§ 2.38 p.m.
§ Debate resumed on the Motion moved yesterday by Baroness Macleod of Borve —namely, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as follows:
§ "Most Gracious Sovereign—We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your Majesty for the most gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR DEFENCE (LORD CARRINGI ON)
My Lords, as your Lordships know, to-day we are devoting our time to Foreign Affairs and Defence, and there can be no doubt that at the present time there is a very great deal in the sphere of international affairs which could and should be discussed. Over a number of years it has been the custom on many occasions in a debate of this sort for the Government speaker to range over a very wide field, touching on every problem in every part of the world. I have never thought this to be a very satisfactory way of starting a debate and I propose, with your Lordships' indulgence, to select only a few topics on which I should like to say one or two words. My noble friend Lord Lothian, who will be replying to the debate at the end of the day, will, I know, answer any questions on any other topics which may be put during the course of the afternoon.
My Lords, as we look around the world and at international relations as a 30 whole, the picture is pretty sombe. But then it always is and, in my memory, it always was. Unusually, there are one or two rays of light which could conceivably turn out to be hopeful signs for an improvement. On the debit side, the world is still divided into armed camps. The bigger armed camps manage to keep an uneasy peace by a balance of nuclear power. The smaller armed camps, though many are on the verge of war, are being actively restrained by one or other of the great Powers, or through the efforts of the United Nations. The population of the world rises at an enormous rate, creating problems, social and economic, as well as starvation and human misery. The Vietnam war is still with us—though hopefully much less so. Tension continues in the Middle East. This year there are new problems which have been added to the long list. The tragic events in Pakistan have further increased the vast number of refugees in the world. The major trading nations now face difficulties in their currency and trading arrangements which present them with a challenge to avert a situation of a severity unknown since the end of the Second World War.
There has also been one very significant change in the international situation caused by the vote in the United Nations to seat the People's Republic of China. I do not know whether or not this is one of the hopeful signs to which I referred earlier, but I am absolutely convinced that it is the sensible and rational development; for if the United Nations is to have any meaning at all, to exclude from it 750 million people is an absurdity. That is why we have over very many years on both sides of the House steadfastly supported the representation of Communist China in the United Nations. We felt then—and indeed how much more now—that as China's influence grows it will not be possible in many areas of the world to find solutions unless Peking plays its full part as a member of the international community.
My Lords, some say that since the end of the Cultural Revolution, Peking is adopting a mare conciliatory and moderate approach to international relations. If this is so we shall certainly seek to encourage the trend, as we shall in our dealings with the Communist world as a whole, and we are determined wherever 31 possible to improve our relations and contribute to a lessening of international tension. To all these problems we in Britain are not in a position to find a solution by ourselves, but we intend to play our part among the nations of the world in so far as our resources permit, and we shall use our long experience in foreign affairs and our tradition of stability and Parliamentary democracy both in taking the initiative and in co-operating with our friends in trying to find solutions.
But—and I must mention this—since the debate on the Address last year a most momentous decision has taken place in the field of our external relations. In another place, by a large majority of 112, and in this House by an overwhelming vote—the largest by far in its history —this country was given the go-ahead to join the E.E.C. And, as my noble friend Lady Macleod of Borve said, 500 Members of your Lordships' House who voted on that occasion will not be likely to forget it. It is perhaps interesting to note that, though quite unexpectedly, nobody has talked about "backwoodsmen" coming up in their hundreds to vote in favour of the reactionary proposal to go into the Common Market, equally no one has pointed out the vast range of experience and skills and the differing backgrounds of the 451 of your Lordships who voted in favour of the Motion. Civil servants, industrialists, bankers, ex-Ministers and agriculturists formed a majority of opinion in this House which, if it did not impress the newspapers, I must say certainly impressed me.
After three days of debate last week, in which I hope your Lordships will have observed I was restrained enough not to join, and 117 speeches in July, I do not intend to make another one on this subject, and I will say only this. We hope that the remaining issues in negotiation will shortly be settled and that the Treaty of Accession will be signed by the end of the year. Thereafter the Government intend early in 1972 to lay before the House the necessary legislation, and ratification of the Treaty of Accession will take place when that legislation has been approved. The only other thing I should wish to say in this connection is to echo what my noble friend Lady Macleod said yesterday in her most excellent speech proposing the humble Address. I am sure, 32 as she is sure, that the decision taken by Parliament is one which will be to the advantage of this country and that it represents a dramatic step forward in the evolution of Europe. As a Government we are determined to see that that opportunity is not lost.
The other hopeful sign which many of your Lordships have noted and have discussed over this last year has been the increasing likelihood of a series either of agreements or of conferences between East and West in order to lessen tension. The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks have now been going on for some time, and from the reports that we have had from our American friends it seems that, though progress is slow, there is a real possibility of some agreement and consequently a reduction of tension. Such an agreement, if it comes about, will be widely welcomed by everybody in the Western World.
We have had talk, too, of a conference and negotiations to discuss mutual and balanced force reductions and talks of a European Security Conference. Both of these are at the moment being actively pursued inside NATO. I very much hope that it will be possible to negotiate an agreement about mutual balanced force reductions, but I would not attempt to suggest to your Lordships that this will happen overnight or that there are not considerable difficulties in the way. The exact way in which such forces would be balanced is not at all easy to determine. A straight cut would greatly favour the Russians and the Warsaw Pact for they are already much stronger in conventional forces and have the advantage of both initiative and geography. Asymmetrical proposals would obviously be difficult for the Russians to accept. Nevertheless, there are being worked out ingenious schemes which may very well have a chance of success. Signor Brosio, after a most distinguished period as NATO'S Secretary-General—and I should like here to pay my tribute to that great international public servant—is to explore the position with the Soviet and the other interested Governments. If the Russians and the Warsaw Pact really are ready to lower the level of armed confrontation we shall all be delighted, but we shall of course wish to see hard evidence that they really are in earnest.
33 As for the Government's approach to the projected Conference on European Security, it is both cautious and constructive. For all I know, this time next year when we are debating the Address that long-awaited Conference may be over. I do not know. What I do know is that we and our allies need to approach any such conference with a clear idea of what we expect it to accomplish. Europe is divided. The risks of war are ever present. There is ample scope for collaboration in trade and co-operation in technical matters. There is serious matter for the Foreign Ministers of Europe and North America to tackle at such a Conference, and that meeting may well mark an important stage on the way to a much more satisfactory and stable relationship between East and West.
And while all this is happening, my Lords, I beg that we should be careful not to neglect the NATO Alliance. For, make no mistake, these negotiations will have to be handled delicately and with regard to the physical safety of the members of NATO. Do not let us forget, either, that for the last 22 years the North Atlantic Alliance has kept the peace of the world—a remarkable achievement which we must not take for granted. It has become a truism to say that NATO stands for the twin concepts of defence and detente. We must not fall into the trap of striving for detenteand forgetting about defence. For logically these two things are wholly complementary. One can negotiate with the Soviet bloc only from strength. Reductions of force levels must not be unilateral and the Warsaw Pact must see that that is so. We must take great care to ensure that the very proper and right minded wish on the part of everyone in the West for disarmament and peace does not lead to a relaxing of our guard at a time of great importance, for all of us who follow these matters know that NATO's forces are already too thin on the ground.
Mr. Laird, the American Defence Secretary, with whom I had an opportunity of talking in Brussels last week, made it quite clear, in a Press interview that he gave on his way to Brussels, how vital he felt was the importance of keeping up the Western defence effort during this critical period, and he made clear to me the determination of the 34 American Administration to resist demands for the withdrawal of United States forces from Europe at the present time. For my part, I was able to explain to him in detail the measures that we have recently taken to improve our military capability: the acceleration of the building of a number of naval ships, the revival of four of the infantry representative companies to battalion strength and the extra squadron of Buccaneers.
There was no difference of opinion between us as to the need for a continuation of NATO's efforts to remedy its military deficiencies, but a constant effort will be needed on the part of all of us in this country, interested in defence, to make plain to a generation not born at the time of the Second World War the need for armed forces and for NATO, and to prevent a false sense of security lulling the people of Europe to sleep.
Within the North Atlantic Alliance, the European members in the years that lie ahead must expect to have to take on an increasing share of the common defence effort. This will accentuate the need for closer co-operation among the European countries on defence matters, not least to try to ensure that the most effective use is made of limited resources. The enlargement of the E.E.C. should help in that respect to stimulate the climate and facilitate that co-operation. But, my Lords, we on this side of the House, at any rate, do not regard Britain's responsibilities as being limited to Europe and the Mediterranean, or stopping at the Tropic of Cancer. Britain will, within her resources, continue to take her share of responsibility for preserving peace and stability.
I hope that your Lordships will have noted, and noted with approval, that the new Five Power defence arrangements for the defence of Malaysia and Singapore came into effect on November 1. The documents replacing the Anglo-Malaysian Defence Agreement have been settled and will be signed and published shortly. At the same time, the Far East Command has been replaced by a new joint Australian, British and New Zealand command arrangement under which the forces of all three countries will contribute towards the Five Power defence arrangements. The 35 first commander of the combined force is a Rear Admiral in the Royal Australian Navy. As your Lordships will be aware, the political framework of the Five-Power arrangements was established at a meeting in London in April of this year and it is gratifying that the agreement reached there has come into effect as planned, and with so much good will.
My Lords, our interests and responsibilities East of Suez do not end there. We shall be maintaining our garrison in Hong Kong. The continuing presence of our naval and air forces will enable us to maintain vigilance in the Indian Ocean. In the Gulf, we shall be seeking to ensure future peace and stability through the formation of a union of the Emirates. As noble Lords will know, we have offered military assistance and visits by British forces to the union after the withdrawal by the end of the year of the forces now stationed in the Gulf.
Before I leave the subject of defence, I should like to say two short things about the organisation of the Ministry of Defence. As your Lordships will know, following the recommendations of the project team led by Mr. Rayner, a new Procurement Executive has been established within the Ministry of Defence. The Executive will not be a self-accounting body until April 5 of next year, but the basic structure came into being three months ago and apart from the formal accounting aspect it is now operational. Inevitably it will take some time before the full benefits of the new organisation are felt by the military users, but as the months go by I believe that we shall see a continuous and lasting improvement in the machinery for providing the Services with the right weapons and equipment at the right time, and I would hazard a guess that this, in terms of organisation, is one of the most significant developments that has taken place in the history of the Ministry of Defence.
Secondly, the transfer of the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment to the Ministry of Defence will contribute to the Government's policy of bringing together all defence research and development and procurement activities, thereby paving the way for a rational use of our scarce resources in this field. It is the Govern 36 ment's intention to introduce a Bill in this Session so that the transfer may be implemented in the summer of 1972.
Lastly, my Lords, I turn for a brief moment to the problems of Northern Ireland, an area of profound concern to every one of us who sits in this House and who reads daily the tale of violence and murder recorded on television and in the newspapers. I shall not this afternoon discuss the political situation, for it is my noble friend Lord Windlesham who answers in this House on that aspect, but I realise that, though important by themselves, military measures can do no more than contribute towards establishing the necessary conditions for peace and a peaceful solution to the problems of Northern Ireland.
Almost every hour of every day British soldiers are being shot at by automatic weapons and by precision rifles, or being booby-trapped or bombed. So, of course, are the Royal Ulster Constabulary. A very experienced officer said to me in Northern Ireland the other day that in no other emergency in which British troops have been involved since the end of the war has there been so much shooting and so much bloodshed. This is hardly surprising, for the tactics of the I.R.A. are provocation, intimidation and murder. Their immediate purpose is to create a mood of revulsion among the British people which they hope will force the Government to withdraw the armed forces. From the resultant chaos, they hope to achieve their ultimate purpose of an Ireland in which there will be no real authority but their own. They terrorise whole neighbourhoods, so that only the very bravest of the Catholics dares to give evidence about their crimes. They seek by the most vicious methods to provoke the Northern Irish people—particularly the Protestants—into taking the law into their own hands. They seek by similar methods to goad the Armed Forces into retaliating in such a way that they will be branded as the aggressors. Their propaganda is utterly unscrupulous. If a lie seems useful they will lie time and again, and their dupes, unwittingly or not, help them by believing everything that is said.
In emergencies of this kind it is very unwise to speculate about the outcome, for so often one's wishes and hopes and expectations are confounded. But of one 37 thing I am quite certain: the effectiveness of the security force operation is steadily increasing; and, as I have said to your Lordships on many occasions, the key to all this is intelligence. Over these last few weeks large numbers of known I.R.A. men on the "wanted" list have been arrested; the figure for the last two weeks alone was 126. Large quantities of ammunition and arms have been found, including automatic weapons and sniper rifles. These successes have not been a matter of luck: they have been achieved by following up the latest information while it is still fresh. This steady attrition of the I.R.A.'s manpower and supplies is bound to undermine their capacity to keep up the fight; it also leaves the terrorists wondering where the information has come from, so that each of them wonders how many of his friends, if any, he can still trust.
Three major units which have recently been sent to Northern Ireland have enabled the Army to exploit vigorously the information they have and to exert tighter control of the Border. I hope, too, that the tightening by the Northern Ireland authorities, and also, I am very happy to say, by the Government of the Republic, of the control over the custody and use of explosives for legitimate purposes will bring about a diminution of the bombing. The wanton and senseless destruction of these explosions, which directly or indirectly harms everybody in Northern Ireland, must be brought to an end. Here I should like to pay a particular tribute to the skill and courage of the bomb disposal teams, who have successfully prevented many explosions despite the very sophisticated anti-handling devices which these thugs have learned to employ.
My Lords, I do not know how long it will take finally to finish this emergency. In the process it may very well be, it will almost certainly be, that we shall see much more bloodshed and even an extension of it to this country. We are dealing with the most dangerous sort of urban guerillas — not high-minded patriots but criminals, totally unprincipled and totally ruthless, and if any evidence for this is needed your Lordships may have seen the appalling report that firearms have been placed in the hands of children. Nothing, either, could have been more savage than the attacks re 38 cently on the Royal Ulster Constabulary. These are brave men, and all your Lordships must admire the way in which the members of this force are sticking to their task in a very dangerous situation.
I will not say anything about our own troops, because I have frequently mentioned my admiration for their self-discipline and resilience. When I was in Northern Ireland a fortnight or so ago the cheerfulness with which they endure all this was brought home to me, especially when they have to live in some pretty makeshift accommodation. This, unfortunately, is unavoidable, because it is necessary to occupy positions in most volatile areas and to remain highly mobile. But everything possible has been done and is being done to make the living conditions tolerable, and we have made sure all along that finance is not a limiting factor in this respect. With the prospect of another winter ahead we have reviewed this aspect again. Additional mobile accommodation is being provided; and I have told General Tuzo, the General Officer Commanding, that an extra £500,000 is available for any additional improvements which can be made to add to the comfort of these temporary billets.
§ LORD BLYTON
My Lords, would the noble Lord allow me to intervene? In the context of the troops in Ireland—and we know it would be disastrous to bring them out—could he tell me what has been done as a result of the News of the World report that our lads, who do not know who are their friends or their foes, have horrible, appalling conditions when they go back for a rest?
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, I thought that I had dealt with that aspect. I agree with the noble Lord, because I have seen at first hand some of the conditions in which the soldiers have to live in Northern Ireland. As I say, a great deal of this is quite inevitable, because they have to be in that particular area and there is no other accommodation one could use; but we are doing everything we can to make this accommodation more comfortable and tolerable. Of course, these conditions apply only to the troops who are there on four-month spells; they do not apply to those battalions who are there on a tour of duty of two years. But 39 I entirely agree with the noble Lord: conditions are bad. I only wish there were something we could do to make them very much better. The best thing that could happen would be an end to the emergency, so that they do not have to be there.
My Lords, I was saying that it was only a short time since we had a debate on Northern Ireland, and I do not think we should wish to dwell on it further to-day. But I thought it right to devote part of what I had to say to this subject, partly because of its immediate importance and partly because it epitomises some of the recurring themes of the Government's thinking on defence in general. For instance, it seems to me to bear out very strongly the importance, which I have mentioned many times before, of making some allowance in our planning for the likelihood that the unexpected will occur. In particular, it illustrates clearly the strains which arise if one has barely adequate manpower in the Forces. More particularly still, it underlines the need to keep up the strength of the infantry, and hence the significance of our recent decision to restore four of the independent companies to full battalions. And last, but not least, the outburst of violence in Northern Ireland, tragic as it is, is conclusive proof that the quality of the men in our Forces has never in all our history been higher.
§ 3.7 p.m.
§ LORD CHALFONT
My Lords, there was a time, nearly a quarter of a century ago, when the date 1984 carried with it the implications of some sinister political system of the far distant future, a kind of Utopia in reverse. This date, of course, originated with the remarkable work by George Orwell, one of the most underrated political philosophers of the century, certainly I think the most outstanding political philosopher to be turned out by that well-known comprehensive school near Windsor. The date itself is not too far away. If we look again at Orwell's analysis of the world's structure, I think, too, that his prophecies are not far off the mark. When he was writing in 1947 he envisaged that by 1984 the world would be divided into three large strategic power blocs, and one combination or other of those three super Powers 40 would always be at war, but no combination of any two would be strong enough to defeat the third. So there was constant war waged with limited means for limited ends, including widespread use of urban guerilla warfare.
If we look at the world to-day, with 1984 not much more than a decade away, we have a situation beginning to develop along those lines. We already have the triangular Power confrontation. The Soviet Union is in conflict with the United States; the United States is in conflict with the People's Republic of China, and there is a growing sense of unease and conflict between the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China. In the framework of that triangular confrontation, as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has said, there is a situation of mutual blackmail by nuclear weapons—he did not use that particular phrase, but I use it—which makes it unlikely that any one or two of the super Powers could defeat the third militarily without inflicting massive destruction on themselves and on the rest of the world. I think it is true to say that the super Powers have begun to realise this. If the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks between the Russians and Americans and the planned visit of the President of the United States to Peking are any guide, it seems that the super Powers have begun to realise the dangers of this confrontation.
There certainly is a constant war going on in the world with limited means for limited aims. We have the bitter and destructive war in Vietnam, an uneasy peace between military operations in the Middle East, urban guerrilla warfare in the United States of America, and, as the noble Lord the Defence Secretary has just said, even closer to home in Northern Ireland. The Middle East might explode at any moment into a confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States. Until the United States can liquidate its unfortunate commitment in Vietnam the possibility of open war between China and the United States can never he fully discounted. Now, the last development is the hostility between India and Pakistan over the problem of Bangla Desh, which might at any moment erupt into a war which, quite possibly, could drag in the Soviet Union on the one side and the People's Republic of China on the other. So we are, in fact, facing a 41 new, complicated and immensely dangerous phase in the international power structure. Whether Britain is to play any part in the way this structure develops will depend very largely on how we conduct our foreign policy over the next few years.
I do not propose in this debate to dwell on the question of Britain's role in Europe. As the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has said, we have had a long and exhaustive—even exhausting—debate on the subject, and the views of everybody in your Lordships' House are now too well known to need repeating. Even if we look at Britain's interests in their narrowest and most nationalistic light, we still have to ask a series of penetrating questions about the future of Britain's foreign and defence policy, and we have to find the answers to them if this country is to survive in the kind of world into which we are now moving. I am bound to say with some regret that, in this context, I do not find the gracious Speech entirely encouraging. It contains a number of unexceptionable sentiments about maintaining the North Atlantic Alliance, achieving arms control and disarmament, securing peace in the Middle East, improving relations with the People's Republic of China, and increasing aid to the developing countries; but I wonder really whether these are more than sentiments and statements of good intention.
