today is a very different place. An arc of instability is spreading from the fringes of Europe and the heart of the Middle East to the horn of Africa. We have seen the resurgence of old threats, with an aggressive Russia annexing Crimea and continuing to destabilise Ukraine. We have seen the rise of new threats with non-state actors such as ISIL and Boko Haram, motivated by an evil religious fanaticism, attempting to set up their own state entities while laying waste to some of the most precious treasures in human history. At the same time, our adversaries are proving ever more ingenious in their methods of attack, using hybrid warfare and cybertechnologies.

In such a world, we must prove ourselves equally innovative and agile in response. That is why, in the gracious Speech, the Government have pledged to do whatever is necessary in an age of persistent competition to keep Britain safe. We will do our utmost to reduce the threat from nuclear weapons, cyberattacks and terrorism and will continue to remain at the forefront of the NATO and international effort to degrade and ultimately defeat the adversaries that affect and threaten us all. We in government will work in parallel across development, defence and diplomacy to enhance the standing and security of Britain in this unstable world. Together we will pursue a coherent policy that protects our security, promotes our prosperity and projects our values.

I turn to some of the specific priorities for this Government in the coming year. I start with defence. First and foremost, we will be focused on the strategic defence and security review. This will be a Cabinet Office-led cross-Whitehall piece of work covering the full spectrum of national security and defence. Work on it has begun and it will report in due course. It will be aligned with the comprehensive spending review and the national security strategy and will be driven by a hard-headed appraisal of our foreign policy and security objectives and the role we wish our country to play. It will recognise that we face an increasingly complex and challenging international and domestic security environment and that our security at home and overseas is intrinsically interlinked. It will also recognise that we must act to prevent, contain and tackle threats that put at risk our way of life and that economic security and national security are two sides of the same coin.

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Once the NSS and the national security risk assessment have been established and define where and when the threats may come from, we will be able to identify the resources needed to respond. We should not forget that the UK is a global player with the largest defence budget in the EU and second largest in NATO. We have a huge diplomatic presence, world-leading Armed Forces and intelligence agencies, a strong police force and an impressive National Crime Agency. Noble Lords will appreciate that I am not at liberty to say too much about the review at this juncture. Suffice to say that in 2010, and largely as a result of the reforms that we have made over the last five years, we are in a much better place. The MoD is now a far more efficient, more effective and more innovative organisation. Whatever the outcome, we will be ready to deliver, not least because the UK is proud to call upon some of the best, most dedicated personnel in the world.

In this Parliament we will continue to recruit both the regulars and the reserves we need for our future force, and will work to retain the very best regulars, reserves and civilians in both specialist and non-specialist posts. We will make sure that this agile, flexible force has the right equipment to do the job. That means meeting our manifesto pledge to fund our £160 billion equipment plan at 1% above inflation for this coming Parliament. That investment will allow us to bring in the carriers as well as the ships, helicopters and planes our services need to project power across the globe. In an increasingly dangerous and uncertain world, we will also retain our continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent—it has been there for 45 years and counting—with a fleet of four deterrent submarines, the minimum number necessary.

When our forces are deployed, we need to make sure that they are able to operate without fear of inappropriate and onerous litigation, particularly as a result of spurious allegations. We have debated the issue of legal action on freedom to conduct operations a number of times before in this House. Respect for human rights and the protection of civilians is an essential element of training for our Armed Forces and is reinforced by the service justice system. As we set out in our manifesto, we intend to ensure that our Armed Forces conducting essential military operations overseas are not assailed by human rights claims that lack merit and undermine their ability to do their job. Our plans for effecting this commitment will be set out in due course.

Finally on defence, we will ensure that those who have laid their lives on the line for this country continue to receive the support and assistance they need by strengthening our Armed Forces covenant.

Turning to international development, the Government believe that we must do more than simply mitigate the threats that we face. We believe in being a country that shapes the world. Tackling poverty overseas means tackling the root causes of global problems such as disease, drugs, migration and terrorism. This is not only the right thing to do but is firmly in Britain’s own national interest. The UK is already a global leader in this area. In fact, we are the only G7 nation to meet the UN/OECD target to spend 0.7% of gross national income on international development, and we are proud of that commitment.

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The UK delivers aid to where it is most needed and where the best results can be gained for taxpayers’ money. In Afghanistan, British support has helped get girls into school, improved healthcare and created jobs, and we will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Afghan people in the years ahead. In Sierra Leone, the UK can be immensely proud of its lifesaving work leading the international humanitarian response to Ebola. Retaining our spending commitment will allow us to continue promoting stability and economic growth overseas over the coming years. This means saving 1.4 million children’s lives by immunising 76 million children against killer diseases, improving nutrition for millions in the poorest countries, opening up access to a proper education and leading efforts to tackle violence against women and girls.

In everything that we do we will look to boost growth, jobs, business and trade—the only way in which people and countries can sustainably exit poverty and aid dependency. We will support the foundation stones of development—what our Prime Minister calls the “golden thread of development”: good governance, the rule of law, property rights, democracy and the absence of conflict.

That brings me to my last point, on European affairs. When it comes to democracy in the EU, the British public are clear that the EU needs to change. That means reforming welfare and immigration rules, increasing economic competitiveness to create jobs and growth for the working population and protecting Britain’s interests outside the euro. It also means halting the constant flow of powers to Brussels, including by ensuring a stronger role for national Parliaments and dealing with the concept of ever-closer union, which may appeal to some countries but does not work for Britain. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister will lead the renegotiation, working closely with my right honourable friends the Chancellor and the Foreign Secretary, while of course consulting his Cabinet and Conservative Party colleagues.

The Prime Minister has already started to discuss his plans for reform and renegotiation with his EU colleagues. We expect him to set out some further detail at the European Council meeting at the end of June. Following a renegotiation, the Prime Minister has also been clear that he will hold an in/out referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU by the end of 2017. We have today delivered on our promise with the introduction of the European Union Referendum Bill into the House of Commons.

As the Chancellor set out, we go into the negotiations aiming to be constructive and engaged but also firm and resolute. However, we are not starting from scratch. From cutting the EU budget for the first time in history through to protecting British taxpayers from the cost of eurozone bailouts, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister has already secured important changes to how Europe works.

The gracious Speech shows a Government determined to keep this country safe and advance our interests around the world; a Government re-energised and reinvigorated with the right priorities, a clear mandate and a driving purpose to make a real difference for the British people; a Government who are now going to get on and deliver.

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11.41 am

Lord Collins of Highbury (Lab): My Lords, all the topics in today’s debate on Her Majesty’s gracious Speech are clearly linked. They all relate to Britain’s part in creating a just, safe, secure and sustainable planet that is free from the fear of hunger and poverty. The new Government must act strategically on these issues and, over the coming months, will need to clearly evidence their commitment to ensuring that Britain is a major player on the world stage. As the noble Earl stated, the challenges are great: securing peace and stability in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Ukraine; defeating ISIL and addressing Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programmes. On Israel and Palestine we need to continue to press for a two-state solution.

Your Lordships’ Select Committee report on soft power focused on Britain’s diminishing influence on the world stage and concluded:

“In this hugely changed international context, the UK cannot simply proceed as before. If the UK is still effectively to protect and promote its interests, how it interacts with other nations and communities will need fundamentally to alter. We conclude that this demands a radical change in the mindset of those who direct the UK’s foreign policy and shape its international role”.

A multilateral approach to global engagement, working with our allies, is essential to counter and confront terrorism. The recent tragic events in Palmyra, Syria, highlight the formidable challenge ahead in the region. Our opposition to ISIL, with its medieval horror strategy, must be absolute, and the new Iraqi Government must be given the support that they deserve. I hope that the Minister, the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, will update the House on the actions that the Government are taking in this context, and of course I congratulate the noble Baroness on her reappointment to the Foreign Office.

On 2 April this year, the world powers negotiated with Iran over its nuclear programme, and a joint comprehensive plan of action to move towards a final agreement was announced, which has a final deadline of 30 June. I hope that the Government will be able to assure the House of the actions that they are taking to ensure that this agreement is reached by its deadline.

As the noble Earl mentioned, one of the first Bills to be presented to this Parliament by the Government was the European Union Referendum Bill. In the referendum in 1975, I was secretary of my local “Get Britain Out” campaign. Time has moved on since then, and so have I. I recognise that the removal of barriers to trade has helped create jobs. Our membership has helped to improve labour standards across Europe, and British workers now have the right to paid holiday and equal treatment for part-time and temporary workers. Like many businesses and people, we want to see reform in Europe: on benefits, on transitional controls in future for citizens from any new EU country who want to work in Britain, and in the way the EU works—and we will hold the Prime Minister to account for the progress on these.

However, the EU itself needs to recognise the growing demand from countries across Europe that want more devolution of power and recognise that the EU must work for those countries that are, and will remain, outside the euro. As my noble friend Lady Royall said,

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we will vote for the Bill, but we believe that younger people need a stronger voice in society, and the referendum should provide one opportunity for that. We saw last year how young people in Scotland engaged in the run-up to the independence referendum and how it was such a motivator for renewed politics. I hope that the Government will learn from that experience and offer 16 and 17 year-olds a say over whether their country should remain within the EU.

We also need to be clear that this debate should not be conducted purely through the prism of economic spectacles. Britain has a proud tradition of leadership, not just in Europe but in the world, and that is the theme of today’s debate. This Government must ensure that the UK has responsive, high-tech Armed Forces capable of responding to changing threats in an unpredictable security landscape. I congratulate the noble Earl, Lord Howe, on his return to the department. I sincerely hope his tenure of office will not be as long as his absence from the department, but that is another story.

The forthcoming strategic defence and security review must be an inclusive, national debate on all the global challenges facing our country. In 2010, the party opposite presided over an SDSR that was not strategic in any form. It focused purely on cuts to spending and, dangerously, did not properly consider the ever-expanding threats to our country. This failure resulted in gaps in our military capability. A 2015 SDSR akin to the last will exacerbate this and further erode Britain’s role in the world.

The morale of the Armed Forces is, as the noble Earl mentioned, of utmost importance. The Government need urgently to address the issues that are making so many want to leave. The recently published annual MoD attitude survey highlighted that nearly one-third are dissatisfied with military life, and one in four wants to quit. The situation has deteriorated significantly over the past five years, and it is vital that the covenant between our nation and our Armed Forces, and veterans and their families, is strengthened.

For international development and climate change, the year ahead is incredibly significant, with intergovernmental negotiations before the September summit to determine global goals for the next 15 years and the UNFCCC conference in Paris in December to agree new emissions targets. In considering the Government’s response to these events, I want to focus on three vital areas: access to healthcare, climate change and the protection of human rights.

Ensuring that everyone in the world has access to affordable healthcare is essential to end poverty. Last year the Ebola virus killed thousands across west Africa, and the UK’s response to the humanitarian health crisis was strong. However, the main issue here was that health systems were not sufficiently resourced or strong enough to deal with the issue. Universal health coverage with access for all, without people suffering financial hardship, will make countries more resilient to health concerns such as Ebola before they become widespread emergencies. I ask the Minister to support universal health coverage in the language of the health goal in the SDGs in New York.

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Climate change hits the world’s poorest people the hardest as they lack the resilience to cope with drought, flood and food insecurity. Given the clear links between climate change, inequality, poverty and economic development, does the Minister agree that not having a stand-alone goal on climate change will undermine the potential of the entire post-2015 agenda? In advance of the UN conference in Paris, it would be good to hear from the Minister how the Government are co-ordinating their engagement on these two opportunities, the outcomes of which are so clearly dependent on one another.

On human rights, I pay tribute to the work of the last Government in helping change global opinion on the issue of gender-based violence. Gender-based violence is not limited to the evil of wartime rape. It is all too evident in recent examples of oppression, including in Nigeria, Pakistan, Sudan, Somalia and India. Human rights are universal and mature democracies should support the development of free societies everywhere while upholding their own legal and moral obligations. Women and girls must be free from the fear of violence, coercion or intimidation, and must have the freedom to choose how many children they want. Members of LGBT communities must be free to love and marry who they wish. Here, I, too, acknowledge the efforts of the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay. I know that at the UN she stood up strongly for the rights of lesbian and gay people, who face not only discrimination and anti-gay laws but the daily risk of increased violence, as we witnessed in Russia and Uganda.

To reduce aid dependency and foster good government, we need to support countries to collect their own taxes. We need global agreement on tax transparency and to ensure that companies pay their tax in-country. However, development is not just about new powers for more Governments; it should result in changes for working people, too. Decent jobs under decent conditions for decent pay is a vital part of development, providing a permanent route out of poverty. We need to stop clothing made by people working in horrendous conditions from reaching our markets and to demand action from major companies to stamp out child labour from their supply chains. Will the Minister undertake to work more closely with the International Labour Organization so that, for once, we can stamp out this horrendous blot on our markets and ensure not only that such abuses are stopped in individual countries but that we take action globally to ensure success?

11.53 am

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): My Lords, I welcome the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, back to her seat. I am deeply grateful to have had a very professional and constructive relationship with her in the last Government. She is a very good Minister; it was a very good coalition in that respect. I compliment her in particular for maintaining the important work on interfaith relations, both domestically and internationally, which her predecessor—the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi—undertook. I hope that that will also continue under this new Conservative Government.

I want to talk about the area of the Queen’s Speech on international affairs and the insistence that,

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“my Government will continue to play a leading role in global affairs”,

with specific references to remaining,

“at the forefront of the NATO Alliance”,

to maintaining pressure on Russia over Ukraine, to an active role in international efforts on combat terrorism in the Middle East, and to pursuing,

“an enhanced partnership with India and China”.

