§ 3.4 p.m.
§ Lord Home of the Hirsel rose to call attention to the desire of Britain and other Western democracies to seek better relations with the Soviet Union and the obstacles which continuing Soviet exploitation of 1013 economic and social problems in developing countries and intervention in the internal affairs of other countries have placed in the way of attaining this objective; and to move for Papers.
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. Your Lordships will be aware that my noble friend Lady Young is unable to take part in this debate because she has gone to the funeral of the President-elect of Brazil. I am sure that the House would like to take this opportunity to send condolences to the Brazilian people on the loss of a statesman on whom so many hopes were founded. We wish them happier times in the future.
§ I placed this Motion on the Order Paper to coincide with the early statements at the resumed negotiations between the Soviet Union and the United States at Geneva with three purposes in mind: the first was to give timely expression to the desire, shared in all parts of the House, to join the Russian leaders in the constructive business of peace-making; the second was to analyse the reasons why, during 40 years or so, relations between the Western democracies and the Soviet Union have at best been at arm's length and at worst sterile; and the third was to ask whether we can reasonably anticipate from Russia's new leaders the modification of that communist ideology which has so far included, as part of Russian foreign policy, subversion and on occasions military force in support of an external political aim.
§ I do not intend to allow myself to be diverted today, although my timing has been immaculate, by the expulsion of the Russian spies by the Foreign Secretary. The Russians will always spy. They will always try to use diplomatic cover. When they are caught, as they always will be, they will be realistic and will inflict upon this country the minimum retaliation. In my opinion, the incident will have no effect whatever on Russian relations with this country. I recall that some time ago I sacked rather more spies than the Foreign Secretary has done. I was amused to find three years later that one of the gentlemen that I sacked from here was being sacked by President Tito of Yugoslavia for exactly the same thing. I am afraid that this kind of incident is one that we have to endure every now and again; but we shall get through it without much harm.
§ Therefore, I want to begin by asking whether there is anything more that the Western democracies can do to carry conviction in the Kremlin that we understand their preoccupation with the physical security of the Soviet Union within her own borders. Clearly, wherever the fault may lie, the alliance in the last war has not been enough to persuade her that we mean what we say when we say that we want closer relations.
§ What have the democracies already done? We have signed our name and have adhered to that clause in the United Nations Charter which forbids interference by one country in the internal affairs of another. We regard that provision as the linchpin of international order, and there can be no real peace unless that is observed. It follows therefore that we respect the right of the Russian people to choose their own way of life and to choose their own form of government. That is why we have joined with our NATO partners and our 1014 European partners in a declaration that we shall never countenance any aggression against the Soviet Union with any armed force or with any weapons of any kind, nor against any of the independent countries of Eastern Europe which are members of the Warsaw Pact. Germany, about which the Russians have constantly expressed fears, is equally bound by that NATO pledge. Of course, if NATO were to be first attacked, the Alliance would defend itself with such weapons as might be necessary to repel that aggression. But that is no more and no less than the Russians ask for the Warsaw Pact. If the Russian leaders are dissatisfied with the guarantees for their security which have already been given by the NATO allies, let them table a proposal and it will be considered with every desire to remove their anxieties.
§ Another fear which has so far adversely affected the prospects of any disarmament agreement is the one that has led the Russians to reject out of hand any formula for the verification on the ground of disarmament pledges given. I shall return to that matter shortly because it is central to the confidence in any disarmament treaty. But I hope that the Russians will now be ready to study very closely the most modern techniques which can be used to facilitate verification—there have been very considerable changes in recent years—and in particular that they will explore the field of opportunities offered by reciprocal undertakings. In my view they could well remove some of the traditional fears and objections that the Russians have held and could hold the key to progress on balanced disarmament and on arms control.
§ The place for such matters to be canvassed and discussed and decided is the conference table at Geneva. That is where Mr. Gorbachev's proposals for nuclear freeze ought to have gone; that is where the United States strategic defence initiative commonly called star wars ought to go. On that matter, because we have debated it lately, I offer just one or two reflections. Both the United States and the Soviet Union are engaged on the same search for a defensive shield aginst offensive missiles. Both will continue the research. On the most optimistic forecast there is a very long way to go before the technological breakthrough will allow deployment of hardware in space. Before then the Americans and the Russians are bound by treaty to consult and negotiate about the future. My plea is that the discussions and studies should start now on the data available and continue until the question of a defensive capacity is proved or disproved. If ever there was a mutual interest between the United States and Russia I should have thought that that was it.
I derive some encouragement from a paragraph in a document on the strategic defence initiative for which the President of the United States has lately made himself responsible. I think your Lordships will probably have seen it, but a paragraph reads:
Deployments of defensive weapons would most usefully be done in the context of a co-operative, equitable and verifiable arms control environment that regulates the offensive and defensive developments and deployments of the United States and of the Soviet Union".
Such an environment could be particularly useful in the period of transition".
§ Let that period of transition start now. The more the 1015 negotiators immerse themselves in the technicalities of such an examination, the earlier they will recognise that the real foundation for mutual security rests not on any technology but on the political will to co-exist.
§ That brings me to the second part of my Motion. Why for so long have the relations between the Soviet Union and the democracies been so cold and barren? To answer that question will require some plain speaking, but in my dealings with the Russian leaders I have always found that that is better so. Anyhow, it is necessary now because unless the new leadership of the Soviet Union is told plainly of the difficulties in which they constantly place the democracies, we will simply repeat the confrontation, the friction and the frustrations of the past 40 years. None of us wants to see that.
§ I come straight to the heart of the matter. The only firm foundation for a relationship between one country and another on the international stage is the treaty and the readiness of the signatories of treaties to honour the obligations to which they have put their names. Over the years I helped to negotiate a number of such treaties with the Soviet Union and they had a real potential for reconciliation and for peace. I shall give your Lordships two illustrations. The first is the series of treaties aimed at the pacification of South-East Asia and the second is the Final Act of Helsinki, which was completed under the Government of the noble Lord, Lord Wilson of Rievaulx, and in which the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, took part.
§ After many months of work the form of those treaties was agreed; the substance of those treaties was agreed; the detailed machinery for implementing the terms of those treaties was agreed; the documents were signed with due ceremony and solemnity—only for all the prospect and promise to collapse because after a short interval the signatories, other than the Soviet Union, were compelled by the hard evidence to conclude that the deeds of the Soviet Union on the ground were in stark contradiction to the words to which they had pledged themselves in the treaty to honour.
§ The collapse of these three treaties therefore was nothing to do with technicalities. There is very little difficulty in coming to the terms of a treaty with the Soviet Union. It was due to basic breaches of faith leading to complete loss of trust. That is why in the past 30 years almost everything in this field has gone wrong. With that assessment, all the cosignatories—the Chinese, the French, the American, the Europeans and the Indians—would concur.
§ In the first case, South-East Asia, North Vietnam, encouraged by the Russians and heavily armed by the Russians, against the terms of those treaties, fermented civil strife in South Vietnam and Kampuchea, and the result was the Boat People. You might think, my Lords, that that was history. Was it not the case that only two months ago the North Vietnamese forces began to push hundreds of Kampuchean refugees over the border into Thailand? Thailand has hitherto been a peaceful country. Now her army is compelled to confront the forces of North Vietnam. That is how the domino theory works: South Vietnam, Kampuchea, Thailand; and who knows where else, because the Chinese are beginning themselves to become alerted.1016
§ In the intervals between those two treaties, the signatories, anxious to avoid accusing the Russians of bad faith, gave them in every case the benefit of the doubt, hoping that they would fulfil the terms of the treaty to which they were pledged. They used the interval to help North Vietnam to make permanent Communist gains. Over 30 years, therefore, and over three treaties I have personally seen the communists pursue relentlessly and pitilessly the social and economic destruction of the fabric of those Asian societies. If your Lordships have any doubt about the acute present dangers in that area, ask the Chinese. They are very alarmed that they themselves are now going to find themselves at war.
I turn nearer to home, to the Helsinki Final Act. In that Final Act, the Russian negotiators put their names to two pledges—the first with respect to human rights, and the second (I quote):
that they would refrain from any form of armed intervention against other participating states".
They then added this:
Russia would conduct their relations with other states in the spirit of the principles contained in the declaration".
§ Within two years, the Russian army and air force were in Afghanistan.
§ Some held that even then, at that time, the Soviets were providing themselves with reasonable words to cover the invasion of Afghanistan. Whether or not that be so, on any count that was a breach of faith and trust with those with whom they had signed the Helsinki Act of Accord. Your Lordships might think that that invasion is history were it not for the fact that the pattern in South-East Asia is being repeated, because the Russians have pushed out with their own forces 4 million refugees who have been forced into Pakistan. That is how the domino theory works.
§ Recently the Commission for Human Rights in Geneva has condemned Russian breaches of human rights, and I quote, "as flagrant and massive". Coming from them, that is quite something. They have required the withdrawal of Russian troops. I bring this matter up at this moment because the Helsinki conference reconvenes in August. It will be necessary to tell the new Russian leaders in advance that unless they conform to the findings of the commission, it will be impossible to come to a formula to cover up or condone their actions in Afghanistan. They ought to understand that now in order that they may have a chance to modify their foreign policy. It is devoutly to be hoped that before August and before Mr. Gorbachev goes to the United Nations in September, as I understand he may do, the Russian leaders will recognise the untold damage to Russia's reputation which follows such actions against the poor, defenceless countries of the third world. It is not much comfort to countries which have thrown off the yoke of colonialism to find themselves in thrall to the one-party Marxist government in Africa and Asia today.
§ The words I have used so far have been spoken in the past or present, and deliberately so because the Russian leaders are new. Therefore I want to ask the question, and examine it for one moment, whether we can expect any modification of policy of the past in favour of more co-existence and co-operation.1017
§ Lord Jenkins of Putney
My Lords, before the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, leaves the past, may—
§ Lord Jenkins of Putney
My Lords, the noble Lord has given way, and I am most grateful to him. I want just to say this: before he leaves the past and goes on to the future will the noble Lord accept that although he had necessarily to make his resumé of that history somewhat concise, he did so to such an extent as to present to some of us a falsification of the facts?
Lord Home of the Hirsel
My Lords, I think that is, with respect, an intervention which I can ignore.
Lord Home of the Hirsel
My Lords, I have therefore spoken in the past and the present, but I want to ask the question as to whether we can expect improvement in the future. In the past we have been dealing with the prototype of a communist state, the ideology of which has permeated its foreign policy which aimed at the promotion of communism outside Russian borders, and was ready on occasion to use force at first or second hand to achieve a political end. Some argue that the idealism in the original communist conception was corrupted by Stalin in his crude ambitions for power and empire. There may be an element of truth in that diagnosis.
However, some years ago I asked Mr. Chou En-Lai to explain to me the working of the mind of the Russian communist in relation to Russian foreign policy and negotiations. His reply was interesting and informative. He said that Russian interpretation of communist ideology permitted them to subvert the society and institutions of another country even though they had a treaty of friendship and cooperation with that country. He said that the universality of communism was always the greater loyalty, and added that the Chinese found that inadmissible. The explanation by Mr. Chou En-Lai tallies very closely with Mr. Brezhnev's definition of detente:A state of continuing confrontation and struggle which may well need to be intensified"—a continuation of confrontation and struggle which may well need to be intensified. There in a nutshell is the dilemma of democracy. None of us can think like that; none of us can talk like that, while to a Russian negotiator there is nothing inconsistent at all in that attitude. The ideology comes first.
For the democracies, the question is always insistently posed: how, when the ideology of the fellow on the other side of the table insists that he encompasses the destruction of your way of life, is it possible to think and to talk in terms of trust? Basically, that is what all this is about. Inevitably in those circumstances as the Russians play the game it becomes a game of political chess in which stalemate is the very likely answer.
Is there a chance that Russia's new rulers will modify the application of that doctrine in relation to the foreign policy of Russia? It is possible. For 1018 example, they have had to adapt their military strategy to the fact that NATO has decided to retain sufficient strength to take all reward out of aggression. The Russians have had to take note of that. They will not, because the NATO Alliance is strong enough, attack.
If I may paraphrase public statements as I have heard them emerge from the Kremlin, the paraphrase would run something like this: military confrontation, no; struggle, yes. The first can be significant if it is translated into the hardware of disarmament. There are areas where balanced disarmament could clearly be mutually advantageous. But where negotiation is concerned, continuing struggle is inevitably inhibiting. Past experience will insist, for example, when dealing with disarmament which, after all, affects the life of nations and the security of the life of nations, that there be no room any more for ambiguity in the use of words, that every clause containing an obligation needs to be verified against the action on the ground.
These are elementary things on which, in the name of our own security, we have to insist. It will not be easy for people steeped in the ideology of communism to realise that in future their word is going to be taken as their bond. They have not, up till now, understood in the least what that would mean. As I said at the start, if international relations are going to be satisfying and are to be on any sort of enduring basis, they must rest on treaties honoured and on trust. Nothing less will do.
A number of noble Lords on all sides of the House are ready to give their views on these matters and for that I am very grateful. With that opening, I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.31 p.m.
§ Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos
My Lords, I join with the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, in sending our sympathies to the people of Brazil in their great loss.
We are all very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Home, for initiating this debate on so vital a subject and also for his opening speech, which set the scene for this important discussion. The noble Lord's Motion falls into two parts: first, the desire which most of us share for improved relations with the Soviet Union; and, secondly, the obstacles—the noble Lord dealt with many of them in his speech—which stand in the way of that objective. These matters have lain at the heart of our foreign policy since the war and the way they develop will decide whether peace is to become more secure or whether war is to become more likely.
We are also very conscious that the Geneva talks which began on 12th March reached the end of their first stage today; and I shall come to that a little later. I believe that there is a genuine desire in this country for a practical understanding with the Soviet Union, an understanding which will lead progressively to a more stable international order. However, this implies a realistic approach and eventually, we hope, the creation of a degree of confidence and the trust to which the noble Lord referred, which has not existed up till now. There is plenty of mistrust, plenty of suspicion and cynicism but very little confidence—the most important factor in securing peace. It is very hard to achieve it. It is very easy to create fear, but very hard to remove it, as history has shown.
1019 The noble Lord referred to the accession of Mr. Gorbachev to the Soviet leadership. It is, of course, a new and important element in the international situation. We are told, and no doubt we shall be reminded by speakers in this debate, that this will make no difference whatever and that the ideological war, with all its appurtenances, will be pursued as before. Yesterday The Times leader, a powerful leader, took that view very strongly. I am a little more optimistic than that. I cannot but think that an able and comparatively young leader from a different generation may in due course develop a new approach. One sentence in his address to the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Commons on 18th December gave some hope of this. He said:The Soviet Union needs to implement its huge development programmes".Everyone knows that what he said is true and that the Soviet Union has huge economic problems to resolve.
Commenting on Mr. Gorbachev's visit, Pravda said that,Mr. Gorbachev's visit [to the United Kingdom] moved the barometer of relations a little bit towards realism",and that it has also opened up trade links which,would make a major contribution towards the improvement of the overall climate of Soviet-British relations".We must certainly not forget the possibilities of trade. Of course, the move towards realism mentioned by Pravda applies to both sides.
Things are said and written by Soviet leaders which show that profound differences remain between us. There are many recent examples. For example, the late President Brezhnev said only a few years ago:The world outlook and class aims of socialism and capitalism are opposite and irreconcilable".He was dividing the world into two—them and us. I do not think that he would have been greatly moved by the mixed economy or by the welfare state, which we on this side support. If we are to be realistic, as the Russians themselves advocate, we need to be reminded of this from time to time. However, I think that Mr. Gorbachev is realistic and he will know that we in this country are deeply committed to our system of government.
That is the first lesson which must be learnt. To understand this they must forget about capitalism for a moment—it is a profoundly misleading word, anyway—and recognise that the economic policies of this country are not the law of the Medes and Persians (we have too many sudden changes for that), that we are a parliamentary democracy based on free elections, and that we are not going to abandon that system for anyone or anything. We wish Mr. Gorbachev every success in his enormous task. If he proceeds with the realism that Pravda detected, there is no reason why better relations should not be achieved between us.
Forty years have passed since VE Day and Yalta and the Western allies have accepted since then, as the noble Lord said, that force should not be resorted to in upsetting regimes that we do not particularly like. In Europe, since the lines were drawn, the Russians have observed the same ordinance. There have been strains and stresses, but on the whole peace in Europe has been preserved. Because the Soviet Union no more 1020 wants nuclear war than the rest of us it has not moved beyond the point where war becomes a real risk. The Soviet leaders, or some of them, have certainly accepted the possibility of what is called peaceful co-existence. That is clearly what we should all be working for. However, for it to become a reality both sides must play the game. The Charter of the United Nations must be observed and in the Security Council and other United Nations agencies East and West should be seen to be trying to work together to make the world a safer and better place. So far that has not happened. That, in itself, is a symptom of the lack of trust to which the noble Lord, Lord Home, referred.
Mr. Gorbachev may well be the Soviet leader for a very long time and we must not expect too much too soon. The noble Lord mentioned Helsinki, and he was right to do so. The one great question in our minds is whether Mr. Gorbachev will modify the Soviet attitude to human rights. This was the theme of the Foreign Secretary's recent visit to Eastern Europe. As August will be the tenth anniversary of the Helsinki Agreement it was right that Sir Geoffrey Howe should stress the importance we attach to it. I hope that the human rights provisions will not be fudged by either side and that under Mr. Gorbachev we shall see some real advances. Progress on this point and at Geneva will create a new atmosphere.
The noble Lord referred to Afghanistan. A new Soviet initiative here would also change attitudes. Whatever the arguments—and Afghanistan did not pose any threats to anyone—the fact is that the United Nations' report referred to by the noble Lord shows a grim picture of death, suffering and destruction on a huge scale, as well as one of the biggest refugee movements in history, estimated at about 4 million people, or one-third of the population of Afghanistan.
Let me say this. We know that the Soviet Union is apprehensive about its frontiers. It has always been apprehensive about its frontiers. Its history and the dreadful experiences of the last war, with its appalling losses, have made the Soviet Union suspicious. I shall never forget the impression made on me when, with a number of noble Lords and members of another place, I visited Russia a few years ago, and the impression we received when we visited Leningrad and the cemetery where 2 million people are buried. That effect on the people of Leningrad and of Russia remains in the strongest possible way in their minds and in their hearts. It has made them nervous and suspicious. That in itself is a big obstacle in the effort to create confidence, but we must also say in honesty that it is no excuse for the invasion of Afghanistan, and an initiative by Mr. Gorbachev to withdraw Russian troops in a phased withdrawal would be a great step towards reducing international tension.
If there is a weakness in the noble Lord's Motion it is that he has been fairly silent about the policies of the West. Your Lordships would think that the United States and the rest of us are as white as the driven snow. We know that that is not so and that mistakes are made which weaken our case when it comes to human rights. Intervention in other countries as well is an obstacle. It is a fact that the policies of our friend and ally, the United States, in Central America, especially in relation to Nicaragua, have weakened her position. Of course, we recognise her interest in the 1021 area; but her handling of the situation has undoubtedly laid her open to criticism. The involvement of the CIA on behalf of the Contras has been widely condemned in America itself as a deliberate action to bring down a popularly-elected government. The administration may not like that government, but on all the evidence it has wide popular support. Professor Jacobson, a leading Central American expert, said this in his evidence to Congress:Nicaragua may be Marxist-dominated and she may be inclined to authoritarianism but she is not yet a Soviet satellite".The obvious danger, feared by so many in America and by so many in the West, is that present policies will in fact push Nicaragua into the arms of the Soviets and end up by making her a satellite.
