§ Mr. Speaker
Before the debate begins, may I make two observations. One is that many hon. and right hon. Members wish to speak and, as I said twice last week, a long speech cuts out somebody else who really wishes seriously to take part in the debate. The second is that I have a large number of applications for maiden speeches today. I may not be able to call them all. If hon. Members who wish to make maiden speeches and have intimated that to me would come to the Chair, I may let them know what their chances are of being called.
§ Mr. Gerard Fitt (Belfast, West)
On a point of order. Before noon today, Mr. Speaker, I approached your secretary and gave notice that I wished to raise a Motion under Standing Order No. 9 this afternoon, and I had expected that you would, perhaps, ask me to move it. Would this still be permissible, and may I ask your permission to do so now?
§ Mr. Speaker
I am sorry, but I think there must be some misunderstanding. I did get a message that the hon. Member would seek an application under Standing Order No. 9. I looked at him for some time at the appropriate moment but he did not attempt to rise and I thought that he had changed his mind.
§ Mr. Speaker
I am sorry. The fault is probably mine, but the hon. Member cannot make his application now. The opportunity is past.
§ 4.5 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Sir Alec Douglas-Home)
In the debate on the Motion for an Address in reply to the Queen's Speech, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on Thursday last talked about the theme of British foreign policy and suggested that it had been broken because decisions in the last few years had been taken which were based on considerations other than those concerned with foreign policy and defence. To that I shall return in a later part of what I have to say this afternoon, but it is true that the basic facts on which British foreign policy rests do not vary with changes of Government. Our geographical situation is constant, our land area is confined, our manpower is limited, our natural resources are few and have to be heavily supplemented from overseas; and the climate in which Britain thrives is one where there is international political stability and peace. It is true that we have seldom in our history enjoyed either for very long, but to seek political stability must be the object of British foreign policy. So it is a bleak commentary on civilisation that throughout our history the main preoccupation of our country has been related to the problems of security derived through our relations with the countries of Europe.
It was the wars of Europe, too, which threatened our communications upon which we relied for our daily bread, as anybody who remembers the last war and the rationing which followed it for many years will recall, and it was, of course, in history first Spain, then France, then Germany, that threatened Britain's survival, and our survival hung upon our policy throughout history to collect and to hold friends and allies. That was the only way in which our country could prevent the overthrow of our island. It is the only way in fact in which we can do so today, and if the Soviet Union is counted among the European Powers, and essentially she is a European Power, 341 N.A.T.O. is but the latest version of the great alliances of the past which were necessary for the security of Britain. N.A.T.O., therefore, fulfils for Britain the constant theme of our foreign policy, to prevent the domination of the centre of Europe by one single Power, and it is the guarantor that the food and raw materials which are necessary for our life can go to and fro without let or hindrance. If one adds to that in the context of modern war that the range of nuclear weapons and nuclear strength of our American ally carry conviction to any aggressor that one who starts a nuclear war cannot win, then the reasons are very clear why N.A.T.O. must have priority in the foreign policy of this country. Our policy towards N.A.T.O. should not exclude us from taking a rôle beyond the horizons of Europe, but priority must be given to the N.A.T.O. Alliance which is the security of our island base.
After 25 years—and let us remember the many people who have been born in in this country since the war who are at present of voting age—so busy and distracting is modern life that it is difficult to remember that in our lifetime two wars were started in Western Europe. Until 1939 division and rivalry in the Continent were the order of our day, and it is against that background that I would like now to offer some reflections on European policy.
In post-war years and in the historical perspective of this century, it has seemed to me that there has been one event in Europe which has transcended all others and which has been of immense consequence to this country. That is the political rapprochement between Germany and France. It was a conscious act of political will brought into effect by two very remarkable men, the late Mr. Adenauer and General de Gaulle. Nothing following that event has in recent years struck me more forcibly than the European determination to build on that foundation. Without it the European Economic Community could not have started. It is founded not in a passing mood, as anyone who has been in meetings in Europe lately will know, but in a real change of heart in the countries of the European Continent. So much has 342 already been derived from that association of nations, that change of mood, that change of heart, and much more will follow because of the conviction among Europeans that harmony between Europeans must replace strife if Europe, Western Europe in particular, is to survive.
The question not for today but unquestionably for this Parliament will be: Is Britain to be in or out of this movement, which not only covers economic integration but looks beyond into the political and defence fields, this movement which in Europe has unquestionably been born of political will? Last week my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy and I had the first business meeting with the six members of the European Economic Community and the other applicants for membership, a meeting for which the signposts had been successfully marked by the right hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. George Thomson) and, success or failure—and we cannot tell which it will be—his work in this respect will be gratefully remembered. Following that meeting last week we published a White Paper, and the House is therefore in full possession of the statement made by my right hon. Friend. No doubt my right hon. Friend who will wind up the debate will answer any questions about it.
The programme in front of us is as follows. There will be a meeting on 21st July at which the main subjects in which Britain is interested will be tabled. After that, there will be a factual examination of them with the officials of the Community, and this will continue in the weeks ahead. After the examination of those facts we shall be in a batter position to decide whether settlements that are fair to all can be found, and I emphasise those words, which were over and over again spoken in Luxembourg by my right hon. Friend. To these matters we shall return many times in the debates in this House in the months and years to come.
This afternoon I want to draw attention to two facts of life which Britain cannot ignore. The Soviet Union and the countries of Eastern Europe in and outside the Warsaw Pact are beginning to talk in terms of a European Security 343 Conference. Ideas have been put forward by them and by other neutral countries outside that there might be a standing piece of European machinery to review the problems of co-existence and see how they might be solved. I have no doubt that the Soviet Union has its own motives for putting forward such a suggestion; nevertheless, to these approaches and ideas there will need to be a European reaction, part of which must be made by this country.
Secondly, while the United States will always recognise the paramount importance of a free Europe and therefore can be relied upon, as the massive message of the President to Congress has lately emphasised, to keep an American presence on the ground in Europe and underwrite Europe's security with her nuclear deterrent, in due course—and this again is something of which the House and the country must take notice—the United States will ask Europe to assume a greater share of her own defence. There will have to be a European response to that request, and Britain will have to make her response as part of the European reaction. These are political decisions which loom ahead of us from which Britain cannot stand aside.
There has been talk, and there will be much more, about political unity in Europe, and many attach particular labels to the conception of it. I would never be attracted by them; in fact, they can be positively dangerous. I have never varied in my view that in Europe any political union, integration, federation or whatever it is called, will proceed very slowly and cautiously. One cannot ignore the past history of the great national states of Europe which for so long have had their own identity. What will happen in the political context—and this I think is a certain forecast—is that certain areas will be identified in which it would be advantageous to the partners to take common action. Having identified those areas, if an institution is necessary to help this along, then that institution will be set up. That I believe, is the pace at which Europe will proceed, not only in the economic field where it has been very cautious, but also in the political field.
§ Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness and Sutherland)
In the two specific areas in 344 which the right hon. Gentleman has called for a European reaction, is he able to say whether or not it would be appropriate for the development of a common attitude to be pursued within the existing organisations in Europe, particularly Western European Union?
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
Yes, I think this would be so. The Soviet Union reaction on a possible security conference was a reaction to a N.A.T.O. proposal. The French have now come back into W.E.U., and very welcome they are. All these political questions will be discussed in these various European bodies. Britain will have to take part in these discussions, because the consequences that will flow from these great movements will certainly make their impact on us.
Last Thursday my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister spoke of the creation of one nation. There is certainly as great a need, although it is more ambitious, to create one world. Communism has divided it; racialism threatens to divide it. One thing that is certain is that war is no cure either for Communism or for racialism and that the overriding need today is for reconciliation. It is that theme, and not intolerance, which should govern the efforts of statemen to try to bring about a more tolerant and peaceful world.
What are the chances that reconciliation may win the day? There are some signs that the cruder Communist tactics or the cold war may be relaxing. The Soviet Union is for the first time talking to the West Germans, as are the East Germans and other countries in Eastern Europe. The Soviet Union is talking to the United States about the limitation of nuclear weapons and, complex though the question is, they may find some common ground on which to act. The Soviet Union is talking to Britain, France and the United States in seeking a solution to the war between Arab and Jew.
Progress in reconciliation is scarcely measurable. Those who are searching the skies for a cloud to relieve their thirst for conciliation and peace certainly cannot see one even the size of a man's hand. But while there is talk there is hope. And there is talk for the first time on a number of issues directly between the Soviet Union and the United States, Britain, France and Germany.
345 There have been opportunities lost which still could be taken, for example, in Vietnam. The more the Soviet Union argues that American intervention is going too far in that part of the world the more urgent is the need to reconvene the conciliation processes which are ready to hand waiting to deal with the peaceful settlement of this area. If the Soviet Foreign Minister, Mr. Gromyko, would join with the British Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary in co-chairing another peace conference in this area that would certainly have the full support of this Government.
If one is making a general assessment of the prospects for reconciliation against the need for collective defence, there are certain facts of international life that no free country—and I underline this point—in Europe, in Africa or in Asia can afford to brush under the carpet. The Soviet Union now has 3½ million men on a war footing, they have a massive capability in inter-continental missiles, and there is a new element in their armed forces, to which in the past we have not paid sufficient attention, and that is a modern submarine fleet whose measurement I will give the House. The submarine fleet of the Soviet Union today—and it is a modern fleet—numbers 350 against the 200 submarines which are owned by Britain, France and the United States. The Soviet Union may well use this fleet to protect its trade and to show the flag in the traditional way of a great naval power.
I suggest that it is essential to remember at the same time as we pursue every opportunity of reconciliation with the communists that until their doctrine is changed their interpretation of co-existence does not inhibit the use of force or interference in the affairs of other countries. Britain will seek to reduce armaments. We will pay particular attention, if the Soviet Union will do so, to the thinning out of the armaments on the Eastern frontier of Western Germany between N.A.T.O. and the Warsaw Pact. But there is no country in N.A.T.O. or in the alliances of which we form a part that dare lower its guard unilaterally. We certainly dare not ignore the vital—I use that word not in a loose sense, but in its strictest sense—sea communications. If by any chance they were interrupted, this country could be brought to its knees.
346 In this context, I vividly recall a warning given to the House by Mr. George Brown in the early days of the last Parliament. He was speaking of the Soviet plans in the Mediterranean and in Arabia. He told the House how, in his view, it is possible that in this key strategic area the whole balance of power in the world might be changed. I will not over-paint the picture, but one international waterway that is immensely important not only to Europe but to Asian and African countries, the Suez Canal, has been closed. In the Mediterranean there is a very significant Soviet naval presence. It is not going too far to say that the policies of Egypt and Syria are today largely controlled by the Soviet Union. There is a very strong influence in Somalia, and not only the Soviets but the Chinese are active in these areas stretching fairly far down the East Coast of Africa. At present the Soviet Union is active in Aden. It is quite certain that as soon as the Suez Canal is open Aden will be available for all the naval facilities that the Soviet Union will require, and one must remember that the Soviet Union has this large submarine fleet and amphibious helicopter-carrying craft.
A year ago in this House I forecast that there was bound to be a reaction to this extensive addition to Soviet naval power. I remember the words I used were that the reaction should be not one of panic but of prudence. The reaction has already taken place in the Mediterranean. N.A.T.O., although not wishing to do so, has had to increase its naval strength because of the Soviet Union's new strength in that sea. I forecast that there would be a reaction both in the South Atlantic and in the west of the Indian Ocean. It is in this context of the sea routes, and particularly the sea routes which carry oil, that the Simonstown Agreement falls and one sees its value in 5,000 miles of vulnerable sea passage.
I said at Question Time today that I would come to the House at a future date before very long and make a statement on the Government's attitude to the Simonstown Agreement. Its value not only has been testified to on this side of the House, for I have with me quotation after quotation from right hon. Gentlemen opposite on the Front Bench and also from back-bench Members as to 347 the value they attached, and still apparently attach, to the Simonstown Agreement in the context of the sea routes and the defence of this country. That is what matters. I will not pursue the matter now, as I shall make a statement later. But I would say that the British Government alone must accept the responsibility for Britain's security. No one else can decide that for us. No one else can judge our needs.
As a responsible Minister, I could never accept the proposition that the Communists should be allowed to increase their armaments and to acquire new strategic bases without let or hindrance, but that Britain should be inhibited from taking the defensive precautions which she deems necessary for her physical survival. No one standing at this Dispatch Box could accept that proposition. There cannot be one rule for the Communists to do what they like and another for a country which I am entitled to remind the world outside has done more to fight for people's rights to be free and to emancipate countries from colonialism than any other nation in history.
In the arrangements that we make for our own national security, the Government will, as I promised at Question Time, show ourselves and be seen to show ourselves aware of the sensitivity of our friends in the Commonwealth on racial matters and aware very much of the dignity of their peoples. As one who was Commonwealth Secretary for five and a half years, I am not likely to fall down on that duty. However, I must ask them in turn to recognise that Britain cannot take risks with its life. Every country in the world claims the right to do what it thinks fit for its own security. So, in equity, do we.
Talking of the lack of theme, my right hon. Friend was right in the sense that certain decisions taken in the last five years in relation to the Persian Gulf and Malaysia were not decisions of foreign policy. They were forced upon the Government either by their failure to stimulate the economy and therefore they judged that the commitments were too large, or for reasons which did not command the support of a large section of their party which had prejudices against overseas engagements.
348 Again there is a stack of quotations, with which I will not worry the House today, although they are there. I want to make only one to prove it. It is from the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart):'… it is difficult to prophesy in advance what the situation in the Far East in the 1970s will be. What I am sure would be wrong would be for us to take a decision now which would make it certain that whatever was happening in the Far East then we could in no way influence it, and that is what not having an east of Suez role is."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th March, 1966; Vol. 725, c. 1957.]That is enough, although the Leader of the Opposition said the same in rather more vivid words, asking if we should leave America, Russia and China eyeball to eyeball while we were out of the whole thing.
There is no doubt that a modest military presence with forces contributed by Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia could create a confidence in those countries which nothing else could do. Soon, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence hopes to collect the views of those Commonwealth countries and, later on, we shall be able to tell the House the shape of the forces which we think will do the job in those countries.
§ Mr. Christopher Mayhew (Woolwich, East)
Can the right hon. Gentleman assure us that, if there is to be a significant presence east of Suez, it will not be without seaborne air power?
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence will be able to assess the nature of the forces and the elements in it. Sea power is one if not the most important element of all.
The rupture of the theme of coherent foreign policy has been most vividly illustrated in the Persian Gulf. The announcement of precipitate withdrawal has had two results. It has let loose a spate of claims and counter claims between the countries and States of the area, and it has made it virtually impossible in an orderly way to create the Union of the Arab Emirates on which the future security of that area depends. There has been no time for those States to adjust themselves to change.
The urgent tasks now are first to create a climate favourable to the settlement of 349 the local disputes, some of them far-reaching and important. The second is to consult the leaders of the Gulf as to how Britain can best contribute to the pattern of stability in that area. We shall go into such consultations with a completely open mind. But these questions are crucial to so many, because that area has been a comparatively stable one in an otherwise very turbulent part of the world. Therefore, I am setting in motion the diplomatic machinery necessary to try and help in the settlement of disputes and find out from the rulers and leaders in that area how they think that Britain can best help them create the stability which all of them want and need.
§ Mr. Robert Sheldon (Ashton-under-Lyne)
As I understand it, the burden of the right hon. Gentleman's case is that a considerable defence force is possible in this part of the world at a reasonable cost. Although some of us are a little sceptical about that, we await the Government's proposals with interest. The right hon. Gentleman's other point is that we have some peculiar British interest in these areas which is not accepted by other countries. Does not he consider that the proportion of our exports to those areas have been in massive decline over the past 10 years whereas those of our competitor countries have been in massive increase?
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
Possibly the hon. Gentleman has forgotten that I asked a question of his right hon. Friends in the last Parliament. I was told that our net annual profit from this area east of Suez is £300 million. There are interests there, and no doubt they will be expanded. But our main interest is in political stability. We do not want to force our way in where we are not wanted but, where we are wanted and where our presence could contribute to political stability, we think that we ought to be there.
The Gracious Speech mentions other difficult problems. I do not think that I need pause on Rhodesia today except to say that we shall seek a settlement, and a settlement within the five principles.
I will close on what to me, after a week of study—but I am not surprised—seems to be the greatest threat to world peace today. I refer to the war between Egypt and Israel. There is no other word to describe it.
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)
The right hon. Gentleman has disappointed us. He talks of making a statement later about the attitude of the Government to the supply of arms to South Africa. We thought that he meant later in this debate. Does he intend to say no more about it than he has said already?
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
I intend to say no more today. I am very anxious that our Commonwealth partners in Africa and Asia should have the fullest communication from the Government about our point of view before I make a statement in the House. I learned the wisdom of that long ago. That is solely the reason for postponing the statement, which I hope will not be postponed very long.
§ Mr. Harold Wilson (Huyton)
Obviously the more time that is spent on thinking this over the better. However, was it with the right hon. Gentleman's authority that, a fortnight ago, every single British newspaper carried the story that the Government had decided to supply arms to South Africa? Had he anything to do with it, or was it coincidental speculation on the part of those newspapers, and is the reason why he is now taking time on this the speed of the reaction of the Commonwealth countries?
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
I am not responsible for what the Press writes, if it interpreted anything said in that direction. The decision has not been taken by the Government. When it is, we will communicate with the Commonwealth countries. I think that is the right procedure, and it is necessary to do that before I make a statement in this House.
The question which seems to me the greatest threat to the world, as we debate in this House this afternoon, is the war in the Middle East. I must be content with very few observations today.
If the balance of strength in the Middle East is seriously tipped towards one side or the other, that seems the surest recipe for war. The right answer to this dispute is clearly direct negotiation between Israel and the Arab countries concerned; but that, for one reason or another, has been refused. The most profitable procedure for the moment is that Dr. Jarring should proceed to the various countries concerned in this trouble armed, as far as he can be, with new instructions from 351 the Four Powers, and, travelling between the countries, he might find a basis for a meeting.
I have never concealed the view that probably before either side will agree to a meeting more flesh will have to be put on the rather bare bones of the proposals which Dr. Jarring, is carring around with him. But in this search for peace in the Middle East, which is easily the most urgent matter before any Government today, Britain will play her full diplomatic part in finding a basis for agreement.
We shall return to many of these difficult problems in the months to come. But for all the purposes of Britain's foreign policy, we need economic strength at home. This will be given priority by the Government. It is this economic strength essentially that enables Britain to be a reliable ally, and it is this economic strength also which places the authority of Britain behind reconciliation. Therefore, it is from strength towards reconciliation that the Government, in their foreign policy, will direct all their efforts. That will be what my right hon. Friend described as a constant theme.
§ 4.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham)
Mr. Deputy Speaker, I wish to take up two particular issues to which the right hon. Gentleman referred in his speech.
First, the one with which the right hon. Gentleman concluded: the war—it is idle now to use any other word—raging in the Middle East. Here, at any rate, there is no difference between the general lines of policy outlined by the right hon. Gentleman and those which we pursued—namely, that the bare bones are the Security Council Resolution and what so far has been added to it; that it is important, through the work of the four or the two Powers to put more flesh on those bones to enable Dr. Jarring to resume his work; and that meanwhile we must endeavour to avoid any action which would tip the balance dangerously one way or the other in the Middle East. Those were policies which the last Government set out to the House, and I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman is of the same mind.
The second issue to which I refer is our approach to the European Economic 352 Community; naturally I refer to it only briefly. I was grateful to the tribute which the right hon. Gentleman paid to my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. George Thomson). We now see the process of negotiation beginning. I think that it is common ground throughout the House that any British Government were right to open the negotiations and to negotiate in good faith and in good hope of getting fair terms, mindful of British interests and of the great advantages that could come both to Britain and to the countries now in the Community if fair terms could be obtained.
I must add two comments. Was it helpful to our negotiating position with the Six for the Prime Minister, during the General Election, to give the impression that this country was facing a grave economic crisis? After the exchange between the Prime Minister and my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins) the other day, it was clear that there was no foundation in that suggestion. It was unfortunate that it should be made at any time, and particularly unfortunate at a time when it might have damaged important international negotiations. I say "might have damaged" because I do not believe that the countries with which we are negotiating believed this melancholy account of our economy.
Another comment I should make about our approach to the European Economic Community is that it is accepted that one of the serious problems with which we shall have to deal is the effect on our balance of payments of entry into the Community. What used to be called the east of Suez policy of the party opposite will undoubtedly add to the burden of our overseas payments. We had hoped, therefore, to be told a little more about how much was involved in this policy. We are told that the Government are considering it and that the Government will discuss it; but this was not the language they used about it in opposition. They were then clearly committing us to overseas expenditure which would certainly not be consistent with an attempt to enter the European Economic Community at the present time.
I wish to make quite clear that we welcome this and certain other retreats by the Government from some of the 353 matters that they proclaimed in opposition. Wisdom is coming and perhaps will grow with experience.
Having mentioned the Middle East and our approach to the Community, I now turn to look at the general world scene. The Prime Minister, last Thursday, said that what was wanted for foreign policy wasa modern and broadly based assessment of where British interests lie."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd July, 1970; Vol. 803, c. 79.]I accept that the traditional definition of the purpose of foreign policy is the defence of British interests if those British interests are sufficiently broadly assessed. The Prime Minister, in the latter part of his speech, seemed to hint at that when he pointed out that our overwhelming interest is in the maintenance of world peace.
But where do the biggest threats to world peace come from? I am speaking now not of particular areas, but of the forces which are loose in the world. If we are to maintain the peace of the world we have, first, got to secure less tension between East and West and secondly, we have to secure reconciliation and good will between the white and coloured sections of mankind. The latter is more important because the classification of white and coloured overlaps to a great degree with the classification into richer and poorer and with the classification into older nations and those which have newly come to independence.
The Foreign Secretary mentioned certain permanent features in British foreign policy. The right hon. Gentleman said that our geographical position remained unchanged. We derived a certain reassurance from this. He also said that out size, our population, remained unchanged. But, if the right hon. Gentleman will forgive me, where he was a little defective in imagination was not in noticing the dynamic nature of the forces that now sway human events. The East/West conflict is an example of the coincidence of conflict between ideologies and rivalries between great Powers such as we have not seen since the religious wars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
We have a situation in which, of the rival ideologies which compete for men's allegiance, each has as its supporter an enormous power and a group of considerable allies. The white and coloured 354 conflict is something new in its present form in the history of the world. These are not the kind of questions with which Britain has always had to deal. They are questions of the mid-twentieth century, and I want to take first this question of the tension between East and West.
It has gone on ever since the end of the war. Sometimes the tension has been acute to danger point. Sometimes there have been signs of relaxation and of hope. If we look at the present situation, we find evidence on both sides. We cannot forget or ignore the misfortunes of the people of Czechoslovakia, but we must also notice some of the things which the right hon. Gentleman himself rehearsed. There has been a series of events, the first of which—one which the right hon. Gentleman did not mention—I would put as the drafting, the signing and the coming into force of the nonproliferation treaty, in which Great Britain played so considerable a part. It was on the basis of that treaty that it was possible to proceed to the talks now going on between America and Russia on strategic arms limitation, because when the treaty was being drafted one of the difficulties experienced in getting the agreement of the non-nuclear Powers was that they kept saying, "If we are asked to remain non-nuclear, what are the great nuclear Powers going to do about their enormous stockpiles?"
Out of those discussions came the undertaking to do something, of which the talks now proceeding between America and Russia are the present sign. We have those talks. We have the talks in which Germany is engaged, and the talks over Berlin, in which the allied Powers are engaged. In that situation, both optimist and pessimist can find some evidence to support his view. In that situation, surely the nature of British policy, and, so far as she can influence it, that of her allies in N.A.T.O., must be an exact balance of defence and of conciliation.
On defence, it cannot be doubted that up to date Britain has deserved well of N.A.T.O. The right hon. Gentleman referred to events in the Mediterranean and to the N.A.T.O. reaction to them. One can add to that that Britain played a very considerable part in contributing to the measures taken in N.A.T.O. in view of the increase in Soviet forces in the 355 Mediterranean. When my right hon. Friend, the previous Secretary of State for Defence, presented to the House the last White Paper on Defence it was claimed there, and not disputed, that the forces we contribute to N.A.T.O. in Europe are at least as well, possibly better equipped, better trained and better able to do their job than the forces of any country in Europe.
