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Lord Burnham: My Lord, I was determined not to get up because I know that the Minister is short of time. I understand that I am right, but an awful lot of things need to be done before it is published, including involving the Treasury.
Finally, I cannot help but thank again the noble Lord, Lord Burnham, for saying that morale is remarkably high in Her Majesty's forces. I recall, however, that that is not quite the message that he gave on a previous occasion at the Dispatch Box, but I shall refrain from dilating any longer on that point.
If I have not managed to cover all the concerns raised by your Lordships I undertake to write to noble Lords in the next few days. I assure the House that the points made about the necessity of maintaining morale and the importance of discipline are matters of which all Her Majesty's Ministers and all leaders of the Armed Forces are totally seized.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: One factor not so far mentioned in our deliberations is that the European Union's common foreign and security policy has failed at pretty well everything it has attempted. One has only to cite the Falklands war, Yugoslavia, Cyprus, Liberia, the Middle East and Iraq to see that that is so. Indeed, it is hard to think of any foreign policy area in which the European Union has been successful. I may be wrong about that, in which case no doubt the Minister will put me right.
One of the European Union's problems is that it has interfered in those areas not because it was able to bring any particular expertise or influence to bear but because it wished to justify the existence of a foreign policy which is, after all, one of the essential features of a state. We all know that the European Union has great ambitions to become a single state; at least, our partners in the European Union do, even if British governments, of every hue, continue to deny it.
Often, too, the European Union's unhelpful interventions are inspired by a pathetic desire to show the Americans that the Europeans are master in their own continent. As the Foreign Minister of Luxembourg, M. Jacques Poos, so dangerously put it at the start of the Yugoslavian problems:
With this history, it is very worrying that there is not more discussion about exactly why European foreign and defence policy has failed so dismally and why it is likely to continue to do so. Even more worrying, however, is that one can now discern the voices of bad workmen blaming their tools and starting to ask for newer and sharper tools so that they can do better in future. Some of those newer tools are clearly in the Treaty of Amsterdam.
That is to me reminiscent of past discussions about socialism. If, 20 years ago, one pointed out, as one often did, that socialism did not work economically, politically, culturally or morally, one often met the response that that was because there was not enough of it, or that it was not sufficiently pure, or that it was being polluted by elements of the market economy, and so on. I hope that we shall not hear that sort of answer
The Earl of Clanwilliam: I shall not detain the Committee for long, but we must recognise that we are an island race with world-wide responsibilities which have been developed through past centuries and which are not to be negated or abandoned in favour of the Amsterdam Treaty as implemented by the Council of Europe. A common foreign policy can be implemented in the final analysis only by the use of defence forces and in the extremely short term. That is the import of the Treaty of Amsterdam; it will conflict with NATO. It is a deliberate attempt to remove the Anglo-Saxon influence. If that is not xenophobic what is? Are we all to be taken to court for being xenophobic because we like to look after the Anglo-Saxon influence in the world?
When the crisis in Iraq occurred the disarray was obvious. This is not a good augury for a common position. I direct one comment to the Liberal Democrat Benches. The noble Lord, Lord Wallace, spoke cogently about co-operation with which we are very much in agreement. However he did not recognise or appear to have read Article J.4 which is entirely prescriptive. It does not allow us exit from any common arrangements that may be made.
Viscount Montgomery of Alamein: The Government may be assisted to know that noble Lords on these Benches do not necessarily agree with one another. Some of us believe that the Treaty of Rome, the Single European Act, the Treaty of Maastricht and now the Treaty of Amsterdam are very good measures. I believe that it is worthwhile intervening very briefly in this matter to state that we are not wholly united. Some noble Lords believe that the Treaty of Rome was the forerunner to the establishment of peace in Europe which has existed for more than 50 years. It is that aspect of the Treaty of Rome we are addressing tonight. I believe that what the Government are doing in continuing with the unification of Europe is extremely good. I shall continue to support them and what my noble friend Lord Wallace has said throughout the remaining stages of this Bill when I have the opportunity to do so.
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: The comment of the noble Viscount brings me to my feet. He will be well aware that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was formed long before the Treaty of Rome of 1957. If anything has kept the peace in Europe it is not the European Community, the European Union or the Common Market; it is NATO. The noble Viscount should be aware that the greatest threat to western Europe was the Russian blockade of Berlin in 1949. That blockade was broken not by the European Union--which had not been formed at that time--but by the United States and Britain acting together. They ferried
Baroness Park of Monmouth: The noble Lord, Lord Shore, said so much of what I originally intended to say that I have scrapped about two-thirds of my speech, which I am sure will come as a relief to the Committee. Nevertheless, I should like to make a number of points. Particular stress has been placed on Articles 12 and 13 and the adoption of joint action and common positions. Reference has also been made to Article 15 which requires member states to ensure that their national policies conform to the common position. I do not believe that that gives us any choice because it is an obligation placed upon us by the treaty.