Like the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, I do not intend in to-day's debate to make any kind of comprehensive global survey of foreign policy. I should, however, like to look at various crucial elements in the foreign policy of Her Majesty's Government, and to ask whether we really have good reason to be confident that the resounding statements of principle contained in the gracious Speech will, in fact, be translated into action. The first great question mark must, I think—and I believe we all agree on this—be China. This enormous country of 800 million people, with a rapidly developing nuclear weapons potential, is now to take its place, as it should have done many years ago, in the Security Council and General Assembly of the United Nations. In spite of their curious performance in the United Nations debate on China's entry, the United States are obviously pushing ahead with their attempts to establish some kind 42 of dialogue with Peking. France, too, seems to be losing no time in getting closer to the Chinese.
My first question to the Minister who will reply to the debate is whether, when he replies, he will give us some clear indication of the policy which Her Majesty's Government intend to adopt towards the People's Republic of China. It is all very well to say,"We shall seek improved relations", but in the changed circumstances brought about by the United Nations vote there are a number of questions that need to be answered, and answered quickly. For example, will China now join in those diplomatic activities which have, up to now, been regarded as the preserve of the four great Powers? Is China to be invited to take part in the attempts to find a solution to the problem of the Middle East? It would seem reasonable and logical to suggest that she should. Is it the view of Her Majesty's Government that China should he represented at the Conference on the Committee of Disarmament in Geneva? Again, it would seem logical that she should be. I think, as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, suggested, that it would be unfair to blame anyone specifically for the somewhat equivocal attitude which Britain has adopted towards Peking in the United Nations in recent years. But it would be encouraging to be assured that Her Majesty's Government will analyse closely the implications of the radically new situation in the United Nations, and that, whatever other people may do, the British Government will pursue an imaginative and vigorous policy towards a Government which, by the end of this century, is likely to control the destiny of about one-third of the world's population.
Linked closely to the future of China is the future of the Third World. Like the noble Lord who has just spoken, I shall not take up valuable time to-day in repeating what many of us have said many times before about the appalling conditions in which two-thirds of the world's population now live. My noble friend Lady White, when she comes to speak later in the debate, will refer again to that particular problem. I will simply put my second question, which I hope the Minister will be able to answer at the end of the debate. Do Her Majesty's Government intend to increase substantially the percentage of the gross national 43 product which is devoted to aid in the developing world and, if so, when?
I think it worth mentioning in passing here that the recent decision of the American Senate to put a virtual end to the American aid programme has come as a great shock to the rest of the world, as well as its obviously coming as a shock to the American Administration itself. Of course, some people can argue that American aid was a form of economic colonialism and that its end simply means an end of American intervention in the internal policies of developing countries, but it seems to me inevitable that if the decision of the American Senate remains binding on President Nixon's Administration many developing countries are going to find it even more appallingly difficult than they have in the past to raise their living standards even to the bare level of subsistence. This is clearly an internal matter for the United States Administration, but I should like to ask the Minister whether Her Majesty's Government have been in close touch with the Government of the United States about the implications of the Senate vote and, if so, how they assess its significance for the developing world if the Senate vote should, in fact, remain binding.
I turn now to the second of the great Communist Powers in the triangular confrontation. It seems to me, though I may not speak for even everyone on this side of the House, that the policy of Her Majesty's Government towards the Soviet Union is strangely lacking in vision, energy and imagination. It is generally believed, whatever the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, may say, by many expert observers of the political scene, not only in Europe but in America, Africa and Asia, that the British Government are more hostile than any other Western Government to the Soviet proposals for a European security conference. In this context I think it worth mentioning what seemed to me to be the less than adroit handling of the expulsion of the Soviet diplomats. I am not arguing the merits of that particular case, but it seemed to me that the timing and the techniques used were. to say the very least, a notable example of diplomatic clumsiness. Whether this is true or not, it is surely time that the British Government began 44 to dispel this general impression by taking some positive steps to make a European security conference possible. It is no good simply saying that it must be properly prepared, and that we must get something out of it. Everybody knows that. We cannot go on saying that the United States and Canada must be represented, because the Soviet Union has already conceded that point. It is no good saying that the conference must be held without preconditions as long as we go on making preconditions of our own. Finally, it is no good saying that this was the position of the Labour Government when in office. The whole balance and structure of European, Atlantic, and global power has changed radically and rapidly in the course of the last year. A new situation now exists. and we are going to need new and dynamic policies to meet it. I hope that the Minister, when he comes to reply, will be able to outline, however briefly, the latest attitude of Her Majesty's Government towards the European security conference. and perhaps in rather more positive terms than the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, was able to do in his opening speech..
There is another aspect of foreign policy which I believe should be causing the Government more concern than they seem to show about it at the moment, and that is the general area of disarmament and arms control. Now I am not going to range widely over this field. I should like to make two broad and, to me, very urgent points about it. The first is that considerable play is being made in military circles in the United States now on the theory that the Soviet Union is about to deploy some elaborate new weapon of mass destruction and that the United States should therefore resume the arms race before the Russians gain some theoretical position of superiority. Whatever may be the purpose of these enormous holes in the ground which have apparently, conveniently, been detected by recent satellite reconnaissance, the whole argument seems to me to be irrelevant to the security of the United States or the Western World as a whole. Even if we suppose for a moment that the Soviet Union is preparing to double or even treble, if you like, its armoury of inter-continental ballistic missiles, does this really matter so long as the Americans still have the power to 45 retaliate against an American attack? The numbers game in nuclear strategy is, and always has been, a total fallacy.
Or let its make the other supposition which many strategic analysts make, which is that the Soviet Union has perfected a new kind of weapon—not just more of the same kind, but a new kind. The most likely development is the one which has the appalling name of the fractional orbital bombardment system which, in simple terms and it is very simple to explain it —is a missile which, instead of following a ballistic course into the outer atmosphere and coming down directly on its target, goes into partial orbit around the earth and so, in a sense, comes in on American targets"by the back door". If the Soviet Union have perfected such a weapon, and if they are about to deploy it, does it really affect the ability of the United States to retaliate? No, my Lords, obviously not, because apart from any other considerations the great part of the American retaliatory force is submarine-based and invulnerable to this or any other known method of attack. I mention this point simply to be assured, if the Minister can assure me, that Her Majesty's Government will give full support to those in the United States—and there are many of them—who are resisting pressures for a resumption of the arms race on the totally bogus grounds that the Soviet Union may be achieving some kind of numerical superiority.
Then there is the question of underground testing. For example, are Her Majesty's Government really convinced about the merits of the American underground nuclear test on Amchitka Island? It is a test which, so far as we know, may have taken place yesterday or to-day, but it is certainly imminent. It will be, or has been, one of the biggest nuclear tests of recent times, with five megatons —five million tons—of warhead being exploded on a little island; and there are many who believe, on the basis of past experience on this island with smaller nuclear tests, that it is bound to discharge radioactive debris into the atmosphere and cause a serious poisoning of the environment. There are other experts—and these are serious scientific experts, not fanatics or cranks—who say that there is a very real danger, because Amchitka Island is based on a particular geological fault. that it may cause earthquakes and tidal 46 waves as far away as Japan. There was, in fact, a minor earthquake after the last very small test on Amchitka Island, and the present one is to be an explosion 250 times greater than the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima or Nagasaki. Are Her Majesty's Government convinced that there is no cause for alarm? Even more important, are they convinced that a test of this kind is essential to the security of the Western World? It may be significant to mention that one of the countries that has made a public protest about this is Canada, which is a member of NATO and, presumably, is as concerned as we are with the security of the West. I should like to ask the Minister whether any influence has been brought to bear on the United States by Her Majesty's Government, either to abandon this test or at least to postpone it until there is some definite outcome to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, because a test of this kind must prejudice their chances of success.
In this general context, I should like to ask him, too, whether we are pursuing in the conference of the Committee on Disarmament in Geneva a really energetic policy in pursuit of a comprehensive nuclear test ban. I do not think it is good enough for the Government to say that these are matters for discussion between the United States and the Soviet Union. We have had a great deal too much of super-Power decision making, and I hope it is not impertinent to remind Her Majesty's Government that one of the great arguments—in fact, so far as I can see the only argument—for retaining our own nuclear striking force is that it gives us a seat at the table where these matters are discussed. I hope the Minister can assure the House that on all these issues —and many of them affect the very survival of the human race—the British Government have at least some channel for making their views heard and ensuring that they are listened to before final decisions are taken.
It may not be realised universally that the Soviet Union and the United States are now testing nuclear weapons at a higher rate than they were before 1963, when the partial nuclear test ban was signed. So long as this goes on there is no hope of persuading China and France to abandon their atmospheric test series and, in my view, there is a grave danger 47 that the one small measure of arms control that we have achieved in the last decade—the nuclear non-proliferation treaty—will be put at risk when it comes up for review at the end of its five-year term, if the super-Powers are not persuaded to put an end to this nuclear testing and to sign a comprehensive test ban. This country used to have some standing and influence in these matters. I should like to be assured that it still has.
Moving outside Europe and the main centre of nuclear confrontation, I should like briefly to express some concern about the general direction of the foreign policy of Her Majesty's Government in Southern Africa. The decision to supply arms to South Africa has been fully debated and I will not enter into the merits of the issue here. I simply say that we on this side of the House will continue to resist, with all the means at our disposal, any action which is taken to give aid or comfort to the blatantly oppressive and racialist regime of South Africa. And the Government of South Africa—this has been said before, but it is worth saying again—should be in no doubt that they cannot rely on any future Labour Government to fulfil any commitments of this kind which the present Government may see fit to enter into. Any of us who are in any doubt about the mentality and approach of the people who conduct the affairs of the South African Government, must have had some of those doubts removed by the savage treatment that has recently been meted out to the Dean of Johannesburg,.
There is one particular matter, not of controversy but of information, which I should like to put to the Minister about Southern Africa. It concerns a recent visit to this country by a gentleman called Mr. Cabral, who is the representative of an African resistance movement. I understand that Mr. Cabral, who is, by all the information I have, a man of moderate policies, attempting to get into a serious dialogue with the Portuguese Government, tried to arrange a meeting with a Foreign Office Minister or official, and this he was apparently unable to do. I understand fully the reasons which may have led the Government to decide against an official meeting with Mr. Cabral, but it is presumably not beyond the wit of that 48 splendid machine, the Foreign Office, to devise some channel of communication with such a key African figure. There does not seem to be any difficulty in communicating with Mr. Ian Smith. I hope we can be assured that Her Majesty's Government are fully informed about the aims of Mr. Cabral and his organisation, and that they will use their best efforts to bring what he had to say to the notice of the Portuguese Government.
Finally, on the subject of Southern Africa, 'but very briefly, I must say that many of us on this side of the House are beginning, to feel some concern about the intentions of Her Majesty's Government in Rhodesia. I have a profound regard for the integrity and ability of the noble Lord. Lord Goodman, who is evidently carrying out a reconnaissance in force on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, but I can assure Her Majesty's Government that there will be the most violent opposition in this country to any agreement with Mr. Smith which is based on weakness or compromise. I would ask the Minister for an unequivocal assurance to the House that Her Majesty's Government are still committed to the principles—whether you call them the Five Principles or the Six Principles is irrelevant—and that they will not contemplate for an instant any agreement with the Rhodesian regime which is not firmly based upon those principles. If the recent reports that the Rhodesian Government is planning to evict thousands of Africans from areas around Salisbury are true. this means that one of the principles has been flouted for a start; and it would he interesting for the House to know at this moment, when it seems likely that the policy of sanctions against Rhodesia is beginning to have some effect, that the Government are not weakening in their attitude towards the illegal regime in Salisbury.
Then there is the question to which the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, referred: the confrontation between India and Pakistan over Bangla Desh. This problem is already a massive and appalling one. Nine million refugees have crossed the frontier, and Mrs. Gandhi has said that she has no intention that India shall absorb them, no matter what. Yet does anybody really believe that they will go back voluntarily? Nine million people 49 do not trek across a frontier to live in the appalling conditions of temporary refugee camps for anything but real reasons of fear and terror; and we should bear in mind as we debate this matter comfortably here to-day that these people have not yet plumbed the full depths of their misery. The winter is coming to the border between India and Pakistan, as it is to the rest of us. But there it will be bitterly cold, and many of these people will have no food, no shelter and no warmth, and they will die in their millions. This is going to be a human problem of agonising proportions.
It is a matter, I suppose, first of all, for the Government of Pakistan and Bangla Desh, or Free Bengal, or East Pakistan, whatever one likes to call it. But I believe that this is not a problem which the world can leave with an easy conscience to the Indians and the Pakistanis. It is a problem for the Great Powers, and perhaps, indeed, for the whole of the United Nations. I know it may be difficult for Her Majesty's Government (who are, I understand, engaged at the moment in talks with the Prime Minister of India) to say very much about this matter, but I hope the Minister can at least assure the House that the Government will take whatever initiatives are appropriate to deal with this problem before it becomes too late. We have heard a great deal recently about our special links with present and former members of the Commonwealth of Nations, and if our special role in these areas means anything this is surely an occasion to demonstrate it by taking the lead, for once, in a problem of these international proportions.
My Lords, there are other areas of foreign and defence policy which I should like to cover, but time does not permit it; and I have been able to devote very little time to the specific problems of defence— European defence, and the need, which the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, outlined, and with which I substantially agree, to keep up the strength of the NATO Alliance. I should also have liked to say something about the possibility of a new European defence arrangement in the light of our future relations with the countries of Western Europe; but there is one area which I think it would be quite inappropriate to leave out, especially as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, took some small part of his speech to deal with it, and 50 that is the military problem that arises from the deployment of large numbers of troops in Northern Ireland. I do not propose to enter into the arguments about the political future of Northern Ireland. Certainly I believe that there is a crying need for some radical, new policies. But these must clearly be carefully thought out. I would simply say that so long as our Armed Forces are engaged in operations there it is in my view quite wrong for anybody, whatever place he may occupy in the political spectrum, to say anything or do anything which increases the appalling difficulties under which our troops are forced to work. My own view, based not only on a consensus of Press reports but on a personal visit to the Armed Forces in Northern Ireland, is that British troops are continuing to behave with remarkable patience and restraint in the face of what is sometimes almost intolerable provocation. From my own military experience I can think of no other Army in the world, however well trained and well disciplined, which would have conducted itself in the way that these men have done in what has now become an unrestricted programme of outright urban guerilla warfare.
But, having said that, it occurs to me that with our Armed Forces at their present strength the noble Lord made mention of this, but perhaps did not go as deeply into it as I should have liked him to go —it surely is not going to be possible to keep a garrison of the present size in Northern Ireland for much longer without weakening our Armed Forces elsewhere in the world, particularly, I should have thought, in NATO, in Europe. I should like to ask the Government what plans they have in mind to ensure that we do not fall into the trap (which is almost inseperable from the concept of small, all Regular forces) of having to decide whether to spread the military effort evenly over a large number of commitments, with all that that means in overstrain on the resources of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, or whether to accept that certain commitments are simply not going to be filled. Because it seems to me that if you do not accept either of those alternatives, then the only remaining course is to increase the strength of the Armed Forces as a whole, and it is difficult for me to see how any Government, the present one or an alternative one, can do this without recourse 51 to some kind of compulsory military service. When the Minister comes to reply—although I do not expect any detailed comment—it would be interesting to know what the Government's thinking is on this particular point. Which of these courses are they intending to follow?
My Lords, I have spent all the time at my disposal simply in trying to suggest that there are many areas of foreign policy in which it is possible to have, at best, reservations, and in some cases deep concern, about the general direction of the foreign policy of Her Majesty's Government, and I should like to conclude by saying that my own impression is that the Government are still to a very great extent, on all the evidence that is available to me, bedevilled by some of the more inflexible attitudes of the cold war. I think it was even evident in some of the things that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said to-day. Although I thought his speech thoughtful, lucid and constructive, it seemed to me that there were overtones of a disposition to believe that the only enemy is Communism, and that the main threat to our security and prosperity is the old, old spectre of the Red hordes sweeping down to the Channel ports. I believe, my Lords, that in the rapidly developing international power structure of to-day the combinations and permutations of political interest are too complicated for that kind of simplistic analysis of the world scene. I do not suggest for one moment that the totalitarianism of the Communist kind is not totally hostile to our way of life. It is. As Rosa Luxembourg said of Leninism (but it is equally true of any form of totalitarianism. and certainly true of dictatorships of the Right as well as of the Left):The general suppression of democracy is worse than the evil it is supposed to cure".For that reason, I would agree with the basic philosophy, I think, of the noble Lord's speech, that totalitarianism is the enemy, whether it is totalitarianism of the Left or of the Right. But there are other problems, my Lords, which are just as immediate, just as fundamental: the economic gulf between the rich countries of the world and the poor; the irrational and violent conflicts of racial prejudice; the runaway race in armaments which is 52 daily threatening to get completely out of control; and, of course, the poisoning of our environment, which is partly a result of our obsession with technological advance and material affluence.
Before I sit down, may I add my congratulations to those that have already been offered to the noble Baroness, Lady Macleod of Borve, and the noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, on the graceful and felicitous way in which they moved and seconded the humble Address. It is true, my Lords, that the gracious Speech contains, as I have said, a number of admirable general statements of principle and intention. But it seems to me now that the time has come for the assumptions upon which a great deal of our foreign policy is based to be re-examined; and there are many of us on this side of the House who, before we are convinced of the validity of the sentiments contained in the gracious Speech, will need to see a great deal more constructive and imaginative foreign policy than it has been possible to discern since the present Government took office.
§ 3.40 p.m.
§ LORD TREVELYAN
My Lords, I should like first to thank the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, for his characteristically frank and clear exposition of some elements of our foreign and defence policy; and I find myself in total agreement with what he has said. I think it proper to confine myself to a few brief comments upon three problems of immediate importance which are dealt with in the gracious Speech.
First, European security. The question is: how do we move towards a practical and effective system of European security? Our official aim is détente. What is detente? It is not a material object like a football (or two shapes of football) and it may be possible for different people to have different ideas of what they want to get out of it. From my French dictionary I see that it has four meanings, three of which we do not want, "trigger", "expansion", "reaction", and the one that we do want—"relaxation". It is relaxation of tension that is our aim. How do we secure this kind of detente? We cannot secure detente by agreeing to have one and signing a paper to say so. What is needed is mutual confidence, growing gradually as a result of the development of our conduct towards each 53 other, which will cause a lessening of strain on both ends of the rope. That confidence can be helped to grow by a resolution of problems and by establishing machinery to settle new problems as they arise.