If we add up all the contributions that we make to N.A.T.O. in land, sea and air forces, it cannot be claimed that we are doing less than is required of us in view of our size and our resources, but if we are to have added to that an indefinite commitment in men, in naval craft, and in overseas exchange for an east of Suez policy, the Government who do that ought to examine the position carefully to ensure that they do not endanger the vital contribution that we are making to N.A.T.O.
The previous Government carried out faithfully the defence part of this task, but they were not idle in the task of conciliation. The right hon. Gentleman referred to some of the exchanges which there had been between the Warsaw Pact countries and the countries in N.A.T.O. on the question of European security. I should like to add one or two things to what the right hon. Gentleman said. Two years ago, at Reykjavik, there was a proposal by N.A.T.O. that the two sides should discuss a mutual and balanced reduction of forces in Europe. Later there was a proposal—though admittedly it was a revival of something that had been said earlier by the Warsaw Pact countries—for a European security conference, and that proposal was considered at the conference of N.A.T.O. last December.
At that conference there were, I think, two objections which the N.A.T.O. Powers saw to the Warsaw Pact's proposal for a European security conference as it then stood. First, it made no mention of any discussions of actual reductions of forces. Its agenda was very limited. It might have been said that this would be a conference simply to enable the Soviet Union to secure what she wanted and then wind up the conference. There was also the feeling that there had been insufficient preparation, but it was very much the previous 356 Government's view at that N.A.T.O. meeting last December that, while we could not accept the proposal as it stood, it would be a great error to return a flat "No" and nothing else, and it was particularly at Britain's instance that N.A.T.O. undertook, since it could not accept the exact procedures offered by the Soviet Union, to examine what procedures would do.
It was that which got us, at the recent N.A.T.O. meeting in May, to a position where we were able to send out a message to every country in Europe; where we took the idea of preparation for a conference and set out more definitely and precisely what we meant by it; and to put forward also the concept—and this again was in the first instance a British proposal—for a standing commission on East-West relations. I believe that this concept of a standing commission, or some kind of permanent body, is important, because the points in dispute and argument between East and West are not such as can all be solved at one conference. The Geneva Disarmament Conference would never have produced results if it had been one formal conference to come to an end at a definite time. It was because it was a continuing permanent body that it produced, and I believe will continue to produce, results.
That was as far as we got at the N.A.T.O. meeting in May, but I see that more recently there has been a reply from the Warsaw Pact countries containing, not an exact agreement to our proposals—any more than we agreed exactly to theirs—but an answer which accepts, at any rate in principle, the idea of a permanent body, or standing commission, and an acceptance—though again within a framework suitable to them—of discussions on mutual and balanced force reductions.
It seems to me once again that if the Government—any Government; any Government in N.A.T.O.—feel that the present word from the Warsaw Pact countries is not adequate, it will not be sufficient merely to say "No". We have had one proposal from their side, which we amended. They have made further amendment. It is not over-optimistic to say that there is some movement together, and this, it seems to me, is the opportunity which faces N.A.T.O., and Britain 357 within N.A.T.O., at the present time. No one can say whether we shall really be successful in the task of conciliation. No one Government can command success on this. But we must surely realise that a generation is growing up that is asking itself: has the future nothing better to offer us than two powerful armed camps glaring at each other across the immense walls of armaments that they have piled up? It may be that with the best will in the world, and with all the imagination and skill that can be commanded, the countries of N.A.T.O. will not be able to do better. What would be unforgivable would be for them not to try with all their strength.
The tide between cold war and conciliation has flowed this way and that for 20 years and more. I do not think it over-optimistic to say that that tide is now moving in the direction of conciliation, and it is of vital importance not to lose that tide.
I now turn to the other great issue facing the world—the complex of race and poverty and the rise of nations recently independent. Many of these new nations are now looking with great interest at the behaviour of the older, more powerful countries—ourselves, the United States, the countries of the Community, the Soviet Union and China. It is our hope that they will—with whatever changes of form are necessary to suit their needs—choose democratic forms of government and policies that will promote peace and conciliation.
But what are some of the questions that they will ask? One may imagine the statesmen of one of these newer countries saying, "What is this democracy that you talk about? We know it means the Speaker's Chair, the Mace, the wig, the copy of Erskine May, and this and that, but is it any more than that? Is it any more than procedure? Can these forms of democracy be used to solve social injustices and economic problems?" It will be partly for us and the older democracies to show that we can do that, if we want the world to move in that direction—because when considering a matter like this people pay no attention to precept; they simply study example.
The kind of man that I have in mind will also ask, "Is your democracy for people of all races in your country?" I 358 believe that it is the desire of the Government, at any rate—as it is certainly our desire—that that should be so, but one cannot speak on this matter without referring to what I may call the Jekyll and Hyde problem inside the party opposite on all these questions of race. If we want the newer countries of the world to feel that their lot lies with democratic freedoms rather than with dictatorship it is very much to be hoped on this question Dr. Jekyll will be triumphant.
There is some reason for anxiety in connection with two problems—first, Rhodesia and, secondly, the sale of arms to South Africa. The Government say that they will make another attempt to solve the Rhodesian problem by discussion. I must remind them that we went a very long way indeed. I have not yet found anyone who could show how we could go further without destroying the six principles themselves.
I see a danger if those who now dominate Rhodesia are led to suppose that every time they say "No" a British Government will say, "Oh, well, we must try again and make another effort". If they believe that that is the temper of mind of a British Government there is no reason why they should budge an inch; they have merely to wait until position after position is surrendered to them. But if the Government stand by their assurance that they will not abandon the six principles they must make good up to the hilt what was said in Answers at Question Time today about the maintenance of sanctions while any discussions are on, and surely they must make it clear that if discussions fail sanctions will be rigidly maintained; indeed, I should have thought it right for the Government to say, "The time is ripe for us to consider in the United Nations, and particularly with some of the great industrial countries, how sanctions could be made still more effective".
My own view was that the time was ripe to say that in any case, but if it is proposed to make a further approach to Ian Smith it should be made very clear to him that unless, in the end, he or somebody who can answer for the power in Rhodesia can make an agreement consistent with the six principles, sanctions will be maintained and, as far as possible, increased. I see some 359 hon. Members opposite smile, as they always do at the mention of sanctions. Here again, if we want peace in the world and good relations between white and coloured we shall have to pin what faith we can to Dr. Jekyll opposite.
On the other issue, of South African arms, I am bound to say that the right hon. Gentleman has been a little less robust than we had expected. After all, 2½ years ago the whole party opposite voted against the Government on this very proposition. I presume that they meant by their vote that if they were in power they would alter the policy. Moreover, this was rubbed in by spokesmen for the party opposite during the election campaign. Now they say—and again I welcome it—"We must think of what the rest of the Commonwealth will think about it". Quite right—but I wish that they had thought that before. It was surely an elementary consideration the moment one began to talk about the subject.
The right hon. Gentleman tried to set this—and apparently will persist in trying to set it—solely in the context of the Simonstown Agreement. But let us notice that the policy pursued by the last Government was pursued from 1964 onwards for a total of nearly six years, and that at no time during that period did the South African Government seek to abrogate the agreement. It cannot be maintained that the supply of arms to South Africa is an obligation placed on this country by virtue of the Simonstown Agreement. In view of the terms of the agreement, and of South Africa's own attitude, the argument that, because of the Simonstown Agreement, we must sell arms to South Africa will not stand up.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
The right hon. Gentleman says that in the defence field he attaches importance to the Simonstown Agreement and to the facilities that we enjoy under it. If he says that in the defence field, what is his explanation?
§ Mr. Stewart
The facilities that we enjoy under the Simonstown Agreement are of importance to us in defence. The question that I am putting to the right hon. Gentleman is this: since we are not obliged by the Simonstown Agreement 360 to sell arms to South Africa, how can it be taken—as the right hon. Gentleman takes it—that the question of South African arms is simply to be put in the context of the Simonstown Agreement?
The real issue is quite clear, despite the complexities of procedures at the United Nations. It is this: since 1964 British policy has been that save for certain replacements the supply of arms for South Africa was brought to an end. The present Government, when in opposition, said that they would supply arms to South Africa for external defence. This distinction between arms for external defence and internal repression was sufficiently commented upon by my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, West (Mr. Judd) on 19th December, 1967:It is absolutely clear to anyone who knows the first thing about South Africa that for two decades at least the Government there have been carefully zoning the majority African population into townships and reserves which can be dealt with very effectively by armaments used for external defence."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th December, 1967; Vol. 756, c. 1144.]This distinction which the party opposite have tried to draw will not stand up.
§ Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Chigwell)
Since the right hon. Gentleman is drawing these distinctions, can he explain to us the moral distinction between, on the one hand, using the naval base of Simonstown, with the Royal Navy working closely with the South African Navy, and the delegation of responsibility for the safety of the Cape route—much more than the Conservative Government ever did—by the Labour Government to the South African Government, and, on the other hand, the refusal to sell arms for the South African Navy? This is humbug and hypocrisy and he knows it.
§ Mr. Stewart
When he cannot get the better in argument, he flings out words like "humbug" and "hypocrisy". Nothing to which we are pledged under the Simonstown Agreement is of assistance to the South African Government in maintaining the policy of apartheid, whereas the sale of arms would be of assistance to them in maintaining that policy. That is the point at issue.
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison rose—
§ Mr. Oscar Murton (Poole)
In what form can a frigate be used for internal suppression, or, for that matter, a Nimrod anti-submarine aircraft?
§ Mr. Stewart
If the hon. Member will do what my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, West suggested, and look at the geographical arrangements of townships and reservations, he will see that certain arms which at first sight might not appear to be appropriate for internal repression could be so used. Before hon. Gentlemen press too strongly for the sale of arms to South Africa, they might at least wait, as their leaders apparently are going to do, for the reactions of the Commonwealth.
The plain question is this. It was the intention of the party opposite to sell certain arms to South Africa which the last Government were not prepared to sell. We want to know—I am sorry that we are not to know it in this debate—is this what they are going to do? Is what they said in Opposition to be their policy in power? We hope not. If it is, it will put us on the wrong side in this great issue between the white and coloured sections of mankind. Second, it will be a deliberate affront to the whole attempt through the United Nations to reduce human affairs to the rule of law and of reason.
There is one other matter affecting Rhodesia that I should have mentioned. We learned in answer to Questions this afternoon that the Government are apparently reconsidering the question of the surcharge on Rhodesian mail. Do the Government really think that it puts them in a strong position, if they are going to have talks with Mr. Smith, if it is known in advance that they have taken a step which, in form at any rate, is an admission of the legality of his Government?
§ Mr. Murton
I do not want to be irritating to the right hon. Gentleman, but does he not think that, in the question of Rhodesia, there has been too much of personalities? Will he not accept that I understand from relatives of mine who live there that there was extreme joy at the change of Government, and that there is a general feeling among ordinary people that at last something might be done, other than the question of personalities, to settle this tragic matter?
§ Mr. Stewart
Apart from referring to Mr. Smith by name, I do not think that I have engaged in any personalities. The hon. Member does not irritate me at all. He does entertain me when he rubs in something which one would have thought that the party opposite would want to conceal—that one of the chief parts of the world, one of the chief sections of mankind, who rejoiced at a Conservative victory was a group of rebels and racialists. He is welcome to their support.
To make the wrong choice on these issues would be to make the wrong choice on the great racial question and it would be the wrong choice on the question of the future authority of the United Nations. The Gracious Speech says:The major international interests of Britain are the maintenance of peace … the settlement of disputes by conciliation and agreement …".The Foreign Secretary suggested that we have not a theme. We are not quite sure what the Government's theme is about these enormously important racial questions, or what their attitude is to the rule of law and the authority of the United Nations.
I would say that the theme which the last Government pursued and pursued successfully is that, if you want to get foreign policy right, you must make the proper judgment of Britain's proportionate position in the world—neither deceiving ourselves that we are a super-Power nor thinking ourselves insignificant, but judging where we can best use our resources and not making vague commitments to spread them so thin all over the world that they will not be effective where they are needed, to realise that we exercise this power in a world where the East-West question, as it is called, and the great racial question dominate human affairs and human thought, and that therefore a British Government's objects should be the twin objects of defence and conciliation in East and West and conciliation and understanding between white and coloured.
This I think we can claim to have done. We had a good record of conciliation. We were mainly instrumental in the conciliation between Malaysia and Indonesia, between Guyana and Venezuela and we played a great part in bringing the non-proliferation treaty into existence. If there is hope at all of peace 363 in the Middle East, the foundation will be the Security Council resolution, of which the architect was Mr. George Brown.
In the discussions in N.A.T.O. which may with good fortune lead to conciliation between East and West, it is not disputed, I think, that at the last N.A.T.O. conference, Britain played as great a part as any nation in those 15-nation talks to help them on the path towards conciliation. In the United Nations, we have the record of the country which has contributed generously to its funds, which has earmarked forces for any peacekeeping forces which it may need. We are the country on whose men and whose efforts the keeping of the peace in Cyprus so greatly rests.
On the racial question, although we have not always satisfied the natural and fierce impatience of countries of Asia and Africa, I believe that they have believed till now that in the end Britain's judgment was on the right side in these matters. This was well brought out in the amity and good will and businesslike efficiency of the last Commonwealth Conference. I trust most earnestly that those same characteristics will be apparent at the next.
The right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues enter on a good inheritance in Britain's position in these great world conflicts. Will they use it well? That again depends on whether it is Jekyll or Hyde who dominates their thinking.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ Major-General Jack d'Avigdor-Goldsmid (Lichfield and Tamworth)
I have the honour to represent Lichfield and Tamworth which, for the past 20 years—until he resigned his seat at the Dissolution—was represented by Mr. Julian Snow. During that period Mr. Snow gained the affection, admiration and respect of his constituents, not only for the interest which he took in them personally but for the interest he showed in their activities, for the sympathy and understanding he felt and for all he did on their behalf.
A man of both great integrity and stature, he gave a fine example of service to all people, irrespective of their party allegiance. He was a veritable tower of strength and a magnificent example of service, resulting in a well deserved large 364 personal following. His place will be hard to fill.
Lichfield is a friendly famous cathedral city. It is famous for its thirteenth century three-spired cathedral. It was the birthplace and home of Dr. Johnson and it is now a city of growing population and increased industry. It is also, in up-to-date terms, one of the main shopping centres of the county.
Tamworth is growing vastly in population and industrialisation. It, too, is steeped in history. It was the seat of the Kings of Mercia and, in more recent times, was the home of Sir Robert Peel and the scene of the Tamworth Manifesto.
Both towns lie adjacent to the A5, the old Watling Street, an area of trouble in that the route which this road takes through the constituency is in many places narrow and overburdened with traffic, resulting in an accident rate which is unacceptably high. These matters are now being discussed with the Minister of Transport.
From these local matters I come to the subject I wish to discuss today. An integral part of the implementation of foreign policy is represented by the Armed Forces of the Crown. In the past five years our Armed Forces have been run down to dangerously low levels and this is highlighted at present in Northern Ireland, where we have had to draw on units from the Rhine Army to reinforce the garrison.
One might have thought that as the size of the Regular Army decreased, so the size of the Reserves would increase, but just the reverse has occurred. In 1965 the economic axe fell on the Territorial Army, which was reduced from a strength of 110,000 to a possible strength of 50,000, reorganised, and renamed the Territorial and Auxiliary Volunteer Reserve, TAVR for short. When that happened there was an outcry and campaign, because it meant the virtual disappearance from the order of battle of many famous regiments—units of yeomanry, artillery and infantry—regiments with long histories and proud records.
Hon. Members will recall that that outcry culminated in the defence debate of 16th December, 1965, when the then Government were reduced to a majority of one. Thereafter the Government of the day had second thoughts and produced 365 an additional category of TAVR which was known as TAVR III and which had the great merit of restoring to the order of battle those 91 units which had otherwise disappeared.
This force was to consist of 23,000 lightly equipped personnel, ready to act in support of the civil authorities and was to cost a total of £3 million a year. The force was launched and by the end of 1967 it had reached about 70 per cent. of its permitted total. Then, as a result of financial crises, which culminated in devaluation, in January, 1968, as a further economy measure, TAVR III was disbanded, along with the civil defence and the Auxiliary Fire Service.
Today we have TAVR with a strength of just short of 50,000. It is equipped with modern weapons, but it does more training than the old Territorial Army did. It is efficient and good. It has an operational rôle for reinforcing units of the Rhine Army immediately there is an emergency in Germany.
Half of this force consists of what we call logistic or non-fighting units. Only 25 per cent., or one-quarter, of the force represents what one might call the teeth arm or fighting units of the Royal Armoured Corps, Royal Artillery and Infantry. The combination now of extra training time and modern equipment has had its effect, but certain of these logistic units are still well below strength, perhaps due to the extra training or the difficulty of finding technicians.
In the Gracious Speech we learn that the Government are to review the rôle and size of TAVR. There are four outstanding reasons why the present policy is shortsighted and, indeed, disastrous. First, should there be an emergency in the Rhine Army, TAVR would leave and this country would be left without any form of organised home defence. Secondly, it has destroyed the skeleton or framework on which one could expand in time of war. Thirdly, it has denied the civil authorities, and in particular the police, the support of disciplined organised bodies for use in time of national emergency or disaster. Fourthly, it has deprived the youth of the nation of the opportunity to give voluntary service and, in so doing, to learn to appreciate the value of discipline, a quality which is sadly lacking in certain quarters today.
366 At a time when violence is on the increase worldwide, there is surely some solid reason why we should have a viable form of insurance against the unforeseen. I firmly believe that as a cheap form of insurance, and as an outlet for the vast number of men and women who would like to give voluntary service for the good of the country, there should be an additional category to the present TAVR.
It would be criminal at present to touch TAVR. It has been organised and reorganised time and again. It must now be given time to settle. The requirement today is for an additional force to supplement TAVR, and this could be an occasion to revive those units which went to form TAVR III, many of which remain at cadre strength.
It would have three roles; the defence of this country, to provide that skeleton or framework for expansion, and to provide support for the civil authorities in time of emergency or disaster. Its essentials would be mobility, good communications and light weapons. It would not require the sophisticated or expensive weapons of the modern TAVR or Regular Army. For this reason, its training commitment in terms of days could be less than that at present needed in TAVR.
The modern young man takes pride in wearing the Queen's uniform. This force must, therefore, be dressed in the same way as the Regular Army and TAVR. Furthermore, this force would keep alive the names and insignia of many famous regiments. I believe that the re-establishment of such a force which initially need not exceed 25,000 will do much to provide stability and will also assist in the recruitment for the Regular Army.
I conclude by quoting two sentences which were written by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in his foreword to the pamphlet, "Twice a Citizen". He wrote:… if we have learned anything from history, it is that we live in a dangerous and uncertain world, and that a country which makes no effort to protect its independence deserves to lose it.He then wrote:It will be up to a Conservative Government to revive the voluntary spirit and to provide once again for an adequate level of Reserves and for the proper defence of these islands.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Clinton Davis (Hackney, Central)
I understand that it is the custom of the House for a speaker succeeding a maiden speaker to proffer his congratulations. It would be a little presumptuous if I were to do so, because I am about to embark on the same ordeal as that of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Lichfield and Tamworth (Major-General d'Avigdor-Goldsmid). I do nevertheless congratulate him, but I will leave the felicitations to someone more experienced than I am.
I should like, first, to pay a tribue to my predecessor, Mr. Herbert Butler, who was a distinguished citizen of Hackney for many years before entering this House in 1945. He served as a Member of Parliament for 25 years. He was in his earlier political life the agent for the late Mr. Herbert Morrison in the early 'twenties. Throughout his political life he has worked assiduously for the benefit of the people in my constituency. He did not seek the limelight, but what was above all important was that he was always accessible. He always held his weekly surgery, and I know that I shall be able to look to him as a very good friend for guidance in the many difficulties which will undoubtedly beset me here.
My constituency is situated in the East End of London. It is part of the London Borough of Hackney. My hon. Friends the Members for Shoreditch and Finsbury (Mr. Ronald Brown) and Bethnal Green (Mr. Hilton) have part of the London Borough of Hackney within their constituencies, but my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Stoke Newington and Hackney, North (Mr. Weitzman) and I share the major part of it.
It is often imagined that the London Borough of Hackney has a firm connection with the hackney carriage. Nothing could be further from the truth, although up to 1968 there were no fewer than six taxi drivers on the borough council, and today there are two.
I believe that the London Borough of Hackney has become renowned in the world of local government for the new and hold conceptions that it has introduced over the years. Perhaps the most notable example was the Lea Valley Regional Park, an idea which was for- 368 mulated many years ago by Herbert Morrison but which was acted upon by a present alderman, when mayor, Alderman Sherman. We are now looking forward to the time when that regional park will bring a great deal of joy to many thousands of Londoners. It was my privilege to be chairman of the welfare committee when we introduced the idea, new among local authorities, of Continental holidays for disabled persons. I am very glad that the Conservative Council there has continued with that plan.
We have always looked outward, and have been keen on twinning with other cities and boroughs in the world. Perhaps the most notable of our twinning arrangements is that with the very great and beautiful city of Haifa. In 1969 I was mayor of the borough, and I was privileged to be invited to Haifa and see that wonderful city and meet its leading citizens. I was able also to have discussions, and to hear for myself the views of many people, ordinary people and the leading citizens, about some of the great problems which beset Israel at that time, and still do.
I formed an imperishable memory of those views; that there was an overwhelming desire for an enduring peace. The people there desired to live as good neighbours with the Arab States surrounding them. They wanted above all to ensure that Arabs living within Israel enjoyed full democratic rights. They yearned to be able to exploit their technical skills in order to make fertile the deserts of the Middle East. All this is being frustrated by the present difficult situation. It was their desire to ensure that ordinary people throughout the Middle East could participate in the wealth that exists there but is at present denied to them.
But they made it clear that certain things were not negotiable, and I was able to see for myself how reasonable those views were. For example, it is impossible to conceive that Israel could concede once again the Golan Heights, because from those heights for a period of about 20 years the kibbutzim below were shelled daily, and many lives were lost. That is not negotiable. Equally, it is not negotiable that they should concede the small tract of land some 10 369 miles from the shore where Natanya stands by the conceding of which Israel could, at one fell swoop in a successful attack be split in half. It is impossible to conceive that to be negotiable either From 1967, for the first time for many years at least, there was freedom of worship in Jerusalem: that is something which is not negotiable either.
I for one deplore the mischief making of the Soviet Union in that part of the world. I deplore it, because it endangers a great democratic socialist State, and a State whose existence in the Middle East is fundamental to peace. I believe, and I always have believed, that Israel represents an oasis of democracy in a desert of totalitarianism, and I hope that the Government will not deny Israel the support which I believe she will need.
I want to pass from that subject to the point made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) and others, of the tremendous importance of race relations in the world generally and in our country in particular. The reconciliation of races is above all important, and we have a job to do in Britain because the eyes of the world are upon us, and the way in which we deal with that will have far-reaching effects not only upon our internal policies but on our foreign policies, too. This was stressed by The Times only the other only the other day, when it stated:The most urgent task is to switch attention away from immigration and on to race relations.While I welcome the continuation of the previous Government's urban aid policies, I hope that the promised new legislation will not undermine the security of Commonwealth immigrants who are here. I hope that they will not feel that they, too, are on probation, so to speak, because of this new system of probation for new arrivals that is to be introduced. I hope that that scheme will not encourage certain people within the community to undertake a policy of harassment of those who are lawfully here in the hope of being able to drive them back under the style of voluntary repatriation. I welcome the assurance given by the Prime Minister the other day in respect of those who are already here. That assurance is in stark contrast to the talk we had heard during the General 370 Election and at other times of "internecine violence" and "alien wedges". Such talk is negative and dangerous in a sensitive field, and does immense harm to race relations.
I was reminded of the debate in this House in 1905 on the Aliens Bill, when every blight on society was laid at the door of the then immigrant community seeking asylum here from the most terrible persecution. Smallpox, scarlet fever, and even miner's worm—precious few of those immigrants were miners—were ascribed to them. They were declared to be a public charge on the country. They were alleged to be increasing the disease and crime in our society. It was alleged that they were depriving Englishmen of the employment to which they were entitled. It was alleged that they overcrowded cities, created insanitary habits and were responsible for a deterioration of the national standard of life. They were described in the most appalling terms—as "refuse", for example. The proponents of the tough line in those days doubted the statistics which belied their arguments. They made suggestions that the figures were "cooked" in that debate 65 years ago. Sixty-five years ago people in this House were saying "I wonder." We had the "Wolverhampton Wonderers" then; and they all claimed that they were not racialists.