There are those who argue that it is better to support Right-wing dictators than risk communist totalitarianism and that there is no other choice. I have heard speeches along those lines made in your Lordships' House. Personally, I see little to choose between a Right-wing concentration camp and a Left-wing concentration camp. Mercifully, that is not the choice before us. If steps are taken in good time, friends can be made of potential enemies, as this country knows from its own experience. If we cease to believe that, then Heaven help us!
The Sandinistas and the Contras represent an aspect of the problem which faces the West, and we must hope that the current argument proceeding in Washington will result in some constructive solution which will lead to stability in Central America. The Government has indicated support for the Contadora group, and perhaps when the Minister winds up he will tell us how they fared at the meeting in Panama on 12th and 13th April.
The noble Lord's Motion also refers to "intervention in the internal affairs of other countries". We know that this goes on to a greater or lesser degree on both sides, save that it is a good deal easier to try in the West on the whole than in the East. On the security side, we have, as the noble Lord said, had experience of this again in the past few days. Like him, I do not propose to deal with it in any detail. It is safe to hope that this incident is not going to interfere with the broader objectives. We know that there are some people in this country who would like to change the system and do away with parliamentary democracy, who perhaps prefer a one-party state or an authoritarian regime. They exist on both sides of the political spectrum, and they work hard to obtain positions of influence in key organisations. They did this before the war, as we well recall.
In my view, it is important that we should know who they are and that we should deal with their arguments. Perhaps we should be more positive and active in explaining the merits or, even more, the goodness of our own system. We should have more faith in our own system. This is a free country, and the extreme Right and the extreme Left enjoy privileges here which they would certainly not enjoy in the countries they purport to admire. But we must not become too obsessed with this subject. The instincts of the British people on the whole are sound, and at the end of the day they show this when they come to voting in general elections.
1022 I now end with two points: the Geneva disarmament talks and the possibility of a summit meeting. The first stage of the disarmament talks ends today, and we would appreciate some comment from the Minister upon their progress. Apart from preliminary proposals, we know that not a great deal was expected at this stage. The propaganda which has grown in the course of the past few weeks has not been helpful. We had the Russian proposal for a freeze of SS.20s until November and the American response claiming that Russia has begun to test SSX.28s. In addition to that, the strategic defence initiative has dominated the scene. One really does have the feeling that a little quiet talking would be much appreciated. I understand that certain aspects of the Russian proposals have been kept confidential. If that is true, then I am very glad of it. Without giving any details, perhaps the noble Lord can confirm whether or not this is the case, and whether there may be progress of which we are not aware in this direction. There will now be a break of about five weeks before the talks recommence during which both sides will be able to make an assessment of the position. I agree with Lord Home's remarks, about the new techniques of verification, which should be a matter of careful discussion—and quiet discussion, if I may say so—in the talks at Geneva.
The final point that I have to make is very relevant to this question of disarmament. That is, the meeting between Mr. Gorbachev and President Reagan which now seems likely when Mr. Gorbachev attends the United Nations General Assembly in the autumn. One swallow does not make a summer; but the meeting could be a start and could lead to further and more constructive meetings. They could also influence the Geneva talks which, unless they do intervene, could drift on inconclusively for years. The leadership, especially in the Soviet Union, must show that it wants to make a move in the right direction. We all know what should be done. The expenditure of both the Soviet Union and the United States in particular—and the rest of us for that matter—on armaments when each could destroy the other several times over is wicked, especially when we consider the problems of world hunger in Ethiopia and the Sudan, the terrible problems of disease internationally in so many parts of the world, and the immense refugee problem which we recently debated in this House. We know that a reduction of 5 per cent. alone in armaments on both sides could help to go a long way towards resolving these tremendous problems. Perhaps that is too much to expect, but we can at least point the way and hope that a meeting between Mr. Gorbachev and President Reagan will produce some goodwill and create the confidence and trust which, unhappily, does not exist at the present time. We must hope that sanity and common sense will at the end of the day prevail.
§ 3.49 p.m.
§ Lord Gladwyn
My Lords, I find myself in considerable agreement with a great deal of what the noble Lord, Lord Home, said in moving the Motion which so happily stands in his name today. That is especially so about what he said on arms limitation and in a general way about the desirability of our standing up in the West for our ideals and our policies in what I am afraid is still a kind of continuing cold war, which, in spite of all our efforts, unhappily divides 1023 the East and the West at the present time. With your Lordships' permission, however, I should myself prefer to limit my rather brief remarks to a consideration of the background to the whole problem which confronts us today.
It is commonly said, and it is doubtless true, that our relations with the Soviet Union can never be good in the sense of being in any way normal, if only because of the fact that the Soviet Government officially adheres to the Marxist-Leninist doctrine that any free market, capitalist or even social democratic system is doomed and must inevitably be replaced, as a result of a class war, by some kind of totalitarian system, favoured and encouraged to the limits of prudence and opportunity by the Soviet Union itself.
Though that is true, must we believe that such an intransigent doctrine as that is genuinely held by the leaders of the Soviet Union and that it consistently and alone inspires their foreign policy? After all, the reports that we get are that communism is no longer regarded as a tenable philosophy by the vast majority of Russians, more particularly in the younger generation. On the contrary, all the evidence is that they put up with an oligarchic tyranny partly because they have never known anything else and partly because, I fear, that it is, so to speak, in the Russian character to regard a strong and ruthless authoritarian rule as something acceptable in the nature of things. If we do not therefore believe that Marx-Leninism is solely responsible for the actions of the Politburo, why do they behave as if it were?
The answer, I think, is partly nationalist pride and partly fear. The Russians, though greatly influenced by the West over the centuries, have, with a few exceptions, never liked it or felt themselves to be part of it. Look at Solzhenitsyn or Stalin's daughter. They seem to feel that there is something decadent or corrupt about Western society—genuinely, I think—which must result in its ultimate collapse. That is probably what they mean when they talk about the "contradictions" in the Western way of life. That is the subconscious feeling, I think, of a good many Russians. However backward in many ways, "Holy Russia" must somehow be destined to lead humanity on to better things.
At the same time they undoubtedly fear the West, which was a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn; and with good reason. First the Swedes, then the French and twice the Germans—all three accompanied by many European allies—invaded the famous "Rodina", as they call it, on the last occasion occupying most of it, almost succeeding in imposing an alien way of life and killing about 20 million Russians in the process. It is perfectly true that all Western invasions of Russia have in their turn been, to a greater or lesser extent, due to a desire to halt and reverse what was seen as a constant Russian urge to dominate Russia's immediate neighbours—Caucasian, Turkish, Eastern European or Central Asian. But I doubt whether many Russians of any political persuasion would look at it in that way, especially since the West now centres round the immense power of the United States.
They therefore try to take advantage of any weaknesses that they perceive in our system. And, it is 1024 not, after all, as if there were no motes in our own eye. I think that point was also made by the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn. If we reproach them for their disregard of elementary human rights—and the Foreign Secretary has recently very properly, if only indirectly, been doing that—they can point to our vast unemployment, our inner city miseries and violence and our often rather neglected poor. I am told, for instance, that there are no fewer than 30 million Americans now living well below the poverty line.
If we condemn their invasion of Afghanistan, they can reply, however unjustifiably, with Vietnam and possibly one day with some military action in Latin America. In other words, they will seek in such ways to justify their apallingly inefficient system because they fear the results if they do not. It must surely be at least one of our objectives to reduce such fear, if we can, without in any way prejudicing our position. It is not in any case as if threats will succeed in loosening the military hold which they exercise over their unfortunate satellites in Eastern Europe; very much the reverse.
The present parlous condition of the so-called third world, more especially in Africa and South America, is a case in point. It may be that even the Russian leaders no longer have much confidence that the installation of a communist "Marx-Leninist" system in those countries would be to the general, or even to their own, advantage. One has only to see what has actually happened in the countries in which that experiment has been carried out, such as Ethiopia, Vietnam, Southern Yemen, Cambodia, Angola, Mozambique, Guinea or even Tanzania in a way. Cuba, which has admittedly progressed in some ways from a social point of view, is hardly an exception since it is kept afloat by enormous Soviet subsidies and has in addition a very low standard of living. Libya, of course, for its part disposes of enormous oil monies.
However, the simple fact that the mass of the people in many of the developing countries—perhaps chiefly owing to over-population—are pretty desperate makes dangerous unrest very probable unless steps somehow are taken to improve their lot. Thus the mirage of communism still makes an appeal, rightly or wrongly, the Soviet Union, however absurdly, often being regarded as a friend in need. It is obvious that the Russians will take advantage of that if they can. After Vietnam they chanced their arm to a considerable extent but also got into some difficulties. Now I believe that they are, in spite of what the noble Lord, Lord Home, said, rather on the defensive and will no doubt be more cautious, though their prospects of profiting from any real disorders will naturally remain.
What should we do? We are faced with a dilemma. Do we automatically take the side of what I might perhaps call the "contras" in any future disturbances in the third world, whether or not we suspect these of having been fomented partly by the Soviet Union; or do we rather try first of all to prevent such situations from arising by intelligent trade and aid policies, and, failing that, try to leave the contestants to fight it out among themselves? Are there in any case, and whatever view one may take on the issue, certain things which the West ought to do, if only in our own interests?
1025 Surely the first thing is clearly to put our own house in order so as, if possible, to prevent anarchy from prevailing in the third world, resulting in some general repudiation of debts and consequently increased economic distress both in the debtor countries and in the lender lands themselves, from which only the Soviet Union can possibly benefit. No doubt, what with over-population and over-lending following the oil embargo of 1973, a completely reasonable solution of this world problem is not now possible. But always supposing that the rich countries of the West were prepared to face a certain drop in their standard of living, funds could, in theory, be accumulated which, if properly disposed of, could result in an increase in trade with the poorer states, and thus possibly both avert or diminish the spread of unrest and result in an easing of the burden of indebtedness.
Our last debate on that important subject did indeed demonstrate, I think, that much aid has in the past been wasted; but that does not mean that real sacrifices on the part of the richer countries are not necessary. For instance, if we just stopped making most of our sugar from our locally grown beet and imported cane sugar instead, there would be a tremendous improvement in North-South relations generally. What, however, I believe most people on this side of the Atlantic—and I think that I have here the support of the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn—would in any case hold to be misguided would be attempts to suppress dangerous unrest by physical or military means. It is true that circumstances may arise in which the United States may feel impelled to make such intervention in Central America. That does not look very likely at the moment, but it is always possible. I believe that some persons with snow on their boots have already been discovered lurking in the Nicaraguan jungle! If that should happen, there is obviously very little that we can do about it without endangering the alliance on which our whole future depends. The Russians could not do much about it, either.
However, it is surely unlikely that after Vietnam, any United States Administration, with the consent of Congress, would contemplate any such action elsewhere in the world, even if they should contemplate it there. This is one of the chief points I want to make. I hope, indeed, that most of your Lordships will agree that unrest in most underdeveloped countries is not primarily due to Soviet machinations, though this will certainly help, but it is chiefly an indigenous phenomenon resulting from intolerable conditions of existence which we must do our best, if we can, to relieve.
Of course we must always do our best to counter, and if possible render ineffective, all insidious efforts by the Soviet Government or their agents—and there are many—to encourage discontent in our own or any other countries and to undermine our democratic institutions, whether by direct propaganda or by penetration of such bodies as trade unions, so-called peace movements, or even certain universities and schools. I think that later in the debate my noble friend Lord Mayhew may make some remarks on this aspect, because he is an expert on the subject.
We must also resist, to the limit of our power, any new offensives which the Soviet Government may 1026 encourage in South-East Asia or elsewhere. All I am suggesting is this. What I might call negative efforts in the direction of resisting Soviet machinations, however necessary, are less likely to be successful in the long run than positive efforts primarily designed to make our own system, either internally or in the free world as a whole, at least work more satisfactorily than it appears to be working at the present time.
The second major thing the West could do, and I believe must do unless we are going to run a fearful risk, is, pending disarmament, to bring our conventional defences up to a point at which they might reasonably be supposed to be capable of holding any conventional Soviet assault in Europe until such time as reinforcements could be expected to arrive. This would be on the assumption that for obvious reasons it would not be in the interests of either side to have first recourse to nuclear weapons. In order to obtain the money for such an obvious precaution there must also surely be a reduction in expenditure -on nuclear weapons, such as our own Trident programme, and notably an abandonment of the pursuit of nuclear superiority inescapably inherent in star wars—I repeat that: the pursuit of nuclear superiority inherent in star wars—and even in the determination to match the Soviet Union missile for missile. What on earth is the point of theoretical nuclear equality if one already has complete ability to wipe out the adversary, if necessary, on a second strike? It just does not make any sense.
Unfortunately, at the moment it looks as though neither of these basic moves on the part of the West—that is to say, in shorthand, Brandt and conventional re-armament—is very probable. Thus the danger is that the stresses and strains afflicting Western governments, together with a perceived military weakness on the conventional side, might one day tempt the Soviet Government, more especially in the event of failure at Geneva, to embark on some risky move. However, for the moment, what may we reasonably expect the Soviet Government to do under its new leadership? This is a point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel. Always assuming that without abandoning its principles (which I do not think it can do) it would, in its own interests, like to reduce tension and hence what might even be held to be a long-term danger to itself, what may it be expected to do?
I may be wrong, but I should expect Mr. Gorbachev, at least pending the outcome of negotiations at Geneva, to be pretty cautious about—to use the words of the Motion in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel—exploiting any economic or social problems that, always failing some initiative such as that I have described, I fear are only too likely to become acute in many developing countries. Soviet aid to Cuba continues to be a considerable strain on the Soviet economy, and though military aid to Ethiopia, South Yemen, Iraq, India and Angola, and possibly also Vietnam, though I am not quite certain whether they will go on giving arms to the Vietnamese, will no doubt be continued. It seems unlikely to be extended to cover other states. In fact, it seems almost impossible that it should be; almost certainly not in Latin America.
1027 Even in Afghanistan we may perhaps expect an effort to come to terms with the Mujaheddin (or some of them) on condition, conceivably, that they no longer receive arms from the West. Perhaps; but I fear that the chances are that the Soviet occupation there will remain a dangerous irritant in East-West relations for many years to come. The only consolation, if consolation it be, is that Russian experience in Afghanistan may dissuade the Soviet Government from embarking on similar adventures anywhere else in the world.
What, then, is the general moral which we should draw? Surely it is that, while we cannot expect to have normal or friendly relations with Russia under Soviet leadership, we can, if we are sensible, at least expect to be able to live with her. By "sensible", I mean that we—and by "we" I mean the whole Atlantic group—must reinforce our own position, both economic and strategic—I repeat, both economic and strategic—in the world, without ever giving the Russians the impression that we aim to place them in such a position of inferiority that they will eventually either have to promote a confrontation or submit to some kind of Western cultural domination. We must never give that impression.
Will they ever abandon or modify their disastrous totalitarian principles and go in for a limited free market economy, as to some extent the Chinese now seem to be doing? I suppose that they will not do this for many years, though it looks as though their system is one day doomed to break down as being so inherently inefficient. However, a reversion to the new Economic Policy, or NEP, which flourished in the early 'twenties, and, as we know, allowed a certain amount of non-state trading, would indeed be a welcome portent. If, by any chance, it coincided with some modification of the existing economic system in the West, that would undoubtedly signal a change in the whole world political set-up. It would be a kind of reversal of values, an Umwertung aller Werte, of which Nietzche dreamt! We ourselves shall not live to see such a development, but perhaps the coming generation may.
§ 4.8 p.m.
§ Lord Trefgarne
My Lords, I should like to add my word of thanks to my noble friend Lord Home of the Hirsel for initiating this debate today. My noble friend has of course long experience in the highest offices of the land, including a distinguished record as Foreign Secretary. But he also has been specifically involved in East-West affairs. It was, for instance, in his time at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that the initial discussions leading up to the opening of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (the CSCE) took place. In his speech at the opening meeting in Helsinki my noble friend—though I am not sure that he was my noble friend then, because I think it was before he returned to your Lordships' House—in July 1973 said some words which are relevant to our debate today:good relations depend on trust. What has been so conspicuously lacking during recent European history has been mutual trust, faith in each other's intentions … What we seek is genuine, continuing and increasing co-operation as the normal condition of Europe's life in the future".1028 The Motion calls attention to the desire of the United Kingdom and other Western democracies for better relations with the Soviet Union. This is, indeed, an accurate reflection of the Government's policy, and I believe it is one which enjoys support from all parts of the political spectrum in this country. We are all only too painfully aware that woven into the fabric of relations between the West and the Soviet Union are questions affecting our security, the stability of our societies and ultimately the survival of the human race.
We cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that, whether we like it or not, the nuclear arsenals of the super powers are sufficient to blow us all to kingdom come. Thus, a great weight of responsibility rests upon the shoulders of the leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union. But it is a weight that we, as a member of the NATO Alliance, are proud to share.
Your Lordships will, of course, be conscious of the recent expulsion of five Soviet officials. I shall wish to return to this matter at the end of the debate. Questions of security, defence and arms control, however, cannot be allowed to become the only ingredients of what is a complex recipe.
In seeking better relations with the Soviet Union, the Governments of the West recognise this interrelationship. The basis on which we are seeking an improvement in relations was set out in the Harmel Report in 1967, which advocated a combination of sufficient strength plus dialogue. This was reiterated in different words by NATO Foreign Ministers in Washington last May which confirmed the continuing relevance of this philosophy to the 1980s.
On the Soviet side, there is a strong element of continuity. Policy develops slowly. We can only balance this effectively in the West if we, too, play a long game. We must be consistent. We must be patient but firm. We must, above all, be realistic. East-West relations cannot develop fast. It was one of the greatest misconceptions of the 1970s to believe, as some did, that the pace could be forced, that the rapid warming-up of relations would have a knock-on effect bringing about equally rapid changes within Eastern bloc societies and in the way policy was conducted by the Soviet Union. High expectations led to disappointments and disillusionment.
In the 1980s, we are more realistic. We do not have illusions about the Soviet Union, but at the same time we recognise that it is there to stay and that we must perforce have dealings with it if we are to carry out the responsibilities to which I referred earlier. The United Kingdom has indeed been active and vigorous in opening up a dialogue with the Soviet Union. Over the last year or so, we have had considerably more high-level contacts with the Soviet leadership than for many years past. We saw a brief visit by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister to Moscow for President Andropov's funeral; and again last month, for the funeral of President Chernenko. Indeed, it was the departure of our delegation to Moscow that led my noble friend graciously to propose that he might postpone his debate, for which we are most grateful to him. And there have been three meetings between my right honourable and learned friend the Foreign Secretary and Mr. Gromyko, including the first formal 1029 visit by a Foreign Secretary to Moscow for seven years, a successful joint economic and trade commission last summer, and, finally, the visit of Mr. Gorbachev last December.
