§ 3.1 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Sir Alec Douglas-Home)
General and roving debates on foreign affairs are seldom satisfying in this House, and previously on such occasions I have sought to introduce a theme. This afternoon, in the context of the Speech from the Throne, I think the House will expect a broad review of British objectives and policies in relation to the main areas of the world where there is either friction or opportunity. The theme will be there, that which, inevitably and properly, I took in the United Nations Assembly a few weeks ago, the theme of dialogue versus confrontation.
In Europe, countries which saw war as the only answer to disputes have agreed that partnership for economic and political co-operation is a much better solution. I will not rehearse our debates of last week on the European situation, but for me one of the most compelling arguments for Britain's entry into the Community is the contribution which Western Europe can make, operating on a broad consensus of opinion, to a more stable world.
Since the war the tenuous structure of world peace has on many occasions been in danger of collapse. In the past, Communist ideology has insisted that the total triumph of Communism throughout the world was inevitable, and that this 345 achievement should be hastened with every available weapon, including sub-version, and, where practicable, through force of arms.
Through the creation of N.A.T.O. we in Europe halted the progress of take-over, but that was 20 years ago. The pause which has been gained has been well worth while. The Communist movement itself is no longer monolithic in structure. The countries of Eastern Europe are increasingly showing a desire to think and act for themselves, and are having a good deal of success. Above all, the dispute between China and Russia has added a totally new dimension to the balance of power, a dimension which is assuming greater importance as the Chinese emerge from their self-imposed isolation and take their place on the world stage. So there has been a considerable change in the last few years.
The House will have followed with interest the debates in the United Nations on Chinese representation. It was right, in the view of Her Majesty's Government, that mainland China should be seated in the United Nations for reasons not of ideology but because mainland China represents one of the great realities of power in the world.
Ideological disputation is still passionately conducted between the two leading Communist Powers, but it is my belief that it will increasingly give way before the facts of life and the facts of power. The reality as between Russia and China is the 2,000 miles of frontier between the two countries. It is that which will condition the attitude of Russia to China, and vice versa, for generations to come. Meanwhile, we must hope that working together in the United Nations will make it possible both for the Soviet Union and for mainland China to modify extremes of doctrine. That will be of enormous benefit to the world as a whole.
The main question which has not yet been answered is how what for convenience I will call the Western free way of life can contrive a co-existence with each of the Communist Powers, a co-existence which is real and one in which suspicion is gradually but surely replaced by confidence. This must be the goal of everybody, and we certainly will pursue it with determination.
346 It is no use pretending that with Czechoslovakia so close behind us and the Berlin wall still an active armed barrier against the natural contacts between the two Germanys détente will be easy. If it were so, N.A.T.O. would be no longer necessary. Nevertheless, difficult though it may be, we must persevere.
I venture to say that there is one rule to which the Western countries must hold. Nothing which we do in the name of co-existence and peace must alter the balance of power to the disadvantage of the West. Any disturbance of the equilibrium could be the point when fear would start to play havoc with even that fragile confidence which is born of stalemate. We have learned to live with that and we all recognise that it is dangerous, but it is far preferable to the jitters and temptations which would grip the nations if the balance of power were to shift against the West or for that matter if it were to shift seriously against the East. So the equilibrium of the balance of power must be kept.
On this, all the Western Allies, including, and most importantly, the United States, are agreed. Soviet spokesmen themselves, I have noticed, have lately begun, almost for the first time, to speak this same language, when they say, "We want to preserve equal security for all". That needs further definition, but we must test what they mean.
Since the war Berlin has been the focus where the two ways of life have met in their starkest confrontation. It was, therefore, the right place in which to start a lowering of tension. Here, after long discussion, Russia and the responsible Allies have been inching nearer to an agreement. It will be a modest one, simply creating for the people of West Berlin the conditions of living which are the right of any civilised city community. But it will be something gained on past practice, and it is to be hoped that the East and West Germans will be able soon to complete the task which has been begun by the three Allies and the Soviet Union. I hope, therefore, that the East and West Germans shortly will come to an agreement.
A Berlin agreement would lead to ratification of the German-Russian and German-Polish Treaties. From a Berlin settlement we can proceed to further carefully prepared exercises in reconciliation 347 of differences and disputes. When the Berlin agreement is completed, we can get ahead with the preparations for a security conference which could lead us further along the road to positive co-existence. That has been consistently the position of Britain and the N.A.T.O. Alliance, and the House will have noticed that this was recorded in the communiqué issued by President Pompidou and Mr. Brezhnev. So there is apparently a wide area of agreement that after a Berlin agreement we can get on to the preparation of a wider security conference.
We have an open mind about the agenda for such a conference. The Russians will have their ideas, and we and others will contribute. The agenda must be broad enough to accommodate ideas of many different kinds. One item must be the free flow of peoples and ideas between the countries forming the membership of such a conference.
The initial stages of the conference are likely to deal with the approach to co-existence in a general manner. It is only thereafter that the conference might deal with particular disarmament problems, such as mutual and balanced force reductions. In practice, these are more likely to be dealt with in a separate body, but they could be dealt with in a committee of the security conference if that conference was a success.
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)
Does the right hon. Gentleman agree with the views expressed by Mr. Brezhnev and President Pompidou that provided that a Berlin agreement is clinched in the next few weeks it should be possible to prepare such a conference immediately and hold it in the spring of next year?
§ Sir A. Douglas-Home
I do not know about the spring of next year because we cannot know when the Berlin agreement will be made, and the preparations must take the time necessary to ensure that the conference has some chance of success. But I hope that it will happen soon. There is no reason why, following a Berlin agreement, the preparations should be delayed.
348 I will interpolate here the only comment which I intend to make about the recent spy incident. I put forward this simple proposition. For a country to conduct a massive and sustained espionage campaign against another under the cover of diplomatic missions or State trading organisations in inadmissible. If any right hon. or hon. Gentleman would like to contest that, let him say so and we shall know where we stand. In the case of the Soviet Union, I tried to deal with the matter privately over the period of a year, but that approach was rejected. There was no alternative, there-fore, but to act so that it should be clear to all that Her Majesty's Government will not tolerate such practices from any quarter. Retaliation was expected.
As far as I am concerned, the incident is closed. I share Mr. Kosygin's opinion which he recently expressed that there is no reason why this episode need affect the security conference negotiations or progress towards them or other proposals for détente. It was a necessary clearing of the air if relations are to be conducted on a basis of trust.
§ Mr. Charles Loughlin (Gloucestershire, West)
I make it clear that I have no time for espionage of any kind by any country. But will the right hon. Gentleman make it perfectly plain that, just as the Russians, by virtue of the economic system they operate, use their trade agencies for espionage, so do the Western countries use business men for espionage purposes?
§ Sir A. Douglas-Home
No, Sir. No doubt espionage is carried out by a great many countries all over the world against each other, but not under the cover of embassies or State trading organisations. That rule must be established.
§ Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)
I accept what the right hon. Gentleman says, but does the same apply to the South African Government and the activities of their agents in this country?
§ Sir A. Douglas-Home
If any Government conduct massive espionage under a cover of embassies, the rule will apply, yes.
I turn to another region of the world, the Middle East, where confrontation should be replaced by dialogue. The 349 achievement of stability there has so far remained a mirage. We continue to believe, because no one since has suggested anything better, that United Nations Resolution 242 constitutes the best basis for a settlement. It would be a great mistake to tamper with it, for no other resolutioin would gain comparable support in the United Nations.
When I visited Cairo in September it was my strong impression that Egypt now genuinely desires a permanent peace with Israel, but not at the price of ceding territory. Israel for her part also desires peace, but not at the cost of compromising her security. It is in the reconciliation of this dilemma that the heart of the problem lies. The most promising avenue of progress towards a comprehensive settlement still lies in the efforts to promote an interim arrangement under which the Suez Canal would be reopened in return for Israeli withdrawal to some line in Sinai to be agreed. Both Israel and Egypt are undoubtedly interested in such an arrangement, with the strong proviso made by the Egyptians that the first stage of withdrawal must not be an end in itself it must lead to a comprehensive and final settlement.
There are limits to what any third Power can do. We will help if and where we can, especially in relation to guarantees by the leading Powers to give confidence in a lasting peace. But one thing was crystal clear to me when I was in Cairo and later talked to Mr. Eban, the Foreign Minister of Israel. No progress will be made in solving the problem unless the momentum and intensity of an exchange of views is accelerated. Where distrust is so deep it cannot be removed by leisurely correspondence through a third Power at intervals of months or weeks.
No one can dictate a peace, but the only answer to the present deadlock is, in my view, a third party which can accurately and quickly transmit and interpret ideas between those who confront each other; otherwise there will be no solution. There are signs that this is now recognised to be right and that it is necessary to set up this kind of machinery if there is to be progress and time is not to be wasted, which might make war more likely.
§ Mr. Clinton Davis (Hackney, Central)
Do the Government support the idea which has always been postulated by the Israeli Government, that if the Suez Canal is to be reopened it must be made accessible to Israeli shipping as well as other shipping?
§ Sir A. Douglas-Home
That would be one of the conditions which we hope would apply when the canal was open. It would be our feeling that all shipping should be free to use the canal. Confidential contacts are more likely to show results than public postures, but I must emphasise that time slips by and action is urgent if the ceasefire is not to be broken.
On the Gulf, I can give the House some better news. There has been some encouraging progress since I last reported to the House in the summer. In mid-July the rulers of six of the seven Trucial States signed a constitution for a union. Bahrain and Qatar told us that they wished to resume responsibility for the conduct of their own affairs. The special treaty relationship was ended, and we made treaties of friendship and consultation with both States, which are now members of the Arab League and the United Nations.
Preparations for the formal establishment of a union of Arab emirates are continuing. We are making detailed arrangements for handing over to them, as their security forces, the Trucial Oman Scouts as a nucleus for the Union Defence Forces and for the establisment of a military advisory team with those forces. The Rulers have agreed that visits by British ships and British military units for training purposes should take place. The difficult problem of the Iranian claims to the Gulf islands remains. We are continuing our efforts with the Rulers and the Iranian Government to find a solution which will remove this difficult problem, a solution which will contribute to the security of the area. In the security of the area I believe that the Iranians' and the Arabs' interests are essentially the same. So one hopes that there will be a solution of this problem. Sir William Luce, whose patience has already gained so much, has returned from another visit to the area. We must hope that success will attend his most recent efforts to solve the islands problem. He will shortly be reporting to me.
351 I turn to another scene of potential conflict in the sub-continent of India, about which the House has been so exercised—
§ Mr. John Gorst
(Hendon, North): Before my right hon. Friend leaves the Middle East, he has been talking about a third party being able to make a contribution, perhaps as an honest broker, between the Israelis and their Arab neighbours. Will he make it clear whether he sees this country being available for that purpose?
§ Sir A. Douglas-Home
We shall help in every way we can. At the moment, the Americans are in touch with both the Israelis and the Egyptians. The best person to fulfil this rôle, once it was established that there could be an interim settlement, would still be Dr. Jarring, who is ready to do so. But certainly we shall help if we can. I would not put forward this country as a third party at the moment, but we shall help so far as we are able to.
To come to the sub-continent of India, two great countries, members of the Commonwealth, whose friendship we value, now find themselves drawn as if in some Greek tragedy into a rising spiral of tensions with a risk of war. The human misery which exists here on a massive scale is a terrible reminder of the failure of human beings to learn that the peoples of this world want bread more than politics and peace more than war. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and I had discussions with Mrs. Gandhi when she was in London earlier this week. I am sure that the House will understand that the matters which we discussed are confidential and that I cannot give a full account of them. We have also been kept informed by the Government of Pakistan of how they see these matters.
In this emergency situation, caused by the flood of refugees into India—we should understand the disruption of Indian life which this situation has caused in many ways—the policies of the Government have been directed towards two aims.
First is the relief of suffering, which is pitiful and widespread. We have contributed £15 million to the refugees in India and £2 million in relief to East 352 Pakistan. Having done this, I think that we are justified in urging other countries to join us in this humanitarian effort to a greater extent than they have done up to now.
Second is the politics of the situation. The danger of a warlike confrontation between these two countries is dire and real. In this situation our first duty is to urge moderation on all concerned, using such influence as we can. I have repeatedly expressed my view that real progress towards a lessening of tension and the return of refugees can only come through a political settlement within Pakistan as a whole. But, having said that, I must add that no one else can lay down the constitutional pattern for the future except the Pakistanis themselves. Unless it is done by the Pakistanis, no solution will stick.
After the convulsion of civil war, harmony is difficult to restore. President Yahya Khan has appointed a civil governor. He has proposed by-elections in December and announced 27th December as the date for the meeting of the new National Assembly. He has arranged an amnesty. He has accepted United Nations reception centres for refugees returning from India. I state these as facts. I cannot say whether these moves will be sufficient to result in a situation of confidence in which the refugees will wish to return to Pakistan from India. But that must be the end for which every-one of us must work. The return of the refugees is of mutual interest to both India and Pakistan. In the meantime, we will continue to urge both Pakistan and India not to take any action which could threaten the peace of the sub-continent. To compound the existing misery with war would surely be the ultimate disaster.
Certain offers have lately been made by Pakistan which could help to relieve the situation. The first is that the armies should withdraw a specified distance from the frontier. The second is their willingness to receive United Nations personnel on the spot, first, to observe and, second, to receive returning refugees and see them back to their homes. I am not sure that this is understood in the refugee areas of India. But India feels that action of the kind which I have mentioned will have no effect as long as the flow of refugees continues out of Pakistan. There is conflicting evidence of how many refugees 353 are now moving out of Pakistan into India. I have asked the Secretary-General of the United Nations whether he can discover the truth of the matter, because it is essential to know whether the flow has stopped or is continuing at this level before other countries can contrive coherent policies.
Once again, the most promising area here is to explore the possibilities of dialogue between those in West Pakistan who hold the power now and those who can command confidence in East Pakistan, and also dialogue between India and Pakistan. If we can do anything to help the dialogue betwen India and Pakistan we will gladly do it.
§ Mrs. Jill Knight (Birmingham, Edgbaston)
Will my right hon. Friend tell the House whether he was able to suggest that United Nations observers could be accepted on the Indian side of the border as they are being accepted on the Pakistan side?
§ Sir A. Douglas-Home
We were able to talk about this proposition. At the moment the Indian answer is that as long as there is a substantial outflow of refugees from Pakistan into India this is not practical, but it would be if the flow stopped. I am unable to judge this. I do not think that any right hon. or hon. Member in the House can judge it. That is why I have asked the Secretary-General of the United Nations whether he could establish for us with authority, by a team on the spot, what the position about the refugees now is. It is essential to get that information.
§ Mr. Peter Shore (Stepney)
I am a little worried about the way that the right hon. Gentleman has presented the problem in the last few minutes. I think that other right hon. and hon. Gentlemen will agree that there has been a great deal of quite deliberate window dressing by the Government of West Pakistan, for obvious reasons: that they wish to resume aid and that they are also in the middle of a most profound crisis affecting the future of Pakistan. I regret that the right hon. Gentleman, describing what is required for a political solution, if such a solution is possible, has not emphasised very strongly the need to release Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, which is essential, and also that whatever solution is finally put forward should be acceptable to the 354 people of East Bengal, which was the point he made before and which I urge him to make again.
§ Sir A. Douglas-Home
It must be acceptable to the people of East Bengal and to the people of Pakistan. The right hon. Gentleman is trying to lay down what the political settlement should be. That is not possible. It must be settled by dialogue between those in power in West Pakistan and those who command the confidence of the people in East Pakistan. I said that deliberately. I think that it covers the point raised by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Reginald Freeson (Willesden, East)
Will the Government press for and support the release of the Sheikh?
§ Sir A. Douglas-Home
That is something which must be decided by President Yahya Khan himself. It is no use other countries publicly saying what should or should not be done in Pakistan. We hope that there will be a dialogue, but the form of the dialogue must be decided by the Government of Pakistan.
§ Mr. Shore rose—
Sir A. Douglas Home
The right hon. Gentleman will probably have a chance to speak later, and I have already given way a great deal. Perhaps he will allow me to continue with my speech.
I shall say a few words about Africa. On South Africa and arms I have nothing new to report to the House. I noted yesterday the question asked by the hon. Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon) about the trial of the Dean of Johannesburg. The Dean has been given leave to appeal, and I have reason to believe that he will pursue the appeal. I have to be very careful that I say nothing which could damage the Dean in any way. It may be necessary to provide all possible help later on; therefore, I do not think that it is right, wise or helpful to the Dean himself that I should comment at all at this stage, but I am willing to answer Questions if the hon. Member for York would like to put them down at some future date.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)
I understand the sentiments expressed by the Foreign Secretary, and one is anxious to do nothing in this House that would jeopardise the chances of the Dean in
355 South Africa, but what concerns me a little is that if there is no expression of the deep anger and concern felt about this trial by this House and in the country South Africa may feel that she is able to pass any kind of sentence on a British subject within her domain without any response from the legitimate British Government.
§ Sir A. Douglas-Home
I think that our feeling must be apparent in South Africa, because it has been widely expressed not only in this House but outside it, and I feel that it would be wiser, because my desire is to help the Dean, not to make any further comment now.
As to the chances of a Rhodesian settlement, I am still studying with my colleagues the latest report of the officials who have followed up Lord Goodman's visit. A lot of progress has been made. I promised the House that if I felt that preliminary discussions warranted negotiation I would make a statement. There are considerable difficulties still in the way of any settlement, but I hope to be in a position to make a statement to the House early next week before the debate. I cannot promise it, but I hope to be able to do so. Meanwhile, there is only one thing that I will say. It is that a settlement with Rhodesia within the ambit of the five principles would make an enormous contribution to harmonious living on the Continent of Africa. We must therefore try to achieve it, otherwise the African landscape is very bleak.
There are, of course, many problems besides those of which I have spoken to which the answers are not apparent. America has made an enormous outlay of wealth, first, to set Europe on its feet after the war, second, to help the developing countries and, third. in Vietnam. There is now in the United States a mood of disillusion because of what many Americans feel is a lack of gratitude for the huge outlay which America has made towards the freedom and economic prospects of many other nations.
That is understandable, but we trust that the mood will not dominate American policy. We have noted with satisfaction the reactions of the President of the United States, who has made clear his intention to maintain the flow of aid to 356 developing countries. Our responsibility and that of the industrial nations towards the third world is a shared responsibility, and if one major Power decides to opt out of the common effort it must, inevitably, have the most serious repercussions for all the others, and for the developing world.
But in respects other than aid, if only temporarily, the United States may begin to draw in her horns. That is when Europe must be ready to take more of the strain in the context of collective security. My speech would be much too long if I were to embark on the future organisation of defence in Europe, something in which the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) is intensely interested.
The Americans will not abandon Europe. They are a most responsible nation. They will keep the backing of the nuclear strategic deterrent, and they will deploy substantial forces and weapons on the Continent. Of that I have no doubt. The United States is well aware of the dreadful damage that would be done to the whole free world if the balance of power were disturbed by American action.
Any new pattern of organisation in which Europe within the framework of N.A.T.O. would carry more responsibility would need long and careful discussion. The right hon. Gentleman opposite has often said that the problems are formidable. They need to be handled with extreme care, but the facts of life are that if the balance of power is to be held over the years in Europe it will in future require a greater European effort. We have to be aware of that and prepare for it with great care and consultation between all the allies interested in the freedom of the West.
The review which I have tried to make is not complete. Any Foreign Secretary is only too well aware of the range of problems which beset the world, but if they are intractable we must never admit that they are insoluble, for that way lies despair, and so it is vigilance and perseverance in the cause of peace that must be for Britain the order of the day.
§ 3.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)
Like the Foreign Secretary, I shall concentrate my remarks on three major issues 357 because I am well aware that the complexity and variety of the world's problems defy adequate discussion in this House in one afternoon.
The three areas on which I want to concentrate were largely dealt with by the right hon. Gentleman. They are, first, the relations between East and West, where the news is wholly good, and where I believe we are already living in the twilight of the cold war. Second, I want to deal with a problem which I was shocked to find the Foreign Secretary handled in such a perfunctory manner, and that is the question of relations inside the West; that is to say, the growing political and economic strains caused by America's attempt to reduce the burden which she assumed in the world after the second war. Here the news is deeply worrying; I think that there is a real danger of a trade war beginning next year between the rich countries, from which all would suffer, not only the rich, but even more the poorer countries.
The third question is that of relations between North and South, between the rich white peoples living mainly north of the Equator, and the poor, mainly coloured peoples living to the south of it. Here the picture is sombre indeed. The economic gulf between rich and poor in the world is widening fast. In the last few years the share of world trade taken by the poorer countries fell from 27 percent. to 17 per cent. of the total. President Nixon's surcharge, and the other economic measures which he took in August, are bound to reduce the share of the poor countries in world trade even further, and the aid provided to the poor countries by their more fortunate brethren is far below the target of 1 per cent. of G.N.P. which was fixed by the United Nations some time ago.
The position is further threatened by President Nixon's intention to cut American aid by 10 per cent. and the decision taken by the American Senate to stop aid altogether, though I share the Foreign Secretary's hope that the President will find some way of getting round the problem of the proposed reduction in aid to the poorer countries. The House will be aware that the bulk of the aid covered by the President's Bill is military aid, and it was really the controversy about American military aid which was responsible for the Senate's action
358 The problem of the third world is presented in its starkest form by the developing tragedy on the Indian sub-continent, where poverty aggravates all the political and religious tensions and natural catastrophe multiplies the suffering caused by human error. We all read in the newspapers this morning of the floods in Orissa this week which may have produced 5 million homeless and 20,000 dead. I hope the Minister will be able to tell the House whether Her Majesty's Government find it possible to make any additional contribution in aid to deal with this specific problem.
Like the Foreign Secretary, I want to start by talking about relations between East and West, if only because rapid progress here is a precondition of success in dealing with the other problems. A United Nations report, which is summarised in The Times today, points out that the six protagonists in the cold war —America, France, Britain and West Germany on the Western side, and Russia and China on the Communist side—are responsible for four-fifths of the world's spending on arms. That spending reached the staggering sum of nearly £800,000 million in the last decade, which is 30 times more than the official aid given by rich to poor in the world. Any progress which can be made in reducing the political conflicts between East and West, so liberating resources from arms for other purposes, is a precondition of success in dealing with the North-South problem
Although the Foreign Secretary's speech about East-West relations was, to me at any rate, notably less forbidding than other speeches he has made in the last few weeks on the subject—in Brighton, for example, and at the Foreign Affairs Club, where I had the pleasure of acting as his chairman and interlocutor on occasion —I feel that very little of the enormous improvement in East-West relations was really reflected in the right hon. Gentleman's speech. As he said, in the Far East China is entering the world community at last, and I would here pay tribute to Her Majesty's Government's part in bringing about the vote at the United Nations. In the Middle East, Russia and America are clearly trying to prevent a war, and I think the Foreign Secretary will agree about this. We all know, as he recounted, how difficult are the problems dividing 359 Israel from the Arab countries, but there can be little doubt that neither America nor the Soviet Union want to see those conflicts ending in another war, and both are doing something—perhaps not enough —to prevent another war.
The only point I would make on the Middle East where I do not think there is any reason for me to disagree with the right hon. Gentleman's account of the problem is that I think if an interim settlement can be reached on the Canal— I agree that this must be our target for the time being—it would be helpful if Her Majesty's Government were prepared to provide a contribution to a United Nations force for guaranteeing the frontier between the Israelis and the Arabs, because one thing which seems to me to be certain is that no transitional settlement can be reached which leaves the Israelis and the Arabs facing one another along a land frontier. This would be an even less secure situation than the present situation where they are separated by the Canal.
But in Europe the progress in the last 12 months has been immensely encouraging. Chancellor Brandt's Ostpolitik has broken the log jam which has prevented any real progress in East-West relations for nearly 25 years. The four major Powers have already reached agreement on Berlin, and I share the Foreign Secretary's hope that the two German Governments will be able to conclude the details of that agreement and so open the way to further progress on resolving tension. The French Government have just received Secretary Brezhnev. The Canadian Government have just received Prime Minister Kosygin. The United States is now deeply engaged in talks on strategic arms limitation which have already produced their first concretse results in agreement to improve the hot line between Washington and Moscow and in agreement to reduce the risks of accidental war. I believe that it should be possible by the middle of next year for America and Russia to reach agreement on a limitation in antiballistic missile systems. President Nixon is off to Peking in a month or two and is visiting Moscow in the spring. Indeed, anyone who, reads the newspapers today must imagine that both Joseph Stalin and Foster Dulles are spinning in their graves.
360 What disappointed me in the Foreign Secretary's speech was the extremely cautious and, indeed, rather negative tone in discussing the possibility of negotiations for mutual force reductions in Europe and his lack of imagination, if I may say so, in discussing the opportunities which could arise through a European security conference. He also said nothing at all about the Soviet proposal, which I believe is well worth the West considering, that some agreement should be reached on limiting the deployment of naval forces in distant waters like the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean.
But, having recounted this progress which has been made in East-West relations over the last 12 months, and noting the rôle played in this by the United States, the German and the French Governments and the Governments of small countries like Belgium, Finland and Denmark, we must ask ourselves what contribution are the British Government making to this progress. There is no reason why a Conservative Government in Britain should not be in the forefront of this great tide of international development. There is no doubt that if Sir Winston Churchill had been Prime Minister he would have been; so would Mr. Macmillan. But the nearest which any Government spokesman has approached enthusiasm about the prospects of progress in Europe was the pallid and spectral glow emitted by the right hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber) when he said that Her Majesty's Government's attitude was "not negative".
On the other hand, I am bound to note that The Guardian the other day quoted a British diplomatist as saying that if the Americans are leading the field in force reductions, the British are acting as the brakes rather than as the engine. Another national newspaper went rather further in a leading article today. It said:All Sir Alec Douglas-Home can do in defence of his position is to go in for gentle diplomatic sabotage demanding unrealistically-drawn-out prior consultations, smothering the whole exercise with such a profusion of paper work that neither the N.A.T.O. Secretariat nor that of the Warsaw Pact can hope to get through it.Those words appeared in the Daily Express, a paper whose conversion to the 361 Government's cause on the Common Market issue will be welcomed by some hon. Members on the other side of the House at least.
But the Foreign Secretary—and I understand why he did not admit this—faces the fact that Britain's relations with Russia today are worse than at any time since the 1930's. They have been worse than the relations of any other Western power for at least 12 months—long before the issue of the Soviet spies began to add its additional complication. Indeed, if we are to believe the Daily Telegraph, the Foreign Secretary recognised this because he told the United Nations Press conference the other day that the reason he had expelled the Soviet spies was to improve relations between Britain and the Soviet Union. If he really thought that the way he handled this matter was likely to improve relations, he is less experienced a diplomatist than I know him to be.
All Governments in Britain and in Western countries have been continually irritated by the abuse of diplomatic privilege in their countries by Soviet agents masquerading as diplomatists, trade officials, and so on. But, for the life of me, I cannot understand why the British Government did not handle this problem—a very old problem which has troubled previous Conservative Governments as well as Labour Governments—like the Americans, who have 1,380 Soviet officially registered personnel in their country, nearly three times as many as we have, of whom about half are claimed to be working for the K.G.B.