I want to stress the positive side of race relations. I believe that in my constituency.we have a great example to offer to the country. It is so much more rewarding to talk about these things than to emphasise the alleged hopelessness and undesirability of the present situation. We have a long tradition in Hackney of racial tolerance. It is an area in which the fascists, both pre- and post-war, sought to merchandise their filthy wares, and they were met head on and routed. Today we have a cosmopolitan population considerably higher in numbers and proportion than in Wolverhampton, yet the atmosphere is far better.
I give credit both to the Conservatives and to our party on the Hackney Council because both have taken positive steps to avoid racial antagonisms and to give encouragement to the Hackney Community Relations Council, which does 371 enormously valuable work. The community relations council has a magazine entitled Harmony, embodying the task of the programme of reconciliation which it seeks to undertake. It has forged a strong link with the local police force, because there are antagonisms which very often develop between immigrants and the police. In that regard it has had the whole-hearted support of the local commander, Commander Brown.
The community relations council has promoted seminars and meetings on all issues affecting community relations in the broadest sense—immigrants and housing, education in a multi-racial society, and even equality for women—all issues affecting the dignity of all people. Its meetings are very well attended, and they have been provocative meetings. It is all to the good that provocative views should be expressed. The community relations council has promoted play groups and is operating a legal advice service. It has never been afraid of tackling problems wherever they arise and tackling difficulties which exist in a multi-racial community.
One of the difficulties has been noisy parties. I am referring not to the parties in this House but to music and dancing which sometimes leads to antagonisms and to an explosive situation. The community relations council has been concerned to conciliate in that respect, in the field of employment, and also to take an active part in dealing with landlord and tenant difficulties, where there is so often exploitation of tenants who are ignorant of their rights under the law. This is something to which the Minister of Housing and Local Government referred the other day.
The community relations council enjoys the good will of most sections of our community—the churches, synagogues, the Council for Christians and Jews, the Salvation Army, which has very deep roots in Hackney, and the Rotary Club, which has embarked upon a study of the work of immigrants within the professional and industrial life of the borough. This all provides a useful example of how to deal with the problem of reconciliation of people of different races. The choice before us, both nationally and internationally, is between 372 chaos and community, as Martin Luther King said.
I should like to see us making ourselves absolutely committed to racial equality. I want to see us making it absolutely clear that equivocation and procrastination in the quest for racial justice are not to be tolerated. Today, unhappily, bigotry and prejudice are rife in our country. Edmund Burke once said that when evil men combine, good men must unite. I hope that we shall unite to show that all bigotry and prejudice are evil, and that above all bigotry and prejudice that reject a man because of the colour of his skin or because of his religion are the most despicable expressions of man's inhumanity to man.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Patrick Wall (Haltemprice)
It is my pleasure and privilege to congratulate two new hon. Members, one on each side of the House, on their excellent maiden speeches which we have enormously enjoyed. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lichfield and Tamworth (Major-General d'Avigdor Goldsmid), as we all know, has made a great study of the problems of defence and particularly problems of the territorial and reserve armies. We know that what he will say in the House on these matters will be listened to very carefully.
It is not often in these days that a man is prepared to give up his job for his principles. I am delighted that my hon. and gallant Friend has found a new job, thanks to the good sense of the electors of Lichfield and Tamworth. We hope to hear more from him in this House.
I also extend congratulations to the hon. Member for Hackney, Central (Mr. C. Davis), from whom we heard a very accomplished speech. I realised why that was so when he said that he had been mayor of his borough, because a man who has held that position in such an important borough as Hackney must have acquired the considerable attributes to make an effective speaker in this House.
I was also delighted with the robustness of his speech, particularly when he referred to the Middle East and race relations. What he has to say on those subjects from his personal knowledge will be listened to very carefully. His 373 plea for understanding and tolerance between the races will strike a chord among hon. Members on both sides of the House. I was very glad that he referred to the police, because I think he will agree that sometimes the police get the sticky end of disputes, be it in Hackney or in other places where there are race relation problems, or, for example, in Ulster. I congratulate the hon. Member on an excellent speech.
When he opened the debate, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary covered an enormous field—N.A.T.O., the Cape, South-East Asia, the Gulf and the Middle East. The right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) followed my right hon. Friend on most of those subjects. My right hon. Friend made the point that in this House foreign affairs are generally a bipartisan subject, but the right hon. Gentleman underlined that in the recent General Election and, indeed, now there are two matters of foreign policy on which the two sides of the House are in disagreement. One is the question of a military presence east of Suez and the other is in respect of the supply of arms to South Africa.
I would like to refer in particular to one matter in the speech of the right hon. Member for Fulham. He pointed out the danger of racial conflict in the world and said—I listened carefully—"between white and coloured". I am sure he would be the first to agree that the problem of race relations is not necessarily or only a problem between white and coloured, but affects various races. I cite for instance Fiji, Ceylon, Guyana, Malaysia and many other countries inside and outside the Commonwealth.
The real key is not the question of race or the pigmentation of one's skin but the economic differences between what have been called the "have" nations and the "have-not" nations. I do not believe that the Soviet Union is to be regarded as necessarily the friend of the "have-nots". In the final decision, if ever it comes to that, the Soviet Union may find itself on the side of the West against China. This underlines the importance of certain key areas of the world, in particular the Cape route and the Indian Ocean.
Before going on to those very important questions, I want to refer to N.A.T.O., the subject on which my right 374 hon. Friend opened his speech. He and the right hon. Member for Fulham said that we make very important and effective contributions to N.A.T.O. One of the most important is our independent nuclear deterrent. It is clear now that the deterrent is independent, although I am sure that the present Government, as the last one, will commit to N.A.T.O. However, I hope that there will be some effort to get further Anglo-French accord on the nuclear deterrent. One hopes very much that this will be within the framework of N.A.T.O., because I believe that, as the Americans reduce their forces in Europe, Anglo-French co-operation within the framework of N.A.T.O., both in the maritime and in the land sphere, will become increasingly important.
Here probably the real key is the question of command and control. When I discuss these matters with our French colleagues from the Assemblée Nationale, their view always is that the Americans have undue control over the deterrent on which the future of Europe depends. I believe that this problem is not insoluble and that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is the right person to find a solution.
There is one further problem. I have referred to the question of the independent nuclear deterrent. We have four Polaris submarines and a total of 64 missiles, each one with a destructive strength much greater than that of the one that caused havoc at Hiroshima. I hope that my right hon. Friend will agree with me that these missiles must be kept up to date.
Certain assurances were given by the late Government that the British Polaris missiles acquired from the Americans were being kept up to date, and fitted with M.I.R.V. warheads. I greatly hope that these assurances were fully justified and that the new Government will give an undertaking that they will ensure that either the British warheads for these Polaris missiles are brought up to date so that they can penetrate the new and more complicated anti-ballistic missile systems which are being erected in the Soviet Union and elsewhere or, if this proves to be too expensive, that they will consider bringing our four submarines up to date by acquiring Poseidon missiles from the United States of America, which the late Government flatly refused to do and said categorically that they would never do. 375 One of these alternative courses is essential, as these submarines will be effective for at least another 10 to 15 years, if their missiles systems are kept up to date.
I want now to underline what my right hon. Friend said about the modern power of the Soviet submarine fleet. Our contribution to N.A.T.O. is extremely important in the anti-submarine respect, both in the Atlantic and in the waters immediately round the shores of these islands, but it is to the flanks of N.A.T.O. that we should also look. One of the flanks is in the Arctic. I will not waste the time of the House by dealing with that now, although it has some important bearing in the defence sphere.
The other N.A.T.O. flank is always considered to be the Mediterranean. That, too, has considerable importance. I suggest, however, that the real southern flank of N.A.T.O. is not the Mediterranean but the Cape. This has been emphasised by the fact that the Suez Canal is shut. The Cape is now the back door of N.A.T.O. though N.A.T.O. itself does not extend anywhere near as far south as the Cape of Good Hope. However, this is a key area, not only for Britain but for the whole of the Western Alliance.
When I was in Capetown recently I was allowed to see the maritime plot maintained by the defence forces. I saw over 1,000 ships within 10 days' steaming of the Cape. I was told that 1,250 ships had called at South African ports during the month of March alone and that ½ million tons of oil, quite a lot of it destined for the West, passed Cape-town on any one day. This underlines the importance of the Cape, not only for Britain, which exists by trade and by trade alone, but also for the whole of the Western world.
If any one wants a further lesson, let him remember what happened in World War II. When the Germans increased their submarine building and the strength of their submarine campaign, they moved from the Western approaches to the Atlantic coast of the United States of America, the Cape route and the Madagascar Channel, where they inflicted very great casualties on Allied shipping.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)
What the hon. Gentleman says about the 376 question of submarines is important, but is there not an important thing that the Government should do; namely, give great attention to the international conferences which are going on into the military use of the seabed, and not least the one which has just finished at Malta? Is not arms control of the seabed another direction in which the Government should be active?
§ Mr. Wall
I agree with the hon. Gentleman on this issue. This is a question which has recently been considered in detail by the Inter-Parliamentary Union. It is a matter in which I, like the hon. Gentleman, take a personal interest, but it does not come within the scope of my present argument in relation to the Cape route, because I do not believe that the Soviet Union will sink missiles into the seabed off the Cape when they could achieve exactly the same with their 350 modern submarines.
I should like N.A.T.O. to be extended to cover the Cape route, but I accept that this is unlikely in the near future as it would cause all sorts of international complications. It may be possible, however, to consider some form of southern African maritime defence organisation between the Powers in the area and those which signed the Simonstown Agreement and, through Britain, to link it in some way with N.A.T.O.
The maritime defence of that whole area is of great importance also to the southern hemisphere and I believe that the Portuguese, the Brazilians, the Argentinians, the Australians and the New Zealanders are becoming aware of the importance of joint southern hemisphere defence. Meanwhile, I suggest that it is our duty and our responsibility to see that the Simonstown Agreement is carried out in its spirit as well as in its actual written terms.
I agree with the right hon. Member for Fulham that there was no specific clause in the Simonstown Agreement which insisted that we should go on supplying arms for the external defence of South Africa, but a country which signs an agreement with another Power is morally bound to give that other Power the means of carrying out that agreement, which is exactly what has been denied during the last five years by the previous Government.
377 I understand that the South Africans would like submarines and that they have been forced to buy submarines from France. They equip their whole navy as an anti-submarine force, which emphasises their total contribution to the West. If, as some hon. Gentlemen allege, the object of the South African navy were to keep down the majority race in South Africa, they certainly would not ask for anti-submarine frigates, which have no use in that respect. Practically the whole of the South African navy is designed as an anti-submarine force. Also the South Africans are now spending vast sums on a new maritime defence headquarters which is located somewhere near the Cape. It is designed for the joint defence of that area.
I therefore suggest that we should do all that we can to provide new anti-submarine frigates and to provide the South Africans with the equipment they need in the shape of Nimrod, the maritime reconnaissance aircraft which is designed especially for tracking submarines.
The Buccaneer has already been supplied to the South Africans by the Labour Government. I do not know, but I hope that the South Africans would like some more. This aircraft was designed as a maritime strike aircraft and is the leading aircraft of that type in the world today. I have some doubts whether this aircraft would be as effective when used in Europe attached to B.A.O.R. as are the new Buccaneers ordered by the late Government. I am certain that their real rôle—that for which they were designed—is maritime strike. This is why priority should be given to supplying them to the South African Government, if they want them and if they should ask for them, rather than re-equipping the R.A.F. with an aircraft which in land terms is certainly second best to the TSR2.
§ Mr. Peter Tapsell (Horncastle)
Is there not a distinction between the Nimrod and the Buccaneer in that, although everybody agrees that the Nimrod could not be used internally, the Buccaneer would be a very suitable aircraft for internal use?
§ Mr. Wall
I would not agree with my hon. Friend about their being very suitable aircraft for internal repression or internal use. The aircraft cost £1½ million each. That type of aircraft is not required 378 if it is desired to bomb invading African guerillas. What are wanted are Macchi ground attack-trainers now being built by South Africa under Italian licence. The South Africans are building some 200 of these Impala planes. They would be useful for training, and slow enough and unsophisticated enough to be used for the type of operation to which my hon. Friend has alluded. It would be stark madness to use a £1½ million aircraft for that type of purpose when other aircraft which are more suitable are being built and are available. So that argument would not apply to the Buccaneer. I do not think that it applies to the Nimrod or to the Buccaneer or to the anti-submarine helicopter. The South Africans have already altered their frigates in order to take these Wasp helicopters. The previous Government agreed to supply these helicopters, but at the last moment the supply was held up, but I will not weary the House by going into that sad story.
In respect of arms to South Africa, I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison), who said that it was hypocrisy to do everything one could to increase trade with South Africa—which amounted to about £270 million last year—but not to supply arms. I do not believe in the argument that if we supply arms for the maritime defence of South Africa we shall automatically cut ourselves off from the independent African States inside and outside the Commonwealth. I would merely point out that France is supplying submarines and other arms to the South Africans today, and so is Italy; yet French and Italian exports to Africa are going up daily, particularly to Zambia, where the Italians have taken over many of our contracts. Yet these are the same people who are supplying 200 aircraft under licence for building in South Africa. Therefore, I do not believe that argument is valid.
Commonwealth countries in Africa have sufficient sense to know that the main danger is the growing Soviet concentration in the Indian Ocean. They have seen that, when there were recent coups d'étal in Somalia and Lesotho, there were Soviet naval concentrations off the coast of those parts of Africa, which may or may not be relevant to the immediate political situation but it looked rather suspicious.
379 It would be worth looking into the whole theory of apartheid. I think the House will agree that originally apartheid was conceived as baasskap—in other words, the domination of the black by the white. I will not labour this point because there is not time and many other hon. Members wish to speak, but I suggest that those who have visited South Africa recently have found that the concept of baasskap is gradually dying out and that the modern concept of separation is taking its place. I believe that the tendency in South Africa is for apartheid as we have known it to break down. I believe that the first of the Bantustans have now passed beyond the point of no return and that if the South African Government want to refuse the Transkei full independence they would not be able to do so. We know from our experience that when we have handed over the Civil Service in a country we have handed over the control of that country. The figures of civil servants in the Transkei in 1964 were 480 white to 2,000 black. Today, there are 334 white to 3,900 black. I suggest that when one reaches that point one has abdicated control, and that if it wants to the Transkei will follow Lesotho and Botswana to independence within the economic sphere of South Africa as they are.
Apartheid is breaking down in the industrial sphere because job reservation is breaking down. I believe it will soon be a choice between allowing the economy to suffer or allowing more Africans to take the more important of the jobs in industry. I believe they will choose the latter and this will mean the start of a change in race relations in Southern Africa.
The results of the recent general election two months before our own have shown a swing away from the hard-core Nationalists who defended the baasskap concept when 75 out of the 78 right-wing H.N.P. lost their deposits. I do not want to exaggerate this, but I believe there are the first signs of a move towards better race relations. This move should be encouraged rather than retarded, and I believe that demonstrations, boycotts and external pressures have exactly the opposite effect to that which the House desires.
380 I have been slightly optimistic about South Africa and I turn briefly to one other subject, and that is a country which is adjacent, where the pendulum may swing in the opposite direction and where people are unfortunately moving towards some form of apartheid.I refer to Rhodesia. The new constitution of Rhodesia is based on ultimate parity between black and white. It can be adjusted. At the moment the Africans have only 15 seats, but within the existing constitution the African seats can be increased by multiples of four. The Rhodesians may be prepared to make adjustments, but I do not believe they would be prepared to scrap their new constitution.
Whether we like it or not—and I have been on record in this House as saying that I do not like it—I do not believe that after a general election and a referendum in Rhodesia and the failure of sanctions they would be prepared to scrap their constitution. I believe, however, that they might be persuaded to make adjustments within the constitution, such as increasing the number of African seats. Can these adjustments be fitted into the five principles? I would not like to guess. I think this is a matter for negotiation and diplomacy and that we had better leave it at that.
However, I suggest that there are two alternatives facing the Government today with regard to Rhodesia. The first is to deal with the problems of Southern Africa as a whole. It was very nearly done by the former Government in December, 1967, when they nearly had a package deal on South African arms and agreement with Ian Smith. I believe that is possibly the line where we might have the most success. The only alternative may be to continue with the previous Government's policy of sanctions which costs £100 million a year, which we cannot afford, and which will gradually die and wither away. There is very little room for manoeuvre between these two extremes, very little time before the sanctions order comes up for renewal.
I believe that in the sphere of foreign affairs, particularly with regard to Southern Africa, the predominant thought in our minds must be Britain's interests It has been rightly said that it is absurd to have one rule for the Communist Powers and another rule for the British. 381 We live by trade, and by trade alone. Maritime defence is, therefore, one of the most important matters concerning any Government of this country. The Cape is the cross roads of our trade and the back door of N.A.T.O. Therefore, it is vitally important to see that it is adequately defended at almost whatever the cost.
§ 6.7 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North)
In congratulating the maiden speakers, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I hope that I shall not be out of order in welcoming also your presence in the Chair this afternoon.
The Foreign Secretary reiterated in his speech the pronouncement of the Prime Minister last week that the defence of British interests is to be the theme of the foreign policy of the new Government. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will apply that doctrine to the negotiations with the European Economic Community. The Gracious Speech told us that in those negotiations the Government would seek to reach agreement on terms which were fair to all concerned. My other purpose in speaking today is to argue that "all concerned" must include the British people and that the first necessity is to be fair to them. In my view, on the highest constitutional grounds this is an issue which cannot be decided by Parliament alone. There must be an appeal to the electorate when any terms are known, if indeed a settlement is reached.
Several times previously in our history, issues of major constitutional importance have been referred by common consent to the electorate for approval or disapproval. Indeed, in the two major modern precedents—the controversies concerning the great Reform Act of 1832 and the Parliament Act 1910–11—that principle was accepted by all. But the House should note the difference. In 1832 and 1910 the democratic powers of the electorate were being extended. If this country signs the Treaty of Rome, those powers would be drastically curtailed, because the power to legislate on British internal affairs would be transferred for the first time to an authority outside the United Kingdom.
Therefore, first the constitutional change would be greater, and secondly it would mean a limitation and not an ex- 382 tension of the rights of the British electorate. It would also involve not simply a limitation of sovereignty, as some people seem to have imagined, but in reality the sacrifice of independence. The case, therefore, it seems to me, for a final appeal to the electorate is unquestionably stronger than even in 1832 or 1910.
The E.E.C. now is, by the open avowal and decisions of its leading authorities, moving ever more inevitably towards a political federation. Indeed, my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart), when Foreign Secretary in April, 1969, issued a declaration with the Italian Foreign Secretary—for which, incidentally, I think that he had no authority from this House—in favour of a directly elected E.E.C. Parliament. A directly elected Parliament, however, unless it is a total sham, must mean a federal State. It would mean that power to legislate, power over finance and, no doubt, a lot else would be transferred from this Parliament to the E.E.C. Parliament. Hon. Members may favour that or they may not—personally, I do not—but whether one likes it or not, it means political federation. The Foreign Secretary rather glossed over that today when he used some vague words like "unity", "integration" and one or two others.
I hope that the House will grasp the inescapable dilemma that faces us here, as long as the E.E.C. constitution remains in its present form. Either we submit to me powers of the bureaucratic, unelected Commission to legislate for British internal affairs, which would be the present position. Or an effective directly elected Parliament must be set up; and that means merging this country in a federal State. It must be either the one or the other.
At the same time, it is now increasingly clear that the E.E.C. is moving towards the adoption of a common currency, and decisions accepting this have already been taken. Indeed, our own Foreign Office appears to me to have had the naivety to make a public statement already accepting this in advance. If that is not so, I hope that one or other right hon. Gentleman opposite will repudiate it.
To accept a common currency means the loss of effective control over all the main elements of economic policy—over 383 employment policy, the level of unemployment, the rate of economic growth, investment, the Budget and probably taxation as well. The essentials of economic independence are gone. If one cannot in the last resort alter a nation's exchange rate, there is no way of preventing a deficit area from becoming a depressed area. That has been the experience, for instance, of both Northern Ireland and Sicily over the last 30 years. It has taken about half a century for this House to gain control over employment policy and the level of unemployment in this country. I am astonished at the lighthearted way in which some people are apparently prepared to throw this away for the sake of vague talk about a common currency.
Therefore, the proposal facing us is for an unprecedented curtailment in the rights of the British electorate. That is why those people seem to me to be hopelessly missing the fundamental point who say that if Parliament admits the right of the electorate to have the final say on this issue—that is commonly said—the same must apply to capital punishment, abortion, income tax and all sorts of other things.
I contend that the public must have the final say only if two conditions are both fulfilled. First, the issue must be one involving major constitutional change. Secondly, it must be irrevocable. There is no doubt here about the constitutional change, nor is there any doubt about the irrevocability either. Article 240 of the Treaty of Rome, as I think the whole House now well knows, states:This Treaty is concluded for an unlimited periodand there is no legal or constitutional way by which any member can secede.
Quite apart from anything else, therefore, a decision to sign the Treaty of Rome abrogates the principle which has hitherto governed our parliamentary system, I believe with very great wisdom, that no Parliament can bind its successors. It has always been true up till now that if the electorate thinks that mistakes have been made, it can reverse them. It is because this right also would be taken away from the electorate by signature of the Treaty of Rome that, quite apart from anything else, its assent seems to me to be absolutely essential.
384 Since a decision to sign the Treaty is in all probability now a decision to sacrifice national independence and join a federal State, what is at stake here is not simply the normal electoral rights of the public, but the right of self-determination itself. The British Parliament in recent years has several times provided for former Colonial Territories to decide by referendum whether they wish to remain in the Commonwealth or to join another State. Gibraltar is the most recent and most obvious example. Only last Thursday, the Prime Minister, speaking of Northern Ireland, said in this debate:I reaffirm our pledge"—that is, the Government's pledge—that the Border is a matter to be decided by the people of Northern Ireland."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd July, 1970; Vol. 803, c. 83.]He did not say "the Parliament" of Northern Ireland. He said, quite rightly in my opinion, "the people". I contend that the people of the United Kingdom as a whole have just as good a right to self-determination as the people of Northern Ireland or Gibraltar—perhaps not a better right, but at least as good.
§ Mr. Christopher Woodhouse (Oxford)
When the right hon. Gentleman talks about referring this question to the electorate before it is decided, does he have in mind a referendum on the specific issue or merely a General Election? The precedents which he quoted from 1832 and 1910 were both simply General Elections.
§ Mr. Jay
I am coming to that. I have thought quite a bit about this, as the hon. Member will discover.
The precedents, moreover, argue powerfully in my view that the reputation of Parliament would be enhanced and not damaged by scrupulous respect for the public's deep convictions when a major constitutional change is at stake. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, Central (Mr. Clinton Davis), who mentioned Edmund Burke, I was brought up on Edmund Burke and I care deeply for the authority of Parliament. The record shows that the reputation of Parliament was immensely enhanced by the events of both 1832 and 1910, simply because Parliament showed a scrupulous respect for the views of the electorate. Indeed, 385 already even in 1831, at the time of the General Election that year, it was agreed by all that the House of Commons could not even alter its own constitution or the King swamp the House of Lords with peers until the electorate had assented. This House passed the Reform Bill on Second Reading by one vote. The Lords rejected it, and Lord Grey appealed to the country.
It is interesting that Mr. G. M. Trevelyan, in describing those events in his "History of England in the 19th Century]", wrote these rather pertinent words:This bold appeal established the fundamental principle of the new constitution, namely, that in the last resort the opinion of the nation was to count more than the opinion of the legislators.The hon. Member will, I think, agree that G. M. Trevelyan is a quite good constitutional authority.
In 1910, two General Elections were held almost entirely on the issue of the powers of the Lords before the King was willing to give the necessary promise to create Liberal peers. Indeed, almost the only thing agreed by all parties of that time was that that creation could not have been done without the approval of the public.
