§ 3.20 p.m.
§ Debate resumed on the Motion moved on Tuesday last by Baroness Gaitskell —namely, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as follows:—
§ "Most Gracious Sovereign—We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your Majesty for the most gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, any speaker who tries to cover the whole field of Foreign Affairs and Defence, which is the subject of our debate this afternoon, would make a speech both of interminable length and of remarkable superficiality. The old tour d'horizon which successive Foreign Secretaries and Government spokesmen used to give, here and in another place, was never something which appealed to me; nor, I imagine, to most of your Lordships. I want therefore to confine myself this afternoon to the subject of Europe—not because I do not consider that there are other issues of outstanding importance, such as the situation in the Middle East or the Vietnam war, but because it is the issue which is most immediately in our minds since the abdication of General de Gaulle and the renewed possibility of further negotiations, and it need hardly be said that our association with Europe covers not only foreign and political affairs but also defence.
In the last few months—and it would be idle to deny this—there has been a notable shift in public opinion, if public opinion polls are to be believed, about our entry into the Common Market. Only last week there was a poll in The Times which showed that only 21 per cent. of those asked thought it was in Britain's best interest to be a member of the Common Market, while 72 per cent. were against it; and though there have been other much less dramatic figures than those, there is no doubt that there is this trend, and that it is of fairly recent origin. It seems to me as well, therefore, on an occasion such as 127 this for someone like myself, who has supported Britain's entry into the Common Market, briefly to re-state why he, and I hope others of your Lordships who feel the same, has not changed his mind about the desirability of our entering into negotiations with the six members of the E.E.C.
One of the reasons why public opinion has shifted has been the great amount of publicity by those who are opposed to our entry. I make no complaint about that; they are as entitled as anyone else to state their case. But it seems to me that there has been an almost deafening silence from those who think differently. The other awkward fact (and it is not any good trying to disguise this, either) is that one can see and explain more readily the immediate short-term disadvantages of going into the Common Market, for they are much more easy to quantify than the long-term advantages. But long-term and middle-term advantages there certainly are, and to me they are overwhelmingly more important and more decisive.
Since the war, two important things have happened which have significantly changed Britain's position in the world. First, we have lost what in effect was a captive market in our Colonial Empire and in our close economic association with the self-governing countries of the Commonwealth. Australia and Canada have diversified their trade as their economies have become more sophisticated. India and what was the Colonial Empire are no longer an exclusive market for this country; and though the general trend of all that has been there to be seen for some time past it has been only since the end of the war, and as successive colonial territories have gained their independence, that it has become obvious that we are losing what hitherto had been assured markets for us.
At the same time, it has become obvious that two countries, America and Russia—and before not very long, China, too, I imagine—by virtue of their enormous populations and the industrial strength they derive from those populations and the home market, were increasingly dominating their respective spheres of influence both militarily and economically. And thus for the first time for many years we were faced with a situation 128 in which we had partly lost our markets and, at the same time, in terms of population and industrial base had become one of the medium-sized countries of the world.
I know that there are some in this House who still feel that the answer to this problem of earning our living and of retaining our influence—and nobody denies that there is a problem—was a closer association with the Commonwealth, and in particular with the old Commonwealth. Later on, there were, those who felt that the Commonwealth, together with the United States in a close association, was a more practical solution. There is nobody who is keener to see close relations between ourselves and the Commonwealth than I am; indeed, I spent some part of my life in trying to promote just that. But, my Lords, any of your Lordships who have travelled recently in the Commonwealth must know that, from an economic and military point of view, our association has changed. Inevitably it has changed in such a way that the Commonwealth cannot be envisaged in terms of close economic association and dependence.
For example, we in this country could not conceivably buy the total output from Australia's farms, from Australia's mines, from Australia's industry. Indeed, even now we are by no means her largest customer: Japan buys far more wool than we do, and almost all of her ore. Australia is growing at a tremendous rate, and as she grows we shall inevitably have a smaller proportion of her trade. This being the case—and it is the case, however much one might wish it were not—it follows that those who buy Australia's produce and products will wish to have entry into her market. And what is true of Australia is true of Canada, and to a lesser extent of New Zealand.
Is it really sensible to suppose, too, that Australia can now rely upon Britain to protect her vital interests in the same way that she did 30 or 40 years ago? And with the Government's announcement of our withdrawal from East of Suez, even the most nostalgic Anglophile Australian cannot suppose that his security lies in Britain, however much the affection and the will to do so remains here.
I do not believe, and I have never met anybody who has studied the problem 129 closely who does believe, that a close Commonwealth association, even if the other members wished it, is a substitute in economic terms for the Common Market. Nor do I think that the addition of the United States to the Commonwealth is a practical proposition, for, so far as I know, the Americans would not countenance it; nor do I imagine that they see much advantage in it for themselves, and successive American Administrations have made it clear that they favour Britain's entry into the European Community. Even if it were to come about, I cannot see Britain being on equal terms with the United States in such an association, only as a very junior partner.
My Lords, that is one solution which is put forward. Another solution put forward—or, rather, perhaps, not so much put forward as implicit—is the contention that there is no need to do any of these things; that Britain can go firmly on, just as she is doing now, without belonging to any bigger community, and that things will turn out perfectly all right. Well, I suppose that in a sense they might. I do not think that we should starve; nor do I think that the world would come to an end. But one thing is certain; our standard of life would improve at a much slower rate vis-à-vis that of our neighbours in Europe, in the Commonwealth and in the United States; and our industries would become increasingly left behind in technological development.
I think that over the last 20 years or so this has become evident. In 1939, I do not think that there was any branch of industry or technology in which we were not as advanced as the Americans, or anyone else. Our scientific development, our aircraft industry, were as sophisticated as anyone else's; and we were in the van of a great deal of scientific development. I do not think we can claim that to-day. Though in certain fields we may still be preeminent, there are large areas of scientific development in which, because we have not the resources, either in money or in manpower. we have inevitably been left behind. The most obvious of these is space research; and let no one minimise the industrial advantage that will come to the Americans from the fall-out from their space research programme.
130 This "go it alone" policy seems to me not to pose a very satisfactory future for the people of this country: to suffer a relative decline in their standard of living vis-à-vis their neighbours, and to be left out of the exciting new developments which are taking place, is not how I see the future of this country. Already since the formation of the Common Market, all the countries in it, with the exception of Italy, have overtaken our standards of living. Nor would I view with anything other than dismay the inevitable decline of influence which this proposal would entail so that we became but a small and relatively unimportant Power.
And so I am driven (and "driven" is the wrong word, because I want it to happen) to the conclusion that the future of Britain is inescapably bound up with Europe. Here on our doorstep is a continent of which we are a part, consisting of the most highly civilised nations of the world, with a great deal of manpower, with great resources, with much money and much technical know-how, and to this we can add our own not insignificant contribution. Here we should have a large home market comparable with those of the Russians and the Americans. Here, combined together, we have the resources to compete on equal terms, and here, it seems to me, economically and industrially lies the future of this country.
However, that is only one part of it. In Europe over the past hundreds of years have lain the seeds of unrest and war, and now at last the six most important countries, other than ourselves, have joined together in friendship. Of course there will be stresses in the future between one country and another, and he would be a brave man who would say that all tension between France and Germany has gone for ever, or that one or other of the partners would not try to dominate the others. Is it not in the best interests of Europe, and indeed of everyone, that Britain should join such an association and thus add to the European community a third large partner contributing materially to the political stability of the organisation and helping unite a continent sadly in need of peace and order?
That brings me to the defence aspect. I do not know, nor can anyone know, what will be the outcome of the present 131 difficulties which beset the President of the United States over the Vietnam war. All any of us know is that whatever decision may be taken the consequences will be felt far beyond the shores of South East Asia and will undoubtedly have repercussions on American strategic thinking in the rest of the world. I noticed the other day that when Senator Kennedy was in Brussels he said he thought it quite possible that the United' States might withdraw troops from Europe (this as a result of a general withdrawal into America after the end of the Vietnam war); and there is undoubtedly a mood of non-involvement abroad in the United States to-day, and a revulsion at the idea of American forces abroad. On the other hand, it might be equally well true that exactly the reverse might happen: that the United States, in order to show that she was still vitally interested in the defence of the free world, might make it clear that she was even more interested in the future of Europe and take positive steps to demonstrate this. Whichever of these two views is true, a very great deal more thought must be given to the defence of Europe by Europe.
In a Defence debate earlier this year I ventured to say that I thought that the American deterrent in Europe—that is to say, the strategic deterrent—was becoming increasingly incredible, and that there must be very few people who could imagine that the United States would destroy herself in order to protect Western European territory. No doubt there are different stages in this argument—for example, the use of tactical nuclear weapons, a subject about which at the present time there is a good deal of controversy—but the fact remains that the ultimate deterrent to a Russian invasion of Europe, should she ever try one, is the strategic deterrent, or some strategic deterrent, in the hands of Europeans. Incidentally, this had always been the argument of the Conservative Party in maintaining the V-bomber force and negotiating the initiation of the Polaris programme. As time goes on, it may well be necessary to consider whether a European strategic deterrent which, in effect, would be an Anglo-French deterrent, is either possible or desirable. I am as well aware as noble Lords opposite of the difficulties that stand in the way of such an arrangement, 132 but if such a solution is important to this country, difficulties can and should be overcome. A closer association of Britain with Europe must make these things more easily attainable; and whatever may be the policy of future American Governments, it must, in the last resort, rest with Europe to defend herself.
For all these reasons, my Lords, I become increasingly convinced, rather than the reverse, that it is Britain's best interests to go into Europe: but not, cit course, at any price. No Government, of whatever Party, could contemplate that. Those who argue most strongly against our entry are now using as their main theme that the cost of living would rise very considerably, and that the agricultural policies now prevailing in Europe would impose an unacceptable burden on our balance of payments. We must of course study these things and find out exactly what the consequences would be. After all, that is what negotiations are about. No-one is suggesting, not the Government, nor the Conservative Party, nor the Liberal Party, that we do not negotiate about our entry. I think it is probably true that the cost of living would go up, but such calculations as I have seen show that the rise (and in saying this I do not make a Party point) would be less than the average rise that we have had over the last five years. But although a rise is probable these figures do not show that the rise is totally unacceptable when we have already had bigger rises over the past four years for what are obviously less compelling reasons.
As for the cost of the Comunity's agricultural programme, they themselves are re-thinking it, and I cannot believe that any of the members of the Community, if they were agreed as to the desirability of our entry, would impose conditions that would be obviously impossible for us to fulfil or too onerous for us to bear. But these are matters for negotiation; and unless we negotiate we do not know on what terms, if at all, we can join the Community. When all is said and done, nobody is suggesting that we should go in regardless of the consequences to this country, or at any price. Of course not. What we are saying is: Let us have some talks; and if the other Six want us to join, and if the terms are right and we think it will be to the 133 advantage not only of ourselves but of Europe also, then we should do it.
I must apologise, my Lords, if, in these remarks, I have trodden over some very old and familiar ground. But I am concerned that the case for joining the Common Market should not go by default; that those of us who believe that this is the right policy for Britain and Europe should not be silent when there is so much publicity and argument given to those who hold an opposing point of view. There is in Europe a feeling that the British are keen to join the Community when the obstacles to doing so make it abundantly clear that we cannot, but that as the obstacles, one by one, are removed we become proportionately less enthusiastic. I do not believe that that is so. What I do believe is that all Parties have failed to make it plain to the man in the street what are the long-term and middle-term advantages of joining the Common Market. And if we spell them out clearly and conclusively, then the people of this country will believe that the advantages to them, to Europe, and to the world are more important than a temporary and. I hope, not very substantial increase in their cost of living.
§ 3.40 p.m.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, the splendid speech of the noble Lord who has just sat down encourages me, likewise, to confine my own remarks very largely to what I believe is the central problem of our time; namely, our correct relationship with our neighbours in Europe, and I hope that the maiden speech of the late Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, which we are so eagerly awaiting, will, to some extent at any rate, also cover this point.
It is still the central problem of our time because on its solution depends both our own relationship with the super-Powers, and, to a considerable extent, the relationship of the super-Powers between themselves. It is not even a great exaggeration, therefore, to say that on its correct solution depends the maintenance of the world balance of power and, consequently, the continuing avoidance of nuclear war. Whether we like it or not, a great choice faces this nation in the fairly near future. The red lights are beginning to flash. It is not, I believe, 134 actual war that is signalled—though. after all, even that is possible—but it may well be our national way of life that is now in danger, and certainly the whole position of this country in the world.
As we know, all three political Parties are still firmly committed to the proposition that we, along with Scandinavia and Ireland, should now seek to negotiate our way into the European Economic Community with the general object, over the years, of forming some new kind of union that would be both democratic in character and capable of maintaining, or rather restoring, the old influence of European countries. But none of us who accepts this objective wants to enter a Community that would be dominated by any one member, even if we thought that were possible. If so, all of us must, logically, be prepared to accept some form of collective leadership or control. None of us wants, on the other hand, to enter a Union in which our national personality (as President de Gaulle always had it) would be destroyed, or our ancient institutions enfeebled or even abolished. Therefore, we must surely seek some democratic association of a completely new and modern kind. I hope that I have not so far said anything which would be objected to by any of your Lordships who subscribe in any way to the proposition that we should now seek to join the European Economic Community.
In my view, however, it is misleading to talk of a United States of Europe or a European Federal State, because such phrases—anyhow in this country—can so easily be twisted to imply that all "Europeans" wish to reduce the United Kingdom to the status of California, and to abolish the whole conception of the "Queen in Parliament". The establishment of a Community of a new type must therefore presumably be what the majority in all our Parties now want; a Community, that is, in which ministerial decisions, in certain clearly defined political and economic spheres, are increasingly taken by an agreed form of qualified or weighted, majority vote, on the advice of an independent commission, and with the general approval of a European Parliament which, once there is enough for it to do, should be—as we think, anyhow—directly elected. 135 Unless this is what the leadership in the two major Parties really want, it might well be preferable not to proceed with the negotiations for entry to the Common Market at all, because unless it does embody such features as these it would not be a Community which we would be trying to join; substantially, it would be a free trade area. A free trade area would no doubt have many advantages from our point of view; it is what we originally wanted up till 1957 or 1958. Unfortunately, it has two major disadvantages. In the first place, it is not a conception which the French would be likely to accept, because, rightly or wrongly, they would assume that in such a free trade area their industry would be overwhelmed by British and German industry, without any corresponding advantage for France. In the second place—and perhaps this is more important—if it ever were formed it would obviously have no political content, and would thus tend more and more, I am afraid, to be dominated by the strongest individual member; namely Western Germany. And if things went wrong and some new Western German Government over the years ever made some deal with Russia for political reasons, then the whole of Western Europe would come immediately under the general influence of the Soviet Union.
It is thus no good just declaring what we do not want the Community to be if we enter it—not "Federal," not "supranational," not "bureaucratic" and so on. What we must say, surely, is what sort of democratic union it is that we do want. And if it is to be a union of any kind, then it must obviously possess certain supra-national characteristics—otherwise it would not be a union—and be guided by certain recognised supra-national techniques. In other words—and this is my first point—it must be a thing in itself, rather than a collection of things, and, if it is to function at all, those who run it will simply have to get into the habit of looking at problems from the point of view of the group as a whole, rather than from that of any individual member of the group.
One would have thought that those principles were so obvious that there was no need to emphasise them. And yet the progress of events in the E.E.C. itself, 136 at any rate since 1965, has shown that the whole development of the Community, and indeed its continued existence, can be successfully challenged by those who believe in the diametrically opposite idea of some kind of European association, or "Confederation" or "Europe of States", or whatever you call it, based on the principle of the total independence and sovereignty of the individual nation.
In our English way, we may think that we can somehow avoid taking sides or making up our minds on this crucial issue before we join the European Economic Community. But we really shall not now be able, as it were, to shuffle backwards and blindfolded into Europe, as was perhaps the intention in 1961. Whoever is in power at the critical moment—always supposing that the Six get some compromise on their common agricultural policy before the end of the year, and that negotiations start in the spring, which is not certain—will have to explain clearly to the nation what the general objective is. Incidentally, only if they do so will they be able to convince our friends on the Continent—and we have many friends on the Continent—that we really mean business, and are not just trying to get into the Community in what General de Gaulle always used to refer to as a "Trojan horse", for the sole purpose of destroying it from within.
This brings me to the so-called "terms" on which we might try to insist, though I must say that our bargaining strength, even if much improved since the events of May, 1968, in France, and by reason of our improved economic position, is obviously not so great that we can insist on all our desiderata, some of which we shall undoubtedly have to throw overboard. If indeed our great Departments of State, and notably the Treasury, the Board of Trade—or the new technological wonder that is taking its place—and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries act as I am afraid they tend to act, like independent satrapies, not only will the negotiations be intolerably long, but we shall almost certainly never get in. So let us hope that Mr. George Thomson, whose appointment as potential chief negotiator in the Cabinet we all welcome so much, with the help of two high officials—on such good terms, according to the Press, that they might collectively be referred 137 to as Sir Con O'Neild—will be able to overrule the objections of individual interests in the pursuit of the great bargain which must eventually be struck.
That the great bargain can be struck —always supposing that the Six, for their part, are willing to limit our contribution to the Central Agricultural Fund to a reasonable figure, to rectify the contradictions in their present common agricultural policy and to agree to a long transitional period for the adaptation of our own economy and for that of New Zealand and the so-called sugar islands —is certain: whether it will be is not. As I have said, everything really will depend, as I believe, on the intentions of all the Governments concerned and notably whether, as they should, the Six are now prepared to leave the actual negotiations to a large extent in the hands of the Brussels Commission, anyhow to start off with.
Recently, the Liberal Party Assembly approved of our attempting to enter the European Economic Community, not subject to preconditions but on the basis of some suggested principles; and I should like very briefly to comment on these, though not actually in the order in which they were presented, because I think they are intelligent and to the point. The first principle was that there should be some progressive reduction of farm price levels in parallel with actual structural improvements in European agriculture. This, of course, is embodied in the recent plan of Dr. Mansholt, and it is evident that if we came in we ought to be of great assistance to him in his efforts to reduce the agricultural population of the Community over the years from its present proportion of something rather over 13 per cent. to something nearer our own proportion of about 2½ to 3 per cent.
The next point was the development of full economic and monetary union with common policies in fields such as regional policy and technology, which would compensate Britain for any losses in the field of agriculture. That is what they have said. As I myself see it, it would be less necessary to compensate this country for such losses as these, since I have always felt myself that the bulk of our farmers would be in clover if we joined, than to make good any diminution in the competitive power 138 of our conventional industry, given some increase in the cost of food. But in any case, the sooner we could arrive at a real monetary union the sooner we should be able, of course, to deploy the immense economic power of the group as a whole and the sooner, therefore, our own standard of living which, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said, is now lower than that of any member of the Community except Italy—and Italy is rapidly catching up—would be pushed up towards that of America over the years, and even, as we may soon come to think, to that of Japan.
Next, the Liberal Party rightly urged the democratic control of Community institutions through, of course, increasing the power of the European Parliament, and through the direct election of its members. I certainly think that during the negotiations we should do our best to induce our prospective partners to revert to something like the Commission's plan of March, 1965, which, as your Lordships may remember, was so dramatically assailed by the late ruler of France, who then, as you know, took France on strike for six months. The plan was to give the Parliament some control over the vast sums accruing to the Commission as a result of the common agricultural policy. We have nothing to lose by building up the Parliament, and everything to gain.
§ LORD BOOTHBY
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord for one moment to ask him a question? Does he think that this European Parliament should be directly elected in the various countries, or does he think it should be appointed from the members of the national Parliaments?
§ LORD GLADWYN
No, my Lords. In my view they should only be directly elected as soon as there is work enough for them to do, but I was going to come to that point in a moment. In the Parliament the communists would certainly be in a small minority if there were direct elections, and the progressive and liberal forces—with a small "1", if you like—would be in a large majority; so we should not be frightened of this Parliament. But—and here I come to what the noble Lord said—all I would myself say is, please do not directly elect the deputies until the present machine 139 has been revised so as to give them a responsible job. The thought of 400 or 500 highly-paid representatives of the people wandering about Strasbourg with absolutely nothing to do is terrible to contemplate. And the idea that only by producing such a situation as that will it be possible to induce the Governments to progress further towards real unity is, I believe, fallacious. The Governments will be so persuaded only by the pressure of public opinion as manifested in their own Parliaments, and perhaps by the sheer logic of events. So it is obvious that I share some of the apprehensions of the noble Lord, Lord Boothby.