§ Mr. Healey
Of course, that is counting the United Nations, but the Foreign Secretary will be aware that New York is in the United States, and targets for espionage in the United States are concentrated just as much on the Eastern seaboard as they are in the District of Columbia.
I do not understand why they could not have handled it like the Germans, for instance, who certainly have more agents of one sort or another in their country than we have here, or like the French, who have nearly as many as our- 362 selves, or the Belgians, or any previous British Government.
I must remind the Foreign Secretary that, as a result of the barrage of publicity, carefully prepared, which accompanied the announcement of his decision, the impression was created, not only in Britain but throughout the West, that the right hon. Gentleman's intention in taking action in that way and at this time had been to slow down the process of detente in Europe. Indeed, the British Broadcasting Corporation in its news bulletin, not in comment, described it as pricking the bubble of euphoria which was so widespread in Western Europe. That was how it was interpreted by The Times, by the Daily Telegraph, by all the newspapers which support the present Government in Britain, and by most newspapers on the Continent as well.
§ Mr. John Wilkinson (Bradford, West)
Would the right hon. Gentleman put a higher priority on maintaining the security of the State or on securing his objectives of detente? What the Government are doing is trying to achieve both. which makes jolly good sense.
§ Mr. Healey
I agree, but the point I am making is that the Government are clearly not furthering the process of détente and certainly not improving their relations with the Soviet Government not so much by the action which they took as by the barrage of publicity fed out to the Press by Whitehall at the time. It may be that the Foreign Secretary was as much a victim here as he believes Mr. Gromyko was in the Soviet Union and that much of the publicity did not emanate from the Foreign Office, but there is no doubt that the way in which the matter was handled did damage our relations, although, thank heaven, it did no damage whatever to relations between the West as a whole and the Soviet Union.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
The right hon. Gentleman will recollect that over the year I not only wrote two letters—[Interruption.] I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman needs prompting by the Leader of the Opposition. [Interruption.] I shall ask for it if I want it. The right hon. Gentleman will recall that I wrote two letters to Mr. Gromyko asking him to handle this matter in a private way, and I sent the Permanent Under-Secretary to the Foreign Office to 363 try to handle it in a private way. There was no reply to any of these approaches. There was no alternative.
§ Mr. Healey
I am well aware of that, and I am not—[Interruption.] It is for the Foreign Secretary to defend his own action, not for me. What I am complaining about is the way in which this was handled by Whitehall in dealing with the media. As Professor Alec Nove, who was one of the first victims of Soviet retaliation, pointed out in the Observer, it was reminiscent of the worst days of Joynson-Hicks and the "Red scare" of the 1920s—and was deliberately used, indeed, by the hon. Gentleman the new Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) to help him secure his narrow-scrape victory in that by-election.
Spies are a product of political conflict. All countries try to keep some things secret, and their political enemies try to find them out. There is no doubt in my mind that the K.G.B. is the biggest feather-bedded industry in the world, that thousands of Soviet K.G.B. men spend money painfully collected from Russian workers to have a wonderful time in foreign countries, largely collecting information which could be collected as easily and much faster by a girl with scissors and a pile of newspapers in Moscow.
One should not exaggerate the importance of this type of activity; nor—here I agree with hon. Members opposite— should one diminish its importance. It is a nuisance. We found it so, and previous Governments have found it so. But I feel that the Foreign Secretary himself now recognises that the way in which the matter was presented to the public has not strengthened but has damaged the causes which he claims to hold dear.
§ Mr. Frank Allaun (Salford, East)
Would my right hon. Friend agree that not only did it do damage to the prospects for an East-West détente but it has damaged as well, at a time when there are nearly 1 million unemployed, large contracts for engineering and other firms in all parts of the country?
§ Mr. Healey
With respect to my hon. Friend, I do not believe that it has damaged the prospects of a détente, be- 364 cause the American President announced his forthcoming visit to Moscow a week or two afterwards, and, similarly, the French Government went straight ahead with their invitation to Mr. Brezhnev. What it has damaged is our own relations with the Soviet Union. I hope that my hon. Friend is wrong in believing that the Russians will take reprisals against British firms. I saw an estimate of £22 million worth which could be lost, but I hope that they will recognise the importance of improving relations, particularly at this sort of level, and will not seek to retaliate in that way.
The real trouble is that tile right hon. Gentleman is still living in the 1940s, when it was possible to see world Communism as a monolithic bloc of States under central direction engaged in international conspiracy against democracy. I noticed that, in his speech under my chairmanship a fortnight ago, the Foreign Secretary quoted Mr. Brezhnev in saying:From the start it is necessary to establish clearly and without emotion the purpose of the Russian Communists up to now. Mr. Brezhnev, who tells us that the total triumph of socialism throughout the world is inevitable, is the direct descendant of Mr. Khrushchev who said. 'We will bury you'. The language is less picturesque but the essential message does not vary. It is that international life is a struggle between two systems, and that one is destined to defeat the other, and that if the pressure is maintained resistance will first weaken and then collapse.Mr. Brezhnev has made statements of that nature, but the Foreign Secretary knows as well as I do that what is important in international affairs is to see how Governments behave and not always to read the speeches which Government leaders make at party conferences.
The facts are that there has not been a monolithic Communist bloc in the world for over 20 years, that the biggest single political conflict in the world is between two Communist States, Russia and China, that in Eastern Europe alone we see Yugoslavia, Albania, Romania, Poland and Hungary all claiming to be Communist States, all having their different internal economic systems, and all having their different attitudes to world affairs.
The present situation is most clearly demonstrated by the state of affairs in Ceylon this year where there are two Communist parties in the Government, one Stalinist and one Trotskyist, a third 365 Communist party in peaceful opposition calling itself Maoist, and a fourth Communist party in armed rebellion against all the other three and declaring its dedictation to Che Guevara.
It is certainly true that some Communist Governments are hostile to Britain. Equally, some, like the Yugoslav Government, are not. But the job of diplomacy is to turn enemies into friends. I believe that there is a growing realisation in Moscow that it will be impossible for the Soviet Government to create the economic incentives necessary to get their economy growing without reducing expenditure on armaments, and that they believe that in so far as there is an external military problem it lies in the East rather than in the West. I believe that therefore they are genuinely concerned to find a basis on which they can negotiate mutual force reductions in Europe and the seas around it, if possible.
The Government should not be dragging along as a brake on the movement towards détente. They should be pressing fast; they should be in the lead in the movement for mutual force reductions, for a European security conference and above all, because this is so much a British interest, for an agreement to limit the deployment of the rival fleets in the oceans through which our trade must pass.
I believe that the Foreign Secretary has not succeeded in his aim of slowing down that movement very much, though it is appalling that the N.A.T.O. Council at its recent meeting should have decided to move so slowly towards mutual force reductions, I understand, because ex- Secretary-General Brosio is to visit only one Communist capital, Moscow, before Christmas, and will not visit further capitals until well into next year. There is a real risk that the momentum will be lost.
I think that the Foreign Secretary will agree that whilst it is probable that a basic shift of policy has taken place in Moscow, and was registered at the last Soviet Communist Party Congress, there are opponents of détente in Moscow no less than in the West, and if we allow this issue to lag we may find that a real possibility which exists today has gone, perhaps for a decade.
There is one further fact that I ask the right hon. Gentleman to take into 366 account. The only result of slowing down multilateral negotiation on East-West force reduction will be to stimulate bilateral negotiations between America and the Soviet Union for the same purpose. Unless N.A.T.O. engages in negotiation on the issue by the middle of next year there is an overwhelming probability that President Nixon will reach a separate agreement with the Soviet Government for a very substantial cut in Soviet and American forces in central Europe. That would certainly be better than nothing, but it would be much better still for N.A.T.O. as a whole to be engaged in the process. There is a real danger that if N.A.T.O. drags its feet the process in the United Stales to which the Foreign Secretary replied will gather irresistible force, with serious danger for the West as a whole.
One of the most depressing things about the European Governments in the past 12 months has been their reluctance to accept the reality of America's determination to reduce its defence and economic burdens overseas. The biggest threat to world stability today, and to Britain's prosperity and survival, is not the Soviet Government; it is the failure of America's allies, in the Far East as well as in Europe, to take her problems seriously, and the consequent reaction of the United States last August. When Secretary Connally gave clear warning at the International Monetary Fund meeting in Munich last May, not a single European Government took a blind bit of notice. The only response of the British Government to the American demand for more burden-sharing was to refuse to contribute to the European Defence Improvements Programme unless the Germans agreed to refund the money as part of offset. [Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman knows that as well as I do. It has been widely reported in Germany.
The August measures taken by President Nixon could spark off a world recession unless there is agreement soon, and by "soon" I mean before Easter. If we allow the issue to drag into 1973, as seems to be the clear intention of many European Governments, the momentum will have carried away with it any chance of reaching a satisfactory agreement, and the consequences for this country in 367 employment and trade will be dire indeed.
The central problem here is, I regret to say, the attitude of the Common Market Governments and the Common Market as a whole. It appears that the Japanese Government, late but clearly, have come to terms with the American position and are prepared to negotiate. But it is impossible for the European Governments to negotiate separately under the E.E.C. rules, and they are unable to agree on a collective negotiating position. It seems to have been only by the most undiplomatic forms of public pressure that Chancellor Brandt was able to persuade President Pompidou to meet him before January to discuss the development of a common position.
I am well aware that the Foreign Secretary is not responsible for our economic policy, and I welcome that almost as much as I am sure he does. But I hope that it may be possible for the Minister of State to say something in his reply about the Government's attitude to the problem. I urge him to recognise how urgent it is. It is impossible to talk to leading Americans in business, banking or diplomacy these days without realising the severe risks that would be run if agreement was not reached before Easter. Once the American election campaign supervened another year would pass, during which irreparable damage would have been done to the structure of world trade, and the poor countries which are not party to the argument would suffer even worse than the rich.
A further point on the problem concerns Japan. There are already mounting signs that the Japanese Government and business recognise that they will never recover the markets in the United States which they lost in August, and that they are therefore concentrating on building up their markets in Europe, using very much the same methods. I believe that the Japanese Government, after what they call the "two Nixon shocks" are now in a position to talk seriously to European Governments about the problem. There is no doubt that if agreement is not reached between Europe and Japan at the governmental level the American experience will be repeated. After a period in which the Japanese penetration builds up almost unseen the pressure of competi- 368 tion will come to seem intolerable in Europe, the shutters will go up again and we may spark off another international trade crisis, this time with consequences in defence and foreign affairs, as a result of Japan's reaction inside her own country, which might be profoundly disturbing to world peace.
Finally, I come to the problem of relations between North and South. On Bengal I will only say that I have admired the Foreign Secretary's handling of the problem. I have repeatedly congratulated Her Majesty's Government on their contribution in the material field towards the relief of suffering of the refugees and those in East Bengal. I understand how difficult it is for the right hon. Gentleman to give the House an account of the advice he may have given to foreign Governments. The only point I would press again—and I hope that the Minister may have something to say about it in his reply—concerns the risk of war.
I was not glad but I recognised today that the right hon. Gentleman for the first time was prepared to talk publicly about this danger, which has been patent for many months. It seems to me to be an appalling commentary on the wit of diplomatists and the wisdom of men if, seeing this war approaching, as the right hon. Gentleman says, like something in a Greek tragedy, nothing whatever can be done by the United Nations, the international organisation whose prime job it is to prevent war, to stop this catastrophe from coming about. I understand the reasons. The right hon. Gentleman has often explained why it is difficult to raise the issue so long as neither of the parties to the dispute is prepared to do so. But I believe that posterity would not forgive us if nevertheless, seeing these two great nations—as the right hon. Gentleman said, friends and partners of ours in the Commonwealth and with which we have historic ties—drifting towards the precipice, we did nothing and could do nothing to prevent it.
I would also like to compliment the right hon. Gentleman on breaking an election promise. Normally we on this side upbraid him for this but I am delighted to see that he is actually taking all British troops out of the Persian or Arabian Gulf at the end of this year. I am glad also to see that all he is doing 369 to implement the election promise on the Far East and east of Suez is to leave a tiny token force in Singapore—a concept violently attacked by the present Home Secretary when we suggested it in 1967.
I am glad to see that the right hon. Gentleman seems to have abandoned the idea of using our forces in the Far East to prevent the Soviet Navy from, in his view, dominating the Indian Ocean. I was very interested in this regard to see what the Prime Minister of Singapore had to say yesterday. When asked if he regarded the Soviet Navy as a threat in view of its expansion in the Indian Ocean he replied,I don't see it as a threat.The report said:He indicated that there was plenty of space for many warships of many nations in that large ocean, and that Singapore was confident she could pursue her independent policies regardless of sabre-rattling.He said that Soviet merchant vessels were welcome at Singapore for servicing, as were the ships of other nations. Soviet naval craft were a different case and notice was required.But he pointed out that, provided that notice was given, these Soviet ships, like others, would be allowed to put in for rest and recreation.
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles (Winchester)
The right hon. Gentleman refers to the Prime Minister of Singapore. He will no doubt be aware that in a broadcast with me on the B.B.C. World Service Mr. Lee paid tribute to the extreme value of the Five-Power Compact and Britain's contribution to it.
§ Mr. Healey
I am aware that that is Mr. Lee's view. I could scarcely fail to be aware of it in view of my long connection with him. But the presence of this force has nothing to do with the Soviet threat in the Indian Ocean, and it is based in a country whose Prime Minister does not regard the presence of the Soviet Navy in the Indian Ocean as a threat and is prepared to give Soviet naval vessels certain facilities, provided that they give adequate notice. The calmness with which the Prime Minister of this small country treats the problem could well be a model for our own Prime Minister.
But I have no bouquets for the Foreign Secretary's policy in Africa. His obsession before and immediately after the 370 last General Election with the idea of providing arms for South Africa has left Britain's influence in black Africa hanging by a thread, and every week brings fresh evidence of the mistake he and the Prime Minister made in jeopardising our whole policy in Africa for the sake of six helicopters. Indeed, I am not clear—perhaps we can be told —whether even these six have yet been ordered.
The right hon. Gentleman told us a year ago—and I know that he believes it to be true—that in his opinion apartheid was breaking down under pressure of economic and diplomatic facts and that the situation would slowly improve. He cannot take that view today. In the last few days he has seen the South African Government proposing legislation to make Africans foreigners in their own country and legislation passed to remove coloured voters from the municipal rolls in Cape Province, where they are the great majority of the population. We have also heard that a 17th person has died in detention in circumstances which give every reason to believe that police brutality is the cause, and we have seen a British dean sentenced to five years in gaol for doing his duty as a Christian after a show trial in which the evidence was provided largely by secret police acting as agents provocateurs. I welcome the indication given by the right hon. Gentleman that he is prepared to do what he can for the dean in the light of the result of the dean's appeal. But does he still believe that the policy he adopted a year ago, and argued with such force in this House, was a wise one for Britain and for Britain's reputation in the world? There is no doubt, as The Times has pointed out, that South Africa is now a police State, and for the first time a police State for its white population no less than for its coloured and black peoples, as we saw from the Gestapo raids carried out the other day.
I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman a question, and if he cannot reply immediately perhaps the Minister can tell us. It has been widely reported that the head of this Gestapo, the Bureau of State Security, General van der Bergh, is in London. It has also been widely reported with a wealth of circumstantial detail that under the present Conservative Government co-operation takes place 371 between the South African Bureau of State Security and British security forces regarding the activities of enemies of the South African Government who happen to be living in this country.
I ask the right hon. Gentleman for an assurance, if such collaboration has taken place, that in the light of what we have seen happening in South Africa in recent months it will cease forthwith and that General van der Bergh will be told that his presence in this country is not welcome to the British Government and people.
The right hon. Gentleman left us in some doubt as to the Government's policy today regarding the supply of arms. I hope that it is true that he is now trying to limit the damage by refusing to provide any arms, or by discouraging applications for any arms, other than helicopters. But all that we can hope to achieve in limiting the damage would be lost if it were thought that he was selling out to a similar regime in Rhodesia.
I believe that the right hon. Gentleman is a man of honour—indeed, I know him to be so—and I believe that when he says that he will not accept any settlement which does not observe the five principles he is telling the truth. But he must be aware that Smith has said that he does not believe in any of these principles. Smith has said it while negotiations with the right hon. Gentleman were already proceeding on an exploratory basis, and he said it to a British television correspondent. The right hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do that the 1969 Constitution means, in Smith's own view, that it would be centuries before even parity was reached politically between the races and that a majority of the Africans would never be allowed a majority in politics.
The right hon. Gentleman knows also that another of the five principles insists on guarantees against retrospective amendment of the Constitution. He also knows very well that without some physical guarantee against amendment it is possible for a future Government to overthrow entrenched clauses, as the South African Government did in the 1930s. Certain rights for the majority in South Africa were established in, I think, 1907, but they were overthrown in the 1920s and 1930s in violation of 372 solemn pledges by the South African Government, and there is little doubt that Smith would not wait 30 years before he took action.
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it not the custom of the House to refer to political leaders of other countries at least by the courtesy of calling them "Mister"?
§ Mr. Healey
I do not regard Smith as other than a traitor to the Crown, and I would hope that the gallant admiral would take the same view, that he would as a serious matter and violation of that take the oath of allegiance to the Crown oath as an act deserving of the deepest condemnation by every hon. Member on both sides of the House.
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles
I remind the right hon. Gentleman, as he has referred to me, that at least I should have been able to pass the positive security vetting in my own Ministry.
§ Mr. Healey
All I can say to the hon. and gallant Gentleman is, "Temper temper." It is always interesting to observe how the most hon. and gallant Members opposite can stoop to a smear campaign when they find themselves morally embarrassed.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)
Would not my right hon. Friend agree that the hon. and gallant Gentleman ought to withdraw that remark?
§ Mr. Healey
I do not in the least object to the hon. and gallant admiral branding himself a McCarthyite, although I know him well enough to recognise that he will regret that remark tomorrow, and we shall remain good friends in the future as we have so often been in the past.
I do not believe that it is conceivably possible for the Foreign Secretary to reach an agreement on Rhodesia within the ambit of the five principles so long as Smith is the Prime Minister of that country, but I should like to raise one matter which disturbs me greatly. A day or two ago Sir Philip Adams, the leader of the British team, left Salisbury after five days of talks with Rhodesian officials. During the days he was there, the Rhodesian 373 authorities began to evict thousands of Africans from church lands at Epworth, near Salisbury. When Sir Philip was questioned about this, he said that the reports about the Government's plans had had no effect on the talks, that it had not beena hastener or an impediment to what we have been talking about.If that statement is true, it is shocking. For the Smith authorities to take this action at that time in the presence of the British team in itself is some indication of the frivolity with which they regard the negotiations. But for the British negotiators not to raise the matter in the talks seems to be a betrayal of everything the Government say they stand for. I hope that the Minister will give us some assurance that Sir Philip Adams was misquoted or was mistaken.
I conclude with one or two very general remarks. There is much which the right hon. Gentleman has done in the last 12 months with which I agree and with which most of us on this side of the House would agree, and I have mentioned his action on China and his conduct of British policy in Bengal and other matters. But the Government's record as a whole in the last 12 months has shown a deplorable sense of priorities in world affairs. They have invested a tremendous amount of effort in attempting to come to terms with racialists in Southern Africa and little effort in trying to deal with the claimant problems of East-West relations and the difficulties inside the Western world on which our whole prosperity and survival must depend.
I cannot help feeling that the reason for this defective sense of priorities is double. First, there is the Foreign Secretary's personal obsession with the Communist threat as it appeared 20 years ago, but no longer exists today which prevents him from recognising opportunities for improving relations in the world when those opportunities appear. Secondly. there is the insensitivity, which is even worse in the Prime Minister, which the Foreign Secretary shows to the needs and sufferings and aspirations of the poorer people on this planet, an insensitivity which is equally reflected in the Government's attitude to the poor and underprivileged inside the frontiers of the United Kingdom.
374 I believe that until the Government can free themselves of these false values and mistaken priorities they will not be able to exercise a voice in international affairs worthy of our past, commensurate with our resources and in line with the deeply felt wishes of the British people.
§ Mr. Victor Goodhew(Lord Commissioner of the Treasury)
Thank God the right hon. Gentleman is not the Foreign Secretary.
§ Mr. Healey
As the hon. Gentleman is a Whip, I will forbear to comment on that remark. The problems and opportunities which we face in the world today are incapable of solution unless to the qualities which the Foreign Secretary mentioned, perseverance and courage, we add imagination and humanity, and I despair of finding those qualities on that side of the House until the General Election changes the teams.
§ 4.27 p.m.
§ Mrs. Connie Monks (Chorley)
As a comparatively new Member, I hesitated seriously about taking part in this debate on defence, but I felt that if I omitted to do so I should be failing in my duty. The comments which I wish to make are brief and are based on my own experience. and they link the Common Market and defence.
In working for economic unity, the Six have grown closer together and now they are ready to extend their co-operation to foreign affairs and defence. Indeed, I understand that they have taken the first tentative steps in this direction. But it is unthinkable that this extension should go on, essential as it is, without Great Britain, and that is one of the primary reasons why I support entry into the European Economic Community.
We—and I mean we Europeans—can never find adequate words to thank America for the part she has played in our defence and the major rôle which she has accepted in Europe for 25 years. However, there are signs that this cannot go on to the same extent for ever. America is having financial difficulties, which are partly due to trade diversion from America to the Community. The Six are becoming more and more prosperous and financially able to bear more of the cost of their own defence and we, as their partner in N.A.T.O., obviously need to 375 share their prosperity before we, too, can afford increased costs for our mutual defence.
In a world of large Powers, all European States can do more to protect their interests in world affairs if they act together rather than separately. We could be on a par, in size, with America, Russia, China and Japan. We could be among the giants rather than the pigmies. The potential power of the European nations is dissipated if it is fragmented. If our individual powers were harnessed together through a community of ten nations, with their associates, acting in common, there is nothing that we could not do in the material world and we should again become more masters of our own fate, not having to depend to a very large extent on the presence of 300,000 American troops to make our defence even credible.
I remember the relief I felt when a British Prime Minister came back from Munich waving a piece of paper and crying, "Peace in our time." That was appeasement, and that peace lasted just over 12 months. But that peace at least gave us that period in which we could begin to prepare to defend ourselves, even to the provision of gas masks. Some hon. Members may have forgotten all about that, but I, as one of the people who had to wear them, remember it very well indeed.
It was the fact that we were able—this is something, perhaps, which people smile about now—to distribute those gas masks which probably deterred the use of gas. To many young people, that seems a time long past, and so it is. I hope that it will remain in the past. That is why I am determined that Britain must remain strong and able to defend herself along with our allies. It took disaster to unite the allies against Fascism, but in any future war there will be no time and no reprieve.
Only one great Power made territorial gains during the last war—or should I say after the last war—and the same Power continued to extend its control over Eastern Europe by means of political infiltration and subversion. Between 1945 and 1948, that Power extended its dictatorship at the rate of 22,000 acres a day. In the face of this westward 376 thrust of the Communists, the free world decided to unite its forces, and N.A.T.O. was born.
N.A.T.O. has achieved collectively what separately would have been impossible. While working for the maintenance of peace, we must be able to defend ourselves. I believe that membership of the Common Market will make a major contribution to our prosperity and to our ability to defend ourselves. Like the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), I welcome the idea of mutual force reductions, but it all depends on the starting point; the one with the biggest pile still has a lot left when one's own have all gone. I feel most strongly on this, as you have obviously seen, Mr. Speaker. I believe that we should delude ourselves if we believed that the pressure from the East had stopped. It is simply coming from other directions.
§ 4.35 p.m.
§ Mr. John Stonehouse (Wednesbury)
I hope that the hon. Lady the Member for Chorley (Mrs. Monks) will forgive me if I do not follow in detail the points which she raised, but in her speech she drew attention to several developments in international affairs which confirm what I think was demonstrated in the two Front Bench speeches today—that there have been dramatic changes in international relations during these past 12 months.
In fact, these changes are probably more significant than anything which we have seen in any period since the last great war. My right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) in a very moderate and well-balanced speech, referred to the great significance of Willy Brandt's Ostpolitik. This is one of the greatest things which we have seen in Europe in these last few years and will perhaps give rise to a greater opportunity for East—West friendship and the avoidance of conflict arising out of the division of Germany.
But in addition to this most significant development, we have seen changes in South America in the last 12 months which are also important—a move to the Left which will enable some of the dispossessed in South America, of whom there are many millions, to gain a greater place in the sun. I have been glad to 377 see some of the changes which have occurred in Chile and elsewhere, which I think will lead to a better economic way of life for millions in that part of the world.
Then there are the changes on the Canadian scene. Prime Minister Trudeau is beginning to have his impact on international affairs, and there is little doubt that Canadian politics internationally are moving out of the automatic association with everything that the United States does. This could be all to the good.
Then, of course, there has been this significant change in our relationship with the E.E.C., in that the E.E.C. is now prepared to accept us, the French have dropped the veto and there has been a very large vote by the House of Commons in favour of joining. These are very significant developments. They will have a tremendous effect on international relations.
The fifth change, of course, is that in the relationship of China with the rest of the world. One of the aspects of this which I believe is being neglected—it was certainly neglected in the Foreign Secretary's speech—is that this is not an emergence from a self-imposed exile, as he said; it is a change on the part particularly of the United States but also of many other countries in their relations with China. It is particularly important for America that they have had to recognise that the policy which they have pursued over the last two decades has now been proven wrong.
After all, for many years, they have tried to impose a policy of supporting Chiang Kai-shek on their other allies. They have pursued the conviction to the point of lunacy that it would be possible for Chiang Kai-shek to return to the mainland of China. Associated with this policy has been the policy of attempting to contain Communist China and prevent its influence spreading in other parts of the world.
This has led to the policy of United States intervention in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Siam. It has led to the Americans attempting, with the loss of millions of dollars in resources but also thousands of American lives, to stop the emergence of a Vietnamese solution in South Vietnam.
378 The Americans are now withdrawing from that aspect of the policy, recognising that in recent years they have been wrong. I welcome the change that has come about in the U.S. and I welcome the fact that President Nixon has decided to visit Peking, but let us recognise that there are dangers as well as opportunities in this change of heart on the part of the U.S.
The Americans have acknowledged their mistakes, though they have not perhaps admitted them publicly. Indeed, it has been represented in many quarters as a great diplomatic success that President Nixon is going to Peking. If one adopts a more realistic approach to these issues one realises that this is a suing for peace and a recognition of the weakness of United States policies in the last two decades have been wrong.
As I say, while this change of policy in America is to be welcomed, there are immense dangers inherent in it for the United States and the rest of the world. In the last few weeks we have seen even liberals in the American Congress and Senate arguing against United States aid for the rest of the world on the ground that such aid has been seen to be ineffectual in securing friends. This could lead to a new isolationism on the part of America, which could have serious repercussions for the developing countries.
There is in America a withdrawal not only from the power politics of international intervention but from the moral idealism that has inspired a great many Americans in their relations with the rest of the world. Indeed, many Americans supported going into Vietnam in the early days because they were moral idealists. They believed they were there with a mission to serve; that they would save South Vietnam for democracy.
Many of these Americans are sadly disillusioned when they see that rather than saving South Vietnam for democracy, they have in South Vietnam a military dictatorship in which democratic elections are not allowed to take place. This has led many American liberals to throw up their hands and withdraw, and this could lead to a new mood of isolationism which, as I say, could be very dangerous indeed.