Certainly, no one can contend in 1970 that the electorate last month gave a mandate to this House, this Parliament or the present Government to sign the Treaty of Rome or accept any specific terms of settlement. The Conservative Party manifesto is now, I suppose, the ruling mandate, and that manifesto is extremely specific on this issue, if not, perhaps, on others. It says:Our sole commitment is to negotiate; no more, no less.Therefore it seems to me clear that if faith is to be kept with the electorate, and the basic principles of our constitution, which, after all, rests on moral rather than on legal grounds in the end, are to be preserved, there must be an appeal to the electorate, if and when any terms of a settlement are clearly known and made public.
How is that to be done? I come to the question the hon. Gentleman asked. I believe that the substance is more important than the form. The substance is a clear expression of approval or dis- 386 approval by the electorate in the light of a knowledge of the essential facts, and with time for full argument and debate.
Of course it is true that in both 1831 and 1910 the two main parties were in clear disagreement about the major issue at stake; and a general election was, therefore, clearly the right way to decide it. So it would be now, in my view, if the main parties were so divided. If, however, they were not so divided, it would certainly be better, in my judgment, to give the electorate the chance of a direct vote on this issue—call it a referendum if the hon. Gentleman likes—than for Parliament to try to force such a vast constitutional change through against the wishes of an unwilling electorate.
If it is said that this is unprecedented, the first answer is that the proposal to curtail the rights of the British electorate, to hand over legislative powers to an unelected authority outside the United Kingdom, and probably to merge this country in a federal State, is certainly also unprecedented. But, even so, this proposal for a direct vote, if necessary, is in fact not so unprecedented as some hon. Members seem to think. Indeed, I do not know whether hon. Gentlemen will recall this, but at one point in 1910 the Liberal Cabinet ordered the preparation of a referendum Bill on the issue then at stake. Even more interesting and more recent, in May, 1945, Sir Winston Churchill proposed to Mr. Attlee that the wartime Parliament, which had already prolonged itself to 10 years, should prolong itself for the further two years during which the Japanese war was expected to last. Sir Winston, who was himself active in the 1910 crisis, also thought in 1945 that Parliament, despite its undoubted legal right to do anything, had no moral right even to prolong its existence for another two years without the assent of the electorate, and he wrote to Mr. Attlee on 18th May, 1945:I am conscious however in the highest degree of our duty to strengthen ourselves"—that is, the then Government—by direct expression of the nation's will. If you should decide to stand on with us, all united together, until the Japanese surrender is compelled, let us discuss means of taking the nation's opinion—for example, a referendum—on the issue whether in these conditions the life of this Parliament should be further prolonged.That was signed, Winston S. Churchill.
387 I believe that Sir Winston Churchill is just as good a constitutional authority and as faithful an upholder of Parliament as G. M. Trevelyan or the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Woodhouse) who intervened just now. But if, in Sir Winston's view, the 1945 Parliament required the assent of the electorate, if necessary by a referendum, to prolong its life for two years, how much more overwhelming must the case be, on the authority of the greatest Parliamentarian of our lifetime, for gaining the electorate's assent before making drastic changes in the whole scope of Parliament's powers.
I hope, therefore, that, before the end of this debate if possible, the Prime Minister will give an assurance that if any settlement is reached in these negotiations, and terms are known, Parliament will not be asked to ratify them till the electorate has been given a chance, by whatever is the appropriate method, to approve or disapprove what is proposed. If the Prime Minister can give that assurance in this debate, it will be received with an immense sigh of relief and gratification throughout the country.
If, on the other hand, a settlement were reached which in fact was opposed in the country as overwelmingly as the proposal for entry into the E.E.C. seems to be opposed today, and if there were any attempt, without any mandate, to force it through this House and the other House by the use of a three-line Whip and what is cynically called nowadays the pay-roll vote, that, in my considered judgment, would be a constitutional outrage.
I hope that no such thing is intended, and is not in anybody's mind. But I warn the Government, in all seriousness, that if any such outrage were committed there would be many patriotic citizens of this country who would be convinced that legislation so passed had no legal or moral authority, and that they would be under no duty to obey legislation of that kind.
The simple truth is that this is preeminently an issue which the people must decide. And if that principle is faithfully observed, then the reputation of Parliament, as in 1832 and 1910, so far from being damaged, would be immeasurably enhanced in the eyes of the nation.
§ 6.26 p.m.
§ Mr. John Davies (Knutsford)
It is my task to succeed as Member for Parliament for Knutsford a man who was by any standards an undoubted personality. Sir Walter Bromley-Davenport may not at all times have united the House in agreement about the policies which he proposed, but he certainly never passed unnoticed. It is not within my power to emulate him, and I have no intention of trying to do so during my membership of this House. However, I must say that one thing that I should like to be able to copy from him and be remembered for is the same degree of unswerving devotion to this country, to this Parliament, to his party and to his constituents. For that he is undoubtedly well known.
Knutsford is the most beautiful part of England. It is in Cheshire, the golden county, whose good sunshine during this election campaign showed at its best. It is the original of Mrs. Gaskell's great book "Cranford". It commends itself from every point of view, and particularly as a constituency. I so much hope I shall prove to be a worthy Member of Parliament for it.
Pride of place in the Gracious Speech was given to this issue of the Common Market. I realise that in speaking about it today I am committed, in a maiden speech, to deal with it in an as uncontroversial a form as I can. This is made harder for me by virtue of what has just been said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay). I had no idea that this was going to be the tenor of the immediately preceding speech, and therefore the House finds me in very great difficulty to maintain an uncontroversial tone.
However, to find it in this prominent place in the Gracious Speech is greatly welcome to a person who, like me, has been unwavering in his belief that Europe must one day be united, and unfaltering in an equivalent belief that Britain must play a substantial part in the unification. This will certainly be, when it comes, one of the greatest decisions which we have to face this century, a decision which can, and will, indeed, shape our lives and the lives of our children for years to come, for centuries to come, perhaps; 389 and perhaps in their favour and perhaps in their disfavour.
The decision itself is of the greatest and most substantial importance. It is not comparable with other great decisions which this House has had to take during this century. Perhaps comparably great ones were those which involved us in two world wars, or that succession of decisions which unravelled the empire of which we were so proud. These previous decisions, however substantial, however important, were ones where the understanding of the issues involved was simple. People as a whole could without difficulty realise precisely what issues were before them and respond to them almost without asserting their voice. This House could quite easily feel the conclusions which the people reached, and in some sense the decisions themselves were inevitable.
The Common Market is not so. The Common Market involves a deliberate decision in the light of complex considerations which at this stage are neither apprehended nor understood by the people at large. It is therefore exceedingly difficult, despite a great sense of personal conviction, for me to imagine that this issue can be decided easily without further and deep consideration, and here I share the view of the right hon. Member for Battersea, North. I have no sense of mandate for the Common Market and find it difficult to believe that the country has given a mandate. I feel that there must be further consultation with the electorate but find great difficulty in considering what that further consultation should be.
It seems to me that a referendum is wholly inappropriate for these reasons. First, it is no part of our Government system to put to the electorate individual issues for individual decision, and to do so would engender a whole new series of references the end of which it is hard to foresee. Secondly, even if one admitted the possibility, it is appropriate to use a referendum only for issues which can be expressed in a clear-cut way, and this issue cannot. Thirdly, our experience of referenda made by us and by other people has been that the questions put have been indifferently answered, with no answers being given to the precise questions put. So for my part I disagree with the possibility of a 390 referendum being a useful means of consultation.
The alternative might be a General Election but, as a new politician, it seems to me that a General Election is framed to give the electorate an opportunity to express a view on the great totality of issues which face the country and to express its judgment on which party should lead the country. The electorate has recently done this, and done it quite decisively, and the use of a General Election to rehearse an individual issue, however important, is not appropriate for taking the temperature and pulse of our people.
My conclusion is that what is necessary is a more intensive and special consultative process between Members of Parliament and their constituents. This problem transcends the normal relationship between Members of Parliament and their constituents; it requires an intensity of discussion which is unparallelled by the issues which have faced Members of Parliament. This method is the more appropriate in that, as the right hon. Member for Battersea, North said, there is a consensus amongst the parties. There may be honoured dissenters therefrom, but the parties themselves consent generally to the purpose involved, and, therefore, a means of reference by individual Members of Parliament is perhaps the most desirable method.
It is necessary for Members of Parliament to ventilate the real issues concerned. It is inadequate simply to rehearse the outcome of the negotiations when they take place. The negotiations are concerned with an embryonic Community. Negotiations, however successfully undertaken by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, will deal only with the Community as it exists; the great problem is how it then develops. Once one's hand is set to membership the consequences are immense and fundamental. It is not enough to say that each subsequent decision will be a decision for itself. There is an inexorable progress in the whole continuity and development of the Communities without which the attainment of their agreed objectives will be frustrated. It is unthinkable that we should reluctantly acquiesce in that progress; we must rather wholeheartedly sustain it and, with humility, perhaps lead it.
391 As I see them, the great objectives are these. First, communally to provide for the defence of our continent and its world-wide interests in circumstances in which the cost of defence is so sharply escalating as to outpace any individual nation state's capacity to ensure that defence. Secondly, to engender such a unity within Western Europe as will allow scientific, social, industrial and commercial development on a scale to match comparable efforts in any part of the globe. This in its turn has immense implications not only for those fields of endeavour to which I have referred but equally for education and research. Of what use is it for us as an individual country so far to educate our young that they can handle with their traditional ability the great sciences of the world if we do not have the industrial base upon which they can practise their capacities?
The present Communities are manifestly inadequate to afford a foundation for all these attainments. Active membership, if it does not imply precisely a commitment, at least provides a favourable disposition to many other steps without which hopes of attaining the great objectives must remain frustrated and stillborn. Issues which in the lifetime of our country have been decided here, will have to be decided elsewhere, as the right hon. Gentleman said. If we are to realise the future of these objectives, in matters such as company law there must at least be some participation on a European base, as with fiscal policy, and economic policy is, of course, at the foundation of it all. Currency union is involved, with all its implications for the Bank of England and the possible displacement of certain of its functions by a Bank of Europe. These matters raise great hesitations and concerns amongst us.
Converging educational curricula and standards are no less a factor of the future, as are the devising of Community energy and transport policies, progressive military integration and weapons development on a scale which existing alliances have never demanded, aid programmes on a continental basis and regional policies displacing our own nationally devised regional arrangements. These are all issues on which we are accustomed to 392 being entirely our own masters. They are all issues which bear directly on the attainment of the major objectives of membership of the Community.
The implications of these changes are very great and equally imply equivalent changes at the level of the institutions of the Communities themselves. The existing form, perhaps inadequate already to deal with the problems of the Six, becomes the more so to deal with the problems of the Ten. It becomes even less satisfactory to deal with the immensely widening sphere of activities which the kinds of matters to which I have referred must entail. We must have modified institutions to match these wider policies if we are to be creative and positive members. If we have set our hand to membership, these are purposes which we must embrace, not defensively and reluctantly, but with ardour and enthusiasm; and we must embrace them with the support of the people.
§ 6.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Reg Prentice (East Ham, North)
The whole House will wish to congratulate the hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. John Davies) on his maiden speech. All of us enjoyed the presence of his predecessor, Sir Walter Bromley-Davenport. He was a man with whom we were in frequent disagreement, but we always enjoyed his eccentric and individual contributions to our debates. The House will be the poorer for his departure. However, I am sure that the House will gain from the new recruit from Knutsford. It gives me particular pleasure to congratulate him, because we had some constructive talks together when he was at the C.B.I. and I was at the Ministry of Overseas Development. He brings to the House great experience on economic matters, as was made clear in his thoughtful speech.
I should like to begin on a non-controversial note, which I do not propose to maintain, by welcoming that part of the Gracious Speech which refers to the twenty-fifth anniversary of the United Nations and the opening of the Second Development Decade. The language of that paragraph of the Speech is correct since it stresses the right things in a way many of us can support.
I hope that the Prime Minister will follow up the invitation which was accepted by his predecessor to attend the General 393 Assembly of the United Nations in September for that part of the proceedings which are concerned with celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary and approving plans for the Second Development Decade. It is important that all leading countries should be represented at the Assembly by Heads of Government, and I hope that this will happen.
Many of us, when reflecting on this paragraph of the Gracious Speech, will say, from our previous experience of Conservative Governments, that it is all very well to express good intentions about the Charter of the United Nations, about disarmament and about economic development, but the performance of Conservative Governments in the past has not measured up to the lip-service that has been paid in documents of this kind. As we watch the Government going through their early consideration of the resumption of arms sales to South Africa, we are bound to say that it is particularly cynical to put this kind of language into the Gracious Speech if it is to be followed up by disregarding the Security Council resolution on arms sales to South Africa.
Since the Government apparently are still considering how to handle this matter, and since we have been told by the Foreign Secretary that at least they will wait for the comments of other Commonwealth countries, we are entitled to make an eleventh-hour appeal to the Government to consider this matter in terms of its essential elements and not of the side issues. The Simonstown Agreement and the defence of the Cape route are in fact side issues. The essential elements are, first of all, the fact, which was acknowledged by the Foreign Secretary and was a feature of both Front Bench speeches, that one of the greatest and most difficult problems facing the world today is how people of different races will be able to live together in equality and in terms of mutual respect.
The second point surely is that whereas that particular problem must be resolved in all kinds of different contexts and local situations throughout the world, at the very centre of the stage is the struggle for power in Southern Africa. This involves the question whether Southern Africa is to continue to be dominated by a white minority or 394 whether the people of Southern Africa are to govern themselves and, if so, by what methods and by what processes they are able to seize the government of their country. It is against that background that we must recognise that if Britain, after several years of not selling armaments to South Africa, were now to resume the sale of arms to that country it would be bound to be interpreted throughout the world, and particularly in Africa, as a move by Britain in which we are seen to be giving a gesture of support to the white racialist régime of South Africa and as lining up on the wrong side of the struggle.
It is absurd for the Foreign Secretary and some of his hon. Friends in this debate to try to obscure that simple issue by talking about the Simonstown Agreement and the defence of the Cape route. It becomes even more absurd for the hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) to refer to the Cape of Good Hope as the southern flank of N.A.T.O. Surely some of the countries situated between the Cape of Good Hope and Europe may have some views on that analysis. It shows the Conservative Party as the party of nostalgia when they talk about the need to defend a route because it is important in terms of world trade.
Two of the central features of the development of the world in recent years have been, first, that world trade has expanded and more and more countries have been encouraged to trade over wider and wider areas; and, secondly, that navies have been declining. To suggest that because a country has important trading interests it must therefore have its navy, complete with naval armament, to provide the power in that area is an absurdity. This is applying the realities of 1870 to the world of 1970. It is typical of the way some members of the Conservative Party think.
I repeat that the reality of our commitment to the United Nations—a reality which has to be seen first of all in terms of the Gracious Speech, which contains a very good paragraph on this subject—is surely affected by this matter. If the Government take such a decision, which we would regard as wrong, they would not merely upset the countries of Africa and the Commonwealth but would destroy our credibility at the United Nations. This will be even more 395 the case if the Security Council resolution of 1963 is replaced, as it may well be, by a new mandatory resolution on this subject.
I turn briefly to a less controversial topic, at least for the moment. I welcome what is said in the Gracious Speech about an expanding programme of aid to developing countries. I extend my best wishes to the right hon. Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood) on his appointment as Minister of Overseas Development. I wish him well in his work, and particularly in the most important part of it, which is to fight Her Majesty's Treasury.
I very much hope that the Prime Minister will keep the Ministry of Overseas Development as a separate Department. I believe that in its record since 1964 it has gained a number of successes in making the administration of the aid programme more efficient, in making it more relevant to the needs of the developing world, and in seeing that greater value for money in development terms has been obtained for the scarce resources available to it. The separate status of the Ministry is greatly appreciated in the developing world, and particularly in the developing countries of the Commonwealth. It would not be an adequate substitute to bring the Ministry under the umbrella of a larger Department, whether it be the Foreign and Commonwealth Office or, worse still, the Board of Trade, which I have heard is a possibility.
It is essential that the Minister should be able to speak independently and be able to go to Cabinet Committees or to the Cabinet itself and to speak as Minister of Overseas Development. If he were to be a Minister of State in a larger Department, he could never take the argument past his Departmental head and, if he could not convince the head of his Department, he could not carry the argument further with the Government. It is important on certain occasions that he should be able to do so, and it is equally important that senior officials should be able to do so and that, in the interdepartmental committees, there should be a separate representative of the Ministry of Overseas Development able to argue the 396 development case as against the diplomatic or the commercial case. Therefore, I urge that the Ministry be kept intact.
As for the aid programme itself, we shall have to wait and see what is meant by the words in the Gracious Speech about "an expanding aid programme". We know from past experience that statistics here can be very confusing. Hon. Members will be glad to know that I do not propose at this stage to go into any sort of analysis of them, but the record of the programme of the Labour Government can be summed up in this way. Seen in cash terms and gross terms, our aid figures increased modestly, though not enough. In real terms, taking account of changing prices and the repayments of old aid loans, the aid programme remained fairly static. As a proportion of our gross national product, the aid programme declined. When the Government speak in the Gracious Speech of "an expanding aid programme", let me remind them that, in the language used in the United Nations, the O.E.C.D. and in other international circles, that will be taken to mean an expanding aid programme as a proportion of the gross national product.
In the last Gracious Speech debate last autumn, right hon. Gentlemen opposite, including the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister, referred to the speech by my right hon. Friend the then Prime Minister at Polesden Lacey and criticised him and the Government because our aid programme was not making adequate progress towards the achievement of the 1 per cent. pledge accepted by all parties. They have now the duty of fulfilling that pledge. I hope that they will bear in mind their criticisms. If they forget them, some of us will not. We shall remind them of these matters as time goes on.
I want now to make one brief reference to the Common Market negotiations. I do so in the context of what I have just said about the aid programme. These are related matters. The country has been discussing the pros and cons of British entry into the E.E.C. very largely in domestic terms. I make no complaint about that. My own view, upon which I will not enlarge, is that on the terms likely to be available to us it would probably be wrong for us to enter the E.E.C. 397 from the viewpoint of our own self-interest. However, during the time of Mr. Macmillan's Government when we were negotiating a few years ago, a great deal of the discussion about these matters centred round the effect of British entry on the Commonwealth. It is regrettable that not enough of the discussion in the last year or two, in this House or outside it, has been concerned with its effect on the Commonwealth. It may be just one more symptom of the fact that we are becoming too inward-looking and parochial in our attitudes. As the negotiations develop, I hope that there will be a great deal of emphasis upon the interests of Commonwealth countries, especially those of developing countries in the Commonwealth.
In Luxembourg on 30th June, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster spoke of Commonwealth matters and referred to the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, the problems of New Zealand and what he described as "certain other Commonwealth questions". In terms of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, we have to recognise that some of the smallest and weakest countries in the Commonwealth are extremely vulnerable to any change in the arrangements for selling sugar. I have in mind Fiji, Mauritius, Barbados and other West Indian countries, some of which depend almost entirely on the export of sugar to Britain and, to a lesser extent, Canada. If that trade is interfered with in terms of quantity or price, it will be a terrible blow to countries which are already poor and have high unemployment. It will not be sufficient simply to think along the lines of a transitional period. We shall be breaking faith with those countries unless we ensure permanently either access to the British market or perhaps to European markets, or some kind of arrangement which will give them at least the equivalent of the opportunities that they have at present.
The other point is that we shall need to hear more about what was meant in the Gracious Speech by "certain other Commonwealth questions". I believe that they include the problems of Asian countries in the Commonwealth which probably will not be able to be associated States if Britain joins the E.E.C. and which will suffer a great deal if tariff barriers are placed against their tradi- 398 tional trade with Britain. India is specially vulnerable here. I believe that the Indian Government and some of the other Asian Governments should do more to tell us how they see their problems in this connection. They are not lobbying as hard as the Government of New Zealand, for instance. I hope that they will tell us their problems—not just the Government but this House and the public at large. They will find friends who will not be prepared to see them betrayed in the negotiations. The general principle should be accepted by those who want Britain to go in that we should not do so at the expense of damaging the economies of Commonwealth partners which are already poor and who would be very vulnerable to changes of this kind.
It has almost become a tradition in foreign affairs debates for hon. Members to say that we should have more of them. I agree. The legislative programme outlined in the Gracious Speech is not very considerable. The stodgy and unenterprising nature of the domestic policy of the new Government is such that we shall not have the heavy legislative programmes that we have seen in recent years. This should give Parliament more time to debate international affairs. I believe that we should do that because the parochial mood in the country needs a lead from Parliament towards wider horizons. Those wider horizons should not be concerned only with our preoccupations with Europe, N.A.T.O. and matters of that kind, though they must include those considerations. More and more, we must be concerned with our relationships with the third world. By that I do not mean just the aid programme, though that should be debated frequently and in depth. I mean the whole range of relationships with the third world, political and trading, and the terms under which private investment from this country will be available for those countries, so that we develop our ideas on the way in which we can collaborate with the peoples of the third world in striving towards healthier economies and fighting the poverty, ignorance and disease which are still the lot of most of their peoples.
§ 6.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Tapsell (Horncastle)
I want to follow what the right hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) said 399 about the Simonstown Agreement, although I shall do so from a slightly different angle of approach.
Opening the debate on the Gracious Speech on 2nd July, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister rightly said that some of our foreign policy decisions, particularly in Africa, have been too much influenced by emotion and too little by reason. I detect in myself a certain weakness in this respect because I find it difficult to consider the issues of Southern Africa entirely devoid of emotion; nor would I think it beneficial if British foreign policy became completely divorced in its motivations from all moral considerations. However, it is important not to fall too deeply into this trap of emotion. I have sought to divorce emotional considerations from my mind in considering whether we should now supply arms to South Africa. Looked at in cool, rational terms, what is it in our national interest to do?
Our general foreign policy aims are very well expressed in the second paragraph of the Gracious Speech. Translated into blunter and more explicit terms, these national interests, in the context of Southern Africa, seem to me to be fourfold: to safeguard and to promote our trade both north and south of the Zambesi; to protect the sea route round the Cape—which I suggest, with respect to the right hon. Member for East Ham, North, is not quite such a subordinate consideration as he suggested—to maintain peace and stability in the area; and to prevent the growth of Communist influence.
Will these four legitimate British national interests be advanced by selling arms to South Africa? If so, what arms, and when should they be sold?
Concerning trade, our exports to South Africa in 1969 were worth £291 million. Our imports from South Africa in that year amounted to £302 million. This constitutes an important trading connection which should not be put at risk. On the other hand, and this is sometimes overlooked—
§ Mr. John Mendelson (Penistone)
I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman was in the House at the time—because he had his period of interruption—but during two debates in recent years the 400 point was made, when the Labour Government refused to sell arms to South Africa, that our trade would be put at risk. The hon. Gentleman knows that nothing of the kind happened. In fact, we traded more and more with South Africa. Therefore, the hon. Gentleman is not making a valid point.
§ Mr. Tapsell
I was not suggesting that our trade with South Africa would necessarily be put at risk. I am seeking, in an unemotional way, to balance the various considerations. If the hon. Gentleman will allow me to develop my theme, I think that he may find that he will not strongly disagree with my conclusions.
The other side of the coin, which is sometimes overlooked, is our trade with independent Africa, which now exceeds our trade with South Africa and is growing at a faster rate. Taking the group of independent African countries between the Sahara and the Zambesi, our exports to those countries in 1969 were worth £359 million and our imports amounted to £515 million, if we include the vital copper supplies which are almost as important to this country as our oil imports from the Middle East. That is substantially more than our trade with South Africa.
What will be the effect of arms sales to South Africa on this trade with East, Central and West Africa? My guess, which is not wholly uninformed, because I travel in the area fairly frequently—I was there shortly before the General Election—is that those countries in East, West and Central Africa will strongly disapprove of our selling any arms to South Africa. But if the shopping list is manifestly limited to naval weapons for external defence, their protests will, I believe, be no more than formal and diplomatic.
These African countries regard our proposed further negotiation with Rhodesia as the key issue on which they wish to concentrate. They hope to influence our attitude on that. They are not looking for a quarrel with us about arms to South Africa unless we force it upon them.
I believe that the sale of frigates, submarines and, indeed, any naval vessels together with their surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missiles would be 401 accepted by the rest of Africa with no more than conventional grumbling. The same is probably true of Nimrod aircraft. I regard the Buccaneer as a difficult marginal case and one on which I should welcome the opportunity of hearing more expert opinion than I possess.