High-level contacts like this are never going to change the world overnight. But they do create the opportunity for the fuller understanding which comes through personal contact. Mr. Gorbachev's visit gave an opportunity for parliamentarians as much as Ministers to make their views known. I believe this was of great benefit to both sides. We were given a full and clear acount of Soviet thinking at the highest level; and Mr. Gorbachev returned to Moscow with a wide range of impressions of this country and a sense of the variety which is the essence of our democratic tradition. This can only be of long-term benefit to East-West understanding.
But we should not be lulled into thinking that increases in contacts or deeper mutual understanding are going to change the nature of communism or of the underlying aim of Soviet policy. We must have no illusions in this respect. As my right honourable friend the Prime Minister pointed out in her speech to the United States Congress in February, Soviet policy is underpinned by a firm belief in the ultimate triumph of socialism. The Russians continue to make efforts in this direction. They do believe in the ultimate superiority of their political philosophy. Their evaluation is supported, in their minds, by a quasi-scientific theory according to which the wheel of history moves inexorably towards communism—a curious hypothesis because the evidence is, frankly, lacking. Nonetheless, their theoretical certainty about the future is part of the reality we must face in dealing with the Soviet Union. It is a reality which should make us take both pride in, and care for, our democratic traditions.
There are various ways in which the Soviet Union seeks to spread its ideas and to extend its influence; to give the wheel of history a shove in the right direction if it is proving recalcitrant. The Motion today has drawn attention to two of them.
In the third world, the Soviet Union has always sought to portray itself as the true friend and natural ally of developing countries. It has posed as a major world power untainted by Western colonialism, disclaiming all responsibility for the origin of the economic problems of the third world. This posture was never convincing, and is becoming more and more threadbare with the passing of the years.
The Soviet Union has indeed succeeded in gaining numbers of footholds in the third world, in winning influence above all through the provision of arms and the tools of oppression. But as the developing countries have achieved stability and face the real world, aid based on armaments has seemed increasingly irrelevant to their needs. Napoleon said that an army could not sit on its bayonets. Neither, of course, can it eat them. The help which the third world so desperately needs—aid to build infrastructure, to build their economies, to supply their markets—is barely forthcoming from the Soviet Union to any but half a dozen client states who pay for the honour by the strictest subservience to Soviet policy and Marxist-Leninist theory.
1030 The Kremlin's record of economic aid to the majority of the third world is bleak. In 1983, for instance, apart from the half dozen closest allies of the Soviet Union, the rest of the third world actually repaid more to the Soviet Union as debt repayments than they received in aid. So it is not surprising that in the 1980s we have increasingly seen developing countries turning to the West. Significantly the latest country to sign the Lomé Convention is Mozambique; and we hope that Angola will shortly join her. It has been in southern Africa that we have seen most clearly the limits of what the Soviet Union can offer. Provided the West can continue to offer trade and aid on advantageous terms, I believe that this trend will continue. Instability in the third world may continue to offer opportunities to the Russians. But ultimately it will be new prosperity that will help to counter instability, not weapons or, even less, Marxist ideology.
The Motion also points to the problem of Soviet intervention in others' affairs. The Soviet Union, of course, protests vigorously and frequently about the interference of others in its internal affairs. However, when one examines the Soviet record in Eastern Europe and, for the last five years, in Afghanistan, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that double standards are being applied.
Of course, the Soviet Union does have legitimate security interests, and these are recognised and respected by the West. But this cannot be accepted as ranging so far as to allow it free rein to dictate the policies and alignments of other independent countries. The whole history of its Afghan involvement is nothing more than blatant latter-day colonialism tainted with lies and misrepresentation: and the Afghan people have made clear their view of the present situation by voting—to use a phrase coined, oddly enough, by Lenin—with their feet. Nearly a quarter of that unfortunate country's population lives outside its borders.
The Soviet Union is also an assidious propagandist. It puts across its view of the world in unbelievable profusion. For example, it broadcasts for 2,168 hours in 81 languages every week. And a sizeable portion of its national wealth is dedicated to this purpose. There is, of course, no objection to any government putting their views across on the airwaves. To a greater, or mainly lesser, extent we all do it. But in the Soviet case, desire to put over its own case is accompanied by an equal desire not to let the greater mass of its own population hear any of the counter-arguments. It is only those who can understand English, and therefore the BBC World Service, who can hear British views from the horse's mouth. As to the Russian Service of the BBC, this has been more or less continuously jammed. Ironically, it is calculated that it must cost more to jam the reception of this service in parts of the Soviet Union than it does to run the whole BBC External Services. The only jamming device needed in the West against the blandishments of Moscow Radio is the on/off switch.
We deplore this jamming of Western broadcasts by the Soviet Union, and we look forward to the day when there is a greater sense of self-confidence to allow a more open and therefore better informed debate in that country.
1031 There is no objection to Radio Moscow beaming as many broadcasts as are allowed by the relevant international conventions at the West. That is propaganda, but it comes clearly labelled and packaged as such. What is more dubious, and potentially more dangerous, is the funding and encouragement by the Russians of organisations operating in the West which purport to be independent but which are in reality thinly disguised instruments of Soviet foreign policy. The most senior of the international communist front organisations is the World Peace Council but there are many others; and I may touch on some of these in my concluding remarks.
Provided that we are aware of what is going on, I do not believe that these front organisations represent a threat with which the democratic West with its open societies and its free debates cannot cope. Our press are always on the lookout to spot a budding front organisation and a number of papers have a commendable record in bringing their activities and the realities behind them into the public gaze. On occasion the Government themselves step in to ensure that their activities are not given free rein and that this country does not become the unwitting host to major Soviet propaganda jamborees. We have already this year refused visas to senior members of the World Peace Council and the World Federation of Trade Unions. And of course debates of the kind initiated by my noble friend today can play their part in drawing public attention to these issues.
All these factors which I have mentioned form the realities which are part of our dealings with the Soviet Union. I believe it would be naive to expect early or significant changes. And your Lordships have too long an experience of these matters to expect otherwise yourselves.
In the end, we come back to the essentials. We live on one planet with those to whom we are ideologically opposed. But we share a common interest with all fellow inhabitants of this planet in ensuring its survival. There are ties of interreliance between East and West which will only become stronger as we move into an era of faster moving communications and technology. We therefore have real interests in better relations with the Soviet Union that are deeper than the simple Elysian hope of a better world. We cannot afford misunderstandings in a nuclear age. And in order to prevent them we need more frequent communication and the greater understanding of each other's positions—however different they may be. A sustained dialogue based on realism and a dispassionate assessment of mutual interests can and should play its part in fostering this. And it is in this spirit that the Government will continue their efforts, in partnership with their allies and the Ten, to seek a better relationship between East and West.
§ Baroness Gaitskell
My Lords, may I ask the Minister why he has adopted such a hostile attitude towards Russia? He is perhaps too young to remember that there was a time in fairly recent years when we were both allies. I had a Russian cousin who fought and died for this country. Therefore, I know a little about it. Why was the noble Lord so hostile? What have they done to us that we have not done to them?
§ Lord Trefgarne
My Lords, I can only say to the noble Baroness that I have to take the world as I find it and not as I would wish it to be.
§ 4.25 p.m.
The Lord Bishop of Rochester
My Lords, in her gracious Speech from the Throne at the beginning of this Session of Parliament, Her Majesty the Queen said:With the allies of the United Kingdom, my Government will contribute to arms control and disarmament negotiations and will work for the resumption of negotiations where these have been broken off. They will work continually for a greater atmosphere of trust between East and West".—[Official Report, 6/11/84; col. 1.]In welcoming that pledge, I ventured to say in the debate on the Address that there was no more important sentence in the Speech, for it indicated that the Government were ready to take a global view. Moreover, as most of our present-day problems are global problems, they can only be tackled by effective and sustained international co-operation. I am grateful to the noble Minister for his reiteration of the Government's commitment to this policy in his speech this afternoon.
Today, we on these Benches very especially welcome the strong, positive affirmation in the Motion moved by the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, about:the desire of Britain and other western democracies to seek better relations with the Soviet Union".Reference has already been made in several speeches this afternoon to the new opportunities before us, at the present time, as a result of the recent change of the leadership of the Soviet Union. I believe that this behoves us to look very carefully at the language we use in the West when we talk about the peoples and nations of the East.
Dag Hammarskjold once said:Respect for the word—to employ it with scrupulous care and an incorruptible heartfelt love of truth is essential if there is to be any growth in a society or in the human race. To misuse the word is to show contempt for men. It undermines the bridges and poisons the wells".That means, I would suggest, that we must beware of false images of the enemy which can be a form of idolatory, and that we must also avoid inflated propagandist rhetoric which is a form of false witness as well as usually being futile.
The noble Lord, Lord Ramsey of Canterbury, once said, in addressing the East German head of state:To turn cold war into cold peace is not enough; we must move towards a warm peace".The Churches in East and West are concerned with warming up the peace by using their unique position to help in bridging the rift which threatens not only the quality of global life, but life itself. However, it is essential to remember, as the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury recently reminded the British Council of Churches:that unless a bridge is attached to both banks it is a pretty useless edifice".We can take heart, I believe, from the strength of the multilateral and bilateral links between the Churches of East and West and of their deeper awareness of their common Christian heritage. In 1988 the Russian Orthodox Church will be celebrating the millenium of 1033 the beginning of the conversion of Russia to Christianity. It is a matter of no surprise that they are making their plans in consultation with other Churches, for it is commonplace today for the Russian Church to work with other Churches, both in the World Council of Churches and in the European Council. At the same time there is a continuing dialogue in the theological discussions between the Anglican and the Orthodox Churches, as well as in the Lutheran World Federation and the Baptist World Alliance.
The promotion of greater understanding is integral to Christian ministry, but there is no quick and easy road to success. Even partial reconciliation is inevitably a costly process calling for patience and what the Bible calls "long suffering". The British Council of Churches experienced this recently in the course of a debate on a statement entitled, On Building Bridges in a Threatened World. Eventually the council reaffirmed its commitment to the human rights programme and to the deepening of trust between East and West. It also decided to invite the World Council of Churches to discuss questions affecting human rights in both East and West. I am glad to say that that invitation has been accepted.
Like the United Nations, founded 40 years ago in 1945, the World Council of Churches was formally inaugurated in 1948, after having been in the process of formation for nearly ten years. It so happens that the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack, the Lord Chancellor, and I were both among the 20 delegates of the Church of England at the First Assembly of the Council in Amsterdam 37 years ago. He will remember, as I do most vividly, that the World Council was far less representative of Christendom than it is today, for now the Russian Orthodox Church is in full membership and the Roman Catholic Church is associated informally in many areas of study and of humanitarian service. If the council betrays some of the weaknesses that are also apparent in a much more representative United Nations, its strength lies in providing a continuing forum where East and West may meet. That may yet prove to be of inestimable value both for world peace and for the reunion of Christendom.
The veteran diplomat and churchman, Sir John Lawrence, estimates in his book called The Soviet State, which Chatham House published last year, that about half of the 270 million people in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics are religious believers. That is a higher proportion of people practising their religion than in this country.
The Keston College Journal, Religion in Communist Lands, has recorded the pilgrimages of several young Russians who grew up in atheist families and who, from Marxist convictions, have slowly found their way to Christianity. One of them wrote to a friend in 1976 saying:Russian culture today, while pushing its way out from under the rubble of terror, lies and delusions, has given birth to an intellectual ferment, which neither we nor the world expected".If we in the West desire better relations with the Eastern nations we must, I believe, keep ourselves informed of such an intellectual ferment and of the considerable number of Jews and Moslems, as well as 1034 Christians, who are professing their faith in Russia today.
I believe that we must also do all that we can to maintain personal contacts and to promote cultural exchange at all levels. I accept what the Minister says about the long-term value of such exchanges affecting the internal policy of the Soviet Union, but if we are concerned with improvement in relations this surely must be an important part of our policy. I believe this includes increased support for the British Council and for the BBC's Foreign Service.
In January 1983 an interdenominational delegation from Russia visited the British Isles, and a return visit is being planned. Meanwhile, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bath and Wells recently represented the Archbishop of Canterbury at a multi-faith conference on "Peace and the Sacred Gift of Life" organised by the Russian Churches in Moscow. He has recounted elsewhere (and I hope he will allow me to quote) how, on the second day of the conference, he found himself compelled to challenge a Soviet scientist who had been brought in to deliver a blanket tirade against the West. After what he called "an electric silence", the chairman agreed that he would arrange for the other viewpoint to be heard, which it duly was the next day from an American Lutheran bishop. That was a real beginning of the evenhandedness which is the necessary prequisite to the true dialogue of which the Minister spoke in his speech.
Those of us who were born during the first world war and who lived through the second have now lived more than half our lives in the subsequent 40 years during which the United Nations and its agencies have begun their slow growth and service to the world community. I hope that we in this House will have another opportunity when we can reflect upon that experience and express our hopes for the United Nations as well as our anxieties for its future. I say this because Her Majesty's Government are pledged to play a constructive role at the United Nations. It could well be that it will be in that context, rather than in so-called summit meetings, that our desire to seek better relations with the Soviet Union and to overcome the obstacles that have been placed in the way of obtaining that objective will best be furthered.
I should like to end by quoting from a stimulating statement of the Aspen Institute International Group on Managing East-West Conflict, with which leading members of all political parties are associated. It concludes with these words:We must be guided by an historical perspective and we must be prepared to pursue our objectives over a lengthy span. Our strategy of sustained engagement should be tested against events but not altered by every circumstance. It must be animated by a profound conviction that human beings can do what has to be done and by a spirit of co-operation in approaching these difficult problems".I believe that to be a positive and forward-looking approach to this complex question of East-West relations. None of us on these Benches would wish to underestimate the difficulties or the dangers. Nor, as the 40th anniversary of D-day approaches, would we wish to forget the immense sacrifice made in the Second World War by those in both East and West, as we were reminded just now, nor the patient and continuing pilgrimage since 1945 towards that peace 1035 and justice for which we pray each time that this House meets, when (as your Lordships will remember) we ask Him,by whom alone Kings reign and Princes decree justice, and from whom alone cometh all wisdom and understanding … that He will send down his heavenly wisdom to direct and guide us in all our consultations".
§ 4.41 p.m.
§ Lord Orr-Ewing
My Lords, I would like to add my thanks for the wisdom and statesmanship with which the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, introduced this debate. In the interests or brevity, I shall not take up the various points which the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester has made, and I rather hope that my noble friend Lord Lauderdale will deal with them later in the discussion. We all hope, of course, that the disarmament talks between the United States and the Soviet Union will bring an arms control agreement with firm verification. We continue with this hope despite the fact that every past agreement, particularly Helsinki, has been broken, rebroken and broken again. We must and will persist in the hope that a new regime in Moscow may emerge which will see the advantages of reducing their enormous arms expenditure and improving the standard of living of their people.
Perhaps the message to Russia from this debate is: "Your sincerity would be less suspect if you stopped training people from the free world to create dissent in their own countries and to destroy their own institutions". Perhaps the message for Britons is: "Study the form of those who seek your votes, whether they be in local government, parliamentary government, institutions or in the trade unions". I would add a regret that the noble Lord, Lord Chapple, who had hoped to take part in this debate and who has great knowledge of trade union elections and the way they go, unfortunately was struck down by the current virus 'flu and went to bed this morning. We also shall miss in this debate the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, who has had the same 'flu and went to hospital this morning. He would certainly have added spice and knowledge to the discussion.
The Soviets work through 13 international front organisations. Each one of these has a host of subunits, sometimes hundreds of sub-units, scattered all over the world. I will take the words of the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, who in his opening speech said, "We should know who they are". So I shall briefly list these 13 organisations. I think that they need to be more widely known. They are: the World Federation of Trades Unions; the World Peace Council, which itself has 140 national branches; the World Federation of Democratic Youth, based in Budapest; the International Union of Students; the International Association of Democratic Lawyers; the Women's International Democratic Federation—and your Lordships will notice that they try to bring the word "democratic" into every title; the Afro—Asian People's Solidarity Association; the International Organisation of Journalists; the International Federation of Resistance Fighters; the World Federation of Scientific Workers; the International Institute for Peace, which is founded as a front for the World Peace Council; the Christian Peace Conference; and, lastly, the International Radio and TV Organisation.
1036 Each one of these spawns dozens of others, which contrive in different ways—some direct, some highly indirect and some so obscurely connected that they fool many worthy and honourable folk. All these 13 are Soviet inspired and Soviet subsidised. In 1979 the US Government estimated that the Soviets spent overseas 63 million dollars on international organisations of this type—45 million dollars of which, incidentally, was spent on peace organisations. That sum is now considerably higher. Until 1973, the Labour Party compiled a proscribed list. I think that that did the whole nation a lot of good. It is a pity that the front organisations are now much less well known than they were in 1973. Its abolition under Left-wing pressure was a sad day for all of us. I think it may have led to the giving of ground to the policies of the hard-Left, which is to the detriment of the great and traditional Labour Party which we have known in the past.
I now turn to the question of how you subvert people of different nations. The Soviets do it through instruction in training camps. The USSR gathers and trains students and trade unionists from all over the free world. Within the Soviet Union, the Central Committee of the Communist Party controls two institutions, The Lenin Institution and the Patrice Lumumba University, where instruction is given in all methods of psychological warfare and subversive use of the media, as well as Marxist-Leninist ideology. From there, the students move to training camps dotted around Russia: one in Vaku, one in Tashkent, one in Odessa and one in Simferopol in the Crimea. Other camps exist in Czechoslovakia, in Bulgaria, in Hungary and in East Germany. East Germany, because of its geographical position, has served as the link-up for the students once their basic courses are complete. There are others in countries such as Cuba, North Korea, Lebanon, South Yemen, Libya and Algeria. These are the camps where young people are trained in far more brutal forms of subversion, in terrorism and in assassination. The IRA get their training from these latter sources.
I now turn to the World Peace Council and its links. Until the Labour Party list of proscribed organisations was abolished, it was actually impossible even to be a member of the Labour Party if you belonged to the World Peace Council. How different it is today when the deputy leader of the Labour group in Europe, Mr. Alfred Lomas, MEP, is a WPC member. James Lamond, MP, is the British vice-president of the WPC and at least four other Labour MPs are members. The British end of the WPC is called the British Peace Assembly. Its secretary, Jean Pavett, is a communist with a long history of WPC activity and its president is Mr. Lamond, MP. Its monthly newsheet is edited by a holder of the Lenin Peace Prize, Mr. Gordon Schaffer. It consistently attacks NATO and the USA at every opportunity while accepting the Soviet initiatives in international affairs at face value.
One would have thought that the appeal of such an outfit as this to the average trade unionist would be totally non-existent. This is not true of their leaders, since several TUC leaders are concerned. Among its sponsors, the British Peace Assembly lists such substantial figures as Ray Buckton, of ASLEF, Bill Keys of SOGAT, Ken Brett of AUEW, Ken Gill of 1037 AUEW (Tars), Tim Slater of the Seamen's Union and Alec Kitson of the TGWU who is also a member of the World Peace Council. The man who was chosen last year as general secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union was Ron Todd. He is not only CND vice-president—a position, I think, enjoyed by the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, a little time ago—but he also attended the World Peace Council's Prague Peace Assembly in 1983. It is encouraging that political leaders, including Mr. Kinnock, have recently come out for a re-run of the Transport and General Workers' election which put Mr. Ron Todd in the top position.