One obvious danger arises from the fact that American policy can be turned on 379 its head within such a short space of time and that the United States can ignore and retreat from alliances to which it has adhered for many years. Its withdrawal of support from Japan and Taiwan is significant for us in Europe because it could happen here.
The Foreign Secretary expressed confidence that the United States would not abandon Europe. I hope that he is right and that the Americans will continue to take an interest in the security of Europe. However, when we see what the United States can do with its Pacific policy almost overnight, some Europeans are bound to be fearful that the United States could do the same in Europe if it served its interests.
This is one reason why—I will not burden the House today with my reasons for supporting Britain's entry into the E.E.C.—it is important that we should enter the Community. The situation for Britain in Europe has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. On balance, it is now better for us to join an enlarged Community and to play our part in it rather than to stay out, for I believe that the relationship of Europe with the rest of the world has undergone substantial changes since the first application was made 10 years ago.
I wish briefly to consider the situation in India and Pakistan, which I regard as one of the most dangerous areas of the world and which therefore warrants our attention in this debate. I accept what the Foreign Secretary said about it not being for this country to dictate to the people of East Bengal as to what course they should adopt for the future of their country. We should accept, too, that it is not for us to dictate to them what they should not accept—and I thought the right hon. Gentleman was in danger of falling into this pit.
He said that the solution for East Bengal could come only within East Pakistan and within Pakistan itself. He is wrong. It is not for us to assume that the solution to the problem in East Bengal must be found within Pakistan. There is another solution—that Fast Bengal should become an independent State, under the name of Bangladesh, if that is its wish. It is not for us to dictate to the Bengalis or West Pakistanis that this is an option which is not available to them.
380 After all, many other countries have had unions and associations which have been broken off because they have not worked. Consider, for example, our creation of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, which we decided to break up because we realised that it could net work and could not lead to amicability between the communities living in Rhodesia and Nyasaland. As a result of that action there are now the two independent States of Malawi and Zambia and the illegal régime of Rhodesia.
§ Mrs. Knight
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that such a change could not come about against the wishes of the people concerned? Is he further aware that it was never any part of the election programme of the Awami League that there should be secession?
§ Mr. Stonehouse
Six years ago the Awami League drafted a policy and election programme which included a number of points leading to economic autonomy. The League made it clear during the elections last December that such a policy could be pursued within a united Pakistan
Since then President Yahya Khan and the military rulers of West Pakistan have refused to accept the democratic will of the people of East Pakistan. They used military force on an almost unprecedented scale after 25th March to suppress the feelings of the East Bengal people, who had voted overwhelmingly in support of the Awami League in December. It was in that situation that the Awami League leaders who survived the carnage and escaped to the sanctuary of India declared the independent State of Bangladesh, and it is that State that we should recognise as having come into existence.
§ Mr. Stonehouse
That is my view.
There are many examples in addition to Rhodesia and Nyasaland of States which have been created in a certain way and which broke up because the peoples of those countries decided on better ways of proceeding. There was the union of the U.A.R. with Syria. That broke up and has since been re-formed. There was the union between Singapore and Malaysia, with the Malaysian Federation, by which we set great store at one stage. That broke up, and who can say that the relationship that now exists between 381 Singapore and Malaysia is not better and does not give better opportunities to each country, rather than both being forced together in a federation which could not work? One could quote other examples.
If it is right that in those countries it has been possible for the people concerned to take a decision to break up a federation or even a unitary State, surely that must apply in Pakistan. Pakistan was created by the United Kingdom because of the tremendous pressures in the Indian sub-continent for a religious type State to be established, but it has the enormous disadvantage of being separated by a thousand miles of India and, between East and West Pakistan, by a cultural and historical background which is as dissimilar between the two wings as between almost any two countries in Europe. With these differences, we should recognise that these people have a right, if they wish and if it is their decision, to break up their country and to have two independent States rather than one.
The Foreign Secretary fell into an error in his speech when he said that the solution must be found within Pakistan. But I hope that he will recognise that if the people in East Pakistan wish to declare their independence, an opportunity must be found for them, if they so desire, and that there is no reason why Britain should say that that option is not available to them. I hope that the Foreign Secretary, if he agrees with me, will indicate that in our decision not to interfere in the constitutional decisions of the people of that part of the world, we do not impose any such pre-conditions on their decisions.
§ Mr. Christopher Woodhouse (Oxford)
I have a good deal of sympathy with the right hon. Gentleman's point, but I wonder whether he would extend it to the attempted secession of Biafra. Biafra did not enjoy much sympathy from the Government of which he was a member.
§ Mr. Stonehouse
Biafra is an interesting case. At that time the then members of the Opposition supported the secession of Biafra and worked very strongly for it, and they recognised the principle which I am describing to the House—that a people have the right, if they so decide, to break up a country where they believe that is in their best interests. I do not believe that 382 there are very many similarities between the Biafra-Nigeria situation and the situation I am considering in East Bengal. For one thing, Biafra was in geographical touch with Nigeria. It was not a separate State separated from Nigeria by 1,000 miles of another State. There were other reasons why the break-up would have been inadvisable. But in this particular case there are many more reasons why an independent country is more desirable than in the case of Biafra.
I was in complete agreement with what my right hon. Friend said about the actions of the Foreign Secretary in providing aid for the refugees in India and in providing aid which can be used in East Bengal. I have paid tribute to the Foreign Secretary's humanitarianism about this and I hope that many other countries will follow our example. But there will be a need for Britain to provide even more aid, especially during the coming winter months, and when India is coping with the enormous problems of nine to 10 million refugees in the camps in West Bengal and elsewhere. The refugees will face tremendous privation in the oncoming winter, with the worse conditions in the camps that that will cause. There will be a need for even more aid in the form of clothing and blankets in order to save lives. I hope that we shall be able to play our part in giving more assistance.
Although the final decision has to be made by the people of East Bengal, there is strong evidence to suggest that an independent Bangladesh will emerge from the conflicts which now take place. Not only will it emerge but, I believe, it has already emerged. The Bangladesh Government is in a very much stronger position than most international commentators are prepared to admit. This is partly because India has prevented full information about the success of Bangladesh going out to the rest of the world. India has her own reasons for doing this. She has prevented foreign visitors from going to parts of Bangladesh which are firmly under Mukti Bahini control.
In the last few days I have had the good fortune of talking to Donald Chesworth, the chairman of a charity in Britain called "War on Want", who returned recently from an extended visit to areas of Bangladesh which are firmly under the control of the provisional administration. He tells me that it became 383 clear to him about his extended visit that there are about four million people, at least, who are under the administration of the Bangladesh authorities, that normal civil administration, including the administration of courts, the running of police forces and trade, is going on, and that the Bangladesh administration is in firm control.
I do not know why the Indian authorities do not allow visitors to go to the areas which are so strongly under the control of the Bangladesh authorities. They do allow visitors to go to an area controlled by the Bangladesh administration nearer to West Bengal, and I visited this particular enclave last July. I crossed the frontier from India and went across some fields into an area that was quite clearly under the control of the Mukti Bahini, the forces which owe allegiance to the Bangladesh administration. That area of about 150 square miles is, or was, under the control of the Bangladesh authorities.
I was interested to read a report in The Guardian last week that a group of journalists had been to the same area and met the same Bangladesh officials and heard from them a similar story to that which I had heard last July, which indicates that this is an area which has been under very firm Bangladesh control for very many months.
Bangladesh does exist. The information we have confirms that. Therefore, in considering what solution should be found to this awful tragedy in Bengal, the Bangladesh Government must be one of the parties to the discussion. It is simply not good enough for the farce of elections to be held in East Bengal and for most of the candidates to be unopposed because the Awami League, the major political party, is refusing to participate and cannot do so. It is ridiculous to go through with this farce and to ignore the realities of the situation that a vast area of East Bengal is under the control of the provisional government of Bangladesh.
Reference has been made to the situation that existed in Biafra during the war with Nigeria. At that time efforts were made to bring together the parties to the dispute, and talks were held in Ethiopia from time to time in an attempt to secure some peace in the region. If it were right to try to bring the Biafran representative 384 to the conference table with the Nigerians, it is right today to recognise the existence of the Bangladesh Government as a force in the same way that Biafra was recognised in that dispute with Nigeria. I believe that we close our eyes to the facts of the situation if we do not recognise that, at least.
My hope is that India will herself give more support to the Bangladesh Government because, as far as I have been able to assess on my visits to that part of the world, this administration is the true reflection of the majority view in East Bengal. No doubt those elections won by the Awami League were an amazing success for the point of view put forward by Sheik Mujib Rahman. There is no doubt that the Bengali people in East Bengal continue to support the concept of an independent Bangladesh, and it will be impossible for a solution to be found to this tragedy unless it is recognised that the possibility of an independent Bangladesh may emerge from it. In the meantime, we have to negotiate with the Awami League leaders in the provisional Government of Bangladesh who represent that point of view.
I want to raise a specific point which is of great importance in securing that there is no continuation of unnecessary atrocities in the areas where there continues to be this guerrilla strife. The guerilla strife will go on, and there will continue to be this war between the Pakistan Army and the forces of the Mukti Bahini. But I believe that there is an opportunity for the international community to play its part in reducing the atrocities which undoubtedly are taking place.
I refer in particular to the Geneva Convention of 1949 which was signed by various High Contracting Parties and adhered to by the United Kingdom in September, 1957. Article 3 of the Convention provides thatIn the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:(1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms… shall…be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, 385 religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.To this end, the following Acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time, and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:We know that that Convention is not being adhered to by the Pakistan Army. From reports coming out of East Bengal, we know that when a bridge is blown up or a road is mined or there is an attack on Pakistan Army units, the Pakistan Army is going out to nearby villages and destroying them, killing the men, raping the women, and making thousands of people flee from their homes because of these atrocities. Every day, 20,000 to 30,000 people are crossing the frontier from East Bengal to West Bengal because of the atrocities perpetrated by the Pakistan Army in its attempt to "pacify" the area that it would like to control.
- (a) Violence to life and person, in particular, murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
- (b) taking of hostages;
- (c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;
- (d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognised as indispensable by civilised peoples."
This is illegal conduct. We have condemned it already in this House as being in contravention of the Geneva Convention on Genocide. But it is further condemned by the 1949 Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.
What, then, are the positive proposals that we can make to deal with the situation? They are contained in this Convention, which goes on to say:An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict. The Parties to the conflict should further endeavour to bring into force, by means of special agreements, all or part of the other provisions of the present Convention.As I have indicated, this Convention applies not to disputes of an international character but to hostilities… occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting PartiesIt refers specifically to an… armed conflict not of an international character".386 In other words, a civil war can come within the terms of the Convention. Therefore, I press very strongly that every passible pressure should be put on both the provisional Government of Bangladesh, who are supporting the forces of the Mukti Bahini, and the Government of Pakistan, who are sustaining the activities of the Pakistan Army, to agree to adhere to the Convention of 1949 and to help bring to an end the atrocities against civilians which are now taking place every day in East Bengal.
An agreement will also help the charities, like War on Want and Oxfam, which are trying to bring aid to the refugees in Bengal and to those people in East Bengal who are also in need of help and may within the next few months face the worst-ever famine to affect that part of the world. It could lead to the deaths of millions unless means of communication are found to bring in the food which is available. If that food is to get in and be distributed to those who need it, it is essential that both sides to the present dispute—the provisional Government of Bangladesh and the Pakistan authorities—should agree to give laissez-passer to the supplies of food which can be brought in by the international community. I am certain that the operation of this Convention will help to ensure that this humanitarian job is done.
I turn briefly to the negotiations going on with Mr. Ian Smith and his colleagues. I regret that the sanctions policy has not worked. The Rhodesian economy is very strong. It is not as strong as it would have been had there been no sanctions, but it is clear that the condition of life in Rhodesia is reasonably good and that Rhodesia can survive economically even if sanctions are continued. Therefore it is right that Her Majesty's Government should find ways and means of bring this dispute to an end. I hope that it will be possible to reach an agreement, though I doubt whether any agreement will stick. But I have one specific question, to which I hope I shall have a reply. In the negotiations conducted by the previous Administration, the Governments of the Commonwealth countries were always kept in touch with every stage. Are they being kept in touch with these negotiations? Are they being told what is going on?
387 Finally, I refer to an event which is due to take place within a few days and which has immense significance to specific countries as well as being of great importance to environmentalists and conservationists all over the world. I refer, of course, to the proposal by the United States to explode a five-megaton nuclear device underground on the island of Amchitka, in the Aleutians. This proposal has been strongly condemned by Japan, Russia, Alaska itself, and now by the Canadians. Yesterday the Canadian Foreign Minister said that this proposed act was illegal under international marine law. I have not had the opportunity to look up all the references which would confirm that, but there is little doubt that the explosion, if it is allowed to take place, could lead to very serious repercussions.
The Science Correspondent of the Daily Telegraph wrote this on 30th October:Operation Cannikin—that is the name given to the proposed explosion—may produce a dangerous earthquake in one of the world's most active seismic areas, the circle round the Pacific Ocean …The possibility of an earthquake being caused by Operation Cannikin is discounted by the A.E.C. but the five megaton test is only four times less than the force of the recent earthquake in Peru, which was considered to be equivalent to a 20-megaton nuclear explosion.The deeper and bigger the test the more likely it is to trigger action in an unstable area.I hope that the British Government will in the time available make their strong protest, along with the protests of Canada and Japan, against this test taking place. The risks in this test are too great for the world community to ignore.
§ 5.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Dodds-Parker (Cheltenham)
These are unsatisfactory debates, because after the Summer Recess we tend to say where we have been on our holidays and think that the rest of the House will be interested.
As for the right hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stonehouse), I regard the situation in the sub-continent as so critical now that any partisanship in the House is to be regretted. This does not mean that we cannot express great sympathy with all those suffering in that part of the world and hope that we can assist 388 the various relief organisations in carrying on relief in very difficult circumstances.
In the past few months, if not years. I have studied the question of having some emergency force, with communications and transport which might go in and help. However, it is, I feel, irresponsible to adopt partisan attitudes in the House, particularly at this stage.
Those of us who were around when these two great friendly Commonwealth countries were established in the subcontinent 24 years ago regret, to an extent more than I personally can express, that they should have got into this situation. There is little that we can do about it now, and all that happens is that we get accused of neo-colonialism.
I want to take up two points arising from what the Shadow Foreign Secretary said. I warned the right hon. Gentleman that I would take up these points. However, exhausted by his long speech the right hon. Gentleman had to leave the Chamber, and I quite understand that.
The first point is on security. I do not want to be over-controversial about this. The right hon. Gentleman said that the relations with the Soviets now are worse than for 20 years. Everybody who has followed this argument on security knows that under the previous Administration there was great laxity for six years and that we lacked the great patriots like Lord Attlee, A.V. Alexander and, above all, Ernest Bevin, in controlling these very delicate affairs. After the war they faced up to the reality of infiltration, espionage and worse, and protected our interests.
Clearly action had to be taken. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has made clear, he warned the Soviets privately, but for a year they took no action. It is also clear that they started a propaganda operation in anticipation of the British Government taking action. I regret that the Shadow Foreign Secretary added support to the Soviet propaganda by his speech.
The second point I take up concerns the right hon. Gentleman's reference to what he calls North and South. I spent the only 10 constructive years of my life trying to do a job of work in the 389 "South". I am not sure that I would use the word "gulf" which the right hon. Gentleman used to describe what exists between North and South rather than "gap"; but this may be a fine point.
As the prosperity of the free world increases, that of the third world does not increase so fast, partly for reasons that have always existed, partly because of its own fault. About 30 years ago it was food, medicine, education and, above all freedom—and environment, which we are now talking about in Britain. Many of those peoples then lived in much happier circumstances than they enjoy today, due to over population and instability.
What we should lay more stress on, rather than the idea that the North must "help" the South, is the practical proposition of management. I hope that the right hon. Lady the Member for Lanark (Mrs. Hart), who is to reply for the Opposition, will tell us what her view is on this critical point. It is not just a question of making capital or resources available from the North. They must be administered in a responsible and effective way. It disturbs me deeply that as soon as somebody becomes for example a bank manager he thinks he can run international banking. That is just as expert a job as being a doctor. The way in which new countries tend to get rid of anyone who is not of their own nationality, then fail themselves, and blame the "North" for their own shortcomings is regrettable.
The proposal of the International Chamber of Commerce may not appeal to the Labour Party, because it involves free enterprise, but it was a realistic proposal. One proposition was that the "North" should go in on a mutually sharing basis and do the job together. Increasingly it is management rather than just capital which is required, to close the gap in the under-developed parts of the world.
The Shadow Foreign Secretary said that East-West Relations were better under the previous Government. However. there is a steady improvement. I recently spent two weeks in the Soviet Union and I never had a more friendly time in my life, but I was not moving in governmental circles. We must study this question carefully. In the Soviet Union some people are looking 25 years ahead. 390 There are not many people here looking 25 years ahead.
I pray that the SALT talks will produce satisfactory results. However, we must not drop our guard or be taken in, because it is in the Soviet interests at the moment to face China rather than to face the West. We must also realise that at present the Soviet forces—conventional, nuclear and subversive—are more powerful and more active than they have been at any time since 1945.
I want now to concentrate on two specific points which are far removed from those global conceptions, but on which the House is able to take action. On Friday of last week I attended a W.E.U. Committee meeting in Paris with colleagues from the other side of the House. This was a meeting of representatives of the Six and the United Kingdom. They were all delighted at the vote in the House last Thursday night. They repeated to us many of the points which they wished to be considered in the next few months or years. The great hope is that all the seven countries will work ever more closely together.
It is now only 14 months before we must send a delegation from the House to the European Parliament. I believe that we must study many problems much more closely than hitherto, preparatory to action on 1st January, 1973.
In this connection I make two points. The first is on organisation. M. Jean Monnet, speaking on television on Thursday night, made the same point as the American Bar Association has made three times to my knowledge in the last 20 years in Westminster Hall—that Britain is not supreme at cooking and heating but is unsurpassed at creating institutions to maintain freedom under the law. All of us who have lived through the last 40 years can see that. This is the great challenge, as we unite Europe, even beyond the economics, and I hope that from now on, both pros and antis will join in making our association with the Community work.
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker
That is up to the hon. Member and his Front Bench as indeed it has always been during the last 25 years. Until direct elections come he 391 has to make peace with his own Front Bench, not with me.
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has admitted that we shall not get a chance to amend or alter any of the five types of rules and regulations in the Treaty. We shall be permitted to debate them, but not to reject or amend them. In that situation, how can we possibly make the improvements suggested?
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker
I am not talking about that. We are joining an association which already exists, which has been going for 10 years, but it is an evolving community. We are going in 10 years after the Communities were set up, and when the hon. Gentleman is sitting on his cloud a century or so from now I hope he will be able to say that, although he opposed it for the first 10 years, he supported it for the next 20.
Those who are opposed to entry have a great chance, by going to the European Parliament, under whatever conditions may exist, to find either that their fears are unfounded or that they are shared by others there. It will be for them to put in constructive proposals for resolving those fears. We had to face this on this side of the House over nationalisation. We did not accept it in the years after the war. The hon. Member will remember how we opposed it and said it would not work, and it has not. But we as a party had to make it work.
That is the challenge which faces both those who want to join and those who do not. The task, not just for Members of both Houses of Parliament but also for the Chair and the Table, is to keep the business within bounds. This is only a small point, but one which makes an organisation work effectively. The right hon. Member for Kettering (Sir G. de Freitas) at Strasbourg made a great effort to overcome the academic "quarter of a hour" and got into trouble for doing it. But now some of these organisations work more punctually. This may seem trivial but we do not always realise how much we owe to the Chair and the Table in getting the business of our democracy through, or how much we owe to individuals like Sir Frank Figgures and Sir John Coulson, from the Civil Service, who helped to make E.F.T.A. such a success. 392 But now we are joining a going concern which is evolving. We must therefore try to help the organisation work as well or better than it does at present. At the moment the European Parliament meets for some 120 days a year, mainly for committee work. The enlarged Assembly can, I hope, be kept down to 120 days, of which about 20 days may be held in London. The other Six members find that if the best qualified representatives are to be retained, the demands made on them must be kept within bounds.
I believe that as time goes on the European Parliament and the North Atlantic Assembly will be the main assemblies in the free world. On the latter Assembly. I hope to speak in the future, but I believe that the North Atlantic Assembly, supporting the O.E.C.D. area and perhaps working towards a North Atlantic Free Trade area, is something we ought to be thinking about now, although it may be long before it becomes a reality.
I turn now in narrow parliamentary terms to the Assemblies which we propose to establish to ensure proper parliamentary control over the Executive, the Council of Ministers and the Commission in the E.E.C. This is something which is as necessary, and sometimes, I am afraid, as unwelcome, as it is here to the Treasury Bench. Members of the Assembly will have to be chosen through the usual channels until direct elections are held. [Interruption.] This has all been said before.
The Assembly must include members who specialise on subjects such as the social services, agriculture, trade and regional policy. It is not, in terms of my own party, the foreign affairs committee, but members of the specialist committees who will have a great contribution to make at the European Parliament. Beyond the mere harmonisation of such policies in committee, political issues also will have to be dealt with which will require a united European policy, for instance, on East-West relations; problems will result from trade and also from, for example, pollution. It is perhaps just as well that, through an accident of geography, the prevailing wind blows from west to east.
Another aim of a united Europe will be to achieve an Arab-Israeli settlement. Studying the energy needs of Europe, it 393 will become more obvious that beyond humanitarian reasons we should have a European policy towards that area from which so much of the energy for Europe comes.
In parenthesis, the Middle East seems still to be, after the problem of the Indian sub-continent, the main danger area in the world. The conflict on the sub-continent is limited, but that in the Middle East might spread out of control unless the most careful attention is given to it. I would draw my right hon. Friend's attention once again to a point not sufficiently looked at—and that is the potentially decisive importance of a European guarantee for any Middle East settlement. The Western European Union Assembly suports this idea. We were discussing it at the Council of Europe. The churches believe that the proposals made in the last five years for under-writing a settlement will be helpful.
I believe that the significance of the enlarged Community is not just for the benefit of this country and the Community, but that for the creation of wealth and stability to help others outside the Community. The excellent speech of the right hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe), the Leader of the Liberal Party, brought that out better than anyone else has ever done recently.
I believe that the United Kingdom's opportunity in that enlarged Community to build its economic and political future is the greatest since 1775, when a former Member of Parliament for Banbury disposed of the American Colonies.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
It seems a little strange, and may be we should have a look at our institution, that a foreign affairs debate on the third day of the Gracious Speech should attract so little interest. It does seem remarkable. The only thing that I would say to the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Dodds-Parker) is that I do not think his idea that we can transplant British institutions to Strasbourg or Brussels is a viable one. We have tried to transplant these indigenous institutions to a number of places and it has always been disastrous and will be again.
I want to say a word or two about Rhodesia. I never believed that sanctions would work. I believed that they 394 would strengthen the Rhodesian Front and that the Africans would be the sufferers. I congratulate the Government on trying to settle this nonsense and I certainly deplore the observations of the Leader of the Labour Party who threatened that he would not support the Market if there was a sell-out over Rhodesia. Really, the only thing we have to sell in Rhodesia is our own vanity. For all that and with the best will in the world I do not think it will be possible to settle the Rhodesian situation on any terms at all because I do not think that Mr. Smith's supporters can afford a settlement.
Sanctions are too valuable for them. So long as sanctions remain so do the members of the Rhodesian Front in Parliament. While the patriotic struggle is there they are safe in their jobs. A very high proportion of them are men who could never get as well paid anywhere else.
The other great problem for these people is that they are the people who, quite properly from a Rhodesian point of view, have invested in the import substitution industries. Those industries will collapse when imports come in again. That is very unattractive to those who have their money in these. So Mr. Smith finds one excuse after another because he must pretend all the time that he wants a settlement. Politics in Rhodesia require him to make that pretence. Every time some reason must be found why the negotiations cannot go any further. The latest one is what I describe as the quite disgraceful conduct with regard to Rhodes's legacy to the African people and the ejection of those Africans just at the time of the negotiations.
Mr. Smith is not a foolish man, he knows his politics pretty well. That is not done by mistake. I say to the Government in all seriousness that they will only get negotiations when they remove sanctions. If sanctions are removed Mr. Smith is in a rare mess because suddenly he has to cope with an inflow of new investment, with the boom that is waiting to break out, the boom that can only be staffed and manned by Africans. This is not an apartheid situation, there cannot be one with a 1 in 20 situation. It is difficult enough with a 1 in 4 situation but with 1 in 20 it is just not on.
395 The only way to keep this sort of régime is by screwing it down and stopping progress. This is precisely what sanctions have done for the last four years. They have kept the régime going. If they are removed there may be realistic negotiations on the basis of the six principles because in coping with the difficulties which will arise through expansion the Rhodesians will need us seriously. They do not need us in the least so long as sanctions can be kept going.
I turn to my main theme and that which worries me above all other things, namely the state of the American Alliance. It is on that Alliance that the defence stability of Europe depends. I remember only too well, as does my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) the meeting at Lisbon of the Chiefs of Staff of the N.A.T.O. countries in 1952 when we had to decide what was necessary for the defence of Europe. The answer came out—50 divisions at the ready, another 120 available at so many days, an air force of 4,000 planes and most important of all, the main body of this force to be stationed behind the Rhine and not to move forward until the axes of advance of the enemy were ascertained.
That proposal was turned down because Europe was not prepared to provide the divisions and above all because Germany was not prepared to provide the battlefield. That is no less necessary for real defence. The forces which we have to meet are no less now than they were in 1952. Instead we plumped for something quite different. We accepted a forward policy which was alone acceptable to the Germans; we put our armies forward knowing perfectly well that they could not fight in those positions but believing that they would provide credibility for the American deterrent on which we relied. That has been their function.
I remember discussing this with the late Sir Basil Liddell Hart. His view was that any time the Russians, using not more than six divisions, chose to move in the North they could do so, leaving at last light and up on the Rhine at first light, on to the Swiss frontier on the third day, filling up behind with their airborne divisions. In three days the 396 N.A.T.O. forces could have been wiped out. I am sure that is correct. Those N.A.T.O. forces mean nothing without the American nuclear deterrent. They are there to give it credibility. The American divisions could never fight in the positions in which they are placed, but they are there to give the nuclear force credibility because it seems that it could lead to the kind of defeat which the Americans could not or might not leave alone.
The hon. Member for Chorley (Mrs. Monks) spoke about the possibility of creating a European defence. Even if we were all prepared to quadruple our defence expenditure, and that would be necessary to give us technical parity with the forces we are meeting, we still could not station our forces in positions where they could fight because we have not the kind of command that can leave a province to the enemy to drive him back. That province, Germany, is not standing for it. So we are totally indefensible in Europe without the American Alliance. It is for these reasons that I am anxious about what is happening today. Without this deterrent Europe is a power vacuum.
What is happening in America? First, we have that most dangerous phenomenon of isolationism, which used to be the creed of the extreme right. One felt it had almost gone with the late Senator Taft, but now it has come from the Left. Now we find a motion put down by Mike Mansfield, leader of the Democratic Party in the Senate, to withdraw the troops from Europe. This is an extremely dangerous situation.