In the light of these propositions, what are the prospects for a European Security Conference? Ad hoc conferences have to be handled very carefully, otherwise they shatter into small pieces of noisy, angry propaganda; they are apt to have excessive hopes placed on them and to end in a reaction of excessive disappointment. They need some basis of mutual confidence before they begin. This can be obtained, now, partly by the conclusion of an agreement between the West and East Germans; by the signature of a Berlin Agreement 'by the Four Powers; and by ratification by the West German Parliament of the West German, Polish and Soviet Treaties. This, I believe, is an essential preliminary, as is recognised by both sides. I think that there is already agreement on membership: it is clear that all NATO members must be included, and, as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said, we must not in any circumstances affect our main bulwark of NATO.
Before our side goes into this game with the immaterial football we must ensure at least that the players on our side are pointing their noses in the same direction; otherwise there will be complete confusion. The other side will have little difficulty in achieving this. There must be proper preparation by all members of the Conference, perhaps by subsidiary conference in advance. It is always advantageous if you can get a long way towards agreement before the great men arrive. We must have an idea that we can get something worth while and practical out of it. What can we get? The most important result would be the establishment of a permanent East/West Security Commission which would operate parallel with the American-Soviet SALT talks. I am in favour of this. It has been proposed at times by both NATO and the Warsaw Pact, and therefore it should be possible for us to get agreement on it. What can it do? It can work without publicity or propaganda, or the need to produce a public success at any one time. It can talk out any dangerous situations which arise. It can deal with many ques- 54 tions which virtually require permanent negotiation. It may, in due course, when mutual confidence grows, be able to make at least a modest start on disarmament. It should help to reduce strain. It can also perhaps begin to discuss mutual balanced force reductions about which the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has spoken.
A Security Conference could make a beginning on this, but I expect that it would have to be remitted to the permanent organisation, which should be the best way of dealing with this difficult question on a continuing basis. The Western side has first to decide which of the forces on our side will be reduced. I think personally that it must be principally the American forces, since the European countries msut increase their proportionate share of the burden or there will be a risk of American agreement on reductions bilaterally with the Russians. To reach agreement on principles for reduction will not be easy. Do we start from the existing numbers or from the balance down to which we hope eventually to arrive? Clearly, we shall start with different ideas on principle from the Russians when the conference starts. Subject to what I have said, I am in favour of a conference; and the sooner it can be arranged in conditions favourable to its success, the better.
There is one more point. It has been suggested publicly, and I think by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, this afternoon, that the Government and the Foreign Office are deliberately stalling on this measure to improve European security. I am a retired officer and I am not in the confidence of the Foreign Office, but I find it difficult to believe that allegation to be true.
§ LORD CHALFONT
My Lords, will the noble Lord allow me to interrupt for the purpose of putting the Record straight? I was not suggesting for a moment that the Foreign Office were stalling on this. My point was that there is an opinion, which is widespread, that the British Government are more hostile to this idea than are other Western Governments. I did not necessarily agree with that feeling; but I thought it time the Government took steps to dispel it. I was not suggesting that the Foreign Office were at fault here.
§ LORD TREVELYAN
My Lords, I have seen it suggested elsewhere. I do not think for a moment that it is true. If we have trouble in one compartment on Anglo-Soviet relations, we do not allow that to spill over into other questions of our and European interests. Anglo-Soviet relations are like the British weather: the sun is not out for long, but the storms are short. Let us hope that the sun will come out again very soon. Meanwhile, we should pursue the question of European security separately and positively.
Secondly, my Lords, China. I would support what has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, about the recent decision that the Peking Government should represent China in the United Nations. I have been of that opinion since I myself left China in 1955. The matter is simple. The Peking Government is in control of the country, and our principle in the establishment of diplomatic relations has always been to recognise the Government in control of a country. That should be the principle also in the United Nations. Secondly, there can be only one representative claiming to be the Government of China. That was Chiang Kai-shek's claim. This does not affect the future of Taiwan. That is a question for decision by America: whether they value the development of their relations with mainland China more than their continued protection of the Chinese Nationalists on Taiwan. I personally believe that the question will be settled by the two principals, Peking and Taiwan.
Lastly, my Lords, a word on the Middle East, and specifically on the Arab-Israeli question. I believe that there is now probably a better chance—although there is never a very good chance—to secure a settlement, or perhaps a partial settlement, than there has been since 1967, with President Sadat and Mahmoud Fawzi in Egypt. One cannot always believe Press reports, but I have read that Mrs. Meir was asked whether Arab readiness to recognise Israel as a State was not a basis for a settlement. Her answer was reported to be that Israel wants not recognition but peace. There are also reports that the Israelis have refused the proposal of the Americans to negotiate, the two sides being in adjoin- 56 ing rooms in New York. I hope that these reports are not true; but if they are it would suggest unwillingness on the part of the Israelis to move. The Israeli attitude towards the United Nations resolution on Jerusalem also suggests a possible hardening of their position. Of course, the aim is peace, but that can come only from a settlement which requires some negotiation, in whatever form, and some confidence on both sides that a settlement will be kept. This is a very dangerous situation. Negotiations must be continued and not allowed to lapse. The Americans and the Russians must continue to take the lead, and we and the French must help in whatever way we can. It is an obstinate problem. Its continuance is against everyone's real interests, on both sides.
§ 3.51 p.m.
§ BARONESS ELLIOT OF HAR WOOD
My Lords, I rise to take part in this debate after having listened with great interest to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and I hope that the remarks I shall make will be of some interest and help to him. I have just come back from a conference, which was held this year in Ottawa, of political representatives from all the 15 NATO countries, with the exception only of Greece which, as we know, has no democratic Government. Gathered together this year for the first time for a long time were a number of politicians, congressmen, senators, Members of your Lordships' House and of the other place and members of Parliaments in the NATO countries. It was a conference of great significance and importance, and I should like to say one or two things about it because I think it would be of-help to Her Majesty's Government and possibly also to those Members of your Lordships' House who are interested in the NATO Alliance.
The conference is now called the North Atlantic Assembly; it used to be known as the NATO Parliamentarians Conference. Its object has always been to keep political people in the NATO countries up to date with military and defence developments in the NATO Alliance. Up to the present this has, I think, proved very valuable, since at the end of the day it is the Parliaments of the world who vote the money for the NATO defence services.
57 Those services must be properly understood and appreciated by the parliamentarians. The conference has been meeting for a great number of years, the first being shortly after the NATO Alliance was signed by the late Ernest Bevin and, as was said by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has proved of great importance to the peace of Europe and of the world.
In my view, interest in the NATO Alliance fluctuates. There are always countries which are more interested than others in the Alliance. Obviously, the European countries are, on the whole, more interested than countries in North America. On the other hand, the strength of the Alliance depends on support from the United States, and particularly from the Congress and Senate representatives. These representatives have varied from Senator Jack Javits on one side to Senator Edward Kennedy on the other, with a variety of congressmen from all Parties, but I found all were anxious to continue their wholehearted support of the NATO Alliance. Canada, on the other hand, I found to be interested and to be involved far more in the Canadian scene than in any political or larger scene outside Canada. This seemed rather strange to me because, in the days when I was a delegate to the United Nations, people like the last Canadian Prime Minister Mike Pearson were the leading politicians in the United Nations Assembly. I have found that to-day the Canadian representatives are a great deal more interested in Canada and what is happening there. Of course they have great problems. They seemed more interested in the visit of. Mr. Kosygin, for instance, than in the group of parliamentarians, some very distinguished, who were present in their capital.
My Lords, we must try to understand what I have heard called in Canada" Trudeaux's Canada". It is quite different from the Canada which I remember when I was there some years ago, when on occasion I went from New York up to Ottawa. I do not say that they are not just as friendly and delightful as they have always been to talk to and to discuss things with, but their interests are, I think, no longer in Europe, and certainly not in the United Kingdom. I feel that we ought to take a greater interest in what is happening in Canada and that some of our politicians should go to 58 Canada and meet the younger generation which is growing up in what is called "Trudeaux's Canada". I hope, too, that we shall encourage more Canadians to come to this country to see what has happened here, where we have a new Parliament and a new Government. I make this suggestion to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and to the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian: I hope that some of our leading Ministers, particularly those connected with foreign affairs, will, if an opportunity arises, go to Canada, because I think it would be well thought of and that they would be well received.
A curious thing about the conference is that although the French are no longer in the NATO Alliance in the old days we used to meet in Paris; now the headquarters of the Alliance has moved to Brussels—there is always a large delegation of French politicians present. To me, and to anybody attending the conference, it is perfectly obvious that the French are most anxious still to play an active part, if not in the military scene at least in the political scene in the NATO Alliance. I think that most encouraging. The discussions in the Assembly have ranged widely. The report from a distinguished Frenchman, M. Biscard Destaing, on co-operation in scientific and technical subjects aroused a tremendous amount of interest among all the delegates. Another paper on political problems, presented by a Member of the German Parliament, Eric Blumenfeld, was eagerly debated. Interesting questions about a European security conference were debated. This point has been mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, and by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. I think one would find that among the politicians in Europe the question of a European security conference would be well received provided, of course, as Lord Trevelyan suggested, adequate prior preparation takes place. Certainly among the varied collection of politicians at the conference—our delegation was, so to speak, a bipartisan delegation—these subjects were debated, not acrimoniously, but with an enthusiasm and hope that new things were going to take place.
On the question of the détente about which the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, spoke, and which we are anxious to en 59 courage, again the discussions in the Assembly were on the friendliest terms. American senators, German politicians and others with ourselves discussed the question of the détente with the Communist bloc with a very liberal point of view being put by most people. Of course I did not sit on the Committee dealing with the question of military matters, but I know that there was unanimity about them. One of the subjects which was of great interest has been touched upon by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, namely, how to get across to the rising generation of people in all countries, who were perhaps not born in 1947 when the NATO Alliance was started, the great value and importance of this Alliance in the modern world of the 1970s. That value and importance is as great as it was in the world of the 1950s. We had great discussions in the Information and Cultural Affairs Committee as to how this could be done. We did not come to any very good conclusions, I am afraid, because it is not easy. But there was unanimity among all the people that we should enlist the support of the Press, the mass media and the education services of all these countries, in order that they should include among the many important subjects taught in the schools the importance of the NATO Alliance so that it should not be lost sight of.
The great importance to me of this Conference has always been that in it we have not only all these European countries but also the American and North American politicians. It is the one meeting place in a year in which they take not only an active part, but possibly the most important part in the discussion. There is no other European group—not the E.E.C., the W.E.U. or any European group—where the Americans plays so vital a part. That, I think, is something which amply justifies the holding of this yearly Conference. We discussed subjects like the Middle East, about which the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, has just spoken, and there is no doubt that the European countries are taking a keen interest in this area. I hope that the Government will continue to encourage the North Atlantic Assembly. I think it is a great support to the Alliance, and the Alliance is a great support to the peace of the world.
60 I went from Ottawa down to New York, for a week only, because that was all the time I could spare. I attended the United Nations Assembly with a roving commission as an observer to attend all the different committees and, of course, the General Assembly. As your Lordships know, I have always been a strong supporter of the United Nations, and at the present time I am chairman of the Parliamentary Committee of the United Nations. But I cannot disguise from your Lordships the fact that I found this week—perhaps I struck an unfortunate week—a depressing experience. The impression that I gleaned from listening to the general debate, and also from attending one or two committees (committee work had hardly started, and the general debate was still on), was that people were making the same speeches they had been making when I was there in 1954, 1956 and 1957: the same anti-colonial speeches; the same anti-Israel speeches; the same anti-United Kingdom speeches, on the basis of Colonies, which, as we all know, are rapidly disappearing with the setting up of independent countries. Nobody seems to bother much; the representatives have the speeches in their attaché cases, and they bring them out and make them. But this is rather depressing, and I came away a little depressed as a result of the curiously repetitive way in which many (I do not say all, of course) of the nations in the United Nations speak from the rostrum of the General Assembly. I was not there when the resolution on China was passed, but it was obvious that it was going to be passed, and by a large majority. I agree with everybody that this is a welcome reality coming to the General Assembly.
There is one aspect of the United Nations to which people do not refer, but which seems to me of great importance; namely, its grave financial situation. Here I feel a little sorry for the United States of America, who are deeply hurt at the way in which the Chinese resolution was finally passed (they may be wrong, because it is always a mistake to be hurt about anything), because if it were not for the finance of the United States, the United Nations simply would not function. They are by far the biggest contributors, and have been for many years. The financial 61 support which we and other European countries give is very great indeed. In fact, the United Nations would not function were it not for the United States and the European countries who support it.
Of course, Russia supports the United Nations, but only when the subjects in which she is interested are brought up. The Russians have never given any money to refugees; they have never given any money to a number of things in which they are not particularly interested. So at this moment, as I say, I feel a little sorry for the United States. They may have been unwise about their opposition to China. They are now anxious to have the best possible relations with China. On the other hand, I believe that people underestimate the tremendous help which the United States have given to the United Nations over a great many years, and still give. Were it not for their finance, the General Assembly would be in a much worse way than it is to-day. I shall always support the United Nations and do all I can to strengthen our links with it in every way. The worst one can say about the present situation is that although people make angry speeches, and go on making angry speeches at each other, and at any particular country they happen to dislike, nobody has a gun; nobody is shooting. They can go on talking and talking, and it is a good way of letting off steam. So, from every point of view, despite the fact that I do not think the United Nations is nearly so impressive a body to-day as it was ten or twelve years ago, we must support it in every way we can.
But, my Lords, I feel more strongly than ever that the freedom of the West, Western ideas, the discussions that we have, and the things that we really believe to be important for civilisation, depend more on the NATO Alliance than on any other alliance in which we are engaged. It is not an aggressive alliance; its ideals and principles are basic to our view of life and our civilisation. I hope that this Government—and from what my noble friend Lord Carrington said, I am sure they will—will continue to support it as strongly as they have done before, and encourage the politicians to take an active interest in the Alliance and what it does for the peace of the world.
§ 4.8 p.m.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, I am sure that your Lordships will have appreciated the realistic speech that we have just heard from the noble Baroness, and if I do not follow her in what she has said it will not be because I do not appreciate its importance. Clearly, the relationship of Canada to the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and Europe is going to be a most important factor in the whole sphere of international relations. When the noble Baroness mentions the financial problems of the United Nations, may I say that I think that one of the most urgent issues of to-day is how we are going to re-establish the international status of the United Nations at its former level. Although he is now absent, I should like to express my appreciation of the opening part of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, in which he gave a picture of our world as it is to-day, upon which I shall be making some comment later. I also want to express appreciation of the speech of my noble friend Lord Chalfont. It was the kind of speech that I have been wanting to hear for the last six years. I was moved by his personal references to George Orwell. I was privileged to be George Orwell's friend. He fought in the I.L.P. contingent during the Spanish Civil War, and that experience was probably the crisis in his thinking. Ironically, I had to go into Spain to rescue George Orwell and other members of the I.L.P. contingent, not from the Fascists but from the Communists, and it was at Perpignan on the Spanish border that I met George Orwell as he escaped. He was not only a great political thinker but also a beautiful person, and I am quite sure that as the years pass his forecast and analysis will become increasingly important.
The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, referred to the present situation in the world both as "sombre" and as "hopeful", and I think he is right. As an incurable optimist, I want to begin with what is hopeful because there are trends for peace in the world to-day which should give encouragement to all of us. The détente between the United States of America and the Soviet Union, the SALT negotiations, Willy Brandt's 63 magnificent initiative from Western Germany to reach accord with Eastern European countries, the visit of Mr. Brezhnev to Paris and the accord there, the admission of China to the United Nations and the visits which President Nixon is to make both to China and the Soviet Union—all these are contributions to the peace of the world for which we could not have hoped even a year ago.
I shall be critical of the policy of Her Majesty's Government before I conclude, but I want to begin by congratulating them most sincerely on their vote at the United Nations for the admission of the People's Republic of China. That admission was absolutely imperative. It was ludicrous that the Government in Taiwan should have its place on the Security Council of the United Nations as the representative of China. Yet and I dare say this will surprise my friends—I want to say a word for Taiwan. Its population is greater than the population of many member States of the United Nations, and, in my view, if it desires to become an independent State the time must come when it should have the right of membership of the United Nations. I suggest that the solution of this problem, as the solution of many others, may lie in the suggestions proposed by Aneurin Bevan. He proposed that for a period Taiwan should be under the supervision of the United Nations itself rather than of the United States of America and that after this its people should be given the opportunity, by referendum, to decide whether they wished to be part of the mainland of China or to be independent and, if they decided to become independent, to have representation within the United Nations. That said, I congratulate the Government very sincerely on the vote which they gave in the United Nations.
My criticism of the Government in foreign affairs is that they have failed to convey a contributing initiative towards the greater trends for peace in the world to which I have referred. I listened with great interest to what the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said about the prospects of the European Security Conference. Two years ago I was almost a lone voice in urging the necessity for a European conference on security and co-operation. If I may say so, when I put my question to this House I did not receive too cordial 64 a reception, even from the Front Bench of the Labour Government. I have taken the view for a long time that a conference on European security and co-operation is the greatest breakthrough towards peace that we could now be undertaking. While I appreciated the intention which the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, indicated on this subject, I noted that in the Speech of Her Majesty no reference at all was made to the European Security Conference, which indicated that when the Government were drafting that Speech they were a little indifferent to the importance of this venture.
My Lords, we in this House and in another place have recently taken a decision in principle on the desirability of joining Western Europe. The proposal for a European Security and co-operation conference would be an opportunity to join the whole of Europe. The Soviet Union has made concession after concession to realise this possibility. Twenty-five Governments are now supporting it, the Vatican is supporting it and the recent meeting of Mr. Brezhnev and M. Pompidou in France endorsed this desire, with the eventual hope that it might lead to the ending of both the NATO and the Warsaw Pacts in Europe. This is a tremendous hope. To have merely one conference could not solve the problem, but there could be set up from that conference a permanent body which could be continually looking not only at the reduction of forces (to which the Soviet Union has now agreed), and political associations, but to great economic cooperation across the barrier which now divides Europe.
Before leaving Europe may I make a reference to Greece. There we now have a military dictatorship which is suppressing all democracy and political rights. yet the Greek Government is still accepted as a part of NATO, the purpose of which is stated to be to defend the free world, democracy and liberty. I regard this as a contradiction which ought not to be tolerated, and I hope that Her Majesty's Government will take the initiative which they have so far failed to take to remove the Greek Government from association with us or with NATO until it gives pledges to return to democracy.
The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, referred to Rhodesia and Southern Africa. I am not going to discuss Rhodesia in 65 detail because we shall have an early opportunity to do so. The only thing I would say, because it is immediate, is that I hope that when consultations are taking place in Rhodesia they will take place not only with Mr. Ian Smith and his Government but with representatives of the majority African population. I am encouraged in that because I remember that when Mr. Arthur Bottomley first went to Rhodesia on behalf of a Labour Government he insisted on meeting the leaders of the African movements, even though they were then in detention.
I cannot develop the whole case against apartheid in South Africa; but there are two points to which I want to draw attention and which are immediate. The first is with regard to South-West Africa. I can understand the absence of the vote of the British Government at the United Nations when rather unrealistic proposals were being made that the United Nations should take over South-West Africa. They were impracticable. But the last vote was a vote on principle; it was a vote as to whether the United Nations endorsed the finding of the World Court that the control of Namibia—South-West Africa—was illegal. It was a vote on principle. Yet on that vote the British Government abstained with France—a minority of two, with 13 to nil votes against. The attitude of Her Majesty's Government towards South Africa's possession of Namibia disturbs me deeply.