After a reference to the formation of international corporations, which is obviously very desirable, responsible to the workers as well as to the shareholders, the Liberal Party Assembly came out in favour of a common policy to help developing countries by reducing barriers to their exports, arriving at fair commodity prices, increasing development aid and so on. It finally declared itself in favour of an independent foreign and non-nuclear defence policy aimed at reconciliation with the countries of Eastern Europe, and it is to this last, all-important point, my Lords, that I should like to devote the remainder of my speech.
There are many who think—and I believe there are a good many in the Tory Party who so think—that, more especially in view of the evident French desire to drive a hard bargain on our entry into the E.E.C. and of a recent welcome increase in the self-confidence of our own country, the negotiations for our entry into the Economic Community are unfortunately likely to be long and acrimonious rather than satisfactory and short, and that if so, it will be all the more necessary to make progress towards greater European unity in a field in which it is becoming even more plainly necessary than in that of economics; namely, of foreign policy and defence.
My Lords, the occupation of Czechoslovakia; the plain intention of the Americans to reduce the number of their forces in Germany and to come to terms, if they can, with the Soviet Union on the limitation of strategic armaments; the tragic and dangerous development of events in Vietnam; the explosive situa- 140 tion in the Middle East; the increasing number of Russian nuclear submarines in our home waters—all these things point to the absolute necessity of the Western European democracies combining if they are not one by one to come under increasing Soviet influence and pressure. We should be mad if we did not recognise that necessity.
According to one school of thought, this process of political integration can start only as a result of some, perhaps secret (I am not sure), Anglo-French deal on nuclear matters; and, incidentally, according to that school of thought this is the way to remove French objections to our entry into the European Economic Community. I know, for instance, that some of my friends on my left share that view. But I believe that such an attempt would probably be misguided in that it would presumably be unacceptable to the otherwise well-disposed new Government in Germany. Is it really thought that Herr Brandt would be disposed to replace an attempted French hegemony by one jointly exercised by Britain and France? After all, Herr Brandt has a potential veto on our entry into the European Economic Community. Besides, whatever the legal objections to our doing some nuclear deal with the French, which would result, I suppose, in our somehow passing our know-how on to them—and I think these might conceivably be overcome; there has been some correspondence in the Press lately on the subject —surely the only sure way of obtaining the blessing of America and the willing co-operation of Germany, which is essential, would be first to form something which might be deemed to be a legal entity in itself, and then to consider the whole nuclear problem in such a body, however elementary it might be to start off with.
It is thus essential, as I think, to make progress at least on the nature of the institution in which all the great problems involved in a common attitude towards defence—the standardisation of armaments, and gradual harmonisation of foreign policies, and so on—should at least be considered. This is urgent; it really is urgent; more urgent, I repeat, even than the long-term problem of the enlargement of the European Economic Community. If a rather silly quarrel between France and Britain, for which I, 141 myself, think that de Gaulle was chiefly responsible, prevents its examination in the Western European Union which would be by far the most suitable forum, then there should be a special conference of the Six and the United Kingdom plus (if the French would agree) the other candidate members of E.E.C.
I should have thought that it would be in the interests of Her Majesty's Government, no doubt after the new German Government has been formed and the summit conference of the Six has given evidence of the state of mind of our prospective partners, to suggest the convening of such a conference and indeed to submit for consideration—why not? —a plan for the minimum of co-operation necessary in order to achieve the desired result. Such a plan could, for instance, advance the concept of a Europeon political community involving an independent Commission, weighted voting in the Council of Ministers on such matters as the standardisation of minor armaments, the formation of a European Group in NATO—which has now been suggested by NATO itself, and has, I think, the approval of the Minister of Defence himself—an important advisory role for Parliament, and so on.
I assure your Lordships that an initiative on these lines would he received with enthusiasm by all concerned, save possibly the French; and even in France —even in the French Government—it might well have many supporters if it were suitably developed and put forward at least as a basis for discussion irrespective of the negotiations on the economic front. I repeat: it could be only within such a framework that the future of the respective nuclear forces of France and Britain could suitably be discussed. Although I have said that it would be folly to embark on such discussions without bringing in the Germans, there is no doubt that agreement on it might well be a precondition—this I will not dispute—to enlarging the Economic Community in any really practicable and workable way. Once formed, the new Political Community might eventually be disposed to denuclearise itself, depending upon the conditions when it was formed and perhaps as the result of some general scheme of disarmament. But at the outset it will find itself obviously in the position of being in the presence of the existing nuclear 142 forces of Britain and France, and the immediate problem therefore would be: what should be done about them?
As I see it, the Western Germans for their part do not want to take part in the manufacture of nuclear weapons—and they would be violating all their solemn engagements if they did. But they do want to be treated as equals in the formulation of policy and thus nuclear policy and nuclear strategy. If a European political community of some kind is ever formed—and that it should be formed in principle I hope and even believe is now the wish of the three major political Parties in this country—then it is only right that Western Germany should at least have her finger on the safety catch, which is a very different thing from having her finger on the trigger. For such time, that is, as there is from the point of view of high policy, a Western Germany which is not fully merged into some greater whole, which is the ultimate objective.
I would in conclusion only add—for I think it is relevant—that I have just returned from a tour of various Communist countries in Eastern Europe during which I addressed the local equivalents of Chatham House on a subject called "The World Organisation and the Regional Idea". This naturally involved speculation on the future of Europe and the various ways in which European unity might be constructed. I was much encouraged by the interest which this lecture apparently evoked and by the level of the participants in the ensuing discussions which, strange to say, were quite uninhibited. As a result of it, I am more persuaded than ever that we should resolutely pursue the construction of some pacific and democratic entity—in Western Europe, to start off with—and more especially that we should at least make some progress in this direction before listening to the siren voices in favour of immediate convocation of some Pan-European Security Conference which, if held now, would be just as likely to be successful as the recent Pan-Islamic Conference in Morocco—and that is saying a lot! That is, if we all managed to avoid making the most dangerous concessions to the Soviet Union. It all points to the desirability of getting some kind of basic agreement on a European political community soon—even if we have to wait a 143 few years before we actually become full members of the European Economic Community.
That is the way to work towards better relations with Eastern Europe following, no doubt, on a mutually agreed withdrawal of the forces of the super Powers; and that, in two words, is the basic thought that I wish once again to put forward for the consideration of Her Majesty's Government.
§ 4.6 p.m.
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE, FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH OFFICE ( LORD CHALFONT)
My Lords, if I may begin on a personal note, it is five years ago to-day that I took up my appointment as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and it is therefore a particularly agreeable task for me to-day to follow the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, on the Foreign Affairs and Defence day of our debate on the Address. I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said about the dangers of a tour d'horizon approach to a Foreign Affairs debate; but I think it will be of use to your Lordships, in spite of the two extremely valuable speches that have been made about European policy, if I try to paint a somewhat broader canvas of the Government's foreign policy, using the gracious Speech as the framework; and if I try to fill in some of the background that will, I hope, enable this afternoon's debate to widen a little and concentrate on some of the other major issues of foreign affairs, as well.
I hope it will be for the convenience of the House if I speak as briefly as the subject will allow, and with this in mind I propose to concentrate on foreign and commonwealth affairs, leaving my noble friend Lord Winterbottom, when he speaks later to-day, to deal with any specific matters on defence that may come up in the course of the debate.
I cannot, in the nature of things, be quite as brief as I should like; but your Lordships, if you think I am going on too long, may care to reflect on the performance of Lord Curzon at the end of the last century, when as Under Secretary at the Foreign Office, so we are told by Mr. Kenneth Rose in his new biography of Lord Curzon, he delivered 144 what he called a "conspectus" of foreign policy which lasted for one hour and twenty minutes—and every word of it was reported in the newspapers the next morning. I shall spare your Lordships such an excess of zeal. But in my view it is impossible rationally to consider the validity of a foreign policy without making some attempt first to analyse the kind of world into which we are now moving. This is the world that will be inherited by our children and by their children at the end of this century and the beginning of the next. It will be a world of bewildering complexity and of great and growing danger; but I think it will also be a world of great challenge to men of imagination and compassion.
There is not very much that we can be sure of—looking into the future is a very precarious undertaking—but there is one thing that seems to me to be clear: it is that we are likely to be living for some time in a world of super Powers. As far ahead as one can reasonably look, it seems likely that the United States and the Soviet Union, with their vast industrial, economic and military strength, will tend to dominate much of the world scene. And, of course, emerging on the other side of the world is a third Power, the People's Republic of China. It has a population now of something around 700 million, and by the end of the century it will be over 1,000 million, if present trends continue. In other words, about one of every five people in the world will be Chinese. The military strength of the country is already formidable and its potential in nuclear weapons is alarming. I think that there is no doubt in the mind of any close observer of international affairs that by the end of the century, and possibly much earlier, China has the capacity, if she wishes, to become a super Power and to inject a new and possibly dangerous element into the already precarious balance that exists between the United States and the Soviet Union.
The full implications of this for the rest of the world are far-reaching and not altogether reassuring, and I do not of course propose to examine them all this afternoon. I merely want to make one point about it that I think is essential to the whole conduct of Foreign Affairs and Defence policy. It is the danger that, unless we are very careful, all the 145 great decisions that will shape the world at the end of this century and the beginning of the next will be taken over our heads. I am not now speaking of any concept of national power in the 19-century sense, but there are great problems to be solved: problems of peace and war; problems of the arms race, particularly in nuclear, chemical and biological weapons; the galloping and irresponsible destruction of the human environment; the persistent and, to my mind, quite unnecessary confrontation between the countries of Eastern and Western Europe; and, of course, the greatest single problem of this century, the hungry and desperate third world of the underdeveloped countries beyond the boundaries of Europe and North America.
We have come to talk, in the jargon of the age, of the growing gulf between the industrial and the developing countries. This is an inescapable truth that we tend to couch in the sort of bland terms that conceal what we are really talking about: and what we are really talking about is the fact that hundreds and thousands of our fellow men and women, and children. are at this moment hungry and diseased and without hope, while we in the rich industrial countries complain about the inconveniences of a standard of life that must seem to them unimaginable in its richness, its comfort and its luxury. And if we, the rich countries of the world, are not moved to do something about this out of a sense of pity and compassion, perhaps we might at least take thought for the possibility that one day, quite soon, the poor and the hungry will take it into their heads to do something about it themselves.
But when we think of that let us not forget the growth of Chinese military power to which I have already referred. Let us not forget the growing friction and racial hatred. Let us not forget the ease with which new weapons of appalling destructive power can be produced, and let us not forget the whole explosion of technological invention which can do two things at the same time, and does; it allows us to improve the quality of our life every day and it allows the rest of the world, through the new techniques of communication, to hear it and to watch it happen.
146 These, my Lords, are the problems that I think we must solve, and I do not believe that the people of this country, with their history of civilised concern and compassion, will be content to sit back and see all the decisions taken in Moscow and in Washington and in Peking. So let us take a look at our own foreign policy as set out in the gracious Speech and see how it fits into this analysis of the world into which we are moving.
I think it is inevitable in this context that the first aspect of our foreign policy to be mentioned is our support for the United Nations. This is simply a reassertion of our belief that narrow nationalism is out-dated and out-worn and that internationalism is the proper path for this country, the path which seems most likely to lead to the civilised world order which we all want and need. I shall be touching in a moment on some of the issues whose solution must be found, or at least can best be found, through the United Nations—that is to say, on a multilateral and world-wide basis—and I shall be touching on other features of foreign policy which lead us to seek closer regional or even bilateral links. But here at the outset of the debate, as the 25th year of the United Nations opens, I think it right that we should again affirm the support of all Parties in this country for the purposes and principles of the United Nations and our readiness to work in and through the Organisation and its Specialised Agencies to help to achieve them.
My Lords, as I mentioned briefly a moment ago, and of the new areas of growing international concern, in the the United Nations and elsewhere, is this whole question of what is called the pollution of the environment. The implications of this for our well-being, physical and social, are, I think, too blindingly obvious to need much emphasis from me. There is much that can be done, and is being done, on a national basis about this poisoning of the atmosphere and the environment in which we live. Noble Lords will know that in the recent reorganisation of the Government my right honourable friend Mr. Crosland has been given general oversight of this problem within the Government. My noble friend Lord Kennet has recently been to the United States, to New 147 York and Washington, to discuss this problem over there, and I think it true that in many of its manifestations this problem of pollution of the environment can be understood and brought under control only by international co-operation.
The effects of the nuclear explosions on the atmosphere, the history of the "Torrey Canyon" affair, the poisoning of fish in the Rhine, the effects of insecticides on crops, the effect on mental and physical health of noise—all these are just examples of what is a tremendously challenging and complicated task that our experts and our diplomacy have to face. We are determined, as part of our foreign policy, to play a leading role in developing effective international action to deal with this threat to the quality of life in modern society, for I believe that the progressive destruction of our environment is one of the most persistent challenges that we are likely to face over the rest of this century, and if we are intelligent and energetic about this it will help to give Britain a new dimension to her involvement in the world.
My Lords, in its passage on the United Nations the gracious Speech went on to mention the Middle East, and this year one has to say that there has been a worsening of the already serious situation thee. This is of course worrying, not least because any acute crisis in the Middle East could, because of the involvement of the major Powers there, lead to a direct and dangerous confrontation between them. What we need, and need urgently, is a political settlement that will lead to a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. There is no prospect of peace without such a settlement, and in our view the only basis for such a settlement is the Security Council resolution of November, 1967. We have taken a leading part in the international efforts to find a settlement. We accepted the proposal that there should be talks among the permanent representatives on the Security Council: the United States, the Soviet Union, France and ourselves. In New York my noble friend Lord Cara-don has played an important role in these talks. I am sorry to have to say that so far the talks and all the other diplomatic efforts have made very little progress. but we hope that the Four Powers will soon 148 meet again and that shortly afterwards they may be able to provide some kind of guidance for the Secretary-General's special representative, Dr. Jarring, to help him in his important task of bringing about agreement between the parties.
§ LORD BARNBY
My Lords, before the noble Lord leaves that point, could he contribute any enlightenment on the progress and prospects of bringing the two sides together round the table?
§ LORD CHALFONT
My Lords, I think that that is part of the problem. I think that before it would be profitable to bring the two sides to the table it would be useful to have some kind of proposal endorsed by the four Great Powers and by the United Nations upon which they might base some kind of settlement. Our aim at the moment is to do just that. I think the noble Lord would agree that if the Four Powers could themselves produce an idea for a settlement, especially one in which the two super-Powers concerned could find some community of interest and some agreement, it would be easier for the two parties most directly concerned to come to some agreement and secure a lasting settlement.
My Lords, may I now move on to take a brief look at NATO and the Western Alliance? NATO—and again I quote the gracious Speech—is "the foundation of our security". One prerequisite, of course, of any foreign policy is that it must he conducted from within a safe and protected base. Until the threat of armed force is banished from international affairs, and that may be a long way away, military alliances are an indispensable part of the structure of world politics. It no longer makes sense for any nation, and particulary any European nation, to seek its safety in isolation. The potential dimensions and risks of modern warfare in the North Atlantic theatre are making isolated national strategies increasingly anachronistic. NATO provides the integrated framework within which the countries of Western Europe and of North America have, since 1949, been able jointly to protect themselves against aggression. The record speaks for itself. NATO has protected us for 20 years and there is every reason to suppose that it will continue to do so for so long as its member States are prepared to keep up its 149 defences. We will certainly continue to play our part.
But although we must rely to a very great extent upon the Western Alliance for our safety in an unsafe world, none of us can contemplate with equanimity the continued division across the centre of Europe. Nor can we look with much satisfaction on the burden of the military establishment, which shows no sign of diminishing nearly a quarter of a century after the end of a second world war. Political, military and economic factors are all woven in Europe into such a tight tissue that it is sometimes difficult to see the way forward. In this uncertain situation, the continuing dangers of which were illustrated little more than a year ago in Czechoslovakia, we certainly cannot afford, as I have said, to dismantle our defences.
But a resolute and united and strong alliance is not incompatible with the hope, which we have never abandoned, of eventually finding a way forward towards a just and lasting solution of Europe's problems. Indeed, I think that a strong and open-minded alliance is a more credible partner in negotiation than a conglomeration of individual nations, all speaking separately and often with contradictory voices. That is why détente, the relaxation of tension between East and West, as well as defence, is now a fundamental task of the North Atlantic Alliance and why it is so important that we should keep in step with our Allies along the difficult road of negotiation with the countries of the Warsaw Pact.
We have been on this road for some time and we have already made a certain amount of progress. Among other things, in August of this year, we, the Americans and the French proposed to the Russians that we should discuss the German and Berlin problems, for which the four of us still have responsibility, deriving from the end of the last war. Since spring the North Atlantic Council have been engaged in a comprehensive study of all the issues that may be the subject of negotiations and, of course, we have taken part in this work. The first stage is nearly complete and it is going to be discussed again when the North Atlantic Council meet in December.
The main Soviet effort for some time has been directed to the immediate convening of a conference on European 150 security, but I have to say that so far their proposals have lacked one indispensable element—the element of clarity. They have not suggested a precise agenda, but they do not appear in what they have said to contemplate any discussion of the problems of arms limitation or of a divided Germany, which surely any conference on European security must tackle, if it is to be worth the name and to be more than a platform for propaganda and platitudes. Indeed, some of the explanations we have had seem to imply that, far from discussing these basic issues, the participants at any conference would be expected to take for granted—and indeed endorse— the present unsatisfactory European and German status quo. That, of course, is a situation that we cannot accept.
I now understand that a meeting of representatives of the Warsaw Pact member countries is taking place in Prague to-day, with the aim of examining certain questions connected with the preparations for this proposed conference. We must all hope that they will come up with some constructive and practical ideas, which we have been asking them for sonic time to produce. It seems that we may at last have some response to our promptings. I am particularly glad that the timing of this meeting in Prague means that we can take their suggestions, if they make any, into account when we next meet with our allies in NATO to continue the work we have already been doing under it.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, before my noble friend leaves that matter, may I put this question? I apologise for interrupting—I do not like doing it—but this problem is so serious. In view of the fact that not merely the Scandinavian countries and Finland but also the new Government of Western Germany, and even America, are all very seriously considering this problem of a European security pact, will Her Majesty's Government seek to solve these difficulties with the Soviet Union which my noble friend has mentioned so that they may clear them up and prepare the way for such a conference?
§ LORD CHALFONT
Yes, my Lords, of course we shall make every effort we can to solve these problems. We should welcome the idea of a European security conference, if we thought that it would 151 lead to some lasting solution to the problem. We have said that there are certain things we want to be sure of. We should want to be certain that the conference was properly prepared. We should want it to examine the fundamental problems of European security and to know it was not merely an excuse for the preservation of the status quo. We should expect everybody concerned in European security—and this includes the United States and Canada—to be involved in such a conference right from the beginning. If the Soviet Union will come forward with some proposals about that, we will certainly examine them, and examine them sympathetically and constructively. I must confess that it seems to me, although I know that my noble friend will not necessarily agree with me here, that since they made their original proposal for a conference, the Soviet Union do not seem to be very anxious to get on with the preparations for it, but we are certainly ready and we have been making the preparations in NATO for some time. I do not think it is fair to lay the blame in this field either at our door or at the door of our Allies.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, would not the noble Lord agree with me in what I said, that it may be dangerous for us to agree to such a conference before there has been greater progress in the talks between the two super-Powers on the limitation of strategic armaments and also before there has been a little more progress in the direction of forming some pacific and democratic entity in Western Europe? And does he not think that one of the objects, of some people anyhow, of summoning this conference would be to drag a red herring over the trail of the possible enlargement of the European Economic Community?
