§ 4.7 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
§ BARONESS LLEWELYN-DAVIES OF HASTOE
My Lords, after that extremely important Statement, I should like to take your Lordships back to the outer world. I do not propose to follow the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, as I might have done, for I feel that the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, dealt with him effectively, if I may say so, on one particular point. The noble Baroness said that she found this a difficult subject to deal with, and in discussing it with many noble Lords I find that this is a general view. So much is involved in the whole problem of population, which is tied up with food resources, wealth, poverty, hunger and malnutrition. All these things form 173 a vicious circle, and as fast as one learns about one aspect, other problems just as serious pop up and one has to think about them, too.
No one, especially in your Lordships' House, wants to make an unconstructive speech, and the fact that my noble friend Lord Snow has put down this subject for discussion and dealt with it with such outstanding distinction is constructive in itself. Although it is only too easy to describe the tragedies of the hungry and the horrors of the pullulating shantytowns growing up all over the world, filled with unhealthy and under-employed people, it is very difficult to suggest courses of action to deal with the problems. Though in a sense this sounds contradictory, the solutions we have at the moment, such as they are, are entirely international and yet intensely local. That adds to the difficulties.
We all know that few of the developing countries, the poor countries as my noble friend calls them, can possibly produce the administrative, the sociological, the financial and research facilities, which they each need for their own particular way of tackling their problems. Equally, it is impossible for any outside State or international agency to impose solutions in matters which involve the whole economy of a country, its cultural traditions, its family life, its agricultural practices and all the rest of it. It is absolutely true that the Pearson Report, which your Lordships have discussed often, stated that:No other phenomenon casts a darker shadow over the prospects for international development than the staggering growth of population.As my noble friend Lord Snow pointed out, it is not that, initially, more babies were being born but that because of modern medicine more babies survived: and now, of course, more babies are still being born because those babies survived.
It is unthinkable that we should try to reverse this practice. It is equally unthinkable that we should try to withhold in any way the knowledge with which people can combat the terrible problems of population. It would not only be ethically wrong, but practically wrong, because the peoples of the world are growing much closer together. No longer do the poorer countries stay in their own backwater (if I may put it in 174 that way), but they see the standards which the rest of the world enjoys, and this inevitably brings frustration, aggression and unrest. So the whole world must attempt by some means to solve these problems.
We know about the 300 million people my noble friend referred to who are permanently hungry every day, but there is another problem which is perhaps even more immediate, and this is the problem of employment. A recent O E.C.D. Report pointed out that the G.N.P. growth rate was at an almost unprecedentedly high rate in economic history, yet nevertheless the problem of unemployment was getting worse and the G.N.P. growth rate had benefited only a minority of the people involved.
Arising from the population growth is another important factor; namely, that there is a serious imbalance of the population. Not all of your Lordships may know that 45 to 50 per cent. of the world's population are children. That means that they are dependent upon the adults who are producing what wealth there is to go round. Even more serious for the immediate future is the fact that owing to the unprecedented rise of the population in the 'fifties, there is a tremendous rise in the potential labour force now in the 'seventies. The O.E.C.D. has predicted that there will be 170 million more unemployed in the poorer countries, on top of the tens of millions who are already unemployed. This is a frightening problem, especially when one remembers that they are all young people.
Here, again, you have contradictory factors when you are trying to solve the problem, because it is a question of the total economy of the country, which includes planning, education, social security problems and all the rest of it, and above all the call of the towns to people in the backward rural areas. So you have to spend money to do something about the urban unemployment problems, but if you do so you will increase still further the plight of the poor from the rural areas. The first thing that I think everybody has to consider is how to improve the rural areas themselves: because one-third of the world's population is still living in those backward rural areas, and will continue to do so. The way to do that is first of all to spend money on agricultural 175 research. It is essential to improve agricultural methods.
But that also has to go hand-in-hand with social improvements, and where is the money to come from for all this? When I am in poor reserves in Africa talking to African peasants I am always reminded of the old American song after the First World War:How'ya gonna keep him down on the farm,After he's seen Paree?They think of Nairobi, the bright lights of Salisbury and the other capitals in just the same way. And why should they not?—because there are the things they want, like education, social security and better medicine, quite apart from the bright lights. So it must go hand-in-hand, and we have to think up new kinds of technology: we have to build on the things we have, like intermediate technology, which not merely give jobs to the people in the rural areas but teach them to be more self-reliant; not to look forward merely to becoming factory hands, especially when they will not get the jobs they want. These are the kinds of new technology on which we have to spend money and which we have to help the poorer countries to put into their own particular economies.
Then, again, we need a new approach to education. It may sound rather topsy-turvy, but if you are improving farming methods it is probable that you have to concentrate your education on the adults rather than on the children, because as the adults are working on the land the children cannot be expected to affect their farming methods. Equally—and we are back to the old problem—if you take the children into the traditional primary education, then they will not want to stay on the farms, because it does not equip them for that. So, once more, whichever way you think of it, new problems crop up as you are solving the old ones. In the matter of education there are problems that our fathers and those splendid teaching missionaries never even thought of. But they must be solved, and solved urgently, as my noble friend and the noble Baroness have both said.
Again, if you improve farming methods you have to produce markets in which the farmers can sell their produce. This, in its turn, means more town planning. 176 Probably we should plan to expand the existing market towns and have small cities rather than improve the great metropolitan centres. All this would be a conscious act of planning policy. So far we have not trained enough people either to teach other people in those countries or even to do it ourselves as expatriates. So we have to make all our efforts towards training in all these different subjects.
Then again, in the towns, once you are improving the rural areas—and the whole thing has to be done side by side—we must have a new approach to industrial problems. For instance, we must have a more labour-intensive policy for industry, and equally for construction work. Most of the big construction works are undertaken by large expatriate companies which, quite rightly for their own reasons, bring in their own machinery and do not use much local labour. That is right from their point of view, but it is wrong from the point of view of the individual country itself. So here again we need a new approach and a new thinking towards this kind of problem.
The Council of Europe had an extremely valuable Report on Employment and Development in 1970, which called for a greater labour-intensive kind of programme; and when the noble Baroness comes to speak again I shall be interested to know whether the Government have taken notice of that Report. Perhaps also when the Government are discussing matters of this kind with organisations like the Commonwealth Development Corporation this approach to construction and industry can be discussed with them, so that a new way of thinking comes right through the general approach. But whatever we do about the immediate problem of employment, the whole thing will turn for the future—both the immediate and the long-term future—on population; and, as the noble Baroness has said, this means adequate family planning programmes throughout the world.
At this point I should like to welcome very warmly indeed the statement the noble Baroness made about the increased amounts given to various kinds of population programmes by the Government. If I may say so in passing, I greatly welcome the contributions to the International Planned Parenthood Federation, 177 which does a magnificent job. Of course, we always look a gift horse in the mouth, and we should like the contribution to be even greater, but if the noble Baroness can explain to me what percentage of our aid this amounts to I shall be grateful. I gave her notice of a slightly similar question. I found that a little country like Norway, when it was allocating aid, specified that 10 per cent. of it should be devoted to family planning programmes, and I wonder what percentage the United Kingdom Government are aiming at in that regard.
As the noble Baroness said, the difficulties about family planning are political, ideological, sociological, religious and even racial. Wherever you go, you will arouse the most fundamental emotions and reactions. As a small illustration of individual political difficulties, the programme in India, to which the noble Baroness referred, has been bitterly criticised by the Communists as just an effort to cover up the economic failures of the Government. You encounter this kind of reaction particularly in the poorer countries, where you sometimes have to run ahead of local opinion. We all know about the broader religious difficulties, the fact that Roman Catholic influence slowed down the United Nations' programmes for curing the population problem, but Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam also have their own difficulties. They have some misgivings about the freedom of the individual to evade his predetermined destiny. All these things cause people to be suspicious of plans for the limitation of population.
On the racial question, again to which the noble Baroness referred, and which my noble friend Lord Snow put in the global sense, and with which I entirely agree, in Africa, when training nurses in various post certificate courses, and, of course, in family planning, I encountered enthusiasm among the women, but the deepest suspicion among the men. They were convinced that the "wicked white men" were trying to limit the black population. As my noble friend Lord Snow said, you need trust and you need education to overcome that kind of difficulty. The United Nations Population Commission will also have this kind of difficulty because the Socialist countries and Latin America and Africa, tend to think that 178 it is the "wicked, imperialist, capitalist beast" which is putting a smoke screen over the rest of what he is doing by trying to keep down their population. Again, it is a question of education and trust.
Nevertheless, we have to solve the problem in spite of all these things. Basically what we must do is to have more research. This is undoubtedly at the back of the possible solutions that are available. The Ford Foundation estimated that we need to spend 170 million dollars annually to break the back of the problem, whereas for the past five years the world has spent only 35 million dollars annually. So there is a very large gap to be taken up. But in spite of the fact that this research must be carried out internationally, questions of family planning can only be dealt with at grass roots level, and can only be dealt with together with family welfare and health schemes.
Apart from the fact that this is morally right, it is the only way to reach the women, and it is only through women that we shall get serious family limitation. You cannot rely on men to take the matter seriously, because it is not they who have the babies. This is an eternal truth, whatever the colour of your skin. It is the women who will bring this about in the end, but for this, again, you need education. Not only must the mothers be educated; you have to educate the grandmothers also; you have to change cultural patterns and family traditions. That can only be done locally and cannot be imposed from the outside. In this, the status of women and the role of women is of paramount importance. Where the status of women is improved, you almost automatically get a fall in the population rate. The fathers have to accept a slightly different role in family life in the poorer countries.
On this point, I was touched by an account I read by a Japanese lady describing the different sort of family that there had to be. She said that before the war the father in a Japanese home was,all powerful and showed big concern. But it is better to have a consulting father than a ruling father; a whispering father than a shouting father; a democratic father than an all powerful father. We are in a democratic society, and if raised in a democratic family atmosphere we shall be good democrats.I think that goes for other places rather nearer home as well as for Japan. It is 179 a key point that family planning touches the family and the root of everything that is closest to mankind.
We must have more money spent on research and, like my noble friend Lord Snow, I welcome what the World Bank has done. It is particularly important because people are not so suspicious of the World Bank. Senator Fulbright once said that nobody had ever seen, "World Bank Go Home" chalked up on anybody's wall. That is the kind of way in which we can help to solve this problem.
Turning to the question of food resources, this is a difficult aspect of the problem, because it is both international and local; and again the key to it is more research, and for more money to be spent on research. Quite apart from improving agricultural methods, which we talked about before, we must have new kinds of food. Also, and perhaps even more difficult, we have to have new patterns of eating, especially in the poorer countries. It is quite probable—I do not know whether my noble friend will wholly agree with me—that, given proper administration and distribution, with the green revolution we could solve the calorie problem—enough cereals, and so on. But, even if we solve that problem, the next problem is protein. Cereals only allow people to survive, whereas protein provides the energy for work, for development and for raising people up to proper living standards. There is not enough of the ordinary protein available in the world, so we have to have new kinds.
I have been reading lately a fascinating book by a Dr. Pirie called, Food Resources. It is a Pelican book and I recommend it to your Lordships, not only because it is fascinating and extremely witty, but because the proceeds from the book go to Oxfam, so I should like to give it a "plug". Dr. Pirie describes the different new forms of protein: leaf protein, coconut protein, oils protein and microbial protein. I am quite sure that my noble friend Lord Blackett will be describing this in greater detail. For instance, they are growing yeast protein on the waste products of petrol, which sounds very odd. Indeed, when you tell people that you are going to feed them on that they say, "We would sooner eat grass." That is one 180 of the problems: you have to teach people new dietary habits.
I was reminded that when Captain Cook was in a difficulty, not having enough food for his sailors, he tried to persuade them to eat walrus. He had great difficulty in persuading them to do so, although they were practically starving. He complained about his crew'signorant opposition to my best endeavours to serve them. Every innovation whatever on board ship, though ever so much to the advantage of seamen, is sure to meet with their highest disapprobation.This always happens when one tries to introduce new foods to people. My noble friend Lady Scrota reminds me that it is just the same with our own families. Here again, this is a matter of education and sending the right people, because it is no use sending to underdeveloped countries teams of people who sit and eat their own food out of tins; they must eat exactly the same foods as they are suggesting to the people who live in the country concerned. As I say, this again is a matter of education and training the right people.