The other issue is the immediate issue of the Dean of Johannesburg. I assume that I am in order in saying that I tried to raise this matter to-day by Private Notice. I appreciate that the Leader of the House has the right to decide on these matters, and he felt that this matter was not urgent. The five-year sentence on the Dean of Johannesburg, largely on the basis that he had been charitably distributing needs to the families of prisoners, is now arousing probably greater opposition in South Africa than has ever been expressed before, and for our Government to be silent about what is happening to a British citizen I regard as an absolute disgrace.
I return to a subject to which my noble friend Lord Chalfont made brief reference and to which the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, also referred: the war in Vietnam. We are inclined to forget, as we talk about peace, that this war is con- 66 tinuing. I regard it as the most indefensible war since the Opium War. The American Government now say that they accept the Agreement of the 1954 Geneva Conference. If they had done so then, the war in Vietnam need never have occurred. Yet there are hopes in the present situation. There are hopes, first, in the quite extraordinary opposition to this war within America. The latest Gallup Poll in the United States showed 73 per cent. in favour of the immediate withdrawal of the American troops. The most remarkable thing is what is happening among the Servicemen and ex-Servicemen. The ex-Servicemen's organisation for ending the war, and for the withdrawal from Vietnam, now numbers 20,000. Every report from Vietnam shows how reluctant the American soldiers are to continue the war. The other hopeful factor is what is happening in Saigon, despite the farce of the recent election of President Thieu. When the Americans withdraw their troops, even though they continue to arm Asians to fight Asians, one can be fairly confident that the opposition in Saigon will become a decisive factor.
There is one particular question that I want to ask. Talks have been going on in Paris for two years. They have been utterly futile; there has been propaganda on both sides, both sides never beginning to reach any agreement for negotiations. I want to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are aware that the representatives of Hanoi and of the Revolutionary People's Government in South Vietnam have recently proposed to the Americans private talks so that they may discuss negotiations without the publicity of propaganda speeches in the open conference. I am one of 94 Members of Parliament who signed a petition to the American Government to state a target date to end the war. We sent to America two representatives, Mr. Frank Allaun, M.P., and Mr. John Mendelson, M.P. I heard their report last night, and they gave me permission to say that the State Department had informed them that when the representatives of Hanoi and the Revolutionary People's Government in South Vietnam suggested that they should have discussions in private in order to reach a settlement, the State Department said that they had refused to enter into such private discussions. That is a disturbing fact. If we are seeking peace in Vietnam I ask 67 Her Majesty's Government to investigate the truth of that and, if it is true, to use their pressure to change the attitude of the American Government.
My Lords, I must be careful not to speak too long, but I must make some reference to the Middle East. I make it with some sorrow and disappointment. I visited Israel and was tremendously impressed by its democratic socialism; I was tremendously impressed by the way it had converted deserts into plantations and into towns. I felt that it could be a lead to the whole of the Middle East. I am disappointed because in the present situation so much of the attitude of Israel is preventing a settlement of the problems in the Middle East. Israel said that it accepted the United Nations' resolution, which our Government initiated. But not only its occupation of Jerusalem but its penetration of a permanent character in the Gaza Strip, in West Jordan, and in Syria, suggests that there is no intention of a general withdrawal from the areas which Israel occupied. I agree at once that some adjustment of the frontiers was desirable. The Golan Heights should not remain a danger to Israel as they at present are. One would have liked a neutral peace-keeping force to be there. I would urge very strong on Her Majesty's Government that they should, through the four Powers, in association with the United Nations, seek to find a solution of that problem.
My Lords, I must make a reference to East Bengal, India and Pakistan, partly because I am so personally affected there. I was born in Bengal; Bengali was my first language. We have listened to speeches of the Prime Minister of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, and some of us have been privileged to meet her privately. The impression which has been made on me is of an heroic. self-reliant fatalism. When we have asked her what might be done by Britain to assist in that situation, she has had little answer to give.
There are three problems. First, the refugees numbering 9 million, larger than the population of Greater London, of Sweden, of New Zealand. Surely this is a world responsibility, and while Britain has given more than most other nations the amounts are utterly inadequate. The £8 million which we recently voted would supply relief for one week. India, with her own terrible poverty 68 and where Mrs. Indira Gandhi hoped to begin a programme of social reform, is now blocked by the terrible problem of these 9 million refugees. I urge Her Majesty's Government that they should be pressing upon the United Nations much more urgently for action which will lead to an international fund to deal with that problem.
The second issue is that the 9 million refugees cannot be expected to return to East Bengal without a political settlement. They are still pouring into India at the rate of 30,000 a day. I would urge the United Kingdom to exert its pressure on Pakistan to bring about a political settlement which will allow the refugees to return. The third issue is the war danger between India and Pakistan. The United Nations has the responsibility of action if there is a danger to peace and security. I hope the Government will urge on the United Nations that it should send a commission first to Pakistan and then to India to try to prevent this terrible disaster from occurring.
My Lords, I have covered a wide field. I do not intend to refer to Northern Ireland as there will be other opportunities. I conclude by saying just this. Britain is no longer a great military Power, but if Britain would speak and act for the millions in all countries who seek peace we could become a great moral power in the world and would contribute to future generations more than our previous power did.
§ 4.35 p.m.
LORD CLIFFORD or CHUDLEIGH
My Lords, I fear I should apologise for returning to the vexed subject of Northern Ireland so soon after the two-day debate on that subject. On that occasion I found myself—and I still do in complete disagreement with the consensus, and I feel that perhaps another point should be put to your Lordships' House. Like Senator Kennedy, I am in favour of pulling out of Northern Ireland, but for entirely different reasons. First, a united Ireland one way or another is bound to come, must come, and the longer we put it off the more expensive it is going to be in both lives and money. Secondly let us consider lives. Here I have, together with some other noble Lords—for example, the noble Lord, Lord Coleridge, who has just left the Chamber 69 —and tens of thousands of other people in the country, an interest to declare. My soldier son is now spending his second Christmas running, his second tour running, in Northern Ireland, and he has "had it" in his time from both sides. But it is not to lives in particular that I want to refer; I want to refer to lives in general. To my way of thinking it is because of this continued loss of life, which is escalating, that we should get out before the situation gets too bad.
We shall not stop the I.R.A. thugs from murdering people, ourselves in particular, so long as we are there—thirtyfour of our troops have been murdered this year. Personally, I reciprocate the feelings, and would certainly like an opportunity of doing a bit of murdering of them! As I came in to-day I was handed a letter from a retired officer in my Regiment asking whether I could get the Ministry of Defence to allow old boys like him (he is sixty) to join up to do something in this regard. I will hand the letter on to the noble Marquess to deal with.
Thirdly, there is the question of expense. We spend a gross £350 million a year in Northern Ireland and every day the net gets larger. We subsidise the building of factories; they burn them down. We assist in their public works; they blow them up. We send troops to protect them from each other, and they murder them. We give them National Assistance and they use the time available for manufacturing and throwing nail and gelignite bombs. We give them our National Health Service and, at any rate until the recent troubles, the lasses from South of the Border stream over with great regularity to have their babies—too many of them on the whole.
Fourthly—let us face it—the large majority of that island have little love for this country, for us. In fact, they have a pathological, historical and fanatical dislike. As I have given your Lordships previously my opinion speaking as art English Catholic, I am convinced that if at the Reformation England had remained Catholic, then Ireland would have gone Protestant out of pure cussedness.
In Northern Ireland we have two, equally to my mind, disagreeable tribes and the people in between are the ones 70 who suffer—always have and, I suppose, always will. The children are brought up as little Orangemen or little Republicans, under two different "Christian banners"—which of course they are not —exemplified by the story of the two families, one Catholic and one Protestant, alongside each other. The Protestants had a little six-year-old boy and the Catholics a little five-year-old girl. One day last summer all the parents were out and the little boy said to the little girl, "Come over and have a swim in our pool." She said, "I am afraid I can't. I haven't got a costume." He said: "Oh go on, there's no-one about". So she hopped over the fence and got into the "altogether". They were going towards the pool, and the little boy looked her up and down and said:"My! I was always told that Catholics were different". They are brought up like that from the very beginning.
Our soldiers protecting the Unity flats from the Shankhill Road Protestants have been told time and time again that they would "get them" the day we moved out. That fits in with the story I heard, and I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, is not in the Chamber at the moment because he could confirm it. I heard that when the noble Lord visited Northern Ireland last January he said to a corporal on that particular post, "What do you think of the local inhabitants?" The corporal asked whether Lord Carrington minded if he was frank. Everybody thought, "Good heavens! Now we are going to get a long string of expletives", instead of which the corporal replied in one word "savages".
My Lords, it has been said that if we withdrew there would be a blood bath. I do not know what you would call what is going on there at present, but in a great many places from which we have withdrawn in the last 25 years there has been some bloodletting when we have withdrawn. But I have not heard anyone argue that we should go back or that we should not have withdrawn. Quite honestly, I would rather that other people were murdered than our own. It may not be Christian, it may not be generous, but I think it is natural. I suggest that the Northern Ireland problem should be handed over to Dublin to deal with. It would have the great advantage of giving 71 them what they have always asked for. It would place on them a financial burden —which would teach them to laugh in church! It has been argued that the moderate Lynch Government would fall and be replaced by extremists. Too bad, Lynch's remarks over the last fortnight have not seemed to me to be all that moderate. My information (for what it is worth) is that there are only two Members of the Dail—Conor Cruise O'Brien and Dr. Noel Brown—who are not for marching on the Border. What difference would it make? The I.R.A. want Stormont to fall so that government is from Westminster and then they can say, "Right, we are now fighting the only enemy we really want to fight". The Paisleyites are playing their game for them, and if they bring down Faulkner as they have done his two civilised predecessors, Westminster will be in an even worse state.
My Lords, the only solution is to withdraw our troops, unite Ireland under Dublin and let them sort out their own problems, otherwise we shall bleed ourselves to death in more senses of the word than one. We must learn the lesson of Algeria. They had their "colons", it will be remembered. The majority of Ireland want to be foreign; the majority should be treated as foreign.
Last week the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, reprimanded me for suggesting that we should not exempt a foreign republican, somewhat hostile, nation from the restrictions of our immigration rules while inflicting them on friendly monarchical Commonwealth countries. I find his censure somewhat illogical. Since then in London we have had two well-publicised explosions, a parade of 5,000 under the banners of that particular country incited to civil disobedience by one of our better-known unmarried mothers. I suppose there must be some liberal virtue in being nasty to our friends and nice to those who do not like us. To my mind, internment is too good for the supporters of these thugs. A fortnight ago I asked a prominent person in a certain South American country that I was in at the time why or how they had been so successful in dealing with their urban guerillas. His reply was, "Well, we used to be legal. We used to arrest these criminals; we used to try them; we used 72 to put them in jail, and when we had sufficient of them in jail their friends would then ' pinch ' an ambassador or two and we had to let them out. Now when we catch them we shoot them. Quite simple."
The response I had to a letter published in the Daily Telegraph on September 15 has convinced me that the large majority in this country are fed up with seeing our Servicemen night after night being shot at, insulted, blown up, practically with one hand tied behind them, and with only rubber bullets thrown from that most inaccurate weapon, a Verey pistol, to shoot with. As though that was not enough, what I gathered also from the letters I received was the great objection felt to the way some of our "way out" people and television crews were adding to the difficulties experienced by our soldiers. I refer particularly to the case the other evening when a car had its back window smashed and was fired at and two women were killed. Many people have written to say that it was not a fair presentation of the case in regard to our Servicemen.
Fourteen infantry battalions were abolished by the late Government. We could well have used them now. At the time many of us mentioned that events would arise which demanded those battalions. This afternoon I was glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, mention the question of a possibility, if this sort of thing goes on, of our having to reconsider National Service, although I have never considered that it was politically "on". My Lords, let the Irish settle their own stew." A plague on both their Houses!"Repatriate those who do not want to take the Oath of Allegiance here; bring back our men and let us get a shilling off the income tax.
§ VISCOUNT AMORY
My Lords, I wonder whether, before he sits down, my noble friend would allow me to ask one question, because I was rather perplexed at the course he was advocating. I do not think of my noble friend as a man whose character would make it tempting for him to run away from existing commitments. I should like him to tell us how he thinks we could escape from the commitment, which I feel we have firmly with us, not to change the constitutional position of Northern Ireland without the approval of the majority of its inhabitants.
§ LORD CLIFFORD OF CHUDLEIGH
My Lords, I said at the beginning of my speech that I did not agree with the consensus and that I would put forward what I have in fact put forward to-day as being the general feeling in this country. The noble Viscount will remember that there was (I think it was just before the Conservative Party Conference) a Gallup Poll or something of that sort which said that the majority of people in this country were of the opinion that we should withdraw from Ireland and get out. I know that the noble Viscount is getting at what we should do with regard to our commitments. I seem to remember a Minister a long time ago saying that we would never get out of Cyprus—but we did, and fairly soon. I seem to remember the cases of practically every place we have left, in which all sorts of guarantees were given to minorities. I am not for running away from our commitments, but if one cannot produce quickly—and I do not see any signs of producing quickly—the military answer, then there will be no alternative.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ LORD NAPIER AND ETTRICK
My Lords, I shall detain your Lordships for only a few minutes this afternoon, and, like the noble Lord who has just sat down, I propose to confine what I have to say to the military situation in Ulster. This is because I was unfortunately unable to attend your Lordships' debate in September, and today's debate gives me an opportunity to say one or two things. While I do not myself entirely agree with all that the noble Lord, Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, has just said, I of course respect the sincerity of his views.
The reference in the gracious Speech to the determination of Her Majesty's Government to bring to an end the violence in Northern Ireland and to continue their efforts to establish political conditionswhich ensure for the communities that an active, permanent and guaranteed role in the life and public affairs of the Provincemust be right; but as my right honourable friend the Prime Minister said yesterday in another place, we shall not get a political solution so long as ordinary decent people are cowed and intimidated by gunmen who have no interest in a peaceful solution at all. And, 74 of course, allied to this is the question of internment. I know we are all agreed that the courage, forbearance and humanity of all our troops under the most appalling provocation is beyond praise. In spite of the recent reinforcement by three major units, our forces remain severely stretched. I am told that when incidents occur, as they are doing all the time in Belfast, seldom can a battalion or cornpan), commander call up a reserve force in a hurry. In the meantime, we hear to-day that the Ulster police are demanding talks with the Home Secretary because no-one has answered their appeals for army protection at all stations. My noble friend the Secretary of State for Defence has already told your Lordships in the earlier debate that he does not believe that the Territorial Army should be called up for service except in a situation of the gravest emergency. I entirely agree with him. But should such a situation in fact arise, I hope that the Government will then not hesitate to call on our reserves; I for one would be quite prepared to answer their call.
Much concern has recently been expressed in some quarters, perhaps rightly, about the living conditions of internees. One would, however, like to hear the same amount of concern being expressed from the same quarters about the conditions under which our own troops are living. This of course was a matter to which the Secretary of State referred in the course of his remarks this afternoon on Ulster. I therefore express the hope that the Shadow Home Secretary and his colleagues will bear this point in mind when they visit the Province in a week's time. Will my noble friend give consideration to allowing our troops the use of free television during their off-duty periods? I am told that at present they have to pay for it.
I am not really clear what success we are having in checking the inflow of explosives and arms from the South. It seems that at present the bombers are able to obtain their raw material virtually with impunity. We surely have a right to ask and expect of the Government of Eire that they should take much firmer action to curb the activities of their Republicans. However, what my noble friend Lord Carrington had to say on this was encouraging. I do not have to 75 remind your Lordships what we do for the Southern Irish and for their economy. We hold a strong weapon in our hands. In this connection I was interested to see that in a recent Gallup Poll conducted for the Daily Telegraph some 68 per cent. of our citizens considered that the Eire Government are not doing enough.
Your Lordships will be aware that the tactics of the I.R.A. have recently become more sophisticated. For instance, in Belfast a gunman making an attack on one of our posts will receive covering fire. Their distorted propaganda has, I suspect, been quite effective. Their bombs are becoming more dangerous, both to lay and to dismantle. I want to ask my noble friend Lord Carrington, through my noble friend Lord Lothian—and I hope he will accept that I am trying to be constructive—whether he will look again, in conjunction with his right honourable friend the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, whose handling of a most difficult situation I would here like to pay tribute to, at the potential advantages militarily of imposing, if not a full then at least a vehicle curfew in major cities like Belfast and Londonderry. Public transport and emergency services could be excluded. As I understand it, the law-abiding citizens are far too frightened to venture forth at night unless they have a most compelling reason so to do. I myself feel strongly that such action might have a most sobering effect on the I.R.A. I know I have support for this idea not only from noble Lords on these Benches but also from other noble Lords.
I am aware that it is our policy to endeavour to keep life as normal as possible; but if we really think that life in Ulster to-day is normal, then surely we delude ourselves. I think this is a matter that could be looked at again, in the same way as my noble friend looked again at the question of the award of the General Service Medal with clasp. I regret that I was not in the Chamber when my noble friend announced the other week that the Queen had been graciously pleased to approve the award of the medal. For only four months earlier my noble friend the Leader of the House had told me in no uncertain terms —I quote from col. 776 of the OFFICIAL REPORT of June 17:The General Service Medal is not awarded for service within the United Kingdom".76 This led me to hope that the Honours and Awards Committee might recommend that a new medal be struck, which I myself think would have been more appropriate. Be that as it may, I feel that some further consideration should be given to the Ulster Police Force. At present they appear to be specifically excluded from being eligible for the award, and officers of the Army with whom I have discussed the matter feel most strongly that the police as much as anyone deserve a medal.
Republic women are becoming an increasing menace, but, understandably, of course, our soldiers are not allowed to search them. This has to be done by policewomen, who are in short supply. Can anything be done to improve this situation? Finally, may I just touch on the state of the Ulster economy, because it is relevant to my conclusion. Strangely enough, the situation is not all gloom. The rent and rates strike has been less than a 50 per cent. success. Last month a Norwegian company took 50,000 square feet of factory space in Londonderry. This is the first major overseas investment for some considerable time. The total number of unemployed dropped by over 2,000 men last month. Claims against the Northern Ireland Government and also for malicious damage run to some £20 million, although the amounts claimed bear very little relationship to the sums awarded.
So, my Lords, in conclusion, I am not entirely pessimistic about the future. If we are able to keep up and in some respects increase our military pressure, I believe that the operations of the I.R.A. could quite suddenly disintegrate. As my noble friend Lord Carrington so rightly has always said, "Intelligence information is the key".
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ LORD RITCHIE-CALDER
My Lords, I want to take up from where my noble friend Lord Brockway left off, and say that what I feel about the gracious Speech is not so much what it contains but the resonance of truth that it does not contain. I still believe, as he does, that no matter what our military situation may be, or our position as a military Power may be to-day, we have an enormous moral capacity which, at the moment, we are certainly not using. I feel that in many cases—and I think manifestly in the gracious 77 Speech itself—the Government are abdicating their capacity to intervene and playing a wait-and-see game.