If, on the other hand, the shopping list of arms were to include such weapons as helicopters, armoured cars or Saracen tanks, I believe that there would be serious economic and political consequences for our trade throughout Africa and, indeed, in areas beyond. The precise details of the shopping list are of fundamental importance, if indeed there is to be a shopping list at all.
The second major British national interest in the area is the security of the sea route round the Cape. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made this clear in his speech this afternoon, and I agree with everything that he said about it. Its importance is self-evident, and all the more so since the closing of the Suez Canal. No doubt the Foreign Secretary will be discussing the wider defence aspects of this matter with our friends in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the United States, to whom it is also of great importance. But it must not be forgotten that the security of this route is of even greater importance to South Africa than to any other country. It is true that Europe gets 60 per cent. of its oil via the Cape, but South Africa gets all its oil in this way.
The so-called Simonstown Agreement is sometimes discussed as though it were a favour to us which might be revoked if we did not supply arms. In fact, with or without arms, a Simonstown agreement, or something similar, is also a vital South African interest. The only specific mention of the supply of war material in the exchange of letters constituting the agreement was to 20 small warships, six anti-submarine frigates, 10 coastal minesweepers and four seaward defence boats. These were all built and delivered by us to South Africa by 1963.
It is important, therefore, to realise that under the Simonstown Agreement we have no continuing obligation to supply further arms. We should be absolutely clear about that. Indeed, the Prime Minister of the day, then Sir Anthony Eden, in announcing the agreement to Parliament on 4th July, 1955, 402 specifically said, in reply to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke), that there was no consequential arrangement concerning shore-based aircraft working in connection with naval forces arising under the Simonstown Agreement. Even in the very different circumstances of 1955, when the wind of change was hardly more than a gentle summer breeze, we were careful to confine our practical commitment to the naval sphere. I hope that my right hon. Friend will conclude that we would be wise to follow that policy still, if indeed we intend to supply arms at all.
When I think of the huge Russian submarine fleet, to which my right hon. Friend referred in his speech, I do not know what significant contribution South Africa could make to the security of the Cape route and its vast approaches. At best, its rôle would be very small. But if South Africa can make such a contribution and the sale of the necessary naval equipment is thought to be of important value to our export drive, I certainly—this is where I part company from the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart)—would not oppose such a sale on ideological grounds alone, although I do not regard them as an irrelevant or unimportant consideration. In international affairs the national interest must be the overriding criterion as long as it really is the national interest.
Sir Winston Churchill, during the war, said that if Hitler were to invade Hell he, Churchill, would make at least a polite passing reference to the Devil in the House of Commons. That seems to me to be a sound approach to foreign policy.
The third aspect of British national interest in Southern Africa is the maintenance of peace and stability in the area. The world has for some time been preoccupied with the dangers of Vietnam and the Middle East. The dangers of the developing situation in Africa are not perhaps so widely realised. The ideological struggle between Communism and capitalism will no doubt continue for many years but, as the Foreign Secretary said today, racialism in the various forms it takes in different parts of the world may come to prove the more dangerous and destructive force in the future. Nowhere is this worldwide problem more 403 symbolically and dramatically viewed than from the banks of the Zambesi. The South Africans understand this. They have studied the problem more carefully than anyone else and I join my hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) in saying that we must realise that apartheid is a developing philosophy. It is important for us to study the form which its development is taking.
Contrary to general belief, the South African Government do not want weak white minority Governments on their frontiers. Pretoria is very unhappy about the situation in Angolia, Rhodesia and Mozambique. They would much rather have African Governments on their frontiers so long as they are what they regard as being the right kind of African Government. Malawi, Botswana and Swaziland provide the ideal "set-up" for them. So did Lesotho until the recent elections when Chief Jonathan did what the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. Harold Wilson) was no doubt sorely tempted to do on 19th June.
The South Africans think that the European can survive in Africa only on the basis of apartheid. They think that their ratio of only four Africans to one European makes a developing form of apartheid permanently feasible. They see it strictly in numerical terms. They know that the ratio of 20 Africans to one European in Rhodesia ultimately dooms the European régime there to disaster. The South African fear is that this disaster may ultimately engulf them, or at least seriously endanger them. So, contrary to widespread belief, Pretoria is extremely critical in private of the Smith régime and most impatient with Mr. Smith himself and his apparent lack of international awareness. In South Africa they have far greater stakes at risk than the future of the 250,000 Europeans in Rhodesia, who constitute a population smaller than the City of Nottingham which I once had the honour to represent.
It is as much in South Africa's national interest as it is in ours to see a successful negotiation of the Rhodesian problem based on the five principles. I very much welcome what my right hon. Friend said on this today in reaffirming the Conservative approach to this problem. South Africans would like to see Britain resume a presence in Rhodesia 404 for a limited period. They know that this would far more effectively stop the infiltration of guerrillas from the North into the South than any other means. Thus the crucial question over arms to South Africa as I see it—and it is one which has not been posed hitherto in this debate—is: What is to be the quid pro quo?
The quid pro quo should be effective pressure from Pretoria on Salisbury to negotiate. It is in South Africa's general interest, as Mr. Vorster understands, to bring such pressure to bear. It would be sheer diplomatic incompetence for us to sell any arms to South Africa except in return for some such substantial political and diplomatic recompense. It clearly is not in the British national interest to offend much of the rest of the world and get out of step with the United States in the short term except for some real compensating long-term advantage. The whole of the arms for South Africa issue has to be put into a much wider context. If it is to make sense it should form part of a general settlement of the problems of Southern Africa, and I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, with his great wisdom and experience of international affairs, sees that very clearly.
Finally, there is the Communist threat. Rhodesia provides the Communists with a key to Africa which they are busily planning to turn. Already the Chinese are training guerrillas in Tanzania as well as building the railway from Dar-es-Salaam to Lusaka, which the West re fused to build. Other Communist countries are providing aid. The Presidents of Zambia and Tanzania are sensible and thoroughly decent men, not at all anti-British in their sentiments, but their first duty is to their own people and to Africa. They know they are riding a tiger, but if the West cannot provide the aid their people need they have no real alternative but to accept it from Communist sources. If the West cannot end the illegal Smith régime by diplomatic, economic or military means, then they have no real alternative but to let their young men train as guerrillas, nor indeed have they the capacity to stop them. The African is no less of a patriot than the Arab. Thus, however unwise and laden with tragedy it may be for the future, young Africans in Central Africa will increasingly turn 405 to violence unless the Rhodesian problem is solved. It is in the interests alike of the Africans, of white Rhodesians, of Afrikaaners and of ourselves that this solution should be reached.
Only the Communists stand to gain from a continuance of the present deadlock. What is needed now is a period of calm and peace for patient negotiations. The premature injection of weapons into this highly explosive situation would in my view be most unwise.
§ Several Hon. Members rose—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I remind the House that many hon. Members have sat here all day hoping to get into the debate. Brief speeches will help.
§ 7.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness and Sutherland)
It is always a pleasure to listen to the hon. Member for Horncastle (Mr. Tapsell) when he takes part in debates on foreign affairs, particularly when he deals with African questions, because he brings to the debate an independence of mind and a willingness to differ from the leadership of his party; something which he has been prepared to do even by voting against it on occasions. For that reason one listens to the hon. Gentleman with considerable respect. It does not, of course, follow that one always agrees with everything he says, and I should like later to make some comments on what he said about South Africa.
I begin by considering what the Prime Minister said about foreign affairs during his contribution to the debate on the Gracious Speech. The right hon. Gentleman sought to characterise the new directions which would be taken by Her Majesty's Government in the handling of our foreign relationships. He said, as though it were something novel, that it would be Her Majesty's Government's intention to pursue British interests. I submit that that is in no sense novel, and that this concern with British interests characterised the conduct of foreign affairs by the previous Government throughout their period of office. Indeed, it is a meaningless description unless that general principle is fleshed out with some greater detail, and reference is made to principles which were 406 not mentioned by the Foreign Secretary this afternoon.
Like my right hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice), I took some comfort from the reference in the Gracious Speech to the United Nations and the beginning of the Second Development Decade. What has been profoundly depressing to all those who are interested in strengthening the peace-keeping and international conciliation machinery of the United Nations in particular has been the scant regard paid to the United Nations by leading members of the party opposite, not only when they were in opposition but since they came to office recently.
It was symbolic of their attitude that almost the first act of policy by Her Majesty's Foreign Secretary was to downgrade the status of our representation at the United Nations by leaving it in the hands of a senior civil servant. Whatever one's political views may be it would be widely accepted on both sides of the House that the former head of our delegation—Lord Caradon—was a distinguished representative of this country, who derived great strength in representing the interests of our country from the fact that he was a member of the Government. This brought strength to our representation as a whole and enabled us to take a leading part in the most difficult problems of settling world disputes. What springs to mind is the outstanding contribution that he made in the initiation of the resolution in the Security Council regarding the Middle East. It is right to pay tribute both to his work and that of the former Foreign Secretary, Mr. George Brown, in that sphere.
But the Government have not only paid scant attention to United Nations in this respect; they have shown scant sensitivity to the attitude of member nations in the priorities that they appear to have adopted even within their first week in office. It is interesting to contrast the readiness of the Foreign Secretary to give an extended interview to the visiting Foreign Minister from the Republic of South Africa, Dr. Muller, with the fact that he has not so far—as far as I know—offered the same courtesies to the Foreign Minister of the Nigerian Federal Government, Dr. Arikpo, who has also been in London during the course of the 407 last week on a similar private visit, and who I believe is here for some time to come. I only hope that the Foreign Secretary will prove equally receptive to any pressures that he may receive from that quarter.
But it is in regard to the question of the supply of arms to South Africa that Her Majesty's Government have proved their complete insensitivity to international opinion. It is not adequate to describe the concern of the Government as being motivated purely by considerations of British defence or, for that matter, the defence of South Africa. What I liked about the speech of the hon. Member for Horncastle was his frank admission that there is nothing about the Simonstown Agreement that compels the sale of arms to South Africa, and that the two matters are quite separate and independent of each other. I hope that his right hon. Friend listened carefully to his remarks and that the right hon. Gentleman who is winding up tonight will enlighten the House rather more on his thinking and that of the Government about the actual requirements of the Simonstown Agreement.
What we are faced with is a matter of emphasis. This afternoon the Foreign Secretary was at some pains to describe how significant this agreement was to our national interest in terms of defence, but he should have given more consideration to the question of the attitudes of other countries to an attempt to alter the balance of power in this way in Southern Africa—particularly the attitudes adopted in the United Nations and in Commonwealth countries. I take the view that it is not simply a question of our indicating that we are not prepared to have our essential interests dictated to us by international organisations such as United Nations; it is also of vital British interest that we strengthen these organisations. To flout their opinion without even consulting them is the politics of an earlier era. It is diplomatically stupid and quite inexcusable.
The right hon. Gentleman said something about the Commonwealth. I think that he will find himself in an exceedingly hot seat if he goes to Singapore in January next year having reneged upon an international commitment entered into by this country. I readily accept that what was agreed at the United Nations, 408 in the Security Council resolution of 1963, is a matter that is capable of being argued about. There is a certain ambiguity in the resolution, and it is likely that the ambiguity will be removed by a further resolution of the Security Council in the coming session. It would be most unfortunate if this country were to find itself having to resist the majority view on the question of the supply of arms to South Africa—a matter which does not lie at the heart of British defence interests and which by no stretch of the imagination could be so regarded.
The whole argument about the importance of the Cape route is capable of being extended to any major trade route in the world. If we are to allow the question of our supply of armaments to be dictated by a consideration of that kind and that kind alone we shall allow a very dangerous principle to operate in the conduct of British foreign affairs. The truth of the matter is surely that any threat to the security of the Western world coming from that part of the globe is a threat that will involve all the N.A.T.O. Powers and N.A.T.O. responses. It is not something which we should consider reacting to single-handed and alone.
The part of the Foreign Secretary's speech that dealt with Rhodesia was extremely short, and gave little clue to the thinking of Her Majesty's Government as to the way in which they intended to proceed in order to fulfil their commitments to seek a settlement within the five—as they now choose to limit them—principles to which the party opposite formerly gave form. All that has been said is that it is intended to probe and see whether such a settlement is possible. There are inherent dangers in continually probing the mind of a régime such as that of Ian Smith. The obvious and most important danger is that it will be assumed widely within Rhodesia that there is some readiness on the part of Her Majesty's Government to compromise—to give away something of the position that has been held so strongly by the previous Government in this matter.
I regarded with some dismay the remarks made earlier this afternoon by the new Minister of Posts and Telecommunications about his willingness to consider the removal of the postal surcharge on letters from Rhodesia. To use the expression of my right hon. Friend the 409 Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart), I thought that Mr. Hyde was peeping out from the Government benches on this matter.
Clearly, if we are to solve the Rhodesian matter, we cannot hope to do so by sitting at a negotiating table with the Smith régime until that régime shows some willingness to take important steps towards meeting the requirements which we and successive Governments have established. Nothing has come out of Rhodesia in the last year to suggest that there is any such willingness. Indeed, quite the contrary. Any new Government must review the policy in an important issue of this kind, but to review the policy is one thing: to make direct approaches to a régime of the character of Ian Smith's is quite another. Until we have some clear evidence of a willingness to meet us on the important issues of principle which the Government have said they adhere to, it would be the height of unwisdom to enter into any discussions, probing or otherwise, with that régime.
The question of our European negotiations is given priority in the Gracious Speech. I was astonished by the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay). He made some extraordinary statements. In the first place, he sought to establish that it would be appropriate constitutional practice for this country to embark upon a referendum on this question. He tried to establish historical precedents for this. His whole approach was one of constitutionality, yet at the end he said that if we were to depart from his view of the matter, if this House were to pass legislation or enter into an international agreement along lines with which he would not agree, he and others like him would feel discharged from the responsibility of regarding those agreements as legally binding.
Coming from a man of his great repute and seniority, such a suggestion is profoundly shocking. It must throw into doubt his concern for constitutional practices. The substance of his argument was that when an irrevocable constitutional change is embarked on there is a case for a revolution—[Laughter.]—referendum. The slip of my tongue shows rather more accurately the way that the right hon. Gentleman was thinking.
410 This is a completely untenable proposition. The need to consult one's constituents was carefully put forward and argued with considerable force by the hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. John Davies) in a very thought-provoking maiden speech. I do not suppose that any hon. Member will not follow his advice about entering into the closest discussion of these matters in his constituency.
But what my right hon. Friend failed to appreciate was that constitutional limitations have occurred in this country before and do occur every time this country enters into a multilateral treaty without a date of termination, particularly those which limit our national sovereignty by conferring on international organisations powers which are quasi-legislative. The European Economic Community is only one such organisation. Indeed, in signing the United Nations Charter, we put ourselves in a not dissimilar situation. It is because one recognises the force of those obligations in international law that one is so apt to be dismayed by some attempts on the benches opposite to underrate the importance of the United Nations.
I do not wish to follow my right hon. Friend too far on these lines, because his way of thinking on this is so different from my own, but I want to turn to the Government's approach. There was in the speech of the Chancellor of the Duchy at Luxembourg quite a significant difference of emphasis from that policy which was nascent at least when the present Opposition were in Government. There have, of course, been a number of important developments since the election—not least in fisheries policies. The right hon. Member was right to draw attention to this and to suggest that they would present us with some new difficulties in negotiation.
In pursuing British interests, it is certainly right that the Foreign Secretary and his right hon. Friend should draw to the attention of the Community the un-wisdom of their proceeding too rapidly in the development of the Community regulations in those spheres which particularly affect our interests. One such is certainly fisheries. It is a matter of regret that developments have taken place, even during the opening of the discussions, in that sphere.
411 But the most serious difference of emphasis is in defence. Of course the Community is developing, and the way in which it develops may involve some consideration within it of defence. But it is plain that these matters at present are outside the sphere of the institutions of the Six, and it is simply to complicate the negotiations to raise them at this time. I asked the Foreign Secretary whether he looked at the existing organs for co-operation on defence within the Community as appropriate for the discussion of these questions. He said broadly that he did. But I hope that he will seek to place the emphasis on those organs—W.E.U. and, of course, N.A.T.O. itself—in evolving our common approach to defence, rather than seek to turn the European Economic Community at this stage into something that it patently is not—a European defence community.
This is very marshy and treacherous ground on which to embark, arousing as it does very different attitudes among the Six themselves. The attitudes of France and Germany, to mention only two, are bound to be very different, in view of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and other differences between the two countries. We should concentrate on the agreed vital interests of this country in the spheres which we have already indicated, even as far back as July, 1967, when the Labour Government described the matters which must be negotiated. I wish the Foreign Secretary and his right hon. Friend all success in their very difficult negotiations.
§ 7.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Robert Adley (Bristol, North-East)
Perhaps one may take the opportunity in one's maiden speech to refer to a few items over and above the foreign affairs matters which are under discussion. I am advised by some of my hon. Friends that the longer one delays in making one's maiden speech, the better that speech is expected to be. For this reason I am making my maiden speech at the earliest opportunity.
My predecessor who represented North-East Bristol was Mr. Ray Dobson, and I wish to pay tribute to him. He was held in very high repute in my constituency and I know that he was similarly held in this House. Personally, it is perhaps sad that 412 my presence here has been achieved only at the cost of his departure. I hope, however, that the House may come to feel that fair exchange is no robbery.
Perhaps I should consider myself fortunate to be here, in that the list of new hon. Members published by The Times on the Saturday following the General Election omitted my name and substituted for it the name of my opponent. I am not sure whether that was wishful thinking on the part of the editor, but it caused me some embarrassment, and no doubt it caused Mr. Dobson a certain amount of embarrassment, too.
Bristol is a fine city. It is not difficult to think of things to say about it. It is more difficult to think of the things to leave out when speaking about it. Bristol, the city of Burke and the Merchant Venturers, is outward looking and well suited to a foreign affairs debate. Recently it has seen the return of the old steamship "Great Britain". As chairman of the Brunel Society and one of the original lunatics, as it were, who tried to bring her home, it gave me great pleasure yesterday in Bristol to observe her return.
Tourism is another item to which I wish to refer in connection with the City of Bristol and in so doing I express the hope that some time in the months and years ahead we may have an opportunity to debate not only the rôle of the City of Bristol but also the rôle of this country as one of Europe's major tourist areas.
The docks of Bristol are also outward looking, and I look forward to the development of our docks, which were not positively encouraged by the policy of the Labour Administration. I understand that tradition dictates that a maiden speaker should not be too controversial. I will, therefore, say no more on this issue.
The Concorde is another outward looking venture based on the City of Bristol. I refuse to contemplate the possibility that a Government, my Government, elected to promote the individuality, energy and enthusiasm of the British people, and determined to accelerate the growth of European co-operation, could contemplate any course other than immediate, unequivocal and determined support for Concorde.
This afternoon a number of hon. Members have eloquently put the case for 413 and against British membership of the E.E.C. If I had to choose in a referendum between the views expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. John Davies) and the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay), I might possibly vote for the former; but I leave that subject there because it has been adequately covered and because I am anxious to return to "Great Britain".
This ship came from the Falkland Islands. I am hopeful that the foreign affairs policies of the present Government will be to do what we know is right and to stand by our friends. I am sure that the people of the Falkland Islands can look forward to receiving the backing and support which they need in the maintenance of their links with this country, from which, without exception, all of their citizens are descended.
I urge my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary to endeavour to see that the basis of our foreign policy is that we stand up to the bullies of the world. Let us examine the bullies in the areas of conflict and tumult and try to see who they are. Who are the bullies in the Middle East? Who wants what? Who wants to "live and let live"? Who adopts the attitude of "the right way, the wrong way, or my way"?
As we try to answer these questions, we must at the same time decide which side we should be supporting in this conflict. Who in the Middle East seems to have been prepared to see people rot in camps for 20 years to achieve their own political ends? In the Middle East and elsewhere it is not only the balance of strength which counts. As the Foreign Secretary pointed out, the moral arguments must be uppermost in our minds. And if we are examining morals, by whose standards should we seek to judge the situation in the Middle East, as elsewhere? Will it be by the standards of a country which indulges in public executions or even by the standards of countries whose defence policies are controlled by the Soviet Union?
Surely we should press for clear, simple, straightforward and direct negotiations as the only method of achieving any solution to the Middle East problem. Unless and until we can get all the parties face to face round the conference table, 414 there will never be any solution to this most vexed and thorny problem.
I will mention the Gulf only briefly because it is not an area with which I am familiar. However, it seems that if we pull out of the Gulf, somebody else will move in. It is unrealistic to expect that Britain can depart from the Gulf area and leave peace behind. Can we be certain that the "international bullies" will not be moving in when we depart?
The Caribbean has scarcely been mentioned in this debate, other than in connection with sugar negotiations for Common Market entry, but we have a rôle to play in this area. "Mutual understanding" is more than a phrase there. I have had the pleasure and benefit of making numerous visits to the Caribbean. There are people there who understand us and whom we understand; people in countries like Trinidad and Barbados. These countries understand what we are trying to do. These countries are not bullies and they deserve our support as they try to make their way in the world.
I know the Far East well and I have lived and worked in the area for some years. Indeed, I might claim to be one of the few hon. Members who was able to speak Thai. Unfortunately my knowledge of the language has lapsed severely in the last few years. In Thailand's North, "Red China" is not just a journalist's phrase. In Chiengmai it means a great deal more than it means in, for example, Caithness, if I may say that respectfully to the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan). We must be prepared to stand up to the "international bullies" in the Far East.
We hear a great deal of criticism of the Government's east of Suez policy, as it is called, yet one rarely hears a mention of Hong Kong, either from hon. Gentlemen opposite—when they were in office or now, in opposition—or from my own Front Bench. We were told, when in Government, that hon. Gentlemen opposite intended fully to pull out of the Middle East. While my geography is bad, surely the number of troops whom they intended to maintain in Hong Kong could hardly be classed as not being representative of a presence in that area.
415 On the defence and moral issues there is far less strategic value to maintaining a presence in Hong Kong than in Malaysia or Singapore. Singapore has one of the finest Governments in the world, although it is probably true to say that the People's Action Party was not always held in that view. When I lived there Lee Kuan Yew was thought to be little less than a dangerous Communist! Time may perhaps have mellowed him, but I think that he can claim that his Government is one of the finest in the world. I had the pleasure and privilege of spending 90 minutes in private conversation with the Foreign Secretary of Singapore. The Foreign Secretary there also has the portfolio of Minister of Labour, which is an interesting combination that possibly we might examine in this country.
I also had the pleasure recently of attending a banquet to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the landing of Raffles in Singapore. What greater incongruity in this tumultuous world could one find than the Prime Minister of Singapore eloquently praising the colonial founder of what is now one of the most prosperous and stable areas not only in the Far East but in Asia generally? Many years prior to that I attended the "Merdeka" celebrations day in Kuala Lumpur.
In many ways our standards are theirs. Surely Opposition members must recognise that there are beyond defence reasons and beyond financial reasons and beyond strategic reasons for this House and the country to support the Governments of Malaysia and Singapore. Singapore and Malaysia are together one of the few places which I would say were definitely better in the post-colonial era following the departure of the British. If we were honest, we would admit that there are not many places which one can say are happier now than they were 10 or 15 years ago, but Singapore and Malaysia are undoubtedly two. I am delighted that the Government have decided to support these Governments, not only in a defence treaty but also on the basis of supporting two Governments whose interest is in providing for their people a democratic system of Government, and a system which is certainly far more democratic than that of other Governments in that region.
416 My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary stated a year ago that our Far Eastern policy was a good insurance policy. There are defence reasons why it makes good sense and there are commercial reasons why it makes good sense. But, above all, I believe that there are moral reasons why it makes good sense, and I ask the Opposition earnestly to consider that the reasons for our maintaining a presence east of Suez should not be judged purely and simply on the basis of carrying arms—the slur, one might say, of trying to maintain a colonial base. We are reviled quickly enough by countries we seek to help, but here in Malaysia and Singapore we are wanted, we are welcomed. It is almost a Freudian situation for post-colonial Britain and I would regret most seriously any attempt to throw away this almost unique relationship.