For instance, tremendous difficulties were encountered with the yeast protein I was just describing. When it was introduced to a vegetarian community in South India it was repudiated because it smelt of meat. When it was introduced to a Muslim community it was repudiated because of its association with alcohol. So it is always important, as Dr. Pine points out, to consult the local theologians first, and if possible obtain their cooperation, or at any rate make sure that they are not going to be hostile. Such are the smaller problems which illustrate the enormous extent of what we are to do if the world is to survive this crisis.
It is, my Lords, a tremendous challenge. In 1962 Professor Sir Julian Huxley was talking about the science of ecology, which he called the science of balanced relations of living organisms and their environment. He said:Ecology will become the basic science of our new age, with physics and chemistry and technology as its handmaidens and not its masters.My Lords, I wish that were true. When we think that we spend far more on one single aspect of physics, such as the nucleus or space, than all we spend on agricultural research, on population research and on medicine put together, it 181 makes us feel a slight sense of despair. We must have new thinking; we must have a different kind of intellectual effort. We must meet this challenge. Man has usually met the challenges that arise. This one is probably the most serious that he has ever faced.
§ 4.33 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF LINCOLN
My Lords, there are two closely associated matters covered by this debate on which I should like to speak, quite briefly. I do not intend to say anything about world population or its control, but I would largely associate myself with things that other noble Lords have said on that subject. The first matter, one that I think we must consider more seriously, is the implications of maintaining our Western industrial concept of the standard of living; and along with it the tacit assumption that ultimately this must be something which is shared by the whole world, including the underdeveloped countries.
The second matter is the implications of some of the methods whereby we are enabled to intensify the production of food. In this connection, we ought in this debate to pay tribute to the work which is done in research stations and laboratories. I know of one particular plant-breeding station where the results in producing a much greater yield in new strains of wheat have been quite remarkable over the last five or ten years. We ought not to underestimate the importance of what could be achieved, particularly if sufficient money were available for that work to be greatly extended.
However, there is another aspect of the intensification of food production, and that is the possible dangers on the land itself. It is taken for granted not only that we must maintatin our existing standard of living but that in fact it is reasonable that much of our effort and economy should be directed to increasing that standard; and to this objective both Government and industry demand a certain annual increase in the gross national product. But to do this we are required to have industrial processes which are cheap enough to compete with the industries of other countries in order that we may continue to gain world markets. But such cheap expansion of industry means that industry itself cannot afford the high cost of avoiding pollution 182 of rivers and coastal waters, and of the environment itself, unless other similar industries in other parts of the world are prepared to do the same. Yet to allow the means by which our standard of living is maintained or increased to destroy the elements in the environment which are essential for man's wellbeing must clearly in the long run prove quite disastrous.
Similarly, in the field of agriculture the desire for greater yields and greater profits—and there is nothing wrong in these things by themselves; clearly they are needed—may lead us to methods of agriculture which can break down even the richest soil. Quick return in any process which is handling or using natural resources without a proper consideration for the wellbeing either of the present generation or, still more important, of future generations can only spell disaster. We ought not to forget that the North African deserts were once the granary of Rome. I believe that sufficient evidence is available to show that we cannot remain complacent about these things in this country and certainly not in the field of agriculture.
Towards the latter part of last year there was an article in The Times, under the heading "British Soils Under Strain", by Professor Aimey. He wrote:British soils over quite large areas of this country are under strain. The last three years have demonstrated this only too clearly to the men who farm them.Quite recently in Lincolnshire a leading agriculturist told me of certain lands in the county which he considered were now so severely strained that their future agricultural use was very questionable. Just because the strain is not illustrated in any spectacular way, it is easy for the strain to be discounted and for the damage to continue; and the situation is not likely to be improved while the farmer and the farm worker must still continue to subsidise large urban populations with cheap food. Inevitably, in the present financial climate of the agricultural industry methods of cultivation are being employed which are using up both the soil structure and the fertility which a balanced husbandry over many generations has slowly built up. If we lose that soil structure and fertility, it is replaced only at the cost of great expense and, of course, time.
183 In the days of the agricultural depression, many years ago, I remember an old farm worker saying to me about a farmer who came in and was taking everything out of the land and putting nothing back, "It isn't right. We owe it to the land." That is what I mean by "reverence"—a sense that in dealing with the natural things you must have a certain reverence and regard for them in themselves, apart from the benefits which they may confer upon you. I believe that the scientist displays precisely such an attitude in the particular field of his research. There is a detached concern and regard for the matters which are engaging his attention. But I believe that equally the results of the scientists, particularly when they are expressed in technological processes, must be subject to the same kind of appraisal. We cannot allow the basic means of man's existence to be destroyed, in the interests either of immediate profit or of a short-term increase in the standard of living. The standard of living must be related to the capacity of the natural environment to renew itself. If we use the environment in such a way that it does not renew itself, then we are bringing the disaster even nearer to hand.
There must, therefore, be a new dimension in which we think about these matters. A particular process may be technologically possible, but it does not necessarily follow that it is in the best interests of society for the future that that particular process should be pursued: it may have side-effects which are infinitely more dangerous and harmful than the immediate benefits of the process. Up to now it has generally been assumed that man's exploitation of the world in which he lives and of the natural resources could be made good. But it is no longer possible to make that assumption. I believe that there is an inevitable implication in this case that as never before the processes by which man lives, propagates, cultivates, makes profits for his own fulfilment—all these must be subject to the moral judgments of society, both nationally and internationally and, man being what he is, I do not believe that this can be done without some forms of both international agreement and national legislation.
§ 4.43 p.m.
§ LORD BLACKETT
My Lords, I want to start by expressing what I am sure all noble Lords present feel, namely, our great gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Snow, for introducing this exciting debate. It was a powerful performance and to me it was entirely emotionally convincing. I think I agree with almost everything he said, but I have some differences about attitude to them. I feel a little like the would-be philosopher in the 18th century who tried to learn philosophy and then gave it up saying, "The trouble is that cheerfulness keeps breaking in". I think we underestimate the rapidity of the change in the world attitude to these matters. Only twenty or thirty years ago these things were not discussed at all. I remember that when I gave an address to the British Association in Dublin in 1957, in which I very gently and tactfully referred to the population problem, the next day the headlines in the paper were "Professor Go Home". I do not think that would happen now.
If it takes, as the noble Lord, Lord Snow, mentioned, 30 years to double the population—and I will come back to that point in a moment—society has 30 years in which to change its fundamental assumption. After all, a great deal has happened in my long lifetime. I was born in the era of the high point of British imperialism—and look what we have been through! All these things we have taken in our stride and they have not destroyed us, and I have an irrational "hunch" that we are not going to destroy ourselves over this issue, although I may not be able to put it very rationally. I think one of the reasons is that it is extremely important—and I constantly do it—to express a situation in a few striking figures, as the noble Lord, Lord Snow, has done. It is also important to go behind the figures, to break them down and see what things are really like.
May I say straight out that the assumption is that we are going to destroy ourselves through failure to cure population growth. But of whom are we saying this? Speaking from a limited knowledge of China and one visit there, I think it is the least likely thing in the world for them to do. They have their population under extreme control and they could decrease it or increase it, just as they wanted to. I do not know about the 185 Soviet countries, but at any rate two of them—Jugoslavia and Hungary—and also Japan, have got their birth rate down to a level for stabilisation. With a life expectancy of 70 years, a 14 per 1,000 birth rate—that is per 1,000 of the population—is needed per year to stabilise the population, and three countries have already achieved it, for some reason or other. What they can do others can do. If you go round the world you will find very different conditions, but when you go to those countries you find that things can be done.
Going back to what I was saying before, there are more things to be done over here than perhaps noble Lords have so far suggested. But countries are so extremely different. The African countries are not going to destroy themselves. They have plenty of land, and in so far as they can get any capital they are all right for time. America, ourselves and Europe are the ones who have to make up our minds what to do, and I say quite frankly that I am glad the noble Lord reminded us of the recommendations of the Commission on Population in regard to stabilisation. It was so long ago that I had forgotten it, but I think it is perfectly sensible to fix a target by which Britain should decide notionally on a date by which to achieve a rough stabilisation of the population.
Let us go back to the figures which the noble Lord, Lord Snow, gave us. In this year, 1971, there are 3.5 billion people in the world. This total is increasing at the rate of 2 per cent. a year, and by the year 2000, as we were told, it will be about 7 billion. If you went on for two more periods of 30 years each there would be another factor of 4, or so, and you would reach something like 30 billion, which is said to be the maximum possible number of people that can be squeezed upon this globe, however poorly housed. It is a crazy top limit.
I agree with all that was said, that it is highly unlikely that the things we can do now will make a great difference in the rise during the next 30 years from 3.5 to 7 billion. That is probably true. Nevertheless, it is vital that the changes are started well before the end of that period because it must work in the latter period. I am sure that we can afford, without a terrific disaster, an expansion 186 to 7 billion, but we cannot afford at all the expansion to 30 billion. Stabilisation has been suggested in some of the American documents, which aim at stabilisation by about 2050, or something like that—half-way through the second factor of 10. That seems to me to be a reasonable figure that could be planned for.
Why should not some group here go into the question of working out realistically what the change in Britain would be like, socially, economically and industrially, if it aimed at stabilisation by 2050, or perhaps a little later?—it could not be done by the year 2000. This has not been thought of; it has not been worked out. As the American books have said, there are no biological difficulties in stabilisation, it is purely a fact of the economics being quite different. What is the motor industry going to be like with a stable population? All kinds of things like that have to be thought out. All the countries will have different problems and will look at the question of stabilisation in different ways. Someone has to start. Why should not this country, if we believe in stabilisation, say that we will seriously consider working it out. I am not suggesting that the Government should undertake this; I am sure that private bodies would do it much better, would be less inhibited, and could tell the Government the result. We could do it in this country and then collaborate with our foreign colleagues in other countries.
Who is going to flood the world with people? The country I am most interested in and sympathetic to is India. India does not have a land surplus. It is doing well in the Green Revolution, but it is absolutely vital that this should be followed by generous aid—because the limit of the Green Revolution is now capital investment. India does not have the capital investment for all the other things that are needed: fertilisers, pesticides, tractors, storage and education. All that costs money. So the limitation of the green revolution is not biological; it is purely investment, and therefore aid. India constitutes a very serious problem. No one has tried to rule 400 million people by a democratic parliamentary system, and I think India is doing rather well. It certainly has not been tried in Europe. India has a difficulty and knows it. It has ideological objection to birth 187 control of any type, and is making propaganda with extreme energy. It has not managed to cover a large part of the population, because it is such a vast population. If you take India as a difficult case making a valiant attempt, we could enormously help India with its problems, including extension of the green revolution, if we doubled aid. As I pointed out in your Lordships' House a year ago, India gets the lowest fraction of aid per capita of any of the develop-countries from the O.E.C.D. An extra 1 per cent. of aid to India would enormously facilitate many of these things we want done.
South America I know little about. There you have ideological and religious objections to be cleared away before anything can happen. Europe has no ideological objections. Stabilisation in Europe is possible, if it is necessary. I am not saying that they should necessarily do it, but if it is necessary to set an example it is a small price to pay. If you go to the various countries you do not find extreme gloom—maybe they ought to be gloomy, but they are not all gloomy. I think there are many more things to be done than are evidenced in some of the discussions to-day.
Since various speakers have said almost everything that I think ought to be said, I will spend only a short time thinking about what we can do. We are here, in spite of our difficulties, an extremely prosperous country, a very comfortable, happy country. What can we do, those of us who feel about this problem and think that it is extremely dangerous and that something must be done? First, far more study of the problem must be done. It was not studied thirty years ago. Economists are still completely divided as to whether the appropriate technology is a dirty word or a good word. All these problems of technology and so on are extremely important. Economists have not made up their minds.
All kinds of intellectual discussions are needed to think about these things, about the effects of the changes that should be made. Anything that can be done to spread family planning is obviously of high priority. It is outside my field, but certainly it ought to be supported to the useful extent. What is the 188 useful extent? Economists in India have worked out by simple calculations that it would pay India to spend 150 dollars to stop one life. That is an estimate of the cost—this is in a country where the income per head is 100 dollars a year—to clothe and house and set a man to work. That is a rough figure, something comparable to the income per head. Aid to India in these sorts of things should indirectly help them to reduce the birth rate, because that will help the industrialisation of the country. The usual argument is generally true, that the better the standard of life, the less the incentive to have lots of children to cover lack of an insurance system. So that kind of aid can be indirectly one of the ways of helping them. The intellectual thought about the subject is what I am really interested in, to consider whether in fact a definite target for a standardised population is not sensible politics.