I want to take up very urgently one point which was referred Ito by my noble friend Lord Chalfont. I under-stand—and the latest reports I have had this morning from Washington seem to confirm—that the underground nuclear bomb in Amchitka Island in the Aleutians will certainly go off this week-end. May I ask the Government is it not possible, even at this late hour, to intervene with our major NATO ally, a country which at least in the past has shown some respect for our judgment and our sense of responsibility? Is there nothing we can do to stop it? This will be, as my noble friend Lord Chalfont pointed out, a 5-megaton nuclear bomb. That is the equivalent of 5 million tons of T.N.T. or, as he pointed out, 250 times as big as the bomb that wiped out Hiroshima. The bomb is to be exploded in a confined space, in a small island. I am told by people who know the structures of these islands, the Aleutians, that the hazards of the underground explosion are enormous. Japan, Canada, Peru and other nations have protested against what is manifestly a quite outrageous act, but the British Government have not uttered a "cheep". I know from friends in the United States that this is very much regretted by those who have been actively trying to stop their own Government.
Nor, apparently, have the British Government reflected the indignation which is felt by people who do know about it in this country. Surely Britain, as a major ally of the United States in NATO, could have brought some influence to bear on those who are hellbent—or bent for Hell—on this dangerous enterprise—and I do mean dangerous. They have pushed the explosion of first magnitude as far from the heartlands of the United States as they can: it is good old Bikini again. The remote Aleutians are part of a seismic system about which we do not know nearly enough. It is part of that system which gets affected periodically in the great earthquake convulsions from Japan, through Kamchatka, and down the West Coast of the United States. It is perfectly possible that an explosion of this size, underground, might trigger off earthquake repercus- 78 sions. The Americans have pooh-poohed the protests of their own responsible scientists. This is criminal irresponsibility. A century ago Claude Bernard, a very distinguished French scientist, warned his colleagues in these terms:
True science teaches us to doubt and in ignorance to refrain.What he meant was not that you did not progress, but that caution in experiments demanded that you should venture into the minefield of the unknown with a mine detector, making sure of every foothold. This, I assure you, is not being done in this instance. Once again the risks are being deliberately ignored.
Many of us recall the protests made many years ago when the Americans decided to explode an atom bomb in the Van Allen layer in order to produce an artificial rainbow. They got their rainbow all right, but we could have told them that, I may say, referring to my noble friend Lord Wynne-Jones. But they exploded this bomb in the magnetic Van Allen layer, about which we knew practically nothing, and to this day we do not know what has happened. It is not only the shock effects that have to be considered. Experience has shown that underground nuclear explosions can vent and that the radiation can escape from the ruptures. In the Polar regions this radiation can get into the Polar system, which is a dynamo of our climate, and into the world's eco-system affecting the marine biology. I have no doubt that the effects this week-end, unless they are absolutely catastrophic, will be played down, but your Lordships will understand that there can be long-term effects which will be recognised only by hindsight as belonging to November, 1971. Surely in such circumstances, which affect the whole of mankind, the British Government should have done everything possible to deter this quite irresponsible behaviour.
The other point I should like to make is that this kind of thing makes a farce of the test ban. We did manage to restrain atmospheric testing, but, as my noble friend Lord Chalfont has already pointed out, there has been more under-ground testing of greater and greater magnitudes since the partial test ban. If we are ever to get a total test ban, I believe that this is the kind of behaviour which entitles us to demand it now.
79 I want to follow another point which was brought to your Lordships' attention by my noble friend Lord Chalfont. This is the season of the year when we are going to find the demand for escalation of armaments. I may say that it is the regular season. Around Hallowe'en, which in America is the season of "trick and treat", the defence departments in Washington prepare their defence budgets to present to Congress, and that is when we get all the scare statistics. Your Lordships will remember that at exactly this time of the year 14 years ago the Soviet satellite, "Sputnik", was put into orbit, and we had the screams of the American defence services about the "missile gap". I want briefly to explain that "Sputnik" was not supposed to be military at all. It was part of the Inter-national Geophysical Year, that great co-operative enterprise between the scientists of 100 nations. The United States and the Soviet Union had agreed, as part of the programme of the I.G.Y., to contribute instrument-carrying satellites to observe the planet earth and the cosmic forces which impinge on it from space. It was as harmless as that.
Everyone, I suspect, including the Russians, had assumed that the Americans would be the first to put theirs up; but the Russians beat them to it. But they also put "Sputnik" into orbit which the Americans were not even going to attempt. They claimed that this orbit, which was 60 degrees North to 60 degrees South against the rotation of the earth, proved that the Soviet Union had very powerful launchers, and that they could apparently spare an inter-continental ballistic missile for I.G.Y. purposes. This, I assure you—and your Lordships will recall—was quite enough to convince the appropriations committees of Congress to get properly alarmed about it, and the defence services encouraged them that there was in fact a missile gap. The result was an escalation in the American programme. We now know that there was no missile gap, but the scare served its purpose.
Now, again, we are in the season of "trick and treat". The American recon-naissance satellites have spotted some 90 holes in the ground of the Soviet Union which could apparently, according to them, serve as silos for more missiles, 80 and perhaps for new types of missiles. Perhaps again, while the super-Powers are supposed to be having strategic arms limitations talks—SALT for short—there is a fresh alarm which is likely to impress Congress and again to escalate the appropriations and the arms race. We are back, as my noble friend Lord Chalfont pointed out, in the "Numbers game" which is utterly absurd. The Americans and the Russians both have around 2,000 launchers—land-based, submarine-borne missiles, and bombers. The Americans have probably twice as many warheads as the Russians ready for delivery. The Americans have combined them into the Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicles—M.I.R.V.S. for short—and 10 headed Poseidon submarine missiles. The Soviet Union also have multiple-headed weapons. But in terms of that delightful word "overkill", this is of course militarily excessive, even in the most exaggerated terms which they use, because the present stockpiles of the super-Powers already contain the equivalent in those nuclear warheads of 100 tons of T.N.T. for every man, woman and child on earth, and are capable of turning our planet into a radioactive desert.
This is the point at which we stand. This is the point where Britain is below the SALT. We have taken no part ill the Strategic Arms Limitation talks. I noticed that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, referred to reports that we have had from our American friends. It is nice of them to tell us, but we have no say in stopping the absurdities of the anti-ballistic missile which is supposed to intercept and destroy these warheads. And, beyond that, I suppose there will be anti-anti-anti-anti-ballistic missiles to interdict the anti-ballistic missiles. Britain's voice is barely a whisper in the critical discussions on nuclear armaments in which the whole fate and future of mankind are involved.
I want to point out something else which shows what I suspect.
§ LORD AVEBURY
My Lords, before the noble Lord leaves the question of armaments, I wonder whether he would like to say something about the equally important problem of chemical and bio-logical weapons, and about the need to have a comprehensive re-think on the Geneva Convention, so that chemical and 81 biological weapons would be covered in any comprehensive disarmament treaty that might be arrived at in future?
§ LORD RITCHIE-CALDER
My Lords, I do not want to embark on that matter. But, after all, we took a certain initiative there and we proved that if we took the initiative people would listen. Under the last Government, we managed to get on the record the question of chemical and biological weapons, and the fact that we now have an agreement between the super-Powers on the same issue is due to Britain's initiative at a critical time. I insist that we are still in that position. If we have the courage of our convictions, if we really believe that we want general nuclear disarmament—as I think every-one does—and a scaling-down of all arms, then now is the time, when we have the intelligence and know-how, and should also have the moral authority, to move in. I have always felt that it was wrong of us to abdicate on the pretext of being nice to our friends, of not saying rude things to them, of not reproaching them and of not intruding upon them. I have felt this for quite a while, so what I am saying is not all directed at the present Government. After all, the job of a friend is to draw people's attention to the fact that they are getting a bit "screwy". But we have neglected the enormous authority which we have, and have always had, in these areas of discussion.
The other point which I find rather significant is that, tucked away among the references to agricultural legislation in the gracious Speech, it is stated that Ministers… will support the United Nations in preparing for a Conference on the Law of the Sea in 1973.I can see exactly what happened,. The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food said, "Don't forget to put in the law of the sea", as though it were concerned only with fishing. Fishing regulations are important, but I hope that our concern in the law of the sea goes far beyond that. The Geneva Conference of 1958 left us with a dog's breakfast. I think it was one of the shabbiest pieces of international legislation that was ever produced. It made confusion worse con-founded. Among other things, it embodied the Truman doctrine of the Continental Shelf. I find a repeated mis- 82 apprehension about this. One ought to remember what the Truman doctrine was before it was internationally embodied.
In 1945, President Truman was claiming Federal jurisdiction over the soil and subsoil beneath the Gulf of Mexico. His object was to prevent grabbing by the States of the United States. It was at that moment a domestic matter, and he might have resolved it by his own jurisdiction. But the prospect of offshore drilling for oil was there—in fact, it was more than there, since they already had one or two drills down in 1945—and he was simply asserting Federal jurisdiction against the claims of the States around the Gulf of Mexico. You can always get away with this type of creeping jurisdiction, and having taken that bite they went on and took the lot. So in 1958 the Continental Shelf beneath the sea was recognised as the property of the coastal State down to a level of 200 metres.
As we know, that turned out pretty conveniently for Great Britain, because the whole of the North Sea, apart from the Norwegian Trench, is in fact Continental Shelf. Each adjoining nation made its own proper claim, and they carved up the bottom of the North Sea for oil and natural gas. But what worries many of us is the fact that the law of the sea left an open-ended opportunity for coastal nations to exploit beyond even those limits. We still have to get a proper definition of the Continental Shelf, the Continental Slope and the Continental Rise—all stages in creeping jurisdiction. There will be a lot of horse-trading, as we have already seen in the proceedings of the United Nations Committee, on the peaceful uses of the seabed.
But in the meantime, in the last two years, we have had a recognition of some-thing which is profoundly important and which lifts the whole of this discussion far beyond the old smash and grab; that is, the fact that we now have the agreement of all Governments, including the U.S.S.R.—which was very reluctant, but finally came round to it—to the fact that beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, however you define it, there is the ocean floor, and any wealth on it is a common heritage of mankind. We must have an ocean regime and recognition, not only of a common heritage applying to the sea bottom, but also of the super-adjacent 83 waters with all its marine and biological implications. Some of us were rather concentrating on the sea bottom, but it is now manifest to anyone who studies this problem that you cannot leave out the super-adjacent waters. A combination of effects, including opencast mining of the sea bottom, may upset the entire eco-system of the sea. I assure the Government that the Conference on the Law of the Sea cannot be tucked away with "Ag. and Fish". It is an enormous problem. But it is very satisfactory that now we shall also be able to discuss the matter with China, which has been the great missing link.
Incidentally, there is no reference in the gracious Speech to the United Nations Conference on the Environment. This Conference very properly belongs to the gracious Speech, because it is going to take place during this Session of Parliament, and Parliament ought to know what the intentions of the Government are as to this Conference, which is of paramount importance, again affecting the whole of mankind. I know that the noble Earl the Leader of the House, in briefing us on the programme of legislation yester-day, mentioned town and country planning and that the gracious Speech refers to increased protection for ancient monuments and to the protection of buildings in conservation areas. The gracious Speech also says that the Government
will pursue with vigour their policies for improving the environment,but in the context this implies local concern, and not national concern. In terms of the environment, my Lords, Britain is not an island. In terms of pollution, the environment has no frontiers, and I hone that in our involvement in the Stockholm Conference we shall show that we, the British, are outward-looking. I hope, but at the moment have little reason to expect, that our contributions at Stockholm will be inspirational and will provide a lead to all Governments in averting the predict-able consequences of the abuse of our biosphere, of our living space, and of the consequences not only to ourselves but to all posterity.
§ 5.21 p.m.
§ LORD BOURNE
My Lords, it does us all good, I think, to listen to the noble 84 Lord, Lord Ritchie-Calder, on the subject of nuclear weapons, because a good many of us are fairly ignorant about the subject and it is very helpful to hear from an authority. I propose to deal with two quite different points which are mentioned in the gracious Speech—first of all, the East, and, secondly, Northern Ireland. With regard to the East, I listened to the Prime Minister of Singapore a couple of evenings ago, and it is fairly clear that there is no outside threat to that part of the world, South-East Asia, at this moment. The Indonesians, 100 million of them—who, incidentally, are cousins of the Malays—may one day be a threat from the South, but they are certainly peacefully inclined at the moment. Do not forget that it is not very long since we were fighting against them.
Much will depend on the outcome of the Indo-China war, the war in South Vietnam. The noble Lord, Lord Brockway, is not here at the moment, but I hope he will not expect me to agree with a single word he said about that, because I do not. The Americans went in because, if they had not gone into South Vietnam, South Vietnam would have become Communist; and they went in simply to give the South Vietnamese the chance to choose their own Government. Much will depend on the outcome of that war. Personally, I am fairly optimistic. I was in South Vietnam a year ago, and I formed the impression that the South Vietnamese are quite capable of conducting their own war, on two conditions. The first is that the Americans continue to supply strategic air support. The South Vietnamese Air Force is fully capable of providing tactical air support. The second condition is that the Americans continue to provide logistic support; in other words, if a South Vietnamese is driving his tank or his jeep and it breaks down, he will get another one. Together, these add up to military aid to South Vietnam, and I sincerely hope that the outcome of the present difference in Washington will be satisfactory. So I think that what we heard from the noble Lord the Secretary of State about the British participation in the Five-Power Force was entirely right. I am glad that it has come into being; and we shall see, when the details are published shortly, I exactly what has been agreed.
85 As for the Gulf (which used to be called the Persian Gulf but is now, I think, called the Iranian Gulf), we have now, I believe, decided to pull British Forces out entirely. I remember distinctly the withdrawal from Aden, and the consequences of it. Noble Lords can say that Aden is unimportant if they like, but the fact remains that we lost control of it to hostile, evilly disposed people; and that, I fear, is what may happen in the Gulf. So the question I should like to ask the noble Marquess who is to reply is how the intentions outlined in the gracious Speech are going to be carried out in practice. The Government say that they…will seek to promote stability in the Gulf.How you promote stability when you take away the Forces, I am not quite clear. British Forces have been there for many years, and if we create a vacuum I am not particularly optimistic about the consequences. I am one of those who believe that influence goes with power. It may be old-fashioned, but that is the way I have seen it happen in practice. We shall have no power in the Gulf; and I suggest that the risk is as great there as it was in the Middle East, where two Arab/Israel wars have taken place since the British withdrew. That brings me, first of all, to the deduction that in present circumstances we should not be able to send even a brigade group, and supporting air and naval forces to get there first, either to the Far East or to the Middle East, except by withdrawing troops from B.A.O.R. This we are allowed to do if we give notice, but B.A.O.R. is, rightly, given first priority; and, anyway, the use of B.A.O.R. troops for these purposes is very questionable because of the distances involved.
That brings me to Northern Ireland. We had a debate on this subject at the end of September—six weeks ago. Since then I have seen Strategic Command, and know that they are having to scrape the barrel very much to find the 14,000 troops required, especially, of course, the infantry. I also know, as many of your Lordships will know, that the young men are not relishing their second, third and perhaps even their fourth tour of duty in Northern Ireland. We have heard a personal experience from my noble 86 friend Lord Clifford of Chudleigh about his son having to go a third time. All of us know many men who have had to go a third time, and I do not think they look forward to it. They will do their duty, of course, as we have noted with admiration.
Six weeks ago we were told by the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Defence that the Army would restore law and order. We were also told that reforms would be brought in concurrently with this operation. Most of us agreed with that. Since then, we have had officially, in a Green Paper (No. 5604, entitled, Parliamentary Reforms), suggestions from the Northern Ireland Government itself which show that the work is going on. That is quite good as a policy, but unfortunately we have to face two facts. The first is that violence and terror are not decreasing—many of us think they are increasing—and fear is everywhere. We all know stories of fear which illustrate that point. The second fact we have to face is that, whereas the riots started between the Catholics and Protestants, these differences have now taken second place. This is a glimpse of the obvious, I admit, but it has to take its place in the chain of argument.
The original rioting has taken second place to the I.R.A. fighting clearly against the British Army. One of the con-sequences of this is that the Catholics are no longer interested in reforms or civil rights. Reforms can be arranged and can be introduced; but the Catholics do not pay much attention. The prime mover of the opposition at the present time—the I.R.A. being the opposition —is for a united Ireland, and that is what we are fighting against. We have heard this from other speakers; evidence for this abounds. The I.R.A., we know, are training in Eire. The Border is wide open. The noble Lord, Lord Dunleath, in the last debate in September, gave us a vivid illustration of how he drove through the Border without being questioned. So, my Lords, if the statement in the gracious Speech, that:My Ministers are determined that violence in Northern Ireland shall be brought to an end',is to be implemented, my feeling is that something will have to be done about it. The time has passed when the police and the locally recruited Ulster Defence 87 Regiment can control the situation. There will have to be support by the British Army in a non-Army role. As was pointed out by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, in the last debate, the Army is being employed not really as aid to the civil Power but more as an Army of Occupation.
In my opinion, there are only two things to be done. The first is to intro-duce a curfew, as suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Napier and Ettrick, and, I suggest, closing the public houses a good deal earlier. The second is much more important (observing what I have said before about men having to go back for a third or even a fourth tour of duty in Northern Ireland): that is, to double the size of the Army. This, in view of my remarks about "scraping the barrel", can only be done in one of two phases. The first is National Service, which, I am afraid, for political reasons is not "on" at the present time. The second is to withdraw a division from the B.A.O.R. I know that this will upset people; but Northern Ireland is not very far from Germany—not much further than York-shire—from where we have withdrawn a brigade group. I believe that we ought to withdraw a complete division from Germany and try to settle this business in Northern Ireland. We were all pleased to hear from the Secretary of State for Defence that Army intelligence is im-proving and that the situation is not with-out hope. I still think that the Army should be doubled. If we hesitate we are lost; and we will have to do much more unpleasant things—which is what I suggested in September.
§ 5.32 p.m.
§ LORD DAVIES OF LEEK
My Lords, I have listened with interest to the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bourne. While it would be presumptuous of me to follow him in the field of logistics, nevertheless I must point out that influence does not only grow out of power. It is alleged—it is not correct—that Mao Tse-tung said that power comes out of the barrel of a gun. This was in the 1920s and 1921s, when he was in his student period. But it is out of context. Influence does not only come from power, as is shown in South-East Asia and in Vietnam; influence comes out of an emotional driving force of people. We Occidental people 88 have nothing to boast about because the Occidental people have as many differences of opinion and religious prejudices as any. The least peaceful part of the world through the centuries seems to have been Europe, from the Crusades onward, when the Crusaders were surprised at the civilised stature of Saladin. If we think that we can solve the Irish problem merely by military exercises, I am afraid that we are radically wrong.