We have experienced the dollar crisis, and the fact that the Americans at long last are finding the cost of supporting so much of the world, both in its defence and its economy, can no longer be carried. We find that in this new alliance of isolationists of right and left, the aid vote has cut off aid throughout the world. Yet the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary says that America will never abandon Europe. I hope he is right, but I am worried. I do not think it can be just assumed.
Then look at what is happening from the Russian side. On this matter my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East made me feel anxious, because on the Russian side are all these proposals for disarmament which are being nibbled 397 at by the Americans, the French and the Germans—though, thank God, not yet by the British. Any level of disarmament leaves even more massive Russian superiority behind it; it means nothing else.
We have had the French negotiations with the Russians and have seen Mr. Brezhnev making a demand for a pact of friendship and non-aggression. Perhaps my right hon. Friend could correct me, but I cannot think of anybody whom Russia has ever attacked without having a pact of friendship and non-aggression. I do not think there is one. Then there is the Ostpolitik of Willy Brandt. The Russians are cooing like doves and, unlike my right hon. Friend, I know no sound that terrifies me more than the cooing of a Russian dove.
What is our reaction to this situation of crumbling alliance with America and with the Russians doing their utmost to destroy it by cooing to us here? First, we propose to join a commercial bloc in Europe with an economy which in a great many instances is antagonistic to American interests, and above all to accept it with the Pompidou gloss which identifies Europeanism with anti- Americanism. This seems to me to be the most dangerous thing to do in these circumstances.
Immediately after that we are faced with the dollar crisis. If any nation in the world has ever owed a debt of gratitude to another we owe such a debt to America. Think what she did to help us when we were in financial difficulties. In order to show we are good Europeans à la Pompidou we are almost insultingly unco-operative when the United States asks us for assistance.
Finally, China. At this point in time did we publicly have to insult our ally by casting that vote? Could we not have stretched a point at least to obstain? Even if China is likely to be less of a— nuisance inside rather than outside the United Nations—and I quite see that point of view—why was it not realised that our friendship with America and our debt of gratitude to her means that we should stand up for a friend when that friend is in an awkward position? But no—this was not to be. This sort of independent new Europeanism involves our stepping in to kick the Americans in the teeth. I remind the House that the 398 Foreign Secretary has said America will not abandon Europe. Again I hope he is right because I find fewer and fewer Americans are believing that it is not worth spending good dollars—and it is a large amount of dollars—on allies who let them down so often and who constantly side with their enemies. We must remember that a Presidential election comes up next year and this will be an issue in it.
What will happen when the credibility goes from the American deterrent? Credibility is not an easy thing to maintain if only because of the very terribleness of what one is threatening. If the master says to the boys in school "The next one that talks I will cut his head off" he will only get a giggle. In fact, to make his threat credible, he has to cut off somebody's head, and in the nuclear world things are getting rather near that situation. It will cease to he credible unless somebody drops one, and then God knows what will happen. But within this situation we still have a built-in credibility provided by the four American divisions. It has become established that this is the American commitment. This deters the Conservative-minded Russians from taking any kind of risk and, more important, it gives the Germans a sense of security. But the moment one begins to take away those divisions, the moment America begins to show a diminishing interest in Europe, then the belief even in the possibility—and it is only a possibility today—that America might respond with her nuclear weapons if those four divisions were destroyed— will go and that will mean that we shall he left naked indeed.
What will the effect be? I believe we shall find German morale beginning to crumble. She will know that protection of her eastern frontier is worthless. The Germans are a military nation and know the form. They equally know when their allies are worthless. I cannot think of a war in which Italy started and ended on the same side. And as for France being regarded as an ally, the French are very brave when they are fighting for France but the idea of their doing anything for an ally does not fit in. Germany will he feeling very naked and isolated and will begin to take out insurance. We shall find "fronts" to unite the Fatherland, starting fronts—which will be Communist—starting from end to 399 end of the country. Germany is clearly a more developed managerial society than we are. She would prefer to manager a free society but has seen that in East Germany a managerial society can do not too badly under Communism. We shall find these fronts being financed, as Hitler was financed, by the German industrialists and managers who will take out an insurance for what inevitably will happen.
My own prophecy is that within three years of our being in the Common Market, Germany will be united under Communist control. Then what will happen to France and Italy where the working class parties are already Communist? It seems to me the risk is appalling. I am not saying that this is something the Russians desire since I do not think they do. But where there is a power vacuum one finds oneself falling into it, and this is what we are providing in Europe. I believe that Russia no longer believes in a Communist Europe in the sense that a Communist Europe is a Russian-controlled Europe. She is having her difficulties more and more. I think she might find that Germany united under Communism would be rather tough to digest. I accept all that, but the inevitable suck of that power vacuum, the reaction of the German mind, the German playing for unity, will bring the result whether any one wants it or not.
I think that that is what will happen, unless we can save the alliance, and keep the credibility of American nuclear deterrence in being, and that means courting America on very different terms from those we are using now.
To me, the great Common Market question is, can we preserve the alliance better out than in? Certainly the things which are necessary to preserve that alliance are just the sorts of things which, in M. Pompidou's book, are not available to a good European. It is a question of preferring the alliance to the French, of working in with the Americans, of going out of our way to help them when they are in a dollar crisis and when they are in a defence crisis, or even when there are difficulties in the United Nations over China. These are the kinds of things we have to do, whether we think they are right or whether we think they are wrong, to be able to maintain the alliance.
400 If we cannot save the alliance, then I do not want to see myself tied into a Europe which, I am confident, is going to disintegrate. It is the hell of a position. An island defence position is not viable in the long term, but it is in a degree. Finland resisted Russia; she resisted only for a limited time while it was possible; but she did not end up a Poland or Czechoslovakia. If Europe is Communist, our independence is limited. We could not conflict with its sort of policies, but at least we could have a Fnnish type of independence as against a Czechoslovakian or Polish subservience. For these reasons, I myself look to this idea of entering Europe as the entering of a disintegrating society whose defence will collapse as the Americans go.
§ 5.53 p.m.
§ Mr. Christopher Woodhouse (Oxford)
I shall touch in a moment on one or two of the points which the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) made, with some of which I agree, though I would not carry that agreement to the extreme conclusions he reached, but before I do so I must first endorse emphatically his opening remarks about the poor attendance at this important debate on foreign affairs. The only comfort I can draw from it is that I am unlikely to have the experience which some hon. Members have had of seeing the Chamber empty as soon as they get up. [Interruption.] I hope that the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis) will stay to listen.
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
I certainly will. I was only just remarking that I wondered whether the hon. Member has guessed the reason why the Chamber is almost empty. Perhaps he will have a word with some hon. Members afterwards to see whether they agree.
§ Mr. Woodhouse
I think that the poor attendance is particularly regrettable because one of the welcome features of the Gracious Speech is the unusually large proportion of it which is devoted to foreign affairs and to our international commitments—about one-third of the whole text.
This is what leads me to make my opening comment on the Gracious Speech, and it is that it is all the more 401 surprising that, on the subject of international affairs, there is not a word about the rôle of the United Nations or about our obligations to and through the United Nations, except for a single reference to an impending conference on the law of the sea.
I make this point out of a potentially practical, not sentimental, reason. The gap in the Gracious Speech was filled at a number of points by the speech of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, but I think it is still desirable for the House to have a more up-to-date account of the Government's conception of the United Nations and of our rôle in it. I have always supposed that our policy in the United Nations was that it should be a universal organisation, that it should be a useful and effective organisation, and that we ourselves should be in good standing as a member of it. In all these respects I have been puzzled by some of the Government's recent actions.
Take, first, the principle of universality. Last week our representative at the United Nations voted for the admission of the Chinese Communist Government. I have no doubt that that was right because it was certainly inevitable in the end. But at the same time he voted for the expulsion of the Government established in Taiwan. It was clearly wrong that a Government speaking for 600 million people should in effect be deprived of representation at the United Nations, but it seems also wrong that a country of 15 million people should at the same time cease to be so represented. The Government of Taiwan, however it may be designated, was a member in good standing, and, whatever its other defects, which, I think, were no greater than those of dozens of other Governments throughout the world, it had never transgressed the Charter or abused its position as a member.
It seems to me, from a study of the reports last week from New York, that no good reason was advanced by our representatives for voting against the resolution supported by the United States, and here I certainly support the point of view of the hon. and learned Member for Northampton. That resolution would have allowed representation of both Chinese Governments while giving a place on the Security Council to Peking.
402 In voting against it, our representative seemed to have based himself in the first place, on a certain interpretation of the Charter. That interpretation was at least open to question. It was an interpretation which was not shared by the United States Government—obviously, because they voted the opposite way; and it was an interpretation which, if in doubt—and I am certain that it is in doubt—should have been submitted to the International Court.
Our representative based himself, secondly, on an assumption about the obstinacy of the Peking Government. We all know how the Peking Government have repeatedly said that they would not take their seat in the United Nations unless the Government of Taiwan were expelled. It cannot be regarded as certain that Peking would insist indefinitely in that obstinacy, especially if it were offered, as it was offered, the essential seat on the Security Council. Once again, the United States Government clearly thought differently from us, and I can see no reason why we could not at least have had the experiment of trusting the United States Government in this instance, because even if their forecast were wrong and ours right, namely, that the Peking Government would not come in unless the Taiwan Government were expelled, it was a matter which, surely, should have been put to the test.
Now it never can be put to the test —never. There can be no question of the Taiwan Government ever being separately admitted after having been expelled. By our vote we have gone a long way towards conceding Peking's right to claim sovereignty over Taiwan as well as the mainland, or, alternatively, at best, we have condemned 15 million Chinese to being permanently unrepresented, which surely makes a mockery of the contention of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that the sovereignty of Taiwan is undetermined.
We have, at the same time, disastrously compromised ourselves with regard to future votes at the United Nations. I have in mind, for example, that one day a proposition is bound to be put forward that the two Germanys, and perhaps other divided countries, should be admitted to the United Nations as separate sovereign States. We are committed by the precedent of our vote last week to 403 voting against any such proposals, because otherwise we should be inconsistent. We have taken a step away from the principle of universality at the United Nations. This is to be regretted, and it should not pass without remark.
Next there is the principle of utility, the need for effectiveness of the organisation. If that is what we want, as I assume, I must ask my right hon. Friend why the Government have not done more to urge the United Nations into effective action over the situation in the Indian and Pakistan sub-continent, in particular, Bengal, both East and West, and the border between them. My right hon. Friend has often answered Questions in the House on this subject. I can only say that I share the feeling expressed by the right hon. Member for Leeds. East (Mr. Healey), that posterity will not forgive us if for technical, constitutional or other vaguely defined reasons the international community fails to take far more dramatic and effective collective action to deal with this catastrophic situation. Both as a threat to peace and as a relief problem, Bengal—East and West—is in a desperate condition which can be remedied only by international action.
We have been told that Her Majesty's Government are taking appropriate steps to promote action through the United Nations, but in practice little seems to happen. I am well aware, as I am sure are many other hon. Members, from constituency correspondence, that the public of this country is becoming exasperated and impatient at the continuing failure of the international community to do anything commensurate with the appalling scale of this problem. No doubt Her Majesty's Government feel obliged to tread warily in dealing with two relatively new sovereign States. Like all newly emergent States, Pakistan—and for that matter India, too—is sensitive about sovereignty, and it may be felt that an intervention by the United Nations would be derogatory to the sovereignty of Pakistan. But surely in a crisis situation of this kind that must be judged to be a mistaken view. There need be nothing derogatory about United Nations intervention, nor should one be over-sensitive about it.
To take an example much nearer home, although I would not expect all my hon. 404 Friends to agree with me I see no reason why we in this country should find it derogatory if United Nations forces were to take over some of the intolerable responsibility now being borne in Ireland on both sides of the border. Indeed, such considerations of sensitiveness should not inhibit us in the Asian sub-continent from taking a much more determined initiative and insisting that the United Nations should do the same.
Finally, I will say a word about our standing in the United Nations. I would dispute with anyone who said that this country had anything to be ashamed of in its record as a member, but there is no doubt that we shall remain open to criticism so long as the situation in Southern Africa remains unresolved. We have heard hints of what may be coming in Rhodesia. It is important that the Government should be quite clear about its position at the United Nations before any new settlement is made with the Rhodesian Government. Whether we like it or not, mandatory sanctions are still theoretically in force, and they are in force on the initiative of a British Government. To a Government who respect the rule of law in international affairs, it makes no difference that the initiative rested with a different and previous British Government. Moreover, if we were now to propose at the United Nations, after signing a new agreement with the Rhodesian Government, that sanctions should lapse we could certainly not count on a majority at the United Nations to support us. What could we do then?
I have felt for a long time that, in a sense, the right action is no action at all. Here I rather agree with the hon. and learned Member for Northampton. It would be a mistake either to sign a new agreement which we should have no power to enforce or to terminate sanctions until we could be sure of a clear majority in favour at the United Nations. The most that I think would be practical at the present time is simply to acknowledge the fact that Britain no longer can exercise sovereignty over Rhodesia because we have not the means to enforce it, and to that extent, whether we like it or not, the Unilateral Declaration of Independence has succeeded. It is not for me to decide these matters, but I 405 hope that the Government will make their intentions clearer.
We also need to have, in the same context, clarification of where matters stand in relation to the supply of further arms to South Africa, on which we had only a few words from the Secretary of State this afternoon. I accepted some months ago, as the House in general accepted, that we were legally bound to sell half-a-dozen helicopters and associated items of equipment to South Africa, but no one has suggested that there is a legal obligation to go any further. The obligation, if any, to go further would derive from broader considerations of defence needs in the waters round Southern Africa, and in particular from the obligations implicit but not explicit in the Simonstown Agreements.
What are those needs and obligations? It is a curious fact that the 1971 Defence White Paper, which supposedly catalogued all our commitments throughout the world made no mention of the Simonstown Agreements, and the outline map which is to be found in the Defence White Paper was so designed as to blot out Southern Africa altogether. I wondered at the time whether this was deli- berate and, if so, whether it reflected a view which was held by our United States allies, and conceivably even by our own Chiefs of Staff, that Simonstown was not all that indispensable and that at any rate it was not worth the cost of antagonising so many other parts of Africa.
I cannot pretend to know the answer, but I express the hope that before Her Majesty's Government decide to sell any more arms to South Africa Ministers will be able to assure the House that the decision rests on the unanimous and unqualified advice of our own Chiefs of Staff, otherwise we shall risk gratuitously com promising ourselves to no good end in defiance of United Nations Resolutions.
While I have no doubt that the Government's policy on the United Nations is still animated by the principles of universality and utility and of our good standing, I hope that it will be reaffirmed in more explicit terms before the debate concludes because our need to be in good standing with the United Nations is likely to become greater and not less in the years ahead.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Reg Prentice (East Ham, North)
It is a comparatively rare event to listen to a Conservative Member addressing the House on the importance of the United Nations Charter and of Britain's good standing at the United Nations. For that reason I welcome the latter remarks of the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Woodhouse). I do not agree with everything that he said, but I do agree with the context in which he put his speech. It was particularly useful that he should warn the Government that future developments in the supply of arms for South Africa and in relation to Rhodesia must be judged, in very large part, by our standing at the United Nations and by the reaction of the world community. However, I part company from the hon. Gentleman in his remarks about the admission of mainland China to the United Nations. As I intend to criticise the Government on various matters, I should say that I agree wholeheartedly —and I am sure that every Member on this side of the House agrees whole heartedly—with their attitude on that issue.
Whatever can be said, quite reasonably, about the case which the people of Taiwan have for representation at the United Nations, the fact is that the United Nations was faced with a hard choice, and the British Government and most other Governments were right in recognising that choice. They had either to agree to a motion which would put China in its rightful place at the United Nations or continue the representation of Taiwan. The American resolution was not realistic. A choice had to be made. I am sure that the right choice was made and that the representation of China in the world body is years overdue. The world has paid a very great price for a long time for China not being properly represented at the United Nations.
I wish to make a brief reference to the Foreign Secretary's failure to say anything of a forthright character about the tragic events surrounding the Dean of Johannesburg. This was a negation of the kind of leadership which we should have had from the Government. The right hon. Gentleman said that he thought it would be unwise to talk about the details of the case because an appeal was in progress. That may be so. I am sure that we accept that he could not 407 go into the details of the case in terms of the evidence or comment on the facts presented. But we should have had from the Government Front Bench a declaration of the shock and horror felt by the people of this country at the kind of régime which has the Terrorism Act on the Statute Book and which leads to events of this kind. If the Foreign Secretary had said that, he would have been speaking for Britain.
What I find so depressing is that this is an example of the Foreign Secretary's style on so many issues in the last 15 months. I do not suggest that the Foreign Secretary of this country or of any country can comment in every speech on the internal affairs of every country; there are many issues on which diplomacy must be conducted behind closed doors and about which it is wiser not to make moral judgments. But on certain issues in the world statesmen need to stand up and be counted.
One thing which seems to be wrong not merely with the Foreign Secretary personally but with every Government pronouncement on international affairs is that they are prepared to condemn the Communist world for denials of liberty and of human rights—and we agree with them about that—but when it comes to the conduct of South Africa, Portugal, Greece or Pakistan they take refuge in diplomatic silences or in the kind of double-talk which has no meaning. This is not the kind of leadership which a democratic nation is entitled to expect in the world in which we live.
I should like to develop that theme particularly in relation to the situation in East Bengal. I agree very strongly with my right hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stonehouse) and I disagree very strongly with the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Dodds-Parker), who said that it was unwise for us in the House to take sides on the issue. The hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Jessel) accompanied two other colleagues and myself on a visit to the area in the summer. Anyone who studies this situation at first hand is bound to make value judgments on it: that seems to be inescapable.
There is a repugnant reign of terror in East Bengal. We received this information during our visit from many people 408 in East Bengal who spoke to each of us personally, quietly, in corridors and in the corners of rooms and who were prepared to give us the kind of information which we were not being given by the representatives of the régime. But we heard this evidence overwhelmingly when we visited refugees in India, in the camps, in the hospitals and along the roads, including refugees who had left on the day that we were visiting the frontier areas.
The information which we received overwhelmingly and which observers from all over the world have received overwhelmingly in recent months is that atrocities are being committed on an appalling scale in the villages of East Bengal. I suppose that if one accepts the premise that the West Pakistan Government have the right to try to preserve Pakistan as one nation by force, it becomes a strategic necessity to do it by maintaining a reign of terror. There is no other way in which an army of 70,000 troops can hold down 70 million people, with lines of communication 3,000 miles long and in country which is good for guerrilla tactics. It can do so only by killing, torturing, looting, burning, raping and committing other acts of terror of which there is ample evidence. That is why I come to the same conclusion about the situation as my right hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury.
I do not know what kind of diplomatic pressures the Government have applied to the Pakistan Government behind the scenes. I hope and believe that they have given much more forthright advice to them than they have indicated in any of their statements in the House. I return to the point which I have made in earlier debates and which many of my hon. Friends have made, namely, that we are entitled to a clearer declaration of the Government's attitude.
I urge three points in particular on the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. First, we hope that the Government are putting unremitting and vigorous pressure on Pakistan in favour of the release of Mujibur Rahman and of discussions between the Pakistan Government and the Awami League leading to a settlement. Britain, of all countries, from her experience in the fairly recent past, is surely able to point out to 409 Pakistan that every colonial power this century has had to come to terms sooner or later with those who can claim effectively to represent the people seeking independence. The Government of Pakistan will have to reach that point sooner or later. The only question is how much suffering will there be and how many people will be killed before they do.
It is no use the Foreign Secretary saying, as he did today, that a settlement must be acceptable to the people of East Bengal but that it is not for him to identify those with whom the Pakistan Govenment should talk. It is clear that the Awami League won an overwhelming victory, and it is with its representatives that effective discussions can take place.
The second point which I urge upon Her Majesty's Government, though I feel even less optimistic about getting a reply, is that every possible pressure should be put upon the United States Government to cease the shipment of arms to Pakistan. There has been a recent vote by the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate to stop arms shipments. There has been a similar vote in the House of Representatives. I hope that they will be decisive. Certainly friends of the United States throughout the world are entitled to say that it is a tragic aspect of the situation that the Pakistan Army is going into action in East Bengal armed partly by China and partly by the United States. In some senses, it would be a comic situation if it were not so tragic.
My third point is one that the hon. Member for Oxford raised. It is to ask, even at this late stage, whether Her Majesty's Government will not take action in the Security Council. Here I remind hon. Members that U Thant took the very unusual step on 20th July of making an appeal to members of the Security Council to discuss this matter as "a threat to peace". He issue to the world, again a very unusual step, through a Press release the memorandum that he had sent to the members of the Security Council. I quote two sentences from it which contained the force of his argument:In the light of information available to me, I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that the time is past when the international community can continue to stand by, watching the situation deteriorate and hoping that relief programmes, humanitarian efforts and good 410 intentions will be enough to turn the tide of human misery and potential disaster. I am deeply concerned at the possible consequences of the present situation, not only in the humanitarian sense, but also as a potential threat to peace and security and for its being on the future of the United Nations as an effective instrument for international co-operation and action.The British Government are one of the permanent members of the Security Council and must share responsibility for the fact that the challenge has not been accepted and that no attempt has been made to use the machinery of the United Nations to find a solution. History will not exonerate any Government if the appalling situation continues and still less if it leads to war between India and Pakistan.
Since our delegation went there in July, my view is that the situation has deteriorated in many respects and that it is likely to deteriorate further in the weeks ahead. With the end of the monsoon period and with water levels falling, troop movements will become easier again. There will be more intensive military activity on the part of the Pakistan Army and probably more intensive activity on the part of the guerrilla forces. Then again, the food situation in East Bengal is extremely serious. We cannot judge at the moment how serious it is going to be and how far the threatened famine will develop in parts of East Bengal, but it is an appalling probability in the weeks and months ahead. Both factors, the more intense military activity and the food situation, will lead to further increases in the flow of refugees into India. As time goes on, the burden upon India will become more and more intolerable.
It is against that background that I refer to the relief situation in India and the statement by the Foreign Secretary recently in which he pledged another £7½ million. As the right hon. Gentleman re- minded us today, that brought the total British pledge towards the refugee situation in India to almost £15 million. As far as I know, it is far more than this country has committed to any other relief operation in our history, and we can claim to be the second largest contributor to relief operations in India—second only to the United States. Therefore it will seem almost churlish to criticise the scale of our effort. But I do criticise it in relation to the actual scale of the problem.
411 If one criticises the scale of the British effort, one is criticising all the more those other countries who have fallen short of it. Some of our potential partners in Europe should examine their records, their standing as civilised members of the world community, and their failure to respond effectively to the enormous needs of India. Here we have a crisis on an unprecedented scale which demands an unprecedented response.
From the visit which some of us made to India in July, one came away from the refugee areas carrying mental scars for life and lasting impressions of individual cases of suffering. One saw and spoke to individual people, including many children. One came away appalled by the scale and by the sheer numbers involved. Driving to Boyra on the frontier, we passed thousands of people coming down both sides of the road. People were lying and dying in the ditches. They were camped in large drainpipes and in schools which the local children could not use. People were crammed into every house and hut that we passed. It was just a tiny part of an enormous problem which has got much worse since we saw it a few months ago. A couple of months back, one could draw a parallel in that the number of refugees equalled approximately the population of Greater London. Today it is far more, and it is likely to increase further in the period ahead.
A couple of months ago, the Indian Government estimated that the cost of keeping these people alive for six months would be 400 million dollars. The total aid effort of the world in that six months period, with some 50 Governments contributing, including all the voluntary agencies came to less than half that total.
The cost of keeping those people alive is only part of the cost involved. The burden upon India itself and the cost to India cannot be computed. We are thinking here of the food stocks that were run down. We are thinking of the land taken up for camps. Land is scarce in West Bengal, which is one of the most overcrowded parts of the world. We are thinking of local officials so preoccupied with keeping people alive that they are not able to do their normal work. We are thinking of schools not available to 412 local pupils. We are thinking of local development projects which cannot take place. We are thinking of the burden on the Indian economy and on Indian development plans.
All of this is on a scale which cannot be computed. The world has to respond on a scale that no one imagined necessary before. In a recent Oxfam publication, 60 people who have been to the area gave eyewitness accounts. Mr. Leslie Kirkley suggested an immediate British pledge of £25 million. He said that this would be the probable cost of keeping the refugees alive for about a month. I believe that that was a reasonable proposition.
I do not criticise the £7½ million announced recently, except to say that we are entitled to ask of Her Majesty's Government that they will keep the position under constant review and come back to the House to make further pledges as time goes on. At the same time they should urge other countries to match our efforts and to do more than they have been doing.
I do not want anyone to think that I am asking for impossible sacrifices from the British taxpayer. One point which is not sufficiently recognised is that the money which we have provided so far and, as far as I know, the money which we shall be providing in the coming months, does not mean an extra penny from the British taxpayer. It is money which is being found from within the ceiling on overseas expenditure already announced and approved and within the contingency sums in the aid programme. Any adjustments which have to be made are at the expense of other developing countries, not at the expense of our people. I hope that that need not be the final position. If the situation demands far larger sums than have so far been announced, I hope that it will be possible to exceed the aid ceiling and that this will not in any sense be a reason for failing to respond to these needs.
I now turn to the aid programme in general. The Prime Minister, in his speech on Tuesday, claimed that in 1970 we had already passed the United Nations target of providing 1 per cent. of our gross national product in development assistance to countries in need. He reminded us that at the United Nations 413 General Assembly a year ago he had promised that we would endeavour to do this by 1975, and he said that we had done it in 1970.
I should like to expand on something which I tried to say in an interruption in the right hon. Gentleman's speech on Tuesday. I remind the House that the 1 per cent. target includes both the flow of Government aid and the flow of private investment. Anyone who follows these matters in detail will recognise that 1970, as 1969 in fact, was an unusually high year for the net level of private investment. I say "the net level" because the total figure which is taken into account does not necessarily involve any new investment, but involves the extent of disinvestment, and this disinvestment can mean that the figure is abnormally high. This was an abnormally high year. The real test of what we are doing—indeed, the real test of anything which can reasonably be called "aid" in the true sense of that word—is what we are providing from Government funds in the form of grants or loans for development, not what we are providing by private investment in the expectation of a profit. I am not speaking against private investment. I am saying that the real test is the extent of Government aid.
Our record in 1970 was the provision of 0.37 per cent. compared with 0.39 per cent. in 1969. In other words, our record was slightly down. I hope that hon. Members on both sides will be prepared to join in pressuring the Government to attempt to reach the United Nations modest target that, in terms of official aid, we should provide at least 0.7 per cent. of our gross national product by 1975. Other countries have accepted this target. In the E.E.C. it has been accepted by Germany, Holland and Belgium. In the Commonwealth it has been accepted by Canada and New Zealand. There is no reason for us to fall short of that modest target. It is a deliberately modest target. Those who frame these targets do so in terms which take account of the selfish instincts of the taxpayers in the rich countries. The achievement of this target would hardly be noticed by the British taxpayer, but it would make a substantial difference to the flow of assistance to the poorer parts of the world.