§ 4.57 p.m.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
My Lords, it is my lot—perhaps I should say my luck—to be in the position of having to follow a Member of your Lordships' House of the distinction of the noble Lord, Lord Blackett. At the same time, many of your Lordships, notwithstanding that this is a debate on food shortage, are anxious for some tea. I will do my best in a very few minutes to make some contribution.
It is conventional for us to thank the initiators of these debates, and I hope that if I thank the noble Lord, Lord Snow, for raising this question I shall not be considered entirely conventional. In the two years that I have been attending your Lordships' House regularly this seems to me much the most important debate in which we have engaged, and I am honoured to take part in it. It is also conventional to try to make contributions to such debates out of some experience, and I am afraid that I cannot offer very much. I suppose my best raison d'être is that I have a reasonable statistical likelihood of bearing the brunt of our present population policies. I suppose that I should, with a bit of luck, survive until the year 2000.
It is extremely difficult to experience this problem existentially, yet that is what we have to learn to do. I do not know how many of your Lordships have 189 been hungry. I have to say, to my shame, that I have not. I have witnessed hunger. I have been working in refugee camps in Jordan, but only for some three months of my life; and that is the only time I have come face to face with it. Like most people who have nudged into their thirties and see the great acres of middle age spreading before us, when I think of food I think of it as a temptation increasingly to be resisted, and that is a problem to us in the rich West. We do not experience this phenomenon sensually. Unless we can experience our task sensually, I think life will be difficult for us. "Bring back Lent" might be the moral in this context.
I did, however, have a kind of Jungian or racial experience of the problem in that I was born and brought up in Ireland. I should like to issue a caveat, in so far as I can, about hopes for the Green Revolution based on the experience of that country. As your Lordships may remember, in the early nineteenth century Ireland went through a Green Revolution of her own. A poor country, she nevertheless was able, through the adoption of the potato crop, to sustain a relatively high standard of living, given the low standards of the time. In terms of goods or money, the Irish population were very badly off. They had to raise, in difficult soil, cereal crops, in order to pay rent and to meet their requirements under the land tenure at the time. Nevertheless, there was always enough food to go round.
But when that Green Revolution failed—and monocultures, as your Lordships know, are singularly prone to failure and to dangers—a complete ecological, environmental, social and historical disaster took place; and we are still reaping the fruits of that disaster. It would ill become me to be complacent or to see any cheerfulness in the great hunger of Ireland; but one has to face the fact that in those days there was somewhere for the Irish to go. If we were faced to-day with this difficulty all over the world there would be no place for us to go: there is no America across the seas of space for us to colonise.
The noble Lord, Lord Snow, moved me very much when he said that in his experience there is not a single statesman in the Western World who has the trust and confidence of those who have a sensual 190 experience of poverty of this kind. I lived for some years in America, and I had the honour to know slightly the late Senator Kennedy, of whom your Lordships may have been reminded by Mr. Jenkin's excellent article recently in The Times. Senator Kennedy, by a nice irony I thought, as very much an Irishman, seemed to me to be the one person I have met, or perhaps read about, who had this opportunity, and it was tragic that a short time after I met him he was cut down before there was a chance of his using his gifts in that direction. We must, I think, provide, not leadership exactly, but counsel; and the only way we can supply this is to start taking our own advice, to counsel ourselves.
The noble Lord, Lord Snow, said that he saw a ray of hope in the attitudes of the year. Again, I have some sensuous experience of this as a university teacher. My pupils come to me with great regularity and say, "We understand that you have something to do with politics, albeit politics of which we are suspicious. Can you advise us if there is anything we can do, if there is any organisation we can get into in order to help the Third World, and to earn our living thereby?" One of the things which impresses me about them is that they are most anxious to enter this field of endeavour professionally; they are not concerned to put in two or three months of charitable activity; they want to know their stuff and to execute it.
I want now to come to the difficult question of what politics can do. I agree very much with my noble friend Lady Tweedsmuir that one cannot initiate vast cultural shifts politically. It seems to me that political action is most mature when it is sensitive and responsive to already extant cultural shifts. But that does not mean that we pack it up, those of us who are interested or work in politics. We have to remain alive to the cultural possibilities, to the change of attitudes which are available to us.
It is here, if I may risk charges of parochialism from the noble Lord, Lord Snow, that I feel that your Lordships' House is doing a good job. It is becoming increasingly clear that the great political issues of the modern world are essentially cultural; they are not fundamentally political. You could say that 191 Russia, China, the developed countries, the undeveloped countries for the last hundred years, have all, whatever their differences, however close they have come to war, however many wars they have engaged in, had a single objective, the amelioration of the lot of the lower sections of mankind or the more deprived sections of mankind. I do not think there is much historical argument about that. But, by the ironies of human psychology, these very objectives, the very closeness of such objectives, have brought us time and again to the brink of self-destruction.
But I find in a developed country such as ours an enormous hope, an enormous joy, in the fact that we have within the framework of our Legislature an arena in which we can debate and filter through some of these alarming and also challenging cultural affairs. It would be a great shame, I think, in spite of my respect for the media (I have myself been a journalist) if we were restricted to the mass media for such a debate, if there were no legislative forum in which such matters could be aired; and that is why I am doubly grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Snow, for raising this issue.
Finally, there are, I think, a few signs outside that a cultural shift is taking place which may improve our situation vis-à-vis population. In the last few days—we still have a few ahead of us—we have been debating in Committee questions about drugs. We have had debates here recently about sexual permissiveness, sexual matters, especially as they are disseminated throughout our culture on the mass media. I am not at the moment going to state my views on either of those questions, but I think that even those of your Lordships who are most alarmed at some of the concerns that we are taking up, our sexual permissiveness, our interest in drugs, would have to admit that these are increasingly biological. Our tastes and our habits of living, our cultural patterns, are becoming directed, both for good and ill, towards the whole man, towards the bodily human unit.
When I was an undergraduate ten years ago, most of us thought more about cars than we did about people. I notice a large shift in my students away from the hard machine to what William Burroughs calls "the soft machine"; that 192 is to say, man himself. Even if this produces alarming tendencies, or tendencies that one feels one should resist, it seems to me to be a new humanism which may come to our aid.
The only thing possibly controversial that I have to say, I say as a Christian of a kind, with considerable regret and reluctance. It appears to me that a great Church is doing active harm to the chances of mankind of ameliorating its population crisis. I urge all of your Lordships who are Roman Catholic as I try to remind myself who am somewhat of a High Anglo-Catholic, to put pressure in secular organisations as well as in spiritual ones, for a rational re-approach to this problem. Again, the attitudes of the Roman Church towards birth control are perfectly respectable, decent, even inspiring in a different cultural context, but they have, I think, to shift to meet our new requirements. If occasionally we can find time from the pressure of legislative work, from putting our own garden in order in this country and in this Chamber, to raise great issues and to debate them, I do not think that we shall be shirking our own tasks in this matter.
§ BARONESS GAITSKELL
My Lords, before the noble Earl sits down may I ask him a question about his speech? Am I right in thinking that he said that politics cannot change culture patterns? I thought he said that.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
No, my Lords. What I meant—I may not have expressed myself very clearly—is that the sort of politics that I personally most admire are responsive to cultural changes; that all great changes in human events are in fact cultural rather than political in their inception.
§ 5.10 p.m.
§ LORD SORENSEN
My Lords, the noble Earl who has again resumed his seat asked a minute or two ago whether any noble Lords had been hungry. I can assure him that I am very hungry at the present time, and I shall be glad to go to the tea room before it closes and have a round of toast and a cup of tea. I agree that I have never been compulsorily hungry, although my wife has been at one particular stage in her life. However, like the noble Earl, I have seen many who are hungry. It is because one 193 has seen so many who have been hungry, and are hungry at the present time, partly through, but not entirely, population pressure, that I join with other noble Lords in expressing gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Snow, for having introduced this subject this afternoon.
Heretofore I have noticed that most of the references have been made to the world as a whole rather than to this country. I will just briefly take a glance at the other parts of the world excepting this country, but I wish to confine my own remarks mainly to the population problem in our own land. The noble Lord, Lord Blackett, who spoke so impressively a moment or two ago, referred to India, which he knows very well. I, too, have taken a great interest in that country. I know that members of all Parties in that country are profoundly perplexed and concerned about the Malthusian problem which appears in that particular context; for although the Malthusian thesis may be modified in various ways here or there, certainly it is true at the moment that in India fertility is constantly outrunning available means of subsistence, even though there has been a great advance technologically and in the world of agriculture. Reference has been made to the Green Revolution. In three provinces now they are not only producing enough food for themselves within the province, but also exporting food. That is all to the good, but there are many provinces in India, and it will take a long time before the same kind of revolution spreads through the whole of the land.
In spite of the great efforts, both by the Government of India and by voluntary associations, to spread the knowledge of birth control and provide the means thereof, it is still true that 13 million per year are added to the population of India and that at that rate it is estimated that by the end of the century the population of India will be getting on for 1,000 million souls. They may or may not by that time be able to develop their technology and their agriculture to provide at least some kind of living for those 1,000 million people who will be in that land in the year 2000. I doubt it. In any case, whatever the Family Planning Association and the Government efforts of a similar character do at the present moment, they can make no difference to the population of India for a long, long time.
194 But although India is in that predicament, elsewhere it is rather different. I must say, too, in passing, that as regards India we should be grateful for the courage of Archbishop Roberts of the Society of Jesus, who, although Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bombay, was so impressed by the appalling squalor and suffering of the Indians in his locality that in the end he did more than anyone else to awaken the Roman Catholic Church to the realities of the situation which theretofore they had avoided or sometimes had distorted. In the Roman Catholic Church a great deal has gone on since the courageous work of that remarkable Archbishop. Many others have joined in with him, and to-day we see some modification of the attitude taken by that venerable Church. I only wish they had the same latitude and freedom that the Church of England has in this country, where it has certainly altered its opinion during the course of the last 60 years.
In Africa there are locally acute problems of malnutrition, hunger, and population pressure, but elsewhere it is not so bad. It is a vast continent. There are great natural resources, and there is opportunity for expansion. So far as I can tell, the same kind of problem is not likely to exist in that continent as already exists in, for example, India. There is malnutrition in Africa—I have seen it myself—largely due to faulty distribution or to an unbalanced diet, but into this we cannot go at the moment. Reference has been made to South America, a continent of which we know little in Europe. There, indeed, there is appalling poverty and wretchedness, again partly due to the inhibitions that still exist in that country against means of trying to prevent excessive fertility.
In this country, on the whole, we have a much lower birth rate than we had years ago—and in Europe, too, though this again is patchy. I would remind your Lordships that in Spain and Portugal, and in other countries—Eire, for instance, and I think in Italy still, though it has been to some extent qualified—there is a legal prohibition on any kind of family planning except that which has been ordained by the Papacy. In spite of that, a good deal of birth control does exist, but it is by subterfuge; it must be by disguise. Taking Europe as a whole, it is true that we have a much lower birth rate 195 than formerly, and compared with most of the rest of the world our standard of life is certainly high; though again I would remind your Lordships that precariously we depend very largely on oil. If we are cut off from the main sources of our oil in the Middle East, we shall indeed be in a very sad way.
Now let us look at this country in particular. To my mind it is imperative that in this small island, with at present 56 million people, we should restrict our population as a policy. I say that because if one turns up the Annual Abstract of Statistics, or seeks any other information of the same nature, it is generally agreed that by the end of this century, even with a lower birth rate than we had formerly, the population of the country will be between 65 and 70 million people. Even if we allow for the fluctuations of immigration and emigration, they will not make much difference to those figures, because at the present time immigration and emigration are virtually in balance; sometimes a few more come in than go out, and sometimes the reverse.
It is now generally agreed that in 30 years' time the population of the country will be up to some 70 million people. What does that mean in human terms? It means that in the next 30 years 14 million or 15 million people will need extra housing. At the present time we still have not caught up with the great need for decent accommodation for the people of this country, and in some ways indeed we are being retrogressive. Be that as it may, think of what it means in capital expenditure, in energy and skill, over the next 30 years. Take transport: think again what that means. When I go home tonight I shall go down a road known as Lea Bridge Road. It is exactly three miles long. It is one of the funnels through which traffic pours out of an evening. There are only three ways out of London into Essex. Many people live in the further districts of Epping, They-don Bois and Loughton, and further afield still. If I am in the rush hour, it often takes me something like half an hour to do three miles. I mention that only to give some indication of what traffic congestion means at the moment. Add to that another 50 per cent. in the next 30 years, and think what that means in 196 having to provide adequate transport for millions of people who have to pass from where they live to where they work and back again in the evening, in the Metropolis or elsewhere.