§ LORD CHALFONT
My Lords, I can see that in this regard I am going to challenge Lord Curzon very closely indeed. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, that there are dangers in a European security conference that is not properly prepared. The dangers are to some extent those he has pointed out. I would only add that if a large number of European and other Powers were brought round the table in Helsinki or anywhere else and the conference broke down in disorder, that would do a great 152 deal more damage to European security than if a conference had never taken place at all.
May I now turn to the passage in the gracious Speech on the Government's European policy. This has already been dealt with more than adequately by the noble Lords, Lord Carrington and Lord Gladwyn. What they said underlines one thing: there is no difference among the three political Parties of this country about our approach to Europe and to the Common Market. The noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, made a closely argued and closely reasoned speech, with not all of which Her Majesty's Government would wish to go along, but it was an extremely valuable contribution to the whole debate about the political aspects of European unity. To a very great extent the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, made a speech that I wish I could hive made myself. If I may, I should like to congratulate him on putting forward the case for a Common Market and for European unity so eloquently and so cogently.
I should like, however, to enter one reservation—that is, that I am not sure that I go all the way with him on European defence, and particularly on what he said about the possible construction of a European nuclear deterrent, especially if he was thinking in terms that the deterrent was designed to operate independently of the main Western deterrent of the United States. But I think these two speeches underline the fact that the European policy of this country is multilateral, multipartisan, and there is no difference among the three political Parties. I hope that, whatever else may go out from this debate to-day, this will be the message that is taken in Europe, and especially among those who have begun to doubt our performance.
I believe that even those noble Lords who do not agree with the policy which all three Parties support will agree that, so far as the present Government are concerned, they have at least had two main characteristics: consistency and determination. I will not dwell now on the delays and difficulties which have prevented negotiations from beginning for the last two and a half years. Now, as the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, has said, the prospects for negotiations have improved, and we hope that they will 153 start without any further delay—as indeed the advice of the European Commission has recommended. The important point (and the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, made it, in terms upon which I should not attempt to improve) is that it is only in negotiations that we shall be able to see whether we get the right terms.
This is not to say, as the noble Lord agreed, that this Government, or any Government, should go into negotiations without proper preparation. Even before the decision to apply in 1967 we carried out the most thorough studies of the possible alternatives, some of which the noble Lord outlined this afternoon. At the time of our application the Government gave the fullest information about the consequences of British membership as we envisaged them, including calculations of the short-term economic effects, and we do not conceal the fact that they were then, and still are, bound in some sectors to have adverse effects. We are making some fresh calculations now and the fullest information will be given to Parliament in due course.
But, my Lords, I must emphasise one thing—and perhaps I shall be forgiven for doing so, because it has not yet really come out in the debate this afternoon. It is that, unlike figures and statistics related to the past—for example, the past performance of members of the European Community since 1958—any projections into the future must by their very nature be uncertain and to some extent unquantifiable. The new figures, when we make these public, will not be intended to be precise. This is not a question of fudging the issue; it is simply that it would be dishonest to pretend that precise calculations have been made, or could be made, when this is simply not possible. I come back to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and made over and over again by us on this side, that it is obviously vital that we should get the right terms in negotiations, and this is one of the unquantifiable factors.
I think that in looking at the broader issues (and both noble Lords opposite have done this to-day) posed by the question of the enlargement of the Communities—the future prosperity and influence of this country and of Europe—it would be quite wrong to concentrate on the need for safeguards in some forlorn attempt to preserve an existing situation when that 154 situation is in any event certain to change. I believe it is right that we should acknowledge the inevitability of this change. We should in fact take advantage of the change and of the opportunities when we see them coming. It is already clear, as has been said this afternoon, that sheer size is becoming important—the size of the industrial base for the new technology; the size of markets, the size of technology-based industries—and it is the opportunity for growth and prosperity that an enlarged Community can give us.
I do not want to repeat all that has been said about this, but I think it is essential to say—because it has been said on behalf of the other two Parties—that while Britain needs Europe for the future, Europe also needs Britain if Europe is going to exercise her full economic potential and influence. The same is true, as the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, said, in a political sphere. Unless the Europeans can get together and speak with one voice, their interests will be ignored in the settlement of all these issues about which I was talking earlier on this afternoon, many of which, we must remember, are more vital to us in this country, and to us in Europe, than they are to the super-Powers.
My Lords, I will say a few words, and necessarily only a few, on arms control and disarmament, to which, as your Lordships will know, the Government attach great importance as instruments of international peace and security. We still live under the shadow of the nuclear weapon, and if we are perhaps less continuously conscious of that shadow than we were five or ten years ago, it is possibly because our eyes have become accustomed to the half-light. We should remember that in any nuclear war between East and West it is not just the belligerents or their allies whose casualties will be numbered in tens or hundreds of millions: the survival of the whole human race would be at risk. This is no idle, highly coloured exaggeration. The control of the nuclear arms race, therefore, is obviously an urgent necessity, and I am sure your Lordships were as delighted as I was to hear the welcome news that preliminary talks between the Americans and Russians are to be held in Helsinki on November 17. We must all hope that this first meeting will lead on to detailed discussions about the limitation of strategic nuclear weapons, 155 and that these in turn will lead to an effective agreement.
However, as the American Secretary of State, Mr. Rogers, has made clear, these talks will not be easy. It would be a mistake, I think, for us to expect any rapid agreement on measures to limit the nuclear arms race, although I think the whole world will pray that the two super-Powers will be able to make some kind of progress in this field. I should like to assure the House that Her Majesty's Government are following this question with the closest possible attention. President Nixon has said that the United States intends to consult fully with her Allies on these talks, and this has just been reaffirmed by Mr. Rogers. We welcome the opportunity to consult in NATO with the United States on this matter, but we must realise that this is essentially something for the two super-Powers, and we have to admit that there is not a great deal we can do to influence the outcome.
But, of course, nuclear weapons are not the only weapons, or even the only weapons of mass destruction. The principal theatre for disarmament discussions is the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament in Geneva. In this Conference we can, and do, play an important part. We have directed attention to the need for further measures to deal with chemical and biological weapons. We have thought it right to deal with biological weapons separately from chemical weapons for a whole range of what we believe to be good reasons. We have also taken part in the formulation of a treaty restricting the deployment of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction on the seabed. a draft of which will go forward now to the United Nations for consideration in meetings of the General Assembly this autumn.
My Lords, I should have liked, for obvious reasons, to talk longer about this subject, but I must hurry on; and I wish to make two brief references to the remarks contained in the gracious Speech on Nigeria and Vietnam. Nigeria is a country with whose people we have many links. This is a tragic internal conflict among the peoples of Nigeria, and it is, of course, a problem over which we have no direct control. It is an African prob- 156 lem, and it is African statesmen and the Organisation of African Unity who, I think we must recognise, are most likely to help both sides to reach a settlement. We know that at the present time efforts are being made by African leaders to bring the two sides together. We are in close touch with them, and we are ready to help in any way we can. I hope, too, my Lords, that it will soon be possible to end the war in Vietnam. It is very disappointing that more progress has not been made in the negotiations in Paris. because we believe that it is there, between the parties concerned. that this settlement will eventually have to be worked out.
On the question of Rhodesia, your Lordships' House of course debated this issue at the end of the last Session, on October 21; and, putting the matter as delicately as possible, your Lordships expressed very differing views on the subject and about the policy of Her Majesty's Government towards the illegal régime. But even in that sometimes heated debate, most noble Lords made clear their abhorrence of the discriminatory measures against the majority of the population which are at present being put through the Legislature in Salisbury.
I should have liked to deal with other matters contained in the gracious Speech, but I have gone on longer than I intended to. I think, however, that there is one subject that I must mention before drawing to a close, and it is the subject of Libya. Noble Lords will have seen reports that the Libyan Government have asked for the withdrawal of our military installations there; and yesterday our Ambassador was handed a Note asking for negotiations to bring about the early withdrawal of our Forces from Libyan territory. As your Lordships know, those Forces are there under the terms of the 1953 Treaty of Alliance. But even before we had received this Libyan Note we had been giving a great deal of thought to the subject of our relationship with Libya, and we recalled our Ambassador, Mr. Donald Maitland, last week for consultation.
Our friendship with the Libyan people is longstanding, and we are, of course, anxious that it should continue. It may well be that we should think in terms of a new relationship altogether with Libya which takes account of the many changes 157 which have taken place between 1953 and now. It is against this background that we are studying the Libyan Government's communication. And we are, I can assure your Lordships, in close touch with the United States also on this problem.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord can answer this question. I was casually looking at the news (and there was not very much) this morning, and it appeared that we were being treated differently from the Americans on this matter. Could the noble Lord tell me why?
§ LORD CHALFONT
My Lords, I cannot even confirm at the moment that that is so. It is true that we have been handed a Note. The Americans, so far as we can ascertain, have not vet received a similar approach. Whether this is simply a matter of timing or communications, I do not know. We are in close touch with the United States Government, and when this matter is a little clearer than it is now perhaps I can give a little information to your Lordships' House.
My Lords, I have tried to cover this enormous canvas with as few strokes as I possibly can, and I am conscious that in doing so I have done less than justice to some of the great and pressing issues of foreign policy. But I hope we have set the scene for what I know will be a thoughtful and constructive debate. There is one thing I have been wanting to say for a long time and perhaps I may say it now—just a brief word about the Diplomatic Service. This long-suffering body of men and women are very often the silent target of a lot of ill-informed criticism. There is a saying in New York that if you are feeling lonely, start mixing a dry Martini, and a crowd of people who know how to do it better will at once begin to gather. I think that is very much the same as the making of foreign policy in this country. There does not seem to be a journalist, an industrialist, a scientist or a student who is not convinced that he can do it better than the professionals and who is not convinced that the Foreign Office is staffed entirely by incompetent bunglers.
The truth is of course something else altogether. I must confess that I sometimes find myself impatient when I find carefully constructed official advice going 158 against bright ideas for initiative and radical solutions, but I hope your Lordships will allow me to say—especially as this is the fifth anniversary of my appointment to the Foreign Office Ministry—that the intellectual stature, the professional skill and the devoted loyalty of the Diplomatic Service are something for which, in my experience, this country has a very great deal, and good reason, to be grateful.
I have tried to emphasise in these remarks, already too long, that Britain has a great role to play in the affairs of the world. It is not simply a matter of solving, or helping to solve, the appalling problems of the Middle East, of Nigeria and of Vietnam. It is not enough to sit in the conference rooms of Geneva and Brussels and New York, wrestling with the problems of arms control and disarmament or even of European integration. There is much more to it than that. We need a kind of vision of the world that we want our children to live in for the rest of this century and the beginning of the next. We all have a private vision, I imagine, and I suspect that for most of us it would be of a world in which the idea of war as an instrument of policy had been recognised for what it is, an outrageous aberration: a world in which the vast natural resources of the earth and the sea were shared justly among all peoples of the world, not monopolised by a fortunate few; a world in which racial intolerance and discrimination was universally despised and rejected, and in which peoples of widely different religions and races could live together, perhaps in competition but certainly not in fear and suspicion and mistrust.
It may sound to some of the more hard-headed realists among us a Utopian world; but in my view idealism is nothing to be ashamed of, and I believe this is a world that is not by any means beyond our grasp. Whatever the more articulate behaviourists may say, we are not naked apes. We are capable of imagination and compassion and of inventive genius; and a foreign policy without these qualities is not the foreign policy of a civilised country. I believe, my Lords, that ours is.
§ 4.47 p.m.
§ LORD GORE-BOOTH
My Lords, in rising to make my first intervention in your Lordships' House, I am conscious 159 of three elements of advice that I have been given unanimously: to ask your Lordships' indulgence, to be brief, and to be as non-controversial as possible. I have no difficulty whatever about the first. It happens that I have in my time given advice to very many past and present Members of your Lordships' House, including the three noble Lords who have spoken this afternoon. This experience has given me the greatest possible respect for your Lordships' House. I rely upon not only my observance of that respect, but also the kindness which your Lordships invariably extend to a new arrival.
Perhaps it will not be out of order for me, although this is a maiden speech, to make two somewhat personal remarks to the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, who has just spoken. In the first place, may I congratulate him on what I would describe as an exciting and distinguished lustrum—which I believe is the technical word for five years; and may I, in a totally non-partisan manner, wish him the greatest happiness and success for many future lustra. May I also, although again my position is a little equivocal, thank him very much indeed for what he said about the Diplomatic Service. It is not for me formally to accept this bouquet, but as a recently retired "incompetent bungler" may I say that not only will what he has said be received with gratitude by my old Service but that gratitude will certainly reflect itself in further performance.
As to brevity, it is a little difficult to be brief about the affairs of 130 countries individually and in groups. Perhaps my credentials for brevity had better be that there are a number of very important matters that I shall not refer to at all; notably Commonwealth relations, China and the Far East and the problems of Africa and aid, although everybody must have a passionate personal interest in the latter, and also our growing interest in Latin America.
On non-controversy, I would not propose to weary your Lordships, and to insult your Lordships, with a long speech in general terms on peace and trade. I shall probably say one or two things which not all your Lordships will agree with, but I promise to try to do this, if I enter into the debate at all, in an un- 160 provocative manner. Finally, before I come to the substance of my remarks, may I arrest any possible misunderstanding by saying that I shall be speaking for myself; and if subsequently I am asked by anybody the hypothetical question, "Is this what you would advise, or would have advised, in your previous capacity?" I shall respond with a prompt and resolute evasion.
My Lords, I thought I might allow myself to speak on four aspects of our external affairs—on two that are of immediate interest and in which we are active; namely, Europe and the Middle East, and then, if I may so call it, make a few "perspective" remarks on our relations with the super Powers, with the Soviet Union and the United States of America.
I will start with Europe, and there, of course, I shall not attempt in any way to rival or repeat the most compelling speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. Nor shall I try to go down the institutional road taken by the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn. I would simply reiterate what has already been said, that it is very gratifying indeed that the three political Parties should, in their different ways and with different emphasis, have reaffirmed the desire for this country to become once again a full member of a European Community. Of course, latterly there has been something of a flurry of opposition but it has seemed to me that the flurry arose from an extremely attractive refurbishing of arguments, valid or invalid, used in 1961 and again in 1967, and that the restatement of the case in favour still remains valid, or indeed is more valid than ever. It is so, to my mind, because as the super Powers become more super so does it become more imperatively important that the voice of Europe be heard.
I have two suggestions to make and they both concern the handling rather than the principle of our relations with Europe. One is directed to Her Majesty's Government and the other—and I hope not improperly—towards our friends across the Channel. My suggestion to Her Majesty's Government is this. The discussions and negotiations will have to be conducted with great steadiness and great sensitivity. In the past at times we have made the mistake of not correctly interpreting in advance what our friends 161 on the Continent would be able or willing to do in our support at any particular time, and mistaken diagnoses led to disappointment. I do not see any reason why we should make these mistakes in future, but it is important for the atmosphere and progress of negotiations that this mistake be not made.
To our friends across the Channel I should like to say this. Of course it is right that they should seek to work out their difficulties over agriculture, and that they should do this first. If, in this process, they could find a way of keeping quietly—without saying anything—in touch with, say, our Danish friends and ourselves, this would be both very wise and very helpful. But if, when the time comes for us all to be invited to Brussels, we are then presented with a document in which every comma is in place, every "i" dotted and every "t" crossed, this would not be negotiation. There is a convenient French proverb which covers this situation: "Il faut vouloir les conséquences de ce qu'on vent"—one must want the consequences of what one wants. We have been told frequently that we shall be welcome, but the welcome must be there and it must be seen to be there, and it must not be put away in indefinite cold storage when the time for negotiation comes. After all, we in this country have our interests, our self-respect and, as noble Lords have said, some bargaining power.
Perhaps I may now turn to the Middle East. As the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, said, things seem to grow gradually, or even not too gradually, worse and worse. Recent news from the Lebanon in particular seems to indicate an effort to deprive the Lebanon of a particularly useful position in this whole disastrous situation. It appears to be an effort to deprive the Lebanon of its position of something of a physical and political oasis in that part of the world. The Lebanese certainly have an Arab position in general in the present context, but the great hope that the Lebanon represents is the hope that it might some time be the spring-board for conciliation. If that were to disappear, there would be one asset less in trying to bring this terrible business to an end.
The Middle East is certainly an area of the world in which the British can still do something. This is not due any 162 more to physical power, nor is it due to what was never a very attractive idea, any notion of moral leadership. It really derives from our expertise and, to my mind, the positions of the four active permanent members of the Security Council in this matter. From the beginning of the present contest the Russians identified themselves totally with the Arab cause. This put them in a diplomatically rigid position and made them incredible as a conciliator from the point of view of the other side. The Americans were more careful, but even if they were more careful about this, none the less they are very much identified by the rest of the world, and particularly by the Arab world, with the Israel side, if only because of the great strength of the pro-Israel pressures in the United States of America.
The French, under their previous Head of State, were inclined to follow Russian policy with little local variants in favour of local French interests. This meant in fact that Four Power agreement, referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, was practically impossible. But it also meant that the British Government had a position of discomfort but of some flexibility—plumb in the middle of the argument. We had this position partly because we have obligations and interests on both sides, but partly because, as we all know, in this country there are groups of serious, influential people ranged on both sides of the argument. This position of ours is not comfortable for Her Majesty's Government hut at least it can enable us to do something, as it enabled us to pilot the 1967 resolution through the Security Council.
Of course, when one is in the middle one can very easily do something costly through a slight error of judgment. But let us not forget that it could be an error of judgment to do nothing at all. I think one is bound to conclude from this analysis that we must go on trying, and therefore I would hope that the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary would, in this context, not weary in welldoing.
Now may I come to our relations with the super Powers. Our relations with the Soviet Union are difficult and complicated. From about late 1966, as your Lordships are well aware, there was in Western Europe almost a headlong rush in the direction of détente, and of course 163 this instinct is entirely right. It really is ridiculous that Europe should be divided, 24 years after the end of World War II, by an arbitrary line from Szczecin in the North, going right through the middle of Berlin, round Czechoslovakia and down the Danube.
If I may polarise this problem a little by giving your Lordships in rather stark terms what that line means—as I say, I do not wish to do this provocatively, but let us be a little vivid about it—it means that if you come from a Western country, and you get a visa, your Government does not mind very much your going to Eastern Europe, or what you do there, within limits, and so you go and come. If you are in Eastern Europe and your Government does not wish you to go to the West, and you try, you may get shot. This is not just a difference of procedure; this is a deep difference of outlook. That is why many people at the beginning of 1968, when things began to move in Czechoslovakia, were very cautious about this whole question and very much concerned with what was going on in Czechoslovakia and its possible results. Well, we know them, and they have been described, I heard only recently in a broadcast, as "decisive". Yes, I suppose they are decisive. They are decisive as putting 1968 with 1848 and other dates as a melancholy date in the history of human freedom.
Again if I may somewhat polarise the argument, one has now a choice: one can applaud what the Czechoslovaks did under the leadership of Mr. Alexander Dubcek in the name of Communism or one can applaud what the Warsaw Pact countries under Soviet leadership did in the name of the restoration of Socialism (note the confusion in the words): one cannot applaud both.
Am I saying that there is therefore nothing to be done on détente? No, indeed not, but I am concerned simply to remind that the way to détente is not as smooth and not as short as many people two or three years ago were hoping. But there is much to be done. We must certainly go on with the cultural relationship, in which, incidentally, we have so much to give. We must certainly go on with the development of trade, always with an eye to our balance of payments problems. If we do get 164 some proposals for a European security treaty, as the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, was hoping, then may I put it this way: we must read over the slogans and manifestos that will come at the beginning and must take a really hard look at the small print, if there is small print, because that is what will be the important passage.