It goes on to say, as the noble Earl remarked, that they,

“will undertake a full strategic defence … review”,

within the next year. In a separate section of the Speech, the Government promise to,

“renegotiate the United Kingdom’s relationship with the European Union and pursue reform of the European Union for the benefit of all member states”.

I leave to one side the underlying contradiction in this sentence, between “renegotiation”, in which the UK faces the other 27 member states and asks for a series of special concessions and opt-outs for ourselves alone, on the Danish model, and,

“reform … for the benefit of all”,

in which the UK works with like-minded Governments to achieve common objectives. You cannot do both at the same time, and the Prime Minister remains deliberately ambiguous as to which he intends to pursue.

I want to focus on the assumption that there is little connection between our relations with the EU and its other member states, our foreign policy, and our role in the world. Many members of the Government are in denial of the reality—that Britain does not have a foreign policy, or a role in the world, unless it has a European policy. One of the established myths of the Eurosceptic media and political right is that we were never told when we joined the European Community that it had implications for foreign policy, and that it was just a common market, a trade arrangement without political implications. That is a convenient myth, but it disregards what Harold Macmillan as Prime Minister made clear to his colleagues when the question of membership was first raised; he recognised that it was a major shift in our international role, a commitment to European security and closer co-operation, which the United States was pushing the British to accept, and which in particular necessitated closer co-operation with France and Germany. Edward Heath spelt out the same message clearly, most explicitly in his Harvard lectures in 1969, well reported in the United Kingdom, and so did Sir Alec Douglas-Home, as he took the accession Bill through the Commons as Foreign Secretary. Jim Callaghan as Foreign Secretary was one of the first enthusiasts for European foreign policy co-operation; in 1980, the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, drafted the London report on strengthening foreign policy co-operation. The EU was always about security as well as trade, about containing Germany and Russia, and about resolving competing nationalisms among European states.

British foreign policy for centuries has been about competition and co-operation with France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain; that has shaped our national identity and history, and it is the continuing reality today. William Hague has negotiated with Iran and on other Middle East issues in the forum of the E3+3:

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Britain, France and Germany, together with the United States, Russia and China. Britain, France and Germany are clearly more closely aligned with each other than with any of the three others. In containing Russia over Ukraine, the European members of NATO have worked closely together, imposing EU sanctions to parallel NATO measures. I took part earlier this week in a NATO conference in which the constant message from Americans and Europeans is that, if we are going to cope with the Russian pressure on Ukraine, the EU and NATO have to work closely in harmony, using all the measures at their disposal. They are not in entirely different worlds. The UK appears to have opted out in many ways from relations with Ukraine, so that it is Germany above all, with France, that is leading the negotiations with Russia and is the United States’ leading partner in Europe.

One recent academic study of 25 years of voting in the UN since the end of the Cold War shows that the French have voted in the same way as the British in 95% of UN votes and the United States has voted together with the British in 65%, which suggests perhaps that French and British interests are more closely aligned than those that we have with the United States. In containing disorder across north Africa and the Sahel, we already work very closely with the French in Mali and elsewhere. In containing disorder and piracy off the Horn of Africa, the European headquarters for the operation is in Northwood, in spite of the fact that very often the British have not contributed a frigate to that joint operation. The Franco-British defence co-operation arrangements launched in 1998 under the Blair Government and renewed in 2010-11 under this Government have become the core of where we are going, but the Government have always been deeply resistant to Liberal Democrat pressure to tell anyone in Britain about it for fear of the Daily Mail. We also work closely with the Dutch and the Nordic countries in pursuing closer defence co-operation.

We hear a lot of noise from leading Conservatives about what sort of future relationship they would like us to have with the European Union and its leading member states. For example, last weekend, Owen Paterson suggested that Switzerland or Norway are the models we should follow and that we should focus instead on reviving the Anglosphere. That brought back memories of my first visit to the United States when Eisenhower was President and white Anglo-Saxon Protestants still ran the United States from the east coast. That has gone. When we first negotiated to join the European Economic Community, we spent a lot of time defending New Zealand butter exports and Australian pineapples. That has also gone. We are in a different world. The United States has Korean and Hispanic congressmen and the Republicans will not win unless they have Spanish-speaking voters. The world is no longer the Anglosphere.

The Foreign Secretary appears to prefer the Danish model with a formal opt-out but following most EU legislation. The Danish Foreign Minister made a speech yesterday warning the United Kingdom against it, saying: “It has given us nothing but problems”. Daniel Hannan and UKIP would really like the UK to leave the EU completely to pursue closer and separate

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relationships with China, Russia and other Asian powers and to have an enhanced partnership with China and India separate from European relations with China and India. I suggest that that is not the way to get the attention of senior Chinese or even, these days, Indian leaders. There are, of course, issues of national identity behind all this. I note that the campaign for Britain now has a subgroup entitled “Historians for Britain”, some of whom will be familiar to noble Lords. They want to promote the Michael Gove version of national history. I once saw a Conservative memo that said, “We must at all costs avoid any indication that World War 1 or World War 2 has any relevance in terms of pursing European co-operation”. That is the part of the argument about national identity and national history.

None of these alternatives offers us a coherent foreign policy let alone a credible or hard-headed approach to what our role in the world should be, to quote the noble Earl. It is a foreign policy with a hole at its centre where we have left out those countries with which we most closely share democratic values: our neighbours in the rest of Europe. If we have no European policy, we have no foreign policy, so how can we set out a strategic review of defence and security before we have concluded what future relationship we wish to have with our nearest neighbours? The SDSR will list the major threats facing the UK over the next 10 years and more. None of them is a threat to Britain alone. They are all, to one extent or another, shared with our neighbours: migration, cross-border crime, Russian subversion, pandemics and international terrorism. Our natural partners in facing them are our neighbours. If we do not recognise that, we end up sending HMS “Bulwark” into the Mediterranean when it is unclear what it is there to do, what rules it is operating under or what it does with the migrants it rescues. We have a determination to renew our continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent, but we are not entirely clear why. If we aspire to a Danish role in the world, Denmark does not need a nuclear deterrent, and neither does Switzerland. Our nuclear deterrent was a contribution to the defence of western Europe against the Soviet threat. We have to put it in its European context for it to make sense.

When she winds up, will the noble Baroness say whether in making the SDSR proposal we will follow the example of the last French White Paper and invite French participation as they invited British participation—Sir Peter Ricketts—in the process of developing their defence review or whether we think that is not something we should reciprocate? Do we intend to deepen European defence co-operation, in particular with France, or do we think now is the time to step back? If we intend to deepen it, do the Government intend to inform Parliament and the British public about how far that has got?

I am told that over the past five years the National Security Council spent more time discussing Gulf strategy than European strategy. Some of us have some doubts about the preferred Gulf strategy of the current Government and their predecessor. We have a close relationship with Sunni monarchies, looking for investment in Britain, pursuing arms sales—above all, aircraft sales—and have set in train an investigation

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into the Muslim Brotherhood because the Saudis and Emiratis pressed us to do so, without thinking through the implications for British foreign policy or British domestic politics. Thus we are in danger of ending up on the Sunni/Salafist side of a Sunni-Shia divide.

I note a number of comments about “increasing our footprint in the Gulf” as we withdraw from Afghanistan, in particular about expanding our base in Bahrain, which is close to the American Fifth Fleet. Will the Minister tell us who is paying for the expansion of the Bahrain base? I have heard some suggestions that the Bahrainis are paying for it, not the British Government. If that is the case, what conditions have the Bahrainis put on paying for that expansion, and what conditions in return have we put on the Bahrainis for the future development of that rather authoritarian monarchy?

Over the next year we will have to discuss Britain’s role in the world and what that requires as regards responding to future threats. The noble Earl promised a “hard-headed appraisal” of the role we want to play. In a discussion a few months ago on the context of the SDSR I heard a rather senior Conservative MP say, bluntly, “Well, we don’t know who we are as a nation, and we don’t know where we are in the world”. That is close to the bone as regards the confusion within the Conservative Party. Liberal Democrats understand that the British identity is compatible with the European identity, that Britain shares values and interests with our European neighbours, and that any coherent British foreign and security strategy has to be founded on a European strategy.

12.07 pm

Lord Craig of Radley (CB): My Lords, I add my welcome to the noble Earl for his return to the Ministry of Defence, and congratulate him on his new responsibilities as Deputy Leader of your Lordships’ House. I will touch on two key defence issues: the nuclear deterrent and what has been characterised as combat lawfare.

During the election campaign, the importance of continuing to have a nuclear deterrent was briefly raised. Both major political parties, at the most senior level, stressed their commitment to Trident and to replacing the Vanguard boats at the end of their operational lives. The intention to maintain a continuous at-sea capability appears in the Tory manifesto:

“We will retain the Trident continuous at sea nuclear deterrent to provide the ultimate guarantee of our safety and build the new fleet of four Successor Ballistic Missile Submarines”.

However, possession is only a part of that ultimate guarantee. Deterrence is not just about capability—with a very high threshold of invulnerability—but also about political will. Does all a potential adversary can see or surmise indicate strong political determination about the nation’s deterrent posture?

Critical to this, when faced with the most serious of threats, is the ability of government first to engage the enemy with all other non-nuclear means available to it, both military and non-military, and to be seen to act stoutly and with determination to defend an absolutely vital national interest. I do not consider that political will about intention regarding or use of nuclear weapons

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is believable if the choice that the Government of the day must make when faced with a critical national emergency is either virtually immediate use of their nuclear weapons, because they so lack conventional fire-power, or surrender.

Without further elaboration, my point is that national deterrence—the death sentence of a nuclear deterrent—lacks credibility unless there are available to the Government other military means of demonstrating determination and resolve in a worsening crisis. Robust kinetic action, short of a nuclear response, is required. But surely we need more—much more—non-nuclear capability than we could field today. Platform numbers are so low that even modest loss rates in the early stages might all too soon leave the Government conventionally impotent.

In years gone by, with troops and aircraft forward-based, with 30 or more combat air squadrons deployed on land or at sea and with the service fleet number treble that of today, different levels or degrees of conventional military response were available to the Government. Such serried steps are vital, visible indicators of a Government’s determination and that they will, if all else is failing, be strong-willed enough to threaten actual use of a nuclear weapon.

Therefore, I urge the Government to consider what more must be done as the economy improves to bolster and give credibility to their manifesto commitment to sustain continuous at-sea deterrents. I doubt that the pledged 1% increase in the equipment budget will suffice. This year’s SDSR should recommend what strengthening of our conventional offensive capabilities, both platforms and missiles, is essential to the nuclear deterrent posture, what additional protection for those more vulnerable platforms such as aircraft carriers, with dedicated surface and other units for them, must be acquired, and of course what protection is needed for our actual nuclear capability at its most vulnerable when entering or leaving UK coastal waters. If the Government’s manifesto commitment to mount continuous at-sea nuclear deterrence is to be credible, it must be partnered with greater non-nuclear conventional capability than is at present available. Surely it would be folly to spend billions on four successor ballistic missile submarines without providing the conventional contribution essential to sustain a credible nuclear deterrent.

I turn briefly to combat lawfare. There are growing and welcome signs that the uncertainties about the application of domestic or international law in complex scenarios are to be addressed. As the noble Earl mentioned, it is in the Tory manifesto, which states:

“We will ensure our Armed Forces overseas are not subject to persistent human rights claims that undermine their ability to do their job”.

I do not underrate the difficulties in honouring that pledge. I go back to the debates on the Human Rights Bill in 1998, when I foresaw difficulties—which were dismissed by the then Lord Chancellor, who was leading on the Bill—of incompatibilities between that Bill and Armed Forces legislation. Legislation about the International Criminal Court in 2001 and, more recently, concerning the handling of service complaints have all served to lessen the essential ethos of trust, both

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political and military, up and down the chain of command—a fundamental requirement of the Armed Forces. I wish the Government well in tackling those combat lawfare issues.

Now that there is likely to be a delay in bringing forward a British Bill of Rights, which might have been one vehicle for that legislation, I hope that the Government will consider dealing with the issue in the quinquennial Armed Forces Bill, which the noble Earl mentioned and which is due next year.

12.14 pm

The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, it was encouraging to hear the commitment of Her Majesty’s Government in the gracious Speech to various foreign policy objectives in the Middle East. The chaos in the Middle East is all too familiar and arises not from isolated pockets of trouble but from multiple interconnected challenges. Syria’s misery shows no sign of ending; Libya appears torn in half; ISIS continues to make gains in Iraq; and Yemen appears to be sliding into a humanitarian crisis. We are confronted by a Middle East that is coming apart at the seams. These are problems that will not just evaporate. They need careful attention and strategic patience, and I encourage Her Majesty’s Government to remain vigilant to broader aims throughout the region, as well as giving appropriate attention to the constituent parts. ISIS, with its violent and murderous ideology and murderous approach to those in its way, is causing fear and instability well beyond its current reach. This must continue to be an urgent priority. If this form of highly organised, ruthless terrorism is to be defeated, we will need to work closely with allies in the United States as well as more broadly in Europe.

