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Baroness Rawlings: so many of your Lordships have a great experience in foreign affairs that I intervene in this debate with timidity. I hope that your Lordships will show the traditional kindness to one who speaks in the House for the first time. This is a great privilege which I welcome, as I welcome the privilege of following the noble Lord, Lord Bridges, to whom I should like to pay tribute for his excellent speech.
I have been advised by several kind noble Lords that maiden speeches in your Lordships' House should be uncontroversial. So, I hope that your Lordships will bide with me if I speak today on that uncontroversial subject, Europe, as I have spent the past five years as a Member of the European Parliament.
This week we took an important step in line with the rest of Europe. I refer to the start of the National Lottery. Mentioning the National Lottery may seem to stray from this foreign affairs debate, but our heritage and culture are of prime importance to our national identity. Many fear that we are losing that by being members of the European Union.
The National Lottery is expected to provide huge additional resources for our national heritage, the arts, sport and charities. I agree with my noble friend Lord Rothschild who said recently that the National Lottery Act 1993 could easily overtake the National Heritage Act 1980 as being the most important piece of legislation in the heritage field since the Second World War. In boosting our arts, heritage and sport, we are underpinning our culture, which for most of us is the core of our identity and a source of security.
Since the war, institutions, notably NATO and the European Union, have been devised to strengthen nation states and bring them closer together. Economic interdependence and regular contacts, buttressed by modern technology, have led to greater cultural proximity. Yet, differences between cultures will always remain, and so they should.
Europe was horrifically scarred by two world wars in this century alone, so that, understandably, we are wary of petty nationalism. That should not, however, be confused with the wish to preserve our culture and our national identity. The latter is a noble aspiration, perhaps more appropriately called patriotism, a very different sentiment and one, I am sure that noble Lords would all support. But emphasising cultural distinctiveness to the exclusion of everything else is absurd. Galileo made great discoveries on the principles taught by Bacon; and Einstein built on the vision of Newton.
Culture looks beyond boundaries. While applauding the individuality of our own culture, we cannot overlook the fact that Shakespeare took inspiration from the classics and Inigo Jones from Palladio to create great masterpieces. When the Normans conquered England they brought their art of building cathedrals with them. The English, under much influence from France during the following two centuries, developed their own styles, which, in turn, influenced the French and the Italians. For example the finestrone on the western facade of Venice's ducal palace recalls the windows of Ely Cathedral. The cross-influences and yet distinctiveness of Gothic architecture are such that no one nation can call it its own, but each nation can recognise itself in it. Moreover, culture did not stop at the Elbe. Leonard Cox, our 16th century rhetorician and professor at the University of Cracow, wrote:
I share my noble friend's feelings. For that reason, I became deeply involved with one of those countries--Bulgaria. While in the European Parliament I wrote several reports on Bulgaria and the Europe agreement which was concluded during the British presidency.
We are helping the central and eastern European countries along a difficult road, to civic, political and economic reconstruction through major aid programmes and the Europe agreements, primarily for trade liberalisation. That encouragement is vital to keep those countries on course towards the goal of stable democracy and the doubling of the single market. The economic climate is still fragile. The temptation of protectionism is to be resisted. The European Council in Essen must make good progress in preparing the strategy for accession of the associated countries. If
Those issues will be much debated in the run up to the 1996 intergovernmental conference, as will the controversial issue of a single currency. We are not committed to that; a decision upon it will be made by Parliament. I greatly look forward to the enlightening contributions that your Lordships will make to these complex subjects.
The fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent reunification of Germany have raised new problems. We now need to build on what has already been a remarkable achievement. There are great and noble tasks ahead of us.
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, it is with great pleasure that I congratulate the noble Baroness upon her excellent speech and say how fitting it was that she should be given this opportunity to speak for the first time upon a subject about which she knows so much, having so recently been a Member of the European Parliament. I am sure that the House looks forward, as I do, to hearing many more speeches from her.
I was glad that the words "overseas development" were added to the title of today's debate as I do not believe that a debate on global security issues can take place without a discussion on the forms of political stability that exist in developing countries. In the past year a wave of democracy has spread, especially in Africa.
Earlier in the year I had the honour of monitoring the first multi-racial elections in South Africa. From there I went on to monitor the elections in Malawi--the first multi-party elections in 30 years. I have recently returned from monitoring the elections in Mozambique. They were elections which, it is hoped, will lead that country to peace.
However, democratic transition is inevitably a slow and vulnerable process. Angola exemplifies the inherent vulnerability of emerging democracies as political breakdown reversed the progress that had so far been achieved.
Mechanisms for democratic governance have to be encouraged in parallel with sustainable structural adjustment. In many developing countries, the machinery of government needs to be completely rebuilt. Often the funds do not exist for these purposes. Moreover, the political instability of developing countries is not merely a regional or local concern; it is of strategic importance to the developed world since collapse, as in the case of Nigeria, threatens international capital markets.
While it is acknowledged that since the end of the Cold War the nature of conflict has shifted from the interstate to the internal, the link between conflict and social and economic inequalities has only begun to be addressed. It is no coincidence that of the 31 wars raging around the world, a large proportion are in the poorest region; that is sub-Saharan Africa. If for no other reason than the need for a co-integrated approach to global security, the UN Secretary-General, Dr. Boutros-Ghali, declared in September:
Somalia has shown the damage that mismanaged international operations can inflict on the recipient country. With the imminent removal of all UN forces and the consequent dismantling of the false local economies that it had generated, the country threatens to fall into deeper chaos. As regards Rwanda, in spite of reports of human rights abuse as early as April and May, the world stood by actually withdrawing a substantial number of United Nations troops whose presence could well have functioned as a deterrent to the genocide. Not until a refugee crisis of unprecedented proportions and reports of the scale of genocide were portrayed on our television screens did the international community decide to take belated action.