In 1984, it was revealed in the British press that the 11-man F and GP Committee of the TGWU had, without consulting its 1½ million members—it is a massive union—agreed to affiliate that union with the British Peace Assembly. Your Lordships will understand how the World Peace Council publications gloated over this move. The vast majority of TGWU members are robust moderates. We saw this in the way that the lorry drivers and the dockers refused to support Mr. Scargill's strike. They would be horrified if they knew that this commitment had been made to the British Peace Assembly. This British branch is pledged by its constitution to support the peace initiative of the Kremlin's World Peace Council.
Your Lordships will remember that it was the World Peace Council which launched the world-wide campaign to stop the USA making the neutron bomb. Following that success, they have now turned their propaganda against Mr. Reagan's decision to go on with the research for what are now called the star wars. One has to admire their astonishing organising ability. When the neutron bomb issue was a live one the WPC showed their ability to get instant demonstrations going in places as far apart as Istanbul, Accra, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Lima, Tanzania and elsewhere. That shows a pretty good organisation, and a pretty good number of cells scattered around, to be able to achieve that at the drop of a hat. The growing influence of the British Peace Assembly is reflected by the fact that 18 trades unions and the Scottish TUC are understood to have affiliated to it.
What about the training and finance for subversion? It was in July 1983 that the NUM decided, under Mr. Scargill's leadership, to send 25 members on an indoctrination course to the International Department of the Higher School of Trades Unions in Moscow. I am quoting from the Socialist Worker of the 9th July. The school has 12,000 students and the normal course lasts four or five years, but the special crash course for Western students is compressed into a month. The school's spokesman, Mr. Zayaesky, has said:We have never had a failure yet, and the 25 NUM nominees will all go home with one of our diplomas.Their expenses of course are fully paid by the Soviet Union.
Three weeks ago the Sunday Express reported that a further 50 young miners were going, with their wives, to the same course. A member of the NUM Executive said that Mr. Scargill had disclosed that he had personally attended the Moscow school some years ago. I read in yesterday's Morning Star that the 50 young miners who have gone on this course are 1038 currently enjoying themselves at Sochi on the Black Sea. This type of training goes on not only in Russia but also in Cuba, where it has been continuing for many years, under Soviet control. Mr. Scargill, who has made many visits to that country, is reported to have arranged for selected NUM activists to attend these Cuba courses. Surely this is further proof, if proof is needed, that the NUM are training and working for a continuing Marxist disruption. The end of the strike is not the end of Messrs. Scargill, McGahey and Heathfield or their trainees. The history of the coal strike has still to be written but I think we all agree that it was the most brutal, divisive and costly strike ever organised.
Last autumn the British press exposed the role of the so-called Peace Fund in channelling finance into the miners' strike. It was no surprise to see that the unions of the Soviet bloc were very well represented at County Hall two months ago when a conference was held. The Soviet Union announced that they had handed over £1½ million to the strike funds. The Libyans said they had made considerable contributions. Mr. Scargill saw a great deal of the Soviet Embassy over many months and it is difficult to quantify the finance that he got from their trade organisations in Britain, or from Soviet bankers and Soviet insurance companies. They would of course have no difficulty in passing money to him. The main leader of The Times on 4th March said:at least £4 million in cash filtered out from Soviet sources through Czech intermediaries".The giving of funds to United Kingdom trades unions may be considered crude; but perhaps more dangerous is the way that the Soviet line is disseminated through friendly United Kingdom journalists into our media. Most senior trade union figures have known for years Mr. Boris Averyarnov. He is the Soviet member of the WFTU's Secretariat, and he comes regularly to the United Kingdom to attend every TUC and every Scottish TUC meeting. He has a close liaison with the industrial correspondent of the Morning Star, Mr. Nick Costello. Of course, one would expect that. Mr. Costello has his own network of sympathetic journalists. It is not the stories in the Morning Star which are disturbing, and even sinister, but the way in which this Soviet disinformation is orchestrated and emerges, often in oblique form, in our serious press, like The Times, the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph and their Sunday equivalents.
All sane Britons earnestly hope for a disarmament agreement, with firm verification. If nuclear, chemical and conventional explosives and their delivery systems can retain a rough balance between the Soviet empire and the free world, we may have another 40 years without a major European conflict.
Meanwhile, the Soviets are allotting more and more money and effort to training their agents in subversion and, more recently, in assassination. This debate may have shown the free world just what is being perpetrated, directly and indirectly, by the Soviet leadership and their supporters worldwide. Let us earnestly hope that Mr. Gorbachev will try to rebuild the trust on which better relations are utterly dependent.
§ 4.57 p.m.
§ Lord Shinwell
My Lords, perhaps your Lordships will permit me to indulge in two introductory observations. The first is that we were able, at the outset of the debate, with comparative ease to dispense with the customary congratulations. Obviously, the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, is an exception. He has the highest respect of every Member of your Lordships' House and when he speaks we listen, because of his clarity, his experience and his understanding. It can be left there for the moment.
The other observation I wish to make is that I hope I may be excused if I do not remain until the end of this debate, which may last for a long time. I have no long-standing engagement, no dinner function and, obviously no longer a luncheon function. Indeed, any kind of function I try to avoid to the best of my ability. But as the day wears on I find myself confronted by a variety of ailments, for which even the medical profession has found no answer as yet. It requires a little concentration on my part simply because of anno Domini. I do not myself understand what anno Domini means, but I have read about it in some periodicals and I believe that it has some reference to old age, although when a matter of old age is referred to me, I resent it very much indeed. There it can be left.
So far we have had speeches from at least seven or eight distinguished Members of your Lordships' House. I make no complaint of any of them. They have confirmed our sentiments, our principles, our innate convictions, our life style, our basic and fundamental beliefs and what-have-you. We are all very glad to have these matters confirmed to us. Indeed, what has appeared to me in most of the debate is that we are convincing ourselves, but failing completely to do anything to convince the Russians, which is the purpose of the debate.
What is the purpose of the debate? It is to prepare the Committee of Ten, or something of that sort, with the United Kingdom leading the other nations when we meet some of the Soviet leaders at Ottawa and discuss the Final Act of Helsinki or something of that kind. At any rate the intention is to try to make some progress. That is the purpose of the debate; but very little has been done in that direction so far this afternoon, except to confirm our own conviction that we are on the right path ourselves. But we have to do more than that. We have to convince the Russians and their satellite countries that they are on the wrong path. But if I may say so to the noble Lord, Lord Orr-Ewing, I do not think that by talking about their misdemeanours, and appearing to be condemnatory of their activities in general, we shall make a great deal of progress.
The fact of the matter is that we must recognise that something happened very many years ago in 1917, when there was a revolution. It was not at all the kind of revolution that I had envisaged years before when I joined the independent Labour movement of the time. Our idea of a revolution was to protest against social injustice, injustice about unemployment, injustice about the slums, injustice about the poverty trap, injustice about the class divisions of society and so on and then, as a first step, by democratic means to seek 1040 access to Parliament. We did not bother much about the Lords at that time. In order to do that we had to have a democratic complexion out of which would develop the kind of society we wanted; a rather better society than had existed before then.
That was our conception of revolution; but the Russians had a different idea. For many years they had been seeking revolution by means of assassination. They sought to destroy many of the tsarist dynasties. They were engaged in war with many other countries—with Austria and with their hereditary enemy, Germany, and they had very little respect for the United Kingdom after what had happened in one war that occurred, in which we were not altogether successful despite the efforts of the Duke of Wellington. They had that situation to contend with.
But a revolution occurred, and it would be wrong for anybody in your Lordships' House or outside it, or outside the political fence, to ignore the fact of that revolution. Something fundamental occurred, and it is the fundamental issues that have to be dealt with. What are they? There are some Members of your Lordships' House who think that the fundamental issues are of a military character, and I shall come to them a little later on. They are very important, but they are not fundamental issues at all, and neither are the social issues. For example, when we talk about developing trade with Russia, providing them with grain when they need it, coming to some financial arrangement with them, developing their industries, even in Siberia, and allowing some Scottish manufactured articles to go to Siberia, will that convince the Russians that they ought to adopt a different policy and change their fundamental principles? I regret to say that it will do nothing of the sort.
Please understand, my Lords, that in saying what I have just said I do not accept a single one of those issues, but what is the main one? I come to it right away, because it must be dealt with, whether we like it or not. There is a fundamental conviction in the West—in the United States of America, in Canada, now even in Spain, partly in Turkey and certainly in the United Kingdom and the countries surrounding us in the European sphere. We have built up and developed a natural law which is, to a large extent, ecclesiastical or theological in character.
Most of us have read the famous constitutional book by Herbert Agar, written many years ago about the American Constitution, and have read about Washington and how he began to develop a natural law based on evangelism or congregationalism, founded on a supreme being and creation as in the Old Testament and partly in the new Testament, with Jefferson, Adams and Lincoln following. We understand that in the West there is a fundamental issue. Our social activities, our life-style and even our financial transactions are based on natural law and there is an element of theology within it which we cannot ignore.
But I ask your Lordships to look at the other side of the picture. There was in 1917 a revolution which not only disposed of the tsarist dynasty; it also put power in the hands of the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks. But it also did something more. It accepted something that we had never accepted, and even now we do not 1041 accept it. There are some of us who are inclined to accept or to support in a modified form the sense of creation by a supreme being. These are the two fundamental issues. There are some exceptions, but taking Western countries in general we accept as our natural law, which determines our lifestyle and our general conduct, the creation by a supreme being as appears in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. On the other hand, the Soviet Union and her satellites condemn it utterly and will not accept a single word of it. These are the irreconcilable differences between the two super-powers. On the one hand, there is a super-power and on the other a collection of super-powers, some of them not as super as they would like to be. How are we to deal with that position? What will happen when the committee goes to Ottawa?
I recall a debate that we had at the beginning of April, in which the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, and the noble Viscount, Lord Buckmaster, took part, and the noble Baroness, Lady Young, spoke on behalf of the Government. I regret that she is not present this afternoon. I understand that she is on a Foreign Office activity which she is probably doing very well. But I recall her statesmanlike speech when the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, and the noble Viscount, Lord Buckmaster, spoke. Incidentally, I accepted all the sentiments of the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, and the noble Viscount, Lord Buckmaster. I recently wrote to the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, and told him that I intended to speak in this debate and that I accepted his sentiments, though I did not accept that he presented any constructive proposals. I regret that. But that is the trouble with most of us; we talk all around the subject and about every sphere, but we neglect to deal with the fundamental issues.
I come back to that with all the strength in my possession. There is a fundamental issue which divides us. On the one hand, we accept a natural law based partly on theology and, on the other, there is a complete rejection. How are those divisions to be reconciled? Will anything that is said this afternoon reconcile them? Not even the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester could say anything about that, except, if I may say so with respect, to indulge in a number of idealistic observations.
That will not be enough. We have to face the facts. How can we convince the present leaders, or the new leaders—Mr. Gorbachev, or whatever you call him. He is a very nice gentleman; he pleases even Mrs. Thatcher; and anybody who can do that must be very nice. I mean no disrespect to Mrs. Thatcher. But the point is that, in spite of the new leadership, the new dispensation, does anyone really believe that the Russians are going to change their policies and their convictions, simply because of the idealistic proposals that we have heard this afternoon? Of course they are not. I wish they would. Why, if even the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, cannot convince them, I do not know anyone who can. After all, he was one of the best Foreign Secretaries we ever had. He knows all about diplomatic activities, even the diplomatic tricks; he knows them all. The noble Lord cannot convince the Russians. If he cannot do it, can anybody else do it? I do not see anybody around me, distinguished 1042 though the company is, who could do it. Of course you cannot do it, simply because these fundamental issues which divide us are irreconcilable.
If only the Russians would come along and say, "Well, we think there is something in this idea of a supreme being and therefore we do not object to religious worship in our country. We will not impose any difficult rules and present difficulties to those who want to worship in chapels, churches, synagogues, mosques and all the rest. We will not do that. We are going to be free after this. They are going to be free. We are going to allow them to emigrate. We are going to allow them to unify their families." What if they said that? But are they going to say it as a result of what happens this afternoon? Why, of course, not. They will not say it even at Ottawa. I wish we could be sure they would. Why do I say that they will not? I rely on the expressions we have heard this afternoon. The noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, said it; the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, said it; and what is more important, the noble Baroness, Lady Young, said in the debate at the beginning of April that we have a long way to go. How right she was. What a long way we have to go, just as the Bolsheviks had a long way to go; but they got there, regrettably—it was not good for the world. But what are we going to do about it? We have to come to some conclusion and although I could talk a long time about it, I have said enough. I shall say just a few words more.
What is the answer to all this? I do not like saying it. I detest saying it. I wish I could not believe it. I wish I had never even thought about it. I wish it had never been presented to me. There is a history about it. About seven years ago I conceived the notion, after a visit to NATO with a number of my colleagues here from both sides of the political fence to discuss defence. When I came back I suggested that we should create a Defence Committee to study defence. It was done. I went to all the Chief Whips about it. I was told, "You must not interfere with our affairs; no, no, that is for us." So I decided to do it myself. I formed a group and it became one of the most important groups in the House—and paid, by the way. After six-and-a-half years of it I resigned and the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, took it on. The noble Lord deals with it professionally and writes articles about it. I do not do anything of that sort, but I attend it sometimes. It is doing excellent work, particularly due to the labours of the noble Earl, Lord Kimberley, and also the noble Lord, Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, who now, because of an ailment, is unable to attend your Lordships' House. He did excellent work in this connection.
What is the answer? It is this. Either we convince the Russians that their fundamental issues are no longer fundamental, that they must accept many of our views which are theological in character, accept our life style, our natural law and the prevailing activity surrounding it—either they do that or else, sooner or later, there will be war.
What is to prevent that? Here I come to the main point. I do not like war. I have read too much about it. Many of my family suffered from it, and still do. I do not like it. I have read too much about it. I hate the sight of it. I care about it, even though I was at the War Office and the Ministry of Defence. I heard too much about it. I remember the First World War and all that 1043 that meant, and many other wars. I do not like it a bit and neither, my Lords, do you like it.
What is the answer? I want to say this as succinctly, as definitely and as specifically as is possible—it must be a constructive deterrent. It must be strong, no matter what it costs, with all the missiles you can find, with all the aircraft you can find, with all the new technological devices you can find, in order to make the Russians understand that if they start any nonsense, they will catch it. They caught it before. Let us no forget they lost 20 million men. If they start any business, even if it is the first strike or the second strike, we should be forced to retaliate. I would rather that we should not. If only we can convince the Russians that unless they change their style a little and become a little moderate, allow people to leave the country occasionally and provide a little more freedom—unless they do that, we are going to increase the deterrent and make it impossible for them to force us to surrender. This is our policy.
There is nothing else we can do. All the fine words we have heard this afternoon will butter no parsnips, much though I like to listen to them; how important is rhetoric, particularly when one does not have the facts at one's disposal? I prefer the facts; they are much more important. I ask the Government to deal with the facts when they go to Ottawa and to ask these questions. Why do you prevent people from emigrating? What is the reason? Why do you force people into exile? What is the reason? Explain the reasons for this sort of attitude, this beastly, cruel and despicable attitude. Why do you do these things? We want freedom for everybody and justice for everybody in Russia, or wherever they may be. Why do you do these things? Those are the sort of things that our representatives should be saying in Ottawa when the time comes. If we do not get the right answer, we have something at our disposal—an effective military deterrent.
§ 5.17 p.m.
§ Lord Bethell
My Lords, I should like to begin by thanking three noble Lords who have just spoken; my noble friend Lord Home for his wisdom in introducing this interesting debate; the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, for his kind and interesting remarks about the Ottawa Conference which he rightly drew to the attention of your Lordships; and my noble friend Lord Orr-Ewing for what I thought was a masterly intervention about Soviet influence on the British trade union movement and other organisations in this country.
It was my noble friend's speech which I believe was the answer to a number of interventions that have been made. I think in particular of the intervention by the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, when she asked: why are we so hostile to the Soviet Union? I think also of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester who seemed to indicate that we might be indulging in inflammatory rhetoric. What is at issue here is not rhetoric; it is the facts. My noble friend introduced a large number of facts which concern us a great deal.
Of course we are in favour of building bridges, as the right reverend Prelate indicated; but bridges to what, my Lords? To what side of the Soviet Union? Of course we are in favour of peace and detente, but on whose terms? On terms, obviously, that have to be 1044 negotiated, but not on terms of capitulation. Of course we do not ignore the threat from the extreme right or from fascism but we have to face the fact that the ideals of fascism, if that is what they can be called, are not presented to us with the force backed up by a super-power and a nuclear power.
My noble friend indicated some of the problems presented by what is known as the Front Organisation. I should like to say something about Soviet involvement in terrorism. We know very well where the Soviet Union stands on terrorism. They used to favour it outright in our countries as well as in third world countries. It has been part of Bolshevik ideology since the very beginning. As Leon Trotsky said:It kills individuals but it intimidates thousands".It was done openly in Western Europe right up to the 1950s. We remember the murders of various anti-Soviet emigres in Germany in that era. Indeed, it happened at the hands of the Bulgarian Secret Service, I am convinced, as recently as 1978, when Mr. Markov was murdered a few hundred yards from where we are sitting now. In my mind there is no doubt that that was done by the Secret Service of the East. But at the moment encouragement of terrorism is the policy of the Soviet Union.
At the Soviet Communist Party Congress in 1976 Mr. Brezhnev said:Our party supports and will continue to support people fighting for their freedom. We act as we are bidden by our revolutionary conscience and our communist convictions".The problem is that one man's freedom fight is another man's terrorism and the action of the Soviet Union has been particularly dubious and ambivalent when it comes to the support for the Irish Republican Army. Soviet publications regularly present the crisis in Northern Ireland as a popular uprising of an oppressed colonial community against British Imperialism. In February, 1983 an Isvestia article claimed that Protestant colonialists were carrying out genocide against the Catholic community, and shooting at living targets had become the common practice of British Tommies. The World Peace Council which my noble friend referred to, has issued statements condemning Britain's continuing military occupation in May 1981, at the time of the death of hunger strikers. The World Federation of Trade Unions in Prague has issued statements backing the demands of H block prisoners. Its newspaper Voice has been reproduced putting forward H block demands.
So we find that the Soviet Union, while its links in supplying arms to the IRA may be tenuous and have not been proved, although I daresay there is some evidence not releasable to this effect, nevertheless conducts a thoroughly inflammatory policy encouraging that organisation to carry out acts of terrorism—and these are people who claim with pride that they tried to kill the Prime Minister of this country and members of our Government.
I move to the question of espionage which was particularly in vogue this morning. I fear that Soviet espionage will become a more difficult subject as the years pass. In introducing the debate, my noble friend indicated this was something that had always gone on, and of course he is right. There will always be spying, 1045 and I daresay we do our fair share. But I believe it is rather more than a game. It is becoming a more serious game than it used to be. The weakness of the Soviet economy allows them to drift further and further behind the West in terms of technology, and not only the United States of America but also Western Europe. For the Soviet bloc espionage is now becoming an economic necessity because it is the only way in which they can keep up to some extent with scientific progress.