At the end of this somewhat sombre diagnosis, perhaps I may revert to the one piece of major good news which has already been mentioned in this debate; namely, the meeting between the Americans and the Russians in Helsinki. This meeting should certainly have occurred two or three years ago, but at least it is happening now. To my mind, the significance behind this meeting is that at last it has been recognised in these two countries that this ghastly progression of missiles, ballistic missiles, anti-ballistic missiles, anti-ballistic-missile missiles and so on, is not only humanly intolerable but—and this sometimes produces quicker action—is economically intolerable, in the sense that if it goes on it is going to divert such vast resources in both those vast countries that all the other things they ought to be doing for their own people and for other people cannot be done; and this has been realised to be intolerable. If I may say so, the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, while not being in these discussions, to which we have quite properly no right of access, none the less will be with people from the super Powers who are interested and to some extent involved. If there is any sign of flagging in these talks and he feels disposed to keep after his colleagues and nag at them, he may be outside but he will not be offside.
Now I turn to our relationship with the United States. This is a subject again of complexity, not so much between Governments as perhaps between public opinions. Perhaps I may start with Governments, and here again one has to start a quarter of a century back. What happened in World War II, to my mind, was that large numbers of people in and to do with government apparatus in the two countries learned infinitely more about each other's countries than we have ever known before. So the two countries' operations, while entirely different under the same democratic credo, became intelligible, and we were able to work together in a relaxed 165 manner even in situations where the subjects for discussion were crucial and tense. This habit of relaxed contact between the British Government and the American Administrations of whatever complexion is a relationship which President Nixon explicitly affirmed to be a special relationship. With the oncoming 1970s, I think it is important that we should neither over-rate nor under-rate the importance of that relationship. I also have a feeling that we ought not to write too many articles about it, or perhaps with due modesty to make too many speeches about it either.
While this has been happening something else has been happening, which is that we are less mixed up with each other in these two countries than we used to be. This is simply a physical fact of living in peace. I, in virtue of my profession. have spent a good deal of time living abroad and coming back home and getting a new feel of British public opinion. and I have been frankly disconcerted and even occasionally shamed at the habit we seem to have got into in this country of reacting to too many things American with a sneer or a jeer. Of course, we greet the United States with a cheer when they do something really outstanding, especially at the safe distance of the moon. But we present too often publicly—not in your Lordships' House, but publicly—too exposed a chip on our shoulder.
There are reasons for this. As our power in the world has diminished and American power has increased, it is understandable that we should not always like the American style of exercising power and influence and we conclude that our style would have been better. Then there are other difficulties and there are even confusing complications, like the appearance of a baffling phenomenon, the anti-American—I do not mean anti-Nixon but anti-American—American. Also—and let us not be naĩe about this—there are people in the world who are working all the time determinedly to ensure discord between the two peoples. I think we ought to think rather hard on the past and the present and the future when we are thinking about things American. As regards the past, which is not a decisive argument, we should not have been on the winning side in two world wars had it not been for American 166 power and resources—and I have phrased that rather carefully. Europe would not have recovered nearly so quickly after the Second World War had it not been for American resources. And now if it were not for American power and resources the prospect of government with the consent of the people, expressed freely at regular intervals, might not look too good all round the world.
It is pleasant to be able to record at this point that the agency which has followed along this line of thinking consistently has been Her Majesty's successive Governments, who have always kept their eye on the fundamentals and on British interests, even in times of great emotional stress the other way. Not only that, but since the time when Mr. Attlee and Mr. Bevin decided, and decided so rightly, that the right thing to do was to recognise the Peking Communist Government as the effective Government of the mainland of China, we have made it clear that we are going to differ in word and deed when we wish to do so.
There is no question of following American policy, but there is a great deal of consultation; and if there is difference of opinion it is a difference of judgment between friends and not a hostility or a grudging remoteness. One does not ask that this country should be "pro-American". The Americans have to make their own case. But what one is expressing—and I hope I have not been improper in doing so—is the hope that we apply to the United States, particularly in the moment when they are suffering great doubts and difficulties about their own situation and progress, that frankness and fairness and generosity which we believe to be characteristic of our people. I think Shakespeare has the word for it, as so often:… nothing extenuate,Nor set down aught in maliceBut do not let us stop at the wordextenuate".My Lords, may I conclude this inconclusive analysis, in which I have tried to help with thought on two concrete problems and two very much background problems, with a sobering word on ourselves. The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont. gave us an exciting vision of the thing, that we are going to have to try to do Certainly we have the political and 167 administrative experience, the scientific, economic and industrial skill, and the mental originality to play an important part both in the peace-keeping of the world and in its economic and social development. But we had better realise that the world outside is not yet convinced that post-Imperial Britain is going to take itself seriously as an undertaking with a world role to play in its new dimensions. We can bring conviction to the world that we intend to be serious, but that conviction will depend on our national will and our national performance. I am sure we can do it.
§ 5.13 p.m.
§ BARONESS ELLIOT OF HARWOOD
My Lords, I am sure it would be your Lordships' wish that I should congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, most sincerely on his quite fascinating and brilliant maiden speech. He comes to us following a most distinguished career in the Foreign Office and the Commonwealth Office, and also as the Head of the British Information Services in the United States for, I think, four years. He also has great experience of India, where he did work of the utmost importance. I am sure I am right in saying that no Head of either the Commonwealth or the Foreign Offices was more popular than he. To-day, he has completely justified the words of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, about the most distinguished people who are our diplomats throughout the whole Diplomatic Service. Certainly I believe that no one could have made a more fascinating and interesting speech than that which we have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, this afternoon.
But he has two other qualifications for coming to this House, which I have discovered because I was kindly briefed by someone before his speech to-day. The noble Lord has been President of the Sherlock Holmes Society. This must have struck a chord of affection and interest in many of your Lordships' minds. He also enjoys that which must be quite original in this House, anyway among the many clubs to which many of your Lordships belong: he belongs to one called "The Baker Street Irregulars". Surely this must put him in a class quite apart from any of us here in this House. 168 Let us hope that we shall hear him many times on the subjects on which he is a great expert. I should like to hear him, too, on subjects on which perhaps he may be an expert, though the fact has not appeared in his career so far, because I am sure that no one could have been more interesting than he in the speech he made to us to-day.
My Lords, this debate is of great interest, but I want to deal with just two subjects which appear in the gracious Speech. The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, said that he supported wholeheartedly—indeed, it is remarked in the gracious Speech—the importance of the NATO Alliance and what it means for the West in the way of security. I have just returned from a conference of the North Atlantic Assembly held in Brussels two weeks ago. I should like to say a few words about this as it is most pertinent to a debate on the subject of Defence and Foreign Affairs. In Brussels we had delegates from 14 out of the 15 NATO countries, and all were members of their respective Parliaments, either Upper House or Lower House. This Assembly, which in earlier years was known as the NATO Parliamentarians' Conference, is a remarkable gathering of politicians linked by their membership of NATO, determined to study defence and disarmament but able to discuss international relations on a wide front.
This is the only organisation meeting on European soil which brings to Europe representatives from the North American continent. Neither the Council of Europe, nor the W.E.U., nor the O.E.C.D. bring Senators and Congressmen from the United States and Canada to take part in discussions on European affairs. I believe this to be a matter of the greatest importance. It is no exaggeration to say that the defence of the Western Free World depends on the enormous contribution that the American forces make in the Alliance. The noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, has just spoken about this. If, through a change of policy, the United States Administration were to pull out of the Alliance, the Alliance would lose a great part of its value.
There would still be the co-operation of the other 14 nations. That in itself is most remarkable, when one looks back over our lifetime to the wars we have fought. The fact that one can see and 169 take part in an Assembly in which politicians from Germany, France, Belgium, Holland, all the Scandinavian countries, Italy, Turkey, the United States and Canada and, before the breakdown of democracy there, Greece, all discussing together round a table the defence of the Free World gives one hope for the future. The defection of Greece, the country where democracy was invented, is sad, but let us hope that wise people will persuade the colonels that in the interests of their country vis-à-vis the other nations the restoration of democratic Government is essential. But except for Greece, the 14 nations discussed many subjects in which all our interests are involved: East/West relations; military matters, including the need to pursue disarmament as much as the need to have all our forces integrated under General Goodpastor, the American General, and the other NATO commanders.
Politically, there was a feeling that the advent of a new Chancellor and Government in Germany gave us opportunities to try to resolve some of the East-West problems, which will again appear; and we may have an opportunity of a new approach and a new policy. Although the French Government still carries on the same policy towards NATO as did de Gaulle and his Government, some of the French delegates who are not Gaullists there were anxious to encourage the new Government to cooperate in the Council and be fully aware of the Council's policies. I need hardly say that the fate of Czechoslovakia was ever present in everyone's mind, and the need to preserve the peace in areas under the Alliance brought all the politicians from all those countries very closely together.
In the Cultural Affairs and Education Committee, of which I was a member, we had a report of the first successful seminar at the College of Europe in Bruges for the discussion of administration between civil servants from ten NATO countries, learning together something of the importance of understanding each other's civil administration. As we all know, we have made many studies of military integration, which is very important indeed, but this is the first time that a study by civil servants of civil co-operation between the countries has taken place. Thanks to a grant from the Ford 170 Foundation and a small grant from NATO, this first conference took place. It seemed to me to be breaking new ground; and hearing the report, which I did, of what took place there in the space of a fortnight—and it was the first experiment that had been tried in this—I felt something of importance was being started. I hope that our Government will give encouragement to this effort, because I believe that it might be of great value in the formation and working out of policies among our NATO friends.
We also took the opportunity of discussing with some young workers and students the problems of student unrest. This problem is world-wide, as we know, and interesting papers were brought before us for us to study. I felt very strongly that one of the things shown by this discussion between these very distinguished senators, congressmen and Parliamentarians from all these countries, talking to these young men of many nationalities about their problems, was that, first of all, they were of an age at which for them NATO had always existed. There was nothing new about it; it was just another alliance among many other alliances that they had always accepted. They did not realise, as we more aged Parliamentarians realise, that what the NATO Alliance really represents in the world to-day is the greatest step of any that has been taken in the last twenty years. I also felt that there was a lack of understanding in the young of the policies that we were trying to pursue. There was a failure of communication with the age group with whom we were talking, or who were talking to us—because we allowed them free range to talk to us—and the lines of communication were really not good. I will not say they were blocked; they were not; but they were not good and we were not speaking the same language as they were speaking. It seemed to me most important that we should, somehow or other, try to bring the young people of Europe to an understanding of the importance of the NATO Alliance in any way that we possibly can.
This leads me to ask the Government whether they will urge the recognition of the North Atlantic Assembly as an official body like the Council of Europe or W.E.U., able to speak to the NATO Council and give their recommendations 171 for discussion and advice. To-day the North Atlantic Assembly is 15 years old, and it is still an unofficial body. If it became an official body it would strengthen the Alliance through the Parliamentarians as well as through the military men. I would urge the Government to examine this possibility, as I think it would not require a very great alteration in the view they take of the North Atlantic Assembly.
My other comment on the gracious Speech must be on the United Nations and our policies there. I should like to congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, and to thank her very much indeed for her splendid work in New York. It is an extremely interesting assignment to be a delegate, as I myself know, having been for three years a delegate at three General Assemblies. It is also extremely frustrating and, at times, irritating to a great degree. Year after year the same resolutions appear, and one would often think, looking at the agenda papers, that nothing ever changed. Nevertheless, it does; and things are done. And although often one gets despairing about the United Nations it is the one and only place where people can talk and discuss, and where things do happen very often, and very often of great importance.
There is only one subject that I want to mention to-day, and that is the Middle East and the Israel-Arab problem. The noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, has just made a very wise analysis of the position of the Four Powers in the Security Council, and the question of the Israel and Arab problem. I should like just to add my own thoughts on this matter. Israel is a State recognised by the United Nations and by nearly all the nations, with, of course, the exception of the Arab States. I believe that even some of these would be prepared to accept the fact of Israel, given the help of European nations and the United States. By "help" I do not mean military help; I mean by world opinion simply stating the obvious, that Israel is there and will remain there for all time.
Israel has said that negotiations with Arab States would enable both sides to talk peace, instead of carrying on war, whether guerrilla war or otherwise. I should like to ask: Cannot our Govern- 172 ment use all their influence direct to bring about a meeting between Israel and the Arabs? Instead, they support resolutions on this question which are sometimes tolerable, and sometimes intolerable. The other day at the United Nations a resolution was put forward accusing the Israelis of responsibility for burning down the mosque of A1 Aksa. There is no evidence at all that any Israeli would have been so foolish as to burn down any mosque. When I was in Israel after the Six-Day War I visited many mosques, one in Hebron, on a day reserved for Moslems, and the Israeli guard would not allow me to go and see it without the permission of the Moslem in charge on that day. One of the interesting results of the Israeli administration is the way in which all the Holy Places, whether Moslem, Christian, or Jewish, are carefully looked after and freely accessible to those who want to visit them. Surely in the interests of peace our delegate at the United Nations should have abstained in a vote which, at its simplest, is a case which we would consider sub judice, since the trial of a person is taking place at the moment and the question of who committed this tragic act is unknown. In my opinion, it is most unlikely that it would have had anything to do with the Israeli Government. For us to vote for so biased a resolution is, in my opinion, wrong, and I must say so here.
Foreign affairs are never static; changes come every day. I think that to-day we have the opportunity of a new Government in Germany, and a comparatively new Government in France. I have hopes that their policies may lead to a détente in East/West relations, and also to a change in the policies towards us in relation to the E.E.C. I also hope—and I am encouraged by what I have heard in this debate—that a new look may come into Europe, and that we shall not lose the opportunity of seeing that that new look leads us in further steps towards world peace.
§ 5.31 p.m.
§ LORD TREVELYAN
My Lords, I feel sure that you would wish me to add my warmest congratulations to those of the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, to my old colleague the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Both, on his wise and stimulating first contribution to your 173 Lordships' debates. I knew before of many of his qualities, but I had not known that one of them is eloquence—an eloquence to which I do not myself aspire. I feel sure that, after his great experience in both hemispheres and in the corridors of power, advising and guiding Ministers, he will be able to give wise counsel to your Lordships on many occasions on both Foreign and Home Affairs. It is not for me to offer a major contribution to the debate to-day. There are many speakers on the list and I shall not detain your Lordships long. I wish only to offer a few observations on points arising from the gracious Speech.
We are all thinking about Europe today and, in general, we are all in agreement. I shall certainly not try to echo the brilliant and wholly convincing exposition of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, nor shall I emulate the prophetic flights of the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, but there are some general points which I think might be emphasised. We are not, as is sometimes loosely said, seeking to go into Europe. We are in the European house seeking somewhat uncertainly to go into the room marked "E.E.C.". But whether we go into that room or not—and I hope we do—we are Europeans. I am not of the school which would sit back and wait for the blinding light of supra-nationalism to hit us all on the road to Damascus. It is not yet certain that we are on that road at all. But I suggest that there are many matters on which, in this intermediate period, we should be thinking as Europeans and improving our existing consultations and collaboration with other Europeans.
NATO, of course, will continue to take care of European defence. We shall have to increase technical collaboration where it is needed. Then, again, while we want to be generous to the developing world within our means, we should surely be able to harmonise European practice on export subsidies, credits and mixed credit and aid. Competition should be a matter only of price and quality, but the old European co-operation of the Berne Convention seems to have flown out of the window.
On the political side, we have to build a common foreign policy on issues on which our interests are common, using the embryo political organisations which 174 we have and developing them where we can. There was little chance of this while the General was pursuing his solitary way, which did not lead anywhere very much. If your Lordships will forgive the phrase, one Soames did not make a summer. We cannot expect attitudes to change very quickly, but it is obvious common sense that Europeans, including ourselves, should work out a common line on matters affecting Europe as a whole. The Scandinavians are a good example of what can be achieved in that way.
A distinguished American has recently told us that, in view of the supremacy of the nuclear balance maintained by the super-Powers, Europe can now have no foreign policy and perhaps does not want one, having withdrawn from the major politics of other continents. I do not agree. This ignores the growing interdependence of the world and the liberty of manoeuvre of medium Powers under the nuclear umbrella. We do not want a foreign policy not backed by enough force, but we need not depreciate ourselves excessively; nor is there any reason for Europe to opt out of a real share in shaping the kind of world in which we are going to live.
This brings me to the point in the gracious Speech that, with our security based on NATO and the American alliance, we have to try to build a better understanding between East and West. That means, in practical terms, that with the United States and Canada, who must take a major part, we Europeans have to try to reach agreement with the Russians on a new security system for Europe, on the foundation of an American-Soviet understanding on nuclear weapons. It needs progress towards a settlement on Germany and careful preparation and, above all, a growth of confidence. It will not be easy.
As a basis for such a system, provided that the balance of power is right, we can have no quarrel with the principles recently proclaimed by Mr. Gromyko in New York, and I think it is worth quoting him. He said in his appeal to all nations:To follow strictly in their international relations the principles of peaceful co-existence between States, irrespective of their social systems, the principles of the sovereignty, equality and territorial integrity of each State, non-interference in internal affairs and respect for the right of all peoples to choose freely 175 their own social system. To settle all disputes between them exclusively by peaceful means, without using or threatening to use force.These are admirable sentiments. All we ask is that the Soviet Government should practise what they preach. They are entitled to ask the same of us. Then perhaps we shall be able to build the confidence necessary for a security system which will mean something.
I hope that in our dealings with the Soviet Union we shall be cautious and never emotional. If we assess Soviet policy correctly, we should not be surprised by any new turn in it. We should neither be deluded by an expectation that détente is just around the corner to be had for the asking, nor put off balance when Soviet actions seem to put the clock back. Our relations with the Soviet Union will continue to resemble the British weather—anti-cyclones spreading a welcome but sometimes deceptive sunshine, alternating with deep depressions bringing storms which will do some damage but which will clear up in due course. We must steadily pursue our interests through these changes in weather, and ensure by close and continual consultations that we and our European friends take a common line.
A better understanding between East and West requires the broadening of contacts at all levels between the Eastern and Western European peoples. I hope that the Anglo-Soviet Committee, charged with reviewing Anglo-Soviet contacts, of which I act as chairman of the British side and of which the other British members are men distinguished in the life of this country, after setbacks due to inclement political weather, will soon be able to contribute in some measure to this end.
The Government have promised to pursue their work through the United Nations for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. A good deal has been said about that already and nothing very much more need now be said. Of the deliberations in Washington and New York, all we hear is of endless Soviet-American discussions which we can only presume have not ended in agreement. This is a very serious problem which will not be solved without firm leadership from the outside. We should not leave the initiative solely to the American and Soviet Governments. I trust that we and 176 the French will evolve a common line, though it seems a little doubtful from what the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, has said, and will be able to take a major part in the Four-Power talks when they are resumed in New York.
There is one matter which was not mentioned in the gracious Speech which is of continuing concern to us, and to which I should like to refer; that is, the situation in the Gulf. There is only one point which I think needs to be made. Whatever we may think of the decision to withdraw from the Gulf by the end of 1971—and we do not all agree with the tactics adopted—it is illusory to suppose that a reversal of that decision would restore the position existing before it was made, or that it would be politically possible for the Arab Rulers, or anyone else in the area, to ask us to stay. We have to accept the present position and try to help these little States to continue to exist in peace without interference from outside after we have withdrawn.
We have been given by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, very interesting information about the present position in Libya. That is a very delicate situation, and I do not think there is anything that one ought to say about it, except that, from my own experience of similar situations in the past, I would say that the line which the noble Lord is taking is absolutely correct.
§ 5.39 p.m.
§ LORD RITCHIE-CALDER
My Lords, I want to follow the two previous speakers in congratulating the noble Lord. Lord Gore-Booth, on his maiden speech. It was extremely illuminating, and we hope to hear from him frequently again, as I am sure we shall. I want also to make my apologies if I have to leave my place before the end of the proceedings. I have to be at a public meeting and I hope that everyone who follows will forgive me.
I am going to deal with one aspect of the gracious Speech, where it says:My Government reaffirm their support for the efforts to ensure peace and to assist the advancement of the less developed countries.I wish to follow my noble friend Lord Chalfont in his appeal, and in his reminder, about the hungry and desperate third world. I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, for his suggestion of the new dimensions—and, 177 if I may say so, dimensions in imagination as well as in policy—and I want to speak also to the new dimension of the problem of the gulf between the advanced and the developing countries. I would only say this: that I think that I am entitled, by my record in this matter, to some right of criticism, even when it is of my own Party and my own Government. As a Party we have held strongly—and so far as I am concerned consistently—to the need to help the world's poor and, indeed, to look constructively at the problems (which are not just questions of poverty but a great deal more if we are to have a stable world) in terms of helping in the development of the world.