414 This target was part of a series of Resolutions passed by the United Nations General Assembly a year ago— Resolutions applied to the decade of the 1970s, designated by the United Nations as the second development decade. We should consider our modest target against the ambitious target accepted at that meeting by the developing countries of increasing their rate of domestic saving by 1980 to 20 per cent. of their gross national product.
The most important feature about development is the recognition of the efforts and sacrifices being made by the developing countries—with growing success in many cases—compared with the comparatively feeble efforts of the richer countries to co-operate in this work.
The whole scene is dominated at the moment by the vote in the United States Senate recently which threw out the Foreign Aid Bill. Other hon. Members have referred to the development in the United States in recent months of protectionist attitudes and of withdrawal from some of the burdens in the world, which it has been carrying. There has been a feeling on both sides that we have to deal gently with the United States in this matter. I do not share that view. Those of us who can speak as friends of the United States—many of us can—are entitled to make frank criticisms of the attitude which it has taken. I make every conceivable allowance for the psychological shock of the tragedies in South-East Asia and the effect which that has had on attitudes in Congress towards other aspects of world affairs. Nevertheless, it is not true that the United States has been carrying an intolerable burden which now has to be shared with other nations. That is not borne out by the record.
In terms of defence, the United States has provided far more than other members of the Western Alliance, but it is the largest and richest country and, compared with its resources, has not carried an unfair share.
In terms of economic aid, in recent years the United States has certainly been doing far less than many other countries as a proportion of its gross national product. I refer again to the statistics and the record. In 1970 American aid performance, as a proportion of gross national product, was 0.31 per cent.— 415 lower than ours and lower than the average for all the Western nations. That aid programme has already been subject to a cut of 10 per cent. which was announced by the President in his August measures, and the Senate has now thrown out the Foreign Aid Bill, which covered nearly all American aid operations. One or two operations are outside the scope of that Bill. I cannot believe that this is the end of the matter. In some way or other, we must hope, the Administration and both Houses of Congress will find a way of legislating so that the American aid programme can continue; but our fear must be that this is part of the mood of public life in the United States which will reduce even further its contribution of recent years.
I believe that this is due in the main to the fact that it has been sold to the American Congress for the wrong reasons. It has been sold to them by successive Administrations as part of a political strategy designed to produce political results. So we have Liberal Members of both Houses of Congress voting against it because they dislike the political strategy and Conservative Members of both Houses of Congress voting against it because it has not obtained for them the short-term political results which they were led to expect.
What has to be stated clearly—I should like to hear it stated more clearly in the United States at the moment—is that the obligation of the richer countries to help the poorer countries is principally a moral, and, in terms of the growing gap in living standards, an inescapably moral, obligation. There may be political and commercial by-products which are helpful to the donor country, but any nation which sets out on an aid programme trying to measure particular aid and expecting back specific results is bound to be disappointed. It is bound to be disappointed if it expects gratitude or specific political dividends.
What needs to be looked at here is the simple sentence in which the late President Kennedy commended a growing American aid programme to the American people in his inaugural address in 1960. He said:We must help them to help themselves not because the Communists are doing it, not because we want their votes, but because it is right.416 Those words "because it is right" are in one sense the only words which need to be used in this context. In the 1970s the developing countries are entitled to look to the United States, to Britain, and to the rest of the richer one-third of the world to fulfil the promise in the words used by President Kennedy a decade ago.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ Sir Frederic Bennett (Torquay)
In his closing admonitions to the Americans the right hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) betrayed one of his most endearing qualities, which is that he not only believes the best of people but believes that they will do something because he thinks they ought to. It would be folly not to realise one matter—it was referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Woodhouse)—which has played a part in American reaction on aid and that is the sense of outrage which a number of Conservative Americans felt at the expulsion of Taiwan from the United Nations. Whether the right hon. Gentleman likes it or not, there is no one who does not know that to be a fact.
I hope that when the Minister of State winds up the debate he will say a little more about a matter that is puzzling many of my hon. Friends and myself. We fully endorse, and have done for a long time, the admission of Red China to the United Nations, but why did the Government go to the lengths that they did to expel Taiwan? Various comments have been made about precedents. I have never been able to understand why one country, temporarily divided up, but which may one day be joined together again, cannot necessarily have two votes, one in the General Assembly and one in the Security Council. Indeed, that situation has existed since the inception of the United Nations, with the Soviet Union, Belorussia and the Ukraine having three votes, one in the Security Council, and two in the General Assembly.
There may one day, too, be a majority for the admission of some of these split countries, not necessarily of the one which we favour, but the one which another majority favours. It may not be a matter of admitting East Germany and West Germany, South Vietnam and North Vietnam. The situation could arise in which a straight vote might be held to decide which of the divided countries 417 might represent the country as a whole, and then the other would be excluded. I think that at least we have a right to ask the Minister of State to tell us a little more about why the Government took a step which surprised some of us.
The right hon. Member for East Ham, North criticised my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary on several issues, and I am sure that the Minister of State will be able to deal with those criticisms when he replies, but there is one criticism which ought to be answered at once. It is most unfair to criticise the Foreign Secretary for not being forthright enough about what has happened to the Dean of Johannesburg, because the right hon. Gentleman knows that my right hon. Friend is guided solely in his restraint by his wish not to prejudice the ultimate out-come. My right hon. Friend made that clear, and to chide him for not doing something which might make the situation worse is not worthy of the right hon. Gentleman, for whom I have a considerable respect.
§ Mr. Prentice
I think that, to be fair to me, the hon. Gentleman will acknowledge that I said I understood that the Foreign Secretary could not comment on the details of the case, which is under appeal. Nevertheless, surely the hon. Gentleman is not suggesting to the House that if the Foreign Secretary were to say that everyone is feeling a sense of shock and horror that such things can occur, and that the Terrorism Act can be kept on the Statute Book, that would prejudice the appeal.
§ Sir F. Bennett
I differ from the right hon. Gentleman. Declarations by foreign powers about the judicial processes of another country have a bad effect in that country.
§ Sir F. Bennett
The right hon. Gentleman differs from me in that view. It is easy to clear one's conscience and not be careful about the consequences to other people. I do not take back one word of my criticism.
The right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) spoke about the Russian spies expulsion. I was sorry that at a rather interesting moment an exchange between the right hon. Gentleman and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for 418 Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles) prevented us from hearing what I had been looking forward to hearing in relation to the criticism of the Foreign Secretary's handling of the Russian spy situation. I was hoping that the right hon. Gentleman would say something about that, and tell us how, if he had been in office, he would have handled the situation. Perhaps the right hon. Lady the Member for Lanark (Mrs. Hart) will conclude the series of remarks of her right hon. Friend which were so brusquely interrupted this afternoon.
Did the Labour Government know that the situation revealed by the Foreign Secretary existed when they were in office? Whether they did or not, did they know that it was happening during the last 12 months? In any event, may we be told how they would have acted if they had written a series of letters, all of which were ignored? If we are told that the Foreign Secretary handled the situation badly, we are entitled to be told what the Labour Government would have done if they had received no response to private letters which they had sent to the appropriate authorities. Would they have allowed the situation to continue, or would they have done what the Foreign Secretary did? Unless they tell us that, their criticism is negative.
Earlier today one of my hon. Friends said that one aspect of a foreign affairs debate in the autumn was that it was taken as an occasion for hon. Members to tell the House where they had been during the Recess. That is a fair criticism, but if I tell the House that I had the privilege of attending the C.P.A. conference in Malaysia I do so for one reason only, that as a result I learned quite a lot about what people, not only there, but in the world as a whole, were thinking about a number of the issues which have been discussed today.
In previous conferences there had always been a great deal of talk about Vietnam, for obvious reasons. That did not happen on this occasion, as one hon. Gentleman opposite who was there will no doubt agree. In previous years there had been a lot of discussion about British immigration policy, but that subject, too, was not discussed this year, for the simple reason that other countries nowadays are increasingly faced with their own immigration difficulties. Again, for the first 419 time this year there was no demand for the use of force to obtain a Rhodesian settlement, and there was no expectation that force would be used.
The hostility to the sale of arms to South Africa, whether they could be used for enforcing apartheid or not, remained as strong as ever almost right across the board in the Commonwealth, and one would be idle to deny that that feeling exists. But what is interesting—and this may not be so pleasant to hon. Gentle- men opposite—is that one African country after another thinks that the way to get a better relationship with South Africa to cause her to modify and change her policies, which are abhorrent to us all, is by means of dialogue. Previous to this conference only Malawi and the former High Commission territories took that view. This year, for the first time, Ghana spoke in favour of a dialogue with South Africa as a means of trying to get her to realise that her apartheid policies are not the right course for stability in Africa.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon
Will the hon. Gentleman make it plain which country, in addition to Ghana, spoke in favour of a dialogue and, in particular, what they meant by a dialogue? The Lusaka Manifesto expressed an interest in a dialogue, but a dialogue to get rid of apartheid, and it was that on which Dr. Busia was concentrating.
§ Sir F. Bennett
I do not want to be diverted. The dialogue to which I am referring is a dialogue in the sense hitherto referred to by Malawi and the High Commission territories. In that sense Ghana has joined the countries which wish to have a dialogue with South Africa, rather than try to change her policies by the use of force.
§ Mr. Frank Judd (Portsmouth, West) rose—
§ Sir F. Bennett
The hon. Gentleman will have time to make plenty of specific points when he is called to make his own speech. An interesting phenomenon is that, not only in the British Commonwealth but in other parts of Africa, States 420 are increasingly coming to believe that the way to obtain a change in South Africa's outlook, which we all want to see, is not by the encouragement of terrorism or invasion across the borders.
When I first expressed the hope that I should be called today, I wanted to paint a rather a different picture of what I had seen going on in East Pakistan when I called there on the way home. The main reason that I called there was that, at the conference—the Indians had, of course, been represented in strength but the Pakistanis were not, because they did not have a Parliament—one heard well and skilfully deployed the Indian arguments, some of which have been deployed again today. I always like to think that there are two sides to any question, and, having heard this one side skilfully deployed, I wanted to see a little of the other side for myself.
I intended today to try to put the record straight, but, even within the last 48 hours, the situation has become so intensely dangerous vis-à-visIndia and Pakistan that any argument about who was responsible for the main atrocities, who was guilty of this incident or that— whether more Baharis were killed by Bengalis or more Bengalis by Pakistan troops, all the things about which one might have an exchange—would not be appropriate.
At the moment, without being in any way dramatic, I would think that we are possibly within days or weeks of a major conflict between India and Pakistan, and the thoughts of everyone should be to try to defuse the situation and not make partisan criticisms, however much one is tempted to do so when speaking after the right hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stonehouse). Anyhow, I do not intend to yield to that temptation.
We should consider the position as it is at the moment, and at the moment there is no prospect at all, if we are realistic, of the central Pakistan Government, who are there whether we like it or not, removing their troops from East Pakistan and allowing an independent East Bengal. That is one of the facts with which the Foreign Secretary and the rest of us have to deal.
Anything that we say here cannot possibly alter a situation in which, at this moment, the West Pakistani forces have 421 no intention of withdrawing from East Bengal and allowing there to be a Bangla Desh. This is the situation as it is and as it is likely to be.
There is a great deal of misery within East Pakistan and a threat to their food supplies. In those circumstances, the acts of sabotage and of interference with the lines of communication and the methods by which food can reach the hinterland are as cruel as any other part of this hideous tragedy. When I was there, a serious attempt was made to mine a number of food ships, and limpet mines were attached to food ships taking supplies to those in the hinterland. Two ships were damaged and the food supplies delayed.
When a road bridge is blown up or a culvert destroyed, how can anyone possibly say that those responsible have in their hearts the welfare of the ordinary people of Bangla Desh or East Bengal who would have received that food? I should like to see some unanimous condemnation by this House of the present sabotage.
Every right hon. and hon. Gentleman knows that what I am saying is true. The Foreign Secretary, the United Nations and the Red Cross have spoken about this, regretting and deploring these acts of sabotage, which are preventing the full effectiveness of their relief effort.
§ Mr. Stonehouse
Would the hon. Gentleman not agree that, in those circumstances, when an armed dispute is going on between the Pakistan Army and the Bangla Desh forces, the best way of achieving what he and all of us want— namely, humanitarian supplies getting through to those who need them—is for the points in the 1949 Geneva Convention to be applied by both sides?
§ Sir F. Bennett
I am not aware that that has any relevance. The right hon. Gentleman made his speech and I did not interrupt him: I listened to him closely. I cannot understand how he can argue that it helps to abide by the Geneva Convention or any other convention to put limpet mines on a food ship. That was my point.
I said how grim the situation was. We heard on the radio only this morning that India has now completely sealed the frontier with East Pakistan and that no foreign visitors or observers are allowed 422 in the frontier zones between those two countries. The armies are facing one another in some cases from a distance the same as that across this Chamber. In these circumstances, virtually nothing separates two intensely hostile armies and a careless shot or two even while we are talking could set the whole thing in motion.
That is the background against which we are talking. To spend our time attributing blame for what may have happened before and ignoring the fact that a nation of 140 million may be at war in a matter of days with a nation of 600 million is not getting our priorities right in trying to solve this problem in the House.
I have a couple of practical suggestions. They are limited, because one feels humble at the prospect of this conflict, which any Government can do little to avert, but there is especially one point to be made about the refugees.
India is obviously anxious that the refugees should go back. The U.N. observers whom I met have visited the reception centres and satisfied themselves that the Pakistan authorities are making a genuine attempt to provide rehabilitation for those who go back. There is at present, admittedly, only a trickle going back, but if one wants to increase that trickle one thing which does not help is for armed forces across the borders to shell the frontier areas. No man wants to take his wife and family across an area where gun fire and mortar fire is constantly going on. When I was out there, shells were falling up to 15 miles across the border, very near the routes which the refugees will have to use to get back to the rehabilitation centres.
Surely, on that ground alone, there is yet another argument for urging that the tension on the frontier should die down and allow the refugees at least the opportunity to come home without the additional risk of being bombarded on their way back.
If we now regard this refugee problem merely as one in which seven, eight or nine million—there are many rival claims between five million and nine million—will just go back, we are fooling our- selves. There is an element in this problem, too, of the communalism which has 423 dogged India and Pakistan ever since they were separated.
It is readily accepted that about 85 per cent. of the refugees who have crossed in recent weeks are Hindus. If we blind ourselves to this situation, once again we are not being helpful. The long and tragic record of the sub-Continent, ever since Pakistan and India were formed, shows that, when large elements of either Hindus or Moslems go from one country to another, very rarely, whatever the situation—whether there is a war or tension—do they all go back. They do, in fact, despite all the miseries, find them- selves happier being miserable among people with whom they feel a kinship rather than going back.
There are today in the streets of Calcutta hundreds of thousands of middle-aged Hindus who left East Bengal after partition. They have preferred to spend over 20 years littering the streets of Calcutta living in appalling conditions rather than return to East Bengal. If we think that some sleight of hand will get all the Hindu refugees to go back from India to Pakistan in the present difficulty, we shall be fooling ourselves and cruelly fooling them.
The present situation requires the Western world to think in terms of a much bigger financial outlay than has yet been envisaged. We must think in terms of a substantial number of refugees never returning. A massive capital rehabilitation scheme is therefore necessary if these people are unwilling to go back, whatever conditions are offered to them, to enable them to have a reason- able standard of life and make a contribution to, instead of being a drain on, India's economy.
There are perhaps two other pleas that can be made. In the first I have the welcome support of the outgoing Chief of Staff of the Army in India, General Cariappor who, amid the near hysteria on both sides of the border, has issued a quiet warning to his own country. He has said, in effect, "Whether, as the result of war or otherwise, East Bengal should be established as an independent State, as Bangla Desh, it is a nonsense to think that that will be the beginning and end of fragmentation on the Indian 424 sub-continent. It will be followed by others."
Does anybody who knows anything about the history of the Bengal people, about their fierce political sophisticatiton and their attributes, both good and bad, believe that if there is an independent East Bengal—call it Bangla Desh or anything else—West Bengal, which already has a large separatist movement, will continue as a province of another country? In other words, if Bangla Desh has its own flag and representation at the United Nations and so on, can it be imagined for a moment that West Bengal will tolerate presidential rule from Delhi?
Fragmentation could then become an epidemic. If that were to happen we could see something far worse than the fragmentation of Pakistan. It could develop into the fragmentation of the whole Indian sub-continent. Many influential Indians support this point of view, albeit silently, and it represents a positive danger unless a halt is brought to the present deterioration.
I appreciate that none of this excuses the Pakistan Government for not doing everything in their power to try to reach a political settlement in Bengal. However, not enough acknowledgement has been given to the efforts of President Yahya Khan to do just this in recent weeks. I will not delay the House by detailing those efforts, some of which were outlined by the Foreign Secretary.
The only other contribution that could perhaps be made in this situation, in which we are so close to war—with all that that might involve, considering possible Chinese support for Pakistan and Russian support for India—might be for us to manage to get, even at this very late hour, some sort of United Nations defusing presence on the ground between the forces of the two sides.
I appreciate that Pakistan has agreed to pull back its forces and have U.N. observers in the area if India will do likewise. I also appreciate that India says that there is no reason to equate her with Pakistan. Might it then be possible to pursue an opportunity at the U.N., without the need for a Security Council vote, which would be vetoed by Russia or China, to get such a defusing presence in the area?
425 Perhaps Pakistan might then be prepared—I appreciate that 1 have no right to imagine that it would be prepared to do so; I am only making a plea, as it were, because few avenues remain open —unilaterally to pull back its forces, at least for a little while, and have a limited U.N. presence on its side.
One thing is certain. India continues to value her international reputation as she described herself as a peace-loving democracy. If what I have suggested could be arranged and a watchful U.N. presence could be established along the border, there would be just a chance, at a time when there are not many chances left, that we might avert a conflict which could spread far beyond Bengal and even far beyond the Indian sub-continent.
§ Several Hon. Members rose—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The Chair is frequently in difficulty over the calling of speakers. So far, since the two Front Bench speakers addressed the House, three back benchers on the Opposition side have taken rather more than 90 minutes and four back bench speakers on the Government side have taken about 70 minutes. That is a considerable imbalance between the two sides which I hope will be adjusted as the debate proceeds.
§ 7.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)
I promise to be brief, Mr. Speaker. I intend to deal with the central issue which the Foreign Secretary posed both in his speech today and when he addressed the United Nations recently. It also touches on a point which I raised with the hon. Member for Torquay (Sir F. Bennett), and that is the question of dialogue.
It is now fashionable for Government spokesmen to say in respect of every conflict in any part of the world, "What we are seeking is dialogue and not confrontation". That seems to be the way in which policy is conducted these days— that is, until one approaches a situation like that which arose over the Russian spy case.
On that occasion there was need for the problem to be handled with great care, especially over the way in which the British Government approached the Soviet Union and dealt with that 426 country's intransigence, if that is what it was—its refusal or attitude towards the Government's request to have certain people removed from the country.
We were—I hope we still are—on the brink of a real breakthrough in East-West relations, with a genuine possibility of rapprochement with the Soviet Union. It was essential that action of that kind should be taken on the basis of mutual respect and trust. Such an approach was, and still is, vital because the whole of mankind will benefit if the East-West threat which has bedevilled international relations since the war can be removed or at any rate made less dangerous.
However, on that occasion the Government took the view that not only would they expel the spies—an action which, after all, the Labour Government had been doing progressively over the years —but expel them with the greatest amount of publicity and in a way which looked at one stage likely to lead to a reversion to the cold war attitude all round.
A similar situation developed in Berlin a few months ago, though not with the same publicity. The Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister referred to it in our debate on South African arms. There was an occasion when the British Government received a notification that the Russians were about to put pressure on the air lanes into Berlin. The British Government took upon their own shoulders a decision to send the R.A.F. through the air corridor, despite the fact that the Americans wanted to play it quietly and take time to see what the Russian position was. Nevertheless, the British Government acted on their own initiative and sent through the R.A.F.
There was no suggestion on that occasion of dialogue being more important than confrontation. They said that in spite of the Russian threat they must use both dialogue and confrontation. I do not disagree with that sort of approach. In relation to someone with whom one is either unfriendly or sees an international situation in a rather different light, it may be necessary to apply the techniques of confrontation and dialogue.
I appreciate that it may be necessary to use different responses to different situations at different times and in different measures. But one cannot say that there 427 is an antithesis between confrontation and dialogue and that if one selects one, then one cannot select the other. However, that is the dangerous situation into which the British Government are falling because they are constantly approaching international problems on the basis of this false antithesis. Nowhere has this been more false than in Southern Africa, the area about which I wish to speak tonight.
It is not true that Ghana is now talking about dialogue in the same way as is Malawi. Malawi is talking about dialogue in the relationship of a client State to its main source of employment, in the way that Dr. Banda has been talking about it ever since he had his dispute with his own Opposition and put its Members in jail. He talked about dialogue as merely succumbing to the reality of power in Southern Africa and decided to try to live with it. But that is not what was meant by dialogue when the East African and Central African States came together to proclaim the Lusaka Manifesto. It is an integral part of that Manifesto that there should be dialogue in Southern Africa, but dialogue to remove apartheid—to see whether there is some way in which apartheid can be progressively run down.
It was in that context that Dr. Busia made his now famous address to the Legislature which, in the copies distributed by the Ghana Government, is entitled "The Elimination of Apartheid". Dr. Busia is not on the side of President Houphet-Boigny or the President of Malawi. He thinks that there ought to be a dual response to the problem of Southern Africa—both confrontation and dialogue; that both should be tried, but that they should be directed to the same end of eliminating apartheid.
§ Sir F. Bennett
I did not mention the East African or Central African States and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not give that impression. In regard to Ghana, the impression I got was that it was not dialogue in order to put up with apartheid. Their idea seemed to be dialogue as the best way to eliminate apartheid.
§ Mr. Lyon
If that is what the Ghana delegate said at the C.P.A. conference, of course I accept it from the hon. Gentleman, but that was not the attitude of 428 Ghana's Prime Minister in the major definitive statement on Government policy to which I have referred. In that statement Dr. Busia made it clear that he was not in favour of dialogue as succumbing to apartheid or that he was not in favour of dialogue as an alternative to confrontation; it was simply that he preferred the one to the other but that both had to be used, and those concerned were not to limit their support for the freedom fighters in Southern Africa. He went out of his way to say that Ghana was maintaining its contribution to those freedom fighters.
So in relation to these Southern African problems there is not this false antithesis that we cannot have a policy which both encourages dialogue for the purpose of eliminating apartheid and removing the causes of friction in Southern Africa where that is open to us and, at the same time, supports all methods of confrontation which seem to be achieving the same end.
In those circumstances, I do not see the difference between entertaining, for instance, the party of Southern African Members of Parliament who recently came to this country and putting to them, plainly and without prevarication, the policy of the Labour Party in relation to apartheid and, at the same time, supporting the South African Solidarity Fund of the Labour Party, which decided to raise money for liberating movements in Southern Africa. These are not alternative courses of action, but are all designed to put pressure on the white racialist regimes in Southern Africa to achieve the end we all desire, which is that there should be some kind of multi-racialism throughout all the countries of Southern Africa.
I come now to the criticism of the way in which Government policy leads us into difficulties, and I instance first the case of the Dean of Johannesburg. Is it to be said that we intend to enter into friendly relationships with a Power which keeps on its Statute Book a Terrorism Act which can make it illegal for a man to follow through his Christian conviction in order to help those in need, who have been put in need because of the oppressive action of the South African Government? If it is to be an offence to contribute to the defence aid fund for the purpose of relieving suffering amongst the dependants of those who 429 are now in prison because of political actions that in South Africa are held to be illegal offences, then, with the Rev. Ian Thompson I must say, "Here, take me", because I, too, contribute.
I have met both the Dean of Johannesburg and the Rev. Ian Thompson. I saw the Dean for only a short time at Easter, in order to ascertain his feelings about the trial, but I met the Rev. Ian Thompson, who has now been arrested for contempt of court, for some considerable time. I have yet to meet a man more dedicated than he to the principles upon which the Christian faith is founded.
Ian Thompson and his wife live in a vicarage, with a church which was assigned to them because it had been a coloured community church and the coloured community had been moved out because the area was white. So the Rev. Ian Thompson and his wife have taken it up as a kind of industrial mission. They live there and work there, and their place is a haven of multiracialism in complete contravention of the laws of South Africa. Every night in their garage they accommodate people —black, brown, sometimes white—who have been in trouble with the South African authorities, usually because of the pass laws. They take tremendous risks in order to live out what they believe their faith has indicated to them in their political situation.
It is that kind of agonising dilemma which faces anyone who accepts the Christian faith in South Africa today, and when that dilemma faces the Dean of Johannesburg—a British subject—and brings him into conflict with the law there, I would expect his Government to use every source of confrontation they had to see that the South African Government recognised that that kind of attitude towards a British subject was intolerable.
What was the attitude of both our Governments towards the Russians when they were imprisoning British subjects for offences we would not recognise? There was a constant succession of debates in the House, constant Questions, constant public pressures from the Foreign Office. I have no doubt that the Foreign Office has been saying things quietly in Pretoria, but it would have been a great deal better had there been some public 430 demonstration of our disapproval of convicting a man for offences which would not be offences under our criminal code, and on the most tendentious kind of evidence one could find—evidence which was not only disputed by the defence but, in my judgment, was totally exploded by the defence questioning.
But there is more to it than that. A great deal of this evidence was uncovered by secret agents working in this country. Had it been a Russian spy trial of a British subject and the Russians had used the evidence of police informers who had been working here in London, there would have been a major outcry from this House and strong diplomatic protests from the Foreign Office. Instead of that, in this case we have the head of the South African Security policy here in this country, apparently without let or hindrance. We have no public proclamation of the British Government's view of what has happened, simply because it is said that we are trying to pursue a policy of dialogue. I do not believe that it is necessary to have that kind of policy of dialogue that mutes our response to that kind of challenge.
We could have taken a much stronger stand from the moment that the Dean was arrested. I hope that it is not too late yet to express publicly something of our horror and detestation not only at the trial, conviction and sentence of five years on a man in this man's physical condition, but also at the laws which allowed this to happen to a man who was exercising Christian charity.
That is one aspect of the matter, but there is another aspect in relation to Rhodesia. We are supposed to be trying to get a peaceful settlement with some- one who has proclaimed his intentions to go towards a new style of apartheid in Central Africa. Not only is he making the proclamation but he is actually enforcing the apartheid legislation when his officials are discussing with British Government officials arrangements for discussion between himself and the Foreign Secretary. When we are led to believe that Lord Goodman et al are bringing back hopeful noises from Salisbury and the British Government are smiling benignly upon them, we have the Epworth Mission closed, a mission given to the Methodist Church by Cecil Rhodes himself, where there has been a long 431 history of multi-racial life, where black men and white men have lived and worked in the same faith. It is disrupted at the moment when the Foreign Secretary is about to make a statement, according to the Press, that he is going to Salisbury to talk about a new deal with Ian Smith. Can that man be trusted when he allows this to happen at this moment?
With their inspired leak from Salisbury, the Press say, "Oh, this was some official from a lower echelon who wanted to embarrass the Prime Minister and stop a settlement, and Mr. Ian Smith is as annoyed as the Foreign Secretary and he is going to intervene and stop it." Stop it, yes—until after the settlement. When the settlement is finished, then we shall have the Land Tenure Act applied with the utmost vigour. How can the British Parliament accept with any degree of responsibility that it should move towards a settlement with a man who would do this when we are supposed to be discussing the terms of settlement with him?