Perhaps one of the main causes of concern to the Government of Singapore about the policies of the present Opposition when in Government was that that Government's knowledge of Asia and the Far East and of Singapore was not as great as it might have been. It was put to me by a politician in Singapore that the previous Labour Government were led by a man who was unable to find his way from Bugis Street to Bras Basah Road—a remark that might be more apposite in the Singapore Legislature. But there was a feeling that the policies of the previous United Kingdom Government were not based on sound knowledge of the area.
I fully support our foreign policy in the Far East. Once again we have a foreign policy. This is something about which I am greatly enthusiastic, and I venture to suggest that in Singapore on 19th June a message went from the Foreign Office there to the Foreign Office in Kuala Lumpur, probably in the simple phrase, "Alec is back". My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will receive a splendid welcome in Singapore next year when, as I hope, he attends the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference, and that from a Government so upstanding as that of Lee Kuan Yew would be a very well deserved compliment indeed.
§ 7.55 p.m.
§ Miss Joan Lestor (Eton and Slough)
I am sure that I speak for the whole 417 House when I say that the hon. Member for Bristol, North-East (Mr. Adley) has done us a very great service in letting us know that The Times is not as powerful as some have believed, when he indicated that it had misreported what had taken place in the contest in Bristol, North-East.
I think that I also speak for the whole House when I say that the hon. Gentleman is quite wrong if he believes that his speech would have been better if he had waited longer to make it. In fact, it was a speech of very high quality. The hon. Gentleman's predecessor was a great friend of many of us on this side—and, I think, of many on that side also. He was a Government Whip, and he used his charm rather than the iron fist to persuade at least some of us to sit here longer, perhaps, than we wanted to on some evenings. His successor also has charm, considerable knowledge and a sense of humour which will make us want to hear further from him in the future.
In opening the debate, the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary said that he wished to discuss the question of the sale of arms to South Africa in the context of the Simonstown Agreement. I am sure that he did, but I think that the hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) and one or two other hon. Members opposite put it in rather another context. To some of us there seemed to be, perhaps, some connection between the quick arrival of Dr. Muller and the pledge by the Conservative Government to seek a settlement with Southern Rhodesia on the lines of what the Foreign Secretary has said to be the five principles.
I believe that the question to which the hon. Member for Haltemprice referred of arms to South Africa and constitutional amendments in relation to Southern Rhodesia is really what we are considering. When discussing the question of the sort of arms we sell to South Africa, if they are sold, and what happens about Southern Rhodesia, I should like to ask the Foreign Secretary whether South Africa has in any way indicated or suggested, directly or indirectly, that in exchange for arms she will use her quite considerable influence to persuade Ian Smith to accept a settlement along the lines which the right hon. Gentleman has already indicated.
If that is so, many of us are well aware of the fact that any settlement backed by racialist South Africa would not meet the 418 requirements of the six principles in which we have always believed. If this is not the case, if the hon. Gentleman for Haltemprice and his friends are wrong in what they hinted, where is the urgency of discussing any sale of arms to South Africa? As my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) and others have pointed out, the Simonstown Agreement is not at the moment in jeopardy. There is no question of its not going through or of our being in difficulties if we do not supply arms to South Africa. This, therefore, seems to me to be one of the questions that have to be asked: if there is not a connection between Southern Rhodesia and the sale of arms to South Africa, where lies the haste for discussion now and, we are told, in the future of the sale of arms to South Africa?
Another point I make in this connection ties up with the admirable maiden speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, Central (Mr. Clinton Davis). He said that he saw race relations as a world problem. He was supported in that by one or two hon. Members who spoke following him from either side of the House. If this is so and if, as most of us have said, we are concerned with race relations and the future of race relations in this country and in other parts of the world, there is something contradictory which in future we will debate more fully and deeply.
The Government talk about reducing the status of newly-arrived immigrants to this country—I am talking of permanent settlement of Commonwealth immigrants here—and are now prepared, as they suggested in Opposition, to seek a settlement with Rhodesia. That settlement and the proposals we have heard about postages and other things concerning Rhodesia indicate that the Government are prepared to grant white people in Rhodesia, many of whom are immigrants there, far greater rights than they are prepared to grant to the indigenous population of Rhodesia and at the same time to limit rights of Commonwealth immigrants in this country.
Race relations hang together. What we do in this country in relation to Commonwealth immigrants and what we do about the rights of immigrants in Rhodesia hang very closely together. This is why I and many of my hon. Friends view with great concern any 419 Government who talk on the one hand about supplying arms to a racialist régime and on the other hand of a settlement with Rhodesia on the basis of five principles, the one we have lost presumably being N.I.B.M.R. and—in another context, but in the same speech—different attitudes and a limiting of the rights of Commonwealth immigrants to this country. If we are concerned about race relations in a world context as has been said, we have to look closely at what is being done to see that we do not alienate many of those whose support we shall need in future.
The Foreign Secretary said that he wanted to discuss the question of supply of arms to South Africa in the context of the Simonstown Agreement. I have cuttings from the Zambian Mail, which I shall not read because of lack of time, which indicate the complexity and concern caused to the President of Zambia. I also have messages which have been sent to the Foreign Secretary from British people now living in Zambia over any suggestion that arms should go to South Africa and how Zambia would view that. It is said that the arms for South Africa are for external defence, but does that include Zambia? Zambia is external to South Africa, and South Africa has already expressed aggressive intentions. South African police are on the northern border across the Zambesi. Of course Zambia is concerned about what her position will be if we supply arms to South Africa for external defence.
This is the fear of many Commonwealth countries, that it will not end simply with the arms implied or implicit in the Simonstown Agreement of sea-to-sea missiles and the rest. If there is any connection between this and any settlement with Rhodesia, countries such as Zambia have every right to be concerned. They should be consulted before any such steps are taken. It has been said that any action like this in the context of what is happening in Southern Africa as a whole in 1970 puts us very plainly in the wrong camp. Hon. Members have argued continually over the last year or two that we have to be logical, and if we say there shall be no arms for South Africa, why should we trade with South Africa? They say we cannot be moral about one thing and then say that we will continue to 420 trade and improve our economy by involvement with South Africa.
I am prepared to be logical about this, but there is a qualitative difference between supplying weapons of destruction and merely trading in terms of peaceful goods. However, it is a valid point. One should be looking at it in the terms of Britain's involvement with South Africa and also in terms of trade with the developing world. We should look at the expanding markets in the developing world and see whether they can be used to change the emphasis from economic involvement with South Africa into greater involvement with the developing world and the black African countries. If we do not do this and if we find ourselves with a growing number of economic interests tied up with South Africa we shall be in a difficult situation eventually. This is the context in which we have to look at the question of sale of arms to South Africa, not just in the context of the Simonstown Agreement. I do not believe that it is in that context that the sale of arms to South Africa is being talked about.
The hon. Member for Haltemprice said that in his view apartheid was weakening in South Africa. I have been to South Africa and I have not seen any signs of it weakening. I do not think that the announcement about Chinese children having to be removed from a créche because they were non-white is a sign that apartheid is weakening. There is a fallacy which many people believe, that if we help to build up the economic strength of an oppressive régime that will weaken the oppression. It will not. As the economic strength of Germany grew in pre-war days oppression against the Jews also grew. This oppression is taking place in South Africa concerning the people whose country it is. One does not weaken oppression by making the economy of a country stronger. Normally and historically the opposite happens.
In future debates on this issue this is one of the things which will have to be faced in deciding which road we should take and where we should go and where our emphasis should be placed. However much it may be argued that the supply of arms to South Africa is concerned only with the Simonstown Agreement and nothing else, it will be seen, 421 and is already being seen, by the leaders of black Africa as an endorsement of apartheid. When it is seen as that endorsement the rest follows, that we are firmly committed to be in the wrong camp concerning the developing world and all that follows from that.
My right hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) referred to aid, and the question of extending aid is mentioned in the Gracious Speech. All of us very much hope that that will take place. One can argue on moral grounds, and I should be happy to do so because I believe there are strong arguments there. One can argue that charity begins at home, but that would be less favourable because I believe it might end there. There is a strong argument, however, for developing trade with the underdeveloped countries. There is an economic argument for improving the potentials of the developing world, which can have a very important relationship for this country in respect of the way we go in the racial conflicts in Southern Africa. It is not right to say that we are discussing this matter only in the context of the Simonstown Agreement. We are discussing it in the context of Rhodesia and the whole difficulty and problem of apartheid in Southern Africa.
§ 8.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Christopher Woodhouse (Oxford)
As a newly re-elected Member I do not think I need present the House with a eulogy about my constituency, which in any case is too well known to need any advertisement, but I think it would be appropriate to say a word of tribute to my predecessor who was also my successor. He was a distinguished Member of this House and a distinguished Minister in the Foreign Office and I know that hon. Members opposite will regret his departure. For myself, I can only say that, though we may have disagreed about many things, we did not disagree on the subject on which I propose to speak briefly tonight, which is the subject of Europe and our relations with it.
The Gracious Speech says:My Government have welcomed the opening on the 30th June of negotiations for membership of the European Communities".I wish I could unreservedly join in that welcome. Although I have been for a long time a faithful pro-European, I 422 believe that it is psychologically and politically a mistake to have simply renewed the approach to Europe on the same old lines as before. Psychologically it is a mistake because it implies a degree of urgency which is unnecessary. It suggests that we need to get into the Common Market more than the Common Market needs to have us in, which I believe is the reverse of the truth.
It is a political mistake because, as the Prime Minister once said, a third failure in these negotiations would be fatal and final: there could be no further attempt. Therefore, the Government are running the risk of having to present an eventual agreement to the House which the critics will say the Government had no alternative but to accept, however unacceptable it may be on its merits, merely to avert the catastrophe of a third failure. I see some indication that the Leader of the Opposition is already positioning himself to take up that attitude regardless of the nature of the agreement reached. These are the reasons why I believe that it is a mistake simply to renew in 1970 negotiations on the same lines as in 1961 and 1967.
It is clearly incumbent on any Member who spoke in favour of negotiations 10 years ago to explain why he speaks against them today. The answer is simple. The European Economic Community in 1970 is a totally different body from the community in 1960. It is also totally different from what it would have become if we had been in membership from the start. One of the arguments I advanced for negotiations in 1960 was that the only choice which was not open to us was the status quo; things were bound to change, whether we joined the Community or not, and if we did not the changes would be seriously to our disadvantage.
That has proved to be the case, and the White Paper which the previous Government published last February amply documents it. The White Paper shows the chief respects in which the Common Market has evolved since its creation to our disadvantage. I need say no more here than that. My hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. John Davies) very eloquently illustrated all the essential respects in which we shall find ourselves in difficulty. The 423 balance of payments and the cost of living take pride of place, but not least there are the large numbers, running into several hundreds, if not thousands, of regulations, some trivial, but some very substantial, which the Six have adopted and all of which we should have to adopt without qualification if we signed the Treaty.
Much, if not most, of this would be unacceptable as it stands. I do not understand why the late Government did not say so quite frankly when they published the White Paper last February.
It is because the Common Market has taken on a momentum and a direction of its own which are illustrated in the White Paper and which are quite different from the direction and momentum it would have taken if we had been active members ten years ago that I find no inconsistency in having favoured the negotiations in 1960 and in opposing them in 1970.
It is clearly no use being simply negative. One must find a constructive alternative, especially if one believes, as I do, that it would be even more damaging in 20 years' time for this country to be excluded from Europe than it would be today to enter the Common Market on the terms indicated in the White Paper or anything like them. That is our dilemma. I believe that there is a constructive alternative which I ask my right hon. Friends to examine.
The crucial date in this whole matter is about 1980. That is roughly when the transitional period would end if the present negotiations were to lead to our signature of the Treaty. The question I put to my right hon. Friends is this. Why should we not, instead of negotiating to sign the Treaty now, discontinue the negotiations and make a conditional declaration of intent to sign the Treaty in 1980 and use the 10-year interval as a period of transition under our own control from the outside? We could then undertake the necessary adjustments—the changes in our tax system, the shift to the common agricultural policy, and the adoption of these very large numbers of Community regulations—on our own, in our own time, in our own way, at our own speed, and in our own order.
The whole process would then be in our hands and we would be free to slow 424 it down or to accelerate it, or even to break it off at any time we wished. Instead of a transition period inside the Common Market, we should have a transition period outside the Common Market so that, when the day came to sign the Treaty, if it ever did come, it would make no sudden or substantial difference to our way of life or our national habits, because all the essential adjustments would already have been made.
We could also use this self-imposed, voluntary transition period in other ways which would take advantage of what is said to be the most powerful part of the economic case for the Community. One of the most important benefits of the Common Market is scale. The advanced science-based industries like aircraft, electronics, and chemicals, need both a larger market and a larger source of capital than an individual country of the size of Britain, France or Germany can provide on its own. It would never have been practicable for Britain alone to build and operate a supersonic passenger transport aircraft. The same applied to the French. That was the logic of co-operation in the Concorde project. Similar arguments led to the Anglo-Dutch-German co-operation in the gas centrifuge process to produce enriched uranium. Many more examples will follow. In no one of these cases is it necessary to join the European Economic Community to get the benefit of that kind of co-operation.
There are also a growing number of European bodies concerned with the international development of technology, of management, and of industrial training, some of which we have already joined and others of which we could very easily join without first having to sign the Treaty of Rome. This is the kind of technological and industrial co-operation we ought to pursue during the interim period. We are very well placed to do so, because our technology is in general ahead of Europe's and our experience of operating industry on an international scale is second to none.
It is interesting to note, for example, that almost all the great international companies in the world involve the membership either of the United States or of Great Britain, neither of them members of the Community, and virtually none of the international companies has come into existence within the 425 Six, running across the boundaries of the Six, since they signed the Treaty of Rome, though this was expected to be one of the benefits of the treaty. In fact, the great international company is not a feature of the Six, but it is very much a feature of the industrial operation of Britain. That is one of the reasons why I believe that our bargaining position is a strong one and that we have no need to approach the Community as suppliants begging them to let us in.
Moreover, by pursuing the policy I have suggested, a policy of postponing negotiation and making adjustments from outside instead of from inside, we should learn as we went along the kind of changes that would be needed without having to make firm advance commitments—changes in company law, the mutual recognition of qualifications, the introduction of common standards, and the fundamental changes in fiscal and welfare policy which would be involved.
Incidentally, we should also get as a result more public holidays in the process, because Britain's ration of public holidays is by far the lowest in the whole of Western Europe. This is quite a serious point because it might help to cut down that casual absenteeism which is associated now with the very limited number of public holidays that we have. All of this can be done from the outside.
Last and not least, the kind of policy that I advocate would give us time to disabuse ourselves of the illusion which is propagated by some of the mare fanatical pro-Europeans that joining Europe would somehow solve all our economic problems with one blow. It will not do so. It will not cure our balance of payments problem; in fact, it will aggravate it. It will not cure our industrial relations problem or the fundamental weaknesses of our economy which are that ever since the war we have consumed far too high a proportion and invested far too low a proportion of our annual production. All of these problems will have to be solved by ourselves, on our own, whether or not we join the European Economic Community, and if we should join the Community they will have to be solved before we join.
There are weak points as well as strong points in our position vis-à-vis our European competitors and potential partners. Where we are strong we shall still be 426 strong in five or 10 years' time, and where we are weak it is essential that we should cure our weaknesses before we sign the Treaty of Rome. These are additional arguments for not negotiating in a hurry but, on the contrary, for aiming at a long period of transition before negotiating at all.
I ernestly hope that my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench will reconsider this matter, will discontinue the steps they have perhaps somewhat precipitately taken, and will radically rethink our approach to Europe on the kind of lines that I have suggested.
§ 8.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Raphael Tuck (Watford)
While, of course, regretting the absence of Mr. Evan Luard, I welcome the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Woodhouse) back into the fold and I wish him a very happy time in this House.
I was interested in the hon. Member's speech. I hoped that I would also be able to welcome him as a convert to our way of thinking on the Common Market, but, although he went part of the way, he veered off and expressed some sentiments with which I must express myself not in total agreement.
For example, I understand that the hon. Member's idea was that we should get into line with the Common Market countries without joining them—the common agricultural policy and that kind of thing—and that if we found that we were properly in line, we should join up. But I cannot agree with him, because I regard the common agricultural policy as the death knell for the economic system of Great Britain.
I had hoped to say something in detail about the Common Market, but what I wanted to say has been uttered with far greater articulacy by my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay). There are, however, one or two points which I should like to add. I would remind the House of the fallacy that the Common Market has led to faster economic growth by the existing members and that, therefore, membership would lead to faster economic growth for Britain. The facts are really the reverse of the assumption. The growth in the gross national product of the Six averaged 5.3 per cent. during 1955–60, whilst after the treaty came into force 427 in the period 1960–68 it fell to 4.8 per cent.
Again I would remind the House of the fallacious claim made by some Common Marketeers that we would be cut off from trading with the Six unless we joined the E.E.C. In fact, British exports to Common Market countries have grown during the last six years in proportion to the growth of British exports as a whole. Exports to E.F.T.A. countries have also grown strongly, and show the importance of the Association the character of which is free trading without strings. So far as the Common Market is concerned, there would be very many strings indeed. It has been made clear by the Council of Ministers of the E.E.C. that the common agricultural policy is fixed and irreversible, and therefore we should have to go in without any conditions of our own or without any modifications of the conditions already existing.
Something that the hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. John Davies) said interested me very much. He rather put aside the idea of a referendum and of a General Election and suggested that a decision should be arrived at as a result of contact by Members of Parliament with their constituents. In my constituency of Watford there are 57,000 electors and I could not possibly reach them all in a reasonable time. Any opinion poll that I might make by meeting some of my constituents would probably be just as inaccurate as the opinion polls which caused the present Leader of the Opposition to test the feeling of the country prior to holding the General Election. In these circumstances, I cannot agree that Members of Parliament should test the opinion of their constituents. It must be done at national level.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North drew a parallel between this state of affairs and the years 1910 and 1832, but he ignored one point, and that is that the decisions taken in 1832 and 1910 could have been reversed later on. But once we take this step, it can never be reversed. Once we get into the Common Market, we can never get out of it, however unattractive and disadvantageous it may be to our country and to its economy. We would be in the same position as Ireland was in 1801, 428 and we all know the terrible events that took place before part of Ireland was able to wrench herself free from the clutches of the United Kingdom. We do not want that again.
§ Mr. Tuck
Yes. Ireland found herself inextricably intertwined with the United Kingdom and she could not get out. Great Britain would not be able to get out of the Common Market. That point should be put strongly to the electorate.
When I was campaigning during the last General Election I found that many of my constituents knew nothing of the Common Market issues. They did not know what an agricultural levy was; they did not know what it would do. They did not know the results that would ensue if we took off an agricultural subsidy. They did not know what a value added tax was. They had no idea of the allembracing and practically dictatorial powers of the Commission of the E.E.C., which might change our laws as it pleased. About 1,500 laws and regulations are brought in every year, and we would have to change something like 2,000 of our own laws and regulations. The E.E.C. would have control over everything—the level of employment, the cost of house mortgages, regional policy, and so on. In 1964 Italy tried to do what Great Britain has done with regard to I.D.C.'s, and that was held by the Common Market Court to be unconstitutional and against the Treaty of Rome. The question was taken to the World Court, where the same result ensued. Therefore, Italy was unable to pursue he policy of granting industrial development certificates. This kind of thing our electorate does not know. It is this kind of thing of which the electorate should be made aware. This must be done without undue haste so that people can form their own opinions.
As this is the greatest step that we might ever take, greater even than the Reform Bill and probably greater even than Magna Carta, the electorate should be given a chance of making its views felt and the Government should then proceed according to the wishes of the electorate.
There are many subjects which I should like to cover but in deference to 429 other hon. Members who wish to speak I will mention only one, and that is the Middle East. Nobody is likely to prevail upon Israel to say, "We were wrong in annexing territory and we will withdraw." Nobody will persuade the Arabs to say, "We were wrong to shell Israel from the Golan Heights, to shell school-children and do everything we did to try to drive the Israelis into the sea. We are satisfied that Israel is now as she should be and should keep the annexed territories." The Israelis and the Arabs are locked in a life-and-death struggle.
I hope that the House will not treat with derision what I am about to say, because I might be regarded as a starryeyed idealist, but I feel that this is the only possible way out of the impasse. A curtain must be drawn over what has happened by both sides to the conflict. There must be no recriminations afterwards. The two sides must start from scratch, not by negotiation, but by co- operation. The Israelis and the Arabs must say, "What are we to do with, not the Arab refugees, but our refugees?" The Arabs must say, "How are we to guarantee Israel's security?" These things must start from scratch and without recrimination, without the Arabs saying, "Yes, but you drove our refugees over the border", or the Israelis saying, "Yes, but you shelled our schools from the Golan Heights."
A curtain must be drawn over all that. The only way that they might be prevailed upon to do this is if people from both sides, from the Israel lobby and the Arab lobby, get together to try, first, to reach a common agreement and, then, to influence the respective Governments, over which they might have influence, to do the same thing.
I want, for example, the Mayhews, the William Wilsons and the David Watkins's of this Parliament to get together with the Tucks, the Roses and the Millers of this Parliament. I want them to confer with one another to see whether any path or any via media out of the present impasse may be found and, when it has been found, for the Israeli lobby—I am dissociating myself for the moment from either of them—to try to influence the Israeli Government and the Arab lobby to try to influence the Arab Governments to get this degree of co-operation.
430 I might be a starry-eyed idealist, but I feel that that is the only possible way out of this terrible dilemma, which otherwise may lead to more bitterness, skirmishes, bloodshed, and deaths and, perhaps, even to a third world war. I ask the House earnestly to consider this. Even if hon. Members feel that it might be improbable, it is possible. Therefore, I ask the Government and the Opposition, and both lobbies particularly, to consider what I have said.
§ 8.33 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Hornby (Tonbridge)
I will not pursue the point made by the hon. Member for Watford (Mr. Raphael Tuck) about the Middle East, although I will try to say something following what he said about Europe. I would dearly like to speak at considerable length—but I will forbear from doing so in the interests of other hon. Members—about the procedures of the Common Market, which, it seems to me, the hon. Member has gravely wronged.
The hon. Member failed to understand, and in so doing he did a disservice to his electors, that by and large the Treaty of Rome began with some agreed limited measures and then moved forward by consensus. To express fear that one will be rushed into something which one does not understand is to display a total disregard of what has been the case within the membership of the Treaty of Rome.
In this debate on foreign affairs, in speech after speech hon. Members have been wanting to come back—and so it should always be—to a concern for the security of our frontiers, our freedom to trade, by which we mean access to raw materials and markets, and to such contribution as we can make from our limited resources to the promotion of stability and the preservation of peace. As a maritime trading nation, we have a vested interest in just that.
In all these three contexts—and here I come to the hon. Gentleman's concern—it seems to me that our relationships with Europe are all important. In terms of the threat to our own frontiers, what happens in Europe more closely concerns us than what happens anywhere else, and so it has been historically twice this century. This time we cannot take lightly the level of Russian rearmament, whatever hopeful signs and talks there may 431 be. At the same time we cannot totally ignore the probabilities of some reduction in the American commitment to Europe. I do not put it further than that, but I think that possibly because of the domestic background in the United States, there may be some reduction in the American commitment to Europe. Again, one has only to look at history to beware of any possibilities of divisions within Europe; one might even say the continuation of the division between the Six and the rest of Europe. On top of all that there is the technological threat with all it means to economic power and resources which can be available to us.
Alongside all this in Europe—and here again I think I am at variance with the hon. Member for Watford—there are in Europe opportunities also. It is time, I believe, in all the arguments and amid the fears, to recollect a bit of the background to the current negotiations, time some of us began to speak again about the opportunities which are there within Europe, as a collective force for security, as a voice for conciliation and not division—one has only to look back to the Nigerian civil war to see what divided counsels in Europe can mean to other parts of the world—and as the creator of wealth for all of us. Reference was made to aid programmes, as mentioned by the right hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) and others.
So I believe that one should welcome, and welcome very warmly, the current talks, and I myself hope they will have a successful conclusion. At the same time I suspect that most of us who have been engaged in the election campaign are bound to recognise the many anxieties which there are in many people's minds about, for instance, food prices, and those anxieties are probably found everywhere, and other anxieties, in some people's minds, about the problems of adaptation in the industrial field. In my own constituency there are the problems of the horticultural industry.