Think again, my Lords, of the amount of land that will be taken away from farming. Think of the destruction of amenities. Already many of our amenities are being spoiled because of the great road system which is now essential. Our farmers have done wonderfully well in the last twenty or thirty years in increasing yields, but it is estimated that with the decreased amount of land available, due to housing, roads and so on, the farming community will have to produce 60 to 80 per cent. more from each acre than they do now, in order to provide only one half of the food that we shall then consume.
Turning to another aspect, we all know that there is great difficulty at present in trying to guarantee an efficient and adequate water supply over the next few years. Reservoirs are being constructed here and there, to the annoyance of many who do not wish their meadowlands to be taken from them. There are complaints made by one part of the country against another part, such as the complaint that Wales has been invaded in order to supply water to English cities and towns. But the need for that will be doubled in the next 30 years, due to population pressure. In the field of education, too, it is estimated that to provide for the children who will require education in the next 30 years over 3,000 extra schools will have to be constructed.
I am not saying that all this cannot be done, but we must appreciate the enormous strain, not only on our capital resources but also on our labour, merely to catch up with ourselves. That is why I say, although we are more forunate than many other countries, that the problem of the population explosion affects us, too. Do we want our lovely country to be further despoiled? Do we want further pollution, a further avalanche of noise and further stretches of asphalt? Do we want to be spending a great deal of our time simply trying to keep pace with our expansion? Or should we not try to appreciate even more than we have done up to now the importance of the quality of life?
197 The problem in this country is a very serious one, but fortunately there are remedies. One becomes bewildered when one thinks of what this country might have been if our birthrate had remained as it was even in the days when I was born. Infant mortality has declined strikingly in the last hundred years. In 1870 it was 150 per 1,000; in 1890 it was 145 per 1,000; in 1967 it was 18.8 per 1,000, and I believe that it is now 18.5 per 1,000. That means that with the extension of medical knowledge, as well as with better sanitation, better housing and more amenities, we are saving human life. The overall figures of mortality have also declined. In 1870 the figure for males was 23.3 per 1,000, and it is now 11.8 per 1,000; while the figure for females has dropped from 20.8 per 1,000 in 1870 to 10.6 per 1,000 to-day. This is all to the good, but it provides us with an extra problem of how to maintain a decent standard of life. Also, it must be recognised that the size of the average family is such that by the year 2000 there will be a population in this country of something like 70 million.
As I have said, there are remedies, and there have been remedies in the past. Birth control of a technical nature may be relatively modern, but we could still employ the older methods of birth control. We could care less for the aged. We could say that there shall be less, or no, medical treatment for the senile, into which class I would put myself and one or two others who are not here to-night. We could reduce the amount of pensions given to the aged and make it more uncomfortable for them to live, and we could give them less nourishment. At the other end of the scale, we could say that we will not coddle children, and that if there are weak, inadequate, imperfect, malformed children, we should let them die. We could see to it that they no longer had milk to sustain them at school. We could abolish family allowances. We could do everything possible, at both ends of the scale, to those who are not likely to be productive or useful to the community, to see that they rapidly passed away from the earthly stage.
I am sure that no one here would tolerate for a single moment any such ideas. But there are other methods, apart from death, which have been employed in the past. There is the incidence of 198 war, and not necessarily on a world scale. From a purely cynical standpoint, we could say that a few local wars here and there to wipe out a few millions would be extremely beneficial. There are those who claim that we could solve the problem by emigration, and there was a time when that was advanced as the "cure-all". There were the great open spaces of Australia—even though it is mostly sandy desert. Then there is Canada, to which millions have gone from this country and to which millions more could go. But it is estimated that, in order to get the population stabilised, the emigration of something like 300,000 a year for the next 30 years would be required, which is not likely to happen.
There are those who argue that the noblest method of limiting population is by what Malthus called "sexual or moral restraint". That is practised in some parts of the world. In Ireland, the average age for marriage is several years higher than it is in this country, which is one way of limiting the population. They also enlist a large number of people into the priesthood, into nunneries, convents and monasteries where they are celibate, and in that way prevent a much more severe expansion. But I believe that that method is utterly impracticable. Malthus's advice is all very well for those who are not human, but those who are human will ignore it. Therefore one puts that on one side, although the theory is still advanced. I am a great admirer of the late Mahatma Gandhi, but I criticised him in some respects—and I told him so—for he advised moral restraint as the one means by which the population of India could be restricted. Then that very great woman, Raj Kumari Amrit Kaur, who was Minister of Health, followed in his footsteps and was very mischievous (though not intentionally) in regard to the problem that we are considering.
Finally, my Lords, I come to contraception. If we reject war, if we still exercise compassion for the aged and concern for the young, if we consider that to encourage moral or sexual restraint is not only impracticable but fundamentally unsound, then there is only one method by which the population of the world can be restricted; that is, by contraception. Here we are encouraged by the fact that to-day the mood of this country, of the Establishment and of 199 other lands, too, is strikingly different from what it was not so many years ago.
It is good, for instance, to turn back to the report of the Lambeth Conference of Bishops in 1958. This is particularly significant because when this Conference spoke it spoke with the backing not only of the Bishops but of the laity and, I am sure, of other elements and components in the Establishment. May I remind your Lordships, and particularly the Episcopal Bench, of what was recorded in 1958?The necessity and frequency of children,"said the Prelates,has been laid by God upon the conscience of parents. This planning is a right and important factor in Christian family life".That is extremely encouraging, particularly because it is a conversion from what the Prelates of 1908 had to say—and I am sure the right reverend Prelates will not mind my reminding the House of this fact to show how enlightenment sometimes comes in the most unexpected ways.
In 1908 the Lambeth Conference of Bishops reported thus:This Conference regards with alarm the growing practice of the artificial restriction of the family, and earnestly calls upon all people to discourage artificial means of restriction as demoralising in character and hostile to national welfare.And in order to support those words, Archbishop Lang, during the same year, said this:We must do something more than denounce these practices of birth control. We must make men feel it is better that a large family should be trained in self-denial through the bracing discipline of life than that a small family be reared in ease and comfort.I am sure he applied that to his own family in his own particular context. I mention this because it is quite characteristic of the attitude of large numbers of eminent people, lay or clerical, at that time, since when there has been this remarkable conversion, which makes me realise again how God does move "in a mysterious way His wonders to perform."
Because of that, my Lords, I think we can take heart at the present time that the problem is not insoluble, in this country or elsewhere. I would therefore say this ere I sit down. Though I am puzzled at the way in which, in the past, so many men of conscientious conviction, of prayer and spiritual aspiration, 200 have been so blind and yet now have awakened, nevertheless within the human race there does gradually proceed this enlightenment. Lest it is thought that I am singling out the Church of England for my observations, may I say that it is not so. Because I am aware, for instance, that John Wesley, founder of the great Methodist Church—which, like the Church of England, has performed remarkably beneficial service, spiritual, mental and sometimes bodily, to mankind—was nevertheless one of (what was it?) nineteen children; and this leads me to wonder why the Methodist Church, because of its spiritual genius and perception, has not long before now, when it was unpopular to say so, announced birth control as a gift of God, as right and proper.
§ LORD SOPER
My Lords, I wonder if the noble Lord will permit me to interrupt him. I think it is important to reflect how well John Wesley learned the lesson that the noble Lord is endeavouring to produce from the argument. Though he was married, Wesley produced no children whatsoever.
§ LORD SORENSEN
I am aware of that, my Lords, and I am very glad of the intervention of my noble friend and colleague, whom I very deeply appreciate and love. But I would also say this. If only the Methodist Church, which has performed a great deal of charitable work in a variety of ways, could years ago have initiated birth control clinics; what a tremendous boon it would have been to the world! And even now it is not too late. Why does not the Methodist Church now say, "We will provide centres for birth control and contraceptive advice"? Why does it not now make it part of its programme of social service—inspired, of course, by the love of its brethren?
§ LORD SOPER
My Lords, may I interrupt again to say that, whatever may be the laggard behaviour of the Episcopal Bench, the Methodist Church has in fact set up such clinics in the last two years.
§ LORD SORENSEN
In the last two years, my Lords! What a pity it did not do it fifty or sixty years ago instead of leaving it to atheists like Charles Webb, and infidels and heretics, all of whom were denounced at the time (I 201 have plenty of documents to this effect in my possession at home) as filthy wicked people. I do not remember one single minister of any Church openly saying, "This is not so; this can be a Divine gift", as they say to-day. It again makes me realise that the Spirit of God moves in many other ways than ecclesiastical, and I am sure that both my right reverend friends on the Episcopal Bench and the solitary representative of the Methodist Church will agree with me there.
But I will come to my conclusion, with apologies for anything I have said which I hope has not hurt anyone but which arises out of my objective reflections on the wondrous ways in which the human mind becomes enlightened, sometimes in the most unlikely places. What I would suggest (and I have already suggested one way) is that the Christian missionaries themselves, with all their great prestige and their undoubtedly very great work in a variety of ways, should now proceed even more powerfully than they have done in Methodism by providing, as they did two years ago, family planning clinics. Why do they not go out on a big scale into Africa and India, wherever the Methodist Church spreads? Why does not the Anglican Church do this, too? This is one suggestion: that they should preach and teach their converts ways and means by which they can ease their own burdens and the burdens of mankind.
The second thing I would suggest is that we should encourage sterilisation. I am not saying it should be compulsory—it should be entirely voluntary, although there are difficulties even there—but there are still a large number of men and women who beget or conceive children who should not do so and who pass on weak or imperfect progeny. I know, of course, that often it is not so; that sometimes out of strange cohabitation between a man and a woman unusual, splendid children come. But there are many other cases where there is a genetic factor, and there, I suggest, we should positively encourage sterilisation, here and elsewhere, of those who are physically or mentally unfit. I go further: we should encourage it also among those who desire to marry but who do not desire children—and there are women and men of that character, even though only a few. I suggest that they, too, should be encouraged to engage in sterilisation so that they cannot beget 202 or conceive children. I speak as a father of three, two surviving, but I recognise that my three children are more than the average number that should be born if we are to stabilise the population.
The third and last thing I would say is that we ourselves should set an example. After all, I have had three children, and others in this House have had more or fewer. Let us realise that all those who have, say, four or more are setting a bad example to others. It means that if they were all to have the same number of children, the situation in this country, to which I have briefly alluded, would be even more chronic than it is likely to be. I would ask that as a duty, as a solemn religious and ethical duty, we should say to the people of this country, "Restrict your families—it is only fair to others that you should do so—to three at the outside. Do so as a duty to yourself, a duty to the country, a duty to the world." I am sure many would respond.
Little has been said this evening, my Lords, on the more human side of this population problem: the burden on women who have in the past found that maternity, instead of being a glory, as it can be, has become a tyranny. Little has been said of the strain and stress that unwanted pregnancies have imposed upon women, far more than men; for though men can have the financial strain in trying to meet the needs of a growing family, sometimes a nervous strain, it is nevertheless the woman who bears the child. If I may say so as I sit down, I shall never forget in my teens engaging in social service work and going to a house just off Goswell Road and finding six children in one room, one barren room with nothing in the cupboard. The mother—she was still a young woman—was haggard, strained and drawn. I looked at her and thought, "She might be my mother. She is my sister." My Lords, because of that I would ask this House not to forget the human side and to realise that while we are grappling statistically and objectively with the population problem as a whole, in the middle of the problem there is still the human being.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ LORD SANDYS
My Lords, in opening, I should like to add to those already expressed my wholehearted thanks to 203 the noble Lord, Lord Snow, for initiating this debate. As my noble friend Lord Gowrie said, this is one of the most important and vital subjects confronting the world to-day. My approach is similar to that of my noble friend Lord Gowrie. I share his knowledge, in a small way, of refugees in Jordan; I share his love of Ireland where I have family connections; and I share the fact that we are so close in age as to meet the same generation problems which so many of us have found fascinating to look at this afternoon. I must confess that I was chilled by the views of the noble Lord, Lord Snow, because they do not coincide with my own; but I was warmed to some extent by the noble Lord, Lord Blackett, who said that "cheerfulness kept breaking out". I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Snow, will forgive my approach to this subject for I feel that truth is a many-sided jewel and that this subject has many facets.