Again, the policy of dialogue here is failing. What is wanted is a greater degree of confrontation, a toughening of sanctions, and not simply the acceptance of humilitating terms which will be put out as coming within the five principles.
Finally, the area which most undermines the Government's suggested approach of dialogue rather than confrontartion its South-West Africa. I spoke at some length about this in a recent Adjournment debate, but the point ought to be reinforced because far too little attention has been paid to this aspect of Government policy. If the Foreign Secretary meant what he said in the United States, that the policy of dialogue ought to be preferred and could win through to a better settlement of the Southern Africa problem, he ought to have supported the recent Security Council Resolution to accept the ruling of the International Court.
If the countries of Africa are to be told that they ought to prefer dialogue to confrontation, but when the International Court lays down what is international law in respect of South-West Africa the British and French Governments, as the two major offenders in 432 African eyes in Southern Africa, both say that they will not support the Security Council and the International Court of Justice, what are the nations of black Africa to say to that kind of response? They will simply say that it is hypocritical humbug, and I would not blame them.
The Foreign Secretary must face the fact that dialogue itself may involve certain agonising choices which may have economic repercussions for Britain. But if one believes in the principle of multiracialism in Southern Africa and is genuinely intending to get rid of apartheid in Southern Africa, it will cost this country something; and Britain, properly led, would be prepared to pay that price. But we shall never pay the price if the whole issue is constantly muddied, as if to support the freedom fighters in Southern Africa were the same as supporting the I.R.A. in Northern Ireland. The situation is totally different. It cannot be said that merely because one supports freedom fighters in Southern Africa one is supporting guerrilla or terrorist activities throughout the world. The antithesis, which I have already depicted as being false, is no more false than on this point, because one has to apply one's judgment about what is the best method of achieving a given end according to the specific facts of any geographic situation in the world.
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles
I have been following the hon. Gentleman's arguments closely. I cannot say that I agree with them. Did he say, on the subject of freedom fighters a few moments ago, that the official funds of the Labour Party are going to support what he calls freedom fighters, or is he merely advocating this?
§ Mr. Lyon
No, they are not official funds. It is a fund which has been set up to which any member of the party, any 433 trade unionist or any member of the public may contribute. I hope that the hon. and gallant Gentleman will make a contribution to help the freedom fighters of Southern Africa to fight for their freedom.
§ Mr. Lyon
Certainly. The freedom fighters whom we envisage will be helped by this are those who are fighting white racialist governments in Southern Africa —yes. I hope that that is clear to the hon. and gallant Gentleman. I did not want to burke the issue.
The kind of policy which embraces both dialogue and confrontation is much more likely to succeeed in changing the racialist attitude in Southern Africa than the present namby-pamby policy of pretending to prefer dialogue but at every stage giving in to the racialists.
§ 7.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Alan Haselhurst (Middleton and Prestwich)
Though the wide-ranging nature of foreign policy debates in the House may appear to belie the fact, nevertheless it is true that for some years Britain has been moving towards a more European-orientated rôle in the world. Under successive Governments and by various devices of policy we have been recognising our inability to pursue active policies on a world-wide basis and have tended to concentrate instead on the essential task of the defence of Western Europe and safeguarding the security and integrity of these islands.
In some ways last Thursday's decision in the House was only incidental to what has been a continuing process, although obviously it will give a powerful boost to that process if the consequential legislation foreshadowed in the Gracious Speech is approved by the House. This alteration in our position from the once all-powerful nation to a country of more limited capability lying in the shadow of the European continent has tended to nag and depress the British people, so much so that they could react very bitterly to the remarks about our changed circumstances passed by the late Dean Acheson. The change in Britain's position in the world has been accompanied by changes, and continuing changes, all over the world. Not all of these changes have been comprehended by the British people, 434 and sometimes they have not been sufficiently taken into account by government.
Naturally I welcome the decision that the House has taken over the question of joining the European Communities. This represents at once the frankest ad- mission of Britain's altered circumstances in the world and the best way of extracting the maximum advantage from the new situation in which we find ourselves. We are facing the fact that our power base lies in Europe and that, through a strengthened Western Europe moving towards more concerted policies, we may gain a share in the substance rather than the shadow of world influence.
If we are coming to terms with the world in which we live rather than the world which we read about in our school history books, there is still one embarrassing problem for us. The Gracious Speech refers toa settlement of the Rhodesian problemand adds, I hope significantly—in accordance with the Five Principles".For obvious reasons we feel a responsibility for this part of the world, but it is one of those cases where responsibility and power are far divorced. It is faintly ludicrous to go on pretending that we are exercising decisive control over the situation. Sanctions are being widely flouted and others who perhaps see the situation in a de facto sense are helping themselves to trade from which we ourselves hold back.
We in Britain never like accepting de- feat, but there is little doubt that the regime in Salisbury has got away with its U.D.I., despite certain discomforts which it seems to have been able to absorb. We in Britain are also pragmatists, or so we tell ourselves, and we disdain to live in realms of make-believe.
For these reasons, I understand and support the efforts of Her Majesty's Government to see whether, even at this late stage, an agreement can be reached with Mr. Ian Smith. I know that the chances may be thought so slim that further talks can do no good.
I give one additional reason why I think it is right to make the attempt at a settlement. In the last six years in Rhodesia there have been disturbing steps along a racialist road. There are elements in that country which are absolutely determined to bring about a 435 system akin to that in the Republic of South Africa. Some of the more recent actions of the Government in Salisbury have displayed all the nastiness which we for long recognised in certain policies in the Republic to the south.
We should also take into account the fact that there are still some moderate men in Rhodesia. In this last period it has been very difficult indeed for them to put up effective opposition to the policies of the Smith Government, because to do so appears at the same time unpatriotic. I believe that there is at least a chance in the wake of a settlement that moderates can begin to find a place again in the politics of Rhodesia. This possibility is at least worth considering, for otherwise we face the prospect of an ever-worsening situation for the African population in that country.
Those who resist contacts with Mr. Smith or who proclaim loudly their fears of a sell-out seem to be setting their faces against even so much as the possibility of an early amelioration of the Africans' position. I do not see in that case what can check the slide towards racism. I want to grasp any chance, however faint, of trying to avert that catastrophe.
Having said that, I must also say that we should not be prepared to pay any price for a settlement. I am glad that the Gracious Speech refers specifically to the five principles, because, much as I believe that there are powerful arguments in favour of reaching a settlement, I do not want to see Britain putting the imprimatur of approval on practices in Rhodesia which can only be deemed racist.
A settlement with Rhodesia is by no stretch of the imagination a matter which is crucial to Britain. I see no virtue in departing from honourable principles. We must surely stand by what they represent. I see no sense in departing from those principles if we incur the odium of the new forces which are emerging in the world and with which we would wish to have fruitful relations in the future.
I hope that our accession to the European Communities will assist us also towards shaping common European attitudes regarding events in other parts of the world in which we may have a great 436 interest but which at present we have little ability to influence. I believe that the united pressures of Western European Governments can be a very potent force for good in world politics.
The Gracious Speech mentions the Government's word for peace in the Middle East. Nothing is said about any specific proposals in this direction. We are all conscious how difficult it is for Britain to bring pressure to bear when the situation is dominated by Russia and the United States, each standing behind the principal protagonists. Yet it is the involvement of Russia and the United States which undoubtedly makes the situation so serious for the world as a whole. It is also this confrontation of the super powers which is precluding a solution involving either of them in a peace-keeping rôle.
Might not this be an area in which the Western European powers could be the keepers of any peace settlement that might emerge? I hope that my right hon. Friend will urge the need for a common European view in this matter, although it might not easily be obtained. I hope that in the meantime he will do all that he can, directly and indirectly, to promote moves towards a settlement. In this context I hope he will find an early opportunity to visit the State of Israel, because there may be some misunderstandings in that quarter about the British position arising from my right hon. Friend's visit to Egypt.
There is a real need for urgency, because if the parties cannot reach a settlement, even a partial one, in the near future the prospects for peace in that part of the world will grow still more dim. Next year is American election year, and we have much experience of how this inhibits American foreign policy. In that year I am sure that the build-up of the Russian influence in Egypt will continue, and in the meantime Israel cannot be expected to do nothing. Believing as she does that she has only herself to rely on, Israel is bound to be taking actions which in the eyes of the Arabs will be further manifestations of Israel's unwillingness to come to terms for peace. In this way more and more obstacles throughout 1972 are likely to become embedded in this already complicated situation and the task of the peace-makers will become ever more complicated.
437 I have visited Egypt and Israel in the last 14 months. I believe that both sides are genuine in their desire for peace. There is enough evidence lying around in terms of action and speeches to enable anyone who is selective to try to show otherwise. The magnitude of the mutual distrust is frightening. The only way forward is to isolate a relatively tiny part of the conflict over which the parties can try to demonstrate some trust without a breach of trust being fatal to the security of either.
I agree with my right hon. Friend that the moves which have been made over the Suez Canal zone seem to represent at least a promising hope of a move towards a wider settlement. Both sides, in their own best ultimate interests, can afford to take risks. I use the word "risks" in the sense of concessions from their existing positions. They can afford to take such risks to try to get a settlement in this limited area, because I do not think that it would be fatal to the security of either of them. I hope that this is a point of view which my right hon. Friend will be able to press with vigour, because it could well lead to a dramatically improved phase in the relations between Israel and her Arab neighbours.
I said that I welcome last Thursday's decision in the House. I have outlined some of the reasons why I welcome that decision. I welcome it also for a more fundamental reason. The places of which I have spoken demonstrate how easily people can come into conflict, and we have another terrible example very much closer at hand at the present time. It is so easy for people to be set against people, whether on religious or racial or nationalistic grounds. Europe has set gruesome standards in former centuries, but there is now a chance for something better. I find it difficult to understand why some people worry so much about constitutional developments in Europe It is nationalistic barriers which have been one of the causes in the past of much conflict between nations and of much tragedy and unhappiness in the lives of ordinary people.
We should be doing better if we were to concentrate much more on those elements which unite mankind and the different peoples of the world, in this context Europe, rather than on those elements which are different between us. 438 I see great hopes in the European adventure which I trust we are now embarking upon. If we can set new standards of co-operation in Western Europe this may, in the end, be the best way of contributing to the peace of the wider world.
§ Mr. Speaker
We have about an hour and a quarter before the Front Bench speakers wind up the debate. I know that at least six hon. Members want to speak in the interval. I hope that hon. Members will adjust their speeches accordingly.
§ 7.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Frank Judd (Portsmouth, West):
I congratulate the hon. Member for Middleton and Prestwich (Mr. Haselhurst) on an extremely thoughtful and constructive speech. I hope he will forgive me if I do not immediately deal with some of his points, because I hope to include them in the context of my general remarks.
There is one specific point mentioned by the hon. Member for Torquay (Sir F. Bennett) which should not be allowed to pass without comment. When referring to dialogue, he suggested that all the former High Commission Territories were in favour of a dialogue of the kind of which he was speaking. This is not the case, because Seretse Khama of Botswana is firmly committed to the principles of the Lusaka Manifesto about which my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon) spoke so convincingly.
I have recently returned from a visit to parts of Africa north of the Zambesi. It would be wrong to miss the opportunity to recount some of my experiences there. One of the most profoundly disturbing experiences I had was to discover the greatly changing attitudes of African countries north of the Zambesi towards this country. Where, until a few years ago, there was strong indignation, even anger, arising out of disappointment at policies which they believed were not convincingly enough on their side in the struggle, now there is a sad acceptance that Britain, when the chips are down, over and over again proves herself to be on the side of the Republic of South Africa, on the side of the administration in South-West Africa and of the Portuguese in Guinea, Mozambique and Angola.
439 Whether that assumption is correct or not, we can argue, but we must look at the evidence of our conduct in recent months and see why it is, on that evidence, that responsible and frequently very balanced people in those independent African countries have come to this conclusion. When we look back at this particular era in history, I suspect that it will be seen that we have been involved in a major tragedy. In those independent African countries there had been a genuine and deep feeling of involvement with Britain. Frequently our petulant reactions to outspoken criticism have been totally unfortunate, because that criticism was only possible because of the feeling of affinity and closeness which the people making the criticism felt towards this country.
I know it is difficult for us in this House to accept that the strength of feeling sometimes expressed by leaders of former British dependencies in the African Continent has been a salutary tribute to Britain. They have been pre pared to speak out about us in a way which they would never have dreamt of adopting towards those with whom they did not have the same degree of affinity. I suspect that their willingness to speak out is slipping away because they see little point in trying to do so. If when the chips are down they see us always to be on the side of the South Africans, on the side of the South African illegal presence in South-West Africa and on the side of the Portuguese in their wars of colonial oppression.
The House would be deluding itself if it did not recognise that there is a growing confidence in Africa that, at least in the Portuguese territories, there can be no doubt about the final outcome. There is increasing confidence that, in the end, the liberation forces in Guinea, Mozambique and Angola, probably in that order, will triumph.
What will our predicament be in the African Continent if we fail to speak out as toughly as we should speak out to our partners in the N.A.T.O. Alliance about the way they are conducting those wars? Another distressing feature of the situation is that responsible African leaders will confide to those prepared and able to speak to them that they believe there will be a terrible heritage of bitter- 440 ness at the end of those wars, because of the methods now used by the Portuguese of indiscriminate suppression of ordinary villagers who are naturally collaborating and co-operating with the freedom fighters in the struggle.
Shortly before I was in Dar-es-Salaam the Swedish Prime Minister paid a visit there, and I found it a particularly salutory experience to compare the tremendous impression which he made during his visit with the disillusion about Britain and Britain's failure to stand up for those principles to which she says she is committed. Sweden is deeply committed to the principles of freedom and democracy, and sees no alternative but to identify herself, practically and positively, with the liberation movements in the African continent. When we look at this situation, we must understand that by our failure to identify ourselves with the forces of liberation we are provoking those very things in the African Continent about which hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite say they are most exercised. The failure of Western democracy effectively to stand up for those fighting for freedom in the African Continent plays into the hands of those totalitarian Powers prepared to give aid to the liberation movements.
In conclusion I would say a word about the Rhodesian situation and the possibility that we may be moving towards another round of negotiations in which the Foreign Secretary will be involved. Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) I am convinced that the right hon. Gentleman is a man of deep principle, and I believe that he is sincerely anxious to find a solution within the context of the five principles. If he wants to do that he will forgive me if I remind him of two of the basic principles, perhaps the most important of the five principles, namely unimpeded progress towards majority rule and the acceptability of any solution to the people of Rhodesia as a whole.
When we are evaluating the prospects of fulfilling those two principles we have, as several hon. Members have said, to look at the reality of the political situation as it has been in recent months and years. Since "Fearless" there has undeniably been steady progress within Rhodesia towards the principle of apartheid—if that is not a misuse of the 441 word "principle"—and towards a greater degree of racialism in the administration of the State.
We have seen the republican constitution, the Land Tenure Act, the statements of Mr. Ian Smith and his colleagues in which they have been at pains to point out that they do not share our views on the five principles and do not want to see them implemented. There have been the expulsions from the traditional tribal lands and more recently the expulsion from the mission lands to which my hon. Friend the Member for York referred.
I find there is a degree of ambiguity about the Government's position which is disturbing. On 1st July this year I wrote to the Foreign Secretary drawing his attention to my concern about the position of the tribal leader Tangwena and his people. I asked whether in the context of the negotiations which would he taking place, efforts would be made to look to the interests of this community. I received a letter from the Under-Secretary of State in which the noble Lord said:As you know, we are still engaged in exploratory discussions to establish whether or not it will be possible to negotiate a settlement on the basis of the five principles. I am sure you will understand that I am not able to reveal the contents of these exchanges. I can, however, reaffirm the assurance that I gave to Lord Alport when he raised the question of the Tangwena in the House of Lords on 22nd January, namely that matters such as the position of the Tangwena would be taken into account if it proves possible to hold negotiations.Yet in The Times of 28th October we read the authoritative reports of Sir Philip Adams who said, when asked about the expulsions from the mission lands, now taking place, that:This has not been a hastener or an impediment to what we have been talking about.If we are to have any confidence in the Government's integrity as they make their preliminary soundings we cannot have such ambiguities. Either the Government are seeking to raise matters of injustices of this kind as was suggested by the Under-Secretary in his letter of 13th July or they are not, and presumably we hope that they are taking the opportunities presented.
When it comes to enforcing any so-called settlement on the basis of the 442 five principles we must recognise that, by definition, once Rhodesia is independent she will be in a position to go as she pleases. and we have seen what has happened in South Africa since 1910. The only way in which we could ensure the implementation of any agreement based on the five principles would be with some form of guarantees which would amount to infringements of sovereignty. Unless we get such guarantees it would be infinitely better to keep the status quo with all the unsatisfactory dimensions in that situation rather than indulge in what would in the end amount to an ill-disguised sell-out.
The other point that we must settle has to do with the acceptability of any solution to the people of Rhodesia as a whole. The nature of the proposition put to the people of Rhodesia will be very important in the testing of opinion, and we have no business putting before them a proposition which is not the result of meaningful consultations between representatives of all sections of the Rhodesian community.
We need reassurance on that point. It is not good enough simply presenting it to the African majority as a proposition. 'The leaders and representatives of the African majority should be involved in drawing up the proposition. When the test of opinion takes place, if it is to mean anything, we will have to see the leaders of the African majority released and able to campaign with equal re- sources. We shall also have to see exiles abroad given the opportunity to return to Rhodesia to take part in a genuine campaign. This is the only acceptable basis for a real test of opinion.
§ 7.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Wyn Roberts (Conway):
The hon. Member for Portsmouth, West (Mr. Judd) spoke about political liberation and I hope to follow him in a sense by referring to economic liberation. The Gracious Speech says, dealing with external policies:…My Government will protect and advance the nation's interests.The domestic section of the Gracious Speech begins by saying:At home my Government's first care will be to increase employment…My theme is that the two are interrelated and that protection and advancement of the nation's interests abroad are 443 essential to increase employment at home. Perhaps we have tended in the recent past to play down the protection of the nation's interests abroad in the sense of straightforward defence. It is coming to the fore once more in our deliberations.
I want to lay emphasis not so much on protection as on the advancement of our interests abroad. We shall become increasingly aware of the interconnection in the years ahead between the advancement of our interests and increased employment at home. Reference has been made to our decision last Thursday, the decision of principle to join the E.E.C. Some hon. Members saw that decision as a choice between joining an inward-looking, potentially protectionist continental bloc and remaining and developing as a comparatively independent free trading nation within E.F.T.A. and the Commonwealth.
With respect to those hon. Members who saw the decision in this way, I do not view it like that at all. As a result of the rapid development of E.E.C. trade, internally and externally, the E.E.C. must be as outward-looking as ourselves and seek to extend and develop in the world outside. We may all be going through a protectionist phase now but it cannot last indefinitely because the developed nations are totally committed to expanding world trade which is an internal necessity if they are to maintain the standard of living of their peoples.
The Chancellor's proposal for the further creation of S.D.R.s and the welcome it received indicated the depth of commitment felt generally. We in Britain realise only too clearly that we need an expanding economy at home to increase employment and that such an economy is dependent on an expanding world economy. Our first concern at home, as the Gracious Speech said, is unemployment. Unemployment is also threatening to become the first concern in the world and is likely to dominate international development in the 1970s much as the food issue did in the 1960s.
Robert McNamara of the World Bank has already drawn attention to the rising number of what he called "marginal" men in the world—men with no useful role to play in their societies. The causes of this global unemployment crisis are 444 fairly well known to us. In most developing countries the impact of the population explosion has been aggravated by an equally unprecedented migration from the countryside to the cities, by the use of increasingly capital-intensive technology and by financial policies favouring the use of capital rather than labour. At the same time living standards are rising rapidly for some, and there is a sharp contrast between them and those who are unemployed or under- employed.
To be more precise, I am told that…unemployment rates of 15 to 20 per cent. are increasingly common in large cities throughout the developing world.The problem is likely to worsen rather than improve with time because the labour force in the non-Communist developing world will increase by 170 million in the 1970s alone, that is, by 25 per cent. during this decade. I need hardly point out that lack of jobs is helping to create the conditions for political upheaval in many countries. It is interesting to note that the unemployment rate in Cuba in 1957 was 16 per cent. But these political upheavals do not necessarily mean a shift to the Left. One can also have a shift to the right in these conditions, as has happened in Brazil.
There are various answers to the unemployment crisis in the developing world and I shall note only some of the steps that have been taken. First, there is the proposition that growth rates should be stepped up, but it is estimated that even if such rates were increased to between 9 per cent. and 11 per cent. annually, that would be sufficient only to absorb the increase in the labour force in non-agricultural jobs. Secondly, a bias could be developed in favour of labour as opposed to capital-intensive technology. Thirdly, there is the proposition that there should be greater concentration on rural development and agriculture. We know that this is taking place in certain parts of the world.
One thing is abundantly clear. Despite all the efforts made by developing countries, they cannot cope with the problem of unemployment on their own. The rich countries have an indispensable supporting role to play in providing capital research and technology and access to their markets. But the benefit is not one 445 way only. The developed countries need fresh markets for their increasing production, and the realisation of this need is looming ever larger in our thinking, since we know that Britain's share of world trade is declining.
I was glad to hear the statement of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister that Britain had reached its U.N.C.T.A.D. target; and glad, too, to hear him in July name as one of his cardinal reasons for entry into the Common Market the promotion of development in those countries in need of development.
It seems that many countries are now realising the importance of aid, public and private. The Netherlands, France, Belgium, Australia and Portugal—as well as ourselves—topped 1 per cent. of G.N.P. in 1970. Japan, Germany, and Italy followed close behind. But in terms of absolute amounts, it is interesting to note that Japan moved from fourth place in 1969 to second place in 1970.
Looking ahead, we can be reasonably certain that those countries generous in aid today are advancing their trading interests for the future. And we may be sure Britain, too, must follow this course as a nation which relies heavily on its trade. We know that perhaps the principal reason for giving aid should be a moral reason, as the right hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) said, but it would be unwise of us to forget the commercial advantages for Britain. I would not argue that commercial reasons are the only relevant reasons in this context. There are humanitarian reasons as well.
One of the most striking things about this country is that the desire to help the developing world cuts right across all party political boundaries. The British people as a whole have the will to assist the prosperity and well being of the developing countries, and this desire is common to us all as a people. If the British people could see clearly the relevance of the Prime Minister's July statement that one of the main reasons prompting him to seek entry into the Community was that this step in itself would help to promote development in the world outside, we would see a surge of public opinion for joining the Common Market as a new base for our en- 446 deavour to do better by the developing peoples of the world.
§ 8.6 p.m.>
§ Mr. Hugh Jenkins (Putney)
Nobody who listened to the hon. Member for Conway (Mr. Wyn Roberts) could doubt his genuineness in desiring that this country should do more than it is doing to help the under-developed nations of the world. Where we part company is on the question of whether our accession to the Common Market would assist us to be more effective in that area.
The evidence I have been able to gather from those nations which already possess associate status with the Common Market is not encouraging. There have been many cases in which nations with associate status, so far from finding such status advantageous, have found them- selves in a poor relation position with respect to the country with which they are closely associated.
The aspect of the Queen's Speech to which I wish to draw attention is the passage which says that the Government…hope, following the successful conclusion of negotiations, shortly to sign an Instrument of Accession to the European Communities after which legislation will be laid before you.The assumption is widespread in the Press that after what happened on Thursday it is all over bar the shouting and that the end is merely a matter of time. I would draw attention to the use of the word "hope", which falls short of accession actually being achieved. There is also the phrase
…following the successful conclusion of negotiations…The negotiations are going to be among the most difficult, but, of course, it is always possible to conclude negotiations by surrender. The Government have said that they hope for a successful out- come of the negotiations, but we know that earlier negotiations have reached conclusions which are not satisfactory at all, and these negotiations may reach a conclusion which will not be satisfactory to many of us on this side of the House.
Then the Gracious Speech says that after the successful conclusion of negotiations:Legislation will be laid before you…".Then there is the process by which this House will ratify the signature which the 447 Government will be giving to the accession treaty. Incidentally, they propose to sign it before the legislation goes through; the signature is to be before the legislation comes before us but it will only be effective if the legislation to ratify is carried through this House. I should have thought that is something which is very much in doubt. So those of us who are not in favour of this country joining the Market have no need to feel despair. It is generally agreed that that decision of the Government to sign the instrument, if they succeed in bringing their negotiations to a successful conclusion, is not in accordance with public opinion so far as it can be ascertained.
Thinking about this, it seems to me that those of us who say that on this public opinion ought to be taken into account must answer the charge that we are selective in this view—that for example on such questions as flogging and hanging some of us are prepared to act in advance of public opinion. It seems to me that the answer lies in the distinction which is made in many countries which have written constitutions, a distinction between a great constitutional issue involving surrender of sovereignty or partial surrender of sovereignty and the generality of political, social and economic decision making.
In countries with written constitutions that distinction is nearly always made by requiring a two-thirds majority on a referendum or some process greater, more difficult, than the ordinary process of decision making of the democracy operating in the countries concerned. I have said that I do not think we shall go in. If we want—and many of us do want—to change the nature of our society in a fundamental way we can do it only if we retain full control in this House, and, indeed, of course, it is true that those who wish to prevent change—and there are some who want to prevent change—can succeed in that only provided control remains in this House.
This is the common denominator without which it is very difficult to explain how it was that some people who are most anxious to avoid change and those of us who are in favour of fundamental change found ourselves the other night in the same Lobby. The answer is the 448 desire common to us all to retain power here and not surrender it elsewhere, so that we in this House, the elected representatives of the people, can control the fate of our country.
So many marketeers on both sides of the House cannot forget the consensus politics of the 'fifties, but in the 'seventies Butskellism is as dead as the dodo. It may be said that the present Government have destroyed the consensus already. This will be an abrasive, polarised decade. Whether we in this country will avoid the tide of revolution which is travelling over the earth, it is not possible to say. We are not immune from movements which affect the world as a whole, and we in this Chamber must have power to guide and control that revolution in a non-violent and, for us on this side, in a democratic, Socialist way.
This is, therefore, no time to surrender any scrap of authority. It is a time to gather into this House every single piece of power that we can, and on our side of the House we desire to move with the mass movement of opinion in the trade unions and elsewhere to change our social relationships. That seems to me to be where the tide is now moving and we have to travel with that tide, but we must take complete control of the national boat.
So I say that I do not think we shall go in. The Government did not get any-think like the two-thirds majority which, if we had had a written constitution, would probably have been necessary to support such a proposal and without which, it is arguable, it is invalid. I say that, because a country without a written constitution depends upon precedent and on analogy with what has happened elsewhere. In countries with a written constitution the decision taken last Thursday would not, in those countries, have been a valid one, but if we look at precedent we find that in this country no change has been made in our external relationships without the consent of the official Opposition. On every occasion, for example in the acceding to the United Nations, and when we decided to join N.A.T.O., when we have surrendered part of our external power, it has always been done with the consent of the official Opposition. In other words, the House as a whole has decided. There has been no precedent whatsoever for a Government taking a decision of this sort against 449 the wishes of the official Opposition: no precedent at all.