Although media and political attention is understandably fixed on addressing the instability in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, it is important that we do not lose sight of efforts to secure a two-state solution that provides for the security of Israel, justice for the Palestinians and peace for all. This is a vital strand of the interconnectedness of the region, and bold moves in seeking to unlock this situation are needed if Israel’s security is to be guaranteed and the Palestinians enabled to flourish. This continues to be a vital building block for wider peace throughout the region and for the defeat of terrorism. Despite the expansion of Israel’s settlement programme and the unpromising signs emerging from the new Israeli Government, I trust that Her Majesty’s Government will remain committed to encouraging Israel to fulfil its international obligations as well as to the concept of a two-state solution. There remains no better alternative to the probability of the establishment of either a non-Jewish democracy or a Jewish non-democracy. At a time when the situation on the ground grows ever more dangerous, the Government need to look imaginatively at ways to move beyond the current stalemate.

The status of Palestine is likely to be an issue that reappears once again before the UN Security Council. I sincerely hope that the Government will be supportive of any draft resolution that creates greater equivalence between Israel and Palestine as political entities in the

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framework of any negotiations. The absence of progress will only allow for extremism to ferment. Indeed, I hope that the Government will draw encouragement from the growing support for the recognition of Palestine, in your Lordships’ House as well as in the wider international community. The Holy See’s recent intervention is but the latest example of this. The recognition of Palestine and upholding Israel’s security will be important stepping stones in securing a long-term peace in the Middle East.

I turn to international development, which did not feature in the gracious Speech, although it was good to hear the noble Earl, Lord Howe, speak on the subject at the start of the debate. It is evident that, even though a fragile cross-party consensus now exists in support of the 0.7% development budget, the public at large remain—if polls are to be believed—suspicious and doubtful of its benefits. Given this scepticism, the transition later this year to an agenda based on sustainable development goals provides a window of opportunity for the Government to publish a new White Paper on international development. It is now eight years since the Department for International Development published its last White Paper and we need a new narrative on international development that reflects the changed reality we now face and has traction with the wider public.

As part of this exercise, we might look again at the role that faith communities play in delivering aid on the ground and in building resilient communities, and the scope for closer partnership. The last Government made some good progress in this area, not least with their faith partnership principles of 2012, but the potential benefits of strategic collaboration between the Department for International Development and the church remain sadly largely untapped. I know only too well from my own links and those of my diocese with Zimbabwe the role that the church can play in challenging circumstances. As that beautiful country once again faces challenges over feeding its population, and given the growing nervousness of what will happen when the Mugabe regime draws to a close, I sincerely hope that the Government will stand ready to meet relief and development needs in that place as well as more widely across the globe.

12.20 pm

Lord Howell of Guildford (Con): My Lords, I would like to add a brief—and inadequate—tribute to those made yesterday in this House to my old colleague and friend Lord Howe of Aberavon, who has decided to retire from the House. It is inadequate because of shortage of time but is none the less heartfelt. Lord Howe served this country, government and party in all the highest offices—or in most of them anyway. More than that, he was the prime promoter of Conservative social reform in showing how market-driven forces could be harnessed to strong social advance. I for one, and I think many of us, shall miss him here and wish him well. The country owes that man a lot. Indeed, he was one of the reasons why I joined the Conservative Party in the first place.

I also add my congratulations to those expressed to the other Howe, the noble Earl, Lord Howe, who is sitting here. He has done a marvellous job over many

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years in social policy areas. It is excellent that he is now at defence and our Deputy Leader. I also greatly look forward to the maiden speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Helic.

On Europe, I wish the best of luck to my right honourable friend the Prime Minister in his renegotiations and his search for allies in European reform. He is quite right that the issues are not just bilateral British concerns—this is not just a question of British demands and special requirements. As Günter Verheugen, the former Commissioner, remarked the other day:

“What [Cameron] is saying is what a strong majority of Europeans feel”.

I would have liked to have seen this search for allies begin even earlier than now. In particular, we should have been much friendlier much earlier to Poland instead of siding against her on a whole range of issues, including energy issues, and backing the EU Commission’s now outdated, costly and ineffective energy package—which is long overdue for a complete overhaul, as is our own dismal, inept and indeed dangerous energy and climate policy here in the United Kingdom. That is a less happy legacy from the coalition. It needs total makeover, and let us hope that the promise in the Queen’s Speech of,

“Measures … to increase energy security”,

mean just that. I will believe it when I see it.

My other concern is whether EU negotiations are a strong enough vehicle to achieve the needed EU reform. The reality, which people are reluctant to face, is that the EU model comes from the 20th century, where it had great effect, but we are now in a totally different, 21st-century digital age.

A second track to our European reform policy is needed. Hand in hand with negotiations on specific concessions should go a much deeper drive to reinterpret the principles on which the European project is, or now ought to be, based. The 20th century demanded solidarity and centralisation in Europe—that was understandable—but the 21st century demands flexibility and decentralisation. This is the more profound lead on EU reform which I would like to see the best policy minds here in Britain giving and for which many of our friends across Europe are waiting. I hope that the so-called high priests said to be in charge of our EU policy see this and have enough experience of the whole history of European integration to be really creative. It is not a question of shopping lists, red-line demands and all the talk of wresting concessions. That is not nearly enough. I hope our negotiators will not be swayed by highly misleading advice that nothing too fundamental must be raised in these matters for fear of offending our European neighbours.

In the end, there will have to be treaty changes, however much the old political class across Europe may fear that. Of course, treaty changes cannot be delivered by 2017—no one is suggesting that—but what can be delivered is a clear indication that the old overcentralised, overregulated EU is set in new directions at last, appropriate to the age we now live in and suitable for the totally transformed trade patterns that now exist, which are completely different from anything 20 years ago.

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I hope, anyway, that none of this will distract policymakers from the much bigger task of repositioning Britain in a completely transformed world order. The bald fact is that our future living standards and our security will depend as much on the great new powers and exploding consumer markets of Asia, Africa and Latin America as on Europe. That is where most of the growth over the next 30 years will be. In getting alongside these new powers and new markets we will need every conceivable instrument we can find and every advantage we can seize against our competitors. This is where the Commonwealth network, with its own colossal reach, rich markets and capital sources is—or ought to be—immensely valuable to us. I fear that the people who drafted my own party’s manifesto did not quite understand that emerging markets and the Commonwealth network are all woven together and all part of the same thing. If we want what the gracious Speech refers to as,

“an enhanced partnership with India”,

for example, this is where it should begin.

The Commonwealth network is the gateway to China and Japan, the second and third largest economies in the world. China’s opening up of the whole of east Asia to development, with its new silk road linking Chinese, central Asian and eventually western markets, is all part of the same picture. One decision that gave me great pleasure was the British decision to go right in as a founding supporter of China’s new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. That was an excellent move which recognises the real future, where our interest lies.

In a highly dangerous world, with the arc of instability that my noble friend Lord Howe referred to, we should certainly settle promptly and constructively with our EU neighbours and clinch that settlement with a referendum approval, which I believe we will get. We should certainly work closely with our American allies around the world—although as partners and not as slavish subordinates. But above all, we should be confident enough to develop our own agenda to work with the emerging powers of Asia and the new Africa. That is where our real future beckons. It is where we have unique advantages of language, experience, shared values and cultural links—real soft power and smart-power levers. It is where our overriding priorities should lie.

12.28 pm

Lord Triesman (Lab): My Lords, the summons that we each received to attend this Parliament, however traditional or quaint some of its language, contained some forbidding words about the weighty and perilous issues that we would be asked to consider. In our international relations, as the noble Earl, Lord Howe, said in his introductory speech, those words seem accurate and probably prescient.

I start with Europe, which I recognise is both a domestic and an international policy issue. I also recognise, of course, the electorate’s clear decision and I welcome the decision taken by the leadership of the Labour Opposition to support an in/out referendum. Nothing else would be legitimate. The need for reform in the work up to that referendum on Europe is

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absolutely clear. I should say today that it is of course not the only international organisation in need of deep reform, and we may well return to that later.

However, several vital subsidiary issues flow from the position that we are now in. In my view, it would be hard to choose a worse or more problematic year than 2017 in which to conduct the referendum. The burden of my argument last year in your Lordships House, when the noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, was moving his Bill, remains something that we need to focus on. First, conducting negotiations over a period that could be almost two years, without the certainty of knowing whether other countries will also need to hold referenda on the outcome of negotiations, runs some very plain risks. Those hostile to EU membership will argue for certainty about the outcome on the part of everybody else who has taken part in the negotiations before we come to decide. Will other nations abide by the decisions flowing from the negotiations? Will we be asked to decide before certainty is achieved elsewhere? Will the propositions flowing from other countries—the Prime Minister is quite right to say that they will also have their views—be encompassed in the detail upon which we will be asked to vote?

Secondly, if 2017 turns out to be the referendum year, these discussions will culminate in a moment of decision at the same as the French presidential election campaign is under way or the election is taking place. Francois Hollande and his opponents in mainstream France will be dealing with the emergence not only of their own economic crises but of a large fascist party in their own country. In its way, that is an existential issue for France. The question of whether, even given its history, that kind of politics will become mainstream in France is certain to be one of the obsessions of 2017 in France. Victory in Europe, so recently remembered, is remembered not just because of its military significance and the heroism of those who achieved the outcome, but because it was the defeat in Europe of a barbaric dictatorship that robbed many of us of large parts of our own families.

Also in 2017, there will be major elections in Germany—fortunately, of course, now a very mainstream European democracy. On balance, do we expect Chancellor Merkel to focus on the United Kingdom, whatever is happening in her own country or in the eurozone itself? Maybe she will—she seems to have that breadth of vision—but on balance it is not the ideal moment to ask any politician to be concerned with the internal affairs of another country.

Thirdly, in my view it is hard to overstate the risks of prolonged uncertainty in the markets. I refer noble Lords to my interests recorded in the register. Those involved in investment finance and structuring, who are used to lengthy and increasingly rigorous due diligence processes, will know that it is now true that a key due diligence set of questions appears in almost every transaction in which potential inward investors seek knowledge of the likely consequences of leaving the European Union for the business they are proposing to transact. The EU, in this setting, provides us with new and powerful questions to ask.

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I must say that I have given up listening to those who say that we will be perfectly all right and that nobody will change their investment patterns. That is just a view—it is a guess about the future. These days, I just observe what businesses considering inward investment to the United Kingdom in growth areas of the economy are actually doing, rather than focus on speculation.

These points bring me to a view that I wish to put to your Lordships. The Foreign Secretary said this morning that it is better to take a thorough view than a fast decision, and I really do take the point, but what we surely really need now is both rigour and speed: a thorough and fast decision. If we are looking at the referendum date, it makes sense to avoid 2017, and I suspect that means that the only sensible option, in view of the pressures on us, is to look for a decision in 2016.

If that requires flexibility on the issue of whether there needs to be a treaty or some other durable arrangement, we in this country have the imagination and diplomatic skills to craft that outcome. Vital in all this are two factors: first, the economy and its future success; but also, of course, as several noble Lords have said in the debate, the structure of peace. Europe is not a place where competition and co-operation have existed together very successfully over very long periods. We need an historic balance between competition and co-operation. It is not optional for us in Europe; it is fundamental. Our broad security stance is more significant than any lurid account the media may produce about regulations demanding that we straighten our sausages. My late father used to remind me that in his youth the only times when he saw other young European men was looking down the barrel of a gun. The peace that has been achieved in Europe is one of the fundamentals of what we need.

The gracious Speech set out the prospect for fundamental changes in the economic decision-making powers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. If these powers are to be broadly based and those envisaged in the statements of the leaders of most of the major parties, before and after the Scottish referendum, it cannot be realistically stated that Scotland, for example, can gain those significant economic powers and potentially lose the most significant macroeconomic framework of all: the ability to operate within the European Union.

If the home nations are to have the powers outlined and are taken out of the EU—should that happen— because of a decision taken across the United Kingdom, it is hard to think of a worse blow to the prospects of the union of the United Kingdom as a whole. Everybody will draw their lessons very rapidly. That means, I suspect, either that the home nations will have a veto or that the union will be in deep trouble. I am not predicting that we will end up leaving the EU or that Mr Cameron’s negotiations will fail—not at all; this is an attempt to work out the consequences of all the serious potential outcomes, and to be prepared politically for them, whatever they may be. In this light, I welcome the starting of the negotiations and wish the Prime

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Minister well in them. A truly successful Union will have to meet the aspirations not just of us but of other countries.

In the gracious Speech, Her Majesty said, as the noble Lord, Lord Wallace pointed out earlier, that the Government will continue to play a leading role in global affairs. I share his view that that role will best be undertaken in Europe, including in its relationships with the trading blocs and rising powers which the noble Lord, Lord Howell, described earlier. Of course, we are no longer a great imperial power, and no amount of posturing will remake that history, but if we are to be at least a second-order power of some significance, let us be the very best one we can be. Let us be a power that is properly provided with Armed Forces capable of executing what is needed; a power that, fortunately, enjoys an exceptional Foreign Office and remarkable intelligence services. Let us make sure that we exercise that authority in the parts of the world that do constitute an arc of uncertainty. Let us make sure that we are influential and have an impact.

If we are to have that kind of international role, if we believe it right that we should be a permanent member of the Security Council, that we are a nuclear force, and that that brings us into the global security picture in a very distinctive way, let us accept the responsibility that goes with all that. Let us not be afraid of taking the steps that, among other things, will help to resolve conflict in other parts of the world and to stop some regimes butchering their people—for whatever religious, cultural, economic, ethnic or other reason. Let us accept that that is part of what we are and part of our values. For the first time in a long time, let us get closer to deciding to have a committee that deals with international affairs and security, because these issues need fine, granular discussion and will not be dealt with in just a few minutes, whenever we have this kind of opportunity.