All I want to say at this point is that I do hope that we shall—myself as concerned with the horticultural industry, and others concerned with other problems—not take or ask for a piecemeal view of this very big issue. It is far better that we should recognise here and now that there are difficulties to solve, that there 432 are anxieties and that we recognise them, and I hope that we have informed, and will inform, the negotiators where we have particularly constituency problems, but, when we have done that, the negotiators should be allowed to get on with the job and present us with a full report at the end of the day. At the end of the day is the time when we should have the fullest possible discussion, discussion both in the country and then in this House.
Having spoken about the need of public discussion, let us not—please not—have a referendum. It seems to me that the more complicated the issue, the less relevant a referendum is as a proper solution, and if we cannot, in our various representative rôles, and with the constitutional procedures of this House, collect the voices about what is the right thing to do on this issue, it seems to me we are going very far wrong. So I hope that as we watch the way things go over the next few months we shall not take the argument bit by bit and week by week as first one headline comes forward and then another.
§ Mr. Raphael Tuck
Has the hon. Gentleman considered the constructive alternative to the Common Market, an open free trade association comprising Great Britain, the Commonwealth, perhaps the United States, the members of the E.F.T.A. countries, and those of the Common Market who want to join?
§ Mr. Hornby
Yes. I recognise that that is a fairly widely canvassed view but it seems to me to have only few advocates in the other countries mentioned by the hon. Member, and I am bound to admit I am not attracted to it at the present time.
But now, having said what I have about our constitution and Europe, let me come on to say that one has to recognise that if the European issue is paramount for us we at the same time cannot divorce our rôle in Europe from our attitudes towards the rest of the world. Indeed, a great deal of damage would occur if we were to do so. Such questions as the level of tariff, the treatment of developing countries and the rôle we play in security forces all involve relationships not only between Britain and Europe but between Europe and the rest of the world.
It is in this context that I want to speak about the second most frequently 433 mentioned subject in this debate, our relationship with Southern Africa. One must start by asking oneself, as my hon. Friend the Member for Horncastle (Mr. Tapsell) did, what are our interests in our relationships with this part of the world. I define them straightforwardly as three: first, the safeguarding of the Cape route; secondly, the safeguarding our our investments and our trade in both black and white Africa; thirdly, doing what we can to ease the racial tensions which sadden that part of the world and infect a great many other parts of the world. If those are our interests, what should we be doing about them?
In defence, we must recognise the importance of the Cape route and of access to Simonstown, and here I differ from the right hon. Member for East Ham, North. In the event of a major nonnuclear war it could be of critical importance. It is of value to us at present as a servicing arrangement; I think that about 55 British Navy ships called in at Simonstown in 1969. Furthermore, friendly relationships with South Africa are important in the defence context for access to over-flying rights and air routes.
At the same time, we must recognise that it may be an embarrassing as well as a useful relationship, and this is where the argument becomes joined. It may be an embarrassing relationship because of the intense dislike which is felt by so many people in so many parts of the world, including many people in this country, for the internal policies of the South African Government.
If one recognises that in certain circumstances security issues are paramount in a country's foreign policy, one has to recognise that in certain circumstances also one cannot be too choosy about one's friends. One remembers in the last war how quickly the wicked invaders of Finland became our gallant allies. So for reasons of national security, no more, no less, if the arguments are proven so it must be, and one does not lightly cast friendships aside unless one thinks that in terms of influence and security one is getting something better by casting them aside. Therefore, I believe that the way in which we should be looking at the South African problem is to recognise that if the Defence Ministry's case is proven, and if we really need the resources of the Southern Cape route, we 434 must take steps to ensure friendly relationships with South Africa. As has been said, they are lonely people, and we should not think that the bargain is a one-sided one in which we have to make all the running.
Secondly, because of the embarrassing nature of such an agreement, it is important to define the defence agreement carefully. The nature of arms supplied becomes a crucial issue, and we should drawn the lines rigidly, confining the agreement so far as possible to naval equipment.
Thirdly, we should recognise that any change in policy, determined by concern about the Cape route, is the concern not only of Britain but presumably of the rest of Western Europe. I therefore argue that if a change of policy is to carry any conviction, it is very much in our interests that it should carry with it also the support of most of the countries of N.A.T.O.; otherwise an altogether different interpretation will be put on it, with damaging consequences to ourselves.
We should make it crystal clear to South Africa in any new negotiations on this subject that, while we take an extremely cautious view of any attempts to interfere with the internal affairs of other countries, however much we may dislike apartheid, at the same time we would remind them how extremely fearful are countries north of the Zambesi of the dangers on their frontiers and that arms manufactured by South Africa or provided from outside might at some stage be used across that frontier. We should make it clear that any aggressive tendencies spotted in the so-called outward policy of the South African Government would incur serious displeasure on the part of the British Government and would damage any friendship or any agreements which might have been made.
Moving from defence to trade problems, I would point out that much has been said already in this House on previous occasions about the effect of our Rhodesian and South African policies on our trading position. My hon. Friend the Member for Horncastle gave the correct figures to the House, the key points of which are as follows. While our investment is slightly larger in white Africa than in black Africa, our trade is greater with black Africa than with white 435 Africa. In this context the Rhodesian situation should be examined.
Much has been said about the damage done—and it is real damage—to our trade with that country. But the Rhodesia trade alone is minimal compared with our total trade with black Africa. We would do well to balance those two facts. My own belief is that it is wholly right to talk to Rhodesia and see whether we can get a satisfactory agreement. I believe that personalities entered into the previous rounds of talks, and that it is always worth while to go over the course again. The situation at present is a sterile one. At the same time having looked at the stated position of the Smith régime and at the new constitution, and having noted the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary both during the election and again today that any agreement must be on the basis of the five principles, I do not see any easy bargain. The point I make on trade is that to sell out on too easy terms would be wholly contrary to the trading interests of this country and also to our interests on wider grounds.
Finally, I would mention the general need to do what we can as a European nation to ease racial tensions wherever we find them. These are issues which will not lie down and disappear. They are too complicated, too deep-seated for that. They are intensely felt particularly by the young in this country and in many other countries. They are increasingly political issues. There are more and more countries with mixed populations. The United States, our leading ally, will not ignore racial issues in foreign policy when it has an electorate which is more than 10 per cent. negro. These are issues which will concern us.
I recognise the need for talks with Rhodesia, but I do not hold out high hopes, and damage would be done if there were any easy surrender. There is the paramount need to recognise the security issues. The Cape route is of real concern to us, subject to safeguards, but we also must recognise that the passions engendered in this delicate situation both in Southern Africa and elsewhere are such that I hope my right hon. Friends will look at these problems with the greatest possible care before 436 deciding in what ways they wish to revise the present policies of Her Majesty's Government.
§ 8.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)
I seek to raise, as crisply as possible, three issues which have one feature in common, namely, that action will have to be taken on them by the Foreign Office before Parliament is likely to reassemble in October. The first is the issue of South-East Asia and Cambodia in particular. The second is the subject of salmon and other fishing rights off Greenland. I gave prior notice to the Foreign Office that I should be raising this. The third is the decision in response to the N.A.S.A. offer about British participation in the post-Apollo programme.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say what initiatives he contemplates in relation to our chairmanship of the Geneva Conference, particularly as it relates to Cambodia? I have had a sustained interest in Cambodia ever since visiting the country in 1967. I confess that Prince Sihanouk was and still is a friend of mine. I hope that the Foreign Office will not exclude as completely crazy the notion that there may be certain circumstances in which the British Government, as chairman of the conference, might press for the restoration of Prince Sihanouk. As a god king and with his command over the loyalty of vast sections of the Khmer people, he was venerated. In my belief, he was incorrupt. I have seen no evidence to the contrary. He seemed to be one of those lay leaders who combine all sorts of remarkable qualities with a deep love given to him by his people.
Although it is true that he may seem to be the puppet of the Chinese at present, it is not to be assumed automatically that if ever he were restored to the leadership of Cambodia he would remain a puppet of the Chinese. I think that Her Majesty's Government should look at these matters carefully and, certainly on the main issue, take some initiative in trying to do something about the terrible ravages which have taken place among the Khmer people and respect what were their neutralist attitudes.
Modestly, I offer a word of warning to the Government. I have taken a sustained interest in Indonesian affairs ever since 437 the Borneo war, as the Foreign Office knows. This is neither the time nor the place to go into the details of our relationship with Indonesia. I simply beg the Government, if they are to pursue a policy of keeping forces in the Far East, which my right hon. and hon. Friends feel is a very misguided policy, at least they should have talks with the Indonesian Government and enter into consultations before doing so. It may be that the Indonesian Government will take more of the view of Her Majesty's Government than my right hon. and hon. Friends and I wish. It may be that certain sections of the Indonesian Government would like British troops in the Far East. I do not deny that. I simply reflect that much of the trouble which led to the Borneo war, though not all, is that the then Minister in Singapore, Lord Selkirk, said that there was nothing to discuss when he was approached by the Indonesian Government about a Malaysian and Singapore Federation. In any change of policy, I hope that Her Majesty's Government will show courtesy to the Indonesians and talk to them about it in an adult manner.
Another country in which I have a sustained interest is Burma. Here again it might be worth the time of Her Majesty's Government in the very near future to talk to the Government of Burma as to what their relations are and what our relations might be with the Chinese. I hope that the Government will work very hard for the entry of China into the United Nations. In doing so, it might be well to discuss with one of the so-called dominoes their attitude to the Chinese.
I hope that the Government will not be as totally seduced as many British politicians of all parties have been by the eloquence and undoubted abilities of Lee Kuan Yew. I view him with a certain degree of scepticism. Before praising his régime and its undoubted achievements too much, I should like to ask him certain questions about political prisoners in Singapore. I hope that the Government will bear in mind that this man has an economic axe to grind of a considerable nature. Before committing forces to military bases, let us be clear about their purpose and any ulterior motives that the Prime Minister of 438 Singapore or, indeed, the Malays may have.
The second issue of which I gave notice is entirely different. It is a fairly straightforward question: whether, some time fairly soon, the nature of the agreement arranged by my right hon. Friends the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) and Anglesey (Mr. Cledwyn Hughes) on the Greenland fisheries could be made public? There is hearsay that my right hon. Friends conducted favourable negotiations and have gone a long way towards the protection of the salmon in Greenland waters. As a conservationist and as a council member of the Fauna and Flora Preservation Society I should like to know what agreement has been reached and whether it is likely to succeed in the object of protecting the Atlantic salmon from becoming extinct.
The third issue that I wish to raise concerns British participation in the post-Apollo programme. As the House knows, an offer was made in April by Dr. Thomas Paine, on behalf of N.A.S.A., for European collective participation in the post-Apollo space programme. I have been fortunate in getting an Adjournment debate on Friday on this subject, so the whole Mintech aspect must wait until Friday. However, there are two considerations for the Foreign Office. I hope that it will bear in mind that the United States Congress is extremely keen that there should be European participation involving, as it does, European payments for the total Western programme to go ahead. As a consequence, our decision and the European decision on the response to the American offer on the post-Apollo programme may affect not only space but also our deeper industrial relations with the United States. This is a major consideration to be borne in mind. I hope that the Government will go into this in great detail not only from its technical aspects, but also from its foreign affairs aspects.
Finally, I hope that the Government will pursue the good work begun by my hon. Friends in trying to get an international treaty on chemical and biological weapons and also on the subject raised earlier by the hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) of the limitation of arms on the ocean bed. I conclude, as a believer in short speechs when other hon. Members have sat through a debate.
§ 8.58 p.m.
§ Mr. David Crouch (Canterbury)
I will be speedy. I had thought that the tenor of the debate would mainly be on Europe, and it is about Europe that I should like to have spoken. I believe that the decision which will ultimately be taken in this House and in the country on Europe will really determine this Government.
I also want to draw the attention of the House and of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary to the situation in the Middle East. I prefer to talk on that topic as I have a limited time to speak. I believe that the success or failure of negotiations in the Middle East can mean success or failure as to whether we approach war or peace.
We seem suddenly to be aware that Russia is in the Middle East, in the Mediterranean, in Egypt, and standing astride the gateway to India, standing astride the Canal which can ultimately be opened again. The President of the United States speaks of a Soviet combat presence in Egypt that could lead to a "collision of the super-Powers". These things are with us. I remind the House that they are terribly dangerous in this year, and they could be more serious before the year is out. A confrontation between the two super-Powers, the United States and Russia, looms more likely every day, and time is not on our side. I urge the Government not to stand aside from this dangerous trouble spot.
Now more than ever there is a need for us to add something towards the cause of peace. I concede readily and willingly that Mr. George Brown, when he was Foreign Secretary, made a considerable contribution to peace with his initiative in the creation of the United Nations resolution of 1967. I believe that that must be our starting point. I know that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is not complacent in these matters, and certainly not over the danger of the Middle East question. We have that resolution. I believe that it is a starting point, and during the Middle East debate on 13th April my right hon. Friend outlined a programme by which that resolution could possibly be put into action. I urge him to think about that again and see whether we can take that initiative ourselves as one of the major powers, if not one of the super-Powers, involved in the area.
440 Russia is in the Middle East, in the Mediterranean, and looking at Europe's back door from the Bosphorus to Gibraltar. Russia is also standing astride in Egypt, looking towards India. Russia is interested in the Middle East, and she will stay there. She is interested in the area, not only for political reasons, but for economic ones. Russia's oil reserves are not growing as fast as they should, and certainly not as fast as they are required to grow. In the next 10, or possibly 20, years Russia will be seeking oil supplies from the Middle East, and her presence there today is very much dominated by her desire for a greater control over oil supplies in the area.
We must accept that Russia is in the Mediterranean, and going to stay there. I think that we must adjust our foreign policy on that basis. The Russian fleet of about 70 ships is probably already neutralising the American Sixth Fleet. It is no good crying over this spilt milk. We must accept the facts of life as we see them and try to adjust our policy accordingly, because I want to see us play our part in limiting the expansion of Communist power. Russia has arrived and she must therefore be seen to be playing a part now and in the future. We have to decide what we can do to limit that power, and how we can face it.
I do not think that we have to accept Russia's future domination over the Arab oil States and the eventual use of a reopened Suez Canal and Aden by her fleet. I believe that Russia must be contained, and her expansion limited.
I do not think that Russia wants to be involved in major hostilities in the Middle East. In fact, I am sure that she wants to avoid that at all cost. I do not think that she wants to see an emergence again of the sort of war that occurred between the Arabs and the Israelis three years ago. I think that Russia looks with concern at the escalation of the war in that area, albeit on a smaller scale than ever before, but neverthless a dangerous scale.
I think that the time is ripe for a solution, and yesterday Lord Caradon who speaks with great experience of this area, having studied the problem over the last three years, said the same thing. Russia perhaps wants a "near war", the sort of war that keeps everyone on their toes and on the edge of their seats, but 441 she does not want anything more than that. There are signs that the trouble in the Middle East will escalate into something very different from what we have seen before, not just a holy war between Arabs and Israelis but something which would be bigger than both of them.
That is not what Russia wants. She has economic and oil interests in the Middle East area. She is extremely interested in being in Egypt and looking towards the Far East, towards the new oil States, and towards India. We must show that we have an important part to play in achieving peace in the area and a reduction of this international tension, but we can do that only if we, as a new Government, shake off the inertia which affected the last Government for the last three years of their term of office. We have not taken sides in the Middle East, and there is still a residue of old friendship there, particularly with the Arab countries. We must not neglect the old feelings of friendship and trust which are still there.
I welcome the recent American initiative. It did not fall on altogether stony ground. But we must move on from there. When I was in Egypt in the spring of this year every Egyptian Minister to whom I spoke made it clear that he wanted peace, and that Egypt can no longer stand the enormous cost of the war that she is having to face. The trouble is that Egypt speaks with two voices, one for the outside world and one for her own people, and her speaking to her own people in a warlike tone does not help to produce the conditions for peace.
I have run out of time. All that I seek to say in conclusion is that we must prevent this confrontation from arising before it is too late. It could happen even this year. We must seek to make friends again in the Middle East and the Near East, even if it costs something to make good-neighbourly calls. British influence is vital in an area which is so much in the melting pot of economic development and political emergence. I know that my right hon. Friend believes in a positive approach in foreign policy. I believe that the time has come for Britain to exert her influence for peace. We must achieve a break-through. Let us therefore be much bolder than in the past, before it is too late.
§ 9.7 p.m.
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)
This has been a useful and interesting debate, distinguished particularly by four very able maiden speeches—five if we include that of the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Woodhouse) who has returned to our debates. I welcome his return, although in circumstances that I somewhat deplore. The hon. and gallant Member for Lichfield and Tamworth (Major-General d'Avigdor-Goldsmid) demonstrated his profound attachment to the Territorial Army. He has distinguished himself by service to the nation as a soldier, and I am sure that we all now agree that he will be equally distinguished as a Member of Parliament. I have no doubt that he will welcome the opportunity to put his views to me rather more directly than he has been able to in the recent past.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, Central (Mr. Clinton Davis) made an eloquent and moving speech which showed his great knowledge of the Middle East, which I know will be of great benefit to our debates in the future. The hon. Member for Bristol, North-East (Mr. Adley) showed an equally profound knowledge of the Far East. The hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. John Davies), whom many of us have met in another capacity, made a speech that betrayed his great knowledge of industry and of Europe, and some hon. Members on this side of the House will be glad to see the whites of his eyes for the next year or two.
I want to concentrate upon the impressive and interesting speech of the Foreign Secretary. I agree with a great deal of what he said, and I was in total agreement with what I thought were the most important points that he made—first, that the first priority of any British Government in all fields at present must be to preserve and extend the strength of our economy and, secondly, that in foreign affairs, and defence in particular, our first priority must be N.A.T.O. as a means to the security and stability of Europe.
I agree profoundly with both remarks, but I think that the rest of the right hon. Gentleman's speech showed that he had little sense of the extent to which the economic factors to which he rightly gave priority are bound to set limits to our freedom of action in foreign affairs and 443 defence. I think, too, that he failed to recognise the extent to which, if we do give priority to N.A.T.O., it is quite inconsistent with the sort of return to a military rôle east of Suez that he appeared to recommend.
What I disagreed with most—and this will be no surprise to the right hon. Gentleman—was what he said on South Africa, because there, as in some of his remarks about N.A.T.O. and the European Economic Community, he showed a disturbing insensitivity to the way in which the world has changed in the last quarter of a century and, in particular, an insensitivity about the extent to which new international movements and international institutions are profoundly modifying the system of nation States which, I suspect, he prefers and which he certainly appears to believe is still ruling in the world of 1970 as it did in 1870. I believe that, so long as he fails to recognise the profound modifications in the old structure of international power politics which have been introduced by these international movements and institutions, he will fail to recognise the real problems and opportunities which face Britain in the modern world.
One lesson which the last Government learned—I admit that they had to learn through bitter experience—is that excessive external commitments and excessive defence expenditure are a major cause of inadequate economic growth in the modern world. This is not a party point. The fact is that over the last 20 years the rate of growth in Britain has been well under the rate of growth in the whole of Western Europe. The only country which is growing more slowly than Britain today is the United States, which is spending more than we are on defence. The country which is growing fastest and has grown fastest for the last 20 years at least is Japan, which spends almost nothing at all on defence.
This, of course, is not an argument against defence expenditure, because we would all agree, on both sides, that unless we can guarantee not only the security of our own country but peace and stability in large parts of the world as well, our economic growth will be forfeit to aggression. But we must recognise the very severe economic 444 burdens imposed by excessive defence expenditure, in particular—this was the one point in a recent economic report with which I agreed—defence expenditure in foreign exchange.
We learned in Britain—I hope both parties learned—that it is no longer possible for us to police the world. The United States has also learned that through tragic and bitter experience in the last few years, and the United States is now engaged in the same drastic revision of its defence and foreign policy as the last Government undertook starting in 1964.
The United States is trying to disengage from the excessive commitments that it undertook in Asia. It has warned us of the possible reduction at any rate in the proportion of the N.A.T.O. defence burden which it believes itself capable of carrying in the next decade, and it has already set itself the task of reducing its defence expenditure as a percentage of national wealth to 7 per cent. by 1972, in order to get down to the level which we were at in 1964, in two years' time. No one who has watched developments in the United States can believe that that will be the end of the story.
I do not believe that any of America's allies should seek to discourage her from reducing defence expenditure, because the effect on American society of excessive defence commitments outside the United States has threatened not only the cohesion of America but also America's capacity to play the essential rôle which she must play in the world if Western civilisation, at any rate as we have understood it, is to survive.
But surely the lesson of this bitter education which America is now undergoing, after Britain, is that all of us in the world must depend more in future than ever in the past on one another, and that interdependence in foreign policy and in defence, implying as it does a reduction in one's own national freedom of action, is the only possible source of security in the years to come.
The United Kingdom came to terms with these facts which America is now facing some six years ago, and one of the reasons for the dramatic improvement in our economic situation over the last few years was the reduction in our defence expenditure and in our overseas commitments. As I understand it, the present 445 Government plan further cuts in public expenditure. Indeed, it will be impossible for them to implement any of their promises of reductions in taxation unless they do cut public expenditure. I am prepared to bet that the Foreign Secretary will find the new Chancellor of the Exchequer a no less formidable obstacle in the carrying out of some of his ideas than previous Foreign Secretaries have found their Chancellors.
We also face in the next few years not only restrictions in terms of the money that is likely to be available to support our foreign policy but also restrictions in terms of men. I do not believe that it is possible to recruit more men over a period for the armed forces by voluntary means than was planned by the Labour Government when we left office a few weeks ago.
What has happened in recent weeks in Northern Ireland must warn us that we may have to be prepared to devote a very substantial proportion of one of the most valuable parts of our military manpower—that is, infantry manpower, land soldiers—to keeping the peace in Northern Ireland, and this will further restrict the rôle of force in supporting our foreign policy overseas.
With respect, I tell the Foreign Secretary that in his opening statement today he appeared to show no understanding whatever of the economic and manpower constraints which will prevent him from implementing the priorities which he set himself in defence and foreign policy—that is, unless he is prepared to change other aspects of the foreign policy on which he fought the last election.
If he does not, then the risk is that we shall do again what was done by Conservative Administrations 10 years ago; namely, accept commitments without providing the resources to support them, inflict over-stretch and over-strain on our armed forces and condemn ourselves to radical and abrupt changes in our foreign policy which do no good to our reputation in the world.
Indeed, the problem facing any British Government in the 'seventies in this regard is likely to be a good deal more difficult to solve than that facing Governments in the 'sixties, because the scale of military power required to support British policy in other parts of the world 446 has very substantially increased in the last 10 years as a result of various obvious factors.
First, the United States is, clearly, drastically reducing its efforts in Asia and warns us that it may make some reduction in its efforts in Europe. Secondly, China is emerging as a major world Power, and not just as a regional Power in the Far East. Thirdly, we must accept that Japan will emerge as a major influence in world affairs and probably as an important military power before the end of this decade—some people think even within the next five or six years.
Fourthly, the United States and the Soviet Union, what one might call the old traditional super-Powers, seem to be moving towards agreement, at least with one another, on the talks on the limitation of strategic armaments, possibly agreement with the Middle Eastern countries or at least with one another on the Middle East, and, hopefully, some kind of agreement affecting security in Europe.
I suggest that in this situation Britain will need to concentrate even more of its scarce resources—resources available for foreign affairs—in Europe than in the the past and not fewer of its resources. What is involved here is not just the size of the British contribution. We compare very well with all our European allies in the size of our contribution to N.A.T.O. We do a good deal better than any of our European allies.
Also, however, it means a much greater degree of commitment to Europe—commitment in the sense that we give up certain areas of freedom of action for the sake of maximising the collective effort for the security of Europe as a whole. This is a fact of which the Foreign Secretary appeared to show no understanding in his speech, and I shall give some examples of this later.
I now wish to comment on a subject which I believe will come to occupy more and more of our debates on foreign affairs in the next few years; namely, the question of European defence co-operation.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster stressed a little in his speech to the Common Market countries a few days ago the importance of European defence co-operation as an element in Britain's 447 total approach towards entry into the Common Market. I was surprised that he did not say more. I was even more surprised that the Foreign Secretary said nothing at all about it this afternoon, particularly as, as in the case of South African arms, we had a fairly comprehensive trailer presented by the Press a few days before the Chancellor of the Duchy spoke in Luxembourg of the importance this would play in the policy of the new Government. I should like to make one or two remarks on the subject because, as hon. Members will know, it occupied a very great deal of my time and thinking in my last few years in my old office.