We see this in the statistics of Soviet representatives expelled from our countries. We all remember when my noble friend was Foreign Secretary how 105 Soviet representatives were expelled in 1971. There was then a lull, but in 1983 seven were expelled from this country and a further 64 from European Community countries. There had been a sudden resurgence of activity by Soviet agents in this country, not only diplomats but the representatives of commercial organisations. Unfortunately, it looks as if this is starting up again.
I am afraid this indicates that the Soviet Union is unable, with its system, to keep up scientifically. This may be having an effect even on their military capability. Therefore, they are determined to make up the back-log by unacceptable means. I must congratulate my right honourable friend in another place for the swift action that he has taken in making sure that the people carrying out these activities must leave the country and not come back; and, indeed, not return to the countries of any of our allies.
I am sure that we are in favour of trade, but we are not in favour of theft. We are in favour of scientific contact, but we are not in favour of plagiarism and not in favour of allowing the work of our brilliant scientists to be taken away by others and marketed without permission—I speak there of industrial espionage—or of allowing our defences to be put in jeopardy by espionage.
Of course, this Motion refers to interference. It has been suggested by some speakers that we are being a little hypocritical because we all interfere. There is an ideological conflict in process. We interfere in the internal affairs of the Soviet Union by encouraging Soviet emigres. I have done my share of that myself. But the difference is that we do not encourage terrorism. If one of my many Eastern European friends came to me with the idea of taking violent action against the governments of Eastern Europe, I would say, no and do my level best to prevent him from doing so, because that is not the way to carry on the conflict between East and West. I wish the Soviet Union would understand that.
I am sure we carry out espionage in Eastern Europe, but we have fewer chances to do so. As has been pointed out by my noble friend, there are severe restrictions on the movement of British and other Western representatives in the Soviet Union, far more strict than those prevailing in this country and the Western world. Of course, we have to face it—we have so much more to steal. There is very little in the sphere of Soviet scientific achievement that we would want to steal. This is why the activity of the East is becoming so much more intense, why it amounts to severe interference, and why it must be stopped.
1046 Interference will continue and should continue, I believe; but it will be interference by words, not by bullets, and not by unacceptable espionage. We shall not found groups who try to subvert the Soviet system. We should not do so. We should expect them to exercise similar restraint. But as Mr. Brezhnev made clear in 1975 when he signed the Helsinki Agreement, the very epitome of detente, the conflict of ideas will continue. We can only hope that the inevitable interference in future will be kept within the bounds of decency and proper conduct between countries which maintain normal diplomatic relations. We can only hope by that means we shall be able to maintain peace between ourselves and the Soviet bloc, and in the meantime may the better system win.
§ 5.29 p.m.
§ Lord Greenhill of Harrow
My Lords, the House will be grateful for this debate, and in particular for the persuasively argued speech of the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel. His speech was impressive, all the more so because it was based on a lifetime of experience of Soviet negotiations. I hope that it will be noted by the Soviet Embassy in Kensington Palace Gardens, and drawn to the attention of Mr. Gromyko who cannot doubt the bona fides of the noble Lord, and who has never concealed his personal respect for him.
I believe that it is the right time to take a hard look at relations between the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union. I want to confine my comments to this bilateral question. A new leader, younger and unfamiliar, has been unanimously installed by the Politburo, although it is perhaps worth recalling that if he was a British civil servant, he would have only five more years to serve before retirement, or if he was a director of ICI, a somewhat shorter time. But his accession to supreme power has, as far as we know, been achieved without the conspiracy and bloodshed which once attended this event. It will doubtless be followed by appointments of younger men all down the line, and a profound generational change will take place in Soviet administration.
The House will recall that hopes rose on Stalin's death. Sir Winston Churchill warmly and loudly expressed them. Hopes rose again at the appointment of subsequent leaders, even with Mr. Andropov, whose earlier career gave no grounds whatsoever for confidence. On each occasion those hopes were dashed, but the fact that hopes rose on each occasion is an indication of the persistent desire in this country for better relations with the Soviet people. It may be said that this desire is misplaced, but it certainly strongly exists.
It must be admitted of course that British visitors to the Soviet Union have always shown above-average gullibility. Members will recall that H. G. Wells said of Stalin that he never met a man more candid, fair or honest, that no one was afraid of him and everyone trusted him. This gullibility remains. We hear even now Russian trade unions equated with our own trade unions. But the arrival of Mr. Gorbachev brings for the first time a man who does not warily look back at the first days of the Bolshevik revolution or to the crisis years of near defeat at the hands of Nazi Germany. Is it therefore right that once again we should try to change the climate of United Kingdom-USSR relations? I believe it is.
1047 Nevertheless, it would be hopelessly optimistic to expect the Soviet Government to change their ways in the short term, unless there are totally unforeseen and dramatic changes in international affairs and, less likely still, in Soviet domestic attitudes. But dramatic changes have taken place elsewhere. For example, I do not imagine that many people anticipated the remarkable changes which have recently taken place in China.
The Soviet record of hostile subversive action towards this country is incontrovertible. No doubt noble Lords will correctly emphasise this—the noble Lord, Lord On-Ewing, has already done so—calling attention to infiltration into national and international organisations. My own official career has confirmed it again and again. Anyone who attempts to deny it is not living in the real world. I will not try to catalogue it; the important thing is its extent and its success. It is an integral part of the Soviet system and has been for three-quarters of a century, or even longer. It is absolutely right that we should at all times firmly maintain our guard and be extremely hard on those who abuse our hospitality. This is not over-reacting; it is plain good sense.
But should the weight and seriousness of this evidence require us to keep at arm's length contact with the Soviet Union? Should we, in addition to exercising prudence and watchfulness, deliberately minimise contact and exchanges of all ideas—cultural, industrial, personal and so on? I certainly think not. Should we not seek to establish relations over as wide a front as possible? I believe it is right that we should do so.
There is no doubt that there is a strong desire also on the part of the Soviet people to get to know their opposite numbers in this country and in other countries outside their borders. This desire is increasing all the time. The spread of the means of international communication permits it, and will increasingly permit it, and effectively restricts the ability of the British and Soviet Governments to prevent it, even if they wish to do so.
What is the right policy for Her Majesty's Government during the period while we wait to see if the change of leadership and the development of world events is going to lead to the modification of the rigid and basically hostile intent of the Soviet Union? There is nothing spectacular that we can do, but there are patient and persistent steps we must take which perhaps one day in the future may bring advantage to our two countries. These steps are not inconsistent with the policies of our allies and can be taken in harmony with them, and always within our defence allowances. What are these steps?
First, the starting point must be the Helsinki agreements and the outcome of the meetings held in Belgrade, Madrid and Stockholm, and of the important meeting in Ottawa to which the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, referred. The documents which flowed from those meetings are important and the Soviet Government is theoretically committed to them just as much as we are. They give us an entré;e into important areas for mutual discussion if not agreement. We must take advantage of this entré;e and develop our contacts over as wide an area as possible.
1048 We must be on speaking terms from the heads of Governments downwards. We must speak directly, frankly and unambiguously. If there cannot be agreement, there must be no misunderstanding as to our views and purposes. In this way only will dangerous miscalculations be avoided and common ground sometime surprisingly be found. It was largely the links established by Henry Kissinger with the Soviet Government that prevented the Middle East crisis in 1973 developing into something much worse.
Secondly, we must develop mutual trade. Trade with Russia has been a will-o'-the-wisp for many years. For example, promises were made during the Wilson and Callaghan Governments, but they were not fulfilled. When Mr. Gorbachev was here recently he was very specific, and his words have been repeated again and again in the Soviet press. We must press hard to see if there is a genuine opening.
Thirdly, the Russian and East European services of the BBC must be given priority. If there is a conflict of resources within the External Services, the Russian and East European services must prevail, and failures of audibility, too long tolerated, must be eliminated. As noble Lords have said, the Russians continue to spend huge sums on jamming our programmes. We must spend money to frustrate them. I know that it is considered important and desirable to maintain the individuality of the BBC services, but I should like to be certain that suitable and sensible co-operation within the western European services of our allies is not neglected for inadequate nationalistic reasons.
Fourthly, cultural contracts must be encouraged, exchanges must be balanced and the risks carefully weighed. Conferences of professional people, of religious leaders, must be held and Round Tables, as organised by Chatham House, for example, must be continued. From these much can be learned and much can be taught.
Fifthly, we must develop our studies of Russia and the Russian language. The Russians devote an immense amount of effort to studying the ways of the West, and shape their policies accordingly. In this country this work has been neglected in recent years, though I understand that it is now being revived.
There is nothing new in what I am saying. Noble Lords will think of other possibilities, but none of these steps implies that we are unaware, incautious or heedless of the dark side of Soviet policies which so many speakers are emphasising this afternoon. If we go forward steadily and with determination, as I suggest, we shall reduce the risks to ourselves and, fortified by the contacts made, will be in a position to take advantage of any improvement, however unlikely it is, in the international climate.
Finally, I should like to take up the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, that we should put our own house in order. The most fertile ground for subversion is economic distress. The infiltration of Cambridge University in the 'thirties was a direct byproduct of it. A prosperous population in this country, with a wide area of agreement in all ranks of society, is the best protection against it.
§ 5.42 p.m.
§ Lord Thomas of Swynnerton
My Lords, it is quite right that it should be my noble friend Lord Home 1049 who introduces this debate since, as he told us in his autobiography, he devoted some years to the study of Soviet policy and programmes in a way that few other modern statesmen have done. This, of course, enabled him later, when Foreign Secretary, to combine realism with understanding in a way which made his foreign secretaryship such a success. For example, it enabled him to avoid that exultant enthusiasm about the Soviet Union during the war which is difficult to understand when read about now; and at the same time also to avoid that sense of hurt anger and surprise which characterised so many when, in 1946, it was discovered that the Soviet Union was the same as it had been in 1936 or in the 1920s.
The terms of this Motion are also, of course, rightly balanced. All sane people desire good relations with the Russians about whom, admittedly of an earlier generation perhaps, they have read so much in great works of literature. All sane people would like to travel in the Soviet Union with the ease with which they travel in Germany or France; stopping perhaps at some attractive manor house which they suppose looks as though it might have come from Turgenev. How attractive that prospect would be. All sane people naturally desire a cut in the arms budgets of the world, or at least some amelioration of the cut-throat balance of nuclear weapons and conventional weapons; but how can any of this be possible if those elaborate measures of subversion and intervention are going on which have been so admirably and bravely chronicled in speeches this afternoon by my noble friends Lord Orr-Ewing and Lord Bethell, whom I congratulate very warmly?
There is a natural sense that with the arrival of Mr. Gorbachev there is a new opportunity. But unless Mr. Gorbachev turns his attention to what my noble friend Lord Orr-Ewing talked about then not only is an amelioration of our relations with the Soviet Union unlikely but, indeed, it should not happen. Mr. Gorbachev, as we know, inherited a great many things, among them what the Economist referred to as a peace offensive—a good 20th century expression which George Orwell certainly would have liked, and, perhaps, invented.
The way to judge the consistency of this peace offensive is partly to use our experience of similar occurences in the past and partly to bring into the discussion what we know of Soviet ideology. We have had in our experience several such peace offensives since 1917 in relation to the Soviet Union. There was the period in the 1930s when Mr. Litvinov was seeking a collective security pact with the Western democracies but when, at the same time, agents of the Third (Communist) International were seeking to establish spies in the best universities in the way that the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill of Harrow, mentioned, and afterwards to implant them, like mothballs in wardrobes, throughout our most secret institutions.
Then, after a short gap between 1939 and 1941, about which it is not considered as a rule proper to speak, there was another period of exultant enthusiasm about the Soviet Union. That was understandable because of the blood lost by Russians under the impact of the German invasion. At that time we were totally unthinking as to what the Soviet Union was up to as well as fighting the Germans. The consequence, of 1050 course, was that the Soviet Union got away, literally, with murder throughout Eastern Europe.
That period of conciliatory relations came to an end in 1946. Most people would say that it came to an end with a speech which was made by Stalin in the so-called elections to the Supreme Soviet in February 1946 when he made more or less the same speech—saying that the Soviet Union needed a period of peace—which the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, quoted Mr. Gorbachev as having said recently. So much, therefore, for plaints that the Soviet Union needed a time of peace in which to recover. In fact, between 1946 and 1949 the Soviet Union was devoting most of its attention to building up its nuclear capacity.
Then, again as the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill of Harrow, mentioned, there was a period after the death of Stalin when we had high hopes of his successors, Mr. Malenkov and Mr. Khrushchev. For all their terrible careers under Stalin there was for a moment the possibility that something positive might transpire. Noble Lords will recall the spirit of Geneva in 1955 and the visits of Mr. Khrushchev, Mr. Malenkov and Marshall Bulganin in those years. But what happened? Mr. Khrushchev turned violently away from efforts to subvert Western Europe—giving that up as a bad job—and turned his attention to the underdeveloped countries. In a speech on 6th January 1961 he made it absolutely clear that in future there should be immense attention payed by the Soviet Union to assisting wars of liberation in the third world. It was at that time, I think, that the Patrice Lumumba College, to which my noble friend Lord Orr-Ewing referred, was founded.
There was a fourth period of peaceful coexistence in the early 1970s when President Nixon and Dr. Kissinger made a large number of concessions to Mr. Khrushchev's own successor, Mr. Brezhnev. Noble Lords will recall how at that time the United States ceased completely the construction of its intercontinental ballistic missiles, abandoned any effort to keep up with the Soviet Union in chemical warfare, did not even build the anti-ballistic missile site which it was entitled to under the ABM Treaty, and went several times to the Soviet Union and discussed with Mr. Brezhnev every subject under the sun.
The consequence of that was the remorseless buildup of Soviet conventional weapons, the establishment of a large Soviet navy capable of operation on all the oceans and, so far as we could see, a more considered investment in international terrorism and support for wars of liberation, particularly in Africa, than we had seen before. So we are entitled to look on peace offensives with a good deal of suspicion.
Then there is the approach of ideology which we should also use in relation to the peace offensive of the Soviet Union. My noble friend Lord Home and my noble friend the Minister, Lord Trefgarne, touched on that. There is not much more I would say had it not been for the fact that the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, wondered whether ideology had not been over-emphasised and whether perhaps what we are seeing in the present policy of the Soviet Union is a revival of Russian power politics. I think the approach of ideology cannot be under-estimated. It is not simply that the unspoken assumptions of Soviet leaders are 1051 those of Marxism-Leninism; it is that, as a learned general in the Soviet Union recently put it, Marxism-Leninism constitutes a kind of compass which all good communists should be guided by.
There is also the fact that the 1977 constitution of the Soviet Union specifically mentions on numerous pages the importance of Lenin. Indeed, it defines in Article 28, I think, that the proper definition of Soviet foreign policy is the Leninist policy of peace. If you look at what Lenin said about peace, you will come across some surprising things. Lenin thought that peace could be defined as, "partial conflict", and went on to justify every kind of intervention and act of subversion of the kind which my noble friend Lord On-Ewing has mentioned. Subsequent Soviet leaders have had no hesitation about emphasising their reliance, in their moments of hesitation, on Marx and Lenin, so we should have no doubt that Marxism-Leninism is the determining factor in Soviet politics in a way that does make it almost impossible to imagine we could reach lasting agreement with that government. That is a point which my noble friend Lord Trefgarne has also made.
The fact is that given the difficulties of an intellectual nature which we have with that Government we must, as the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, implied, gird ourselves for a long conflict. We have to be prepared to study, as the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, and my noble friend Lord Home mentioned, and we have to be prepared to be patient perhaps over many years. We certainly have to be prepared to put our own house in order so that our technological, economic and social successes are admired and continue to be—as indeed they are—an attraction for all who live in communist states east of the Iron Curtain.
It seems to me that we also have to make it essential for Mr. Gorbachev or his successor in the long run to ask himself whether, in fact, Marx is an adequate guide to how to run an economy in the 20th century, as Mr. Deng Xiaoping has done. We have to create circumstances whereby he or his successor asks himself whether Lenin is the appropriate guide to tactics in the latter part of the 20th century, much less the 21st. We have to make Soviet leaders wonder whether this paraphernalia of subversion, which we have heard described so vividly today, is actually worth the candle since on so many occasions it causes such bad relations with the West. We have to try to create indeed the circumstances in which one Soviet leader, in the end, begins to try to make out of Russia a country again rather than a cause.
§ 5.56 p.m.
§ Lord Stewart of Fulham
My Lords, I think we are all indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, for starting this interesting debate. It is significant how many noble Lords seem to have accepted what I understood to be the principle he was putting forward about the nature of the Soviet Government from the start: that it is by its nature a propagandist state; it believes that it has a cause to promote throughout the world; it believes that it is the ultimate destiny of the world to come after greater or lesser, more or fewer upheavals under communist rule, 1052 and that it is the duty of the Soviet Union to assist in that process. In holding that view the Soviet Union does not consider itself bound by any treaty obligation that conflicts with that ultimate view.
We may deplore that very much, but I think it is no good our pretending that that is not the situation. That is how the Russians view the matter. In their view, they have a higher duty than that of keeping any particular treaty they may have signed; they believe they have a duty to promote world communism as and when it seems appropriate. If that is so, what are we going to do about it? I must say I thought my noble friend Lord Shinwell was right to drive us back all the time on that question. We can go on indefinitely examining Soviet philosophy, but in the end we must try to answer the question: "Well, if this is the case, what do you do?"
If my analysis is anything like right, it might appear at first sight that it is no good doing anything at all, but I think the evidence is against that. We are approaching the Ottawa conference, one of the series that runs from Helsinki through Madrid, Belgrade and so to Ottawa, where certain ideals of behaviour that are supposed to be common to East and West are upheld, where an attempt is made to see what progress has been made in getting the observance of human rights.
Is it any good persisting with the Helsinki idea with the Soviet Union? I think it is. In particular, those courageous people in the Soviet Union and in other smaller countries of Eastern Europe who are prepared to be dissenters, who express from time to time their disagreement with the tyrannies under which they live, certainly want to see the spirit of Helsinki kept alive and to have the opportunity to record their protests and the opportunity to contrast Soviet practice with what it is supposed to be bound to by the Helsinki agreement. I think we have to keep the Helsinki idea alive, as a sort of standard as to what not only our behaviour but Soviet behaviour should be. At the same time—and here I must say how strongly I agree with my noble friend Lord Greenhill of Harrow—we must keep alive cultural activities, trade and every other normal activity with the Soviet Union.
It is foolish to be euphoric and imagine that because there is a new leader, or for some other reason, we can enter into a period of ease, comfort and good will between ourselves and the Soviet Union. It is also an error to suppose that we cannot live a more or less normal life with them; and that is what we must endeavour to do. We do not know what the future will bring. I wonder how many people 10 years ago could have given anything like an accurate forecast of what was going to happen in China in the past 10 years. There would be very few; and very few would be bold enough to say what they think will happen in the Soviet Union in the next 10 years. I would have said that on any analysis of what the future may hold a combination of standing firmly by the Helsinki ideals and trying to maintain a normal relationship with the Soviet Union is what we must work for.