Article 17 announces the framing of a common EU defence policy based on fostering closer institutional relations with the WEU leading to a common defence with a view to integrating the WEU into the Union. Meanwhile, it provides access to an operational capability under Article 17.2, notably humanitarian and rescue tasks, peacekeeping and tasks of combat forces in crisis management including peacemaking. Essentially, that is the WEU's Petersberg mandate.
I should like to comment particularly on Article 28 which has financial implications I find disturbing. What machinery is there for clearing a cost benefit analysis with member states and getting their agreement to a defence budget every year? It is significant that the inter-institutional agreement regarding the financing of the CFSP is between the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission and that it is attached to the Treaty of Amsterdam but does not form part of the formal treaty on European Union. What is its status? The text says that the agreement was finalised in July 1997 and that the provisions are now in force. At what stage, if at all, were member states consulted on the powers taken to create this budget, and will national parliaments have no control over it? That is the kind of question that the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, asks and answers, but I wish to pose it at this stage.
It will be said that there is one saving grace in the new treaty that should serve to compensate for the many new fetters that it rivets upon us; that is, the statement in Article 23 that QMV will not be used to enforce joint action or common positions when decisions have military or defence implications. However, those are the very tasks for which the EU intends to use the Western European Union and its resources under Article 15.3.
There cannot be any doubt that the EU has now given itself a mandate for setting up its own defence machinery and strategy and is moving purposefully away from the present position, which has served us and Europe well in NATO for over 50 years, of independent nation states freely working together but working as national governments answerable to national parliaments and implementing national strategy.
When people dismiss our role east of Suez they forget that we have the Caribbean and the Commonwealth--a world wide constituency that we must look after and to which we must answer. We must make hard choices to match resources to commitment. It would be impossible for us to be required to respond in addition to government-by-committee in Brussels, particularly in view of the discrepancies between membership of the WEU, where all nine full members belong both to the EU and to NATO and are covered by the NATO defence guarantee, and that of the EU. There are European members of NATO--Turkey, Norway and Iceland--who are not members of the EU. They are also covered by NATO but not the WEU guarantee. The WEU has five observer members; Denmark, which is covered by the NATO guarantee, and four neutrals, who are also members of the EU, Ireland, Sweden, Finland and Austria. The WEU has associate partnerships with nine states: Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania and the three Baltic states. As one FCO document put it well some time ago:
The WEU is not exactly over-burdened with military resources. There is already not a little triple-hatting going on between the Allied Command Europe Reaction Force (ARRC), which is part of NATO's Allied Command Europe, the NATO-led forces in Bosnia, and the WEU. When the EU talks in Article 17 of,
where, may I ask, are the troops coming from? Britain, as the framework country--the lead country in ARRC--provides 60 per cent. of the troops and resources; the Americans 20 per cent.; the Netherlands 7 per cent.; and the others equally small or smaller contingents. In some respects it can be said to be a case of two generals and two stretcher bearers, or maybe a field hospital. The German army of 305,000 men is constrained as to where it can operate by perfectly valid political decisions. It had to pull together a contingent of individual volunteers for Bosnia who had never served together as a unit. Of our own existing commitments, too many are already peacekeeping so that training in the main area of defence is suffering badly, as is morale. The French, the joker in the pack, also have overseas commitments and a somewhat volatile relationship with NATO, although not of course with the EU. Are the Government to make provision in the defence review for more troops, aircraft and weaponry for the committees in Brussels to despatch somewhere to carry out their very own
I quail, and so should the Government, at the proposed proliferation of busy, opaque committees, working groups, directives, joint action, co-decision and so forth which we can now expect before the Brussels mountain brings forth a series of expensive and unwanted mice. The present arrangements of WEU and NATO work perfectly well. We simply cannot afford the administrative burden which the Commission will now proceed to lay on the weary shoulders of our planners and our troops, and I can only pray that implementing EMU leaves them no time to do anything else for a while. Meanwhile I strongly support the proposal for regular reports to Parliament, preferably before and not after action has been taken.
I have one last point--and an important one--upon which the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, might disagree were he here. Once the EU starts to present itself as a single entity claiming to have the capacity to conduct a supranational Union defence policy, we can probably expect the Americans to take their cue to withdraw from Europe. Without American logistics and air power there can be no effective European military operation, not even peacekeeping and humanitarian rescue, and there will be a serious threat to stability in a potentially volatile world. At present the British presence in Germany, as the lead nation in ARRC, and at Land Command, is playing a very important role in creating that stability, as well as creating an excellent relationship with the Germans at local level. That is something positive. That is a worthwhile part of being in the EU, but it is national.
I can only hope that the Government's blessed position at the heart of Europe will enable them to put the brakes on. It is quite difficult enough to deal with the delicate issue of Russia's relationship with Europe in the defence field through NATO where I believe it will work. We should not confuse that situation. The Union, after all, will have its hands full with enlargement and its consequences. Let us insist that it puts its toy soldiers away and refuse to play its war games.
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