First of all, I hope that the new Government—and I believe that they will—will continue to develop the type of co-operation within N.A.T.O. amongst the European Defence Ministers which the last Government began some two years ago. The House may not know that actually during the General Election, at a meeting in Brussels, the European Defence Ministers agreed, for the first time, to hold a special meeting in September of this year, outside the N.A.T.O. framework, to discuss certain of their common problems. Against the background of suspicion and inertia which one faced two years ago this was quite an important move, and I hope that the new Government will take advantage of the opportunities that it offers.
I hope, too, that the new Government will continue the very close defence co-operation with the Federal Republic of Germany which has developed over the last few years under the previous Government, because I believe that close co-operation between Britain and Germany must be one of the central foundations of any British relationship with Western Europe.
We all hope that we can develop an equally close co-operation with France but, as is well known, France rejects many of the views on strategy and the organisation of defence which are held in common by all the other European members of N.A.T.O., and until she moves closer to the European countries on these questions of strategy and doctrine, very severe limits are set to the scope for closer defence co-operation with her, although I believe that we should exploit whatever is possible within the 448 limits set by current French policy. I was very glad that the Chancellor of the Duchy ruled out at his Press Conference any immediate approach towards nuclear co-operation with France. I think that for us to attempt that before France returns to a better working relationship with N.A.T.O. would be disastrous to the Alliance as a whole.
I think, if I may say so, that the article in The Times this morning was very wise in stating some of the considerations which must determine nuclear co-operation amongst European Powers. I think that perhaps one of the most important fields for European co-operation in the next few years will be to nudge and edge both the Alliances towards some agreement on the mutual and balanced reduction of forces in Europe, and I hope very much that the Minister of State will this evening be able to tell us that the Government welcome the Soviet response to the last N.A.T.O. invitation and, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) said earlier in the debate, that they will find this a further step towards a possible negotiation.
But, having said that, my main anxieties about the Government's policy as outlined by the Foreign Secretary concern their policy outside Europe, because I could not help feeling from what the right hon. Gentleman said in connection with almost every issue outside Europe that he does not really think that the world east of Suez has changed very much in the last quarter of a century—or even in the last half century. He made no attempt whatever to define our military rôle, as he sees it, east of Suez, and still less did he make any attempt to estimate its cost.
Surely, some of the facts about this matter are already obvious. The first is that in the Gulf none of the major Gulf Powers which is friendly to Britain wants us to stay after the end of next year. Saudi Arabia and Iran have made this crystal clear.
I think the Foreign Secretary was both ungenerous and untrue in what he said about developments in the Gulf since our announcement that we planned to withdraw by the end of 1971, because almost all the progress made in the Gulf towards closer co-operation between the local Powers since the end of the war 449 have been made in the last two years. For the first time Saudi Arabia and Iran are beginning to work together and not against each other. The status of Bahrein had actually hag-ridden all attempts at improving co-operation among the local States for almost 20 years. It is now finally settled with the agreement of the Powers concerned. Progress has been good—not sufficient I agree, but real progress—among the trucial sheikdoms of the Gulf.
The fact is that if the Gulf States thought we were serious about staying militarily after the end of next year this would arouse extreme hostility among the major Powers whose support we most need and would lead to a collapse of the momentum in the efforts made by smaller Powers to come together. I hope that after a rapid reconnaissance the Government will come to accept these facts and base their policy on them.
In the Far East I think the Minister of State must try to do what the Foreign Secretary did not attempt to do when opening the debate—give us some clarity on the rôle of our forces in the Far East after 1971 on the commitments they are to fulfil and on the capability he plans to provide for meeting those commitments. He said in Kuala Lumpur in a Press conference only a few weeks ago that the Conservative Party, the new Government, sees the main danger in the Far East as being guerrilla war and if aggression comes it will come in that form. In the first place, guerrilla war must be a job for the local Governments. Surely the lesson of guerrilla war all over the world is that if local Governments cannot find political morale and solidarity to fight it effectively, foreign assistance is likely to damage their efforts rather than assist them.
Secondly, guerrilla war is the most expensive of all types of war in man- power. It is no good suggesting that one British battalion on the ground in South-East Asia accompanied by one Australian and one New Zealand battalion will deter guerrilla war. We had 40,000 men in South-East Asia when confrontation started in Malaysia. We had at least as many when guerrilla war started in Malaya. It cannot be deterred by the presence of a handful of foreign 450 troops, and often it can be incited by that presence.
§ Mr. Healey
There were half a million in the case of Vietnam. The hon. and gallant Member who said "Nonsense", who spent some time studying this matter as a professional sailor, knows perfectly well that what I have said was true in Kenya, in Palestine and in Malaysia. Guerrilla war is the most expensive and most uncontrollable of all types of war.
It was quite irresponsible for the Foreign Secretary to suggest that he can make a real contribution to meeting this sort of problem unless he is prepared to pay the cost in manpower and money. It is all very well saying one will save the Argylls by giving the name Argyll to five men and a boy in a disused drill hall. A military presence east of Suez cannot be handled in this way without grave damage to our reputation in the world and grave risk to the forces concerned.
I must say a word about the South African problem, particular since I held the responsibility of Defence Secretary in the last Government and the Foreign Secretary rested so much of his argument on defence on the importance of South Africa. There is no obligation on the British Government to supply arms to South Africa. If there had been, the South African Government would not have reaffirmed the Simonstown Agreement after the Labour Government had announced and begun to carry out the arms embargo.
Therefore, the only case for a change in this policy must be based on new strategic reasons. As I have often said in the House, the facilities we have under the Simonstown Agreement are useful to us but not vital. They are certain naval, signal and air facilities which are useful to us, not for the defence of the Cape, but because we want frequently to move aircraft or ships round the Cape to the Far East or the Gulf or, indeed, occasionally to the Beira Patrol. The purpose of these facilities is not essential, and their value to Britain—this is what the Foreign Secretary rested his case on—is not vital for the defence of the Cape route.
451 If ever the defence of the Cape route became a major problem—if the 300-odd Soviet submarines were to begin sinking shipping round the Cape, though why they should choose the Cape rather than the Indian Ocean out of reach of aircraft based on the Cape I do not know—that would be a matter for N.A.T.O.
But there is no N.A.T.O. country which takes this threat seriously. The only country which wants any defence relationship with South Africa is Portugal, and she wants that relationship for reasons which have nothing whatever to do with N.A.T.O.
The hon. Member for Tonbridge (Mr. Hornby) was absolutely right in saying that if the Government want to change policy on this and they take either N.A.T.O. or Europe seriously, they must discuss their policy not only with the Commonwealth but with our partners in military affairs in Europe and N.A.T.O. and see whether a common line can be devised. If N.A.T.O. does consider it, N.A.T.O., unlike the right hon. Gentleman, is bound to consider the political consequences in black Africa and the consequences on Western security of those political consequences; because a decision by Her Majesty's Government—I am certain that the Foreign Secretary is getting this advice from his own advisers in the Foreign Office at the moment—would be a gift to Soviet and Chinese policy in both East Africa and West Africa.
The strategic advantages of British military co-operation with South Africa would be as nothing weighed in the scale against Soviet naval and air facilities in Mombasa and Lagos. This is the sort of risk which the right hon. Gentleman must know he is running if he changes policy on South African arms in this way and at this time.
Finally, I must make this very general point. The most disturbing and alarming statement made by the Foreign Secretary was the statement that no one can or must judge what Britain needs except Britain. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Exactly. When Britain joined N.A.T.O. it deliberately renounced an area of decision for its defence needs to an alliance which is very different from the old alliances of the past with which the Foreign Secretary compared it. This type 452 of renunciation of determination of defence needs which we made in N.A.T.O. and which we are making in Europe is incompatible with the go-it-alone attitude of the Foreign Secretary.
The Foreign Secretary once took a decision—his Government did—on British defence interests without consulting anybody except France. I refer to the decision at Suez in 1956. It was a ghastly and humiliating disaster from which our influence and our economy have been suffering ever since. I ask the Foreign Secretary to recognise that the world has changed even more since 1956 than it changed between 1945 and the disaster at Suez.
§ 9.34 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Joseph Godber)
Before I come to the points which were interesting the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) at the close of his speech and on which I hope to touch before I conclude my speech, it is my very pleasant duty to congratulate no fewer than four maiden speakers in our debate.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lichfield and Tamworth (Major-General d'Avigdor Goldsmid) made a very interesting speech, drawing on his own deep knowledge of defence, and in particular of the Territorial Army. We all greatly enjoyed listening to him and we shall look forward to his further contributions on this and on other subjects. The hon. Member for Hackney, Central (Mr. Clinton Davis) gave us a very sincere and well-argued speech in which he convinced the House of his deep concern with the problems of the Middle East affecting Israel. He also gave us some encouraging words about race relations in his constituency. I am sure we all welcome his contribution and look forward to his further contributions in our debates.
My hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. John Davies) came here with immense experience in other fields, and made a very powerful maiden speech which we all appreciated. He said, with reference to his predecessor, that Sir Walter Bromley-Davenport never passed unnoticed. I would add that, in my view, he never passed unheard either. I am sure that my hon. Friend will not pass 453 unheard, although for perhaps different reasons.
Unfortunately, I missed the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, North-East (Mr. Adley), but I look forward to reading it in HANSARD, and the reports that I have received are that he made a very valuable contribution. We are, therefore, indebted to these various maiden speakers, and we also welcome my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Woodhouse) on his return to the House. I do not think we can exactly treat him as a prodigal son, because I think his absence was not entirely of his own volition. We are very glad to have him back with us again.
It is very pleasant for me to come back to the field of foreign affairs after an absence from this subject of some seven years. Indeed, I feel that I might almost crave the indulgence of the House for my own efforts because of my long stint away. However, there is advantage it coming back afresh to these issues. Perhaps one is able to see some of the issues a little more clearly as a result of having been away from them.
It has been a valuable and interesting debate in which it is impossible to cover the whole range of foreign affairs. In the short time available I wish to touch on one or two matters which are of great interest to the House generally, and then come on to the more controversial issues which have been more fully debated today.
First, I would mention the Middle East. The conflict there was referred to by the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart). There is no doubt chat there is a very serious situation in this area. I pay tribute to the efforts of the previous Government in trying to help to resolve this unhappy conflict. We shall make every possible effort to find means of making progress. The four-Power talks have been valuable in a limited degree, and if it is possible to expand their activities and give further assistance to Dr. Jarring in his difficult task, that certainly will be a priority.
I also wish to stress the new initiative from the United States. We are encouraged to know that these proposals are under active and serious consideration by the various Governments concerned, and we hope that this initiative will 454 generate progress towards a settlement. We are in close touch with the United States Administration about the way in which these matters are developing.
Next, I should like to touch on Vietnam and Cambodia. Here I noted with interest what was said by the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) about the previous ruler of Cambodia. I would only say to him that he has raised a very wide issue and I am sure that he will not expect a response from me tonight on that subject.
On the general issue, it is worth recalling that President Nixon has fulfilled his promise to withdraw American troops and advisers from Cambodia at the end of June. The American withdrawal continues but there are, unfortunately, no corresponding withdrawals from the North Vietnam side. President Nixon has appointed a new and distinguished American officer, and one well respected in this country, to head the United States delegation to the Paris talks. Taken together, these developments demonstrate a genuine American desire to lower the level of fighting and to seek ways of reaching a negotiated settlement. That, I am sure, is what is desired on both sides of the House. My earnest hope is that the North Vietnamese side will reciprocate and make it possible for the discussions to prove fruitful so that we can at last make progress.
We shall do all that we can to help the two sides to negotiate. After all, my right hon. Friend is co-Chairman of the Geneva Conference. As such, he has a special responsibility, which he will always be ready to exercise in co-operation with his Soviet co-Chairman. That is an important proviso of which the House will be fully aware. The need to try to get agreement with our Soviet co-Chairman is a necessary prerequisite to progress. This is a worrying problem but it is one in which it would appear that the United States is definitely trying to lower the conflict. If the other side will respond, I believe that progress can be made.
Turning now to the Common Market, to which a number of hon. Members have referred, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has been present during a great deal of the debate and has listened with great interest to a 455 number of the points. I do not propose to go into detail on the issues in any great depth tonight, because there will obviously have to be further discussion and debate on this important matter as developments proceed.
I would only say in response to the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) that when he asked for an assurance, what I understood him to be asking for was an assurance about a referendum. I do not think that he used that word, but it sounded very much as if that was what he was saying.
§ Mr. Godber
I gathered that. In simple terms, however, that must mean something similar to a referendum.
§ Mr. Godber
I should have thought that the right hon. Gentleman had had enough of the last General Election. We want to spare him the embarrassment of a further one at this stage.
Certainly, it was made clear both by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and by the Leader of the Opposition during the election campaign that both sides of the House rejected the idea of a referendum. This was said more emphatically, if possible, by the Leader of the Opposition than by my right hon. Friend. The right hon. Member for Battersea, North does not, therefore, have a great deal of support for his general approach to that.
As for the substance of what he said, however, I would point out to him that the provisions of the Treaty of Rome about a directly-elected European Parliament, which were affirmed in the Anglo-Italian declaration, have nothing to do with federalism. The areas covered by the Treaty of Rome, like the areas which member Governments agreed to deal with in last year's Hague communiqué, are well-defined areas agreed in common by the member nations. They have not been imposed on them by any federal authority. The European Parliament, which at present has only limited direct, although, of course, considerable consultative, powers, deals only with those matters.
456 As to the other points that hon. Members have raised in regard to the Common Market, I do not think that it would be appropriate for me to go into them further here. I would only say that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, in his statement at Luxembourg, said that no one could say at this stage whether negotiations would succeed. That depends on fair terms, as the right hon. Member for Battersea, North rightly emphasised, but let no one be deceived about one important factor.
The Community has indeed been a success and it is here to stay. The Community is moving towards greater economic and monetary unity. They would achieve far more, and they know it, if Britain and the other candidates were to join. As for our interest in joining, it might be appropriate to quote a short passage from the Canberra Times in its editorial of 1st July. People have talked about the Commonwealth interest and this argument is a refreshing one.
I quote the words of the Canberra Times:The arguments for entry are almost unanswerable. Productivity and incomes in the E.E.C. have risen faster than in Britain. The free flow of goods and capital across national boundaries, the mobility of labour, the pooling of technologies, the sheer size of the market have made possible economies of scale, reduced overheads, increased real competition and generally raised standards of living … In the wake of economic collaboration the political interests of the partners must come together … Great Britain can hardly elect to stay outside the European main stream.That is how it looks to some Australians at this time, and it is just as well to look at it from their point of view as well as the points of view put in this House tonight.
Turning to East-West relations—
§ Mr. Neil Marten (Banbury)
Before my right hon. Friend leaves the Common Market, could he just comment on this point? In the election I think there was great confusion about this issue of the Common Market. Would he agree that there should be a great national debate about this, in which Members of Parliament of all parties could put their various points of view regardless of whether they agreed or disagreed with the leaders of their parties?
§ Mr. Godber
Yes, but I would have thought that in the past my hon. Friend never found any difficulty in putting his point of view. There is a genuine difference of view, on both sides, and I certainly would not wish to stultify, even if I could, any public discussion which he envisages.
Turning to East-West relations, I would remind the House that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister spoke the other day about constructive proposals put forward by N.A.T.O. at the end of May, to which the right hon. Gentleman referred in his speech. Certainly it would be my earnest hope that progress can be made along the lines suggested by N.A.T.O. These envisaged bilateral exchanges followed at a later stage by multilateral exploratory contacts and, if this made satisfactory progress, then the N.A.T.O. approach looks forward to a third stage of actual negotiations on matters where progress would seem to be possible. This, as I understand it, was the position taken up by N.A.T.O. at that time.
Without wishing in any way to push aside the latest ideas of the Warsaw Pact countries, which are receiving the most careful attention of the Government at the present time, I believe that the N.A.T.O. proposal envisages a better machinery for progress in this field. I say this because having returned so recently to foreign affairs I cannot help but be struck by the analogy between the present proposals for an all-European conference and the proposals put forward at the end of 1961 for a full-scale conference on disarmament. I was very closely associated with those proposals both in the preparation for that particular conference and in the first year's work of that body which was established in Geneva. Looking back on it I would say that nobody could pretend that the early hopes which attended the establishment of that conference have ever been fulfilled, and there is no doubt that a great deal of disillusionment followed in its wake. This is not to say that some very useful limited successes have not been achieved, but I have an idea that if the ground had been better prepared, and hopes had not been unduly raised, the disillusionment which followed within 12 months of its establishment could have been avoided. It is that which makes me feel that adequate pre- 458 paration in this new development is essential. I would always want to follow up any initiative for better relations with the Eastern bloc, but previous experience does lead me very strongly to feel that the best way in which to make progress is to have the fullest preparation and to start with strictly limited objectives. If we can achieve success with limited objectives then it will be with a much better base that we can move forward to wider agreements which everyone in the House wants to achieve.
§ Mr. John Mendelson rose—
§ Mr. Godber
I cannot give way. There is such a short time. I have to deal with many other points and I cannot give way again. I do apologise. This is a new development. There will be ample opportunities for considering the proposals which have come from the Warsaw Pact countries, and we shall be giving further consideration to them.
§ Mr. Mendelson rose—
§ Mr. Mendelson rose—
§ Mr. Godber
No. It is no good the hon. Member's persisting. I have a duty to the House to reply to a large number of the points raised in the debate and I must try to do so.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) dealt in some detail with the problem of overseas aid. I want to say a word or two about this because my right hon. Friend the Minister for Overseas Development is at this very moment in Geneva and will tomorrow address the United Nations Economic and Social Council at its annual session. He will confirm the firm commitment of Her Majesty's Government to the task of assisting in the development process, and our belief that this is an essential part of the réle which Britain must play in the world. He will make clear how much importance we attach to the Development Decade strategy document now before the United Nations and, in particular, the need to make of it a realistic statement of what both developing and developed countries are called upon to do to make a success of the decade.
The record of previous Conservative Administrations on this matter may 459 perhaps be recalled. It was the present Prime Minister who led the British delegation to the first U.N.C.T.A.D. Conference in 1964, and, indeed, he was largely responsible for its success. I was in Geneva at the time and well recall the success that attended his efforts. It was that conference which adopted the original aid target of 1 per cent. of national income. In terms of G.N.P., Britain's net official aid programme was larger in 1964 than it has been in any year since. As to the future, we consider it an essential British interest to work closely with the developing world, building up trade and other contacts. We have said that we shall pursue an expanding aid programme, and that is our firm intention.
The hon. Member for West Lothian asked specifically about China, and that we should work for her entry into the United Nations. I was the first British representative at the United Nations to vote for the entry of China. I feel just as strongly as he does on this, and I assure him that it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to work to that end. On the other hand, in reply to another part of his speech I can only deplore his reference to the Prime Minister of Singapore. His words were uncalled for and unfair.
The hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) made a point which must be dealt with straight away. He tried to draw a distinction between the treatment meted out to the Foreign Minister of South Africa and the Foreign Minister of Nigeria. He said that one had been seen but that no effort had been made to see the other. This is not so, and I am surprised that the hon. Member should have said this without checking his facts. The facts are, quite simply, that Dr. Arikpo is paying a private visit to this country. He has been in hospital until the last day or two, and it has not been possible to consider a meeting until now, but my right hon. Friend hopes to see him before he leaves. What the hon. Member said leaves an unfortunate impression.
If I may deal briefly with one or two points on the dependent territories, only this afternoon I had the pleasure of submitting the Bill on Fiji independence which will shortly come before the House. 460 This is another step in the long process of giving full sovereignty to the dependent territories.
I wish to reaffirm the undertaking of the preamble to the Gibraltar Constitution Order in Council of May, 1969, which said that:Gibraltar will remain part of Her Majesty's Dominions unless and until an Act of Parliament otherwise provides, and furthermore that Her Majesty's Government will never enter into arrangements under which the people of Gibraltar would pass under the sovereignty of another State against their freely and democratically expressed wishes.The Government will continue to stand by the people of Gibraltar and to support them in the difficult circumstances brought about by the restrictions imposed on Gibraltar by Spain. Clearly, no serious progress towards settlement will be possible so long as these restrictions remain in force, and we shall work for their removal.
As hon. Members are aware, this is a difficult problem and progress towards a solution could well be slow. Meanwhile, we welcome the improved atmosphere in Anglo-Spanish relations, and our hope, which I believe is shared by the Spanish Foreign Minister, is that this will enable the whole issue to be dealt with quietly and calmly and thus gradually to build up the basis of confidence and good will needed if real progress is to be made in reaching understandings which reflect the interests of all concerned. I say to the people of Gibraltar that we have certainly not forgotten their position.
Turning now to a matter which has, rightly, occupied a great deal of time today, my right hon. Friend has promised that there will be in due course a further statement on the question of arms to South Africa. Until that statement has been made, there is not a great deal that I can add to what he said this afternoon. We have said that we will discuss this matter with all those involved. Surely this is what hon. Members on both sides of the House want. Surely they want us to have those discussions, and to press us for immediate statements now contravenes that wish and need. This includes our friends and allies both in the Commonwealth and elsewhere.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Fulham appeared to be claiming 461 that any change from the policy of the Labour Government would create an entirely new and novel situation. Not only has no decision been taken on this matter as yet, but the previous Conservative Governmcent instructed their representative in the Security Council when the existing resolutions of that body were passed to spell out a policy which limited severely the supply of arms to South Africa to those for external defence. I have the words used by Sir Patrick Dean before me, which I think it might be worth reading to the House to show the situation in August, 1963. He then said in the Security CouncilIt is the position of my Government that no arms should be exported to South Africa which would enable the policy of apartheid to be enforced. Our export-licensing system will make sure that arms of this nature will not reach South Africa. The resolution as now framed, however, calls on all states to cease to provide military equipment of any type to South Africa. It is the view of my delegation that the right of South Africa to self-defence under Article 51 of the Charter and requirements which may arise from the maintenance of international peace and security must be borne in mind. In view of our arrangements on co-operation with South Africa for protection of the sea routes, we must reserve our position in the light of the requirements regarding the supply of equipment appropriate to these purposes.That is what was said in 1963. At that time the Suez Canal was still open. It is even more vital to us at this time and it must be borne in mind by all those who seek to look at this particular issue and to draw their conclusions in regard to it. I say to right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite that they should not prejudge the issue or the decision of Her Majesty's Government, but that they certainly should have regard to the points which were so cogently put by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and which are clearly on record.
The right hon. Member for Leeds, East raised one or two points towards the end of his speech in which I am sure he felt it his duty to generate a little heat in the debate. He at least managed to raise a cheer on his own side, which is a little unusual having regard to the state in which hon. Members opposite find themselves. I congratulate him to that extent. But it is a little hard that he should lecture us on such matters as sudden and abrupt changes of policy. I have some quotations from his own 462 speeches from 1966 with regard to the Gulf, and I will not embarrass him by reading them. But they are on record and I shall be happy to read them if he wishes me to do so. There are issues on which mistakes are made by Ministers no doubt in all Governments and the right hon. Gentleman would not wish to disclaim any share in those mistakes. I can leave his comments there.
I conclude by saying that on returning to foreign affairs after a period of seven years absence I have a general impression that our inheritance from the previous Government is in the main that of inheriting a position merely of waiting upon and reacting to events. With the single exception of the Common Market, it seems to me that policy has lacked both coherence and direction. Too often it has appeared to me that the previous Ministers were producing their policy with a fearful eye cocked towards their own Left wing in this House. From time to time I applauded the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Fulham for his courageous stand against his own Left wing, but there is little doubt that their cumulative effect was not helpful either to him or to Britain's foreign policy. As both my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State have indicated, we shall attempt to give a more positive direction to the conduct of Britain's external affairs.
This is not to say that we are about to rush into a series of major decisions without due examination of all the relevant considerations. That is the reason why it has not been right to try to give definite answers to some of the points which have been put forward in the House today. We believe that it is necessary to have proper consultation, and we do not believe, as the previous Government apparently believed, in what I can only describe as instant diplomacy. We believe that the British people will welcome the clarity with which both my right hon. Friends have put forward the issues on foreign affairs.
§ It being Ten o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed Tomorrow.