Sometimes, when I want to reassure myself and find new conscience, if you like, inspiration and, indeed, substance, I go back to a book which was written in 1953 called, War on World Poverty. The author was Harold Wilson, who is now my right honourable friend the Prime Minister. I derive a great deal of comfort from that book, and I sometimes feel that perhaps we should quote it a little more frequently. We have, in its latter manifestations— because everything which has developed in the last twenty years has emphasised the problems which he spelt out very clearly—the answers which, by and large, he spelt out. Circumstances have changed; nations have multiplied. But the things he was considering then are still the relevancies of to-day.
These have now been spelt out again in the report by the right honourable Lester Pearson, former Prime Minister of Canada, and the Commissioners, including Sir Edward Boyle from this country, who studied international development; and this report has now been published under the title, Partners in Development. This is, in fact, as it were, a stocktaking of what has and what has not been done over the past twenty years. Anyone who has worked in this field knows the extent of the disillusionment, and to some extent the disenchantment, at the progress which has been made. It is known to all those who have worked for, helped, struggled and striven, through the United Nations and its Agencies, to bring some substance to what in fact are—yes—the noble sentiments expressed on so many 178 occasions about compassion, about helping the poor and so on. I think that what has been lacking, and manifestly lacking, is not compassion—and I have never believed that there was any shortage of knowledge to deal with this problem; I have never doubted that in the ordinary people there was all the compassion necessary to do it—but the will to do it. There is no shortage of knowledge. I would say that to-day, so far as the scientific and technical requirements are concerned, we have all the knowledge necessary to solve the material problems of the third world.
Here I would emphasise and underscore Lord Chalfont's reminder about the threat of the third world. It is not the threat of mounting arms, except in the proliferation sense of multiplying Governments and defence policies. It is the threat, which is not going to be confined to the peoples of the third world, of the growing discontent and the manifest resentment at the failure to carry out the boasts—and I use the word advisedly—of the advanced countries. As I have said in this House before, no one in the world is not aware of change. To that extent, communications are absolute; everybody is aware of change. Therefore, if you insist on boasting about putting two men on the moon at the cost of £10,000 million; if you say that you have all the wonderful resources, all the gadgetry, all the great achievements and a high standard of life (which is so, whatever one may say about the cost of living; we talk about two different things when we talk about the cost of living and the standard of life), that is known throughout the world. It is known; and the failure of those who can deploy these resources to fulfil the promises made—and they were promises spelt out quite clearly—is one of the great disturbing factors in the world to-day; and these disturbing factors are in fact part, I insist, of the great sense of unease, protest and everything else among the younger generation to-day. I keep on saying that the younger generation is more sensitive and more realistic about these problems than those of us who are trying, in our wisdom if you like, to sit down and solve them. The attitudes are there, they are genuine and they are complete; and the non-fulfilment of those promises is part of the disaffection of the younger generation everywhere. 179 I hope that as we go ahead in the terms of the gracious Speech we shall remember some of the factors of this situation. I have a great admiration and a great regard for the new Minister for Overseas Development, my right honourable friend Judith Hart; and I hope she will forgive me if I remind her of what her predecessor, the right honourable Reg Prentice, had to say. Any sensible Minister, including noble Lords on the Front Bench of your Lordships' House, ought to appreciate, and I am sure do appreciate, being criticised for not doing the things they want to do. If, implicit in this, is a criticism of the Ministry of Overseas Development, I do not intend it as such, but I would just remind your Lordships of what the previous Minister had to say:About two-thirds of our current programme of just over £200 million a year is spent in Britain,"—that is, of the £200 million a year which is ascribed to foreign aid, two-thirds is spent in Britain—so that the foreign exchange cost is only about £70 million"—and even that is not a realistic figure.Meanwhile, we receive back about £60 million in the repayment of old aid loans".I emphasise the words "old aid", because, in fact, this Government have very sensibly converted it to grants in aid or to interest-free loans. Otherwise—and this is the point I am making—we are, as I have called it, feeding the tape worm. If you have become dependent upon aid and you borrow, you have created the tape worm of repayment of debt charges; you borrow to repay the interest and the debt charges. If you do not, you do not develop; you do not get development support. Therefore the only thing we can do is to get rid of the tape worm, and Her Majesty's Government have at least given a lead there.
I go on with what my right honourable friend said:Taking account of the export orders we receive as an indirect result of aid projects … and the orders we get from other countries' aid programmes, the long-term effect is helpful to our balance of payments. At present we provide about 7½ per cent. of the global flow of aid, but get nearly 12 per cent. of the orders for goods imported by the developing countries from the developed ones".I would remind your Lordships that even in the terms of something like the 180 United Nations Children's Fund we in fact get twice or one-and-a-half times the amount back; we get more back than we give to the Children's Aid Fund. That is to say, we are actually making a profit, in effect, out of the Children's Aid Fund. And we can say that about every form of aid that we organise. Therefore I should like to emphasise that if we are looking at aid, for goodness' sake! do not look upon it as a penny in the blind man's tin. It is not; it is our investment in the future—and not only in the wellbeing of the people of the countries themselves, but an investment in our own industrial future and security future. So let us be clear about that when we are talking about aid.
"Aid" is an unfortunate word; it has misled us into many traps and treacheries. That is to say, we are really thinking that what we are doing in the way of allocating x amount of money is somehow changing the circumstances, or that we are acquiring merit by doing it. But all this money business does not interest me in the least; I go around looking for the people who are to do the job. If we do not have the people, then, whatever the amount of money in the cash book, it does not mean a thing. Indeed, I would repeat what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth: let us have a new dimension in our thinking. We have been through the compassion stage—I am all for compassion; I practically live by it—but let us look at the next twenty or thirty years in which as a people, as a nation, we shall have an opportunity to re-establish by our imagination, by our greatness of purpose, our status as a leader in the world—which is what everyone here wants to see.
§ 5.52 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF GLASGOW
My Lords, like my noble friend, Lord Ritchie-Calder, I must apologise to your Lordships if I have to leave my place before the end of the debate. Like him, too, I should like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, on his admirable maiden speech. It is difficult to speak to the gracious Speech on the subject of defence, because this vital matter was barely mentioned. I was also sorry that no word of encouragement to or appreciation of the Armed Forces found its way into the gracious Speech. Our Armed Forces were 181 not idle during the period of the last Session. But in default of that word of encouragement, and with the indulgence of your Lordships, I should like to review very briefly the role of the Royal Navy, as I see it, on the threshold of the 1970s, and in particular the support that the Royal Navy can give to our foreign policy.
It is under a year since the Royal Navy took over from the R.A.F. the operation and control of our nuclear deterrent. In the event of a threat of nuclear war the role of our Polaris submarines is clear; the role of the rest of the Navy is perhaps not so clear. But one thing that is quite obvious is that every ship that can steam will have to be sailed from harbour instantly. In the middle 'fifties we used to talk about the "humped-back war". That was a phrase used to describe the situation which would obtain in Europe after the nuclear exchange had taken place. It was felt then, and probably is felt still, that the main task of the Navy and the Merchant Service should be to concentrate on the succour of the few survivors of such a world disaster. So it would probably be, and the plans no doubt exist; but I sincerely hope that that is the most unlikely eventuality to which our Armed Forces will be required to apply themselves.
In a limited war, such as the confrontation between Malaya and Indonesia, the Royal Navy still has a very important part to play. But I am concerned about the future. When the carriers are phased out in a few years' time and we have still not got an efficient surface-to-surface missile, the Navy are going to be at a grave disadvantage. Weapons and weaponry will, I understand, be the subject of debate later on this year, so I will not labour the point to-day, but I hope it will be remembered that it is extremely important.
At this moment in history the fashion seems to be to use navies in support of foreign policy—not in the old aggressive gunboat sense, but as a visible friendly presence in areas in which we have particular diplomatic or commercial interests. Any of your Lordships who have served in the Foreign Service or who have worked for British commercial enterprises abroad will, I am sure, bear witness to the value of a timely visit of a naval squadron or even of a single ship to the 182 area. I myself prefer visits of squadrons, because this enables training to continue both at sea and in harbour between visits. Now that it is the Government's policy to withdraw our troops from East of Suez and to give away or close down bases and military headquarters abroad, it becomes all the more important that a naval presence should remain. I ask the Government to resist the temptation to concentrate what remains of our Fleet wholly in European waters. Defence of the trade routes is as vital to-day as it has ever been. It is right and proper that the White Ensign should be seen not only in European waters but in the South Atlantic, in the Indian Ocean, in the Persian Gulf and even in the Pacific.
I fear that the opponents of this policy would claim that we have insufficient ships to meet this requirement; but I believe that even now—and even more so when our ships have been recalled from the Far East—it would be possible, with careful planning, to keep at least two squadrons moving around the world, exercising with friendly navies, visiting foreign ports and paying handsome dividends in goodwill and the support of our interests. In the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean the Russians, with their new-found interest in sea power, have set the pace. Let us go and do likewise, and with the accumulated experience of our ancient sea heritage do it a great deal better. In times of comparative peace the Royal Navy is perhaps the greatest asset that this country possesses. For God's sake! let us see to it that the Fleet is not sacrificed on the altar of supplementary benefits and that it is sustained and used to the utmost advantage in furthering the policies to which this country is committed.
§ 5.57 p.m.
§ LORD ST. HELENS
My Lords, I should like to join with those other noble Lords in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, on his excellent and admirable maiden speech. I see that he is not at this moment in his place, but I do so in the vague hope that one day he may be able to read it in Hansard, when it is published.
I propose to follow my noble friend Lord Glasgow in talking about defence, although very little was said about defence in the gracious Speech. But I do so for 183 two reasons: first, because I am personally extremely worried about the defence of this country, and secondly because I happen to be one of the British delegates to the Western European Union Defence Committee; and I should like to speak as such. I dare say that some of your Lordships may have read in yesterday's Daily Express of the Harris Poll. Most of us took more interest in the political items, in the fortunes of the Parties that were predicted in to-day's by-elections; but there was a very small paragraph at the bottom in which people were asked to place in the order of priority those policies which they thought were most important to them and their country. Defence, I am sorry to say, took eighth place in the list—and I think there were only ten subjects listed.
The trouble is that people will not or cannot comprehend the threat that may loom to the country and to the Western World. As my noble Leader, Lord Carrington, said, there is already a lessening of the credibility of the nuclear weapon. Really! When one comes to think, it is extraordinary that not so many years ago the Americans possessed absolute superiority in the nuclear field, and that, as well as NATO, is one of the reasons why we have had peace since the end of the Second World War.
Another threat alongside the credibility is the immense increase in the Russian conventional armed forces. I would quote, for instance, the tremendous growth in Russian sea power. I feel that to-day the younger generation is in the same position that my generation was in during the 1930s, when we listened without heeding to the thunderous warnings of Sir Winston Churchill. Because we listened without heeding, what disaster followed! I hope that the people of this country will take rather more interest in defence than they do at the moment. The only way to make people take an interest in defence is to have better public relations, and to-day we have a medium of communication which is much better than that which existed in the 1930s. Wireless is much better, and it has many more channels; and, of course, we have television. I believe that the Government of this country, and also the forces controlling NATO, should make infinitely more use of wireless and television to 184 get across to the people of this country their public relations messages about the need for defence.
My Lords, I should like first to speak about domestic defence, the defence of the British Isles, and to quote to your Lordships from a book issued under the auspices of the Royal United Service Institution. It is called Britain's Reserve Forces and was written by Charles Douglas-Home. On page 9 he quotes the numbers of the standing regular armies of various countries and also their reserves. I will quote those of four countries which have roughly similar populations. Italy has an Army of 245,000 and a reserve of 565,000. France has an Army of 328,000 and a reserve of 470,000. West Germany has an Army of 316,000 and a reserve of 448,000. The United Kingdom has an Army of 175,000 and a reserve of 96,000.
We have debated this reserve often enough in your Lordships' Chamber and in another place. But Douglas-Home goes on to make two statements which I should like to read. The first is:In the European context Britain's reserves are not reserves in the real sense of the word. The reserve forces are totally committed to the current order of battle …".and the second:Rhine Army could not function in an emergency without the reserves. Since it is a fully committed reserve, one cannot describe it as a reserve of power.He goes on in the book to describe exactly what he means and, briefly, it is this: that our Army of the Rhine is at the present moment on peace establishment. Our so-called reserve is the figure required to bring the Army of the Rhine from peace establishment to war establishment if it should be necessary to have total mobilisation.
I should like to ask the noble Lord, Lord Winterbottom, whether that is so. If it is, I should like to ask him this further question. On mobilisation, when the Army of the Rhine has been brought to strength, how many formations will be left to defend this country? Frankly, my Lords, I am not interested in hearing about cadres, or possibly training battalions, or even the staffs of large ordnance establishments. I should like to know how many formations will be available in this country for the defence of this country once the Army of the Rhine is on full establishment: how many tank 185 brigades and how many infantry divisions, if any. I should be much obliged if the noble Lord could tell me. If he cannot tell me off the cuff I shall of course quite understand, but I hope that he will write to me in due course.
Next, I should like to turn to NATO. The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, mentioned NATO somewhat briefly, and I hope that I shall not he thought to be disrespectful or discourteous to him if I say that the implication of what he said was, "NATO is all right; we do not have to worry about NATO." Then he went on to talk about wider matters. In my capacity as a member of the Defence Committee of Western European Union I visit large parts of NATO. I visit the Headquarters and we are briefed by SACEUR and various other high officials. Whatever we politicians may feel, one thing is absolutely certain: that NATO as a whole is infinitely weaker than the military planners would wish it to be, for the simple reason that democracies will always vote for butter before they will vote for guns.
I would say that possibly NATO is adequate in the centre although, as was pointed out by Mr. Healey, our Minister of Defence, and also by various other people in the past, even there we are at a pretty grave disadvantage vis-à-vis the Warsaw Pact forces, because they outnumber us by three to one in the vital sphere of armour. However, even though we may be adequate in the centre, there is no doubt whatever that we are far too weak on the Eastern and on the Western flanks. In the past few months I have had the opportunity, about which I will say a little more later, of visiting Norway, Sweden and Denmark. To put it very mildly, the troops there are far too thin on the ground for comfort.
As was mentioned by my noble friend Lord Carrington, NATO is being threatened with further reductions. The Canadians are probably going to reduce their forces. It may well be that the Americans will in due course reduce their forces; and even our own Government have had to warn NATO that they may have to withdraw troops from NATO to help the garrison in Northern Ireland. Over and above that, the French have temporarily withdrawn from NATO. This entails an immensely complicated system for the commanders and planners in NATO who 186 have to carry out what they call contingency planning; in other words, planning for every single detail of every situation that might arise. They have to make plan No. 1 in the hope that when a crisis arises the French Army will be returned to them under command. Then, having made that plan, they have to make another plan in which they envisage a situation where the French Army remains withdrawn. What an extraordinary way to run an army! It makes it almost impossible for the commanders to get things straight. It is a very grave drawback to our total forces in NATO.
Personally, I do not foresee a mass attack on the centre of the NATO front because that would immediately involve the Warsaw Pact forces in contact with the Americans and I believe they wish to avoid that; but it is only my own opinion. What I do not think is impossible is a quick strike on one of the two flanks in the hope of creating a fait accompli. So I say it is vital that the flanks should have more troops to defend them. Suppose for instance, that a quick attack was launched—which would be perfectly possible—on the North-West tip of Norway in the area of the North Cape. This would be of immense strategic value and enable them to look out over the North Sea and protect Murmansk.
That brings me to the other question which I have often asked in NATO where obviously we cannot be told everything and so we do not get a very strong answer. I refer to the question of mobilisation, which I think is an extremely sensitive question affecting the whole of the NATO forces. Suppose that something in the nature of a European Cuba were to arrive. Would the Western forces (and this would be a NATO decision and nothing to do with the countries involved) have the courage to mobilise overnight or would they wait in fear of annoying Russia and irritating her into going on to some further extreme.
Since I have given the example of Norway, may I continue with that example? To-day Norway has a standing Army of 21,000 but, small country though she is, she has large reserves, and if she needs to mobilise she can field an Army of about 130,000 men. Noble Lords who have been to Norway will realise what a 187 difficult country it is. It is in the dark and under snow for six months of the year. It is infiltrated by very deep fjords; it has high and difficult mountains and a great many offshore islands. They do not have the military transport to carry anything like a quarter of 130,000 men, so that their mobilisation would have to be done by commandeering coastal steamers and the like and this is bound to take a long time. My fear is that we may leave it too late, so that troops may not be on the ground in time. This may make all the difference between salvation and defeat. The vital decision must be made, and I hope will be made, in time for the forces to be deployed and carried to their destinations.
Since obviously we are not going to have quantity in our NATO forces, may I ask the Minister what is being done about quality? How far are we getting on with the standardisation of weapons and equipment throughout the NATO forces? I know that in NATO and in the Western European Union, this matter is talked about a great deal, but it is difficult to find out what targets are in view for the present time and what has been done.
I want to say something about the Mediterranean situation, simply because my Committee have carried out a long review of this; but I will cut my remarks short as time is getting on and there are many other noble Lords who wish to speak. Basically, our Committee reported to the Assembly that the Russian naval presence in the Mediterranean does not constitute a military threat so much as a political one, tied up with the Israeli/Arab war, the main reason being that though they have port facilities, they have no bases. What exercises everybody very much is the fact that the Russians may find a pretext to walk into Yugoslavia, in which case they would become a Mediterranean Power overnight. This is why I strongly support what my noble friend Lord Glasgow said about the folly of phasing out the aircraft carriers in the Navy.
Lastly, my Lords, I should like to make a brief plea to the Government on the subject of security. We Back Benchers on the Western European De- 188 fence Committee are allowed to be given only non-classified information. We had a meeting in Paris last week to discuss this situation and it was our unanimous conclusion that we should ask our Governments whether we could not be given something a little better than this. We do not want a revolution, but we should like a little more information. It seems unnecessary to go to Brussels to be briefed by SACEUR and get no more information than we can read in the newspapers or in the R.U.S.I. journals. Various countries have tried to make some improvement. In Holland, a Royal All-Party Committee have been set up, and they have carefully vetted their people so that they may allow them to have more information. It would be very much appreciated, not only by members of my Party but also by members of the Party of the noble Lord who is to reply, if he would give some thought to this and perhaps help us over this matter.
§ 6.16 p.m.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, I must begin by apologising to the noble Earl, Lord Glasgow, and to the noble Lord, Lord St. Helens, because I shall not be commenting on their speeches in detail. That is partly because I am not an expert on the subjects with which they have dealt, but I appreciate that they are experts and that the noble Lord, Lord St. Helens, has contributed to the debate from his very close knowledge. They will expect me to say that I take a very opposite view to that which they put forward, but I like the courtesies of this House and I regret that they had the misfortune of having my name on the list of speakers after they had spoken.
I want to pay a sincere tribute to the speech which my noble friend Lord Chalfont made at the opening of this debate. He apologised for speaking at some length. I wish that he had continued to speak for as long as the precedent set by Lord Curzon. My noble friend began his speech with a broad indication of the objectives of the Government's foreign policy and concluded with what might have appeared to some noble Lords as an idealistic aim for the future. My noble friend is not here, but I hope he will he able to read Hansard. I would say to him that those of us who often differ with the Government in these matters were inspired by the words which 189 he used in his speech and we are grateful to him. It is true that between the opening of his speech and the conclusion we differed on some issues, but we recognise the difficulties of carrying out policies in reality, and I am sure that my noble friend appreciates why some of us on these Benches press him to go a little farther than he does in these matters.
It has been difficult to decide, in this broad debate on foreign affairs and defence, the subjects which one should treat. I should have liked to discuss world poverty, but my noble friend Lord Ritchie-Calder has done that eloquently, and I hope that my noble friend Lord Taylor of Gryfe will return to the subject before the end of the debate. There is another subject which I feel this House should discuss seriously before long. The United Nations is now approaching its 25th anniversary. It has great achievements in its record, but I think all of us are recognising its inadequacies in the present world. A discussion in this House, where noble Lords can be objective and free from partisanship, might be of great value on that subject. The second matter—and I intervened upon this during Lord Chalfont's speech—is European security. I regard this as the most promising step towards peace in the world, more promising than anything that has been discussed to-day. I will only say now that I very much hope that an early opportunity may be taken in this House of a discussion upon that issue.