There are three small points that I shall try to deal with. I am delighted that my noble friend drew our attention to the seismological hazards of the explosions of V-bombs in the Aleutians. Only a few days ago I asked a Question of the noble Marquess in this House. I asked whether he would do his utmost to see that maximum information was sup-plied to the U.N. and the people about the results of underground tests. Parts of the earth in the United States have been damaged for all time by underground explosions. We do not know their seismological effects. Furthermore, only two years ago when I was in Tonga, I met a biologist who had been working with the Japanese in the Pacific on ships that were floating laboratories. They were testing the sea water and the plankton and they were testing the radio-activity of the ocean resulting from Occidental man's exploding his "toys"—atomic bombs and hydrogen bombs—and thus affecting the food, comfort and succour of the islands and the peoples of the Pacific. The Western world has no right to do this in the name of security. For the continuous explosion of these atom bombs, man ultimately will have to pay; as for this "willy-nilly" power complex of hydrogen bombs and other devices in the mistaken idea that they will bring peace to the universe. Some-thing radical is needed. People scoff at this. As a Celt, I know it to be true: what is needed is a change in the heart of man. This is much more important than the explosion of a megaton hydro-gen bomb. We, as a civilised nation, are giving no direction to the world by encouraging this type of explosion.
I come now to that part of the gracious Speech which I think of great importance:My Ministers will work … for improved relations with the People's Republic of China.89 For 25 years I have been trying to interest people in the Chinese position. I am delighted that it was a Labour Government under Ernest Bevin which had the courage—against the wishes of Sir Anthony Eden (as he then was) and against the wishes of a section of United States opinion—to recognise, de facto, the Chinese People's Republic after the revolution of 1949. I am sad that it took about 25 years for the world to recognise the reality of the existence of 800 million people who are among the most cultured in the entire world, who have never had such things as pogroms in their country, as have the Occidentals against the Jews. I think that their philosophy is as good as any religious philosophy in the world. I believe that the people there have not displayed imperialist ambitions as much as has been the case in the West. If one counts China's occupation of Vietnam and South Vietnam for some 800 years as an imperialistic and an ambitious project, I want to point out that it was not so much a continuous system of imperialistic fighting as one of population pressures. Some people still think we are living in the days of Eyre Crowe, when we spoke of the "balance of power". The Eyre Crowe theories of 1908 and 1910 arc finished.
I hope that we will not drop into an ossified agreement with the U.S.A. about the next steps so far as China is concerned. What are going to be the effects?—and I am short-circuiting my speech. First, let us look at the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation and ask, what now is the meaning of that Organisation in relation to the fact that China is coming into the United Nations? Secondly, has not China more rights even than any of the Western nations in the Pacific Ocean? Thirdly, can there be any possibility of peace or a balanced system of society in the Pacific Ocean unless China is in on every discussion? Consequently, if you want to make a South-East Asia Treaty Organisation the first nation which should be invited to sit at the conference table at SEATO is the Chinese People's Republic, as a member of the United Nations. Without claiming any knowledge of logistics, I believe that to say, as the Prime Minister said in another place, that we are going to take part in the defence of South-East Asia and deploy 90 forces at Singapore—for us to continue that old story—is to kow-tow to the military industrial complex and to keep buying expensive machines, machine tools and ammunition which could never be brought to the place where they are needed.
I should have liked to see an acknowledgement in the gracious Speech that in our relations with China we will raise the de facto recognition to a de jure recognition and put in an ambassador. I am delighted to hear that there is a person in view as an ambassador, one who speaks Chinese fluently and could do the job well. He may not agree with the point of view of Members of your Lordships' House, but I understand that he is an expert who would take a fair and just interest in the Chinese people. I should like to know whether we may he told how soon our Foreign Secretary will visit Peking; whether he will build up a rapprochement, a detente or an under-standing with Peking. Has our Foreign Secretary made an approach? Has an invitation come to him from Peking? Let us be told these things, not through newspapers but through their being stated here during this debate. Has our Foreign Secretary been invited? When do we expect to appoint an ambassador to Peking? Or are we going to leave it for President Nixon to visit Peking in May, 1972. and then move on to Moscow?
Whether we like it or not, my Lords, the power troika in the world to-day is the United States, the Soviet Union and China. They are the three great nuclear Powers, and in a way we seem, in our apotheosis of the Market, to have opted out of making the Commonwealth a power in the future. I remember a great speech in Canada in 1945, when the war was almost finished, by the then Canadian Prime Minister, who talked about the destiny of the Commonwealth as a power in world affairs. I do not want to get involved to-night in discussing the Commonwealth. I did not speak about the Common Market during that debate, having spoken some weeks before, but I am not overjoyed, despite what is said in the gracious Speech that we hope to build up a relationship in the Commonwealth. Let us face the fact that we have accepted a "barrow boy", or a "corner boy", Market policy as opposed to a wider trading outlook and a wider under- 91 standing with parts of the world which sprang to our aid when we wanted com-fort and succour. It is wrong to think that those of us who were, I hope, constructively critical about the Common Market are "Little Englanders". We take the view that the world is now so small that man must have a universal outlook and that there is no future in trying to solve man's problems by military methods.
My last point, my Lords, refers to the Third World. This Third World is going to adopt a different attitude. One of the great problems of mankind has been that technological man has needed the raw materials, the oil, greases and fats of the tropics; and on the basis of the acquisitive society in which we live he has needed routes and areas of investment; and he has protected these and built up his military machines to get the raw materials. Consequently, the Third World has never had a fair price from industrial man for the raw materials. When we talk about giving military and economic aid to these areas we should remember that it was Professor Macmahon Ball in Australia who asked what is the good of economic aid if on the Stock Exchange something is done to affect the price of raw materials? What is the good of lending £10 million to Malaya if to-morrow night the price of rubber drops a penny a pound? What is the good of lending money to West Africa if to-morrow night the price of cocoa drops a penny or a halfpenny a pound? In other words, the Third World has always been dependent on the ups and downs of the acquisitive society of the Western world, and this is now going to change. Since we have built up a Common Market the Third World will try to get the highest prices possible for the oils, greases, fats and raw materials that it sells. If we are not careful, we are in for a period of intensive competition for these precious raw materials that are needed for man's advance.
I do not want to be derogatory about the Government: there is ability and honesty of purpose among the skilled men in the Government. But I think that, as much as anything, the organisations of the United Nations should be called together and be given a lead, so that the Third World may get a fair 92 price for the raw materials that it provides for the Western world and technological man. May I say that although I may disagree with a little of what appeared in the gracious Speech, it was a charming interlude and indeed a pleasure to listen yesterday to the mover and seconder of the Motion, who made such a constructive approach in their contributions. With those brief remarks, and not having held the House too long this evening, may I conclude by expressing a sincere hope that we are in for a constructive approach to foreign affairs and a new era in our détente with China and the Far East.
§ 5.48 p.m.
§ LORD GORE-BOOTH
My Lords, it is always a special pleasure for me to speak immediately after the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, and I have had the pleasure of doing so before. I am glad that he has a respectful memory of my predecessor, Sir Eyre Crowe. I could have done with some of Sir Eyre's ability, but I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, that, like my predecessors, I am far too well brought up constitutionally ever to think of bossing a British Government.
I have also read with great care, as I was not able to hear it, the most effective speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Macleod of Borve, and also the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Selsdon. I noticed in Lady Macleod's speech a reference to a television programme in which it was suggested that, on the whole, Life Peers should be seen and not heard. But after listening to the authoritative speech of my friend and former colleague the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, I would express a rather qualified agreement with that verdict. I am taking the liberty of rising myself since the subject of this debate is of some concern to me.
This kind of debate, my Lords, is one in which the welkin rings with the tearing up of one's previous notes, and I am on an appropriately late edition. It may help at this stage if I try to do a whirlwind tour, particularly of our relations with the five permanent members of the Security Council and including our relations with ourselves. I should like to start with China, and by expressing what I think is the unanimous view of your Lord-ships' House, and indeed everybody, that 93 it is absolutely right that the People's Republic of China should occupy the seat at the United Nations. I certainly hope that they will agree shortly to our sending an ambassador and that we shall proceed in a constructive way in our relations with China. I would make one appeal. There is an inclination on the part of many people to be sentimental about China. The Chinese are an attractive and intelligent people, and they live a long way away. I should like to sound a note of warning that the Chinese will not be sentimental about us. We should conduct our business with them on a sober and understanding basis, and we should then certainly hope to get some results.
Speaking of the United Nations brings one rapidly to the Middle East, and I hope indeed that there may be some prospect of movement. I should like to ask the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, whether he could say a word about the situation there when he comes to wind up, and particularly on one point that has puzzled me for some time. Speakers have mentioned the Four Powers as promoting the negotiations. I have always been a little bearish about this, since the initial posture of the Soviet Government in this matter was that they put themselves wholly on one side in the argument, and it would seem to me that the Four-Power machine is not going to be a very easy one to use. But we have in existence a special representative of the United Nations, and I am rather puzzled some-times that he does not seem to be in the area most of the time, and does not seem to be very active. The burden of trying to get something done seems to fall on people like Mr. Sisco of the State Department. Surely, if there is a special representative, he should be mostly there; and if after a time he has not succeeded, he should then tell the world what has happened and why it has happened. Per-haps we could have some light thrown on this, because it is a rather puzzling feature of the situation.
While on the subject of the United Nations, I should like to remind your Lordships that this is perhaps the last occasion that we shall meet to discuss international affairs while U Thant is still the Secretary-General. I think that many of us may have had differences of view with U Thant, but I should like to pay a tribute to somebody who has worked 94 with the utmost public spirit, against ill-health, with a total personal honesty and dedication in the cause of the United Nations, long after he really felt that he should have laid down the burden. I think that we owe him that amount of respectful tribute.
I come to the Soviet Union. It is for the Government to defend themselves on a number of matters, but I must, in the most respectful way, express a difference of view with the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont. I think the problem about spies is simply that it is never a good time to do a piece of unpleasant surgery. The Government can at least claim credit for having taken this very awkward action at a time when they had waited for the Berlin negotiations to come to a successful finish, and before any preparations for a European security conference had really begun. If there was a time that was less bad than others, surely that was it.
We also have to remember, in talking about our relationship with the Soviet Union, that while of course everybody would like once and for all to get rid of the cloud which has hung over East and West for many years, on the other hand, the people who have to wage policy can-not disregard the fact that there is a large Soviet Navy, getting ever larger, roaming round the world, carrying political influence with it; and that there has been a great Soviet diplomatic initiative, of which at least one of the objects was to encourage the Canadians to separate themselves further from the United States, to encourage the French to separate themselves from the rest of us and so on. Therefore, I suggest that in our relations with the Soviet Union it is not a dynamic and imaginative policy that we want. Those are splendid words, but what has really led to successes in negotiations with the Soviet Union, including the successes achieved by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, has been patience, patience and patience. It was patience that led to the partial Test Ban Treaty; it was patience that led to the Non-proliferation Treaty and so on. So, in my view, the art of the relationship is to think very hard and deeply, try to identify those things in which there is a real coincidence of interest—and they do exist—and work on those with this 95 infinite patience, as the Ministers and Ambassadors did over Berlin, and then, if you do not lose patience, you may get something very worth while which will stick.
If I may go on to the next of our associates, I think it also appropriate in this debate to say a word about France in this sense. Many of us, and most people in the Service to which I had the honour to belong, have really hated the period during which we seemed to have an unhappy and rather frigid relation-ship with France. It is a great encouragement to us all that we are now back on to the natural, relaxed relationship with our great neighbours. I think that we owe a great deal to many people for this, but I think particularly we should say a word of acknowledgment for what M. Pompidou has done to bring us nearer together. after the time when his predecessor seemed so intent on keeping us apart.
I now come to the United States. Here in this tremendous convulsion that goes on around us at the moment we have an extraordinary mixture of phenomena. On the one hand, we have President Nixon with this spectacular series of journeys planned at the super-Power level (and one can only hope that they will achieve at that level, and on the subjects which are discussed at that level, something which really will lead us away from 1984, as the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, so felicitously reminded us, and to a more peaceful atmosphere all round). But at the same time, in a curious contradiction between Legislature and Executive, we get this extraordinary Senate Motion cutting off all United States aid. I have sufficient belief in the flexibility of United States institutions—which are always believed to be very rigid, but have a measure of flexibility about them—to think that American aid will come back. It will certainly have to come back; it would he absolutely ruinous if it did not.
As an American Senator has criticised us, I think I will not forbear to say that I think what has happened is that American liberalism has curdled some-what, and led to a more negative result than perhaps a more thoughtful approach to the subject would have brought about. This emphasises the importance of the 96 phrase in the gracious Speech about "increasing our own aid". I have intervened in debates in this House on this subject, and I personally still feel a certain anxiety about what I think is the inadequate proportion of public sector aid programmed by this country, though I hope that the mention of the subject in the gracious Speech means that the proportion of public finance aid in forth-coming years may yet be somewhat raised from the rather modest level of the modest share which we give at present.
That is a rather breathless circuit of the world, and the purpose of it, in a sense, is to ask ourselves, as other noble Lords have asked ourselves, what in this environment is the function of this country. I respect very much those noble Lords who feel that we should give a moral lead, though I would allow myself to warn them that this should be said in private rather than in public; because if there is one thing that people from other countries really detest it is to be told that they are going to get a moral lead from us. On the other hand, there is some real point in this. The point is, I think, that as we have the United States in a somewhat all-or-nothing state of mind, and in a confused state of public opinion, the moderate-minded people all over the world—and there are a great many of them—want to look somewhere for people who are free and institutions which on the whole work well and democratically. In default of the obvious democratic leader-ship of the United States at this moment, there is around the world a considerable inclination to look at this country, not so much for a lead as for an example. Wherever you go you find this, and you even find people from other countries coming to live here for a little while, precisely for that reason. The only thing that could make that go wrong would he for us to have a bad relationship of our-selves with ourselves.
I therefore think that it is important for the people in this country to realise that there are influences abroad (and indeed there are some at home) which seek to disturb this situation, people who think that we ought to have a more doctrinaire political system or people who think that we ought not to have any institutions at all. The only way we could let the world down, I think, would he if we let ourselves down. We 97 are not powerful enough for great political initiatives, but we are sufficiently on the right track to have this reputation throughout the world, and we can thereby overcome the cult of self-depreciation, which I think has damaged our efforts over recent years. We have now finished our graceful, or other, withdrawals from world power. We have taken a step forward into Europe—whether one likes it or not it is a forward step—so that we can, in a certain quiet confidence, do things for the world, always provided that we do not say more than we need and that if we say something we are prepared to do it.
§ LORD CHALFONT
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, I wonder whether I might take this opportunity to assure him that I do not regard dynamism and imagination as substitutes for patience. I think these are qualities that we can deploy simultaneously. But my real reason for rising is to thank him for bringing to our notice that this is probably the last occasion on which we shall have a debate of this kind while U Thant is still Secretary-General of the United Nations. I hope that I am in order at this stage in associating these Benches with the noble Lord's tribute and saying that I think we all feel that this distinguished public servant deserves the gratitude of us all for his patience and fortitude over the past years.
§ 6.3 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF DURHAM
My Lords, I had not meant to speak to-day, and I do so now only because of two issues which have been raised: Northern Ireland and apartheid. I crave the indulgence of your Lordships' House and offer my apologies both for speaking without notice and for having to leave very soon to keep a prior engagement.
Like us all, I realise what an intricate and tangled situation we have in Northern Ireland. Like us all, I realise that it is being complicated daily in various ways. But unquestionably, as we shall all agree, it has a religious ancestry, and of some of the religious causal factors we can be heartily ashamed. I say that with relatives in Ulster, with friends in the Orange Order and with pupils and friends in Catholic seminaries. All that being said, as noble Lords have already pointed 98 out, something will have to be done. I greatly hope (and this is my only point on Northern Ireland) that where there are those who are intimidated, as we have heard, and where some feel frustrated and caught in the net of political formalities and intricacies, the Churches in Ireland, which themselves cross the Border and in principle know no Border, may be able to do something effective and practical to take an initiative in this situation. I hope that they may do something to bring together men of reason and good-will in public life to ensure that now—not at some time in the future, near or far—the ingredients of a political solution can begin to be discussed: a solution which frankly acknowledges the mistakes and the oppressions of the past. whether by Church or State (and both have done equally well, or equally badly), and the prejudices of the present or the past but which looks to a future of political freedom, of educational freedom, of genuine tolerance and social progress, something that Ireland has lacked for years, and one might almost say for centuries. My point is lust this, my Lords: could the Churches help in any way to forward the hopes that are expressed, and rightly expressed, for Ireland in the gracious Speech?
On the second point, apartheid, my only hesitation in speaking about the Dean of Johannesburg is that it might seem that I was speaking merely from what might be called a dour professionalism. But, taking that risk, I could not let it be supposed that by keeping silent we on these Benches are unmoved by or complacent at the sentence which has been passed. The sentence makes it perfectly clear that next to the doctrine of apartheid what earns our equal and out-right condemnation must be the laws and legal framework by which that inhuman doctrine is maintained and encouraged. In deploring the sentence on the Dean, I hope that other noble Lords will agree with me in deploring in the same breath the fact that a civilised State can indulge in these practices to support such an iniquitous and immoral doctrine as apartheid. Needless to say, I hope that nothing we do, and nothing the Government do to forward some of the hopes expressed in the gracious Speech, will ever support, or even seem to support, such a doctrine in any country. I say 99 that while taking entirely to heart the point of the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, that there can he, even with moral leads, false presumption and scandal but I rather see it—and I do not think that the noble Lord will disagree with me here—from the other side. Granting all that, even worse would it be for us to be led into a situation of political immorality because we were hesitating to give a moral lead.
§ 6.7 p.m.
§ BARONESS WHITE
My Lords, I feel that the noble Marquess will have no difficulty in finding subject matter for the speech with which he will wind up this debate, because although the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, who opened the debate, eschewed a tour d'horizon and chose one or two topics in particular for his remarks, we have during the course of our deliberations this afternoon ranged very widely indeed. Although the attendance in your Lordships' House to-day is not as great as during the dramatic occasions of last week. I think we should all agree that the subjects we are discussing are at least equally important. I, too, should like to join in the tributes that have been paid to U Thant. I have had the opportunity of working with him and discussing matters with him on various occasions, official and unofficial. As the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, re-marked, he has struggled against physical stresses and also against a certain disinclination to he engaged upon these very weighty responsibilities; but I think he has done his utmost as a servant of the world and of humanity, and it is right that we should pay tribute to him.
We have, as I said, discussed a number of points and I should certainly not wish to touch on all of them, more particularly as my noble friend. Lord Chalfont, has dealt so capably, as he always does, with a great many of them. But there are certain ones which I think come very much to our minds in a discussion at this time upon the international situation. I was not in respectable NATO company in Ottawa, as the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot was: I believe at that time I was in Moscow—quite respectably, I can assure her, but in rather different com-pany—where we were trying to discuss on an informal basis between people from Eastern and Western European countries, 100 each with their own positions in politics, how one could open dialogues between East and West, and in particular how we could forward the cause of European security.
I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, that there are certain situations in international affairs where patient diplomacy is by far the best method; but surely we have to deal with the problems on more than one level. I feel very much with my noble friend Lord Chalfont that there is an impression abroad, at least, that Her Majesty's Government are not as enthusiastic as they might be in the furtherance of this matter of a European security conference. It is quite plain that however careful one's preparation, at a conference of that kind one cannot expect any very concrete results. I was encouraged and interested to find the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, positively agreeing, rather surprisingly, with my noble friend Lord Brockway and suggesting that what one should aim at should be the establishment of some permanent East/West security commission. It appears to me that something of that kind is what we should be aiming at; but I beg Her Majesty's Government not to underestimate the effort which the Soviet Union is putting in in popularising the idea of the importance of this European security conference and using their not inconsiderable contacts in the countries of Western and Eastern Europe to make this appear to be something of great moment. If we seem to be dragging our feet, it will not be helpful either to our influence in Europe or among quite considerable numbers of people in our own country. I hope that we shall have a somewhat more encouraging response on this particular matter from Her Majesty's Government.