My chief interests lie in the problems of the arid zone and desert reclamation. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Sorensen, will forgive me if I do not follow him in his fascinating observations on population control in this country, but I should like to begin by mentioning population control because it is fundamental to the whole subject. I quote the words of Mr. Robert Macnamara at Copenhagen on October 21 last year:The population problem will not go away. It will be resolved in one way or another, either by sensible solutions or senseless suffering.We have dealt at some length with the delicate problems of population control; but I take comfort from the fact that at the beginning of the Development Decade, at the end of 1960, there were only three countries in the world following a positive population control policy. In 1970, at the end of last year, the number had increased to 22. Moreover, the countries involved covered Asia, Africa and Latin America; and 70 per cent. of them were represented in these official programmes. In addition to the official programmes, 10 per cent. of the populations of the countries involved were covered to a limited extent by family planning carried out by the International Planned Parenthood Federation to which reference has been made this afternoon.
My Lords, I feel that progress is being made—admittedly, progress on a much 204 wider field; but surely here is the point to add: the very relevant comment of the same Mr. Macnamara in Copenhagen, when he said in his summary:If there were only a 5 per cent. shift from arms to development we would be within sight of the Pearson target for official development assistance. And who among us, familiar with the methods and audits of arms planning, would not admit that such a margin could be provided from convertible waste alone?This, from the President of the World Bank, surely is another source of hope. From convertible waste a 5 per cent. margin could be achieved. Imagine the impact that that would make on the statistics mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe: that at the moment only 35 million dollars are allocated to the world population control programme and that 170 million dollars would make this a viable and practical possibility.
I like to see a problem with hard edges; I find it difficult to conceive the whole without looking at the particular. I should like to direct your Lordships' attention to one country of which I have some knowledge, Egypt, because that country suffers to a marked extent from the population explosion and at the same time has a considerable land shortage. It is possible to cultivate only 4 per cent. of the total area of Egypt. The remaining 96 per cent. is desert or arid zone which is capable of cultivation but which, without the necessary irrigation, at present is not cultivated at all. Clearly, the Aswan High Dam project, the biggest programme ever instituted in Egypt, is going to have an enormous impact on the irrigation.
But I would direct your Lordships' attention to the area West of the Nile where, under the direction of Dr. Helmi, the Director of the General Desert Development Authority of Egypt, which was set up in 1959, a series of large-scale projects are at present under construction. Of course it is only one part of the total approach to the problem in Egypt; but these large, shallow depressions, going from the El Kharga Oasis in the South to the Bahariya Oasis in the North, cover a stretch of over 500 miles. Twenty per cent. of that area—that is to say, a total of over 2½ million acres—is capable of easy cultivation provided that the irrigation is available which it will be very shortly. Here is a 205 country, 4 per cent. of which is at present under cultivation and further development well programmed, combined with which is the beginning of a population control programme, a country where the birth rate is much higher than elsewhere—the statistics show a rate of 25 per 1,000 births, which is appreciably higher than the country mentioned by Lord Blackett. I was grateful to him for mentioning that country, for Egypt is among those countries with astonishing population explosions.
As well as the problem of population, there is the equally difficult problem in desert reclamation of the locust invasions. Locusts have been plaguing Egypt since the time of the Pharaohs. It is the desert locust much more than the red locust or the migratory locust which is especially difficult to track down; and it seems that whenever reclamation works are completed the locust swarms appear. This makes the effort so much less worth while than was originally anticipated.
Luckily, through the United Nations development programme, through F.A.O., control commissions are working in the affected regions. To get on top of the locust problem it is essential that international work be sustained all the time and that teams should be actively searching in very remote regions like, say, the Hoggar Mountains of Algeria or the deserts of Oman to provide simultaneous reports on the migration of desert locusts which is having such deleterious effects on the valiant attempts to raise the green plant in desert zones. It is again a sort of encouragement that an insecticide has been found which will kill locusts. Twenty years ago coping with a ton of them cost £100; to-day the new insecticide can kill a ton of locusts for £2, again a technological advance which I feel is a source of encouragement to us all.
Locusts know no political frontiers, neither does the population explosion, but the frontiers really are the frontiers of human knowledge and its application. In a world crying out for irrigation for the parched land, some epochal schemes, similar in many ways to the Aswan High Dam, and including the Indus irrigation scheme in India, are now being put into shape in Russia. I feel it is of great significance to the world that the Russians 206 announced last year that they are reversing the flow into the White Sea of three mighty rivers and directing them, by a series of canals, to the Caspian and the Arol Seas. One hopes that this will be a cornucopia and not Pandora's Box So often the effect of a scheme, initiated by however expert a group of technicians, turns out to be vastly different from the original concept. Nevertheless, these large rivers are being diverted, and the Caspian, which has fallen seven feet in 20 years, will be replenished. An enormous area, which I understand involves no fewer than 150 million acres of swamp, is to be drained, and approximately 50 million acres in central Russia are to be put under cultivation.
As we examine the world for population growth and desert reclamation there is one enormous sector about which we have no statistics whatsover; that is, the People's Republic of China. It is a matter of enormous regret that we cannot obtain figures of any detail whatsoever about the Gobi Desert or what is going on there—possibly for defence reasons; I do not know. Nevertheless, the fact that the People's Republic is in no way in communication with the rest of the world is to my way of thinking a matter of great regret.
My Lords, in conclusion, for I do not feel that I should keep your Lordships very long, I should like to quote the words of one Englishman which were written nearly 300 years ago. John Evelyn, who was among the founder fathers of our modern forestry, wrote in his famous book Silva, these words:For I observe there is no part of husbandry which men commonly fail in, neglect, and have cause to repent of than they did not begin planting betimes. Without which they can expect neither fruit, ornament or delight from their labours.
§ 5.54 p.m.
§ BARONESS GAITSKELL
My Lords, this is a most timely debate, and I am most grateful to my noble friend Lord Snow for initiating it and for his speech, which I found very moving. I think of my noble friend as a politician and scientist; but to-day when he was speaking I thought of him as a distinguished novelist. That means that he used both imagination and insight in dealing with his subject.
207 My Lords, gradually people are talking less about the nuclear bomb and more about the population time bomb. There were two articles in the Sunday newspapers this weekend concerned with the population explosion, and both of them were good. One was entitled, "Populate and Perish" and the other, "The Last Word"; both headings an indication of their content and judgment. At this time in our history, a hammering from the mass media, spreading the facts about the accelerating population increase in the world, would be the best kind of propaganda. I am afraid that I differ from both the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, and the noble Lord, Lord Sandys—one of whom said that the mass media should not come into this. The facts are truly alarming, as we have heard and as we can read from the writings of experts everywhere. If you are a pessimist, you will interpret them as predictions of the inevitable doom of mankind. If you are an optimist, you will see them as warnings, and hope that man's skill and knowledge will stop the world from being annihilated by numbers of people, so that progress does not really end in disaster. I think I join with my noble friend Lord Blackett in being an irrational optimist.
Last night, my Lords, when watching on television the splashdown of Apollo 14, I was absolutely thrilled by this miracle of bio-engineering; but I could not help wishing that some of the money and brains devoted to this exercise could have been channelled and directed to solving the gigantic problem of an accelerating growth in population too large to be satisfied by the food and natural resources available in the world at present. This is no new problem, and the United Nations and its Specialised Agencies continue to allude to it. I was glad that the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, referred to our experience in the United Nations. I very much liked her speech.
The Human Rights Committee in the General Assembly debates this problem yearly, but during the four years that I was there I could not detect a sense of dynamic urgency, despite the stupendous efforts in respect of birth control by India, Pakistan, Japan and other countries. Their fears and prejudices, large and small, were expressed by the delegates 208 from the developing countries. Some Africans, as has been pointed out, fear that the developed countries wish to limit their populations, as a kind of last colonising hangover. There are the masculine fears about female emanicipation from some Middle East countries; the difficulties of overcoming religious taboos, and even in some cases the lingering myth that large families are evidence of male virility. I found this among the delegates from South American countries.
I have stressed birth control, my Lords, as one major means of curbing overpopulation, though I am quite aware that it is not the only answer or a way to a higher standard of living. For example, when we think of over-crowding it is India that springs to our minds and not Britain, as my noble friend Lord Snow pointed out. It was a shock to me to read, in a trenchant article by Gerald Leach, the scientific correspondent of the Observer, that not only is England the third most crowded country in the world, after Holland and Taiwan, but, as my noble friend said, each one of us consumes ten to twenty times as much of the earth's resources as the average Indian. It is not surprising that neither Governments nor the public can appreciate or face the challenge of over-population, with all its problems.
This is a very questioning age, and a great many questions are being put. Ignorance still remains the greatest danger to progress. We need a continuous presentation and discussion of the facts, and as much information as we can possibly get. This again is where the mass media come in. They could simplify the question and reduce it to this: Will the present rapid population growth help a country's economic and social progress, and will their development efforts provide the food, the schools, the employment, the health facilities and housing for the increasing number of people? At present I think that the general consensus is that the answer is, No.
Now, my Lords, I have the unusual pleasure of congratulating the recent Labour Government and the present Conservative Government. In the Human Rights Committee in the General Assembly, I was in the strong position, when we debated population growth, of not preaching to developing countries 209 what we in Britain did not practise. The developing countries, as has been said, are suspicious that the developed countries wish to limit their populations. I must say here that one of the things on which I disagreed with my noble friend Lord Snow was when he said that there was no leader in the world who could get the trust of the developing countries on this matter. Well, I do not believe that this is the kind of thing that depends upon one leader, however much sex appeal he has. I think it depends on the political will in the country; and it always is the case that somebody turns up to express it.
The Labour Government have a splendid record on grants to the United Nations Fund for Population Activities and a very good record in boosting family planning, though I wish they had gone just that one bit further and not left it to the whim and prejudice of local authorities to implement the measures required for family planning. As the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, has pointed out, the right honourable Richard Wood, to his credit, at this time is going to bring up the aid for the fund for Population Activities eventually to £750,000. He has also made an additional grant of £50,000 to the International Planned Parenthood Federation. So we seem to have an extremely enlightened Minister in overseas aid, and I should like to congratulate him warmly. I hope that his example will spread to voluntary organisations so as to attain the target set by the campaign (of which my noble friends Lord Caradon and Lady Tewson are chairman and deputy chairman) which the International Planned Parenthood Federation is going to start on March 31, of £150,000 in one year to give financial help to international family planners.
I should like to make one small comment about the speech by the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley—a strong speech, with which I very much agree. I agree with the remark he made that women who have no other interests tend to go on having children. I do not go with him the whole way, but I have known this to happen. I should like to turn it round the other way. There is no doubt that women could never have achieved their drive for emancipation if there had not been such a thing as family planning. I know that there are some 210 women—and here I think particularly of African women at the United Nations; beautiful, strong and intelligent, who took a great part in the proceedings—who do not lose any of their beauty even after they have had nine or ten children. But this is rare. If a woman is going to be a whole person and be able to think as she stands at the kitchen sink, there is no doubt that birth control has to play a great part in her life.
§ 6.5 p.m.
My Lords, we could hardly have a more important question to debate than the topic of the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Snow. The people of this country and of what the noble Lord has described as the richer countries have been unwilling until recently to debate this problem in the frank way we have debated it this afternoon, because in the past they have been able to purchase from the world markets the food they were not able to grow themselves, and they have assumed that this would continue. It was only in the aftermath of war that people in the richer countries really felt hunger. I would submit that this may not necessarily go on in the same way indefinitely. Things could be different and changes could come very quickly. Many people in the poorer countries have seemed contented with the wretched diet and conditions which they have known for so long a time, but they may not continue to be so indefinitely, if they learned more about the plenty enjoyed by others, of which I think television will surely make them aware.
We are repeatedly told that increases of population have continued and will continue to outstrip the increases in food production. I sometimes wonder whether that really is so. I wonder whether it need be so. And I was pleased when my noble friend Lord Sandys mentioned forestry in connection with food production and the fertility of the earth. We ought to consider forestry and agriculture as twin parts of the same industry. My noble friend quoted Evelyn, a great man, and I hastily wrote down another quotation from Evelyn, which I think is appropriate—and I only hope that I have got it right. Referring to the planting of trees, he said:It is what all might contribute to and with infinite delight as well as profit who seek to 211 emulate their illustrious ancestors and worthily serve their generation.He ought to have added, "and serve the generations to follow." None the less, it is of interest that in the 17th century Evelyn thought in very similar terms to those in which we are thinking to-day.
Need agricultural production hang behind population increases so markedly? Another problem, which has not yet been mentioned to-day, and just as difficult is this. When agricultural production increases fast, will not the problem of distribution become too difficult? In 1963 it was my privilege to go to the World Food Congress in Washington as a member of the United Kingdom delegation. I want to mention two points which made a great impression on me at that time and which are still clear in my mind. That Congress was partly official and partly unofficial; hence the conclusions were not necessarily very clear-cut, and when we spoke of this question of population seven years ago we were all much more guarded than we are to-day. My papers are 300 miles away and out of reach, owing to the postal strike, so I have not been able to check something of what was said on that occasion which I should like to quote, and once again I must trust to my memory. But I do not think that I shall go far wrong.