12.39 pm

Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon (LD): My Lords, it is a privilege to follow such an excellent speech. I have to confess that I find myself feeling rather content to be back on this side of the Chamber. The view from here is somehow more congenial for a Liberal—although I am sorry not to be sharing a Bench, if that is the right way to put it, with my old friend and partner in so much in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the noble Baroness, Lady Helic. I look forward very much to hearing her maiden speech.

And so ISIL sweeps on: unstopped and seemingly unstoppable; launching a wave of barbarism, ignorance and medievalism across the Middle East; destroying lives and threatening our common heritage; altering the borders of the Middle East; and humiliating the international community that set its hands to stop it more than a year ago. It gives me no pleasure to say that this is what has happened and that it is what many of us warned would happen if we sought a course of action that depended solely on the use of military force unanchored to any kind of sensible diplomatic strategy. I remember saying—I think in this House—that we will not win this battle by bombing because we cannot bomb ideas, and nor will we win it by using

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western high explosives to destroy more Muslim lives unless we can put that within a much broader diplomatic strategy. We have failed, and we are now facing the consequences of that failure.

Something else has happened. We have now moved closer to a much more dangerous state of risk: a risk far more dangerous than determined jihadists. It is a risk which is about moving towards a regional religious war between the Sunnis and the Shias. This is the real danger that now confronts us. It is the danger of a regional war which draws in the other great powers, with us on the side of the Sunnis—they are our friends and they provide us with oil and money and all sorts of help—and the Russians on the side of the Shias because that is the only counterbalance to the Sunni jihadism that now threatens the Muslim republics of Dagestan and Chechnya, and which indeed now threatens to divide the Russian Federation.

That is what we are moving to, and we will continue to move in that direction for as long as we believe, in our arrogance, that the underlying cause of all this is an attack on the West. It is not; we are simply one battle in a much wider war. The enemy is not the Satan in the West; it is the great heretic in Tehran. That is what all this is a precursor to, and we plunge ahead, seemingly completely unaware that this is the direction in which we are going. We are failing to stop the scourge of ISIL and we are failing to move away from that consequence. Indeed, we may even be moving closer to it.

What is to be done? Some, including some in this House, say that we should put troops on the ground. To me, this would be to add folly to historical ignorance. The problem is not the wrong military strategy; it is that we have made the fatal mistake of having a military strategy that is not anchored to a diplomatic strategy. It seems that we have wilfully and deliberately forgotten the wisdom of Clausewitz, who said that war is an extension of politics by other means. By the way, Clausewitz uses the German word “Politik”, spelled with a “k” at the end, which is far more about diplomacy than real politics. We have decided that war is the only instrument and that diplomacy can be put to one side. We see a problem in the world and our first instinct is to bomb it. That is exactly what we have done for the past 20 years, and perhaps more.

The last war to be fought within a diplomatic context was the first Gulf War, when George Bush Sr took the trouble to put together a genuine diplomatic coalition of which the instrument of military force was a part. Then we had shock and awe, and our dedication to—our obsession with, even—kinetic force as the only instrument to change things. George Bush Jr deliberately did not put together any diplomatic strategy, and we paid for the consequences of that: we lost.

Then it happened again in Afghanistan, where we deliberately did not put together any kind of diplomatic strategy and ignored the fundamental principle of creating peace after conflict, which is, “Bring in the neighbours”. We learnt that in Northern Ireland when finally we got the chance to do so and we understood that Dublin had a role to play. But we ignored that. We thought that it could all be done by kinetic force, but it

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could not and we lost. We used all sorts of euphemisms— the same ones that are being used now—to say that actually it was all a success, but it was a humiliating failure.

On the third occasion, in Libya, we did exactly the same thing again—bombs and bombs alone—and we lost. One would imagine that, thrice bitten, we might be a little more shy the fourth time of taking the same action, but such is our appetite for folly that we have done exactly the same again. It is not because there is no diplomatic strategy before us, because there is. We could begin to put together a genuine coalition. Our coalition at present is not for diplomacy but for military action: far too small, far too western-led and far, far too Sunni.

Actually, we could put together a genuine diplomatic coalition which would include Turkey, Iran and Tehran, and which could include—why not?—Russia. If Russia has shown the kind of aggression we deplore in Ukraine, is it not wise of us to reach out by saying to the Russians, “You have a role to play in this”, rather than pushing them into a corner? After all, they suffer just as much as we do, and arguably more, from the threat of Sunni jihadism. For us this is about returning people from the battlefield; their states are the battlefield. If we were to put together such a diplomatic coalition, military force would have a context in which it could be used.

I am not squeamish about military force. How could I be, coming from my background? However, I know that it will not succeed if it is the only instrument. It has to be locked within a broader diplomatic strategy, and this we have utterly failed to do. I accept that there would be difficulties with Turkey that we would have to overcome, including some concerns about human rights. I accept that there are difficulties with Tehran, although the deal on the nuclear thing is now nearly done, with Tehran occupying a sub-nuclear threshold. I accept that there would be difficulties with Russia, but that is the sort of coalition we are going to have to get used to. We no longer live in a monopolar world, so we have to build short-term coalitions with a particular aim with people who do not share our values.

Castlereagh would have understood it; Canning would have understood it; Palmerston, for all his enthusiasm for gunboats, would have understood it. Why do we ignore it? ISIL is the fourth occasion on which we have learnt graphically and at great cost that we think we live in the kinetic age where the only instrument to change things is western high explosives. We do not. We live in the diplomatic age where building broader coalitions as a context for the use of force is the only way to create peace and win conflicts such as this. As long as we go on persisting with the folly that this is the age of western high explosives rather than the age of sensible, intelligent and subtle diplomacy, we will continue to fail, and the cost will be paid in the lives of young men and women.

12.48 pm

Lord Hannay of Chiswick (CB): My Lords, perhaps I may begin by echoing something said by the noble Lord, Lord Ashdown. He asked how, given his background, he could possibly be averse in all respects

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to the use of force. How could I, given my background, possibly be averse to the message he gave us that we need an effective diplomacy?

Our new Government have been born into a more turbulent, unpredictable and unstable world than any we have experienced in recent times. They have been born into a world where Britain, acting simply on its own, is less able to defend and further its interests than has been the case in the past. We can see that the three rules-based international organisations into which we have put such trust—the UN, NATO and the European Union—are struggling to face effectively and respond to the challenges posed by that turbulent world. Add to that the unfortunate fact that up to now our own response to these challenges has, I have to say, been barely adequate. Look at our marginal involvement in the coalition against the so-called Islamic State and our self-exclusion from the inner circle of those concerting a response to Russia’s aggression against and continuing destabilisation of Ukraine. It surely is evident that this is no time to turn away from the outside world, or to be distracted to the exclusion of everything else by the debate over our place in Europe, important though the outcome of that debate will be for all Britain’s future roles in the world.

What are the principal challenges that we and our European partners and western allies face worldwide in the Middle East and on Europe’s eastern borders? Two major UN decision-making summit conferences are due to take place in the second half of this year—the first in September to set the sustainable development goals for the period ahead, and the second at the end of year in Paris to address climate change. At the first, we should indeed be well placed to play an influential role, thanks to our continuing and in my view, very welcome commitment to the UN target of 0.7% of gross national income for development aid. Perhaps the Minister could say something about the Government’s objectives at these two conferences, and also about how this House is to have a fuller opportunity to debate the prospects for both of them.

Then in 2016, a new Secretary-General of the United Nations is to be elected for five, and perhaps, if recent precedents are followed, effectively for 10 years. What is Britain, whose influence as a permanent member of the Security Council is considerable, doing to ensure that that process is more open, more transparent and less dominated by regional pre-emption than has been the case in the past? What thoughts, too, do the Government have on how to prevent the current no-go areas for the Security Council over Syria, Ukraine, and the south and east China seas from spreading, and indeed, how to reduce those no-go areas?

It is easy to throw up one’s hands in despair at the turn of events in the Middle East—easy but, I suggest, self-defeating. We surely do need to help to marshal a better response to the threats from IS. Is it not time to examine the sense of taking military action against IS in Iraq but to leave its expanding outreach in Syria completely unscathed? Secondly, we are only a month away from the deadline for completing a comprehensive agreement over Iran’s nuclear programme. Can we be assured that, despite the open criticism from Israel and the more muffled doubts expressed by Saudi

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Arabia and the Gulf states, we remain committed to a successful outcome to that negotiation as long as the purely civilian nature of Iran’s future nuclear programme can be guaranteed and, most important—more than being guaranteed—can be verified on a continuing basis?

Thirdly, even if prospects for a two-state solution in Palestine look at best discouraging, will we nevertheless persevere with what remains, I believe, the only possible long-term way of avoiding further outbreaks of hostilities? Would it not make sense, as a recent vote in the other place suggested, to buttress our support for a two-state solution by recognising Palestine? Should we not be encouraging a return to the Security Council to set out the basic parameters of a settlement in that forum and thus encourage a resumption of negotiations?

It would require a degree of optimism a bit beyond my reach to assert that the problems in Ukraine have been resolved by the Minsk II agreement in February. Nor have the wider implications of Russia’s aggressively assertive foreign policy towards its western and southern neighbours yet been met by a fully adequate response. Any such response must surely involve being ready to tighten economic sanctions if fighting intensifies in the east of Ukraine; and also to maintaining existing sanctions until every provision of Minsk II has been implemented to the full—in particular, re-establishing Ukrainian control of its eastern frontier. It requires, too, that the European Union should take effective action to stabilise and help to reform the Ukrainian economy. I do not see how we can hope to give a lead in strengthening NATO’s deterrent capability, as we should be doing, and as the Government say they wish to do, if we do not stick to the NATO 2% target for military spending which we did so much to promote. Does that mean that we cannot talk to, or even co-operate with Russia? Of course, it does not. After all, we did that throughout the Cold War period. President Putin will respect and pay heed to us only if we are ready to stand by our friends and our interests.

I have so far avoided the ever fascinating topic of the European Union. No doubt we will have ample opportunity to debate it in the weeks and months ahead when the Government bring forward legislation for a referendum that they have tabled in another place today. Suffice it to say now that every other respect of Britain’s foreign policy will be affected, for better or for worse, by the outcome on that referendum. The Prime Minister’s aim to achieve reforms in the European Union is a laudable one that I have no difficulty at all in supporting. However, if those reforms are to have any chance of success, they must be reforms that benefit the whole of the European Union; they must not just be monuments to British exceptionalism.

12.56 pm

Viscount Bridgeman (Con): My Lords, I add my congratulations to my noble friend Lord Howe on his new appointment, and record my thanks personally for all the help and leadership he gave to this House in his previous role at the Department of Health.

I am privileged to be a member of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly, consisting of Back-Benchers from all the devolved Administrations, plus Westminster

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and Dublin, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. We meet at six-monthly intervals alternately in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. In the meetings in Dublin in the course of the last three years, I have come to know the Ministers and senior officials of the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Your Lordships will be aware of the successive milestones along the way to the most welcome state of British-Irish relations today which the two nations have achieved, starting with the British-Irish agreement in 1985 under Margaret Thatcher, followed by the Downing Street declaration by John Major and the then Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds. Tony Blair made no secret of the debt he owed to John Major, whose work enabled him to bring to fruition the Good Friday and St Andrews agreements. Crucial to the momentum which had been started was the sterling contributions of two successive Presidents of Ireland—Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese—which led to the historic visit in 2012 by Her Majesty the Queen. The impact that it had on the people of Ireland has in my opinion never been fully appreciated on this side of the Irish Sea.

This was followed last year by the very successful state visit to the United Kingdom of the current President, Michael Higgins. The visit by HRH the Prince of Wales to the west of Ireland last week was marked by a welcome by the people of that part of Ireland, the warmth of which I am told took even the organisers of the visit by surprise. The Prince made a moving and heartfelt speech, in which he reached out for a spirit of reconciliation regardless of creed, nationality or politics.

The background to all this has been the work done by officials in Dublin and London, the outcome of which is that, as one Irish official put it to me, “The high water-mark of Anglo-Irish friendship gets higher and higher”. He added, with an Irishman’s gift of phrase, “I continue to be surprised at my ability to be continually surprised at the transformation of relations between the two countries”.

The United Kingdom is the biggest trading partner of the Republic of Ireland and the UK’s exports to Ireland exceed this country’s exports to all the BRIC countries combined. In its closeness, the Anglo-Irish relationship is unique among any two countries of the European Union. Let me give just one example. Each year there is an informal meeting, alternately in the United Kingdom and in the Republic, of the principal UK permanent under-secretaries with their Irish counterparts. I am advised that these meetings are remarkably comprehensive and constructive, allowing the participants to identify opportunities for working ever more closely together.

It will therefore come as no surprise to your Lordships that the progress of the United Kingdom’s negotiations with the European Community, ahead of the coming referendum on our continuing membership, is being very closely watched by our friends in Dublin. In Dublin the—I hope—unlikely prospect of a British exit is being viewed with no little apprehension.

The implications for Ireland could be huge. Let me give just two examples. It would likely mean a re-hardening of the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland, since it would become part of the borders of

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the European Union itself. Whatever the reasons for it, it would be perceived by the people of Ireland, both north and south, as a disastrous psychological set-back in relations between the two countries.