One has so many subjects that one wishes to touch upon that the choice is difficult. Those of us who within the past few days have had the opportunity of meeting the Prime Minister of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, will not wish the occasion to pass without saying how welcome she has been here, and how much those of us who have had the chance of discussing some of these difficult problems in her part of the world feel an obligation to her for the statesmanlike way in which she has been facing the immense burden of the Pakistani refugees in her 101 country, and how much we hope that a solution can be found in Pakistan which will enable the burden of refugees to be lifted from India. This surely is a situation in which, above all, a political solution must be found. The sufferings are physical; but a political solution is the only way by which the physical misery and even death of so many people can be avoided.
I do not know what Her Majesty's Government are doing in endeavouring to influence the Government of Pakistan to seek a political solution. We shall be glad to know what inquiries have been made, for example, about the where abouts and safety of Sheikh Mujib, because he was the democratically elected leader of the community. Although we try to avoid interference in internal matters, surely as a democratic country and a member of the Commonwealth we must make our views felt on this way of treating someone who was by an overwhelming majority elected as leader of his people, and who has been incarcerated without any public acknowledgment as to what is happening to him. I hope that we shall not just say some polite things to Mrs. Gandhi, but use our influence to see that these problems are lifted from her shoulders by a political solution in the only country in which they can be solved; namely, Pakistan.
In the speeches that have been made during the debate there have been references to other aspects of the problems of the Third World. I should like to say a little about some matters which concern me—our attitude to the economic development of the Third World and my hope that now that the United Kingdom has decided to join the European Economic Community we shall use our influence in that Community to make sure that the most liberal attitude possible is taken, not only towards aid but to-wards trade with the developing countries.
I do not know how many of your Lordships have had an opportunity of studying the speech which was recently made by Mr. Robert McNamara as President of the World Bank to the governors of the Bank. I commend it to you because, with his customary lucidity, Mr. McNamara sets out clearly problems which face so many of the developing countries in the world and which they 102 cannot solve by themselves. They cannot solve them without a generous and un-restrictive attitude on the part of the developed countries. As he says, the less developed countries need aid, and my noble friend put a question to the Government on aid which I hope they will be able to answer. In addition, not only do they need to export their traditional raw materials, important as they are (and they are still by far the largest proportion of their total exports), but if the countries who are now trying to raise their standard of living are to be enabled to do so they must riot just export more and more of their unprocessed raw materials but be encouraged to export manufactures. They cannot do this unless the more developed countries are willing to receive those manufactures and import them. Every export needs to be an import for someone. It is this which causes me and my friends who are concerned with these matters some anxiety as to the true attitude of the European Community and the influence which we in the United Kingdom should endeavour to exert when we become members of it.
A good deal was said in recent debates—I did not take part in them and I have no intention of wearying your Lordships with an explication de vote to-night—and one of the arguments put forward by those who favoured entry into the Community was that so much could be done for the Third World. If one examined what was done in the Community there would be a little less complacency about this matter. On analysis, a good deal of what is apparently of assistance to the Third World is devoted to the profit and benefit of the metropolitan countries, and more particularly France. I understand that there was a recent instance when the now independent State of Gabon applied for assistance from, I think, the World Bank. This was turned down, and it was pointed out that if assistance was given it would not help Gabon but would help companies based in Europe. It was not felt that international finance on the basis which was requested by Gabon would be justified. I do not wish to pursue this point in detail; I am simply suggesting that this is a sphere in which those who are expert in this matter are worried, and that we have a responsibility ourselves to make certain that not only our own 103 trading policies but those of our associates in Europe are such as to make it possible for the developing countries to help themselves. Incidentally, it is rather depressing that in the discussions one has had with Mrs. Gandhi and her entourage one is delicately reminded that we our-selves are imposing a higher duty than before upon textile imports, and that we are not always perhaps as generous-minded as some of us feel we should be in these respects.
I should not wish—because I could not in any way improve upon it—to add to the plea made by my noble friend Lord Ritchie-Calder so far as armaments are concerned. I myself find it almost incomprehensible that the human race goes on diverting resources of men, money and materials which should surely be used for peaceful purposes, so that, as Lord Ritchie-Calder has reminded us, we already have 100 tons of T.N.T. for every man, woman and child on earth. Surely we can call a halt to this really insane competition in sophisticated armaments. I know it is easy to say this. It may be that Her Majesty's Government do not have very much influence in these directions; it may be that we cannot make a moral appeal. Nevertheless, the human race depends to some degree on hope, and it is surely for us to give the kind of lead which has been called for by the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie-Calder. In particular, I would ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have made any approach at all to the United States Government on this question of the bomb test which I think is disturbing a great many of us. I hope very much that the noble Marquess will be able to reassure us on that matter.
In conclusion, I should like to say something on the subject of Northern Ireland. This has been a main subject in the speeches of three noble Lords, and also of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham, who has already apologised for not being able to remain with us. It is now, as the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, reminded us, six weeks since your Lordships last discussed the troubled state of Northern Ireland. But I think we would surely agree that the continued deterioration there justifies one in asking how long Her Majesty's Government believe the present policies
104 can be maintained. I myself was abroad during the emergency debate in September, but I have of course read the Record and, as several noble Lords who have spoken to-night have pointed out, this is in any case a continuing situation.
Since our last debate certain positive steps have been taken. In particular we now have the Green Paper, the discussion document, on possible constitutional reform. Investigations have been set on foot into allegations of brutality in the internment centres, and I understand that Sir Edmund Compton's report will soon be available—perhaps we could also be told more about that. A very distinguished Catholic Unionist (that very rare species) has been appointed to succeed Mr. David Bleakley as Minister for Community Relations. These are all very welcome steps so far as they go. But I do not believe anyone can pretend that the descent into the abyss has been halted; and I say this after listening with the utmost care to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. He is in charge of the military and the defence dispositions in Northern Ireland and we listened with the very greatest respect to what he has said. Of course, if one is involved in a military operation one hopes it will be as efficient and effective as possible, and the basis of intelligence, as he rightly says, is of great importance. If he is satisfied that that is being improved, we must all be glad that that is so.
However, I am sure I speak for very many people in this country and all parts of your Lordships' House when I say that we are very doubtful indeed that we should go on hoping that "a little more of the same" will do the trick. I do not want in any way to turn this into a Party issue—and I am sure it will be agreed that our Party has done its best on these Benches, and in another place, not to say anything which might worsen such a harrowing situation. I would particularly pay a tribute to my right honourable friend Mr. James Callaghan and say how glad I was to hear that he is to go to Northern Ireland himself next week for further consultations on the spot.
I think many of us have come to the view that more fundamental thinking is needed. I say this with a certain sense of history. Some of your Lordships may 105 know that my late father was very deeply involved in the negotiations which led to the signing of the Treaty with the South almost exactly fifty years ago. Almost all the problems which we are so anxiously considering now were discussed then, and solutions to them which our predecessors failed to find have so far eluded us, too. In the Republic, at least, I would say that some progress has been made. Though with certain aspects of life there one may not find oneself in sympathy, by and large they have overcome the tensions which be-set them and can live peaceably. It would he a double tragedy if events in the North should disturb the equilibrium won years ago with such pain in the South. But neither Government nor people in the Republic can be in-different to what goes on North of the Border. For some of them, as we know, what they would regard as the affair of the Six Counties is still regarded as un-finished business. It has been to the great credit of those in authority in the Re-public, from the late Mr. Cosgrave at the outset to the present Prime Minister, Mr. Jack Lynch, that up to the present troubles the more extreme and irresponsible elements have largely been contained for nearly fifty years.
The most dangerous thing that could happen would be for affairs in the North to deteriorate to such a degree that those in authority in the Republic could no longer hold their own extremists. There have been cracks here and there, as is already evident, and further suspicions cannot but be reinforced by the kind of speeches reported this week from the Sinn Fein meetings in Dublin. But it must surely be the prime aim of Government policy in the United Kingdom not to play into the hands of the extremists. In this, as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, properly observed, military effort alone is not enough.
Various possible moves are being canvassed. I would not wish to go into them in detail to-night because I do not know what the arrangements of our Business will be in this House; but, as we know, it is proposed to have a full debate in another place in a week or two when the debate on the Queen's Speech has been concluded. But it seems to me that one ought at least to be 106 turning one's mind to-night to the kind of issues which we really must be actively discussing. They go from one extreme to another. The noble Lord, Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, suggested the time had already come when we should pull cut entirely. He says, "Get out before it gets too bad." He may speak for— I do not know how many people in this country; but I cannot myself say that I for one moment share his view. We have a deep historical responsibility in this matter, quite apart from our constitutional responsibility. I should have thought that that is surely a defeatist attitude in a most dangerous sense, if I may very respectfully say so. It surely seems to the majority of us in the House that we should make the most urgent endeavours to see how far we can make progress in what we all must admit is a most intractable situation. Lord Clifford of Chudleigh says, "Pull out altogether." On the other hand, we have other lines of thought which arc suggest-ing that there should be direct Westminster rule. Mr. Ian Paisley speaks of it as a certainty. I hope he is wrong, because I believe the I.R.A. Provisional leaders, at any rate, would warmly welcome such a step. For them it would wonderfully simplify the issue; all their talk of England being the real enemy would then become manifestly true for all the world to see. As Mr. Harold Wilson said in September in his speech on his twelve points, we would regard direct rule as being the last resort and as being, in effect, a confession of failure and inability to find other ways of reaching a solution.
I do not think myself that the issue is anything like so simple as either pulling out or relying upon direct rule. What so deeply worries many of us is the feeling that Her Majesty's Government have been allowing matters to drift on the political side without taking sufficient imaginative initiative. I am not speaking now of the military side, of which I do not think I am competent to judge; but I feel that Her Majesty's Government have allowed themselves to reach what I regard as the political watershed of internment before they thought through the political and constitutional implications of doing so. We have a situation of a divided responsibility when British troops are there to 107 maintain law and order. Her Majesty's Government in Westminster are responsible for security, but we have a Government in Stormont which is responsible for administering the internment policy. We have, so far as the troops themselves are concerned—so I am told, and of course I speak at second hand on this—an area of dubiety, a shadowy area in the precise responsibilities as between the civil power and the authority of Her Majesty's Government in Westminster.
To-night I do not wish to discuss again the whole question of internment. That was discussed fairly fully in the debates in the House in September. In certain circumstances internment has some validity. What worries me is that it is not merely distasteful in any democracy to have to resort to internment, but in this particular instance it seems to me to have proved a political focal point of great importance. Opposition to internment has provided just the simple emotional appeal around which anti-Government propaganda can gather force. Even those Catholics who are not Republican sympathisers have been shaken by the experience, as they see it, of the ineptitude of many of the arrests, the inadequacy of the provision for appeal and the need for better surveillance of conditions in the camps and other centres. It is because of these considerations that it seems to us that the time really has come for some fundamental reappraisal of the position. I am not personally firmly proposing to-night one line of advance rather than another; I am suggesting that we should look at the various proposals which I think must be examined with a great sense of urgency and importance. For instance, there is the whole question of judicial process and the appeals procedure. Are we absolutely satisfied that, granted the insuperable difficulties in certain cases of charges being proved to the satisfaction of an unbiased jury in open court (and this of course is the justification for internment) it is absolutely impossible to operate any other judicial process, which, even if falling short of our customary processes of law, would carry greater confidence than the present advisory committee procedure?
I know that this matter is being studied at the present time by interested lawyers in Northern Ireland and here. For 108 example, there are some precedents in the Republic where they have a review procedure with mandatory recommendations. We should like to know what thoughts the United Kingdom Government have had. Many people feel that the addition of a former judge from Kenya does not in itself give the advisory committee under Mr. Justice Brown the weight which such a tribunal should possess; and the fact that it is advisory to the head of the Stormont Government, in other words to someone who is himself so much politically involved, and with no power of decision of its own, is not convincing, we believe, to those who have no great regard for the Stormont Administration. I am not for one moment suggesting that Mr. Faulkner does not carry out his own responsibilities in the most conscientious way. I am sure he does. I am simply trying to put things as I believe they appear to the people whose support must prevail if terrorism is to be vanquished. People will have to feel in their bones that by and large justice is being done; and at present, from all the reports that I receive, at any rate, they do not feel that.
There are precedents for the United Kingdom Government regarding such matters as their own responsibility. I could quote the agreement of 1925 with Sir James Craig. There are those to-day who, while not wishing for direct rule overall, nevertheless feel that internment is a facet of security, and that being so it should he the Westminster Government and not Stormont which should be in full charge of the whole process both of internment and of the appeals procedure which flows from it. But this also is possibly too simple an approach, because if one did take such direct responsibility there could be serious political consequences. It would weaken the independent position of the United Kingdom Government, which it should be one of our prime objects to sustain. Nevertheless, I believe that a more clearly independent tribunal would be a much better line of approach. We surely all recognise that this battle can be won ultimately only in the hearts of the people.
This brings me briefly to the wider political issues. As I mentioned earlier in my remarks, we have had a discussion document. We have had to wait more than two years since the outset of the troubles before receiving this document.
109 I do not think it would be appropriate for us to discuss it here to-night. It is, after all, primarily for discussion by the people of Northern Ireland themselves, and I think they should have time to express, their views before we say anything here on something which is of such crucial importance.
I wish to-night to make just one point which I think is of overriding significance. If there is to be genuine co-operation between majority and minority in Northern Ireland, which after all is the object and the entire exercise of the Green Paper, if we are seeking genuine co-operation, then it is surely pointless to rule out co-operation with the Catholics who hope for the ultimate unity of the whole of Ireland. There are some Catholics who want to keep the British connection. Dr. Newe, the recently appointed Minister, is a distinguished example, and of course if their view prevailed there would be no trouble in the North. The rift is with those who do not so wish, and any meaningful co-operation cannot exclude on principle any Catholic, provided he is firmly dedicated to the use of peaceful means. If Mr. Faulkner's position is such that he cannot move in this direction, then I hope that the British Government will find ways of helping him, because even for those who feel that partition is their protection surely the aim must be to make the Border irrelevant. This is not the same as putting the whole question into cold storage, as some noble Lords suggested in a recent debate. One cannot put this matter entirely into cold storage. The aim surely is to fashion society and the law in such a way as to make it possible to discuss the pros and cons in a rational manner.
It is now just 46 years since Mr. Cosgrave and Sir James Craig agreed with !the then British Prime Minister, Mr. Baldwin, to bury the Border issue. The tragedy is that society in the North, instead of progressing in tolerance, equality and non-discrimination, has for so very long largely stood still, and the wasted years are now taking their toll. It is for men of goodwill energetically to try to use their minds in this situation to find solutions to these problems, not just to turn to their traditional reactions. I hope very much that in the next few weeks, before we have what I would expect to be 110 a much more thorough debate on this subject, we shall have assurances from Her Majesty's Government that they are pursuing energetically new initiatives in the political as well as in the military field.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, before the noble Baroness concludes, I have listened to what she has had to say about Northern Ireland with great attention, and she has quite properly analysed some of the difficulties of the political initiatives open to any Government what-ever its political complexion. But in the course of her remarks she was critical of Her Majesty's Government and said we ought to have made some political initiatives in these last weeks. I wonder whether she would tell us what political initiatives she had in mind.
§ BARONESS WHITE
My Lords, I thought I had touched on some questions which seemed to me to need thinking out. The particular point which might be of special relevance to the noble Lord is that internment was not only a military matter; one can appreciate the military necessity for dealing with persons who could not be effectively charged in a court of law; but surely what has happened since internment was brought about has shown that it had a political significance, too—it has hardened the polarisation which it is surely our object to try to avoid. All the reports I receive from North and South—and I have some personal connections in both —lead one to feel almost with despair that even the Catholics who are not necessarily Republican, have been alienated. I feel that such matters as the appeals procedure and so on should have been far more thoroughly and care-fully thought out in a political context before internment was brought in.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, it seems to me that the latter matter was in a sense peripheral. I thought that in talking about political initiatives the noble Baroness was talking about the fundamental problem which faces any Government. I thought she was being critical of Her Majesty's Government for not taking any political initiatives of that kind; and I was asking her what she thinks the solution is, and what initiatives the Government should have taken.
§ BARONESS WHITE
My Lords, if I thought I could find a solution I would be a happy woman. I do not want to repeat my entire speech for the noble Lord's benefit, but I said that it seemed extremely unhelpful in this situation if it was indicated that we want to co-operate with the Catholic minority, but not with the Catholic minority which professes the hope that Ireland one day may be one united country. This has been an attitude so far of the political leaders in the Government at Stormont, which seems to me detrimental to the cause of peace. I have also suggested that we waited rather long for this Green Paper and that the influence of Her Majesty's Government might have been used to bring it out a good deal sooner. It was quite plain, as I think Jim Callaghan indicated recently, that the proposals put forward for relatively modest reforms, in local government and housing and so on, in 1969 were only a beginning; as events have moved, much more fundamental methods are needed, and we have spent a very great deal of time in coming to the point we have now reached.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN
My Lords, this has been an extremely wide-ranging debate, and I am sure the House will agree that it has been one of great interest. We have had several extremely well-informed and interesting speeches and the subject matter has ranged extremely widely, from the seabed to Canada, Vietnam, NATO, round the whole world. The debate, of course, as my noble friend said in opening, has come at an important moment when we have all been preoccupied by the prospects opened up by entry into the Common Market. We have spent many long hours debating this subject, and I do not intend to add anything at all to what has been said; there will be many opportunities for so doing in the future. But Britain has always played on a wider stage, the stage of the world, and we have obligations and responsibilities, duties and interests, not just in Europe but throughout the world; and this is a fact that has been reflected in the scope and variety of many of your Lordships' speeches to-day.
I think I am right in saying that this is the first general foreign affairs debate that we have had since the last debate 112 on the Address. So I will endeavour briefly to attempt to cover some of the areas and regions which were not mentioned by my noble friend. In doing so, I hope that I shall answer some of the points raised in the debate, and I will naturally try to reply to as many as I can without taking up too much of your Lordships' time. If I fail to answer any questions asked by noble Lords, I hope I shall be forgiven, and I will certainly write to them as soon as I can. I should like to say at once that I do not intend myself to deal with the subject of Northern Ireland. My noble friend covered it pretty thoroughly in his open-ing remarks, and, as he told you, my noble friend Lord Windlesham will be discussing the political aspects to-morrow.
My Lords, you will appreciate, I am sure, that any survey must be selective. I should like to begin by offering a few very brief reflections on the aims and nature, as the Government see them, of British foreign policy in general. Successive Governments in these Islands down the ages have pursued three fundamental aims in their foreign policies. They have tried to ensure the economic interests of the nation by furtherance and protection of our overseas trade; they have sought to defend the nation against our enemies; and they have sought to protect the interests of those of our citizens who travel or live overseas. The Government remain faithful to these aims. We are determined that the nation should live in prosperity and security and that our people should continue to receive the protection and assistance which is their right abroad. We also believe that we in Britain have greater responsibilities in the widening and more immediate world of to-day, and that we have an obligation to share in the work of bringing prosperity and peace to mankind as a whole. We must pursue our own interests and we must also take into account the interests of others.