I have the clearest recollection of Professor Arnold Toynbee, speaking on the first day to a session of the full Conference. He said to us then, somewhat surprisingly many of the delegates thought, that the root of this whole problem lay within us, mankind: because man, having learned in turn to master so many problems which he found in his way, many of them extremely difficult, had never learned to master himself. That statement was a considerable shock to the Conference We talk freely about this subject to-day, but as the noble Lord, Lord Blackett, said, twenty years ago it was hardly spoken about except in guarded terms; and I suggest that even seven years ago in many circles it was spoken about only in guarded terms. It may be that big families of the Victorian pattern are less common in England and the other rich countries to-day, but they are still common in large areas where food presents the biggest problem: and such families, too, are now living longer. But there is real advance: we can now 212 discuss this problem quite freely—something we could not do only a little time ago.
The second point that I want to make (and this emerged during many repetitive speeches from spokesmen from the developing countries, to which we all had to listen during the fortnight's conference) is that few seemed to think that their first step should be to strengthen their agriculture. There were notable exceptions, but the majority, so far as I could see, thought more of obtaining credit wherever it could be found to develop such projects as international airlines, to which a deal of glamour was attached. Very little was said about the basic simple improvement of agriculture, which is their prime industry and one upon which the whole health and happiness of the vast majority of their people depended. They did not appear to put agriculture in the forefront of their thinking, or at least in the forefront of many of their speeches; and even when they did mention it they thought more in terms of modern machines, which those who have greater knowledge than I have of agriculture in those areas told me few could operate and fewer still would be able to maintain. So I would submit to-day that as a first step the greatest emphasis should be put on improving the agricultural techniques which are understood in the developing countries. This may appear to be moving by very small steps, but yields are often so low in those countries that even the smallest steps up the ladder of improvement can show marked results.
Let us give honour and credit where it is due. I think that in Dr. Boerina, the head of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, we have a most remarkable man. The noble Lord, Lord Blackett, said that it is not so long ago that there was little discussion at high level of these topics. But I would mention that the International Conference of Agricultural Economists, founded forty years ago by Mr. Elmhirst, who was also the founder of the Dartington Trust, has been a meeting ground over all these years not only of university professors and economists in the Civil Service but also of interested amateurs, who I think really have been the leaven in the lump. Both from their smaller meetings and from the major conferences a great deal of good has flowed.
213 Lastly, my Lords, I want to make what is almost a political point. Lord Snow's richer countries control the greater area of the more fertile land as well as of other resources. Of these richer countries, I believe it is true that the countries that we describe as of the West rather than a the Eastern bloc control the greater part. We do not appreciate that fact sufficiently. We must indeed use this advantage to its utmost, and be seen to be doing so. We must feed ourselves in a way which reduces the demand on supplies which are available on the world market, even if we cannot actually become exporters—and in a country like Britain we clearly cannot do that. This means that here, just as much as in other countries, a much closer attention must be given to not wasting good agricultural land, one of the most valuable things in any country.
Our developers have an inexhaustible appetite for taking over and burying good land under cement and concrete. We must pay attention even to small things like unnecessarily extravagant verges on the sides of our new main roads. We must guard against extravagance in use of land which all too frequently creeps in. If we in the West did all in our power we should make a contribution not only to the world's food supplies but to world stability and world peace at the same time.
§ BARONESS GAITSKELL
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, may I reassure him about his point on agriculture? I have had access to and read some of the projects that have recently been undertaken by experts. They have all come to the conclusion that there can be no industrial progress without a sound agricultural basis in the country.
§ 6.16 p.m.
§ LORD DOUGLAS OF BARLOCH
My Lords, this is one of the most important debates that has ever taken place in your Lordships' House, because it touches upon the future and the happiness of the population of the whole world. This is a global problem. It is not confined to developing countries or to poor countries; it is affecting others as well. If you take our own country, every day our population is increasing by 800 persons: that 214 is equivalent to a demand for 300 or 400 new houses every day, or a new school two or three times a week, for a new hospital every month, or for a new town of the size of Nottingham every year. This is the problem that we ourselves are facing, and it is a very serious one indeed.
This country is already over-populated, and if this process goes on year after year our condition will gradually become worse and worse. It means a demand upon our total resources, which are not increasing. Our supply of water is already overstrained; we are using it over and over again to meet the needs of the present population. Our supply of land is not sufficient to feed our population. And, despite all the efforts which are being made, it is only too clear that we have approached the limits of fertility: there are already signs that intensive cultivation is beginning to diminish the fertility of our soil. These are the kind of problems which are involved in this population question.
Let us remember also that the economy of the highly developed countries depends upon an enormous use of natural resources, and in particular on enormous use of power: and resources of power are not unlimited. If this is continued and if it extends over the whole world—and every country wants to see itself a great manufacturing country, producing all kinds of conveniences and luxuries for its population—the total demand of the world for power alone is going to be such as to exhaust existing supplies within a very short period. This is an inescapable result of continued increases of population, and it must be faced with resolution and courage. The noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir, has told us something about what our Government have done in their contribution to dealing with the world problem, and a little, a very little, about what they propose to contribute at home. Surely the time has arrived when we have to do something here of a much more positive and constructive nature. Birth control, of course, is practised, and very largely it is aided and assisted by voluntary agencies.
Let us think about how it is that we have come into the situation which is con fronting us. It is not so long ago since the infantile death rate was 10 or 20 times what it is at the present moment. That 215 is what has created the population problem: medical and hygienic science has created it, and the only solution is that medical science shall come to the rescue of the population and help them to control the increase of births. There is no other solution whatsoever. As we already have in this country a maternity and child welfare service, I suggest that the time has arrived when we should consider whether that service should not devote itself systematically—because it is the agency which comes into contact with women when they are expecting or after they have given birth to a child—to cope with this problem, instead of things being dealt with in a haphazard fashion, as at the present moment. The service ought to be made available, through our public Health Service, for anybody who wants birth control facilities to have them without charge, just as every other service in our public Health Service is without charge. It is essential that this problem should be tackled in this way, not only in this country but in other countries as well, for it is a world problem.
Opinion about these matters has changed rapidly. The "taboo" of custom and religion, which prevented the discussion of everything relating to human reproduction, has largely been broken down. Even the Roman Catholic Church, which at one time was totally averse to it—as was the Established Church in this country—has changed its point of view. The discussion there now is not about the principle but merely about the method. Let them go on discussing that; but the principle is accepted. After all, is it not a sin to bring into the world children who cannot be provided for properly? Surely that is the real sin—not taking steps in order to see that that does not happen.
This is not a problem which is concerned with religion at all; it is a problem which is concerned with science. As I have said, scientific knowledge has created it by reducing the death rate, especially the infantile death rate, and only science can provide the remedy. Let us try to do something of a far greater and most positive character to deal with this problem, both in our own country and, so far as we can help to do so, in the rest of the world as well.
§ 6.25 p.m.
THE EARL OF BALFOUR
My Lords, this has been a most interesting debate. It is an important subject and I am very grateful that the noble Lord, Lord Snow, introduced it. I should like to speak mostly on the second part of the noble Lord's Motion, on the supply of food and natural resources. To some extent I should like to follow on from what my noble friends Lord Sandys and Lord Inglewood said. Bad management of land undoubtedly creates a strained land, as was so charmingly illustrated by the right reverend Prelate, the Bishop of Lincoln. I am quite satisfied that bad management created the Sahara and the Gobi deserts, and certainly the dust bowl in America. But once you have created a desert, then you have swamps, dust, sand and disease. Good management, however, can restore the land. It can still be controlled, even if it is desert.
Even in this country, with bad management it is not long before farming land can become so acid that only the poorest types of grass will grow, something which creates almost no feeding value for cattle or sheep. Stability can be restored by planting trees. We are now starting to see the results of this, with the wonderful work which has been carried out by the Forestry Commission. Land can be stabilised to some extent by spreading lime, or such fertiliser, and you can re-form that land for suitable agricultural purposes. My noble friend Lord Sandys referred to Egypt. There is one important factor to remember with regard to irrigation, and that is evaporation. Where there is a rapid evaporation of water, salts which are naturally carried in water are left behind, and the land is quickly poisoned. Therefore the land must have trees planted in it to hold the soil and to hold the water in the ground.
I am quite satisfied that food can be produced for our expanding population. The noble Baroness, Lady Llewelyn-Davies, referred to educating adults. How right she is! I have often felt that one of the unfortunate things about our system of education is that although you can learn about almost any subject you like at school, college or university, you are not taught how to live. It is on this point that I am in entire agreement with her. I should like to put forward one 217 suggestion which may help in the development of land. I am quite satisfied that no country in the world has done more in the reclamation of the desert than the State of Israel. Israel has rendered a valuable service to a number of African countries in the establishment of trees and specialised crops to prevent erosion and to preserve water. I feel that Her Majesty's Government could do well to seek the help of the Jewish National Fund and the Israeli Government in any programme they may now, or at any future period, have of preventing the rapid spread of such areas as the Sahara Desert.
After all, the Israelis have one great guide to all their undertakings: the Bible. For example, Abraham planted the tamarack trees around his property, something the Israelis are doing to-day. The tamarack tree holds the desert. And Lawrence of Arabia was of the opinion that there was not more water in the Arabian desert when he was there than there was over 2,000 years ago. Experts from Israel successfully established trees in Malta after six other nations had failed. The Israelis, through sheer hard work, have eliminated almost all the deadly diseases which existed in that area before British troops entered Jerusalem at the end of the 1914–18 war. And to-day food is one of Israel's largest exports.
My Lords, Israel is not a wealthy country, but she has set a wonderful example to her neighbours. It is, however, important that the cost of transport never rises so high that food is left wasting away in one area when another area is starving. Once there are trees and food, then, if I may add to what the noble Baroness, Lady Llewelyn-Davies, said, I feel that the market towns will develop—A Town Like Alice, if your Lordships ever read that book. A town then creates an economic stability.
§ 6.33 p.m.
My Lords. I must first apologise for not putting my name down to speak, and apologise particularly to the noble Lord, Lord Snow, who has given us the opportunity to debate this problem to-night. I felt impelled to say something. I was so charmed by the speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Llewelyn-Davies, whose views accord so closely with my own, because 12 years ago in the Council of 218 Europe my own particular hobbyhorse in this field was the underdeveloped countries. My speech was made for me largely by my noble friend Lord Inglewood. Nevertheless, I started crying in the wilderness 12 years ago on that subject, and I am very glad to hear that somebody has heard something about it anyway.
Something which has not been mentioned to-night as yet is the fact that it is not much good growing a large quantity of food if, when it is stored, it is eaten by insects and rats. This is a problem which has religious implications. There are other difficulties, such as birth control, in all these matters we are discussing. But equally, and side by side with them, I feel that this particular problem must be tackled. There is the cost of insecticides. I find that pyrethrum is a very effective way of keeping the weevil out of grain, and it is grown, or can be grown, in the kind of climate that most underdeveloped countries have.
We should get rid of the bulldozer age mentality and prestige. It is a prestige weapon. All it does is to put 500 chaps out of work. When it has broken down, in about five weeks, it may remain so for about six years until America sends another one. This, I think, does far more harm than good. I have myself built roads, dams and water conservation works using nothing but the native draught animals and native implements. In many of these countries a plough is a wooden peg, but a few years ago one could for a few shillings convert a wooden plough, by putting a share and a mouldboard on it, into a weapon which was nearly as good as our own animal-drawn implements in this country. Not only that, but the local village blacksmith is perfectly capable of mending it and of making new ones. The draught animals are there and the population thoroughly understand how to work them.
The first thing to do, surely, is to tackle the people who are there at this moment and improve their standard of living. While it is perfectly right that we should try to prevent worse from happening in the future, we have a whale-sized problem to consider now. I think that hand methods and animal methods, which are thoroughly understood by the population, although they require directing, form a really important aspect of this problem.
219 In this context, the work done in Israel by the Israelis has been very rightly praised. When it is a question of knowledge that can be applied or of information that can be used, one should get aid of that kind from wherever it can be obtained, free, gratis and for nothing. An enormous amount of extremely valuable work has been done in South Africa and is still being done there. South Africa is not the most popular country to-day, but I do not think that that should enter into our calculations at all. We should examine what has been going on there. The same applies equally to Rhodesia. Because we have certain other problems, we should not cut out information which is readily available, and is very applicable in the kind of conditions we are speaking about.