There could also be considerable complications over the status of Irish citizens in the United Kingdom. The visa-free movement between the two countries predates the foundation of the Common Market itself. In the event of the UK leaving the Union, would Ireland be permitted under the treaties to continue to have a free movement arrangement with one non-member country, a facility that would be denied to citizens of, for instance, France and the Netherlands? These are but two considerations of many complications, which I hope will not arise.

I urge members of Her Majesty’s Government, in their negotiations over the reform of the Union and the United Kingdom’s membership of it, to have in mind the very special relationship that exists between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

Arrangement of Business


1.01 pm

Viscount Younger of Leckie (Con): My Lords, this may be a convenient point to take a repeat of the Answer to an Urgent Question given in the other place earlier today. As this is the first time in this new Parliament that a Minister will repeat an Answer to an Urgent Question posed in the House of Commons, it may be helpful if I remind the House of the procedure that applies.

The Answer given in the Commons will be repeated in full as a Statement. It will then be followed by 10 minutes of questions and answers, as for a Private Notice Question, starting with a question from the Opposition Front Bench. Proceedings follow the rules for Oral Questions—that is to say, supplementary questions should be short and confined to no more than two points. These rules apply to those on the Front Benches, as well as to Back-Benchers, and, indeed, to the Minister’s replies. If noble Lords are able to adhere to these rules, it will help to ensure that we can hear from as many Members as possible within the 10 minutes allotted, and that the bulk of those 10 minutes is available to Back-Bench Members.



1.02 pm

The Earl of Courtown (Con): My Lords, with the leave of the House, I will repeat in the form of a Statement the Answer to an Urgent Question given earlier today in the other place by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State. The Statement is as follows.

“Mr Speaker, the arrests that took place in Zurich yesterday, along with the statements released by both the US Department of Justice and the Swiss Attorney-General were shocking in both scale and scope. Unfortunately, they were far from surprising. Anyone

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who has spent any time looking at FIFA will know that this is merely the latest sorry episode, which has revealed FIFA to be a deeply flawed and corrupt organisation.

These revelations have shown how important it is for sports bodies to uphold the highest standards of governance, transparency and accountability. That is what we ask and expect of all our domestic sports bodies in the United Kingdom. International bodies should be no different. This is particularly true for an organisation like FIFA: an organisation that should be the guardian of the world’s most popular sport, not one whose members seek to profit personally from the passion of the game’s fans.

I welcome the investigations that are now under way into the allegations of bribery and corruption and I fully support the Football Association’s position that significant and wide-ranging reforms are urgently needed at the very top of FIFA, including a change of leadership. I also welcome the statement from UEFA, which has called for a postponement of the election, and the statement from Visa this morning. It is important that other sponsors reflect on their links to FIFA and consider following Visa’s lead. My honourable friend the Minister for Sport will be writing to her European counterparts later today, setting out our concerns and seeking their support for change.

Finally, I pay tribute to the insight team of the Sunday Times, without whose investigative journalism many of these allegations may never have come to light. Football is the world’s game, and it is our national game. It is a fundamental part of British life and culture. Yet these revelations have dragged the game’s reputation into the mud. The time has clearly come for a change, and we will offer whatever support is necessary to the Football Association to see that change realised”.

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

1.05 pm

Lord Collins of Highbury (Lab): My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating that Question and congratulate him on his appointment. There are two points that I would like to press him on. The first is whether investigations have been undertaken in this country into whether British nationals and British banks have been involved. Is he confident that no licence fee money has found its way into corrupt hands?

My other concern relates to Qatar and the World Cup. I have raised the issue of human rights today; clearly, hundreds of workers have already died building the stadia there. Their human rights are being systematically abused. Will the Minister tell us what steps the Government are taking to press Qatar on those conditions and on its current kafala visa system? Also, what representations have the Government made to Qatar on the detention of BBC journalists investigating human rights abuses in Qatar?

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his very kind welcome once again to the Dispatch Box. It has been some long years since I last did it. He mentioned three points. On Qatar and the workers’ charter, we have very close relationships with

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Qatar, which we are continually keeping under review. In response to a request by FIFA on 12 February 2015, the supreme committee announced this workers’ charter, developed with the International Labour Organization, which seeks to protect the rights of migrant employees. The charter includes measures on health and safety, living and working conditions, wages and grievances. It also highlights plans to ensure that all workers are treated equally and fairly. We will keep a careful watch on what is happening.

The noble Lord also mentioned organisations and banks, and asked whether any investigations were ongoing in this country. It is currently too early to say, but no doubt the SFO will keep a very close watch on what is happening in both America and Switzerland, and will be taking great care to keep an eye on these events.

On the noble Lord’s third point, the BBC journalists have now been released. Great concerns were raised between ourselves and the Qatari Government, who claimed that the BBC crew trespassed on private property. The BBC has demanded a full explanation from the Qatari authorities, while FIFA issued a statement saying that it is to investigate this. Any instance relating to an apparent restriction of press freedom is a concern to FIFA.

Lord Moynihan (Con): Will my noble friend take this opportunity to recognise and congratulate the Swiss authorities on their co-operation with the US judicial authorities, particularly given the presence in Switzerland of many of the international sports federations? Will my noble friend also reinforce the point that the key to resolving crises in sports administrations, whether international or national, from Salt Lake City to FIFA, is the need for state-of-the-art good governance, transparency, accountability and professional management equivalent to that of a FTSE 100 company, and a move away from their own lex sportiva, under which, as with FIFA, they too often hide behind in order to operate?

The Earl of Courtown: My noble friend is quite right. As the House knows, he is very experienced in matters of international sport. As the Secretary of State said in his Urgent Question, “These revelations have shown how important it is for sports bodies to uphold the highest standards of governance, transparency and accountability”.

Lord Triesman (Lab): My Lords, I congratulate the Secretary of State on all aspects of what he said. More or less five years ago, I suggested that FIFA operated as a Mafia family and was thought to be either excessive or mad. That turned out to be a very modest statement compared with the reality. Would the Government welcome the opportunity to have joint detailed discussions with the FA, possibly involving people with long experience of the FA and football administration, to make sure that the discussions with the FA finally rest in reality? I am not offering to do this but think of noble Lords such as the noble Lord, Lord Burns, who produced an extremely important report on the FA. Secondly, will the Government urge that all investigations are now undertaken by the police and formal authorities rather

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than through FIFA’s internal processes, which are at best obscure and the outcomes of which are always secret?

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord who is well known in this field and is a man of honour and integrity. He raised important points. I am sure that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State will take careful note of what he said. The SFO will carefully monitor what is happening in both America and Switzerland with regard to the investigations.

Baroness Doocey (LD): My Lords, allegations about FIFA are nothing new. There have been repeated suggestions that all has not been well for a very long time. Sepp Blatter should hang his head in shame and resign immediately rather than wait to be forced out for the appalling state of FIFA’s affairs. The UK Bribery Act requires firms to guard against the risks of corruption so that staff and management are simply not put in a position where inappropriate influences are brought to bear. These principles are urgently needed in sport where the fans rely on good governance to secure the best for their competitions. Therefore, I ask the Minister to look at the principles set out in the Bribery Act to see how these might be applied to sporting governing bodies to ensure that those involved in sports governance are subject to the same rules on propriety, ethics and transparency as we would expect from public officials and business leaders.

The Earl of Courtown: I cannot add much more to what the noble Baroness has said, which links in with what my noble friend Lord Moynihan said. As regards her points on the Bribery Act, this is not something I am aware of but I will ensure that she gets a reply.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester (Lab): My Lords, the noble Earl’s welcome return to the Dispatch Box is marked by unanimity across the Chamber. That is very welcome indeed. Does he agree that UEFA holds the key to whether FIFA can be reformed? If it is willing to boycott the assembly which is due to start tomorrow and effectively pull out of it, that would make a great impact on FIFA and could assist with the reforms which I think everyone in the Chamber wishes to see. I wish to press the noble Earl on what he said about sponsors. Are the Government willing to talk to some of these not just household names but very great worldwide brands and their representatives in the UK to make clear our displeasure at what is going on and the fact that their names are being tainted by the association with FIFA?

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, the point the noble Lord made concerning sponsors is very valid. The fact is that the disgust of the paying footballing public will not go unnoticed by the sponsors. I feel that more and more pressure is being put on FIFA. As the noble Lord said, UEFA and Michel Platini will no doubt play a very important role in this regard.

Lord Lyell (Con): Given my noble friend’s close connection with Switzerland and, indeed, my own, will he take on board the fact that there is enormous good will within Switzerland and UEFA for everything

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that is done in this country—I call it the home nations: Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales—with regard to FIFA? The noble Lord, Lord Triesman, has put down a marker not just in your Lordships’ House and with the Football Association—on at least three occasions he has laid the ground for what I hope could be fruitful diplomatic solutions to start to sort out this major problem. Will my noble friend take that on board and recommend to the Minister that the noble Lord, Lord Triesman, be put towards the front in this regard?

The Earl of Courtown: I thank my noble friend for his very important point. He referred to another point made by the noble Lord, Lord Triesman, that I failed to answer—namely, that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State is having a telephone conversation with Greg Dyke this afternoon and will have a meeting with him next week to take this matter further.

Viscount Younger of Leckie: My Lords, the 10 minutes are up and it is time to resume the debate on the Address.

Queen’s Speech

Debate (2nd Day) (Continued)

1.16 pm

Lord Temple-Morris (Lab): My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, who spoke of Ireland. I speak as the co-founder some 25 years ago of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly, of which he is a member. I am very much aware of the importance of what he had to say about the relations between our two countries and, indeed, the concerns of Ireland. What he said was important, we listened to it and I am very pleased that it was mentioned in this debate.

I wish to make one fundamental, underlying point and I am not alone in making it. Having listened to the wise words of the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, and other comments made in this debate, the simple underlying point is that we have no foreign policy. Certainly, we have no policy that can act as a guide to national conduct and national decision-making. Until we decide where we are in the world, we cannot effectively relate to it. That is a very simple fact. We are too dependent on others with no secure international base. What we do have is firmly rooted in past greatness, supported by our language, history and still respected judgment. However, the key to all this, as far as the future is concerned, and the answer to it, has to be Europe.

More than 20 years ago, I was in the State Department when I was summonsed back to the other place for a wretched vote in the eternal Maastricht debates that were taking place at the time. Other noble Lords may have shared that fate at that time. I grumbled to an American ambassador whom I knew, who happened to be in the State Department at that time, who simply said, “Peter, as much as we love you, if you come out of Europe, we will have no special relationship”. That hit home and said it all. Relations with the United States are not a

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substitute for a policy; rather, she is our most important ally, who needs us in Europe in an eventual partnership of equals.

The consequences of all this are serious. Our lack of a policy can lead us to act in the wrong cause and for the wrong reasons. To please the Americans we go to war in Iraq. Rather than counselling them from a position of power in Europe, we plunge into an adventure from which we continue to have to pick up the pieces. Then, to please the French—and to show form with Europe—we go and bomb Libya. For once, under a more sensible President, America is reluctant, but away we go. The consequences of no overall policy and a knee-jerk reaction are there today for all to see.

The consequences of a lack of a settled European role in world affairs for the quality and experience of our national leadership are also serious. I will not be alone in thinking or remarking upon the fact that during our recent election there was no real discussion at all of international affairs. During the whole painstaking six weeks, there was hardly any mention of it, certainly none that went home to the people. What is more, the lifestyle and demands of current national politics are not an inducement for many talented people to choose to participate. They go to the United States, the City, the professions or the multinationals. But the youth and inexperience, particularly in foreign affairs, of too many of those who remain and who aspire to lead us in government—let alone with the power to involve us in wars—is plain for all to see. It is just a little frightening.

I will say a final word on defence. Both we and NATO are all too dependent on our American friends. Many of the current problems of the world are far nearer Europe than the United States of America. America dominates NATO and without her little can be done. The American mindset is used to being in charge, which is quite right when she is paying for most of it. But the mood is growing over there that this situation cannot last. Europe as a whole has to contribute more towards its own defence, and Britain has to set an example by fulfilling its 2% commitment.

Once again, it comes down to Europe. Our Armed Forces are great and even more so when they are engaged in full formation alongside the Americans. But the Americans will expect a European defence policy that leads to a more equal distribution of our common responsibilities, and for us to play a leading role in getting it. Europe should be a partner of the United States and not a dependant.

1.22 pm

Lord Kakkar (CB): My Lords, I congratulate the Minister on the very thoughtful way in which he introduced this debate following the gracious Speech. I intend to focus principally on the impact of our relationship with the European Union on the delivery of healthcare in our country. In so doing, I declare an interest as professor of surgery at University College London and a member of the General Medical Council.

Before turning to that important issue, I will just touch on the interesting issue of the forthcoming referendum on our membership of the European Union and what the basis of the franchise for that referendum

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might be. Her Majesty’s Government have announced in the last few days that the franchise should be the same as that for elections to the Westminster Parliament, which seems an intuitive place to be. Since we are a parliamentary democracy, it is for the representatives of citizens—constituents—to come to the other place, represent the views of those constituents and exercise their judgment in determining how to vote on the vast majority of issues. Seldom in our parliamentary system do those representatives of their constituents feel the need not to exercise their own judgment but to return to those who have sent them to the other place to seek the views of those electors. Under the circumstances, therefore, it seems appropriate that those who voted for Members of the other place should be those providing their views about how the House of Commons should respond to the question of our future relationship with Europe. Therefore, seeking the opinion of constituents able to vote in national elections seems an appropriate course.