In deciding what subjects I should seek to present to the House I felt that, as our object in foreign policy should be to seek peace, I might make some comment upon the wars which are at present taking place in the world. There are four. They are all undeclared wars, but in these hostilities people are being killed, society is being destroyed, and modern weapons of destruction are doing just as much harm as if those wars had been declared.
Quite briefly, because other noble Lords have referred to the subject, I want to draw attention to the situation in the Middle East. Time is running short. Unless action is taken to prevent the increasing hostility between Israel and the Arab countries, we shall find ourselves within a few months facing a 190 situation which will mean not merely war in the Middle East, but war in the world. I welcome the fact that it was our Government which took the initiative in proposing the resolution to the United Nations. Months have passed and we have now reached a dangerous crisis which requires action. First, I want to suggest to Her Majesty's Government that they should use their influence, both with the United States and with the Soviet Union, in the forthcoming talks in Helsinki which are to take place within three weeks between their representatives, to seek common action for a solution of this problem.
I have a tremendous appreciation of what has been done in Israel. On the other hand, I have a deep identity with the Arab revolution, which is seeking to end the feudalism of the past. I recognise that the Israelis have some fear about their security. I have been in a kibbutzim by the side of Lake Galilee, where the heights are in the hands of the Syrians and where the Israelis can be, and indeed were, bombed, and where they have their underground shelters. I suggest that a solution of that problem, while we demand the broad return of Arab territory to the Arab Governments, is that there should be a strong United Nations peacekeeping force, accepted by the Arab nations and by Israel, which should secure the frontiers of their territories. This issue is so important for peace in the world that I would urge Her Majesty's Government to press it in the United Nations with an intensity and an actuality which has so far been absent from our treatment of the problem.
The second war which is actually taking place now, and to which the gracious Speech makes reference, is the war in Vietnam. It says:My Ministers will remain ready to assist in any way they can to bring peace to — Vietnam.That war has now been going on for 29 years. I think we ought to appreciate the fact, particularly as Ho Chi Minh has recently died, that this war commenced when, acting with the support, ironically, of France and America, he opposed the Japanese occupation of Vietnam in 1940. Since then the Vietnamese people have had to fight first against French colonialism, and now against American intervention. 191 Looking at foreign affairs in a broad way, I think we should recognise two quite historic changes which that war has brought about. The first is that a comparatively small nation in the emerging world, with comparatively little military power and little technical military equipment, aided only by military materials from outside, has been able to hold at bay—and now, I think one can almost say, to defeat—the greatest military industrial power in the world. That is an extraordinary event, and it is going to have an effect on the whole future of Asia.
Its second significance is this. The Government of the United States has now realised that it cannot be a policeman of the world. I am glad that our Government realised this earlier and withdrew their Forces from East of Suez. Now the American Government has also realised it, and we have the speeches of President Nixon in which he has indicated that when the Vietnam war is over American troops and personnel will not be used to seek to contain South-East Asia. This is another great historic fact which we ought to realise in this debate upon foreign affairs.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, would the noble Lord equally support the withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Czechoslovakia?
§ LORD BROCKWAY
That intervenvention really is not necessary. No one in this country has more strongly denounced the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia than I have. I have said it in this House and outside. I believe so tremendously in democracy and personal liberty that I regard that Soviet invasion as one of the greatest crimes since the last war. Some of those who suffered from it are my old and very dear friends. I am a little surprised that the noble Lord, who is a representative of the Liberal Party, has intervened in this matter so unjustifiably.
My Lords, I very much deplore that our Government have supported America in her actions in Vietnam, and I would say this to our Front Bench. Every section of our Labour movement has deplored that as well: our Labour Party Conference, by great majorities, in two years; the Trades Union Congress; the 192 Co-operative Party. I regret that our Government should have been pursuing a policy in defiance of the overwhelming opinion in the Labour movement and, if I may say so, in the Liberal Party as well.
We have cut ourselves adrift by that decision from all the progressive opinion in the world. It has been one of the saddest things that, when in the United States of America there has been this extraordinary movement of her people against the war which their Government were pursuing, we should appear to be acquiescent in her reactionary elements rather than with her democratic forces. It is not only the United States of America; the world over the protest against America's action in Vietnam is one of all the progressive and creative forces, and it is sad that a Labour Government of this country should not have been allied with them.
I do not want only to denounce; I wish to be constructive. There are now opportunities for peace in Vietnam, despite all the futilities of the talks in Paris. The United States has stopped its bombing in the North. It is announcing a phased withdrawal of troops. President Nixon is to make a speech next week in which he will develop this subject, and we must wait. The difference between the Americans and the North Vietnamese and the National Liberation Front, the People's Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam as they now call themselves, is on one issue only. It is on the issue whether the American withdrawal of troops should be unconditional or whether it should be reciprocal on some withdrawal of North Vietnam from South Vietnam.
The United States of America now accepts the Geneva Agreement. God! I wish they had done that in 1954. At Geneva, where under the leadership of the noble Earl, Lord Avon, an agreement was reached, America was the dissentient; and America's dissent in 1954 was the cause of the war that has followed. If it had given support for that agreement in 1954, the Vietnam war need never have occurred.
The American Government are now making a proposal that their troops should be withdrawn as the Government of Saigon equip equal forces to take over. My Lords, I hope that that is not going 193 to be the alternative which we now face rather than peace. I hope that that is not going to be the alternative which our own Government will support. Mr. Averell Harriman, the former chief of the United States delegation at Paris, said yesterday:I think it is absolutely wrong to Vietnamese the war. We should attempt to Vietnamese the making of peace.I hope that our influence, as indicated in the Speech from the Throne, will be exerted in that way.
I want to make two constructive proposals to bring it about. The first is that, just as I proposed in the Middle East, we should exert our influence with the American Government and with the Soviet Union, by direct communications with them, urging that in next month's talks they should seek to find a basis of intervention for peace in the Vietnam war. But I want to make another proposal—and I make it very seriously in-deed. Our Foreign Secretary is co-chairman of the Geneva Conference with the Russian Foreign Secretary. He has responsibility for recalling the Geneva Conference if he thinks conditions are appropriate. He has approached Soviet Russia with that suggestion more than once. In 1965 U Thant made the proposal for the reconvening of the Geneva Conference. It was supported by the U.S.S.R.; it was supported by France; the suggestion was received favourably by Hanoi and by China. And it was at that moment, because of the very doubtful incident in the Tonkin Gulf, that America escalated her attack on Vietnam—and we took no action upon the matter. I want very earnestly to suggest—and I hope the Minister will take note of it—that the time has now come for Her Majesty's Government, as co-chairman, to ask for a re-convening of the Geneva Conference. I believe the circumstances have now arisen where the pressure for peace—yes, even the desire for peace in the American Government—is so great that it would be possible for fruitful results to come from a re-convening of the Conference.
I apologise to your Lordships because I intended also to deal with the issue of Nigeria and Biafra. I must be very brief indeed. Yesterday delegates went from the Organisation of African Unity to Lagos carrying a message from General Ojukwu that he is prepared to accept unconditional negotiations. The differ- 194 ences between Nigeria and Biafra are now limited to only one point. They have both accepted cease-fire; they have both accepted international supervision; they have both accepted an embargo on arms; they have both accepted a willingness to negotiate—they differ about time, but they accept all those things in principle. There is one continuing difference, and upon this I want very briefly to concentrate. Nigeria says "union"; Biafra says "association ". Those terms are both flexible. Within union there can he autonomous States. Within association there can be integration. The discussion which we have had in this House to-day about the European Economic Community has indicated the variations that can lake place when a nation desires to retain its personality within a wider association. Constitutions all over the world show these differences. We recently had an interesting principle uttered by the new Government in Western Germany in relation to Eastern Germany—" separate States within a nation". I want to suggest that a synthesis of the idea of union and association could be reached if it were proposed that a settlement should he on the basis of "autonomous States within mutual collaboration".
My Lords, the opportunities are big now for a settlement of the Nigerian-Biafra war. Again I deplore the arms that we have sent to one side—again denounced by our Labour Party Conference; again denounced by the Trades Union Congress; again denounced (even though the Benches are empty) by the Liberal Party. And our Government defy the overwhelming progressive opinion of this country upon that issue.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Oh!
§ LORD BROCKWAY
Yes, my Lords, our Government defy the overwhelming progressive opinion of this country on this subject. The Labour Party, the Trades Union Congress, the Co-operative Party, the Liberal Party, the United Nations Association—these represent the progressive opinion in this country.
I regret that I have spoken at some length. I would end by saying this. This country is still known as "Great Britain". We are not so great as an empire; we are not so great in military power; we are not so great in material 195 power; but if this country can contribute to ending war in the world and winning peace, we can be as great as we have ever been.
§ 6.42 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT MONCKTON OF BRENCHLEY
My Lords, it is always good to follow the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, not because one disagrees with so much of what he says but because one admires and loves him for his passionate fight for peace; and I particularly so for his determination, at his age, and his travels about Nigeria and Biafra on behalf of peace there. We only hope and pray that this time he will succeed and that immediately following we can do something to put straight the lack of Red Cross supplies into Biafra during the last few months.
Having said that, my Lords, I must disagree with the noble Lord on many of his points. In my view he was most unfair to our ally, the United States of America. They have not been defeated; they are withdrawing to a plan, and they have ceased, as the noble Lord himself said, the bombing of North Vietnam. If I may say so, I was the military adviser to Lord Avon at the particular conference in 1954 mentioned by the noble Lord, and although the Americans did not support that agreement then it was, after all, broken by North Vietnam when they invaded the South, and they were not very kind to those of the Catholics who were left in the North, even at that time. So there are two sides to that story, I believe.
I must come back to Europe, because Europe has been the theme to-day, and I must come down even more to earth, to the defence of Europe. Already we have had two speeches on defence and I will not, if I can avoid it, go over those two again other than to say that we have prided ourselves on being the only all-regular Army in Europe, and this is something to be proud of, so long as one accepts that it also has its great limitations: first, as has been mentioned, the total lack of reserves except to bring the B.A.O.R. up to fighting strength, and, secondly, the fact that we are short of so many things on the Air Force side. I will not mention them in detail, and perhaps should not mention them in detail; but Ministers will know what 196 they are. I believe that at this moment our regular Army is smaller than that of Spain. Surely we should look at this at once. Is it right to continue the rundown? Is it right to continue the amalgamations? Is it right for the Sixth Brigade to remain in England now, or should it return to Germany? If it does, cannot the extra cost be off-set by the new German Government; and, indeed, what arrangements have been made for the British troops serving in B.A.O.R. in Berlin after the revaluation of the mark on the financial basis?
At one time we were told that soldiers of B.A.O.R. would not have to go to Ireland; last week we were told that some might have to go to Ireland. I should like to touch on that point, if only for a short time. I hope that the Minister, in winding up, will be able to put an end to what has appeared in the Press, that soldiers are to get danger money or hard lying money at a proportional rate according to their rank, as if those two things were equatable with rank. Soldiers are soldiers and should not be treated or paid as civilians are paid. Their job is to be ready for hard lying; their job is to be in danger when called upon, and personally I should have thought it was an insult to offer them money for hard lying, or indeed for danger. If there is extra money for them, well and good. But that should be for the extra responsibility in what is, after all, a rather unusual situation for British troops since Cromwell's time. Far more important is to make sure at least that their conditions of living are put right and that they are not day after day put on tours of duty which last too long, as happened—for very obvious reasons—to start with.
One is slightly doubtful over the new proposals on pay, under which everyone is to get more but in return will be paying so much more tax. The idea of a soldier paying for his meal in the mess hall, and the officer paying to live in the officers' mess may be attractive in some ways, in that it will show a total extra amount of pay given to the soldier and the officer but it will increase the tax and it will increase the cost on the Defence Vote. Will the extra tax coming back to Her Majesty's Government in one form be credited to the Defence Account? This 197 seems to me to be rather important, otherwise there will be an increased Defence bill with nothing extra in soldiers or efficiency to show for it.
Then I think we must define what Europe is, in order to defend it when we are in, or even if we are not in it. It cannot be a sort of fortress Europe: it must depend on allied and friendly countries round about—and indeed the interests of individual countries outside Europe. For instance, I should have thought that Malta was even more important at this very moment, as a result of what has happened in Libya—and let us not be in any doubt of what is happening in Libya. The indications are fairly clear that the first two men to escape, one in a box and one in an Italian ship, were both Russians who had chosen freedom to their own country and took the first opportunity to leave Libya when they saw what was happening there. Surely. then, Malta is to-day one step more important.
It was also mentioned by one of my noble friends that the Allied ACE Mobile Force (Southern) was short and needed more protection on the flank. Again, surely a battalion in Malta is the obvious choice for this Force. At the present time we are due to leave Malta in its entirely, from the soldier's point of view, in April, 1971, with one battalion going next year. So we have to think quickly if there is any chance of altering it and saving the situation. Incidentally one hopes that this ghastly and rather unseemly argument between the Government of Malta and the Government of this country, on whether it is all grant or whether it is all loan, or a mixture of both, will end soon. It is doing good to neither country and causing keen upset among the ordinary Maltese people.
The peace of Europe depends also on the stability of countries outside it, and I cannot help but refer to our ally, South Africa, and the importance of that country, both as regards Simonstown and as regards the sale of arms to it—particularly the sale of arms for the continental defence of South Africa, such as 'planes for use on sea defence. Surely no one could disagree that it was right to sell them. Surely, if we are always being told that the costs of defence are so great, here is a chance of selling some arms fairly. One can only hope that the 198 visit of the South African rugger team now, and the cricket team later, will not be marred by demonstrations. One really cannot but wonder, if one is to be logical, whether one should be demonstrating against Russian teams, and particularly East German teams.
We have heard the maiden speech to-day of the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, on which one congratulates him, and he made it very clear what goes on behind that Iron Curtain. Whereas we do not worry who goes there, they shoot anyone who comes here to freedom. Why did we accept the East German football team last week? There were no demonstrations on that occasion. Previously we were always told that the more Russians and the more Iron Curtain nationals who came to this country, the more they would be impressed; that they would go back good democrats, or at least with a good opinion about the West. Does this not apply also to the South African rugby team? One has to look at such matters as arms sales purely for the external defence of a country through the eyes of British interests. Is it not time that British interests came into our defence policy and planning? We know that trade in Africa, trade in the Gulf and trade in Malaysia could disappear overnight without stability; and stability depends on peace, and peace depends on defence. We must help our Australian and New Zealand friends at least with something more than the statement that we are interested in them. They want something more tangible than that. We have had that statement once before.
My Lords, I will not continue any longer, other than to say that one admired the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, even though, as the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, said, it ended in what I fear at the moment is nothing more than ideals. One has first to change man before one can hope, to achieve what the noble Lord was aiming at; and the fact is that we must hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
§ 6.54 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF BUCKINGHAMSHIRE
My Lords, I should like to take this opportunity of expressing my personal view of Britain's entry into the Common Market, to which I have always been, and still am, opposed. The Government 199 should take note of the instincts of ordinary people; and, if I may say so, those instincts have proved far better than those of the top people. It pleases me to notice that the British public have refused to be stampeded, in spite of a vast propaganda effort, into blindly joining Europe.
First, we all know that the consequential increase in food costs, 2s. 6d. in the pound, would inevitably cause a wage/ price spiral that would price Britain's exports out of world markets. Secondly, the balance of payments would be adversely affected by an uncertain amount; the best estimate seems to be to the tune of £300 million a year. However, devaluation and the fiasco that is the Common agricultural policy have to my mind and I hope to the minds of other noble Lords on both sides of the House, combined to make both these estimates nonsensical. I am pretty sure that a truer estimate of cost to the balance of payments would be £1,000 million a year, or more. It is no good the Government saying that it is not possible to calculate the economic consequences: I consider that it is possible.
Surely the first essential of any discussions must be that if negotiations cannot take place on the basis that Britain cannot accept the present food or farm policies of the European Economic Community, the decontrol of capital movements, or the loss of Commonwealth Preference, they should not take place at all. It has been proposed that some kind of Free Trade agreement could be entered into between the European Free Trade Area and the E.E.C. Only a couple of months ago I read the estimate given by a leading French agriculturist, that our food prices would rise by 15 per cent. and the total cost of living by 3½ to 4 per cent.; and I can well believe this. In conclusion, my Lords, let me say this. The issues are far too great for us to be kept in the dark. Before we are plunged into Europe, the Government should begin an immediate study on the economic effects of joining Europe, the results should be published, and then we can all judge for ourselves what the effect is likely to be.
§ 6.57 p.m.
§ LORD GRIDLEY
My Lords, I should first like to pay my tribute to the maiden 200 speech of the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth and say that I hope your Lordships will have the pleasure of hearing him speak on many occasions in the future. If I may just touch on one aspect of what he said, it is to say that I think we all appreciated the authority with which he spoke and felt that his advice regarding our association with our friends in America was advice of the greatest importance.
I have listened to most of the speeches made this evening in your Lordships' House, and, as I expected, most have concerned themselves with the important policy of entering the Common Market. If I may say so with respect, I was fascinated and proud to listen to the brilliant speech of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, on the importance, as he stressed, of our entering into Europe. But may I say something in qualification of that? So far as I have been able to ascertain, the Common Market area is smaller in size than Western Australia, and the Common Market population is less than half that of India. I do not decry the strong reasons given by the noble Lord and the compelling reasons economically for our entering into Europe, if the terms are right. What has really depressed me in this debate has been the scant reference to those with whom we have linguistic and cultural ties, and I refer to the peoples of the Commonwealth. If trade is to be the only criterion, can we always say that our trade with the developing nations will not expand? Is there not a deeper sense of our obligation to our Commonwealth friends than this? In any case, at the present time, again if my statistics are correct, our first trading partner is America, our second happens to be South Africa, with whose racial policies we have a certain amount of disagreement, our third is Canada, and so it goes on.
I am not against our entering into Europe but I want now a more positive policy for the Commonwealth. The impression abroad, within the British Commonwealth, is only too clear: the fear that we will allow the Commonwealth to pass into oblivion. I should have preferred in the gracious Speech some specific reference to the Commonwealth in general. I have been four years in your Lordships' House and I cannot recall any single occasion when we have debated the Commonwealth in principle. 201 If we had done so, I feel that on the deliberations of your Lordships we might have been able to enunciate some guiding lines for the future of the Commonwealth in which, if we had had principles laid down regarding its future, we could have taken emotion and heat out of the problems of race which I think have so much clouded our judgment. I submit that in this connection there has been altogether too much emotion.
I should like to make one other point in regard to our consideration of Commonwealth matters. In the cut and thrust of our debates, particularly on the problems of Rhodesia, when some of us may have tended to try to make Party points, I do not think we have altogether contributed to the safety, the happiness and the welfare of all our peoples abroad.
In the summer of this year I was asked by the students of a university in this country to write an article for a magazine concerned with world affairs which was published by the university. In all humility, I do not know why they asked me to write such an article. I was told by them, when I asked for the reason, that they avidly read Hansard of the House of Lords. That knowledge may give your Lordships some satisfaction. This magazine represented all shades of opinion, and when it was published I was interested to see that the opinions ranged from Right to extreme Left. It is interesting to see that certain Members of another place also wrote in that magazine. I think all that is to the good. What is not to the good is that because there is no Commonwealth concept, there was in this magazine, and there is in the views expressed, a welter of opinion on Commonwealth matters, with no guiding principles. All that leads to the utmost confusion.
I am not going to make a long speech at this late hour, but perhaps I may, for a short while, dwell on some aspects in explanation of what I mean. I cannot place myself in the same class as other noble Lords who have rendered distinguished service in another place and have been elevated to your Lordships' House. Nor can I place myself within the expertise and the knowledge with which they speak. But I can speak from experience of giving effect, particularly overseas, to the policies of your Parliaments and as a result of your deliberations in this House 202 and in another place. I speak particularly of the period from 1930 to 1957. I was bound to give effect to the result of your deliberations, and I can honestly say that up to 1957 the result overseas of your policies, whether of a Labour or of a Conservative Government, was universally good and beneficial.