A very large number of farmers to-day in this country and in Scotland are not only running an overdraft at the bank but also running an overdraft on their land. This point must be realised. One cannot take from the land more than goes into it. The natural recuperation of the land is a slow process. If you work the land too fast, as we are all being compelled to do at the moment, it will come back and bite you. This is what is happening all over the country. These problems are common to us here and they must be considered in the light of developing agriculture overseas. I am convinced, as many others are, that the proper thing to start to develop in a country is agriculture—and no bulldozers.
The question of the Aswan Dam has been mentioned. I do not know how reliable the stories about this are, but certain side effects have been mentioned, and one of them I know to be true. Because the annual floods down the Nile are being stopped or controlled the sardines are deserting the Delta, and the sardine fishery industry there has been practically wiped out. This is an effect which was not contemplated when the Dam was built. Another side effect, I gather, is that the Nile is now full of bilharzia, as snails have come into the river because of upset currents. I am told (I cannot tell your Lordships how authoritative this is) that the Egyptian Fellaheen who were used to getting three crops a year off the fertile delta are now getting only two. So these side effects 220 require watching very carefully before one starts thinking only in terms of enormous projects. They have their place, but I suggest that we should set our sights a little lower and get the foundations right first, before starting to erect a high building on them.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ LORD GREENWOOD OF ROSSENDALE
My Lords, I am glad I gave way to the noble Viscount, Lord Stonehaven, because he has made a most helpful and constructive speech, from which I think we have all profited. This debate has been an appropriately solemn occasion but, as other noble Lords have indicated, the occasional shafts of humour have been all the more welcome on that account, and perhaps I might say to the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir, that I especially enjoyed her severe rejoinder to the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, who has asked me to apologise for the fact that he has not been able to stay for the winding-up speeches. It was encouraging to know that the Liberation Movement in your Lordships' House did not stop short at the wearing of trousers. Perhaps the noble Baroness will forgive me if I say that to-day my mind went back to the time when she was introduced into another place, and as she was escorted by her two Conservative colleagues Mr. Willie Gallagher shouted out: "Yon's a good lassie in bad company". That is how I have always felt about the noble Baroness.
I want particularly to join in thanking my noble friend Lord Snow, not only for the magnificent speech he made but also for giving us the opportunity of debating a subject of such great importance. I am grateful, too, because in doing so my noble friend has added the great authority that he enjoys in this House, and indeed throughout the English-speaking world, to the warnings that have been given to the world, particularly by Mr. Macnamara in the remarkable speech at Copenhagen to which the noble Lord, Lord Sandys, referred, and by U Thant, particularly in his annual report for 1970. To me it is immensely encouraging that these distinguished leaders and all the great international agencies have come to grips with the population problem. It is a problem that I have followed keenly for a long time, indeed since I was first inspired to do so by the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Orr, 221 to whom the noble Baroness earlier referred.
I was fortunate enough in October, and again earlier this month, to discuss the problem with many of those most directly concerned: men like Dr. Kanagaratnam of the World Bank, who is in charge of their population activities, and who has a remarkable record of success behind him in Singapore; also Dr. Rafael Salas, from the Philippines, the director of the United Nations Fund for Population Activities, as well as with men like Mr. Gaud, Mr. de Seynes, Mr. Hoffman, and Mr. Narasimham, who have been responsible for creating throughout the world a new climate of opinion in which rational, objective discussion can take place and in which effective action can be taken. As a citizen of the world I am deeply indebted to them, but as a Member of your Lordships' House I must add that they must not be held responsible for anything that I may say in what I hope will be a short speech.
My noble friend Lady Llewelyn-Davies spoke of the food aspects of this Motion, and I should like to add my word of appreciation for everything that has been done in the way of achieving better yields, in the way described by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Lincoln; improving livestock; coping with locusts, as the noble Lord, Lord Sandys, has described and with mosquitoes and the other pests mentioned by the noble Viscount, Lord Stonehaven; improving social services; and cutting mortality rates. We in Britain have a record which may not satisfy us but which nevertheless is one of which we may be proud. And while we speak of being proud of records, may I say to the noble Earl, Lord Balfour, how good it was to hear another Balfour speaking up once again in such legitimately praising terms of the people of Israel.
To-night I should like to concentrate almost exclusively on the population aspects of this Motion. I do so with some hesitation because it has so many facets, so many imponderables, so many incalculables; because it involves so many interlocking disciplines; and because it provokes so many and so varied emotions. I propose to deal mainly, if I may, with the world situation, but I want to say that I agree with most noble 222 Lords that it would be much easier to deal with many of the social problems that we have in this country if we ourselves had a population policy, and I think this debate will have been a valuable means of bringing that point of view to the notice of Her Majesty's Government and also to the country as a whole.
One of the difficulties about this problem is that even the facts are not wholly clear or universally reliable, and I say that without casting doubt on any of the statistics that noble Lords have produced in the course of the debate. I do not find it easy to talk in terms of billions, and do not think that billions mean very much to the ordinary man and woman, but if I could put the figures that we have heard to-day in a different way I would say that it means that every year the population of the world is increasing by about 65 million, which is larger than the existing population of the United Kingdom, or the existing population of Western Germany. To put it in a different way again, it means that the world population is going up every day by 175,000, and even since this debate began this afternoon I suppose there are something like 30,000 more mouths to feed in the world. It reminds me of a speech I once heard made by the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie-Calder, whom we should all have liked to hear in this debate to-day, and no doubt should have done but for his absence abroad. I remember the noble Lord once saying that the increase in the world population was like twice the number of people who attend the Cup Final at Wembley arriving every day without their rations. There can be no more graphic way of putting it than that.
My noble friend referred, very properly, to the wonderful work that Dr. Borlang has done, and I was glad that he went on to draw the conclusion which Dr. Borlang has stressed, namely that the Green Revolution is not enough unless there is a population policy to follow it up. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Lincoln spoke of the political problems that were involved, and I must say that I was brought up with a start by what appeared at first to be the view of the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, about politics and cultural patterns. For a moment, I could hear Karl Marx spinning in his 223 grave. I think the noble Earl corrected the impression that he had created, but I shall look at the OFFICIAL REPORT with interest to-morrow to try to discover what he was really telling us.
I recently had the opportunity of speaking to Professor Harry Drayton when I was at the University of Guyana. He was the author of an interesting and provocative article which appeared in the New Scientist in October. In that article he argued against those who seem to attribute the poverty and inferior living standards of the peoples of the Third World to their very high rate of population increase and to what he calls an ill-defined population pressure. They—that is, the neo-Malthusians, as he describes them—would, he says, have us accept fertility control as a primary social task and responsibility, and he argues that such a priority is dangerous because it diverts attention from those non-biological socioeconomic and political factors which are, in his view, fundamentally responsible for conditions in the Third World. My own view, speaking as a moderate man, is that Dr. Drayton, for whom I have a great respect, has overstated his case; but what is important is that his views are the views of a highly educated, scientifically qualified Guyanese who speaks for many people in the less developed countries and whose views I think we should be foolish to ignore in a debate like this.
We must not close our eyes to the fact that great political considerations are involved in the problem that we are discussing. When one reflects that about one-fifth of Guyana's labour force are unemployed and that every year 15 per cent. of their national product must be invested simply to maintain the country's present standard of living, it is easier to understand the bitterness and frustration that many of our friends in the Commonwealth are feeling, especially when our doors to them are partly closed and when the possibility of a new wave of protectionism seems to threaten still further their already precarious standard of living.
I think it is right, too, to remind ourselves that vaguely defined development, however well intentioned, and a sympathetic attitude to population control will not automatically, or even necessarily, cure the ills of the developing countries. Carl Eicher, of the Department 224 of Agricultural Economics at the State University of Michigan has put the case into much better perspective than I could hope to do, and dealing with Africa he has written as follows:The causes of unemployment and underemployment in African economies encompass a complex set of ecological, social and institutional factors. The important ones are the population explosion, the increasing gap between rural and urban incomes, factor price distortions, rising labour productivity, the urban bias in provision of social services, unbalanced educational expansion, tied aid, political and ethnic barriers to internal and external migration, and ecological constraints.What Professor Eicher is saying, if I understand him aright, is that fewer people plus more development aid does not necessarily equal a higher standard of living. You need to stop the drift to the tropical slums, as Lord Caradon has called them, of Africa and the Caribbean, and to the getchekondus of Turkey. You need a fair distribution of resources. You must realise that generous capital help in the building of schools may necessitate a quite unattainable level of revenue expenditure. And it is no good spending money on tractors if each tractor means that one man thrives and that ten men are out of work. And I listened with great sympathy to what the noble Viscount, Lord Stonehaven, had to say, with his great experience.
One of the most sobering facts in this rather gloomy situation is that every year 15 per cent. of the less developed countries' gross national product goes to service external debts, and that figure is steadily rising. The noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, spoke of the less developed countries wanting credits. It reminded me that when I read the article on coffee in The Times this morning it prompted in me the thought that if the world price of a primary product rises, the countries which produce it become more creditworthy, and their public external debt tends to increase. And when the price comes down, the income dries up but the debt remains. Another difficult development problem is that food policies which are aimed at achieving self-sufficiency, which sounds a proper and reasonable aim, can have the effect of pushing up the wages of a minority and the prices of the majority. I am sure we need more sensitivity and foresight on the part of the donor countries, and sound administration and realistic planning on the part 225 of the receiving countries. Without these, I do not believe that population control will have much effect.
I do not want to quote statistics tonight, but I think it is right to say that, thanks to the work of demographers and economists, of the I.P.P.F., of our own Overseas Development Institute, of the international agencies and of the many research bodies, we are better equipped to assess the problem than we were ten years ago, and there is an abundance of material showing the progress which has already been made. It was interesting to hear Lord Blackett speaking of the three countries which have stabilised their population.
I am sure that noble Lords will have read with appreciation the recently published United Nations report, to which the noble Baroness referred, on the need for a World Population Institute, and I know that all of us in this House would wish to say how much we should welcome the establishment of the institution here in the United Kingdom and how pleased we are that Her Majesty's Government have taken the initiative in that direction.
It is true, of course, that some of the results of fertility control are very slow to mature. The decline in fertility rates does not make much difference to the size of the labour force in a developing country for almost a generation, but it does have an immediate effect on the number of consumers. As Gunnar Myrdal has pointed out, if there are fewer children there is less need for food, less need for education and less need for medical care; and 20 years from now there will be fewer people in the reproductive age groups than would otherwise he the case. Myrdal has said:The change in the age structure of the population is the major reason why a decrease in fertility would make a people less poor. The income per head would increase.And surely income per head and not total national wealth is the test we must apply. I may say in passing that the gross national product per head in India is probably between £25 and £30 a year; it is £1,054 a year in West Germany; and it is £1,322 a year in Canada.
May I cite Mauritius as an example of a country which has made progress. The population rose by 65 per cent. between 1952 and 1967. It has a population of 1,100 per square mile. Last year one-fifth of the labour force were unemployed, 226 and 45 per cent. of the population is under 15. If the population could have been kept under control in that admirably well governed country, there would be fewer workless, fewer dependants, less demand for food, and less demand for social services. When I was at the Colonial Office and the Ministry of Overseas Development, I was able to give some small help sumultaneously to L'Action Familiale, which was a Catholic organisation, and to the Mauritius Family Planning Association. The birth rate in Mauritius had dropped from 38.1 in 1964 to 30.4 in 1967 and is, I believe, continuing to decline. Looking back, I wish that Her Majesty's Government had been able at that time to do rather more to help India to follow along the road charted by Archbishop Roberts, S.J., to whom my noble friend Lord Sorensen paid so moving a tribute.
There was one particular point among many in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, with which I agreed and which struck a sympathetic note. The great and welcome improvement in infant mortality rates in so many countries has of course added to the population, but the greater chance of a child's survival may well mean that parents will not think it necessary to have a large number of children in order to ensure that at least one survives until he achieves manhood estate. I was glad to hear other noble Lords express the same view. It is certainly the view of Gunnar Myrdal and also of Mr. Alan Berg.
I am sure that the House has been right to resist the temptation to be too optimistic about getting quick results. When one reflects that family planning has been condemned by Communists and by Catholics, when it has been attacked as a move by the whites against the blacks and by the rich against the poor, it is clear that great obstacles make the road ahead more difficult. Yet in a way it is surprising and encouraging that so much progress has already been made. It is not, I think, without significance that it was a Catholic President, John Kennedy, under whose Presidency the United States Government went ahead with helping the developing countries in planning and research on population policy; and now the United States are in the forefront of the campaign. It seems, too, that the Communist countries are changing their 227 attitude. I only hope that these changes have not come too late.