That appears to be the approach taken by the 27 other European member states. Each of them restricts participation in national referendums to those citizens who are entitled to vote in national elections. The only other European nation that addresses the issue of participation in national referendums on a case-by-case basis, as is the habit in our own country, is the Netherlands. It is not identical but in a similar situation in 2005, when the Netherlands put to its own people the question of whether the European Union constitution should be adopted, it chose to proceed with a franchise restricting participation in that referendum to the citizens of its own country eligible to vote in national parliamentary elections.

Indeed, when we have had national referendums in our own country—such as in 1975 when the question of our ongoing membership of the European Economic Community was put to the people of our country—the franchise chosen was the national electoral franchise for Westminster constituencies. Indeed, when we had the referendum on whether we should change the voting system in our country—the AV referendum in 2011—once again the Westminster franchise was chosen, with the addition, of course, that Members of your Lordships’ House were able to participate in that vote.

Although there are to be vital major treaty negotiations in the coming two years with regard to our future relationship with the European Union, very important issues remain to be addressed, with regard not to major treaty change but important potential regulations that could have a profound impact on the delivery of healthcare in our country. It is vital that those important discussions about more minor areas rather than major treaty changes continue to be addressed in the most robust fashion.

There is no doubt that there have been and continue to be very important advantages through the opportunity for our country to participate actively in the European Union, both in the delivery of healthcare and in biomedical research. Only last week my noble friend Lord Rees of Ludlow, with a number of other very distinguished scientists, pointed out in a letter published in the Times the important opportunities afforded for research generally and biomedical research in particular

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by our relationship with the European Union. At this stage, I reiterate my interest as professor of surgery at University College London. My institution is eligible to apply for European Union research funding and, indeed, is very successful at doing so. I also served in the previous Parliament on your Lordships’ European Union Sub-Committee B, which undertook an investigation into research and innovation funding—the Horizon 2020 programme—from Europe.

In the previous funding round—2007 to 2014—our country was second only to Germany in the funding it received for research from Europe, with some €7 billion, and was the largest recipient nation in funding to academic institutions, with some €5 billion. In the area of healthcare, some €560 million came to our medical research programmes, making us the largest recipient among European Union member states. But in parallel with that, we have seen proposals around the European data protection regulations. The former proposal put by the Commission seemed reasonably sensible but, as modified by the European Parliament, is now a matter of further negotiation. Those regulations, if imposed as a result of qualified majority voting, would have a detrimental impact on medical research in our country. They would make it practically impossible to undertake cancer registries or to fully exploit the UK Biobank—a massive programme involving some 500,000 of our citizens donating biological materials and their personal data to allow us to have long-term longitudinal research studies—and of course the 100,000 Genomes Project would also be severely undermined. I wonder what progress Her Majesty’s Government have made in ensuring that the application of the data protection regulations does not undermine the future of biomedical research in our country.

There is also the very serious concern about the decision taken by the President of the European Commission to dismiss the independent scientific adviser. This is a very serious matter that was raised in your Lordships’ House in the previous Session of Parliament. There was an independent scientific adviser available to ensure the appropriate assessment—or the mechanism for the appropriate assessment—of applications for European Union funding. That was vital. What progress have Her Majesty’s Government made with ensuring that independent scientific advice continues to inform decisions taken by the European Union in science, technology and medical research?

There is no doubt that we have become increasingly dependent in our National Health Service on the large numbers of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals who have come to work in our country. However, we have also seen detrimental impacts with regard to the European working time regulation on the delivery of healthcare in our hospitals and, increasingly now, beyond them in community care as well. It is now well recognised that the working time regulation, originally a measure on health and safety at work, has had a detrimental impact when applied to those working in the health service. It is now seen to have had a detrimental role in ensuring continuity of care in our hospitals, and therefore a detrimental impact on patient safety. Where it was thought that it might not impact on the training of junior doctors, increasingly it is seen to have been detrimental—particularly in the training of

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those in craft specialties, such as my own as a surgeon. There is also the cost element associated with the need to pay more and more locum agency doctors to help our hospitals ensure that rotas for 24-hour cover are European working time regulation-compliant. Have Her Majesty’s Government made an assessment of what proportion of the £3.2 billion spent last year on agency staff in the National Health Service can be attributed to the fact that the working time regulation continues to be applied, and therefore that we need to employ many more locum and agency staff to ensure that hospitals have compliant rotas?

Finally, there is the question of how those from Europe wishing to practice medicine or undertake their professional obligations as healthcare professionals in our country should join the various regulatory registers. I again remind noble Lords of my declaration of interest as a member of the General Medical Council but I do not speak for the council on this occasion. In the last Parliament it finally became possible, where there were concerns about doctors coming from the European Union, for the General Medical Council to test their language skills. That was not previously the case, although the council was able to test the language skills of those doctors coming from outside the European Union. Last September, the council announced its aspiration to introduce a single national licensing exam, which every person wishing to join the general medical register would have to sit. It would apply to our own UK medical graduates as well as those coming from around the world—from the United States, Australia, Canada and many other countries. However, there is some doubt whether the national licensing exam could be placed before those coming from European member states and wishing to join the general medical register. If that turned out to be the case and if the council were to come forward with a proposal for the introduction of a national licensing exam, are Her Majesty’s Government able to confirm that their position would be to ensure that all doctors joining a register, including those from the European Union, were subject to that examination?

1.33 pm

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, indebtedness is debilitating, and living beyond our means is irresponsible. We know that our Government have committed themselves afresh to a long-term strategic economic plan to deal with that on a financial level, but another sort of indebtedness is liberating and is fundamental to our proceedings today. It is a recognition of our moral debt to others and the fulfilment of our responsibilities to serve the common good, not only of our one nation but of the one world. Her Majesty’s Government’s determination to play,

“a leading role in global affairs”,

will be served by honouring the moral obligations that belong to us as a P5 country with a long history of world influence, a network of relationships in Europe and with the Commonwealth and the United States, and still an impressive reach of soft power.

Financial debt prompts caution and stifles confidence. Our moral debt to our global neighbours demands a bold engagement with the world. It calls for confidence

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not only in our capacity to bring good to others but in the return which that investment in the needs of the world, especially where suffering abounds, brings to our own security and prosperity—a point well made by the noble Earl, Lord Howe, in his opening speech. It is the sort of role that the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, noted in her impressive foreword to the Foreign Office’s most recent

Human Rights and Democracy

report, which said that,

“the wellbeing of others is an integral part of our national interest”.

I offer the congratulations of this Bench to the noble Earl and the noble Baroness on their appointments.

Tackling the international challenges identified in the gracious Speech demands determined campaigns to build peace and stability on many levels. I will mention only two. First, there is freedom of religion and belief—one of the most basic of rights, yet one of the least respected. Violence in the name of religion is at a six-year high, with three-quarters of the world’s population living with restrictions on the faith or belief that they can choose or practise openly. The previous Government’s commitment to religious freedom and human rights is worthy of respect, but the leading role in global affairs to which they aspired will require even greater efforts by the new Government. Is the Minister able to confirm whether matters of freedom of religion and belief will be included as a specific priority in the FCO business plan and the criteria used by DfID?

It will be vital in the coming months to ensure that domestic debates about the role of human rights in this country do not impinge in any way on our advocacy of religious freedom worldwide, so I would be glad of the Minister’s assurance that Her Majesty’s Government will continue to speak out promptly, clearly and loudly against any acts of violence committed in the name of religion, as well as related incitement to violence and discrimination in law and in practice.

My second theme is reconciliation after conflict. Attending the anniversary of the bombing of Dresden and Würzburg earlier this year and reflecting in your Lordships’ House on the destruction of German cities gave me opportunity to consider how far we have come with reconciliation in Europe. This point was made by the noble Lord, Lord Triesman, and others. More recently, the visit of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to the Republic of Ireland, as noted by the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, was a profound and very moving sign of the progress made towards a sound peace built on lasting reconciliation. Nevertheless, even as we remember the work of reconciliation in Europe over the last 70 years, the conflict in Ukraine reminds us that—as we know—we cannot take peace in our continent for granted.

As we move towards a period of national debate on our place in Europe itself, we have an important opportunity to recognise and celebrate the progress that we have made with our European partners to heal the wounds of history and to reflect on what we might achieve together for peace in those places where the road to reconciliation is much less travelled. Those of course are places where the legacy left by

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European powers has not been wholly positive and our moral debt is the larger for it, and where peace will require a bold vision and confident action.

We need to invest in long-term solutions to conflict and to motivate other countries to do so. The noble Lord, Lord Ashdown, set out a panoramic vision with much greater learning than I possibly could, but perhaps I might focus by way of example on Iraq, and on one matter in particular. When, as we hope, the forces of ISIS are pushed back and collapse, a bold and confident international community will be needed to hold the Iraqi Government to their pledges of inclusivity.

This Government’s stated support for long-term political reform in Iraq is timely, but can the Minister set out what practical steps Her Majesty’s Government intend to take to assist the Government of Iraq in their efforts towards reconciliation in that country? Would the Minister agree with me that unless there is a strategic plan for reconciliation, the country’s future looks bleak?

I am always moved by Her Majesty’s prayer for God’s blessing to rest on our counsels. When I reflect on what sort of,

“leading role in global affairs”,

might meet with the blessing of God, the words of Christ, “Blessed are the peacemakers”, come to mind. Commitment to human rights, including the right to religious freedom, builds stable societies. Working for reconciliation following violence ensures that violence is not repeated. Meeting our moral debt to suffering peoples and struggling nations is investment in peace—and peacebuilding is the highest form of global leadership.

1.40 pm

Lord Trefgarne (Con): My Lords, I will not detain your Lordships for more than a few moments. I start by saying how much I look forward to the maiden speech of my noble friend Lady Helic in a few moments.

Trident was of course referred to in the Conservative manifesto, as my noble and gallant friend Lord Craig reminded us a few moments ago. Prior to the general election, back in March I think, my right honourable friend Mr Fallon, then as now the Defence Secretary, was able to give some very valuable reassurances as to the future of Trident. I hope that my noble friend Lady Anelay will be able to repeat those this evening. We need to hear clear and unequivocal answers to the following questions.

First, is it the policy of this Government, as I believe it is, that we should remain a truly independent nuclear power? By that, I mean that we have a nuclear deterrent which, while in the first instance assigned to NATO, is available for our own national purposes should our supreme national interest ever so require it, with that to be decided by the Prime Minister of the day, when and if the time should sadly come. I hope to receive assurance that that will be the case.

What more do we need from an independent deterrent? It should be free and exempt from the risk of pre-emptive attack, so that it cannot be put out of order before some other attack is made upon us. That means, I believe, a submarine-based deterrent, not one based on some other form of platform, which has sometimes

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been suggested. Finally, it needs to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 52 weeks in the year, without exception. That, I am afraid, means four submarines, not three as has sometimes been suggested. I hope that my noble friend can confirm that when the time comes. These matters will no doubt all be addressed by the SDSR which is now proposed, but I hope that the essential criteria to which I have referred will not be violated.

My next, and quite different, point relates to the European referendum, which it is now proposed will take place no later than 2017. There has been some doubt as to who might be entitled to vote in that referendum. At the early announcement, last week I think, that some immigrant persons would not be entitled to vote, there was reference to voting for the House of Commons. Of course, your Lordships are not entitled to vote for the House of Commons, so I very much hope that my noble friend, when she replies later this evening, can confirm unequivocally that Members of your Lordships’ House will be entitled to vote in the referendum when the time comes. The noble Lord, Lord Kakkar, referred to that obliquely when he made his remarks a few moments ago.

I end with, again, a different assertion. Are we not the luckiest nation on earth with our Head of State? She came here the day before yesterday—oh, it was yesterday, not the day before; she would not have made that error—and presented her Speech from the Throne in a quite exemplary fashion, as she has done on previous occasions no fewer than 64 times I think now. A number of years ago—it was around the time of her 21st birthday—she pledged her entire life to the service of the nation, the Commonwealth and the Empire. Has she not delivered that undertaking many times in full?

1.45 pm

The Earl of Sandwich (CB): My Lords, I hasten to agree with that very worthy sentiment from the noble Lord. I welcome the noble Earl to the Front Bench and hope that we can recruit him to the very important cause of the new committee on international affairs, which was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Triesman, earlier. It is a cause which all noble Lords who are speaking today should subscribe to.

As a committed European, I have generally been opposed to the in/out referendum because, like the Scottish one, it seems to polarise our society, especially if it is to be decided by a simple majority. It always seemed obvious to me that we should stay in the EU and make the best of it, as I think almost all previous Prime Ministers have sought to do. Our present Prime Minister is faced with a rebellion in the ranks and is therefore, as the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, described it, being pushed into a compromise more akin to the Danish solution. But on reflection I now feel that it is time to clear the air and for the people to express their opinion—preferably in favour, perhaps even by a two-thirds majority since it is a constitutional issue. We should do it as soon as possible, early in 2016. It is unnecessary to drag the European question all the way through this Parliament when there are so many major issues to settle at home and abroad.

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The Government’s policy already carries a lot of risk. We must expect a range of amendments in the Bill, including opt-outs we have never heard of. Having served on first Sub-Committee E and then Sub-Committee C of the EU Select Committee, I can describe the reaction of most colleagues, some of whom are here, only as “exasperated” when we were going through the scale of 130 JHA opt-outs. The arrest warrant issue alone made one’s hair stand on end: how were the police ever going to catch up with criminals without full co-operation in Europe? In other words, I am expecting the Government to show more responsibility in dealing with the referendum issue than with the original opt-outs. It is called leadership: setting a pattern for the kind of Europe we need rather than anticipating every complaint an MP can put forward.