Among the normal relations, I am afraid there must be the fact that we must give proper attention to our defence and we must continue the process of arguments about possible disarmament because that is now part of the normal process of living with the Soviet Union—part of the normal process of East- 1053 West relations. But I think that experience tells us that any agreements that we make with the Soviet Union must either be of the kind that can be selfpolicing—and, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Home, pointed out, with modern technology it is going to be easier to make agreements of the kind where we can know whether they will be kept or not—or we must get agreement from the Soviet Union about verification by both sides. We must not, on the one hand, throw away the whole idea of disarmament as a vain, optimistic delusion, nor must we imagine that we can go in for it without adequate safeguards. If we proceed on those lines, I think that we shall at least be gaining time, we should be able, one hopes, to make ourselves more prosperous—as has been said, to put our own house in order—and we should be able to get into a world where there is less irritation and ill-temper all round.
But we are dealing of course not only with relations between East and West but with attempts at subversion by the Soviet Union. The noble Lord, Lord On-Ewing, gave us some accounts of subversion. I am bound to say that I began to think after a time that I may hesitate even to open the pages of the Daily Telegraph lest I be seduced into too favourable a view of the Soviet Union. Who knows who they may have got hold of by this time? When we are talking about subversion at home, I think that we must beware of exaggeration and of seeing difficulties all the way. If we are concerned about subversion at home, the answer is of course that we must see that our intelligence services are efficiently organised.
While we are on that, we might as well remember that we have at the moment an extremely clumsy Act—the Official Secrets Act—on which a good deal of our legal procedure for dealing with subversion is based. It is an Act under which it may become increasingly difficult to get convictions, whatever the facts are, because juries are beginning to feel that part of the Act is rather silly. It is high time that the job of bringing that Act up to date was got on with. I think that it rates almost as far back in the list of Government pledges as the pledge to do something about the rating system. I hope that before long they will give us an Official Secrets Act that will be of use in combating such dangerous subversion as there may be.
I want to say a word about subversion throughout the world and to touch on a point about which not much evidence has, I think, been given. Communism in whatever part of the world it appears does not grow suddenly out of nothing. Charles Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities remarked that the English upper classes seemed to think that the French Revolution was a harvest that had grown without ever being sown. I think that that is an error that we sometimes make about the appearance of Communist movements in various parts of the world. But in Cuba before there was Castro there was Batista; in Nicaragua before there were the Sandinistas there was Somosa; and so in every part of the world.
One lesson that we have to learn from that is—and when I say "we", I mean we in this country and our allies, and particularly the United States with which the power to deal with these matters chiefly rests—that we must be extremely careful not to go making friends 1054 of tyrannies on the basis that they claim to be saving us from communism. In the years leading up to the war any scoundrel in a minor European country could get favour in some quarters by saying that he was protecting his country from communism; and the various forms and shades of fascism sprang up in Europe then.
Again, in Africa there would not be so much concern about the possibility of the spread of communism if there were no such thing as apartheid. One may argue as to exactly which happened first or what ought to be the policy of the South African Government at the present time. But the existence in Africa of a form of government which is based permanently on the assumption that people of black race are not fit for citizenship is asking for trouble. If it is continued it will mean probably a very rapid spread of communism throughout that continent. It will be no good our lamenting the dangers then.
Britain by itself does not have the power to do very much, but we and our allies—so far as we can influence the policy of our allies—must make it clear to the world that NATO is solidly opposed to racial discrimination of any kind, that it is opposed to any form of tyranny and that it will not give excuse for the emergence of communism by previously tolerating the tyrannies to which communism is so often the reaction. That is part also of what has been called putting our own house in order. We need to see that this country is free at home from the reproach of racial discrimination. We need to see that there is greater justice in its social system. If we do those things, we shall be in a stronger position to resist the spread of communism throughout the world and to face the Soviet Union without misgivings and with the feeling that we are standing up for something that is worth standing up for.
I have always believed that, whereas diplomacy—by which I mean the day-to-day and week-to-week handling of particular problems—is a highly complicated matter, requiring special skills and arts, the basic principles of foreign policy are gigantlically simple. What the facts of the time are saying to us in the West is simply this: make sure that you have the strength and the wit to defend yourselves and make sure also that what you seek to defend is worth defending.
§ 6.9 p.m.
§ Lord Campbell of Alloway
My Lords, it is always a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, especially on this occasion, as I find myself in total agreement with what he has to say about stiffening up our intelligence services and the Official Secrets Act. Like other noble Lords, I wish to express my gratitude to my noble friend Lord Home of the Hirsel for having opened this very important debate. I confess that I share his sense of gloomy realism, no doubt in his case sired by wisdom out of experience.
Perhaps I may follow up the theme of my noble friend Lord Bethell, since he takes the point that because the Soviets have drifted far behind the West the backlog will be taken up by unacceptable means. I should like also to concentrate upon the subversion of our trade unions, about which also my noble friend Lord On-Ewing spoke. Bearing in mind the point that 1055 here is an integral part of the Soviet system, as referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill of Harrow, I believe that such subversive activity can only intensify the situation, notwithstanding however many trade agreements, cultural exchanges, meetings of Church leaders, or what-have-you may ensue. This is because the Soviets have drifted behind the West. Thus there will be, and will have to be, a relaxation of central party control to enable the Soviet economy to absorb and exploit the computer revolution.
This relaxation of central control cannot afford any improvement of relations or any crumb of comfort for the West; quite the reverse. If they weaken their power base to strengthen their economy, if they opt in favour of the reduced cost of arms limitation instead of that symbolic pinnacle of alternative cost, the strategic defence initiative, it can only dictate an intensification of their expanionist and interventionist external policies—those, indeed, identified by this Motion. There can be little doubt that Soviet domestic policy will move in this direction to ease the intolerable burden of arms, to remove inhibitions to the exploitation of the computer revolution, as they must, and to raise their living standards.
The antidote, the counterpoise to any weakening of central power shall assuredly be an intensification of external policy, both in the developing countries and by subversion of our trade unions. These are highly vulnerable areas in which we in the Western democracies have already invited and suffered massive exploitation by our own inertia and weaknesses.
That this should be so, and assuredly so, rests upon the Soviet political preconception that domestic policy and external policy are inseparable, for the twin pillars of the system upon which the whole edifice of the Soviet constitution of 1977 rests are the achievement of the fundamental long-term objective of world socialism and the maintenance, the safety and security of Russia.
Since 1961, at all events, the external policy has been overtly expansionist and interventionist. Thus, as in the case of other noble Lords, I say that it is up to us to look to our own salvation, put our own house in order, keep it on order and remove the temptation to exploit this particular weakness; otherwise we shall gaze at the embers of our heritage while the hearthrug is stolen from under our feet.
The schools of indoctrination and subversion of our trade unions, which are in Moscow and elsewhere and to which reference has been made, have been set up to operate, and indeed operate, in accordance with Article 28 of the 1977 convention, to which my noble friend Lord Thomas of Swynnerton has just referred. Article 28 contains a new chapter, Chapter 4, on external policy. It links peaceful co-existence with the ideological struggle to consolidate the position of world socialism.
According to current dictionary usage, socialism is the first phase of communism; communism is a social system replacing capitalism; capitalism is a social and economic system based on the exploitation of man, replacing feudalism and preceding communism; and peaceful co-existence, is that phase in the class struggle between socialism and capitalism in which coercion 1056 and compulsion are ordained to subvert capitalism. Liberation movements in all the socialist countries are to be supported. If only peaceful co-existence meant what the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, thought it meant; but it does not.
On the use of words, on which the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester waxed eloquent, one wonders where he has done his homework. The 1977 constitution reflects external policy as settled as long ago as 1961. It is obvious that so-called peaceful coexistence has absolutely nothing on offer to the Western democracies. An intensification of economic sabotage of the Western democracies by subversion of the trades unions is to be expected—this, because it is wholly cost-effective. At what cost to Moscow did we lose the docks to Jack Dash and the car industry to Red Robbo? At what cost to Moscow did we suffer the winter of discontent; the dreadful miners' strike; other dreadful activities, including the bombing of the firms in Western Germany, which supplied coal to the National Coal Board, and the sabotage of the NATO supply lines and pumping stations?
Article 28 subversion matches the manifest creed of Mr. Scargill, Mr. Benn, Mr. Skinner and the other militants who, in December 1984, called for a general strike over the heads of the TUC. The heady scent of power at the barricades, a power which they could never find at the ballot box, led them yet again to seek to set up their worker state along the lines of a Clause 4 sister republic of the Soviet Union, justifying, as an intensification of the class struggle—and how often we heard this on television—that tempting dream apple of their Marxist eye, and so end bicameral government under the Queen in Parliament.
It was the loyalty and the commonsense of the moderates, in the rank and file membership of the trades unions and on the TUC, that saved the day. Such is the innate greatness of our people, irrespective of any political affiliation, or none, who rally in times of crisis.
Let us ask some questions. Why did 25 NUM officials attend a special concentrated indoctrination course at the Moscow school? Why did Mr. Scargill visit the Soviet Union in 1982 and again this year? Where did he receive his training, his expertise, and the reserve funds to conduct his campaign of terror to overthrow the Government, to organise direct control, civil disobedience with treasonable overtones, leaving some 1,400 police officers lying injured in the course of duty and a horrifying catalogue of criminal convictions, some 10,000 in a year?
Charges of murder, threats to kill, unlawful imprisonment, criminal damage, conspiracies, arson, burglary, theft and grievous bodily harm do not arise in context with an industrial dispute. This was no industrial dispute. It was an exercise in subversion and an extension of Soviet external policy. No Administration, Conservative or Labour, other than this Thatcher Administration, would have had the courage to trust the people or the will and tenacity to meet and repulse this challenge. Such is the debt which the moderates in the unions and in the TUC, and, indeed, the people of this country and any future Administration, shall owe to this Government, whether they like it or not, in perpetuity. When this Government dismantled the militant trade union wigwam set up in 1057 the gardens of No. 10 to restore the functions of government to Parliament, it was (was it not?) inevitable that the red bull would search for some pretext to charge. Its horns may be crumpled, but it is not dead; and it will seek some other pretext to charge again.
The subversive activities of the Soviet Union in our trade union affairs may only be contained by our own firm domestic policies and foreign policies backed up, as the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, said, by credible, balanced and verifiable deterrence. We must be vigilant to maintain our intelligence services. The appointment of Sir Anthony Duff in this regard is not without significance.
In our domestic policies, it is also essential to restore and maintain constructive consultation and dialogue between the moderates in the trade unions and the Government, in particular consultation on the compilation of those central- registers without which the presumption in favour of postal ballots may not be implemented. It is fair to assert—and I do assert—that Moscow can never win on a properly conducted secret ballot. We owe it to the moderates to devise, in consultation, acceptable supervisory procedures. This room in our house has not yet been put in order.
In conclusion, let us not forget what lies behind the brutal conflict, the struggle for the minds of men. Let us not forget for one moment that the Kremlin is not just anti-Christ but anti all religion: and let us implement the recommendation of the Swann Report so that the collective act of daily worship under the Education Act 1944 shall be non-denominational and an undogmatic approach to religious education. The hope for better relations with the Soviet Union is muted by the knowledge that its external policies shall surely shift towards an intensification of the very obstacles to which this Motion refers.
§ 6.24 p.m.
§ Lord Mottistone
My Lords, it is a privilege to follow the powerful speech of my noble friend. I trust that I shall be to a certain extent complementary in my remarks. Our thanks are very much due to my noble friend Lord Home of the Hirsel for raising this important matter and, indeed, for introducing the subject with such clarity and setting us on a good road.
It is now nearly 70 years since the Bolsheviks showed their implacable opposition to freely elected parliamentary government by forcibly preventing the first assembly of the only properly elected parliament that Russia has, ever had. Since then, the Bolsheviks and their successors have gone to extraordinary lengths to preserve the tyranny that they have developed, including mass murder by Stalin in the 1930s; the creation in recent years of wildly excessive military power, with a massive overkill in nuclear capability; as much neglect of the everyday wellbeing of their people as they can possibly get away with; and the use of every means that they can devise to subvert the ordered government of all other countries, especially those that are making a success of parliamentary government and endeavouring to enable all their peoples to benefit from the gifts of modern science.
While it is easy to understand that other would-be tyrants in free countries—like, perhaps my noble friend would say, Mr. Scargill—seek to learn from 1058 friend Lord Campbell would say, Mr. Scargill—seek to learn from Soviet example and to act as fellow travellers, it is indeed disturbing that so many well-meaning persons in the target countries allow themselves to be conned by the propaganda laid before them. This is mainly because of the skilful and heavily financed Soviet campaign of subversion to which we have all been, subjected for nigh-on three generations, and to which many noble Lords have already referred. It is also, I suggest, because of apparent reluctance by the Governments of the target countries to take sufficient positive action to refute the false propaganda, although it was clear from what my noble friend the Minister had to say in his opening speech that the Government were only too well aware of it. I do not think, however, that enough effort is spent in trying to refute the false propaganda.
The overall plan for subversion can be deduced from a detailed study of Soviet writings over many years. This shows that their objectives include influencing world opinion to believe that United States and NATO military and political policies are the major cause of international conflict and crisis; to demonstrate that the United States is always an aggressive, militaristic and imperialistic power; to isolate the United States from its friends, especially in NATO; to demonstrate that the policies of the United States and other NATO countries are incompatible with those of the under-developed nations: and, perhaps most important, to confuse public opinion concerning Soviet global ambitions.
Consistent application of measures to implement these objectives, especially since 1950, has meant that many people who recognise the threat of the Soviet tyranny are nonetheless unreasonably uncertain of the aims and intentions of the NATO countries generally, and in particular of our American allies. A good current example of how this works is the propaganda related to the proposed strategic defence initiative, which has been cleverly nicknamed the star wars programme, making it sound unpleasantly futuristic for a start. Efforts, with varying success, have been made to show this as a nasty new idea which the Americans are bound to misuse. So far as possible, no mention is made of the nuclear defensive measures already taken by the Soviets.
Of course, if, after research, the strategic defence initiative is shown to be practicable, much of the current Soviet nuclear superiority would be negated. Hence their need to spread myths about the project. No doubt if the myths do not stick, the Soviets will turn to another of their tricks—that of using forgeries of imaginary United States and NATO documents, as they have done from the 1920s to the present day. Besides spreading myths or, as the Soviets themselves call it, dezinformatsia, which is aimed at the gullible, there is another aspect of subversion—the training of would-be tyrants. That matter has been very well expounded upon to your Lordships by my noble friend Lord Orr-Ewing. Therefore I shall not touch on it further.
From these schools come yet more fellow travellers. My noble friend touched upon this matter but I should like to make one particular point. I should also like to say how sad I am that the noble Lord, Lord Chapple, is not with us this evening because this is a subject 1059 upon which he could expand. As your Lordships probably know, the Soviet dominated World Federation of Trade Unions was first set up in 1945 and was denounced in this country in 1948 by the TUC chairman at the time, Mr. Arthur Deakin, as:Nothing more than another platform and instrument for furtherance of Soviet policy".Its headquarters in Paris were chucked out in 1951 for subversion; they were moved to Vienna where they were chucked out again in 1956 for similar reasons; and they are now in Prague. The British view was re-emphasised in 1958 by the late and much lamented Lord Feather. However, what is now happening—and this is what my noble friend was talking about—following the meeting in February at County Hall, is that a group of very senior trade union leaders including Jack Jones as chairman; Jim Slater of the National Union of Seamen; Alan Sapper of the ACTAT, a recent TUC chairman; Douglas Grieve of the Tobacco Workers' Union, and the conference secretary, a Mr. Tom Sibley, whom the World Federation of Trade Unions itself appointed, seems to be trying to reinstate the WFTU in this country. What is so sad is that the top trade union leadership in this country up to and including 1958 was definitely and firmly against any such move because it recognised this body for what it was. It is disgraceful that the modern, senior leadership should have taken the line that it has taken.
My noble friend Lord Bethell touched on the IRA. If your Lordships will forgive me, I should like briefly to do the same but from a slightly different angle. I found the Provisional IRA connection with the Soviets most interesting. The Official IRA have for many years been supporters of the Soviet tyranny but they gave up the arms struggle in 1962. When the shooting started in 1969 it was the Provisionals who entered the battle, but they had no arms and they needed training. By various means the Soviets arranged for those deficiences to be made good, but they had a harder task in arranging for the Provos to be swiftly politicised. It was uphill work with their Billy Kellys who would never be heavy Marxist thinkers. Moreover, it had to be done on the quiet to spare Irish-American feelings. In the United States, for example, there was no calling the free Republic of Ireland "a fascist state designed for privileged capitalist sycophants", as they did at home. However, that was over 10 years ago and the politicisation is now, sadly, complete, even if the Irish-Americans still do not appear to realise it.
I have touched on only some of the aspects of the subversion campaign to illustrate its deadly nature and I have endeavoured not to go over ground—more than to amplify certain points—that other noble Lords have covered. However, there is one area which has not been touched upon and that is the employment of what the Soviets call agents of influence, especially journalists and politicians who are used to spread the propaganda in their own words. An example of such a person was a French journalist named Pierre Charles Pathe who operated in the 1960s and 1970s until he was caught. He began in the early 1960s with a confidential journal, writing under the pen name of Charles Morand and then in the mid-1970s he had a 1060 bi-weekly newsletter entitled Synthesis which was circulated to 139 senators, 299 deputies, 41 journalists, 14 ambassadors, but only seven private people. What was the target of that bit of misinformation?
The use made of these people is clever, because although they are given a general line they are allowed to write their own articles and the only check they undergo is the reading of their articles by the Soviets who, if they do not like them, say so. On the whole, they are left to get on with it. I sometimes wonder, when I read all types of newspapers and magazines in this country, how many of our journalists are perhaps agents of influence. It makes one think.
With that background, what hope—it may be thought—have we of persuading the Soviet tyranny to abandon these "obstacles", as the Motion describes them, to our seeking better relations with it? Indeed, in an excellent leading article entitled, "Once more to Geneva", on 9th March, The Times warns us not to have too much hope, and many noble Lords have done the same. However, I would on the whole agree with the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, in particular and certainly another noble Lord whose name does not immediately come to mind, that for the sake of the peace and wellbeing of the world as a whole, we must try. I believe that the only way is constantly and systematically to expose the subversion for what it is, to expose the total failure of the Soviet tyranny and its subordinate little tyrannies to provide an alternative system of government which gives its citizens proper freedom; and to demonstrate to a much greater degree than we do the good points of our freedom which we take so much for granted.
In this connection the Sunday Times had an interesting article on 20th January last showing the good news about the United States, which was most enlightening. While, of course, in a free country one must never let governments feel smug, it is necessary from time to time to rebut the heavily financed Soviet propaganda, especially in the way in which we can in Britain, with good news of the remarkable advance of the wellbeing of the average citizen over the last 40 years. That was created by the work of all political parties which—most importantly—have been kept up to the mark by the constant threat of electoral defeat.