I would, therefore, argue on constitutional grounds that the Government have taken action which, in the unwritten constitution of this country, is as invalid as it would have been if we had had a written constitution which the Lord Chancelolr is so anxious to have. Had we had a written constitution it is very probable that at this stage we would not be even contemplating entering the Market.
So those of us who are opposed have a constitutional duty to frustrate the legislation which will seek to give effect to what is arguably an illegal decision, and I am satisfied that Conservatives who are opposed will see it as their duty to get all stages of the legislation referred to in the Gracious Speech taken on the Floor of this House and will resist any attempt —I hope that the Government will not make the attempt—to cut short debate, to guillotine it, or anything of that sort. If that is done we shall, in the end give effect to the desire of our people, the desire which has resisted the enormous pressure over many years upon them to try to persuade them that the Common Market is something for their good. They know in their hearts, as many of us on this side of the House and some Members on that side of the House, equally know in their hearts, that entry would not be in the true interests of our country.
The debate today is generally given over to foreign affairs, but I understand from Mr. Speaker that it is in order for me to make a brief reference to a subject to which I shall expect no reply because it is not within the ambit of what we are talking about this evening. I want to say this about the Gracious Speech as a whole.
I sometimes feel sorry for the Queen, for she has to say things which are put into her mouth by either side of this House, so that on one occasion she makes one statement and on another occasion has to make another statement. We in this House fully understand that the words of her speech are those of the Government, not hers, but sometimes outside this House that is not fully understood. On this occasion there are in the Speech proposals which seem to me to be thoroughly misconceived, pro- 450 posals which, so far from improving the position of our people, will worsen it.
The proposal for the introduction of legislation to provide for an alternative service of local radio broadcasting is surprising and irrelevant. What can be the relevance of that proposal at this time? I will not spend time on this, as we shall be debating this matter next week, but it is extraordinary at a time when the Government are proposing to bring forward much legislation that they should introduce a proposal for which there is no great public desire. This can be explained only on the basis that the Government have made another rash electoral promise and they felt they had to carry out at least one of them.
§ 8.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Toby Jessel (Twickenham)
I hope that the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins) will forgive me if I do not follow him in commenting on the subjects of the Common Market and the extra channels for radio broadcasting. I should like to return to the grave situation in India and Pakistan to which several hon. Members have referred.
My hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Sir F. Bennett) was right in saying that the danger of war is grave and imminent. I was one of four Members of Parliament to go on a parliamentary delegation to India and Pakistan, and I endorse what was said by the right hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) about the appalling and horrifying conditions under which the refugees are living.
I strongly support the Government decision to give more than the £17 million already being given for relief work. I have had about 40 letters and messages from my constituents asking that more relief aid should go to the refugees. My experience is that what 40 people are saying, 400, or perhaps 4,000, are thinking. The Government's decision to give additional aid to the refugees will command widespread support.
The Gracious Speech says that the Government:… will continue to work towards a solution of the problems of East Pakistan and the refugees.About 30,000 refugees continue to arrive in India every day. That is the figure we have been given, and I see no reason to doubt it. We are being asked, as are 451 other countries, to help with the problems caused by the refugees and we are, therefore, entitled to be concerned about the reasons why all these people have left East Pakistan in terror. In terror they undoubtedly are. Nine million people—a number larger than the population of Greater London—do not leave their homes and villages unless they are extremely frightened.
The Indians find it almost impossible to deal with this colossal influx of population. They cannot be absorbed, and their arrival is causing fearful social and communal problems. There are people living in Calcutta unable to get a job and near starvation. If 50 or 100 miles away refugees in a refugee camp are getting a free bowl of rise every day and are undercutting the local rate for the job, the most terrible communal tension can arise. The Indian Government are doing all they can to deal with this problem and we should have the greatest sympathy with them, but India cannot continue to absorb an unlimited number of refugees, and that is why there is a danger of war.
The Indians have repeatedly asked the Pakistanis to take action to stem the flood of refugees, with no result. My hon. Friend the Member for Torquay spoke of the need to defuse this alarming situation and of the desirability of the Indian Government admitting United Nations observers. But United Nations observers cannot restore confidence among the refugees that it would be safe to return to East Pakistan or East Bengal so long as refugees continue to arrive each day with stories of terror and horror. stories of villages being shot up and burnt and people being hounded out of them.
My Friend said that there was no immediate prospect of getting the Pakistan Army to withdraw from East Pakistan into West Pakistan, and I agree with him. Every possible diplomatic pressure should be used to bring about a change in the conduct of the Pakistan Army in East Pakistan and so to stop these large numbers of refugees going into India. I hope that my right hon. Friend will take every possible step, through diplomatic channels, through the United Nations and in every other way, to relieve the situation, even at this late and dangerous stage.
§ 8.26 p.m.
§ Mr. John Mackie (Enfield, East)
I shall have no difficulty in following the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Jessel) because the subject on which he spoke is the one I have chosen, namely the terrible situation in India and East Pakistan and Her Majesty's Government's promise in the Gracious Speech to direct themselves to the solution of the problem of the refugees. The problem is certainly East Pakistan's, but it is India's as well. The hon. Member appealed for more aid, as I shall do later, and he mentioned the difficulty of getting anything done for the refugees who were continually arriving.
When I was at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference I took the opportunity to go to East Pakistan, Calcutta and Delhi. I went under my own steam and I was there for six days. What I have to say is purely a personal view of the situation, a situation difficult to assess for anyone who like myself has no real experience of India, Pakistan or the Far East.
It has been emphasised that, although there are lessons we must learn from how all this happened, the time for recrimination and the placing of blame is past and we should concentrate on a solution to the problem.
I went first to Delhi and heard the Indian side of the case. I could not but agree that the problem there was very great. I was given a considerable amount of information, particularly by the Pakistan and Indian Press. I was struck, as one has always been since partition, by the appalling antipathy between the two nations. This is one of the big problems.
I then went to Dacca and met our High Commissioner who was very helpful, and to Sylet in the north-east corner of the country.
I found a most unhappy country in every way. There is no doubt that the East Pakistan authorities tried to persuade me that things were returning to normal—it is five weeks since I returned —but I could see that economically the situation was ruinous. There was great danger of hunger and starvation. When it was known that I was a farmer I was asked by the High Commission if I would try to assess the rice planting situation.
453 One crop about which I know nothing is rice; we do not grow it in this country. However, I was prepared to go, and I did go, into the country. Flying in a low-flying aeroplane from Dacca to Sylhet, and I had a good view of the countryside. I was of the opinion that a considerable amount of rice had been planted. My opinion was confirmed by a Scots tea planter I met who had flown over the same area. He thought that a considerable amount of rice had been planted and that the food situation might not be too bad. But East Pakistan has always been short of grain. Between 1¼ and 1½ million tons are normally brought in. The shortfall this year will be nearly 2½ million tons. The point was made by the hon. Member for Torquay that any upset in the supplies only aggravates the situation and is to be deprecated.
When I was in Dacca I was given an interview for an hour or more with Dr. Malik, the Governor. It is not for me to say whether he has been put there as a figurehead or to mollify the situation, but I found him very worried and anxious that we should understand the situation. He was anxious to know how we could help and what he could do to help to bring about a solution. I believe that he may rise above the figurehead status if given half a chance by Yahya Khan.
From there I went to the camps in Calcutta. Two colleagues have already spoken about the appalling conditions there and the fantastic problem of sheer human misery. I went to three camps and I was appalled. One camp which I went to might be called an unofficial camp. It was at the end of the runway of Calcutta Airport and the authorities insisted on its being shifted. The people in the camp had had time to find work in the fields and elsewhere and quite a few of them—between 1,000 and 2,000 —refused to move because they had begun to be integrated in the community. This situation in an area of unemployment and under-employment—and the Indian authorities are scared stiff of such situations—is bound to aggravate an already very difficult situation. It is only one of many situations which will arise unless the problem is solved.
I talked to literally hundreds of people in the camps, although it was very difficult, because my interpreter was inclined 454 to give his own answers instead of interpreting what the people said. However, I discovered that the attitude is that the people will not go back unless there is a free East Bengal and Mujibur Rahman is released to take charge. I pointed out that from what I had seen this was sheer pie in the sky. However, I managed at last to get four people into a tent where we could talk more rationally and I pointed out to them how appalling the situation was, with 9 million people already there and people still coming in. I asked what was the minimum they would take to go back. I felt that I had got somewhere with them in reducing their demands.
There is very little knowledge of what the Pakistan Government are prepared to do about the amnesty, and to rehabilitate the refugees. My right hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) said that at one time the number of refugees compared roughly with the population of Greater London. Clearly, to take that number of people and return them is a major physical job in itself.
Many of us heard the Prime Minister of India, Mrs. Gandhi, speaking the other day. I have nothing but admiration for her. I can quite see why she almost accepts the fatalism of the situation. It may be an Indian trait. She said that India has had to bear burdens throughout its history and that it is prepared to bear them again. The great pity is that she says at the same time that the refugees must go back.
During my visit, I had a brief meeting with an Indian Foreign Office adviser. He was leaving the country at 9 o'clock in the morning, but he was kind enough to talk to me over breakfast. In the course of our discussions, he made the point that the refugees must go back, and soon. When I asked how soon, he replied that it must be done after Christmas. However, that would mean that the only way that that could be done would be to conquer East Bengal and put them back. The hon. Member for Torquay (Sir F. Bennett) and others have made the point that war is imminent. That is why the situation is so urgent.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
I am extremely interested in the hon. Gentleman's first-hand account. Was he able to get any idea about whether the flow 455 of refugees from Pakistan is slowing? There are conflicting accounts. The Indians say 40,000 a day, whereas the Pakistanis, in effect, say there are none.
§ Mr. Mackie
I put the same question to the Foreign Office official with whom I discussed the problem. In the camps, I saw people who had arrived the very day that I visited them. I did not find anyone who had come direct from East Pakistan. All of them had been wandering about looking for friends or had come from camps which they did not like. I put the question to the Indian authorities. Some put the figure as high as 60,000 a day entering the camps. The average was 30,000. I do not know whether they are still coming in, but any chance of reversing the situation is very slim. I am sorry that I cannot help the Foreign Secretary any further. That is the information that I was given. I found that there was quite a movement between the camps, and probably the numbers involved in that are included in the figures that I was given.
As the Foreign Secretary knows, India takes the attitude that it is not her problem and that the situation is the result of Pakistan's military action and of the long-term difficulty between East and West Pakistan. That may be so, but, having looked at the situation as carefully as I was able and having made various contacts with the Indian High Commission and the Pakistan High Commission here and with various people out there, I cannot agree that India is not involved. She must be. As I said earlier, a considerable amount of the trouble of not being able to settle the situation between the countries arises from the appalling antipathy that has existed over the years, and there cannot be any settlement unless there is some lessening of the antipathy.
It would have helped tremendously if only the democratically elected Government of East Pakistan had been allowed to take over. Here again, I am not trying to apportion blame. But it is clear from information that I got from various people in Pakistan that Mujib should not have "upped" his demands and should have realised from his experience as a young man of civil disobedience in India that the reaction of a British civil 456 administration was very likely to be totally different from that of a military dictatorship in Pakistan. Quite definitely, he made a political mistake. But that does not mitigate the appalling result of letting loose on the civil population of East Pakistan not only the Pakistan Army but, what is even worse than the military, the reserves.
I do not want the Government to use all their pressure on Pakistan. They have to put some pressure on India as well. There has to be a climb down on both sides before the matter can be settled. The situation will be exacerbated if all the pressure is put on one side. I realise that sympathy for the refugees has created a greater feeling for India's problems than for Pakistan's, but there has to be a settlement which affects both countries. They must both climb down. On my return I wrote to Dr. Malik and pointed out forcibly that he must climb down. The climb down there would be to get Yahya Khan to talk to Mujibur, to let the people know that he is still there, and to get his opinion on how to arrive at a political settlement.
India must not be so firm about not allowing United Nations observers to have full scope along her borders. There is no doubt that help is being given to the guerrillas. It is said that it is difficult to prevent training in guerrilla camps. I saw training of a quasi-military nature going on in one camp. India must do her best to discourage it and to let in United Nations observers. The ultimate solution is that put forward by the United Nations. I hope that India will help in that way.
India is spending all the reserves, which she wanted to use to improve the conditions of her people, in keeping the camps going. I know that rations are low. Nevertheless, food is costing India a tremendous amount. The rest of the world must help. There is the argument that the more comfortable life is made for people in the camps the more difficult it is to get them back. That may be, but we have to see that they are reasonably well fed, particularly the children. Anyone who went to the children's hospital would be appalled to see children literally dying. It is therefore essential that we put pressure on other countries to help. It is not easy. These things are soon 457 forgotten. However, I hope that we can keep alive the propaganda for aid.
My hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon) mentioned the possibility of dialogue with South Africa. This matter was also raised at the Commonwealth Conference. I was interested in the various arguments of Dr. Banda and some of the other African countries who are having dialogue with South Africa. I wondered whether one could do that and at the same time be against apartheid.
I should like to tell a story about my youngest son. My right hon. Friend the Member for Lanark (Mrs. Hart) has a good head of hair, but nothing like that of my youngest son, who is a bit of a revolutionary. When the Springboks were here a couple of years ago he was planning to disrupt the game at Aberdeen so that they could not play. I argued with him. I said, "Would it not be better to go to the hotel at night, when there is a get-together after the game, and try to persuade the Springboks than to disrupt their game and make relations worse, not better?" Like all sons, he never took his farther's advice. On the following Monday morning the Daily Telegraph had a photograph of my son—fortunately unnamed—lying in the middle of the pitch at Aberdeen.
My hon. Friend suggested that one could do both things. I do not know whether my son would have been welcomed at the hotel that night. However, I think there is something in keeping connections and dialogue with South Africa as well as being against apartheid. I am not sure that my son was not right in the first instance, but I think that he should have tried to contact them and have a dialogue as well.
I am against apartheid. I spent a long weekend in Johannesburg recently and was appalled by what was going on there. The situation which is building up will not be solved in 100 years. They are building townships and making all the coloured people leave towns at night, and so on.
I hope that the Government will do all that they can to bring about a solution to the problems of East and West Pakistan about which so many hon. Members have spoken.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Sir Ronald Russell (Wembley, South):
I apologise to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary for missing about the first five minutes of his speech this afternoon. It may be that during my absence he dealt with one or two of the points that I wish to make. If so, I hope that he will forgive me.
I am glad to follow what was said by the hon. Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Mackie) about the value of having a dialogue, whether it be with South Africa, with Rhodesia, or with anyone else. It is much better to have "jaw, rather than war", as Sir Winston Churchill once said in a memorable speech, and I wish my right hon. Friend the greatest possible success in the talks which I hope he will have with the Rhodesian Government for a settlement of the problem, as the Gracious Speech says,in accordance with the Five Principles.If there is a settlement in accordance with those principles, I hope that it will meet with the approval of almost everyone in the House because we are all wedded to those principles.
The Gracious Speech says in paragraph 2 that it will be the Government's purposeto maintain the North Atlantic Alliance".I am glad, but not surprised, to find that in the Gracious Speech, and I hope that it will include the Government's doing their utmost to get the French back into N.A.T.O. to play their proper part in it, as they did until President de Gaulle took them out. The gap created by the French is a weakness in the North Atlantic Alliance.
The Gracious Speech talks about sustaining the Commonwealth association. I support that wholeheartedly, though I am not quite clear exactly what it means. I do not want to get involved in an argument about the Common Market, because I said my piece on that in the recent debate. But it cannot mean maintaining Commonwealth preference because, under the C.A.P., we are pledged to abandon that and to substitute Community preference.
I hope that it means maintaining such things as the Commonwealth Prime Minister's Conference, to be held from time to time, although perhaps the last one was not the happiest of all those that have been held. I hope, too, that 459 the Commonwealth Finance Minister's Conference will be held from time to time, as will conferences of other Ministers, such as conferences of Education Ministers. I hope that there will be kept in being all the many bodies, listed in many reference books, which help to further the Commonwealth association. I take it that even if we join the Common Market the Government will maintain all our relationships in that respect and do all that they can to help them to work well.
Now I come to a less happy matter, and it may be that my right hon. Friend dealt with this in my absence this afternoon. The Gracious Speech says that the Government will work forimproved relations with the People's Republic of China.I am sure that every hon. Member will agree with that, but what I am a little worried about is the way in which we supported the Albanian Resolution at the United Nations last week which, although it succeeded in getting approval for China to join the United Nations, which I whole-heartedly support, also succeeded in expelling Formosa, and I think that that is most regrettable.
I was rather sorry that whereas we and Canada supported the Albanian Resolution, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and other friendly countries, supported the other Resolution which would not have expelled Taiwan. It seems wrong that we should have to throw out a friend in order to placate a country which I shall not call an enemy, but which kept a number of British citizens in prison without trial over the years—and for all I know some are still in prison there. I am not sure about that—and has not acted in as friendly a way as has Taiwan. I hope that my right hon. Friend will say something about the reasons for that when he replies. That was a most unfortunate occurrence which passed almost unnoticed while we were having our discussions on the Common Market last week.
Taiwan is a country of 14 million people and a large number of countries which are still members of the United Nations have smaller populations. Whatever its relationship with mainland China and whatever kind of Government it has, I should have thought that Taiwan 460 should be represented, even if only in the General Assembly—and presumably it would take its turn in being nominated for the Security Council as the years go on. We approached that subject in a most unfortunate way. I am sorry that we did not support the United States resolution instead of the Albanian resolution.
Some hon. Members opposite have mentioned support for so-called liberation movements in Africa against Portugal and South Africa. That is not carrying on a dialogue, as an hon. Member said, but carrying on a revolution. I am sorry to think, if it is true, that the Labour Party is sponsoring a fund—presumably it is voluntary—for aiding so-called freedom fighters. It is a monstrous thing to do, because it is aiding revolutionaries and nothing else.
When I was in South Africa a few weeks ago I was taken to an exhibition of weapons captured by the Rhodesian forces from freedom fighters who had come across the Zambesi, presumably from Zambia. They were a nasty-looking lot of weapons, supplied mainly by Czechoslovakia, Russia and China, with one or two German and French ones. It is natural that arms get mixed up in this way. That is the sort of thing to which they may be subscribing if they launch a fund of that kind.
I hope that those concerned will put conditions on it, to say that it is to be used not for the purchase of weapons of that kind but only for medical equipment or things like that. These people are not freedom fighters it] our meaning of the word "freedom": they are revolutionaries. They would almost certainly set up a Communist dictatorship as happened in Zanzibar, which we do not seem to be able to do anything about, and not a democracy, as some hon. Members may think. This is not freedom but tyranny, and that is what they would set up.
§ Sir R. Russell
I leave my right hon. Friend to deal with that point.
461 I hope that he will also deal with the points that I have made. I hope that, in the years ahead, in our dealings with the Common Market, we shall do all we can to maintain Commonwealth association and the kindred associations which are listed in so many books and which have helped towards maintaining the Commonwealth and our relations with it in recent years.
§ 8.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Ben Ford (Bradford, North):
The hon. Member for Wembley, South (Sir R. Russell) will no doubt forgive me if I do not follow the sense of his remarks. I should like, first, to apologise to the House for not having sat through the whole of the debate. Among other things, I have had a very heavy mail to deal with.
I should like to take this opportunity, which is not open in any other way, of diverting the debate away from the direction in which it was opened. I want to direct my remarks to the question of our relations with Latin America.
Because of its remoteness and lack of revolutions requiring intervention, Latin America is often overlooked in our debates on foreign affairs. In any event, I often think that subjects that arise in our foreign affairs debates are cyclical and subject to fashion. In other words, an area can receive a lot of attention for a while and then not be mentioned for a considerable time.
I intervene in the debate as an officer of the British-Latin American Joint Parliamentary Group and I feel sure that the Chairman of the Group, the hon. Member for the City of Chester (Mr. Temple), would wish me to place on record the fact that he is unable to be here because he is a delegate with our United Nations mission in New York.
Britain has very old and still reasonably solid connections with Latin America, although they have been languishing somewhat of late. Following the independence of countries in Latin America, there is a great residue of affection for Britain, the British people and our ways. This year we celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Carobobo in Venezuela. An organisation called the British Legion took part in that skirmish and to it is 462 ascribed the turning point in the battle for Venezuelan independence.
Venezuela is now firmly established in the ways of democracy and is extremely proud of the fact that at the last general election the party which had formed the Government was beaten and handed over power to the victors in a genuinely democratic manner. The House will wish to congratulate the Venezuelan people on what they have achieved.
A number of experiments in government are taking place in Latin America. For example, in Chile there is an attempt at democratic Marxism. President Allende is walking a very difficult path there. Nevertheless, it is interesting and welcoming to note that these experiments are taking place.
Marxism leads inevitably to public ownership and in Peru, close to Chile, there is a military government who, strangely enough, are taking the path of public ownership There is an interesting situation in Columbia. There was a status quo in government there, where the the parties have been taking it in turn to govern, and some interesting developments should be occurring in that country.
A country I find particularly fascinating in Latin America is Brazil. The size of that country can scarcely be imagined. The whole map of Europe can easily be superimposed over it. British business men are often at a loss when they are told by their London firms to leave the part of Brazil in which they happen to be staying to see a potential customer in another part of the country. That can mean travelling up to 5,000 miles.
Brazil has what one might describe as a semi-military government. I visited Brazil earlier this year, following an I.P.U. conference in Venezuela. While there I had the honour of meeting a number of Brazilian Ministers. I got the impression that they were dedicated to raising Brazil from its purely agricultural, semi-illiterate past to a primary power in Latin America and a major power on the world scene.
They seem to be doing everything at once in Brazil, and their efforts may provide an object lesson to us. There is a strict regime of planning and, astonishing though it may seem, in the last three or four years they have managed to reduce inflation and at the same time to increase 463 their gross national product. They are building roads. They are building houses. They have a great educational programme. Social services are being instituted. They have projects so huge as to be almost beyond imagination—hydroelectric power schemes, the trans-Amazonian highway going right across the north of the country—and an organisation called Sudene which is carrying out a very intensive and effective regional development policy in the north-east of Brazil.
My purpose in intervening now is to ask the Government to pay a little more public attention to Latin America. I believe that there is now in sight political stability for most of the Latin American countries. I realise that the Government receive and offer hospitality to many Latin American visitors, who are always immensely pleased to come to the House of Commons and observe parliamentary practices. There is the very pleasing feature that there appears to be in sight now an opportunity to erect in this country a statute to Simon Bolivar, which will greatly please the Bolivarian States.
Any assistance, particularly technical assistance, that we can offer to Latin America will give them great hope and great encouragement. I hope that the Government will take note of these remarks and that, perhaps, they may be referred to by the Minister of State.
§ 9.2 p.m.
§ Mrs. Judith Hart (Lanark):
I am delighted to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, North (Mr. Ford), because I, too, was in Latin America during the Summer Recess and visited three of the four countries he mentioned. I have come back feeling very glad that it was during my own period of office in connection with overseas development that we began the initial aid programme for Latin America, stretching a little beyond the limited amount of technical assistance formerly given. I come back, too, feeling that there are immense opportunities in Latin America for extending British co- operation and friendship, and the rest. I was therefore delighted to hear what my hon. Friend said.
This has been a very extensive and wide-ranging debate, and although the attendance has been small, we have had some extremely interesting and extremely 464 good speeches from both sides. I want to concentrate my remarks on two or three of the major themes that have emerged. While I recognise that his hon. Friends will expect from the Minister of State his comments on the British Note to the United Nations on the subject of China, perhaps I can begin by saying to the right hon. Gentleman that this is one area where we wish to say, "Very well done." I should like to tell his hon. Friends that I hope that I have the same view as that which the Minister of State himself will have, which is that it has always seemed very clear that a two-China policy would not be a workable formula for getting China into the United Nations. That being so, it is somewhat naÏve to suppose that one could at the same time wish China in, yet vote in some way other than the way in which the British Government cast their vote. That is the reality of the situation.
§ Mr. Woodhouse
Perhaps I may draw the right hon. Lady's attention to the fact that this was clearly not the view of the United States Government and many other United Nations members. Is the right hon. Lady suggesting that they were naïve?
§ Mrs. Hart
The problem is that there were varying degrees of the will to have China admitted to the United Nations, and one can only say that those who voted as Britain voted genuinely thought that to bring about Chinese admission at this point, any other vote would not have achieved the same result. It is a difference in the will and purpose of the countries which voted in their different ways.
In turning to what I think ought to be one of the major themes of the debate, which is East Bengal, I want to point out to the Foreign Secretary and to the Minister of State that while we have been talking, as we have talked in this House since the spring—I think that it was in fairly early April that we had our first discussion of the matter—the situation has escalated to a point at which we are not only talking of the human misery but reading headlines like that in The Guardian last week:Waiting for the war to start.and in The Times last week,Obsession with War on the Indian sub-Continent.465 This situation has escalated far beyond the point at which it began and of our original discussions of it in the spring.
The seriousness of the situation and the elements of the escalation can be put into several categories. There is the serious danger of war, a matter to which I shall return shortly. But first, there is the very considerable likelihood of famine in East Pakistan. There are differing reports, and nobody can be quite certain about it, but most of the authoritative reports suggest that it is very likely that the shortfall in food supplies, taken together with the breakdown of transportation, will result in a very considerable going over the edge from the marginal existence diet into famine for many millions of people in East Pakistan. That is the first element, and it will be upon us within a matter of two or three weeks if the very well-founded reports are correct.
Second, not only has Sheikh Mujib not been released but he is still under sentence of death. That is hardly a way of fulfilling what Members on both sides of the House were agreed about in the spring and summer—that Sheikh Mujib was a vital element in any political settlement that might persuade the refugees to return home.
Third—and we should be very wrong and ill-advised to overlook this new factor the Bangla Desh movement has developed very effectively and, more and more, public opinion in many countries is beginning to accept the arguments put forward by the Bangla Desh movement.
Fourth, there are immense strains on the Indian economy. As the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary said, other countries have certainly not matched the scale of British help. I hope that the recent announcement of further British help will be part of a continuing process that provides more assistance as assistance is needed if the crisis continues. But it is only a tiny fraction of the total cost to India. We now hear that the cost of the refugees, and the cost of increasing defence measures—in itself a reflection of the escalating situation— have led to the introduction of new taxes and to the use of deficit financing. It is clear that the Indian economy will be in considerable danger if the situation continues much longer.
466 I turn to the dangers of war. My right hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) mentioned the memorandum issued in July by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. One of the extraordinary features of the impact of that memorandum—I think that my right hon. Friend will agree; I have double checked my facts on this— is that no news of this crucial memorandum was published in any British newspaper at any time. Apparently when something is issued in New York at about four o'clock, it reaches the British Press too late for the next day's editions, and by the time it reaches London the Press is no longer interested.
This is a most extraordinary state of affairs. In this situation no one, unless he was lucky enough to receive the information direct from the United Nations information service, knew that this was a request from U Thant to the world to take notice of what he was then regarding as a most dire situation and that it was an opportunity for any member of the Security Council to take up that memorandum and to say, "Let us now discuss it in the Security Council".