Let us consider other member states’ views. Some say that other states are longing for us to take the lead in renegotiating opt-outs, and perhaps the treaty itself. I am very doubtful about this, having been in Prague this week and spoken to a number of people. Although I recognise the general lean to the right, it is much more likely that other countries are waiting, like the Commission, for Europe to get on with the business of the economy, the eurozone—the noble Lord, Lord Triesman, referred to the importance of economic stability—migration and other desperately urgent matters.

On migration, I do not think all the proposals on EU migrants’ benefits are workable. How can you retrieve benefits? However, I strongly support the EU’s attempt to curb human trafficking, especially in the Mediterranean. The noble Lord, Lord West, may have sounded a little gung-ho on the radio last week but he is right that we have to make a more vigorous EU attempt, with of course UN backing, to persuade the Libyans—whichever Government are responsible there—to make much more effort to prevent or destroy traffickers. I was impressed by the determination of Signora Mogherini, the new high representative, when she was over here earlier this year. As she said yesterday, the first aim is to,

“quickly save lives and provide protection in the EU for people in need, be they at sea, in the EU or in third countries”.

But she also knows that there is a much bigger long-term task, to deter large numbers of migrants from coming to Europe or taking to the boats in the first place. The solution to this can only be more poverty reduction and development in areas of most need and where conflict permits intervention. This is where I was very encouraged by the noble Earl’s statement of support for international development, earlier in his introduction. Of course, let us not forget that it was a coalition achievement that we have pretty well all signed up to the 0.7% target.

The focus for Europe must be the littoral of north Africa and the Middle East. Has there been any progress in the EU and French consultations with the north African states affected? What has the outcome of these consultations been? How does that compare with our level of co-operation with Turkey and other Middle Eastern countries affected by similar migration? This is the cause of diplomacy that the noble Lord, Lord Ashdown, talked about.

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There is another area of policy where Europe is committed to development and human rights. We in the UK have been strong supporters of enlargement of Europe and the continuing Ostpolitik of the EU. Europe has been strengthened by the addition of most of the Balkan states, although there are still grave risks of conflict. I look forward to the speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Helic, who I know will enlighten us now and in future. I would like to see Kosovo and Serbia brought closer to membership. Has this process moved forward in the last few months or come to a halt? We should remember that President Juncker rather jumped the gun when he called for a period of reflection on taking office. Is enlargement high enough on the agenda or does the UK have to push it forward?

We still see examples of Russia’s bullying tactics in not only Ukraine but also countries such as Georgia and Moldova, where the promise of eventual EU membership contrasts sharply with the aims of President Putin’s guided kleptocracy—to give it a kind epithet. We must maintain the dialogue with Russia on Iran at all costs, and on ISIS, but at the same time strengthen our ties with those front-line countries.

These are the kind of issues with which we should be engaged, rather than continually fighting our own doubting Thomases in the Commons. I recognise that this may be a simple view, but I know it is shared by many others in all parties who feel less able to express it. This House is unlikely to block the legislation on Europe—I hope it will not—but it would be well advised to help knock some common sense into some of the MPs who would like to.

1.52 pm

Lord Moynihan (Con): My Lords, in the brief time available to speak on the gracious Speech, I shall focus my remarks on the UK’s relationship with the European Union. This will be one of the seminal questions facing us in this Parliament and the source of much newsprint and many hours of debate, not least in your Lordships’ House.

Today sees the publication of the European Union Referendum Bill, as promised in the gracious Speech. The result of the referendum that it provides for will chart the course of the UK’s history for the next generation. The Prime Minister’s dialogue with EU leaders in Riga last week marked the beginning of a two-part process: the negotiation of the package of reforms, followed by the referendum campaign itself. These are very early days and the Prime Minister is absolutely right to start with a broad-brush approach that lays the groundwork for a deal, sounding out the views of others in Europe and putting the desire for reform in the UK in context before revealing his full negotiating hand in the detailed discussions that lie ahead.

Prior to the election, there were some discordant murmurings about the dearth of concrete proposals on the table and objections to their vague, unquantifiable nature. However, nothing would have been more guaranteed to backfire spectacularly than a hectoring list of British demands laid before our European partners. For this process to succeed it must be about

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the interests of Britain—those are plainly paramount—but also about a determination to improve the EU as a whole.

Britain does not stand alone in wanting the EU to work better—far from it. Many in Europe share the same vision of a reformed, recalibrated EU with a vibrant single market freed from the stranglehold of red tape. To succeed, we need to work with the grain of that opinion, not against it. This cannot be seen across the channel as a zero-sum process in which the recalcitrant is pitted stubbornly against the reluctant, and where the best deal for Britain by definition will result in a diminished EU. Indeed, the opposite is true. Our interests are aligned with a great many in Europe. In securing real reform, Britain will work better within the EU and the EU will work better for all its citizens.

Paradoxically, it sometimes seems that those with the pragmatic perspective that location on the geographical periphery often bestows are best able to provide the impetus, energy and momentum for positive change at the centre. While we must allay concerns that ours will be a pick-and-mix approach that will undermine EU cohesion, fears that a British deal could open the floodgates for other countries to seek concessions and create a free-for-all of competing demands should be squarely countered on the basis that institutions that are not prepared to adapt and to flex in accordance with the needs and wishes of their members become over time at best irrelevant and at worst extinct. Straitjacketing 28 member states to achieve unity is no long-term solution.

Monday’s meeting at Chequers with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker set a constructive tone and it is to be hoped that the Prime Minister’s meeting with Mrs Merkel tomorrow will do likewise. Her support for a deal will be essential, and while we should not suppose that Germany will support the unpicking of the treaties governing the EU to accommodate a British wish list, there is reason to suppose that our liberal-market advocacy earns us a certain amount of good will in Berlin. Indeed, the mood music from our European partners since the Prime Minister’s decisive election victory has become far more emollient. The hypothetical is now real: Britain will decide the European question through a referendum. This is surely concentrating minds in Europe on how a fair deal for the UK might be agreed.

I do not believe there is any appetite in Europe to see Britain leave the EU. The UK is no longer considered an affordable loss, as former EU Commissioner Günter Verheugen put it. The UK is crucial to both the economic future of Europe and its political future, but that still does not mean a blank cheque to write whatever changes we want. Just as we will have red lines, so too will our European partners, and we cannot demand other countries change any more than they can demand that we must. While stating our position clearly and firmly, we must address concerns that there will be a reductio ad absurdum of the fundamental essence of the EU, even if we do not share those concerns.

I have spoken about the need for EU reform and the prospects for a deal from the perspective of an unapologetic and instinctive Eurorealist, with the roots

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of my conviction firmly based in the history of the 20th century. I want to see the best outcome for the renegotiation effort, followed by a government campaign in favour of membership of a reformed EU. I echo the Foreign Secretary’s words:

“That is how I want this process to end up: a good package of reforms; a ‘yes’ vote; and a step change in the way the relationship works, with Britain being really engaged and a loud voice in the union”.

The Prime Minister has made it clear that he wants the UK to stay in a reformed EU that is,

“more competitive, more flexible and more accountable to the people”.

The start of his efforts to achieve that is not the time to ask the Government what they will do in the referendum if that necessary reform is not forthcoming.

Of course, there will be those who seek to defeat a deal before it is even struck, and those who say that any promise of reform is no more than a chimera or fig-leaf, unable to cover the deep fractures and fissures that the European question always opens. But the deal is a prelude and the referendum is the denouement. I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, that unlike with the last referendum in 1974 the result needs to settle the European question for a generation, with no room left for disgruntled malcontents to express their resentment at the outcome or to suggest that the British public have been hoodwinked into a deal that is not really a deal. For this reason, voters are right to be asked only the simple in/out question.

2 pm

Lord Anderson of Swansea (Lab): My Lords, I warmly congratulate the noble Earl, Lord Howe. If he shows the same mastery in defence as he did over the health brief, we shall be fortunate. I also look forward very much to the coming maiden speech. Today we have the opportunity of a debate on themes broader than our normal foreign affairs debates, which normally cover a specific region or particular theme. I shall briefly reflect on who we believe we are and the global role that we can realistically play, and touch a little on how others see us—the Burns side. Such reflections are now particularly relevant over the next five years, when we will face key decisions that will have profound implications for our future world role.

First, at home, we have the Scottish question, with renewed talk of the case for a federal UK. Possibly we have moved beyond federalism and are now inexorably on the path to independence. If so, it would be a very truncated UK seeking to play a new role in the world. Secondly, and most of all, the decision will be made by 2017 or even earlier on our future relationship with the European Union. Who can doubt that if we were no longer a member of the European Union we would lose very much clout in the world? We would be independent and proud, but very much more limited.

Yet foreign affairs and defence appeared to figure very little in the general election campaign and our national priorities. Our press hardly covers those issues, only doing so briefly and spasmodically, and continues to cut the number of foreign correspondents. The TV debates hardly touched at all on foreign affairs. I recall one speech by Ed Miliband at Chatham House which

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included a controversial section linking the British-French bombing intervention in Libya with the boatloads of refugees crossing the Mediterranean. This was partially true but probably very ill-timed. The EU debate proper hardly surfaced during the election campaign, save perhaps on immigration. The chosen Conservative themes of credibility on the economy and a possible future Labour-SNP coalition dominated.

Times have changed; some of your Lordships may recall the general elections in the 1950s when foreign affairs were a major theme. I recall the groundnut scheme and the Hola camp massacre in 1959. Foreign affairs issues are now fairly marginal. Is that because of our perceived relative powerlessness in the face of the complexity of world problems, particularly as power shifts to the east, or perhaps memories of our recent military performance in Iraq and Afghanistan, which leads to a rejection of intervention generally?

This national parochialism is reflected in Parliament. How many of our recently elected members of Parliament have seen service abroad? When I was first elected there in 1966, almost all the men had done national military service, and many had served in the Second World War. Many had also worked abroad in business or in government service. I recall in the debates over EU entry in the 1960s, when I was a member of our Diplomatic Service, George Thomson’s “ter-ums”, as he would call them, which included safeguarding the sterling area, New Zealand and the Commonwealth generally. That appears an echo of a very long distant past. I exempt your Lordships’ House from this criticism, but we are of course part of a different generation. The pathway to this House does not almost exclusively pass through service in the parliamentary office of a Member of Parliament.

We should know ourselves and reflect on how others see us. Clearly, the special relationship with the United States has withered, save in intelligence co-operation, and took a heavy blow in 2013 with the Commons vote on bombing Syria. The Daily Telegraph wrote in January that the reputation of Great Britain has been in free fall for several years. The warm and close Atlantic co-operation between Mrs Thatcher and President Reagan and between Mr Blair and President Clinton is no more. Sir Christopher Meyer, the former ambassador to Washington, wrote that the Americans have a growing concern about the effectiveness of the UK as a major ally. For example, we recently joined the Chinese-sponsored Asian Development Bank without consulting the United States. A recent article in Le Monde was headed:

“The diplomatic eclipse of Great Britain worries France and Europe”.

For example, France is the key ally of the United States in west Africa and has intervened massively in Mali and the Central African Republic. Where has the United Kingdom been in the fight against Boko Haram in Commonwealth Nigeria? Will the cuts to our military budget imperil the Franco-British corps due to be operational next year? Is there any prospect of our reaching the defence expenditure target of 2% of GDP? Our defence budget has slipped from fourth in the world in 2010 to sixth in the world now. An article in the Economist on 4 April entitled “Little Britain” refers to an unmistakable decline. Our contribution to

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fighting ISIS in Iraq is one air strike a day. I recall that 10 years ago, I was in Tehran and saw the troika of Jack Straw, Joschka Fischer for Germany and de Villepin for France negotiating on behalf of the West with Iran over the nuclear issue. This year, only France and Germany of the three are at the Minsk negotiations over Ukraine. Since 2010, the FCO budget has been cut by 16% in real terms—30% if the World Service is included. We vainly strive to make up the shortfalls in military manpower with additional reservists. Our world role has surely diminished.

The EU debate will, of course, dominate for the next two years, yet the Prime Minister has hardly shown himself to be sure-footed in this area. I cite the withdrawal from the EPP, the ineffective veto of the fiscal treaty in 2011 and the ill-fated campaign to block the candidacy of Mr Juncker, who was almost certain to become the President because he was the candidate of the major bloc within the European Parliament—all of which does not bode well for the success of the renegotiations, in spite of the good will of many friends, such as that shown by Mr Timmermans. Yet probably a deal can be done if it is handled skilfully, by avoiding unrealistic demands and not constantly emphasising British exceptionalism. Are the Government attracted by the Danish precedent of 1992, recognising that there is no prospect of treaty change and negotiating a series of opt-outs to be consolidated later into a treaty, as was the case with Amsterdam? We can perhaps show good will and smooth the path by following the example of Tony Blair. I recall that, after the difficulties caused by those in John Major’s party whose paternity John Major doubted, Tony Blair sought to repair that damage by enhancing co-operation with Europe in security and defence, with the Saint Malo treaty, and by diplomatic co-operation in west Africa. Alas, recent appointments of Eurosceptics to the personal staff of the Prime Minister and the Chancellor do not bode well for a balanced EU policy.