Thus I conclude by imploring the Government to ensure that the realities of the subversion campaign are given wider publicity and by appealing to the media men, from time to time, to give wider publicity themselves to the advances made in this country in the past 50 years due in the main to the effective working of true parliamentary government.
§ 6.39 p.m.
§ Lord Moran
My Lords, I am glad that this Motion has been introduced by my old chief the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel. All of us who had the privilege of working for him when he was Foreign Secretary remember him as Foreign Secretary with affection and respect. I am taking part in this debate tonight because I lived three years of my life in a communist country. When I was ambassador in Hungary I dealt almost every day with communist officials. I was able to study the workings of a communist regime over a considerable period and I 1061 travelled widely throughout Eastern Europe. As a result, I came to certain conclusions which I think are relevant to this Motion.
It seems to me self-evident that it is in our interests to have the best practicable relations with the Soviet Union and with the countries of Eastern Europe. The Russians are undoubtedly one of the most gifted and remarkable peoples in the world, and, to a large extent, so are the peoples of Eastern Europe. We ought always to remember that Europe includes the countries of Eastern Europe. We often talk about Europe as if it meant only the countries of the Community, but it does not; it includes those other countries as well. We ought also never to forget the terrible sufferings of the Russian people during the second world war—sufferings which were on an altogether different scale from our own and which certainly account in part for the Russian obsession with security. Indeed, only the other day Mr. Sherbitsky, after seeing President Reagan, referred to that experience. It is never far from their minds.
But all these countries have communist regimes, and those regimes seem to have two characteristics above all. First, they rest on force—on the secret police and, in the last resort, on troops. When the Russians suppressed the Hungarian uprising in 1956, the Soviet commander in Budapest said that the Russians would stay in Hungary "till crayfish whistle and fishes sing". There is an element of permanence about their thinking in this matter. The other characteristic is that the regimes regard themselves as permanent—in their own language, as "irreversible". It follows that no opposition and no serious dissent is tolerated.
Solzhenitsyn, among others, has told us what that means in practice in the Soviet Union. I do not want to weary your Lordships with details about which we all know, but when one travels over a border crossing in Eastern Europe at most of the frequented posts the paraphernalia of repression is kept discreetly out of the way. But once I took some of my family on a less frequented road from Czechoslavakia to Austria, where they were able to see at the border the whole apparatus of watch-towers, searchlights, sand raked to show footprints, machine guns, killer dogs—all there in evidence and all designed to keep the people in the Soviet and communist paradise and not to keep people out. Your Lordships may remember the poem of Hilaire Belloc which begins:There is a wall of which the stonesAre lies and bribes and dead men's bones".That wall, or a wall like it, surrounds not only East Berlin but the whole area covered by the communist countries. We ought never to forget the way these regimes treat their people. I am, therefore, particularly glad that on his recent visit to Eastern Europe the Foreign Secretary sent a signal to the brave men who are holding up their heads against very difficult circumstances. He sent a message that they are not forgotten by the Government of this country.
In their dealings with the West these regimes follow two contradictory policies. On the one hand, they seek to have cordial intergovernmental relations with Western countries by high-level visits, by trade, by cultural exchanges and the rest. On the other hand, they follow a policy which they themselves regard as more important but which they describe as "the 1062 unrelenting struggle" against what they call "bourgeois or imperialist systems". This is the class war in its international context. The party ideologists call for the liberation of the workers from bourgeois rule, the "sharpening of the ideological struggle", and they claim, as the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, pointed out, that socialism and capitalism are irreconcilable. They deal with Communist Parties in the West and also with the Communist Party of Great Britain. What they have in mind is not just a competition of ideas but the promotion of revolution; that is, the subversion and ultimate destruction of free societies.
In Hungary, when I was there, the first of those tasks—the task with the friendly face—fell to the Government, which, in a communist country, are subordinate to the Party leadership, and the second to the party itself. When I was having conversations, which were often friendly and constructive, with communist leaders, it was a slightly errie thought to me that they probably believed, though they were too polite to say so, that I and people like me ought to be in the Lubyanka or its equivalent. I believe that they will continue to try to carry out this dual policy, the main thrust being the party thrust, but it is fair to say that in my experience communist leaders are also nationalists as well. The withering away of the state predicted by Lenin still seems to be quite a long way away.
In the light of today's events perhaps I should say that the regimes have a third string to their bow as well. That is the operations of the KGB, the AVH and all the other similar organisations. The Russians have a mania for spying, and in Soviet embassies a straight diplomat enjoys a rather rare distinction.
I agree with almost everything that has been said in this debate by the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Swynnerton, in his powerful and closely reasoned speech. We have to deal with these regimes as they are and to recognise that we are, willy-nilly, engaged in a contest between two conflicting sets of values—a contest that may last for many years. Here lies the difficulty. We cannot, sadly, trust communist regimes, but they exist. If we keep our nerve, keep our eyes open and are consistent and resolute, we can deal with them.
This must be done on the basis of real detailed knowledge of what they are. The Prime Minister spoke in Washington two months ago of the need formore knowledge of the people you are negotiating with; more understanding of their concepts and their ideas".I am certain she is right about that, but this knowledge and understanding comes only in part from talking to the communist leaders and more from studying what they say at party gatherings and write in party organs, where their true aims tend to be apparent.
In a democracy there are almost limitless opportunities for self-deception and wishful thinking, for believing that things are as we would wish them to be and not as they really are. My noble friend Lord Greenhill of Harrow mentioned H. G. Wells' extraordinary remarks about Stalin. Stalin was known in the second world war by many people in this country as "Good old Joe". Something of that same attitude can be seen in the aspects of the Ostpolitik of the Federal Republic of Germany.
There was a good deal of rather unreasonable euphoria when Mr. Gorbachev was elected as First 1063 Secretary. We obviously hope that he will bring changes which are satisfactory and make it easier for us to have good relations with the Soviet Union, but we have to remember that he was the protéé of Andropov and that he was nominated for his present post by Gromyko. I think that we should not be too sure that there are going to be profound changes. We ought to remember what Lenin himself said to the Bolsheviks in March 1918: "Lose your illusions‡" There is little problem about this when the Russians are being thoroughly unco-operative; as for example at the time of the shooting down of the Korean aircraft. The danger arises when there are more encouraging signals coming out of Moscow.
There was a similar period during the early years of the 1970s when I was in Budapest. That was the period of dé the Minister has reminded us that there were a good many illusions and exaggerated hopes cherished at that time. The Western view of dé certainly that we wanted a genuine easing of tension, finding ways in which we could live together in a nuclear world, and generally to turn swords into ploughshares. But the Eastern view too often was that this was a convenient way of lulling the West into insensibility while the Soviet build-up of arms continued.
A good deal has been said by noble Lords in the debate about Soviet propaganda and the Minister, in particular, said some things which were very pertinent about it. These tremendous campaigns to which we are subjected are an enormous, prolonged party-concerted operation. Your Lordships will remember the remark of the beaver in The Hunting of the Snark when he said, "What I tell you three times is true". This is the maxim of the Soviet propagandists except that it is not three times but 3 million times. They have I think had marked success in establishing the vocabulary of many international exchanges. Words like "détself; "peaceful co-existence", "imperialism"—in the modern, United Nations sense—and "colonialism" were all originally inventions of agitprop and they have even tried hard to shanghai the word "peace". They use words to veil reality.
To give your Lordships only one example, they describe themselves always as socialist countries and never as communist countries. They use, too, a special jargon which is understood by the initiated but which it is hoped misleads the ingenuous foreigner. When I was in Budapest, I made myself a key to the correct understanding of many of the phrases that were used every day. I noticed for example that, in describing a meeting, communiqués or party newspapers would always use the phrase, "standpoints were identical", which I realised meant that the two participants agreed; or, "standpoints were close", which meant that they disagreed. My key went as follows: that "détente" meant Soviet policy towards the West; the "irreversibility of détente" meant the total victory of Soviet policy and the collapse of its opponents; the "leading role of the working class" meant everything run by the party; "the principles of mutual respect and non-intervention", meant, "We can subvert you but you must not subvert us"; "the lessening of international tension" meant "gratifying unawareness 1064 of the West of the continuing growth of Soviet power"; and "forces hindering détente", usually meant people like you and me, my Lords.
We just have to stand up to this propaganda onslaught, which most recently has been directed against NATO's two-track decision and is always seeking to divide the West. The Minister spoke about our broadcasts and the jamming of them; but I believe that a good deal of information filters through despite all the barriers which the communist regimes erect and one encouraging thing is that internal propaganda by the régimes to their own people meets in my experience with almost universal disbelief.
How should we, who believe in compromise and truthfulness, deal with communist regimes, which do not? I think, first, that we should decline to accept their pretended division of functions and not allow them to come with friendly overtures to the front door while they are creating mayhem at the back. We have to make it clear to them, I think, that there is a price to be paid when they behave badly and this may encourage them to rein in the militants. Secondly, I think it is always a mistake to make unilateral concessions. We see this, above all, over intermediate missiles where we allowed them to establish their own intermediate missiles in Eastern Europe without putting our own there, too. As a result of that, we had enormous difficulties in trying to rectify the balance. But I am sure that we should respond to any genuine moves, and if the pressures on Mr. Gorbachev to try to increase efficiency and production and to give more to the consumer in the Soviet Union lead him to make genuine offers in Geneva or elsewhere, then we should respond to them at once.
I believe that any progress will probably be gradual and we should never stop explaining to our Western publics what it is all about. Furthermore, we must be clearer and blunter about the true aims and objectives of communist party members. Too often, they are allowed to get away with maintaining that their aims are quite other than what they actually are. I agree very much with what was said by the noble Lords, Lord Cledwyn and Lord Stewart of Fulham, that we do make it easy for them if we support brutal, Right-wing regimes in Latin America or elsewhere, and I am sure that we should not do that.
These regimes are not totally rigid. They too have intractable problems: such as a low and falling birth rate, agriculture, which is a disaster area in the Soviet Union; problems concerning productivity and housing, which is very bad almost everywhere in the communist world. There are problems with alcoholism and the underlying attitudes in Eastern Europe which remain very much in favour of the West. These are all serious matters although I do not think that they are quite as desperate as they were represented in The Times of yesterday.
Essentially, I believe that the view of communism formed in Catalonia by George Orwell 50 years ago is right; but change and evolution are not at all impossible and I agree entirely with the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, that it is very hard indeed to predict the future in a country like the Soviet Union. Would anyone have believed five years ago that we should see four secret policemen in a communist country put on trial publicly and condemned to long 1065 prison sentences? Although nothing was said about the people who must have given them their orders, nevertheless that is an enormous step forward to anyone who knows these countries. We have, I am sure, to negotiate firmly and honestly with the Communist regimes. We must not get too cosy with them so that we discourage the courageous dissidents; but I am sure that there is no need for despair. Truth, freedom and justice are on our side, and if we are calm and patient, and remain strong, I think that we can look ultimately for a happy issue.
§ 7 p.m.
§ Lord Bauer
My Lords, the distinction of my noble friend Lord Home of the Hirsel, and the significance of his Motion make it unnecessary for me to add to the tributes already voiced. Acquisition of client states by fomenting discord is a commonplace of history. In the context of the third world, the pertinent question is: why is the climate so hospitable to Soviet efforts? Ordinary people there are certainly not hostile to the West and its products. They are eager for Western watches, transistors, drugs and bicycles. Nor is poverty the explanation. It is the relatively prosperous, urbanised and articulate groups with Western contacts who most readily embrace the communist creed: politicians, media men, professional people and the politicised media. They dominate the politics of the third world, especially in Africa and Asia where there is a wide discrepancy in political power between these groups and the inarticulate and ineffective rural majority.
The ruling groups have only the haziest notion about Marxist-Leninism. But they realise that it is both a system of ideas and a political programme. They welcome a programme which promises them even closer and more lasting power over their subjects. It is highly relevant to this debate that for many decades a flow of misinformation emanating from the West has reached the third world, about the Soviet system, but primarily about alleged Western misconduct. Noble Lords have emphasised Soviet propaganda. But a few examples which I shall give suggest that it is hardly necessary for the Soviets to turn the third world against the West by subverting it. We do it for them.
Imagine the reaction, my Lords, of an educated third world reader if he knew that the last major work by the Webbs, founders of the LSE and entombed in Westminster Abbey, is entitled, Soviet Communism: A New Civilisation. Alternatively, imagine the reaction of a student audience of Harold Lash—acclaimed on both sides of the Atlantic—on reading that Vyshinsky was,doing what an ideal Minister of Justice would do, if we had such a person in Great Britain";or on reading that Dr. Kingman Brewster, professor of law at Harvard, President of Yale, United States Ambassador to Britain and now Master-Elect of the oldest Oxford college, proclaimed that he was appalled and ashamed that nowhere in the United States could black revolutionaries expect a fair trial. And it was not a Soviet spokesman, but C. P. Snow, who wrote that,in overall strategy the socialist economy has been a major success. That is, it has produced national wealth, not only in the Soviet Union, but in other socialist countries, very fast; almost certainly much faster than it could have been done under capitalism".1066 More effective in the context of this Motion has been the persistent denigration in the West of the West's conduct towards the third world. It is not in Pravda but in the Guardian that we read:A quarter of the world's population lives, quite literally, by killing the other three-quarters".We read also of,social cannibalism which has reduced over three-quarters of mankind to beggary, poverty and death, not because they don't work but because their wealth goes to feed, clothe and shelter a few idle classes in America, Europe and Japan".In the same vein Professor Ronald Sider, a prominent American clergyman, writes:It would be wrong to suggest that 210 million Americans bear sole responsibility for all the hunger and injustice in today's world. All the rich developed countries are directly involved we are participants in a system that dooms even more people to agony and death than the slave system did".Such fantasies are regularly taken up by third world politicians supported by the West, and they are often advanced in publications or on platforms provided by it. Kwame Nkrumah was, until his downfall, a very influential African leader, widely praised in the West. He wrote:The colonalists took our lands, our lives, our resources and our dignity … It was when they had gone and we were faced with the stark realities, as in Ghana on the morrow of our independence, that the destitution of the land after long years of colonial rule was brought sharply home to us".In fact, before the British there was not a single cocoa tree in Gold Coast Ghana, nor a network of roads and rail. When the British left there was a huge cocoa acreage, all of it in African hands, as well as an effective system of transport communications.
Julius Nyerere, President of Tanzania, is a venerated world figure. On a state visit to London in 1975 he said:If the rich nations go on getting richer and richer at the expense of the poor, the poor of the world must demand change".In reality, when the West first established contact with his country, it was an almost empty region, thinly populated with tribal people exposed to Arab slavers.
Both Nkrumah and Dr. Nyerere received much aid from the West. This did not endear the West to them. Much the same can be said about Mrs. Gandhi.
The West further undermines its own position by much exaggerating the importance of third world countries of no strategic significance and no economic or military power beyond that conferred on them by the West itself; witness Ghana and Tanzania.
My Lords, while the West must resist Soviet attempts to seize real strategic vantage points, we should nevertheless consider primarily what can be done to make conditions less tempting and less propitious for such attempts in the third world.
We should systematically assist those governments who promote a society to which the Soviet system has little appeal. This means, broadly, a society in which person and legitimate property are effectively protected and in which individual economic initiative is given scope, including freedom to develop external commercial contacts. We should also try to expose and refute promptly patent and damaging falsehoods such as those I have mentioned. Several noble Lords have referred to this in the context of Soviet propaganda; we should also think about it when such 1067 opinions emanate from the West. This would involve close scrutiny of the largely Western-financed official international organisations, some of which serve as platforms for virulent abuse of the West.
But much the most important task is, alas, also much the most difficult. What is it that has happened to us in recent decades to make us succumb to totally unfounded feelings of guilt, to accept the most outrageous, evident and damaging falsehoods, and to defer to rulers who treat their people with contempt, brutality and even inhumanity, and who have no real power except that conferred on them by the West? It is as if some invisible monster had ravaged our self-confidence and our ability to observe and to reflect.
I cannot conjecture about the prospect of improvement in this immensely complex realm. The changes I suggested earlier may make a modest contribution to wider improvement. What can be expected, however, is that if the West regains clarity of thought and self-confidence, this would improve relations with the Soviet Union. Present and future Soviet leaders will know better where they stand in their relations with the West. They will be less tempted into adventures. And more confidence and intellectual poise in the West may well affect the conduct of the Soviets towards the people under their control. Here lies the best hope for the objective envisaged in the Motion of my noble friend Lord Home.
§ 7.12 p.m.
§ Lord Mayhew
My Lords, in the last two hours we have heard from the Benches opposite a series of profoundly depressing and doomladen speeches. I am not challenging the facts put forward by, for instance, the noble Lord, Lord On-Ewing, and yet I think we have had an unduly depressing impression. I do not recall any reference in any of these speeches to the successes of the democracies over the last 30 years in meeting this challenge of Soviet subversion.
The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester urged us to be guided by historical perspective, and I do think we need to try to get a more balanced view by considering how we got here and what this challenge was like before. If we look back, for example, to the challenge of Soviet subversion after the war, no one can deny that that challenge was far stronger and the difficulties of handling it far greater than they are now. I recall that at the time I was a junior Minister at the Foreign Office I was given a budget out of the secret vote and told to try to develop some counter to Stalin's worldwide campaign of subversion and propaganda.
In those days the image of the Soviet Union was different. Many people looked on the Soviet Union not as an oppressor but as a liberator, as a champion of colonial peoples against imperialism, as the great protector of working-class rights and standards of living. In those days the western communist parties were far stronger, far more loyal to the Soviet Union, much more dynamic and much more united than they are now. In those days it was not only possible but it seemed likely that there would be communist takeovers in France and Italy, and even here in Britain, which has always been the least vulnerable to Soviet subversion of all the major European countries. Even here we had 30,000 members of the British 1068 Communist Party; they even got votes; they even had two Members of Parliament in another place. The outlook in the third world at that time was very discouraging and disturbing. It seemed impossible that we could give independence to the British Commonwealth countries, to India, to Malaya, to Ceylon and Burma, without the Russians coming in somewhere.
The noble Lord, Lord On-Ewing, gave us a very accurate and interesting summary of the front organisations, but of course in those days they were fresh. In those days quite sophisticated people thought they were not just instruments of Soviet foreign policy—as they were and are. Quite sophisticated people thought of them as great gatherings of people of good will, peace lovers, women, trade unionists, and so on. Today we have a very different and a much more encouraging picture. You would never have thought it if you had listened to the stream of speeches we have had from the doomladen Cassandras on the Benches opposite. Today we do see, as I say, a very different picture. Today in Europe the challenge to the status quo is not the challenge of communism in Western Europe; it is the challenge of western ideas in Eastern Europe. The whole picture has been changed. In the third world, I grant, there is Cuba, there is Ethiopia, there is Aden; but in the entire British Commonwealth I can think of only one country which succumbed. That was Grenada, and we know what happened there.
The Russians claim today to have 80 million members of communist parties throughout the world, but 75 million of them are in communist countries—30 million are Chinese—which leaves just 5 million for the non-communist world. That is just a claim, and it includes wholly disloyal communist parties such as the Italian Communist Party. It includes both halves of the discredited and demoralised British Communist Party. Sometimes I think the British Communist Party is becoming so small that it is only a matter of time before those of its members who are MI 5 agents form a majority in the party‡
I agree entirely with the criticisms that the noble Lord who introduced this debate in a weighty and fascinating speech makes of the Soviet's handling of its relations with the other governments. Of course I agree, but again I would beg that we compare this with its handling of non-communist governments in the past to see what the trends are, and, as the right reverend Prelate said, to apply some historical perspective.