The Foreign Secretary knows that during the summer my right hon. Friend and I urged him to give careful thought to the question whether Britain should itself take an initiative in the Security Council to bring the matter before the United Nations. We understood the counter arguments, not those which the right hon. Gentleman put forward specifically but those which we understood to be the counter arguments—that to do that it was necessary to have the agreement of India, certainly, and preferably of Pakistan also; that India was greatly afraid that, if the matter were to be raised at the United Nations, it would become almost inevitably, as she thought, an India-versus-Pakistan issue, as indeed it is now beginning to be.
Nevertheless, we felt that, as the situation in East Bengal was increasing in seriousness, and as the steps that Yahya Khan was apparently prepared to take were inadequate to solve the problem, perhaps that was the moment when the British Government should have taken the initiative.
I do not believe that it is any longer sufficient merely—I do not say "merely" in any sense as a deprecation of the 467 efforts that the Foreign Secretary has been making—to exercise private pressures. If the private pressures had any hope of being effective, they would have been effective already. That they have not been effective is to be measured by the seriousness of the present situation of the Indian subcontinent.
We on this side believe that, with the special responsibility of the British Commonwealth and with the membership of the British Commonwealth of both India and Pakistan, Britain has a special international rôle and that, unless that role is exercised publicly, other countries cannot be expected to respond to the urgency of the situation.
An opportunity will arise soon, for I understand that the Third Committee of the United Nations is to meet on 15th November and that efforts are being made to table a resolution and to have it taken at that Committee, which could then put its report before the General Assembly. What attitude and what action does the British Mission propose to take in view of this possibility?
U Thant, in a memorandum sent to Mrs. Gandhi and to Yahya Khan on 27th October, said this:I have in mind both recent indications of a worsening situation on the borders of East Pakistan and the reports of the growing tension on the border between West Pakistan and India and on the cease-fire line in Jammu and Kashmir.Those words of U Thant, coupled with what he said in July, should make us recognise that we are talking about the kind of war situation which could well, were war to break out, escalate into an involvement of the great Powers. We know of the treaty between the Soviet Union and India, of the traditional rôle which China has been occupying in relation to Pakistan, and of the very unfortunate continuing supply of arms by the United States to Pakistan.
I cannot envisage a situation in which if war were to break out between India and Pakistan on any of the frontiers involved, there would not be a gradual involvement, first through arms supply and secondly extending possibly into training and help with personnel. In those circumstances I cannot envisage that war being contained totally between India and Pakistan. That is the measure 468 of the seriousness of the events facing us. The right initiatives must be taken and these must first of all be a declaration by the international community that it regards itself as involved. That is most likely to come if the British Government are prepared to take a lead and to make that kind of declaration.
I turn to another matter mentioned by the Foreign Secretary, the difficult question confronting the United States in terms of the Senate decision on aid. It is a classic situation. It has been clear to many of us fortunate enough to have friends in the States deeply concerned over the whole question of the developing countries that there was a familiar pattern of association of ideas operating in the United States. It is rather like the word game one plays at parties. "Foreign aid means foreign involvement, which means military involvement —which led to Vietnam. We must get out of Vietnam, therefore let us have nothing to do with foreign involvement and thus nothing to do with aid."
This is the motivation that inspires the wide public apathy towards aid in the United States and it is the inspiration of liberal criticism in the States— not conservative criticism. Conservative criticism in the States is much more that aid is a bad thing and that there should be total isolationism. With the liberals it stems directly from the situation produced by the Vietnam War.
There is a remedy which President Nixon has accepted but for which he has not yet legislated. The difficulty in the United States legislature—and we can be thankful that we are so different—is that foreign and military aid are mixed in their appropriations. What President Nixon did last January was to accept the recommendations of the Peterson Report which recommended a total division of the two, so that people could vote for either military aid or economic aid. The situation would not then arise which arose in Congress and the Senate last week. It is a decision which will be immensely serious unless the President and his advisers can resolve it.
Although it is correct that the American contribution of official aid has been running in 1969– .31 per cent., nevertheless that figure represents an immense gross amount and the loss of 469 that aid would be a very serious matter for the developing world. We should send out from this House—we seem to be getting used to making comments on each other's affairs—a message that we very much hope that the Senate and Congress will find it possible so to organise their attitudes towards the developing world that it need not be starved of the transfer of resources essential for development.
That leads me to our Government's attitude towards aid and to a point arising from the Gracious Speech, namely the legislation which the Government promise to introduce by way of an insurance scheme to assist private investment primarily in developing countries. We shall have things to say about that. It is a sensible idea but we observe with great regret that there is this very clear distinction between the Government's policy on development assistance and our own. They consciously seek to give greater emphasis to private investment, whereas we sought to give greater emphasis to official investment. They have not accepted a separate target for official development assistance, whereas we did so in the summer of 1970. Therefore, we shall have our criticisms to make on this matter during the year. Certainly we shall criticise any diversion of official aid resources to support private investment.
Whatever one may say about aid, what k certain is that these days trade is of infinitely greater importance to the developing countries. I wish to make two brief comments on the effect of entry into the Common Market on the developing countries in terms of their trade prospects. There is a euphoric assumption that, if we go into the Community, the developing world will be greatly helped; that we, and other countries in the Common Market, will be able to do more for the developing world.
Let me indicate one difficulty in this theory. When we go in—if we go in— we shall have to harmonise, which is a very attractive euphemism in all these matters, our system of generalised preferences with that of the E.E.C. The E.E.C. system came into operation in July ; ours is due to come into operation in January. There are very sharp differences between the two. Unfor- 470 tunately, there is little doubt that it will be ours that will be sacrificed to theirs.
Our scheme has no restrictive quotas. The E.E.C. scheme has restrictive quotas. It is worth noting that a major recommendation of the Pearson Commission was that quota systems, on precisely the goods covered by the E.E.C. scheme, should be abolished. We have observed the Pearson Commission's proposals on this matter, whereas the E.E.C. has not. Yet we shall have to abandon our better behaviour in this country for that of the E.E.C.
I can best support my argument on this matter by repeating what was said by the right hon. Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble), Minister for Trade, in Committee on the Finance Bill upstairs in May when the generalised preference scheme was going through the House. The right hon. Gentleman obviously had been well briefed by his officials who know about trade but, unfortunately, the Foreign Office had failed to brief him at all. He then said:I prefer our viewthat is to say, the British generalised preference scheme—it is more liberal and … much more valuable to the countries concerned."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee H, 24th May, 1971; c. 34.]Yet this is what is to be sacrificed. Quotas are highly restrictive and unaccommodating towards developing countries. The details of the E.E.C. scheme make it a very difficult quota scheme indeed. Imports are to be limited to the value of imports of specified items in 1968, with an addition of 5 per cent. of the value of increased imports from E.E.C. sources since then. The way this is likely to operate has been described by more than one economist as a monument to the bureaucrats of Brussels. Let us, there- fore, abandon the assumption that the developing countries will be better off if we go into the Community, because they will not.
There is one suggestion I should like to make to the Foreign Secretary which is a matter the Chancellor of the Exchequer could think about. The Chancellor will be much involved in the next few months in discussions on international monetary reform. A month or two ago he made an interesting speech which included proposals about special drawing 471 rights. If we are to have new proposals on international monetary matters in the next few months, I hope he will give some attention to the possibility of including in any new reforms a system of S.D.R.s to give much greater benefit to the developing countries. This, above all, would be a contribution which could be made in the next 12 months. One of the direst, most acute problems almost always, certainly in Latin America, and in Africa and many Asian countries, too, is the crippling shortage of foreign exchange and balance of payments difficulties, and S.D.R.s can be the key to effective help to the developing world. This could be embraced in the discussions which will be going on over the much wider subject of monetary reform.
Next I want to make two comments on the African situation. I want, first of all, to take up a comment which one or two of my hon. Friends have made—my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon), my right hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North and others have mentioned it and that is what the Foreign Secretary said this afternoon about the appalling treatment of the Dean of Johannesburg. We all, I think, accept that there can be the problem of avoiding any ill effects to him of comments which might be made publicly. Of course one accepts that. But I find it very difficult to recall any similar situation, in any South African context, or in the context of any other country, involving the treatment in so appalling a way of a citizen, let alone one of the most distinguished Churchmen we know, which has been allowed to pass without its having been made perfectly clear what are the British Government's reactions. If the Foreign Secretary, as I am quite certain is the case, is ensuring that our Ambassador in South Africa is visiting the Foreign Minister and having discussions on this matter, and would let us know, that would do something to help to meet public opinion.
I came to the conclusion some time ago that one of the problems in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office—and this applies to both Ministers and officials —is that while they are compulsive communicators with one another, they are compulsive non-communicators with the outside world. This is one of the prob- 472 lems. The right hon. Gentleman should find a way of making clear to the public the concern which, I am quite sure, he feels about this.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
I would say right away to the right hon. Lady that of course we have been making continual representations where we thought they would be most effective for securing proper treatment for the Dean. The British Goverment's responsibility is to do all they can for him as a British citizen. A way of doing it may be after his appeal. Of course we detest the laws under which this kind of thing happens, but we have made constant representations all the time about the Dean and his future.
§ Mrs. Hart
I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for that. I think it will be of some degree of reassurance to a great many people.
Finally, I would turn to what seems to me to be the general theme which has emerged during our debate, whatever the particular subject we have been discussing. I make reference to what the Prime Minister said at the Conservative Party Conference last month when he talked of the new world, the new patterns of power, the voices of new nations, the exciting and dynamic and dangerous new world. I have no doubt at all that he immensely stirred his audience with what, I suppose, the Press at its most kind would call his clear-eyed vision and his bold analysis. And there was his eagerness—I must not forget this—to walk out into the light—to walk out to meet our destiny".Very heady stuff. He claimed—and this has been part of the theme of this debate —thatBritain's voice is being heard in the world again.What sort of voice? And what is it saying? And on whose behalf? It is saying that Britain shall sell arms to South Africa. It is resisting world opinion on Namibia—South-West Africa. It is regarding support and friendship for the totally oppressive Government of Portugal as overriding any concern for the just and crucial cause of the liberation movements in East Africa. The Foreign Office was adamant in refusing to see Dr. Cabral, a distinguished figure in the liberal movement, when he came here 473 I am happy to say that he was entertained in the House of Commons. We do not know what is being said in Salisbury. We must wait for next week's statement, but we wait for it with great anxiety.
The theme of this debate is that the two sides of the House hear Britain's voice in the world very differently. We on this side do not want to stand proudly alone on South Africa and Portugal at the United Nations. We dissociate ourselves from the narrow and blinkered concept the Government are taking of Britain's international rôle. We see the Government regarding Britain, and Britain within the Common Market, as going into a protective regional bloc with what the Prime Minister has called a unity of political and defence strategy. This has emerged more clearly since the vote was taken last Thursday.
We want to see our links with the Commonwealth, our links across the Atlantic, our links with the E.F.T.A. countries, and our links, above all, with those nations who are part of the real New World, evolving and changing. As we fight our way through on the Common Market we shall be fighting for our vision of internationalism against that of the Tory Party. In all our attitudes, whether to affairs in Asia or in South Africa, there is clearly to be seen a sharp difference of interpretation, a difference of analysis, a difference of approach, a very different kind of vision.
§ 9.32 p.m.
§ The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Joseph Godber)
I am sure the peroration of the right hon. Member for Lanark (Mrs. Hart) would have been loudly cheered had the troops been behind her, but on this occasion we both lack the degree of support we should have liked to have. We understand that pressure of business has been heavy in recent weeks. No doubt in the international sphere many hon. Members feel a little exhausted after the Common Market marathon. As the right hon. Lady said in opening her speech, we have had an interesting and valuable debate. A number of important issues have been raised, and I shall seek to deal with as many of them as I can in the time remaining.
Two themes have emerged. One is the concern which has been displayed on both sides of the House about the condi- 474 tions in East Bengal and the refugees in India. This is a matter on which we all feel deeply anxious, and I shall come back to it in some detail. The other theme, referred to by the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), was the question of East-West dialogue, confrontation or discussion, and that again I will return to.
Before doing so, I will touch on one or two matters which have been dealt with during the debate. The right hon. Lady when she spoke of aid targets chided us on this side of the House for not having accepted the 0.7 per cent. target for public aid and reminded us that her party had accepted it. It is true that it was in the Labour Party manifesto for the last General Election, but this was not accepted by the Labour Government when they had power to implement it, so we shall have to see what hapens if and when we have a Labour Government again. We believe that both public and private aid is of extreme importance. We wish to see both going ahead, but we are not prepared at this stage to tie ourselves specifically to a percentage for either of them. What my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said about the achievement of a 1 per cent. target overall is something we can all take credit for as a nation.
May I say how interested I was to hear the comments of the hon. Member for Bradford, North (Mr. Ford) about South America. That part of the world is not often discussed in the House, and I welcomed very much what the hon. Gentleman said. The countries of South America have a very important part to play in the future of world affairs and world trade. The hon. Gentleman was absolutely right to draw attention to the enormous potentialities of various South American countries, particularly Brazil. Not only do I share the hon. Gentleman's views but I hope to visit a number of these countries in the fairly near future. We have plans for meetings in this country next spring to call attention to the great opportunities which exist there. I therefore hope that we shall be able to do something to show our interest.
I do not wish to say anything about Rhodesia because my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has made it clear that he intends to make a statement and we shall be having a debate next week. 475 There is therefore no point in my going into detail in answering the comments which have been made, although I am sure that my right hon. Friend will study carefully what has been said.
Specific mention has however been made of the Epworth mission. As I understand it, no evictions have taken place. What Sir Philip Adams said was because he had ascertained and had received an assurance that any action of that kind would be suspended. He therefore thought it right to make it clear that this matter did not enter into the discussions. If our discussions succeed, this will be one matter which conditions created by an agreement will turn to advantage. We are in no position to enforce anything at the moment, but this is one factor which can be materially helped. The fact that nothing is being done is an indication that there is an attempt to meet us.
Turning to the question of the Middle East, the right hon. Member for Leeds, East asked about Britain's readiness to participate in some form of guarantee arrangements with the necessary forces. We have made it clear that we should be willing to do so if others were also willing and we would only be too glad to assist in this concrete way to produce results.
The question of the Middle East is extraordinarily frustrating. I have been involved in it a good deal and my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has been even more involved. While we are most anxious to find ways forward, we still have to cling to Resolution 242 as being the only basis on which there can be agreement. While the Americans are going ahead with their efforts to secure an interim arrangement. I think that the general feeling is that it is not possible for us to get much further forward with anything else. I discussed this matter with Dr. Jarring only three weeks ago in New York and he con- firmed that this was his feeling. There- fore, while we shall try to make progress if the opportunity arises—and we are in constant contact with all the other people affected—it is very difficult and we must see if the American proposals for an interim arrangement make progress.
My hon. Friend the Member for Middle- ton and Prestwich (Mr. Haselhurst) 476 spoke about limited measures towards a final solution. I agree with what he said. What I have just said indicates our general approach.
I turn to the question of India and Pakistan which has deeply aroused the emotions of the House and about which we all feel acutely anxious. Many right hon. and hon. Members have referred to the dangers of conflict between India and Pakistan. I believe that it is a matter which represents the greatest problem of human misery since the Second World War, and it poses the potential disaster of a major armed conflict.
In addition to the dangers of conflict, many right hon. and hon. Members have dwelt on the urgent and pressing problem of aid to the refugees. This is a matter on which both my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary and my right hon. Friend the Minister for Overseas Development have spent long and anxious hours. As regards direct aid, Britain was one of the first in the field, and recently we have added to our previous contribution a further £7½ million for refugees in India and £1 million for those in Pakistan. Only the United States has contributed more, and in India we have contributed one- fifth of the total. Of the £7¼ million that we contributed earlier to India, all has now been committed. Most of it was devoted to food, medical supplies, transport and blankets. We are now discussing with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees how the new contribution of £7½ million may be spent most effectively.
As for the size of the problem, to which the right hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) referred specifically, the India Consortium at its meeting on 26th October assessed the total requirement during the current financial year as being about £280 million. Of this amount, about £56 million has been contributed already through United Nations channels, and it was estimated earlier that a further £34 million had been contributed through other channels.
It is clear from those figures that the need for further contributions is urgent and pressing and, having made this further contribution ourselves, I think that we are entitled to call on other nations to match the sort of contributions that 477 we have made. To Pakistan, we announced a contribution of a further £1 million on 18th October. This doubles our total contribution so far to East Pakistan.
The overall need in Pakistan is less than in India, but the situation is very serious, as many right hon. and hon. Members have pointed out today. One of the pressing problems there is the distribution of foodstuffs. What is needed especially is the means of distributing foodstuffs after they arrive at Chittagong. In addition to the supply of road vehicles, we have helped with a number of small vessels for the transport of food by water, and two tugs from this country are due to arrive in Chittagong before the end of the month. At present, we are discussing with the United Nations the possibility of supplying 100 Land Rovers, 50 three- ton trucks and a number of dumper trucks each capable of carrying two tons of food. That is by no means an exhaustive list. I give these details merely to indicate a measure of what we are doing to help.
§ Mr. Stonehouse
Will the right hon. Gentleman obtain guarantees from the Pakistan authorities that vehicles provided for spreading relief supplies are not requisitioned by the Pakistan forces?
§ Mr. Godber
We have no reason to believe that they have been so far, and the U.N. is very much involved in their distribution. If there were any such action, certainly we should wish to make a strong protest. It is only fair to say that we have no information at all that that has happened.
As regards the other aspect of immediate need for help which was referred to by the right hon. Member for Leeds, East—the Orissa cyclone, which has caused great devastation and hardship—already we have provided the relief to which I have referred, but in this case we are considering what we can do in addition. If the Indian Government need help, we shall be ready to respond immediately. In particular, we stand ready to supply immediately anti-cholera vaccines, if they are needed. I understand that the authorities have certain supplies available, but we are ready to reinforce those immediately in case of need.
478 So far, I have been discussing aid. But, urgent though it is, it is only a part of the story. What is just as urgent is the need for a political solution so that we can get the return of the refugees to their homes. In this regard there is a real danger of war at the present time. The situation is acknowledged on both sides of the House as being extremely dangerous. But both India and Pakistan have stressed that they have no intention of initiating aggressive action. However, the risk of an outbreak of hostilities is there and many believe that it is growing the whole time.
We have had many references to the possibility of action by the United Nations. A possible peace-keeping rôle for the United Nations cannot be achieved unless and until they have a mandate for such action. This requires the passage of an appropriate resolution by the Security Council. This is only a practical possibility if both the countries concerned agree to such a presence. Up to the pre- sent moment, despite much discussion in private, it has been impossible to make progress on this aspect.
The right hon. Member for Lanark spoke with feeling on this matter. I understand her feeling. But I do not think that there is any way that we can bypass the feelings of others on the matter. The right hon. Lady spoke of Britain's special position, but it is difficult to see how we can make progress against the general feeling that it would not be helpful to have a discussion at the United Nations. I expect something will emerge before long. Concerning the Third Committee Meeting, I have not seen what resolution may be proposed. I should think that in any case the emphasis in that Committee may be on aid, whereas what is required is emphasis on political action.
§ Mr. Godber
Yes, it is a possibility. We certainly would not be hostile to anything of this kind. It must depend on the type of resolution which came forward. I think that something could be 479 brought forward either in the Security Council, which is where I should prefer to see it, or in the General Assembly. Certainly we should be only too glad to support any proposal which is genuinely believed to be helpful. We certainly do not rule out the suggestion made by the right hon. Lady in this regard.
§ Mr. Healey
I understand that there has been some discussion of the problem between the Soviet and the American Governments. Will the Minister tell us whether there is any chance of the major powers external to the conflict reaching agreement in the near future, because I think it will be agreed that this may now be a question of days rather than weeks.
§ Mr. Godber
I could not give any indication that this is likely to succeed at the moment. So far we have had no indication that it will be possible to get a consensus. I discussed this matter with U Thant in New York only three weeks ago. The feeling which I got from him, as well as from the other countries involved, was that it was not possible at this stage to get agreement. There will be some complication about attitudes with the arrival of China, and this we have to acknowledge. We are ready to have a discussion in the United Nations, and we have let that be known to all the other people concerned. It is not we who are preventing discussion. If we felt that it would be helpful, we would initiate something ourselves. Indeed, at times we have considered doing this; but, on balance, our feeling has been that it would be better not to do so up to now. I do not rule it out. We are pressing ahead with this very worrying matter so far as we can. In the meantime, we are in close touch with the other governments, including the United States, on all the matters arising from this situation.
I hope that it will be possible before long to have some adequate discussion so that we can see whether the United Nations can move forward in the matter. Indeed, when I was in New York I said that it was unfortunate, to put it at its lowest, that the international organisation there had been unable so far to initiate action on what is the most dangerous issue in the world at the moment. We feel much the same as many hon. Members who have spoken about this matter.
480 I now turn to a question which has been raised by a number of my hon. Friends, particularly my hon. Friends the Members for Oxford (Mr. Woodhouse), Torquay (Sir F. Bennett) and Wembley, South (Sir R. Russell), that of our vote on China's joining the United Nations. I was grateful for the congratulations which came from the other side of the House, but I think that at some stage they could embarrass me a little if they became too warm, because I do not think that there is any great difference between myself and my hon. Friends. I think that it is a misunderstanding more than anything else.
What was at issue on this occasion was quite simply who should represent China at the United Nations. Both the Government in Peking, and the authorities in Taiwan, claimed to be the rightful representatives of the people of China, and there is only one seat for China. There has been a lot of sympathy for the proposition that both mainland China and Taiwan should be represented. The two-Chinas solution is superficially attractive, but it does not take into account the fact that neither Peking nor Taiwan is willing to accept that there could be a two-Chinas solution, since they both claim to represent the whole of China. That is the position.
Our policy at the United Nations has been consistently to support the seating of Peking. To that end we have voted since 1961. When it was first tabled we voted in favour of the Albanian resolution, and our vote this year was not therefore new. We have been voting in the same way for exactly 10 years, but the difference is in relation to the procedural Motion. Last year the Albanian resolution obtained a simple majority for the first time, although it was not adopted because the Assembly had previously decided that this was an "Important Question", and in the terms of the Charter that means that it requires a two-thirds majority. Up until last year we had always voted for the "Important Question" resolution, but after the voting last year it was clear that if we and others continued to do so, the result could be to keep Peking out merely by a procedural motion.
Previously the voting had been such that this was really an academic question, but in the changed circumstances we and 481 others decided that we could not continue to vote in that way. We therefore made clear that we would not this year support any procedural device designed to delay Peking's entry, and that is the real point to be made to my hon. Friends. The United States realised what the position was, and in moving the "reverse Important Question", as they did, that was designed to maintain the present position. We felt that we could not support that, because we took the view that that would not be right in the circumstances which now exist.
I repeat that there is one seat for China. Both the Communists and the Nationalists continue to claim to represent all China. In those circumstances, we take the view that the exclusion of the 14 million inhabitants of Taiwan is a lesser evil than the continued exclusion of the representatives of 750 million people in China. That really is the situation, and I think my hon. Friends will realise that this is the best solution that we could work for, because we believe that it is in the interests of the United Nations as a whole that the largest country should not be excluded.
Peking's admission to the United Nations surely marks the starting point for an entirely new era in what up to now has been looked upon as the problem of East-West relations. What we have been talking about as East-West relations will become more and more a sort of triangular issue in which there will be three different blocs, two of which perhaps have the name of Communists, but which vary very much in their approach. There will be the Western group, and two large Communist Power groups in the United Nations, and I think that that will create an entirely different situation there. It will be a more realistic one, and one which may cause problems for us but, nevertheless, I believe that the reality of these Power blocs has to be acknowledge, and that we hive to work on that basis.
China's emergence at the United Nations marks a widening of attitudes and of arguments. We do not as yet know how the representatives of Peking will conduct themselves. After their exclusion for all these years no one can blame them if, at first, their interventions are a trifle discordant. It is not for 482 us in the West to seek to dictate to others how they should act towards newcomers, but I am sure what our posture should be—that is, to welcome their arrival and to listen with interest to their views.
We find the ideology which they profess just as distasteful as that of any other Communist régime, because we believe in the virtues of the free democratic society in which we live. But we recognise the importance of the position which a nation of such dominant size must occupy and we will assess their words and actions at the United Nations realistically, on the basis of how they affect Britain's interests and Britain's position in the world.
I hope that China's emergence will help to impart some new sense of realism to discussions in that body, just as I hope that it will lead to closer bilateral contact between China and other nations—in which I include ourselves.
Meanwhile, in our relations with the Soviet Union, there are various ways in which we and our N.A.T.O. partners can help to develop the degree of dialogue which is now in train. I do not accept the criticisms in regard to the question of the expulsion of spies which have been uttered in this debate and I do not think there is any need for me to reiterate what my right hon. Friend said—that this was a straightforward issue. I think that the Russians recognise it as such and I do not believe that it will affect our longterm relations in any way.
But I believe that we now have an important and continuing part to play in expanding dialogues with the Soviet Union and that the N.A.T.O. Powers and the Soviet Union together have many points of contact which can be developed. Among these initiatives, the Ostpolitik of Willy Brandt, as the right hon. Member for Leeds, East said, has helped to bring fresh movement, particularly in regard to Berlin.
If we can now see this brought to a firm conclusion, the opportunities for a Conference on European Security will begin to take shape. But I must say to the right hon. Gentleman that, not for the first time, I thought that he was talking a degree of nonsense when he talked about Britain acting as a brake in these matters. I reject that.
§ Mr. Godber
The right hon. Gentleman can quote what he likes, but I can tell him what I think of what he quotes and of what he says.
Britain will be prepared to play a full part in this Conference, but we shall want to see adequate preparations to ensure that it is given some chance to start on a sound basis. In the same way, we believe that the discussion an M.B.F.R.s can bear useful fruit. I myself took part in the Conference of Deputy Foreign Ministers in Brussels a month ago and pledged Britain's full support for the steps which we then discussed.
In particular, the choice of Signor Brozio was a very happy one and I hope that his activities as "explorer" will pro- vide very fruitful results. That is the best way to help forward this whole question of M.B.F.R.s. There is much more that I could say on the subject but I must curtail my remarks and merely say that the great thing is to get a positive response from the Russians. This depends on the Soviet Union being really willing to move forward on the question of M.B.F.R.s. The right hon. Member for Leeds, East must know better than anyone the complicated nature of getting a fair basis for reductions, and therefore there must be the fullest discussions in this regard.
The Soviet Union proposed at the United Nations only yesterday a new world disarmament conference. We would be willing to participate in such a body, but there is already the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament. However, if this proposal is designed to bring in the Chinese, we should certainly not be opposed to it.
It is in this field of East-West dialogue. and with the involvement of other nations including the Peking Government, that we can perhaps look forward at last to better understanding, and, if there is genuine good will, I believe, to the easement of tension. But we must be satisfied in all these matters that there is the good- will and the desire for détente. Then Britain will play her full part. We are not dragging our feet. We have not done so and we are as anxious as anyone to make progress in this field.
So on these various matters, the Government believe that we are making progress. While in some areas the pro- 484 gress is slow, and in regard to the question of India and Pakistan we are most anxious, and worried about the prospects, but we shall not avoid any opportunity of seeking to make that further progress which I know the whole House wishes.
§ Debate adjourned—[Mr. Speed].
§ Debate to be resumed tomorrow.