Finally, in the Queen’s Speech, another area of potential difficulty that could lead to the loss of allies in the European Union is human rights. The European Convention on Human Rights, which was drafted by UK jurists, is the core of the Council of Europe. Are we to continue automatically to accept the court’s judgments? If we make those judgments advisory only, we will face the danger of leaving the Council of Europe and give a bad example to serial defaulters, such as Russia and Turkey. A compromise has long been available—for example, on prisoners’ voting rights—the so-called margin of appreciation. Dominic Grieve MP was sacked as Attorney-General because he realised the dangers of failing to reach a deal. I invite your Lordships to read his very carefully drafted article in today’s Times relating to the effect of the Human Rights Act on Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales and the effect on our relationship with the Council of Europe.

However, all is not lost. The Prime Minister has a new mandate. The new intake of Members of Parliament may be Eurosceptic, but they owe their election to him. Our European allies hope that in his second term the Prime Minister will end what Le Monde calls “l’effacement britannique”, which is perhaps best

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translated as “the British obliteration”. If the Prime Minister pursues realistic goals in a flexible way, seeks allies in a spirit of co-operation and avoids populist cul de sacs, he may well succeed in securing his place in history and will certainly deserve the support of this side of the House and the country generally. Alternatively, failure to obtain a positive vote on the European Union will lead to the loss of Scotland, which wishes to remain part of the European Union, and to the United Kingdom being weakened in both our reach and our clout overseas.

2.12 pm

Lord Alderdice (LD): My Lords, it is a genuine pleasure to see the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, continuing in her place in the Foreign Office and on the Front Bench, and a positive delight to see the noble Earl, Lord Howe, taking his place as Deputy Leader of the House and in defence and, in that sense, foreign affairs. I have got to know him very well in dealing with health matters over the years, and I can only assume that the Prime Minister looked at the situation and decided that if there was one area that was complicated, difficult, contentious and in need of the attention of the noble Earl, it was defence and foreign affairs. I have no doubt that we are going to be glad of the noble Earl’s presence as well as that of the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay.

I shall first pick up defence because I welcome the Government’s commitment to continuing continuous-at-sea nuclear deterrence. It is necessary because we are in an increasingly dangerous world. It will not solve all the problems, but removing it would simply add to instability. I also welcome indications that the upcoming SDSR will be different from the last one, which was dominated by austerity in the Budget with our requirements coming second. This time round, it will look much more at our national requirements and then address the need for funding. The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig of Radley, was right when he said that it may well require more funding than we expect at this point. It is an increasingly dangerous world and one of the primary responsibilities of government is the defence of the people. There are many other things we like to do, but that is an absolute requirement of government. He spoke about conventional forces, but I think we need to move beyond the conventional in terms of the issues we have to address—notably cyber and terrorism, of course—and in the kind of military strategy and doctrine that we espouse. Will the Minister give an assurance, if she can, that in the United Kingdom’s front-line development of NATO policy on what has become known as “understand to protect”—the approach that says that we need to deepen our understanding if we are to be effective in what we do militarily—we are taking the lead and that we will continue to do so with some energy?

When we come to international development, I of course feel that one of the great achievements of the coalition Government and of my right honourable friend Michael Moore was the legislation that embedded 0.7% as our commitment to international development. I hope that the funding available will not simply be used to maintain and build upon the kind of work that DfID has previously done and the kind of NGOs that

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have been involved with it but that DfID will understand, as I believe the MoD understands in its territory, that there need to be changes in the way we approach these things. It is no longer appropriate simply to have conventional forces, and it is no longer appropriate simply to have conventional economic ways of dealing with community development in the wider world. I hope that the noble Baroness can assure me that DfID will be looking for new ways of addressing things, not merely the conventional ones.

When it comes to the European Union, I have long taken the view that our people need to have a say on this question because otherwise it will continue to niggle away at relationships within these islands and beyond. I want to emphasise something which the noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Swansea, commented on and which was referred to by the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman. One hundred years ago in your Lordships’ House, there was a sense that not moving forward on some of the Liberal commitments of the time, notably Gladstone’s approach to what we now call devolution but which was called home rule in those days, would provide stability and unity for our United Kingdom. That was not the result; the result was that 27 counties of Ireland seceded. If we do not find a satisfactory outcome in terms of our relationship with Europe, it will endanger the union. Let us be absolutely clear about it: were we to leave the European Union, the likelihood would be that Scotland would choose to leave the United Kingdom, and I fear there would be instability in my part of the United Kingdom because we would be so distanced from England and Wales, as it would be, and some of the historic loyalties to England are much less than the historic loyalties to Scotland. This question of Europe does not involve just our relationships outside the United Kingdom; it involves the very integrity of the United Kingdom, and I plead that your Lordships’ House takes that into account more than it was taken into account 100 years ago in this House.

I will focus the latter part of what I have to say on foreign affairs. One of the advantages of the debate on the gracious Speech is that each year we can look back at what we said the previous year and decide whether we were pointing in the right direction or understand things differently and better now. As I looked back in preparation for this speech at the things I said last year and in 2013 I was sorry to see that all the warnings that I had given about the worsening international situation have been entirely fulfilled and built up but that the warnings about what we need to do have not been taken forward. I shall comment on three particular areas. First, when the question of Syria arose, I warned very clearly that the United Kingdom and its allies were very foolish to hitch their whole strategy to the notion of getting rid of President Assad. I said it was understandable, but unwise, and would not lead to success. It has not led to success. Among other things, we now find ourselves in the extraordinary position where our stated policy is to get rid of President Assad and to get rid of Daesh—as most Muslim countries prefer to call IS—at the same time. In other words, we are going to fight a war on two fronts and do not have anybody left in the middle. This simply does not make sense.

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We have to look again at how we deal with Syria. This is where “understand to protect” comes to the fore because it says that we need to look at what we are doing in these situations before we decide that we are going to react to them. The development of Daesh has been outlined very clearly by my noble friend Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon. It is a very dangerous situation. We may be past the post now, but we have probably seen the development of a war which may well continue for longer than any of your Lordships in this House. It is a hugely dangerous situation, and we must see what we can usefully do.

One of the key difficulties is that our relationship with Russia has continued to deteriorate; therefore, at the level of the Security Council and every level below we do not have any way of working together on some of these key questions. That is true in the Middle East. It is true that those questions are spoken about with regard to Israel/Palestine. The position of the Quartet has never been a united one. Russia has always talked to Hezbollah, Hamas and everybody else, while the Quartet maintained that it was not talking to those people. However, the fact is, as many of us have been warning over the past few years, that the two-state solution is as good as gone, and we now have a Prime Minister elected on a mandate—whatever he said after the election—that says that there will be no two-state solution on his watch. There is no possibility of any simple negotiation of the kind we are used to unless we change the situation, and the only way I can see of changing the situation and permitting the emergence of serious discussions on a two-state solution is if this country—and even more particularly the United States—recognises the state of Palestine, and then we move to implement it. Anything else is only fiddling in the wind and, actually worse than that, creates a situation where people such as Hamas are regarded as wishy-washy liberals by young Muslims in the Middle East, who say, “No—we must turn to IS because the only thing the West understands is the kind of force that is really frightening to them”.

In respect of Russia, we wrung our hands at Crimea and we worried about Ukraine. It is coming closer to home. If we look at the deteriorating situation in Macedonia, the foolishness of the EU about extending too far into Ukraine is mirrored by its foolishness at not accepting Macedonia in at a much earlier stage. Now Russia is getting involved in the destabilisation of Macedonia, a place I have had my eye on since around the late 1990s, because I saw that its problems were so similar to those that I experienced at home. We have to repair our relationship with Russia, however difficult it may be, because some of the difficulties of the region from which the noble Baroness, Lady Helic, and her family come will come back to us. Let us not forget that two Balkan wars in the run-up to the First World War were fought in the territory of Macedonia. It remains a key area.

However, lest I simply be the Jeremiah, there are two positive developments, one small and very local to ourselves, and one of geopolitical significance, which could improve things a little. First, I strongly support the initiative taken by the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, supported by the noble Lord, Lord Triesman,

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and by the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, for the establishment of a permanent committee of your Lordships’ House on international affairs. That is absolutely critical. Nothing else is more important than trying to find a peaceful way forward in our world. On that front, there is one bright hope, which is that there will be some kind of reasonable treaty and understanding with Iran. That is the one thing in the short term that could begin to change the geopolitics of that whole region, and I plead for some reassurance from the noble Baroness that our Government are committed to doing all they can to achieve an understanding with Iran and to build relations with that historic community and nation. That is the one positive development for the next few months which could change things for the better.

2.23 pm

Baroness Cox (CB): My Lords, I welcome the Government’s commitment in the gracious Speech to play a leading role in global affairs, international security, and economic and humanitarian challenges. I will highlight two relevant areas of concern, namely Burma and Sudan, which are relatively off the radar screen.

First, on Burma, I am happy to report some improvements in regions of Chin State, which I visited in February. Relations between the army, police and civilians have significantly improved, and human rights abuses, including forced labour, have ceased. There is also welcome investment by the Government in infrastructure. It is important to encourage reforms where they occur. However, the Government’s continuing assaults on the Rohingya people continue unabated, forcing thousands to flee their land, with many stranded at sea in terrible conditions. As this tragedy has received some media coverage, and as time is limited, I will focus on people whom we visited just last month, whose plight is desperate but not widely reported: the Shan and Kachin people.

Military offensives by the Burmese army continue; in eastern Burma, large-scale military offences in the Kokang region of Shan and Kachin states have occurred almost daily. The Burmese army uses ceasefires to gain ground and enhance its military capability. Meanwhile, expropriation of land and natural resources with derisory or no compensation is associated with large-scale development projects including the building of mines, which displaces thousands of civilians, and dams, which flood thousands of homes. Land grabbing and forced relocations have uprooted people with minimal or no compensation.

When we were there we were told how some development projects begin with photographs being taken of investors handing a cheque to local community leaders. Immediately after the photographs are taken, the cheque is taken back and the project gets under way with no compensation. We met civilians who had lost everything and were forced to live penniless in camps for internally displaced people in Shan and Kachin states. Investment projects are also coupled with an increased military presence and disregard for human rights. Mining projects have caused the environmental destruction of water supplies and crops and have inflicted many diseases, and pollution is

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damaging the ecosystem and environment. Meanwhile, civilians who have protested have been arrested and in some cases killed.

With continued conflict and displacement for development, the shift by international organisations from cross-border aid to funding the Burmese Government and larger organisations based in Rangoon is deeply worrying, as there is a much greater risk of corruption and failure to ensure that essential supplies reach people in great need in the areas of continuing conflict. The reduction in cross-border aid has already resulted in drastic cuts in food rations, which are set to decrease even further. Repatriation proposals are also generating fear. Many refugees who return home find that landmines have been placed in their homes or that their homes have been destroyed and their land sold to business or used by the military.

I therefore ask the Minister whether Her Majesty’s Government will encourage DfID and other aid organisations to maintain their previous levels of cross-border aid with partners, like those with whom we in our small NGO, HART, work. They are well-respected and entirely trustworthy, and they make sure that the aid reaches those who are still in need. I also ask the noble Baroness whether Her Majesty’s Government will press the Burmese Government to proceed with a comprehensive peace process rather than intermittent ceasefires, which are used to promote the Burmese army’s positions and then broken. Finally, on Burma, will Her Majesty’s Government encourage only those development projects which involve full consultation with local people and which are carried out with full compensation and respect for human rights?

I turn briefly to the de facto genocide being perpetrated with impunity by the Government of Sudan. Around 3.1 million people in Sudan are internally displaced. In Darfur up to 143,000 have been displaced from their homes since January this year. Their tragedy is receiving some publicity, but attacks on people in Blue Nile and South Kordofan are largely unreported. Since 2011, the Government of Sudan have been attacking civilians in those two areas with aerial bombardment, ground attacks and artillery shelling. Human Rights Watch has also found evidence of the use of cluster bombs in civilian areas.

When we visited Blue Nile State in January of this year we saw and felt the widespread fear and destruction caused by persistent aerial bombardment, which is aimed directly at civilians. Since 2012, on average three bombs a day have been dropped by the Government on civilian targets, directly hitting villages, markets, schools, fields, and places of worship. When we were there the planes had now started coming by night with searchlights, so they could continue to kill civilians by night as well as by day. April of this year saw 171% more attacks than in the previous month, including 55 verified incidents of the deliberate bombing or shelling of civilians. Most attacks are carried out by Antonovs but at least two were by jet fighters, which demonstrates the increasing sophistication of the Government’s attacks on their own people. There has also been a significant upsurge in such attacks in recent weeks.

The deliberate targeting of civilian sites has caused a humanitarian catastrophe, with humanitarian access blocked by the Government in Khartoum. As of April

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2015, an estimated 3.7 million people in Sudan faced acute food insecurity. Moreover, severe human rights violations, including torture, arbitrary detention, and attacks on peaceful protesters, opposition members, the media and civil society, continue elsewhere in Sudan.

These genocidal attacks on civilians and gross violations of human rights are perpetrated by the Government with complete impunity. Recent elections, which returned President al-Bashir to power, have been condemned nationally and internationally. Areas under the control of the opposition were disenfranchised with no polling booths. Civilians in South Kordofan suffered 12 separate air bombardments during the three days of elections.

Will Her Majesty’s Government urgently consider measures to end the impunity with which the Government in Khartoum continue their ruthless policies? Will they not allow the election result to confer any legitimacy on that Government? Finally, will they initiate policies to promote essential life-saving, cross-border aid to civilians currently dying from lack of food and medical supplies?