May I give just one example to substantiate that fact? I would mention one of your policies which came under test and how it was justified in the eyes of peoples far removed from these shores. In 1942, particularly, your colonial policies came under the most severe strain and attack. I refer to the activities at that time of an occupying Power in Malaya. They made an attempt to degrade to the lowest form of life the colonial officer representing your policies. That began with a march of eight miles, barefooted through the streets of Singapore. It was started because, in the opinion of the occupying Power, that was the best way to disparage your policies and everything that Britain stood for. To have the European officer marching in that way through the streets among the local populations was designed to lower him and the policies of this country in the eyes of people everywhere. Not only that, but on that day on this march to Changi gaol I was to see pictures of Malay, Chinese and Indian children dancing round a tree with the caption "Asia for the Asiatics" and underneath the words" The Japanese Co-prosperity sphere".
But this is what happened. If, in the ensuing years of the occupation, the local population had been overawed by what they had seen, it did not prevent them from helping people who were in dire circumstances. They made contact with your representatives, sending in medicine and food to people who were suffering from torture and who were in fact dying. Then, when some of them were executed. which was the penalty for doing work of this nature, others took their places and carried on the good work. That was a vindication of British policies, of the British people and of everything that Britain stood for. I mention it to give us courage in regard to the problems that face us in the future.
Now, without the knowledge of my Front Bench or of my Leaders, I am going to make a revolutionary proposal. It comes from me personally. I do not 203 know whether your Lordships have seen in The Times of October 29 a letter from the President of the Centre Party of Salisbury, Rhodesia. He is calling for a truce in connection with the Rhodesian problem. I want to be brief on what he says. He emphasises the appalling dilemma which faces the Rhodesian Moderates in connection with sanctions. He sees the Rhodesian Front firmly entrenched in power because of fear of what will happen to the minority under African majority rule, if it came. Mr. Bashford, whose Moderate Party is represented in this letter, says that he will pursue the "painstaking creation of a non-racial meritocracy within the rule of law" and the progressive removal of racial discrimination, and at the present time he is wanting to provide employment for Africans. It is Africans, the people of the Commonwealth, who are suffering now under sanctions; the people for whom we have responsibility and who should be more important to us than anybody else.
I do not want to say anything more than that, but if I could hold out a proposal to Her Majesty's Government to-night it would be that sanctions so far have failed because they were not backed up by others who should have been a party to them. I would therefore suggest that a proposal be made to Mr. Smith that his proposals for a Republic and a new Constitution be withdrawn and that there be a conference in London of representatives of the Party I have just mentioned and all shades of African opinion. I do not quite know what the situation would be with regard to the United Nations, as we have taken this matter to the United Nations, but unless sanctions are made to work sanctions should be taken off. We should try to come to some tolerable agreement with the representatives of Rhodesian opinion and those in power, because at this particular juncture, when we are talking about going into the Common Market, it is most important that we should try to settle our Commonweath problems and get them out of the way first. If that were done. I should hope that the other racial problems in this country and elsewhere in the world would dissolve, for I feel that this Rhodesian problem is poisoning the atmosphere and is not helping us in the Commonwealth 204 generally. It is only a personal suggestion, and if anything comes of it, nobody will be happier than I.
§ 7.13 p.m.
§ BARONESS GAITSKELL
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Taylor of Gryfe has given me permission to make one comment on the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Gridley, who has just spoken. I have some sympathy with what he said about how we should treat the moderate Parties in those countries whose policies we really object to, like those in South Africa and in Southern Rhodesia. As the noble Lord, Lord Gridley, said, the dilemma is that sanctions hurt the Africans more than they do the white Rhodesians. That may be true, but it is the African countries in the United Nations who still wish to have their voices heard, and the majority of African opinion in the world is for continuing with sanctions. It is really a moral standpoint, not an economic one.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ LORD TAYLOR OF GRYFE
My Lords, like other noble Lords who have spoken in this debate, I wish to add my bouquet to the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth. I suppose there is no greater ordeal in this House than making a maiden speech, other than trying to address and stimulate interest in a tired House at 7.15 p.m. after a long and interesting debate which was sparked off by two notable speeches, that of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and the speech by my noble friend Lord Chalfont.
I was delighted to hear the clear and concise argument presented by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, for entry into the Common Market. I do not propose to follow this theme, which has been much discussed this afternoon; neither can I follow noble Lords who have discussed questions of military strategy and defence, which matters I am not competent to comment upon. Neither can I at this stage offer solutions to some of the specific areas of conflict that have been mentioned here to-day. I wish to content myself, therefore, with a statement of the general principles which I feel ought to guide British foreign policy.
My only basis for forming opinions and offering advice on this subject is the fact that I spend a good deal of my time travelling in Eastern Europe, in the 205 Soviet Union, and also in the United States. One thing which occurred to me as I listened to the debate this afternoon was that some noble Lords were discussing strategy, military power and power relationships in the world in terms of an age which is passed. I sincerely believe that we have passed the stage of war and conflict for economic power and military domination, and that wars are now increasingly arising for ideological, racial, and even religious reasons. To that extent we are engaged in the area of power relationships in a struggle for men's allegiances and men's minds. I sincerely believe that the consistency with which we project our gains as a free and compassionate society on an international plane may in fact be more important than the battalions and the bombs which we can command. As the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, has said, I believe that the battle in Vietnam has demonstrated the limitations of purely military power, and I think that that lesson should not be lost in devising our foreign policy and our defence policies. I think, too, that we should accept that in this changing power relationship of ideas there is in fact a changing pattern in the world. Just as we weigh up the respective strengths of armies, air forces and navies, I think occasionally we should take stock of the ideological strength and appeal of major powers.
I was honoured to attend the fiftieth anniversary meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in the Kremlin in November, 1967, and as I looked along the row of distinguished Russian leaders I was impressed by the fact that their average age appeared to be 60; and that these people appeared to be no longer interested in exporting revolution. When we think of our relationships with the Soviet Union, I believe that sometimes we are thinking in terms of the exciting revolutionary period in Russian ideas and expansion, and I think we must accept the fact that at least in Europe—and this has been shown in Czechoslovakia—Russia has become a conservative power. It is interested in the status quo rather than making revolution; and perhaps the revolutionary mantle in world affairs will now be donned by China. It is an interesting fact that this changing re- 206 lationship and changing attitude to the world situation has taken place.
If we agree that our influence in the world will not be measured by the strength of the armies which we command, we must seek other means of establishing respect for our country and authority for our judgments. I suggest that there are four main areas where we ought to operate with vigour, imagination and excitement. I think it will be accepted almost as a cliché in this House that we should strengthen the instruments which encourage the rule of law and ensure harmonious relationships between nations. If we accept that that is the basic idea of foreign policy, tribute ought to be paid to the work which is done by the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, at the United Nations, and to the status and authority which he gives this country because of his maturity, his liberalism, his generosity and his attitude to the problems that arise at the United Nations. I think we should also commend the support which Her Majesty's Government give to the Agencies of the United Nations.
As has been said by several speakers to-day in reviewing the world situation, we are to some extent running out of time. I can recall as a very young man meeting that very great man, Mr. H. G. Wells. I climbed up the stairs at Regent's Park station, in that bomb-scarred area, and I said to the great man, "I am a young fellow, and I am thinking about the future of my life and the future of mankind. What do you think about the future of mankind?" He replied simply, "The future of mankind depends on the ability of mankind to devise instruments which are compatible with the environment in which he lives." We are living in a situation of one world in terms of communication, but we have not yet created the political instruments which can govern one world. I believe it to be very important that in our foreign policy we should be consistently pursuing the aim of building up the authority of the international organisations. This cannot be done simply by passing resolutions, but must be done by giving reality to the work of the United Nations through its various Agencies.
I think, too, that we should take initiatives to secure disarmament and control of nuclear and biological weapons. In 207 this connection, I was glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, speaking this afternoon with such enthusiasm and determination. In this area we must even be slightly daring occasionally and break with some traditional diplomatic practice in order to secure a breakthrough in this field. We should also project on an international scale our concern to establish greater social justice within our own nation.
To that extent the policy of Her Majesty's Government in relation to Rhodesia and South Africa is totally justified. The immediate advantages which may be gained from a sale of arms to South Africa will be heavily outweighed by the effect which this would have on world opinion and on uncommitted opinion. As I said at the outset, Britain's future role in the world depends on her ability to attract men's allegiance, and we should be alienating forces to which we should be coming closer if we took a purely short-term view of these questions.
We talk about our Government being motivated by "compassion", a word which has been introduced several times into the debate to-day. As I recall the meaning of the word "compassion", the word "passion" means "suffering" and the prefix "com" means "with". So it is a matter of "suffering with". But as we lightly use the term "compassion" here to-day, I wonder whether we really accept the full implication that it means suffering with people.
I must offer some criticism of the record of Her Majesty's Government in this regard. We had all hoped that, with the determination of the Government to save the soul of the nation, we would be more generous in relation to overseas aid. But it is an unfortunate fact that the percentage of the gross national product which we have spent in aid has declined from 0.57 in 1964 to 0.47 in 1968. In fact, the study which has been made by Lester Pearson for the World Bank indicates that as the richer nations have become richer during that period, the poorer nations have become poorer.
I think we all accept, if we are seeking peace in this world, that peace must be based on some justice, and we must be determined to remove the tensions which create conflict. In our own country we 208 realise that this disparity between rich and poor, which we are bridging more and more, is a cause of tension. In the City of Glasgow not so long ago we had 100 child deaths per 1,000 in the East End of Glasgow, and 24 per 1,000 in the West End of Glasgow. Now the figures are evening out, but on a world scale there is still a wide disparity between rich and poor. As has been pointed out by the former Minister for Overseas Development, and indeed by the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie-Calder, this is not a serious balance of payments problem. So I hope that, in framing their foreign policy, Her Majesty's Government will acknowledge the need to get closer to the 1 per cent. of the gross national product which has been recommended by international organisations should be spent in overseas aid.
I recall that at the close of the last war, when this country had suffered greatly from bombing and destruction and while in a sense we lay bleeding, this country gave 1 per cent. of her national income in order to assist countries which had been over-run during the war. air contribution to the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration at that time was 1 per cent. But to-day, in the midst of our affluence and with the growth of the two-car families, colour television and all the other things which we have in our society, we are falling short of contributing 1 per cent. to overseas aid. So I say in all sincerity that I welcome the very inspiring speech which was made by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont. I thought it was a helpful, encouraging and inspiring speech. But I hope that in the future the noble words which were expressed by the noble Lord will be matched also by noble deeds in terms of overseas aid.
§ 7.29 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
My Lords, I should like first to offer my congratulations also to the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, on an admirable speech which I greatly enjoyed. I, too, am one of the many people to whom the noble Lord has given advice, for which I was very grateful, both in London and also once in India when he was High Commissioner. I hope that we shall hear a lot more from the noble Lord.
In a debate devoted to defence and foreign affairs there is such a wide choice 209 of relevant and important matter that the task of the Government spokesman who is responsible for replying at the end of the day is one which any of us would find formidable. Indeed, I have often felt that a serious discussion of foreign affairs could not really be satisfactorily carried out in the space of one day. I regretted that the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, was repeatedly apologising to us for the length of his speech. We have been dealing with important matters, and it seems to me extraordinary that a Minister of the Crown should have to apologise, and really, as I felt, not go into many of the points raised in sufficient detail. I for one would have been perfectly content to listen to the noble Lord for three times as long—in other words, for as long as the noble Lord, Lord Curzon, spoke.
My Lords, we are in the habit of talking about "a late hour," and "a late hour" really means getting home in good time for dinner. I shall do my best to see that this is possible. My noble Leader set a very good example, in a speech which I thought was very penetrating and valuable, in discussing only one subject. I am going to limit myself to two, and I hope the noble Lord, Lord Winterbottom, will be grateful to me for this. I shall do my best not to be diffuse and will try to stick to the main points of my theme.
The first subject I want to discuss is the United Nations and the question of aid. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie-Calder, who I see is not in his place, that perhaps the term "aid" is not altogether satisfactory; but, anyway, we know what we mean when we use that expression. I was deeply impressed by the speech which the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, made on Tuesday in moving the humble Address. I thought it was an immensely valuable and helpful speech. Like the noble Baroness, I agree that it was appropriate that the gracious Speech should reaffirm our support for the United Nations and its efforts for peace-keeping and assisting developing countries. With her, I also agree that as we approach the 25th year of the United Nations' existence we should apply ourselves not only to commemoration but also to scrutiny. The noble Baroness, I thought, had the support of noble Lords and Baronesses on all sides of the House when she averred that 210a moratorium on resolutions would save a lot of time and money".—[OFFICIAL REPORT 28/10/69, col. 7.]In a more serious vein, it was disturbing to hear the noble Baroness state, from her first-hand experience of four years as United Kingdom representative on the Human Rights Committee, that progress had been sluggish and that she had been left with a feeling of dissatisfaction about the value of the work done. I am sure the robust reaction of the noble Baroness to that feeling of dissatisfaction did not come as a surprise to any one of your Lordships. I am, and always have been, a firm supporter of the United Nations, and, like every other supporter of that organisation, I have experienced deep dissatisfaction over many aspects of its work and near despair over the petty and sectarian attitudes so often adopted by many of its delegates. But with the noble Baroness, I am convinced that, as a nation, we must continue to play an active part in seeking to make the United Nations increasingly effective and objective in judgment. We must continue to send men and women of the highest calibre as our representatives on its many committees, and we must encourage British men and women of ability to seek employment in its Specialised Agencies.
My Lords, I am not starry-eyed about what the United Nations can achieve. I had first-hand and bitter experience of the efforts of the United Nations in the Congo. I was one of the last British people to speak with Hammarskjoeld—a remarkable man whom I greatly admired. I well remember his saying that we were only on the threshold, we were only at the beginning, of understanding what international co-operation meant. I have never forgotten that. We must help to strengthen the Secretary-General's military staff; we must encourage young men and women to serve with the United Nations forces; and we must allocate units of our own Armed Services to serve with the United Nations forces.
Of course, we all know that the Soviet veto is a monstrous curb upon the collective peace-keeping role of the United Nations, but we must not despair and we must continue to work to convince the Communists that collective peace-keeping will pay them, too. Alas!, there is at present no indication that this philosophy is likely to be accepted by 211 the Soviets. They are still, it would seem, stuck with the old-fashioned belief that strife, unrest and conflict work to the advantage of the powerful, and that from the devastation of war they can reap a fruitful harvest. But man's thinking does painfully and slowly evolve, and where self-interest is the draw the rate tends to accelerate. We must stand firm, accepting realistically the present limitations of the United Nations' effectiveness, and proving by our material support that we are prepared to pay our share of the price to overcome these limitations.
When preparing the few observations that I wish to put before your Lordships this evening, I re-read the speech made by Sir Alec Douglas-Home on December 28, 1961, to the Berwick-on-Tweed Branch of the United Nations Association. It was in that speech, your Lordships will remember, that he drew attention so forcibly to what he described as a "double standard" of behaviour by many of the newly-elected members. In a careful analysis of the balance sheet Sir Alec said—and I do not apologise for quoting him, because it is so valuable:We want, above all, to co-operate with all nations, without exception.All our instincts and interests therefore combine to urge support for the kind of United Nations for which the founders drew up the Charter. The question which many sober and responsible observers of its practice are asking is whether we can continue to do so and whether the United Nations of the authors of the Charter has had its day.Whatever its faults, the aims of the United Nations are sound and its aspirations true. Britain cannot afford lightly to discard an instrument dedicated to peace which is struggling to put together the elements of peacekeeping machinery, however elementary it may appear. Man is not so far removed from the jungle that he can dispense with any discipline there may be to hand".I quote further:But, having drawn up the balance sheet between pessimism and hope, I come down decidedly on the side of hope. And, more than that, on a determined effort by ourselves and those who feel like us to bring the United Nations back to working the Charter as it was meant to be. Peace and security must be reinstated as its primary aims".Perhaps, my Lords, in some measure as a result of that searching and realistic speech, there was subsequently a reaction against the "double standard". But, alas!, as your Lordships will remember, 212 in December of last year the General Assembly of the United Nations, by 67 votes to 18, with 34 abstentions, called upon theadministering Power to terminate the colonial situation in Gibraltar not later than 1st October, 1969.Your Lordships will remember that it was the virtually unanimous request of the people of Gibraltar to maintain a connection with Britain, and despite Article 73 of the United Nations Charter, which enshrines the principle thatThe interests of the inhabitants of these territories are paramount"—that is, of the non-self-governing territories—the Assembly refused consent.
In the face of behaviour such as that, which is so unprincipled and inequitable, even the staunchest supporter of the United Nations can hardly be blamed for being impatient and despairing, and for having doubts as to whether the United Nations of the founders who drew up the Charter is effectively still in being. The emotional reaction to the old bogey of colonialism was of course at the root of that decision, and we have to be adult in our reception of it. But if that sort of prejudice can obtain, so can the prejudice of race and colour. And if that were to gain support, that, in my submission, would be the beginning of the end of the United Nations.
The noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, referred to the Specialised Agencies as perhaps the most practical and dynamic bodies in the United Nations. She went on to express the view that a day would come when the richer countries will have to face up to the amount of aid that it is essential for them to give to the developing countries; and she hoped that we would play our part. The noble Lord, Lord Ritchie-Calder, echoed these observations and spoke with considerable knowledge and experience. I feel sure that we can all endorse the hope of the noble Baroness. For my part, I would wish to see the early implementation of the recommendations contained in the Report of the Sub-Committee on Overseas Aid set up under Sir Eric Errington last year. In particular, that Report drew attention to the need for more accurate and accessible information about the aid programme, and for more publicity. It recommended more international co-ordination in the giving of aid, and 213 greater use of the Commonwealth Development Corporation. It recommended that the United Kingdom should actively promote an increasing contribution to the International Development Association and that there should be a greater emphasis on agriculture and less bilateral aid channelled into major industrial projects.
Last year (I have not more up-to-date figures) we were providing about 8 per cent. of all the aid from Western countries. To the I.D.A. we have, over the years, contributed 12 per cent. of the total (these figures have been confirmed this afternoon by Lord Ritchie-Calder), about £59 million sterling. The sum of £89 million was obtained by this country by way of procurements; so that for every £1 we spent we received back 30s. This is certainly intelligent self-interest. There is no merit about it; it is good business. Aid can pay. Indeed, few countries stand to gain more than our own from raising the standard of living of developing countries, for we do a higher proportion of our international trade with them than is the case with most of our competitors.
The Errington Report drew attention to the vital part that private investment can play. In 1967 no less than 40 per cent. of the total flow of aid to developing countries was in private investment. Germany, the United States, Japan, Australia, France, Denmark and Norway all provide Government guarantees to their own investors for non-commercial risks. Could the Minister tell us (if he cannot do so this evening, naturally I will await his written reply) why the British Government have decided against investment-safeguarding agreements? I cannot understand why.
But, my Lords, just as aid must depend on the strength of the economies of the richer nations, so the effective use of that aid, and the realisation of long-term development, is dependent upon the maintenance of peace. I think in particular of the great Mekong River project which would have brought inestimable benefits to millions of Asians, and of the great Asian highway—alas! at present only projects, and certain to remain so until peace can be restored. Immense achievements are within our reach here upon this planet through peace and co-operation, and although much of real value has 214 already been accomplished, through the many inter-Governmental Agencies, such as the I.L.O., F.A.O., UNESCO, W.H.O., I.D.A., the I.M.F., the World Bank, UNICEF, UNWRA and so on, it is only through sustained and determined efforts to bring about real effectiveness and absolute objectivity within the United Nations itself that the greatest prizes are to be won.