The need for a framework of international action in response to conflict-related emergencies is paramount. The provision of resources, instruments and institutional capabilities to guarantee that its operations no longer continue on an ad hoc basis depends on political will. The UK Government should take a lead in pushing for the reforms recommended by consortiums of UN delegates, field experts and NGOs. Among these, the development of a global emergency system to anticipate and prevent conflicts, such as an office for preventive diplomacy, which could advise the Security Council of potential conflicts and recommend policies for action; and, secondly, a permanent stand-by UN peacekeeping force available at minimum notice would be welcome steps to reform. Improved co-ordination, accountability and evaluation of UN agencies must be achieved. Greater representativeness of the UN Security Council
I do not plan to discuss UN reform any further, only to add that the costs of emergency aid would be significantly cut by effective preventive diplomacy. Currently more resources are put into refugee flows than into peacekeeping or preventive strategies. The rise in peacekeeping costs was 3.6 billion US dollars in 1993, the highest ever. It is little next to the defence spending budgets and the profits reaped from arms sales. But the UK is set to reduce contributions to UN specialist agencies such as UNICEF and UNDP between 1994 and 1996 by 7.5 per cent., which is a reduction of £5 million. This does not tally with the speech of the Foreign Minister, Douglas Hurd, to the United Nations on the 28th of September in which he said:
There is also a very real concern that donor government contributions to emergency aid is diverting funds away from long-term development programmes. If the Foreign Office is committed to UN conflict management it is imperative that extra funds are found for the ODA contingency reserve for humanitarian emergencies which funds relief work on the ground, such as through NGOs. This will ensure other parts of the aid budget are not robbed for short-term, high profile ODA activities.
At present, current policy means cuts in spending on both conflict situations and post-conflict relief and rehabilitation programmes. It is reprehensible that while global military spending has declined by 3.6 per cent. a year between 1987 and 1991, the resulting peace dividend of 935 billion dollars has not been used to finance the world's social agenda or provide human security, as shown in the 1994 Human Development Report.
Returning to the UN Secretary-General's comment on social and economic hardship as an underlying cause of conflict, I wish to emphasise a demand that has often been made in this House, and which is the sole justification for the aid budget, that aid is poverty-focused.
The disappointing results of ODA project completion reports, which state that a substantial number of projects fail to reach completion, and the low points scored for meeting objective targets, especially projects focusing on women in development, are regrettable. Apart from the shrinking of bilateral aid due to the cuts in the aid budget, the apparent fall in funding to multilateral institutions providing assistance to the poorest developing countries is a cause of serious alarm. In spite of criticisms levied at the Enhanced Structural Adjustment Programme of the IMF, it remains one of its main sources of concessional lending. This year a number of IMF member countries have shown reluctance to replenish the fund to the extent that it has been cut from 6 billion dollars to 4.5 billion dollars. When £35 million-worth of aid has been squandered on the Pergau dam--and further allegations have emerged
The late judgment on the Government's illegal action of spending aid money on economically unviable projects under the Overseas Development and Co-operation Act in the Pergau dam affair was no small victory in the courts. It sets a precedent ensuring that abuse of the aid budget will be open to scrutiny. Already the revelation last week of a British £2 million aid-for-arms deal with Indonesia seems in flagrance of UN condemnation of Indonesia's human rights abuse in East Timor. I hope that the allegations about arms sales and Indonesia are false, as they would further damage the concept of aid in Britain.
An example of questionable projects is the £60 million Samarinda gas power station which was paid for with British aid. It appears to be a wasteful investment because what the thinly populated area of Kalimantan needs is not more electricity (of which it has enough) but transmission lines. Apart from directly enriching the "First Family"--virtually all foreign investment plans are negotiated through the "First Family"--it will incur huge environmental costs by speeding up deforestation and pollution in one of South-East Asia's last remaining rainforests. I hope that the Minister will be able to comment on these allegations. The Minister said that there was no linkage to arms and aid. Can she also explain the increase in aid to Indonesia in 1992-93 to £436 million, which is an increase of 200 per cent? That seems to coincide with the date on which that arms deal would have been agreed. Similarly, why is it that aid to Nigeria leapt from £6.3 million in 1988-89 to £67.7 million in 1989-90 at a time when a £280 million contract for tanks was being signed in 1990?
Britain is the world's fourth largest exporter of arms. Recent reports by the World Development Movement based on figures reported to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms show that British taxpayers last year subsidised the exportation of weapons to mostly third world regimes to the tune of £2 billion. Again, I should like to know what consideration the Government have given to including a recipient country's military expenditure as part of their good governance criteria?
A matter of particular interest to me is the proliferation of land-mines throughout the third world. I recently visited Mozambique where I monitored an election. I counted 30 people who had lost limbs due to land-mines. Land-mines are the cause of constant civilian casualties in Cambodia, Iraq, Kurdistan, Afghanistan, Mozambique and Angola. Cambodia has 30,000 amputees, 4.2 per thousand of the population, which is the world's highest proportion.
Although France, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and now Italy have agreed to stop the production and exportation of land-mines indicating the gradual harmonisation of EU policy, Britain continues to develop and export inhumane weapons. Britain has signed the UN Inhumane Weapons Convention but has failed to ratify it. The export ban declared in July was deliberately misleading. It did not include the prohibition of anti-personnel mines that self-destruct and are self-neutralising. Yet those supposedly safe
Finally, I draw attention to the fact that the Minister said that arms deals and aid are not linked. I hope that she will be able to ratify that over the next few weeks because I believe that the scandal with regard to Indonesia will continue.
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