Perhaps I may first say a brief word about aid, which the noble Baroness, the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, and others, including the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, have alluded to. We believe that this is something to which we should give the highest priority, as it concerns the developing world. During our negotiations for entry into Europe, and in our discussions of the problems that have 113 been arising recently in the international monetary field, we have been very conscious of the needs of the developing countries and will continue to take these fully into account. We believe that the entry of Britain into the E.E.C. will indeed enable us, in partnership with the other members, to make a more effective contribution to those needs in both the trade and aid fields. I would assure the noble Baroness that we shall certainly use our very best endeavours and influence in this regard on our becoming members of the Community.
Meanwhile, in this context perhaps I should mention that in this first year of the United Nations Second Development Decade we have already announced in-creases in our official aid programme. For instance, by 1974–75 our expenditure on aid will have risen to some £340 million, which is 50 per cent. more than in the years 1970–71. This is a higher rate of growth than in most other fields of public expenditure, and it is something to which the Government attach the very greatest importance.
From the question of aid may I say a few words about the United Nations. I should like also to associate the Government with the remarks that have been made about U Thant, after his most remarkable 10 years in office. We acknowledge our responsibilities to the developing world, and in particular to the developing countries of the Commonwealth, hut, at the same time, we acknowledge our responsibilities to the United Nations. In this context it was long clear that, in the absence of the representation of a quarter of the world's population, the United Nations was unable to play its full part in tackling the problems with which it is continually confronted. With the accession of the People's Republic of China to the organisation, it is our earnest hope that the United Nations will be reinforced in its capacity to fulfil its vital tasks. These concern not only the political sphere. In the realm of technical and economic assistance, in which I have already said that Britain plays a leading part, the United Nations is helping to bring about a more just world. What I believe is now needed in New York is a sense of realism and a refusal to indulge in a mere auction of words. Above all, we need a positive will for peace. Without it, the best machinery we 114 can devise will cease to be effective, but given this will, the United Nations will now, we hope, have a better opportunity to become what its founders intended it to be—the reflection of the hopes and aspirations for peace of mankind. I have no illusions about the difficulties of achieving this. The temptations for propaganda and playing to the gallery in the United Nations are strong, and Her Majesty's Government's policy will re-main to act responsibly within the organisation.
As has been said, the move to scat China in the United Nations has, for many years, had our full support. In our view, it was imperative that China should be seated without further delay, because to perpetuate the isolation and exclusion of its representatives from the United Nations seemed to us to he of no benefit to anyone. The noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, in his, as usual, ebullient speech, referred to the question of the exchange of Ambassadors with the Chinese. I think he knows that we have been discussing this matter with them. There are no obstacles to this on our side. I am afraid I cannot give him any information as to when this happy event might come about, but certainly we shall do all that we can to continue the improvement in our relations with China which has taken place in the past 18 months.
The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, asked me one or two questions about China in the United Nations. One was whether the Government had given any thought to the effect of the Chinese arrival in New York, and what might happen. Of course we have been giving this considerable thought. As I said, it was our view that the Chinese presence in the United Nations was essential to the solution of many pressing international problems. We welcome their rather more outward and conciliatory approach to international questions, and hope that China will be constructive in her approach to the United Nations. It is very difficult to speculate how she will act when she gets there, but I think the essential point is that we shall now be able to deal with China on a day-to-day basis on all sorts of problems. The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, and also, I think, the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, raised the point of what might be the Chinese role 115 in the Four Power (or Five Power) talks, and in various organisations of the United Nations. In general we believe that China, as one of the five permanent Members of the Security Council, should be involved in talks on major world problems. It is early days yet to see exactly how this is going to work out, but I imagine that if China wishes to join in talks which have hitherto been dealt with on a Four Power basis, this is something which the Four Powers will have to consider and discuss among themselves.
Perhaps I may now turn from the United Nations—I do not want to keep the House too long—to the question of East/West relations, which has been raised by several noble Lords. Obviously, we shall continue our efforts to improve relations between East and West. For many years the development of proper relations between East and West has, as noble Lords have pointed out, been be-devilled by suspicion and mistrust. How-ever, I think the patient efforts of statesmen in the West—and I emphasise the word "patient" with, I hope, the approval of the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth—has eventually succeeded to some extent in breaking down these artificial barriers; and exchanges, particularly in the worlds of culture and commerce, have begun to flourish. More recently elements of a political dialogue have emerged, and important agreements have been signed, such as the Federal Republic's Treaties with Poland and the Soviet Union, and the first part of an agreement on Berlin. As noble Lords have pointed out, lengthy and indeed patient negotiations between the Americans and the Russians in the SALT talks are continuing, and there are signs of progress. But unfortunately the movement has not always been in one direction, and there have been setbacks. The Communists' belief that the triumph of socialism is inevitable cannot be ignored by the countries of the Free World. This does not mean that we cannot attain true peaceful co-existence between nations, but the West cannot afford to be careless of its interests.
So far as our bilateral relations with the Soviet Union are concerned, we hope that the recent measures will be the end of the matter. The scale of unacceptable Soviet activities in this country forced us 116 eventually to take steps to protect our own security, and this has now been done. We hope that we may now look forward to developing our relations with the Soviet Union on a sounder basis. On the wider front I think there are grounds for optimism. I think we can be hopeful about the completion of the Berlin agreement, and this may lead to the ratification of the Federal Republic's two Treaties, and that the Federal Germans will continue their search for a more satisfactory relationship with the G.D.R.
There has been a lot of talk this after-noon about a Security Conference, and this is something which we may soon be preparing the ground for. I am sorry that some noble Lords seemed to think that Her Majesty's Government are less than enthusiastic about this conference. I thought my noble friend's remarks were couched in a very positive and constructive way. All that we want to see is a successful conference, and that is why we lay certain emphasis on the need for a proper preparation. I was very struck by the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, on this point, which was extremely helpful and interesting. So we are faced by the prospect of a period of considerable diplomatic activity. Of course there are many imponderables and we cannot foresee how events are going to turn out in future, but I hope there is no cause for despondency. I see no reason not to hope for lasting progress.
Perhaps I may say a word or two about disarmament. The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, takes a great personal interest in this matter, and indeed it is a field in which I myself now have special responsibilities. We must all recognise that progress in international disarmament negotiations has been slower than we should have liked; I think it always is. Nevertheless, this Government, like our predecessors, continue to believe that realistic and soundly based measures for the limitation, control and reduction of armaments have a vital contribution to make to the easing of international tension, and to the promotion of greater security and safety in the world—and, one hopes, at a lower cost. These are the aims which we are pursuing in the conference of the Committee on Disarmament in Geneva, where I think one can fairly claim that Britain has always played an active and 117 constructive role. Indeed, the draft Convention banning biological weapons, which has now been sent forward to the United Nations General Assembly, owes a great deal to British initiative vigorously pursued both by this Government and by our predecessors. We hope that the draft Convention will be commended by the General Assembly and opened for signature at an early date. During the course of the year, the Government have signed a seabed arms control treaty and we look forward to the early entry into force of this instrument.
Looking to the future, there are further important tasks facing the Geneva Disarmament Committee. The negotiation of an adequately verified comprehensive test ban treaty remains a very important objective, to which we are giving close attention; so does the working out of measures to deal with chemical weapons. More generally, further positive results from the SALT talks between the U.S. and the Soviet Union would certainly have a stimulating effect on work through-out the arms control and disarmament field.
Mention has been made by several noble Lords of the forthcoming under-ground test in Amchitka. I believe the test has not yet taken place. Of course, what we, as a Government, want is a comprehensive test ban treaty prohibiting all tests in all environments by all countries concerned, and this is what we really must aim at as our objective. But, of course, we do not yet have that, and until there is such an agreement the nuclear testing Powers will take decisions which they consider to be required by their own national security. I do not think the House need think that the Americans have not had in mind the possible environmental effects of this under-ground test, and indeed of their own relationship in the SALT talks. I am no expert on these matters, but I am given to understand that the American Atomic Energy Commission has published a statement which shows that many of the fears expressed are misplaced. Certainly, the United States Administration is quite confident that there is no danger of venting and of fall-out—if there is any, but they say there will not be—crossing the national frontiers of the United States. I do not think I can say more than that to-night. I know that some noble Lords 118 have different opinions and, indeed, there are different opinions in the United States.
§ TIIE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN
My Lords, I accept what the noble Lord says on that point. Perhaps I may now turn—
§ LORD CHALFONT
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt again at such a late hour. Before the noble Marquess leaves that point, is he prepared to comment on the other point I made which is that, so far as one can gather, this test at Amchitka is designed as a step in the United States' development of the Spartan missile, which is an anti-ballistic missile? Anti-ballistic missile development is at the heart of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks. Do not Her Majesty's Government consider this a most curious time to be going ahead with a test of this kind, and are they making representations on that point?
§ TIIE MARQUESS or LOTHIAN
My Lords, I think I made the point that people are entitled to their own views about this matter. But it is for the United States Government to decide, having regard to the SALT talks and having regard to their own security in the absence of a test ban treaty, whether or not to carry out such testing. I should not myself like to go any further than that this evening.
My Lords, I apologise for not having been able to be present earlier owing to other Parliamentary business, but surely this is a matter in which we are concerned. Are we not concerned with the extremely dangerous nature of these tests? Does not the noble Marquess realise that the people of the ad-joining islands are frightened to death, and that far beyond America there is considerable fear and concern about this experiment? Will we, as a Government, do something to help?
§ THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN
My Lords, I quite appreciate that there is considerable fear in the world, not only in America, about this matter, and I am quite certain that the American Government knows this as well as your Lord-ships do. 119 If I may, I will turn briefly to other subjects, the Middle East and the India-Pakistan problem. The dispute between Israel and her Arab neighbours remains a source of tension. There have been certain happier signs. There has been an effective cease-fire along the Suez Canal for over a year, but a negotiated comprehensive settlement still, alas! eludes the grasp of the parties concerned. That is why, for some months now, diplomatic efforts have been devoted to the search for an interim arrangement between Egypt and Israel, under which the Suez Canal would be reopened in return for a measure of Israeli withdrawal from Sinai. We, as a Government, wish these efforts well, because we believe that both sides to the dispute desire peace. We shall continue to do everything we can, in the United Nations and elsewhere, to encourage and support any efforts or initiatives likely to promote a just and lasting peace within the framework of Security Council Resolution 242 of Nov-ember, 1967. If I may—
My Lords, will the noble Marquess forgive me for interrupting again? Will he say what steps have been taken by the Government to encourage the two parties to come together? After all, that is the only way in which this serious matter will be ultimately decided.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN
My Lords, steps are being taken in a variety of ways, one of which was when my right honourable friend was in Cairo fairly recently. I can assure the House that he did his utmost to impress upon the authorities there the need to get together, and of course we are taking similar steps with the Israeli authorities whenever the right opportunity seems to offer.
§ LORD GORE-BOOTH
My Lords, is the noble Marquess going to make a comment on the inquiry which I made about the special representative, of would he prefer to do that later?
§ THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN
My Lords, I wonder whether I may write to the noble Lord about the special representative. I would answer him, but I do not want to mislead him and I am not absolutely certain of the facts at this 120 moment. I am sorry that I did not refer to the noble Lord's question. Regarding Pakistan and India, I think we have to recognise that the tension there is still extremely worrying and the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, and other noble Lords have drawn our attention to the terrible human problems involved. We believe that both President Yahya Khan and Mrs. Gandhi are anxious to avoid hostilities. This is a viewpoint which we are certainly at pains to encourage. The Prime Minister and the Foreign and Common-wealth Secretary have had talks with Mrs. Gandhi, during her recent visit to this country, which covered all aspects of the present tension between her country and Pakistan and the need for a peaceful solution to the grave problems of that sub-continent. We have also exchanged views with the Government of Pakistan and with several interested Governments about ways of reducing the existing tension. These discussions are still continuing, and we will continue to work so far as we can for a peaceful solution.
As I think noble Lords are aware, we are not convinced at the present that the Security Council or the General Assembly are likely to be able to act to resolve the situation, because effective action in the Security Council would in practice require the acquiescence of both India and Pakistan, and neither of those has formally asked the Council to act. However, if either India or Pakistan were to raise the matter at the Council, we should certainly seriously consider any proposals they might make. Similarly, if any other member can produce proposals which have even a chance of acceptance by both India and Pakistan, we should be most willing to discuss them in whatever forum seems likely to pro-duce the best results. Meanwhile, my Lords, in this very difficult situation we continue to give our full support to the work of the relief agencies of the United Nations, both in India and in East Pakistan. As the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, mentioned, we have recently announced another pretty substantial contribution to relief among the refugees in India and in East Pakistan. I recognise, of course, that in relation to the size of the problem this is not very great, but we hope sincerely that our example will be followed by other countries, because this is something to which we 121 attach the greatest importance as a humanitarian action.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, may I interrupt? I will not describe this as escapist and I will not describe it as complacent, but is it not terribly inadequate in view of the situation? There are 9 million refugees. They will not return unless there is a political solution. There is the danger of war. Are we not taking this matter much too easily, and ought we not to raise it in the Security Council, even if either India or Pakistan does not? If there is a danger of war, then it is the duty of the United Nations to take action.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN
My Lords, this is, I think, a matter of judgment. I know the noble Lord's views, and I know that other people possibly think the same, but, as I say, at the moment we are not convinced that things have quite got to that pitch. We realise, of course, that from the point of view of suffering, the humanitarian point of view, any contribution of the size that we have given, although quite consider-able in itself—and, as the noble Lord said, it is very much more considerable than most other countries have given--is not anything like sufficient, and that is why we hope that other countries will come to see that something really does need to be done in this regard.
§ LORD CHALFONT
My Lords, I am sorry, again, to prolong this discussion, but I think that my noble friend was referring more to the question of the dangers of war between India and Pakistan than to the relief of refugees at this moment. Is it not a fact that there is a very grave danger of war, with troops massed on the frontier? Would it not be a good idea to consider the inter-position between those troops of United Nations observers, and is not the first step towards that the raising of this matter in the Security Council by somebody directly interested? lf, then, either India or Pakistan should succeed in getting a veto, we shall know where the trouble lies.
§ Tim MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN
My Lords, I will certainly take into account what the noble Lord says. He will not expect me to give a definite answer to that point to-night, I am sure. If I may finally say a few words about Africa—
§ BARONESS WHITE
My Lords, before the noble Lord leaves this problem of Pakistan, can he give us any information at all in reply to the question I put to him about the position of Sheikh Mujib?
§ THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN
My Lords, I am afraid I cannot. We have been making inquiries about this, and we have been making representations to the Pakistani authorities, but though I should like to be able to do so I am afraid I cannot give the noble Baroness any information which might be accurate. I should not like to speculate.
My Lords, so far as Africa is concerned, noble Lords will probably know that I have a special responsibility and interest in these countries. My right honourable friend the Minister of Overseas Development has recently visited Zambia and Malawi, and I have been in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia. I think we both had very useful discussions in those countries with their leaders. Personally, I have no doubt of the value of these personal contacts between British and African Ministers. One cannot pretend that they lead readily to the abandonment by either side of policies or views, but I am sure they do lead to a greater mutual understanding, and this is very important at the present time. Certainly I got the impression in East Africa that there remains a strong general feeling of good will towards this country, even if there are matters in which we have differences of opinion; and I believe that in these cases African leaders are as concerned as we arc that those matters should be handled in ways which will do the minimum of harm to our relations. Of course, in a number of African countries we have substantial British national interests, both in investment and in terms of British residents, and I had the opportunity to meet a number of those residents, and talk to them about their problems, the solutions to which, I am afraid, do not always lie with the British Government. But I should like to pay tribute, as I have seen it on the spot, to the work of our High Commissions in the countries I have visited, both in the discharge of their diplomatic functions and in their efforts to assist wherever they can the pursuit of British commercial and personal interests.
123 The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, asked me a question about Rhodesia. He will realise that we do not wish to debate tins matter to-night because we shall be doing so next week, but I can certainly give him the assurance for which he asked: that any settlement will be in accordance with the Five Principles (or the Six Principles, if he prefers it that way) because we believe that only such a settlement can be in the interests of all the Rhodesians. I should like to give him that assurance to-night. I might also mention West Africa, because I think that the House would like to join with me in congratulating the Nigerian Government on their tremendous recovery since the end of the civil war. This, I think, is something which is sometimes overlooked. I should also like to say that we are in close touch with the Government of Ghana at the moment about the' difficult economic problems in that country; and, as my honourable friend said in another place on October 21, Her Majesty's Government have agreed to write off the out-standing balance of the purchase price of a frigate which was ordered by the previous Administration in 1966. This is just one facet of the way in which we are trying to help the Ghanaians with their difficult economic problems.
The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, asked me a question, which I can answer, about Mr. Cabral. As he said—quite rightly—he realises why it was difficult for a meeting to take place between Mr. Cabral and members of the Government, but Mr. Cabral was allowed into this country under the normal practice, and he exercised his right to free speech while he was here. I think it is well known what his organisation stands for. I have no doubt that the Press reports have been read by the Portuguese authorities. Two or three noble Lords, particularly Lord Brockway and the right reverend Prelate, mentioned the case of the Dean of Johannesburg. I can understand and share the strong feelings which have been expressed about this; but I do not think that I should comment at the moment, because I understand that the Judge has given the Dean leave to appeal, and I understand that there is reason to suppose that this is 124 what he will do. Therefore I think we should leave that matter as it is.
My Lords, I am afraid that this has been a very sketchy and rather grass-hopper-like speech, dodging from one area of the world to another. To conclude, it seems to me that we are still faced in the world by what one might almost call a great many tribal tensions. I am speaking in a wider sense. I am thinking not only of Africa or the Far East but nearer at home in Europe and Northern Ireland, and I believe that this is something that we shall have to learn to live with and to do our best to eradicate. Last year in my speech I remember saying that stability in the world was the aim of Her Majesty's Government in order to enable mankind to fulfil its proper destiny. That remains Her Majesty's Government's aim and we shall endeavour to pursue it with our full power.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, is the noble Marquess, in a review of foreign affairs, going to say nothing of the war which is now taking place in Vietnam? in particular, would he make some statement about the allegation that in the Paris talks the representatives of Hanoi and South Vietnam have offered private talks for negotiations and that this has been refused by the American representatives?
§ THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN
My Lords, I cannot give the noble Lord a categorical answer to that last point although I will certainly write to him about it. I did not touch on the war in Vietnam, not because I do not think it is of grave consequence and importance but because I was trying to cut my speech a little short in the hope, perhaps optimistic, that your Lordships did not want to remain here too long this evening.
§ LORD MOWBRAY AND STOURTON
My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend the Lord Privy Seal I beg to move that this debate be adjourned until to-morrow.
§ Moved, That the debate be adjourned until to-morrow.—(Lord Mowbray and Stourton.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned accordingly until to-morrow.