My Lords, in the debate on the humble Address last year I expressed grave doubts as to the wisdom of the decision of Her Majesty's Government to withdraw all British Forces East of Suez. In the Queen's Speech last year there was, however, the assertion that Her Majesty's Government would continue to support Britain's alliances for collective defence and, further that they would continue to play an active part in the North Atlantic Alliance. This year, and perhaps more honestly, only the North Atlantic Alliance is mentioned. There is no reference to supporting our other alliances for collective defence. I have no right to assume that silence concerning these other alliances necessarily means that Her Majesty's Government propose to ignore them, but will the Minister who is to reply tell the House what is now the policy of Her Majesty's Government regarding SEATO and CENTO? Have the Government decided simply to fade out of these Treaty Organisations?
Then where do Her Majesty's Government stand in respect of the Anglo-Malaysian Agreement? We have been repeatedly told that this Agreement was to be re-negotiated. At the Five-Power Conference at Kuala Lumpur last year it was agreed that there should be joint consultations concerning the Defence Agreement. Can the Minister tell the House whether those consultations have taken place and whether Her Majesty's Government still honour the undertaking entered into in 1957 with the Government of the Federation of Malaya?
My Lords, the announcement of the forthcoming visit of Her Majesty and Prince Philip to Australia and New Zealand is, of course, warmly welcomed on all sides of the House. I cannot resist mentioning by name Sir Alec Downer, the Australian High Commissioner, who has worked so tirelessly to promote in this country a greater sense of awareness 215 of the deep friendship that exists in Australia for the United Kingdom and of the enormous potential and ever-increasing significance in the world of the two oldest members of the Commonwealth. I hope that this Royal visit will help to focus British attention more clearly on the world East of Suez and Australasia, and help to widen our understanding and appreciation of an area of the globe in which, I am convinced, so many of the most important developments of the future are to take place.
§ 7.48 p.m.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR DEFENCE, R.A.F. (LORD WINTERBOTTOM)
My Lords, before I launch into the difficult task of bringing together the various threads of the debate, I know that the House will wish me to join with every Member who has spoken so far in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, on his maiden speech. It had a force and clarity which was most impressive and which made me only too conscious of my amateur status in this field. I am afraid that I can only play a very inferior Watson to his Sherlock Holmes. Before I begin my reply to the debate, I should like to apologise to the noble Marquess for the absence of my noble friend when the noble Marquess began his speech. He was called to the telephone, as happens from time to time.
The interesting point about the debate, in my view, is the remarkable degree of unanimity that lies between Members of the House, from both sides, on the subject of the main theme of our foreign policy. The opening speech of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, was, I thought, an outstanding one and I found in it a great deal to stimulate and to encourage me. I can only join with my noble friends, and all who have spoken, in saying that I am a dedicated supporter of the British entry into the Common Market provided, as everybody has said, that this is not done on any terms, but on reasonable terms.
Most speakers to-day discussed the economic aspect of entry, but the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, touched on the importance of the Economic Community from the point of view of our common defence. There has been much talk of the strength of the super Powers; of 216 the development by Russia of her conventional forces; and this is all entirely true. Russian conventional power is very great indeed, but the potential of a united Europe is also very great. There are, after all, nearly 250 million human beings in Western Europe within NATO and there is also a very high standard of technological skill and knowledge. For instance, anyone who attended the Paris Air Show this year could not fail to be impressed by the very interesting prototype aircraft which were shown there. There is no doubt that there is almost no field of aircraft construction in which Europe cannot at least build a remarkable prototype. What we cannot do at the moment is to turn out these aircraft in the same enormous numbers as the mass production economies of America and Russia can. In my view that is one of the gaps which we have to close.
We have made a useful start. One of the paradoxes, I think, of Anglo-French relations is that while we seem to have managed to draw apart in the political field, we nevertheless seem to have been able to get together in the technological field; and the collaborative operations which are taking place, and which are already bearing fruit, are at the moment Anglo-French. One may mention the Jaguar, the helicopter programme, the missiles that we jointly share, and various other projects which are under discussion. These are going surprisingly successfully and with the minimum of friction. And, of course, if we turn to the multi-role combat aircraft which is now being discussed between ourselves, Germany and Italy, I think we have the first of the great European concepts which would enable us to use mass production techniques comparable with those of America and Russia. The three consortia for the airframe, the engine and the avionics exist, and work is proceeding, I think most hopefully, towards a firm decision to put this very interesting aircraft into production.
At this moment it might not be inappropriate to turn to a point made, I think, by the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth. He was talking about the tendency of people in this country and elsewhere to criticise America and to muddy the waters of Anglo-American understanding. I think that there is an 217 equal risk in our relations with Germany. Too many people are trying to re-open old wounds, to criticise Germany unjustly; and, in fact, again to muddy the waters of Anglo-German understanding. That is why I welcome this great collaborative project in which Britain and Germany are working together so closely to produce the first of the mass production weapons for our common defence.
At the important conference, mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, which took place in Brussels under the ægis of the North Atlantic Assembly, the concept was floated of a European arms procurement agency. This, I think, is a most important concept. Perhaps it is a little early for us to go that far, but I think it is an idea which is full of promise and should be pursued. May I say also, as an interjection in the debate, that I always have believed that the North Atlantic Assembly had some form of Government support and formal existence. I understand that this is not the case, but I am certain that my noble friend Lord Chalfont will have noted what the noble Baroness said.
My Lords, may I now turn to various aspects of defence which were deliberately left by my noble friend for me to deal with. I must first apologise to the noble Earl, Lord Glasgow, for not being present in the Chamber when he began his speech.
§ LORD WINTERBOTTOM
My Lords, probably he, too, has been called to the telephone. I had my period on the Board of Admiralty, which made me a very sympathetic listener to what the noble Earl had to say. He asked what would be the position after 1971, and he stressed, I think quite correctly that the Polaris submarines and the escorting nuclear hunter-killers were in existence and had a role which was understood. But he asked, I understand, what was the role of the rest of the Fleet. I think this is quite clear. With the reorientation of our defence policy our defence effort will be concentrated mainly in Europe and the North Atlantic area, and no special capability for use outside Europe will be maintained. We shall, however, retain a general capability based in Europe, including the United Kingdom, 218 which can be deployed overseas as, in our judgment, circumstances demand. The withdrawal from East of Suez does not mean, therefore, that the Navy will no longer be seen outside NATO waters after 1971. This point is touched on in the Defence Review. The Navy will still be ready and able to protect our dependent territories and with afloat support can readily be deployed outside Europe to meet any threat to peace.
The noble Earl touched on the important subject of surface-to-surface missiles for the Navy. I should like to make a few comments on this matter because it is one of concern and of importance. When the aircraft carriers are phased out of service, the maritime air strike task will devolve in the main on R.A.F. Buccaneers, which can be refuelled in flight to give them extra range and endurance. They will be armed with the new Anglo-French stand-off air-to-surface missile, Martel. But even before the decision was taken to give up the aircraft carrier force it had been planned to complement the reduced carrier force in the NATO sea area by land-based aircraft in the 1970s; and the intention remains to keep "Ark Royal" and "Eagle" in service until the withdrawals from East of Suez are completed and our maritime effort is concentrated in the NATO area. Although there has been some slowing down in the naval new construction programme, our force of nuclear fleet submarines will be growing during the 1970s. When the aircraft carriers are phased out, after the withdrawal from East of Suez, six or seven fleet submarines will be in service and others will be being built to provide our main anti-surface ship and anti-submarine capability.
After the carriers, the main long-range strike task at sea will therefore be undertaken by land-based aircraft and the nuclear fleet submarines. To complement these, a light strike capability, directed primarily at the missile-firing fast patrol boat threat, will be widely fitted in surface ships. Our plans for providing this capability are to arm the helicopters which future ships will carry for anti-submarine work with an air-to-surface missile, with sufficient stand-off capability to protect the helicopter from the anti-aircraft defence of the fast patrol boat. Anti-submarine helicopters carried 219 in ships will therefore be armed initially with the AS.12 missile, which outranges the anti-aircraft armament of the Soviet fast patrol boats, and later with a second-generation weapon with a greater standoff range and improved performance.
Turning to the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord St. Helens, I would say how much I regret that the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, is not with us this evening, because the noble Lord touched on a subject which is close to his heart. He raised a specific question about formations left in this country when B.A.O.R. had been brought back to full strength. He is entirely correct, in that a proportion of the regular troops stationed in this country would go to Europe in a time of tension. It is also true that our voluntary reserves are tailored to support the NATO forces and these would go mainly overseas. But the point is that current defence policy is based on the assumption that an attack by the Warsaw Pact Powers, if not deterred or checked by the threat of nuclear escalation, would reach general war long before their forces reached the North Sea. What is in question at home can be only minor contingencies such as subversion and sabotage, and I am able to assure the noble Lord that enough regular troops will be left in this country, not forgetting the cadres that will also exist, to deal with contingencies such as these.
The days of very large reserve forces which are slowly mobilised at the threat of an outbreak of war is outdated. It is true, I am afraid, that probably the last world war to be declared began in 1939. What we require is a highly trained professional force at immediate readiness. I think it was the noble Viscount, Lord Monckton of Brenchley, who praised the standards, if not the size, of the British armed forces in Europe. This policy is not one that is compatible with a large reserve force which can slowly be brought to a state of readiness.
§ LORD ST. HELENS
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord, but presumably there have been consultations with other NATO Powers. Can he explain why the Continental Powers have such enormous reserves and why we are the only country which feels that reserves are not necessary?
§ LORD WINTERBOTTOM
My Lords, I think it is a question of military philosophy. May I refer the noble Lord to the speech made by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State to the Royal United Service Institution, in which he argued this case very cogently? He pointed out that any Secretary of State for Defence, of whatever nation, has two major limitations on his field of action. One is finance, and the other is manpower. These we have been forced to limit, as has every major Power. There is no doubt whatever that the cost of running large reserve forces is exorbitant, and this policy, if followed, would weaken our total capability to create a sophisticated modern defence force.
This case was argued out by the noble Lord, Lord Thorneycroft, when he was Secretary of State, and it was under his leadership that this important decision was reached. There is no doubt that in financial and manpower terms a conscript Army is extremely wasteful. That is why the present system in this country is the one which successive Governments have decided to follow. It is interesting to note that General Westmoreland was over here recently on behalf of the United States Government to study the problems and potentials of creating an all-regular armed force. That is the basic argument in favour of the British system.
The noble Lord, Lord St. Helens, also touched on standardisation. Since the evening is late, may I refer him to the detailed report in Chapter III of this year's Statement on the Defence Estimates. Of course, the more we can standardise, the greater the return we can get from any investment we make in defence equipment. Speaking from memory, and subject to correction, I believe that the adoption of the multi-role combat aircraft by the three major Powers will reduce the number of types of aircraft from the existing 15 types to one, and the advantages one can see in logistics and ease of maintenance are enormous. The noble Lord was right in drawing this to the attention of the House. Finally, I should like to tell him that I have noted what he said on the subject of the grading of security information given to the various Committees of W.E.U. and similar organisations. It is a delicate subject, and I will bring it to the notice of my 221 right honourable friend the Secretary of State.
Lastly, in the field of defence, I should like to reply to one or two of the more important points made by the noble Viscount, Lord Monckton of Brenchlcy. Possibly the question which lay closest to his heart was the payment made to the forces in Northern Ireland. This was not a snap decision. It was reached after considerable discussion. It was not given, as the noble Viscount has said, as hard lying money, because many of our troops have had it hard elsewhere and were not paid anything; and it was not danger money, because men are at risk elsewhere. It was just a recognition of an extraordinary and most unpleasant situation. None of troops serving in this country were ever expecting to have to do internal security duties in the United Kingdom under such hard conditions.
The conditions of duty are being studied, and the noble Viscount will have noted the various steps that are being taken to make life somewhat easier for our forces as the winter comes on. A major one is the move of the "Maidstone" to Belfast, as a more comfortable base in which a thousand men can live. Since the British forces under General Freeland seem to be carrying out their duties with great skill and success one can at least express the hope that their devoted attention to duty will bring an early end to the more tense aspects of their work. I am certain that the House will wish to express our gratitude to them.
The noble Viscount also touched upon the negotiations about the military salary that are in progress and on their various implications. He has put his finger on the most neuralgic point of all which is now under negotiation; that is, that a man being paid a higher gross income will also pay tax back to the Treasury. The noble Viscount asked, will this be treated as an appropriation in aid, or will the whole gross earnings of the Armed Forces be charged against the ceiling that has been placed upon Defence expenditure? I am afraid that I cannot answer this question this evening, but it is obviously one of the key points in the negotiations.
The noble Viscount is again quite correct in pointing out that the charging for food and lodging and the rest must 222 bring with it substantial problems. One can imagine, for instance, three or four young officers finding it much cheaper to get lodgings in the town; and to live out, rather than to pay their mess bills. This is also true (shall I say?) of a group of corporals or unmarried soldiers, and the rest. This is one of the many problems that will have to be solved in the process of bringing the military salary up to an effective operational basis. All one can say is that these problems are matters of which the staffs are well aware. One hopes that over the course of the next couple of years, as we gain experience of this new concept, solutions will be found.
What is important is that the job evaluation which is now going on (it is being done, as the noble Viscount may know, by two firms of consultants, but assisted by serving soldiers of all ranks) will enable the individual serving man and the public to realise the true value of the individual's skills in the market. There is still a tendency to regard the serving man as a man who cannot do any other job—a sort of Falstaff's ragged army. Nothing could be further from the truth. The skills required at every level in all the Armed Forces to-day are so high that I am quite convinced that the job evaluation which is taking place will be able to put a proper value and price upon those services. This, in the long run, can only benefit the Armed Forces. I do not know how quickly they will feel the full benefit of this evaluation, but we are making every effort to enable us to bring the military salary, together with the X factor, with which we hope to express the particular asperities of the military life, into operation by the beginning of the next financial year. I am told that the work has started reasonably well.
I hope that noble Lords will forgive me if I turn from Defence to one or two points in the field of Foreign Affairs.
§ LORD GLADWYN
Before the noble Lord so turns, will he give some reply to the main question that I asked; namely, whether the Government are prepared to give consideration to the possibility of initiating at a fairly early stage a conference or talks on the possible harmonisation of defence and foreign policy?
§ LORD WINTERBOTTOM
I am afraid that I did not quite grasp what 223 the noble Lord said. A conference on what?
§ LORD GLADWYN
My point is that it would be a good thing if the Government could at a fairly early stage initiate discussions between ourselves and the Six on the general policy of harmonising foreign and defence policies among us.
§ LORD WINTERBOTTOM
If the noble Lord will wait until the meeting of the Six at the end of this month, he may find that something may come out of that meeting. It will be a subject for discussion then.
One of the major points touched on by my noble friend in opening the debate—indeed, he made a major issue of it—and further touched on by my noble friends Lord Ritchie-Calder and Lord Taylor of Gryfe, and by the noble Lord, Lord Gridley, related to the question of aid. I do not think I need to state that the Government recognise the concern expressed in many quarters that we should increase our effective development aid programmes to the less developed countries. This is something about which everybody agrees. Nevertheless, we are not operating in a vacuum, and we have had a difficult economic period behind us. For this reason it has not been possible to increase the aid programme as rapidly as many would have liked, but there has still been some increase in cash terms since the present Government took office. A further increase in cash terms for 1970–71 was envisaged in the Chancellor's Paper on Public Expenditure (Cmnd. 3936) published last February. These increases have been achieved, and the aid programme has been maintained without a cut, at a time when public expenditure as a whole has been scrutinised and controlled with particular care, as someone operating in the field of Defence is only too well aware.
§ LORD TAYLOR OF GRYFE
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt, but would the noble Lord accept that over the past five years the official aid flow has dropped annually by 3.5 per cent.? While the cash has increased, so has the gross national product, and the percentage of the gross national product given in aid has declined.
§ LORD WINTERBOTTOM
Arguments about statistics are always mislead- 224 ing. But I should like to make one additional point. I think that everybody is in sympathy with what has been said, but noble Lords should not overlook the fact that developing countries as a group derive much the greater part of their foreign exchange earnings from their export sales, and it is of great importance to them, as a consequence, that their exports should have to overcome the lowest possible tariff and other trade barriers. I think it is true to say that in this respect our own performance is a good one. We maintain a virtually open market for most primary commodities of importance to developing countries, and we have for many years given liberal access, free for the most part of all tariff and quota restrictions, to imports and manufactures from Commonwealth countries. These countries include some of the largest exporters of manufactured goods in the developing world. In 1968, our imports of manufactures and semi-manufactures from developing countries were more than £550 million, nearly 15 per cent. of all our imports of these goods. That, I feel, is an extremely good record. I think in this matter it is almost as blessed to receive as to give.
Finally, I should like to reply to some points made by the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, in his final speech. First of all, I should like to thank him for the courteous way in which he referred to my problems and to the speeches of my noble friends Lord Chalfont and Lady Gaitskell. He, too, expressed firm support for the United Nations and for the need for aid as a policy which we must all support. But he then took the matter forward to a technical point which I will try to answer. It is a field with which I am not familiar so I should like just to read what the position is as Her Majesty's Government see it.
I understand that there are two types of agreement to which the noble Marquess might be referring. If he is referring to bilateral investment agreements covering the treatment of overseas investment by the host country of the type required by the United States, Germany, Japan, Sweden and some other countries, I should point out that the United Kingdom's attitude has always been that the subject of proper treatment of overseas investment is adequately covered by international law and does not require further codification in any 225 bilateral agreements. On the other hand, if the noble Lord is referring to investment guarantee agreements, the point is that a multilateral scheme to this end has been under discussion for some time in the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. These discussions have now been discontinued until the more developed countries express a real interest in such a scheme. This is apparently dormant. What the noble Marquess is suggesting is that perhaps the discussion should be reactivated. What I shall undertake to do is to draw the noble Marquess's points to the attention—
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
My Lords, I know that the noble Lord is trying to help me, but I am not quite sure that he has grasped my point. What I was trying to point out is that other countries lend money—this happens mostly in the private sector—which might be at risk for reasons other than commercial reasons; and this is covered by a system of guarantee. If this is done by many other countries, I cannot for the life of me see why we should not do it, too.
§ LORD WINTERBOTTOM
My Lords, this is an extremely technical point. I know now what the noble Marquess is getting at, and I should like to send him an authoritative letter on what is being done in this field.
§ LORD WINTERBOTTOM
The noble Marquess then went on to touch on two further points. First, the attitude of Her Majesty's Government to CENTO and SEATO in view of our revised defence policies. In the February, 1968, Statement on the Defence Estimates (Cmnd. 3540) we said that our membership of CENTO and SEATO would continue as one of the ways of demonstrating our continuing interest in the stability of the Middle East and the Far East. That is in Chapter I, paragraph 17. This still remains the position. As forecast in this 226 year's Statement on the Defence Estimates (Cmnd. 3927), the Canberra aircraft contributed to CENTO have now been replaced by Vulcan B.2s. These are based on Cyprus. We shall stop declaring forces to SEATO contingency plans when our withdrawal from Malaysia and Singapore is complete, but we shall continue to contribute staff to the Military Planning Office of SEATO after 1971. That is the position of Her Majesty's Government on these two points.
As regards the Anglo-Malaysian Defence Agreement, we have said all along that we shall have to reach a new understanding about it to reflect the changed circumstances after 1971. This was made clear in the Communiqué of the 1968 Five-Power Conference in Kuala Lumpur. and this is fully understood by our Commonwealth partners. The position in this matter remains unchanged since the 1968 Five-Power Conference.
My Lords, I think the time has come for me to release noble Lords, who have sat so late, to their dinners. I am most grateful to all of them who have remained so long and have listened so courteously to my attempt to draw together the threads of what has been a most interesting and to me a most encouraging debate. The element of unanimity that exists in this House, particularly in the field of the move towards our entry into the Common Market, must be of great assistance and encouragement to Her Majesty's Government; and, on behalf of the Government. I wish to thank noble Lords for their full support of our policies.
My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Jellicoe, I beg to move that this debate be now adjourned until Tuesday next.
§ Moved, That this debate be now adjourned until Tuesday next.—(Viscount Goschen.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to and debate adjourned accordingly.
§ House adjourned at twenty-five minutes past eight o'clock.