But even more important—and here I agree so much with the noble Baroness, and with my noble friends on this side of the House—is the need to avoid any suggestion that population control is an alien thing that is being urged from outside upon the countries which we believe will benefit. The initiative, the direction and the execution must come almost entirely from them. Sovereignty and religious and moral susceptibilities must be respected. I liked the way that my noble friend, Lady Llewelyn-Davies put it, about discussing it with the local theologians. I thought that the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Lincoln nodded approvingly when she gave that advice. But I am sure that, with or without the advice of the local theologians, advice and skill and practical help must be given generously by those countries like our own which are so much more fortunate than so many others.
In conclusion, my Lords, may I leave just one thought with you? People are poor because they are sick; they are sick because they are hungry; they are hungry because they are poor. With all its complexities, all its obscurities and all its imponderables, the problem is basically a simple one; but it is one that will make tremendous demands on our love, our generosity, our patience, and our understanding if we are to help towards a solution.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ BARONESS TWEEDSMUIR OF BELHELVIE
My Lords, I should like to join with the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood of Rossendale, in once again paying tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Snow, for having initiated this debate. I hope he will feel, from the manner in which everyone has taken part and the attention with which they have addressed themselves to this enormous subject, that it has been worth while. I hope, too, that he will not feel too gloomy at the end of it. At the end of his speech he said that there was a ray of hope.
I believe that this has been an historic debate, and that noble Lords on both sides of the House have not shirked what are the real difficulties. At the same time, we have felt that we are all doing something 228 towards solving the difficulties. I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood of Rossendale, for reminding me of my introduction to another place in 1946. It seems a very long time ago.
§ BARONESS TWEEDSMUIR OF BELHELVIE
I understand that your Lordships are not supposed to listen to comments from the Front Bench opposite! My father-in-law, John Buchan, wrote a book called The Gap in the Curtain which some of your Lordships may have read, and which forecast people's future. If the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood, and I had had a gap in the curtain to look beyond it to the point where we were standing opposite each other in this House, we should not have believed it.
The noble Lord was quite right to point out to us that this debate covers many disciplines, arouses many emotions and has many obstacles, not least that of prejudice, in some of the developing countries, against what the developed countries can do—a kind of suspicion as to why should we do anything about their population. In fact, I often think that it is just as well for us to remember, here as we are, certainly close to Europe if not yet a part of Europe, that those for example who live in Africa would not have drawn the map of the world on Mercato's projection with the Mediterranean and Europe as the centre of the world; they would have drawn it with Africa as the centre of the world. I think that if we can understand this kind of attitude we shall perhaps not be so impatient with some of the things which are said at times to the developing countries.
The noble Lord, Lord Greenwood, said that he was not going to quote many statistics. I am very glad he did not. He reminded me of what has been called the statistical duck. He may recall that it is said that if you shoot at a duck with your first barrel and shoot one yard in front of it, and then with your second barrel shoot one yard behind it, statistically you have in fact shot the duck.
I should like to say to the noble Baroness, Lady Llewelyn-Davies, that I 229 so much enjoyed her speech, perhaps not only because of what she said but because she looked so cheerful—and that rather makes a difference, does it not? She asked me certain definite questions. I quite agree with really everything that she said about the problem of unemployment. As I am sure she knows, the United Kingdom have labour and other advisers in developing countries. There was a conference in Cambridge on the subject of employment which the Overseas Development Department helped to sponsor. The aid programme, because it assists development, does create employment. Nevertheless, ways are being considered in which the employment element of it can be increased. Her Majesty's Government also support I.L.O. on the World Employment Programme for the Second Development Decade, and encourage rural development.
The noble Baroness asked me about the Council of Europe report. While I have had researches made, I have, I am afraid, not been able to discover to which report she was referring. If she will be good enough to let me know afterwards I will certainly write to her. She asked what was the percentage of aid to family planning in the total of overseas aid. It is of course a small percentage. The figures I read out to-day totalled £1 million; but the overseas aid in the same year will be £245 million for all purposes, and will rise in 1974–75 to £340 million. The Prime Minister has said that we will certainly do everything in our power to try to reach 1 per cent. of the gross national product by that time.
If I may say so, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Lincoln did a great service to this House when he said:We should have a reverence towards land. We should never take out more than we can in fact put in.He may perhaps be interested to know, as he was discussing the question of the new industrial and agricultural techniques, that the United Nations is going to hold a conference on exactly this subject in Stockholm next year.
The noble Lord, Lord Blackett, I was delighted to hear, said that cheerfulness keeps breaking through, and I believe that there were many gleams of it throughout this debate. He spoke a great deal, naturally, of his knowledge of India and 230 of her need for fertilisers. The House may like to know that the F.A.O. and the Freedom from Hunger campaign have a fertiliser programme for the benefit of the less-developed countries, and that under that programme the British Government, with the co-operation of British industry, have been supporting pilot schemes in India at a cost to our taxpayers of £40,000 a year for the last three years, and have offered to continue that support to India and to begin supporting new projects of the same kind if they require it.
My noble friend Lord Gowrie spoke of the refugees, as also did my noble friend Lord Sandys. While I have not served, as they have, in Jordan, I was for a time chairman of the United Nations Executive Committee on Refugees, and therefore I know something about the problems of trying to cope with movements of whole populations which are suffering from homelessness, destitution and famine. My noble friend Lord Gowrie spoke of the "acres of middle-age" which are stretching out ahead of him. I have a feeling that if he continues to make speeches as he did to-night he will certainly enlighten everyone else through those middle years of his life. He was of course the one who first of all tackled the vexed question of religious attitudes to population control, and he referred in particular to the Roman Catholics. It is perfectly true that only last year the Pope himself, although he did not speak in favour of population control, spoke in favour of trying to increase the resources for all those who can take part at the banquet of life. This is something which really will have to be very carefully thought about again in the context of family planning. We then had a most interesting discussion between the noble Lord, Lord Sorensen, and the noble Lord, Lord Soper, about the attitude of the Methodist Church. So far as I could gather from this exchange, this Church is considered to be much more realistic, which was very encouraging.
The noble Lord, Lord Sandys, spoke of his experience in Egypt. I must say this took me back many years, because I once lived for two and a half years in Egypt and had my first married home there. I therefore knew a little of what he meant when he spoke about the problem of locust control. He may be 231 interested to know that a generation ago the Anti-Locust Research Centre in London was created to research into this problem, and that under the direction of the late Sir Boris Uvarov it studied, and contributed very greatly to, the control of the desert locust in East Africa and in Egypt, among other places. I quite agree with him that this is an extremely important matter.
The noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, spoke about the importance of the mass media in education on population control, and I would agree with her. In the £6,000 campaign on this subject which is being undertaken in Scotland by the Health Unit of our Department, we are including television as an experiment. She spoke rather as if she was not sure whether she really approved of the great Apollo 14 Moon Mission, although she certainly did, as I did, appreciate the enormous courage of the astronauts and the immense skill of the United States. However, we are always led to believe that there is a great technological fallout from this type of mission. Quite apart from that, like the noble Baroness, I have also been glued to television, whenever I could get near it, to watch the lift-off and the splash-down. I think it is true, is it not, that it is always the destiny of the human race to venture endlessly into the unknown.
I should like to thank the noble Baroness very much for her tribute to my right honourable friend the Minister for Overseas Development. He certainly is extraordinarily interested in this subject. I would agree with her, and the noble Baroness who spoke first, that the status of women is one of the most important factors in having successful family planning. In countries where education or the laws of the country have given practical equality of rights to women to allow them to work, and to make their own way in the world, one nearly always finds that there has been a falling birth rate and a very intelligent attitude to what is, above all, a question of personal choice.
My noble friend Lord Inglewood, in particular with his knowledge of forestry, my noble friend Lord Balfour—who, if I may say so, I thought was very courageous in making his second speech after making his maiden speech only 232 yesterday—and my noble friend Lord Stonehaven, spoke on agriculture. It is certainly true that this country gives a priority to aid for agriculture, and thus provides very substantial amounts of capital and technical assistance to a larger number of developing countries. The same policy is widely accepted by other donors—for example, through the World Bank.
The noble Lord, Lord Douglas of Barloch, spoke from his experiences as a former Governor of Malta, which has a very heavy population. He seemed to think that we should supply all medical contraceptive appliances, and indeed all advice, quite free upon the National Health Service. It is now possible for local authorities to supply this assistance, and the medical assistance, free for medical cases, and to give free advice to anyone for social reasons; but it has been thought better to ask for a certain payment where the assistance is not for medical reasons. It is left to the individual authorities to decide to what extent they can, and will, also supply the domiciliary services.
My Lords, I promised earlier that I would say something about natural resources—because, after all, they are part of the Motion before your Lordships to-day. I should therefore like to refer to some, such as iron ore, non-ferrous metals and water, which we all realise have to face enormous demands from the world's rapidly increasing population. There have been many surveys, including the recent United Nations review for the new Committee on Natural Resources of ECOSOC, which was cautiously optimistic about the long-term prospects for mineral resources and energy supplies. The Economic and Social Council thought that, of all these resources, fresh water was the major long-term natural resource problem for the world's rapidly increasing population. So far as shortages of key raw materials are concerned, I do not think we should underestimate the possibilities which may arise through future scientific or technical development, to which reference has already been made by several noble Lords. On the other hand, as we advance, particularly in our urban and industrial areas, we leave the most enormous waste behind us.
Before coming to your Lordships' House, I was chairman for two or three 233 years of a water pollution control committee of the British National Export Council of Canada. I learned there the most horrifying facts about pollution, not only in Canada but also, I am afraid, in our own country—in fact, on both sides of the Atlantic. Noble Lords may remember, for instance, that the river at Cleveland, Ohio, is now so polluted that it is the only river in the world which is rated as a fire hazard. It has burst into flames, nearly burning down two bridges, and 100 million dollars is to be spent over the next five years to purify it. It is reckoned that to purify Lake Erie would cost 40 billion dollars. In London, at a cost of some £40 million, we have turned the Thames from a black to a grey river. Only fifteen years ago the masters of foreign ships were complaining that pollution in the Port of London took the paint off their ships. But for those of your Lordships who are fishermen, I would say that fish have now returned to many stretches of the river which they have not inhabited for years.
It is perfectly true that not all developing countries are yet persuaded of the gravity of the problem of population growth in relation to natural resources and food, but it is encouraging that about 40 Governments now have, or support, population policies or programmes. It is perhaps right to say, at the end of this debate, that developed countries have a responsibility to do all they can to help, both through national aid programmes and by contributions to the World Bank and the United Nations. But the developing countries also have a responsibility to consider how best they can make use of the aid which is offered. The British Government are committed to a rising aid programme, which includes substantial contributions to international organisations about which I have already informed your Lordships' House.
I would only add that I feel that the difficulty about expecting people in this country to realise this enormous problem that we have been discussing is that not all of them have the chance to see the thousands sleeping in the streets of 234 Bombay and Calcutta; so it is not so easy to feel this problem at home. Indeed, the great truths of human existence are often not recognised until the evidence is plain to see, for layman as well as for scholar. I think, however, we should be glad that, through the good offices of the noble Lord, Lord Snow, this House has to-day given a lead on this great subject.
§ 7.24 p.m.
§ LORD SNOW
My Lords, very charmingly the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, has been trying to persuade me to be more cheerful. In fact, I have found certain sources of encouragement during this debate, not least her own attitude reflecting the attitude of the Government to this subject. That has been a source of genuine encouragement. Intellectually, though, I cannot change very much the attitude with which I began and which I tried to explain to your Lordships this afternoon. It would be quite dishonest of me to pretend that I can change that very much. In fact, intellectually I am deeply pessimistic. On the other hand, like my noble friend Lord Blackett, with whom I agree on most of these topics, I find a sort of emotional optimism sometimes coming through. That is really my position.
This has been a notable debate, and I am very proud to have had the chance to introduce it. It is the most important subject which your Lordships could possibly debate, and it seems to me (here I must confess that I am prejudiced) that the standard of the speeches has matched the seriousness of the topic. I am most grateful to noble Lords and Baronesses who have taken part this afternoon and evening. It seems to me that what they have said has been equal to the gravity of the situation in which we stand. Perhaps some words that we have spoken will get through to Governments or other quarters. If so, we shall have done a little for the cause in which everyone who has spoken believes—the cause of mankind. My Lords, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.