To find the high watermark of Soviet misbehaviour in international affairs you have to go back to Lenin's time. In 1919, Lenin formed and dominated the Comintern, the organisation of all the world's communist parties, and he issued a manifesto calling on,the proletarians of the world to wage resolute struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat for the victory of Soviets in all countries".That is not Mr. Gorbachev's language, anyhow. The fact is that in the subsequent 65 years there has been a steady playing down of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the establishment of Soviets and a steady increase in normal government-to-government contacts with non-communist countries. In the 1920s, 1069 Stalin watered down the aim to socialism in one country and, as fascism threatened the security of the Soviet Union, Stalin began establishing contacts with non-communist governments and changed the role of foreign communist parties. As Trotsky put it very well at the time:Stalin has transformed the foreign communist parties from vanguards of world revolution to pacifist frontier guards of the Soviet Union".That is not a bad description of the active pro-Soviet communist in the peace movement in Europe, and since Stalin's death the process has gone on. I recall a British parliamentary delegation which visited Russia and talked with remarkable frankness with Stalin's successors, with Malenkov and Molotov. I recall we urged them to abandon the Cominform in the interest of good government-to-government relations; and shortly afterwards, for whatever reason, they did in fact abandon the Cominform.
I recall a frank talk with Molotov in which I listed all the methods of intervention in the internal affairs of this country to which we objected—all of them. I will not go into it now, but he robustly defended them all. He said that they were legitimate, by which I think he meant legal. But when I review that list today, I see that although Soviet conduct is bad—and I am not saying it is not—and although intervention in our internal affairs continues, the list is nothing like what it was. The degree of intervention is not what it was, partly because foreign communist parties are much weaker than they were and partly because the Soviet Union is giving increasing priority to its security interests over its ideological objectives and is cultivating more normal relations with foreign Governments—
§ Lord Campbell of Alloway
My Lords, will the noble Lord allow me to intervene? Does he really imagine that the miners' strike is the sort of thing that happens without Soviet intervention in the internal affairs of our trade unions?
§ Lord Mayhew
My Lords, I attended carefully to the noble Lord's speech and, of course, I agree. I shall come later to the miners' strike. But if I may say so, the noble Lord was very undiscriminating. Did he not suggest that the Red Front in Italy and Baader Meinhof in Germany were Soviet led? I shall come to this point later, but in the meantime I want to say this. I believe the danger of putting all this emphasis on Soviet led subversion is that it distracts attention from those subversive activities which are more dangerous and do not owe their origins to the Soviet Union.
I come now to the sabotage of NATO installations, which the noble Lord mentioned. He did not give any reason for thinking that they were Soviet led, Soviet encouraged or Soviet directed. My information from NATO itself is that it is not so done and that the Italian Red Guards are not Soviet led. I hope that the Government, when they come to reply, will also answer the point that the IRA is Soviet led. If it is true, as alleged by some noble Lords opposite, it is of extreme importance, and perhaps we can have that matter cleared up.
But, generally speaking, we have to distinguish nowadays between subversion that is Soviet led and 1070 the much larger problem of subversion which has other origins. For example, let me take the Socialist Workers' Party and Militant. They are not socialist led, and they are subversives. The newspaper Militant very seldom mentions the Soviet Union. When it does it attacks the Soviet Union, it attacks the Vietnamese Government and it attacks the French Communist Party. The Socialist Workers' Party is the same.
In my day, the Marxists who infiltrated the British Labour Party were Soviet led. In my day in the Labour Party we had strong leadership and, as the noble Lord, Lord On-Ewing, said, we had a list of proscribed organisations and any member who belonged to one of them, any crypto-communist and any fellow traveller, was out on his neck. Quite right, too‡ Today the Labour Party has no leadership at all and no proscribed list, and it has not had leadership since Gaitskell's death. The result is that, of course, it has a serious problem of Marxist infiltration. But my point is this. These Marxists are not Soviet led, and noble Lords opposite must make these distinctions. If they are to find out the reason for subversion and how to handle it, they must know where it comes from and all about it.
There is still—and, again, I address myself to the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway—a residue of pro-Soviet Marxists in the Labour Party, in the NUM, in the Scottish TUC and in the peace movement. But they do not dominate those organisations. Here, again, I quarrel with the noble Lord, Lord On-Ewing. He rightly said that British communists and fellow travellers and the pro-Soviet Marxists dominate the British Peace Assembly. That is quite true. But they do not dominate the more important parts of the peace movement. They belong to, but they do not dominate, CND and END. Therefore, their influence in the peace movement is a great deal less than it was after the war. This is the truth. What is more, there is great difficulty for pro-Soviet communists in combining their role as communists, as militant subverters of bourgeois democracy, on the one hand, and as leaders of these broad groups, on the other. For example, in the CND there are one or two—only a few—pro-Soviet communists. They get into grave difficulties.
Some time ago, as the Liberal Party's defence spokesman, I made public the fact that CND's liaison officer with Liberal CND—the man who briefed them and gave them information material—was an able and active member of the Communist Party. After the usual cries of outrage about McCarthyism and witch-hunting, which tell old hands that they have hit the target, this man, Mr. John Cox (for it was he) wrote to the Guardian as follows:I never did anything to breach the trust placed in me by CND members. If Lord Mayhew or any other cold warrior can cite a single instance in which I abused this trust for party advantage, they should say so openly".My point is that this illustrates the extreme difficulty of combining the role of what Trotsky called a pacifist frontier guard of the Soviet Union with the role of a genuine Marxist communist. If Lenin had read Mr. Cox's letter in the Guardian, I venture to say that he would have turned in his mausoleum.
Finally, I ask why the Soviet Union has been losing the battle of ideas—because, whatever impression is given by noble Lords on the Benches opposite, we have 1071 been winning this battle. It is almost no exaggeration to say that we have won the ideological battle against Soviet communism in Europe. Why has it happened? Mainly, it has been done by the Russians themselves: by the invasion of Czechoslovakia, by the suppression of Hungary, by Khrushchev's great anti-Stalinist speech, by their economic failures and by Afghanistan. Mostly, the destruction of the Soviet ideological challenge has been done by the Russians themselves.
But do not let us forget the credit due to the democracies for the resilience of our political and economic institutions, for the formation of NATO and for its maintenance. These have helped, too. The British Foreign Office helped. A little department called the Information Research Department, which was my major achievement after the war, helped, too. It quietly spread around the truth about Soviet slave labour camps. It coined the phrase "Soviet imperialism". I think that all helped, too.
But I wish to try to counter the atmosphere of extreme depression which has descended on this debate as a result of some of the speeches from the Conservative Benches. By its nature, the Conservative Party is not closely acquainted with subversion. It attacks it vigorously, but its shots are fired from a very long range and, sometimes, they fall wide. But the fact is that this Motion and some of the speeches seem to under-rate the power and success of the democratic idea in these last 30 years. They seem to me to exaggerate the extent of Soviet-directed subversion and to under-rate the importance of subversive activities which are not attributable to the Soviet Union.
There is a problem, and I do not deny it. We certainly must not relax our efforts, and we need to continue exposing, refuting and ridiculing the dwindling ranks of the pro-Soviet Marxists in this country. But we do not need to change course. We do not need new methods of repression—certainly not. We do not need any restrictions on our civil liberties—certainly not. We can defeat Soviet communism by playing it long, playing it cool and sticking to our principles.
§ 7.29 p.m.
§ The Earl of Lauderdale
My Lords, I found the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, stimulating and encouraging and I think we should admit that he has recalled us to a sense of proportion. We all know that the Communist Party's overt activities and arithmetical strength have declined almost everywhere in Western Europe and in some other parts of the world too. But what has risen is a fantastic spread of gullibility. One of the most pregnant phrases in this debate so far came from the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill of Harrow, with his vast Foreign Office experience, when he said that he found that there was an "above average gullibility" in British visitors to Russia.
I must begin by offering an apology to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester because I did not hear all of his speech. If what I am going to say about what was told me he said is inaccurate, I shall gladly give way and I hope he will correct the record. I am told that he said that religious observance in Russia is today higher than it has ever been. I do not know whether he said that and I shall gladly give way if he did not.
The Lord Bishop of Rochester
My Lords, I was quoting from Sir John Lawrence's book, published by Chatham House last year. What I said was a direct quotation from him.
§ The Earl of Lauderdale
My Lords, I am much obliged to the right reverend Prelate for correcting my misinformation. All I can say is that I was once a member of Chatham House and, although I have and had great respect for some of the scholarship of that institution, I do not think it is infallible. If Sir John Lawrence says that religious observance in Russia is greater than it ever was, one must ask: How long is "ever"? So far as I am informed, the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate is severely restricted in the publications that it is allowed to produce and in the training of priests it is allowed to supervise and conduct.
On the subject of historical perspective, to which the right reverend Prelate also referred, I think it is only fair and proper to say in this context that the story of the Orthodox Church over the centuries has been one of resistance to tyranny, whether by the tsars, the sultans or the Soviets, through very nimble footwork and adaptation. Very often there is coded language in what the Orthodox leaders say which is not always comprehended in the West.
One critical component in all mere propaganda is double speak and another is selective distortion. The Soviet Peace Programme affords ample examples of both. Let us take the phrase "peaceful co-existence". I now quote from the Soviet Philosophical Encyclopaedia, published in Moscow in 1964:The peace struggle is inseparable from the fight for socialism".Mr. Brezhnev has been well quoted this afternoon, but there is one other quote which I think it is a pity to miss the chance of using. He said in 1969:Times of peace offer favourable conditions for promoting the revolutionary liberation movement".But perhaps as good a quote as any I have found in the material which I have been citing comes from Mr. Vadim Zagadin, deputy head of the International Department of the Communist Party of the USSR in July 1983. I quote:Communists in the West must mobilise the peace movements for the struggle against imperialism".This last quotation is pure Leninism, and we have had some very interesting and useful tactial advice given to Marxists by none other than Lenin himself. He recommended the use of what is called in Russia "Palijelsme Duraki"—"useful innocents", sincere, well-intentioned people who may unwittingly "do our work for us"; that is, to do the Marxists work for them.
They have found a happy hunting ground in Christianity itself. The penetration of the churches was entrusted as a specific task to a body called Orginform, whose first director was an apostate orthodox priest, Vassili Gorelov. It established training schools in Moscow for the service of North America, in Latvia for the service of Western Europe, and in Constanza, in Romania, for dealing with Islam. Out of all that arose the Christian Peace Conference, established in Prague in 1958, an ideal instrument for exploiting the heresy, so beloved of sincere do-gooders, that activity is the same thing as action; it is certainly easier than deep, disciplined prayer.
1073 As a religion of many paradoxes Christianity has lent itself to every kind of distortion. Christ's Easter greeting "Peace be with you" is turned upside down to imply political and international peace—rather than inner personal peace that passes human understanding. It is of course, by what I would call the Christian peacemongers, forgotten that the founder of our religion did say:I came not to bring peace but a sword".At first such inversions do not seem greatly to have troubled the early Christian Peace Conference folk, but within five years of its foundation a sadly disillusioned vice-president, Mr. Richard K. Ullman, was writing:We had better admit … that our Eastern brethren are being used for communist policy, and through them we are being used in the same way".That comes from Dilemmas of a Reconciler, published in 1963. No doubt he was referring to the various national regional committees of which Britain has one, although out of deference to the cloth I do not propose to identify several of its members whom I happen to know personally.
Although the founder of Christianity said:My kingdom is not of this world",the Christian Peace Conference was within seven years of its foundation proclaiming—and I quote again:We Christians demand"—not pray—demand that the Western nations and the USA pay for the stimulation of the economy and the industrialisation of the third world without strings".That is a far cry, one might say, from that eminently capitalist parable of the talents.
There are fascinating overlaps—I shall not put it more strongly than that—which are traceable between the Christian Peace Conference and the World Council of Churches, in which the right reverend Prelate had some involvement, I am quite sure genuinely innocent, but not in the communist sense. He himself described the World Council of Churches as sharing some of the blemishes of the United Nations, but he found it a useful forum. That organisation, for better or for worse, boasts more than 300 churches as members and these churches are said to "represent"—I quote official language now—some 400 million Christians in more than a hundred countries.
Both the Church of England and the Episcopal Church of Scotland belong. I am a regular communicant of both, but they do not represent me. I am only sorry that some money I give no doubt finds its way to that quarter.
I have studied the founding documents of the World Council of Churches, which describes itself as a fellowship of churches accepting Christ as God and Saviour. But of its seven officially listed functions, only one is to spread the Christian religion; in other words, evangelism. Some four relate to conference and committee get togethers. One, tucked away among the others, refers to "world conferences on specific subjects as occasion requires". You can make that mean anything you like, and they do. Commissions are established to study church unity in terms of, guess what? Theology? Morals? The sort of study which 1074 ARCIC, the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Conference, goes in for? Not a bit of it. Church unity is to be studied in terms of political, social, racial and other factors; not, however, of faith and order. Its central committee is authorised to issue statements on, "Any situation or issue"—all this in the name of a religion whose founder said, "God is a spirit and they that worship Him should worship Him in spirit and in truth".
§ The Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells
My Lords, I really must object to this very one-sided attack on the World Council of Churches. This is not the moment to make a detailed speech in reply to my noble friend here in our House, but I would simply say that I very much hope the noble Earl would not seriously wish the Church of England not to be part of the World Council of Churches. I have been a delegate to a World Council of Churches Conference, and so has the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester, who knows a great deal more about the whole subject than I do. I just want to register the other side: I am very glad indeed that the Church of England belongs to the World Council of Churches.
§ The Earl of Lauderdale
My Lords, I am very grateful to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bath and Wells for saying what he has said. It is now in the record, and I am happy to have been able to give way to him and will do so again if he wants to interrupt me further. Personally, I regret the membership of my church in this body because of some of the things said and done by those who speak for it.
I was going on to say that there are fascinating overlaps which extend between the Christian Peace Conference, the World Council of Churches and its British counterpart, the British Council of Churches. This is funded by member churches. If my information is correct, something like £160,000 was voted towards it in the General Synod a month or two ago.
I am surprised at what one can learn by reading the available documents; I got them in the House of Lords Library. As I read them in a book edited by the late Bishop Bell who, as an editor, would have made sure the material was correct, the functions of the BCC do not seem to include evangelism. They refer much to stimulating a sense of social responsibility. I must say I am inclined to read that as some sort of theological bastard of Beveridge, but this leads straight to the politics of charity.
The British Council of Churches has a division called Christian Aid, whose director in 1978 told the Lambeth Conference:Taking the gospel seriously means we are obliged to engage in revolutionising those social and economic structures which deny food, shelter, water and clothing to 600 million people".That does not sound to me to be the language of the Gospel, but I may have misread it.
§ The Earl of Lauderdale
My Lords, I recite it more than once a day, as it happens, but I do not regard the Magnificat as a social revolutionary document. It is a religious document. It relates to the life of the soul and 1075 response of a soul to God's call. With all respect to the right reverend Prelate, that is how I see it.
When we hear these kinds of statements from, for example, a director of the British Council of Churches, I just wonder what the Russians would think of them, and what the Ethiopian Marxists would think of them. What about rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and rendering unto God the things that are God's?
The British and World Councils of Churches give grants to persons who, as I think we all know, are or have been engaged in terrorism in Africa. Under its racial hat, Christian Aid used to support—I do not think it does now—an organisation called the Race Today Collective, in Brixton, whose declared aim was to incite West Indians to revolution. It boasted of a so-called political victory and the,crushing defeat of a well deployed police army",when more than 300 police were hurt in the Notting Hill Gate carnival in 1976. It likewise gloated over some 17 police injured on a London march in 1981.
I am not trying to say that all these exhortations that come and are circulated through the British and World Councils of Churches, let alone the Christian Peace Front in Prague, are directly Soviet inspired in any precise sense. What I am saying is that they fit neatly into the Marxist purpose of the "fight for peace", of the Marxist aim to destroy the opium of the people by destroying the church from within, the Marxist purpose to overwhelm other social systems by penetration under the pretence of competitive coexistence—all this by upending Christ's Easter message of peace into a struggle against imperialism.
What is the moral of all this? I believe it is in sound Christian realism to be as harmless as doves but as wise as serpents, seriously to eschew wishful thinking and to enjoy liberation from gullibility.
§ 7.48 p.m.
§ Lord Rea
My Lords, like the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bath and Wells perhaps I may register my protest against the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale, for his calumny against the absolutely magnificent work being done by Christian Aid throughout the developing world, particularly in areas where there are disasters and distress. I have seen it with my own eyes and I feel insulted on their behalf.
The noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, was surely right to have initiated this debate, to which he has contributed his past great experience. Nevertheless, he should be taken to task for phrasing the second half of his Motion in such negative and one-sided terms. If he were to take a neutral stance we could substitute the words "United States" and "America" for "Soviet Union" and "Soviet" and still have a suitable Motion for debate.
The speakers in today's debate could be divided into hawks and doves, although perhaps confronters and conciliators would be a better description. It is interesting to note that they do not divide neatly across the House. Doubtless the confronters would describe the conciliators as stooges or gullible; equally, the conciliators might be rude and call the confronters warmongers. That is a much hackneyed word and I 1076 would rather just call them pessimists. I am delighted that the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, fitted more into the conciliatory category.
Much could be done by this country to improve relationships with the Soviet Union, even though we may condemn some of its world-wide activities which have been so fully detailed by many noble Lords. I suggest that many of those activities could be held to be in retaliation or to forestall similar American backed interventions.
There are many popular movements in different parts of the world which are attempting to throw off oppressive and reactionary regimes and introduce, for example, much-needed land reform or greater popular participation in government. The Soviet Union feels, I believe, that it has a genuine ideological identity with such revolutionary movements. It does not need to foment them. It is poverty and oppression that are the incentive to revolution, as the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, pointed out, and I was delighted that the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, also supported this theme.
One has to ask: how mischievous is it to support genuine movements for liberation from tyrannical or oppressive regimes? Nicaragua is a current example where this has occurred, and the Soviet Union has kept a very low profile. On the other hand, there are cases where democratically-elected regimes have been overthrown by counter revolutions overtly or covertly supported by the United States' CIA—Chile being the prime example. There is a dark side to the case of the West.
It is true that the Soviet Union backs some very doubtful horses: Syria, Libya and Ethiopia for example. Sometimes this is done for strategic reasons, but so too do the United States and ourselves support some thoroughly oppressive and undemocratic regimes, also for strategic purposes—for example, Turkey, the present Government of Chile, and the Philippines regime of President Marcos.
British and American influence is spread thickly throughout the world in both military and economic terms. Does this preclude attempts by the Soviet Union to achieve international gains? The power game is not a polite one. Surely our overall aim is to avoid war and to live in peace with our neighbours, to increase trade and cultural and scientific exchanges, and to encourage free movement across frontiers—a notorious deficiency of the Eastern bloc, I might say, which is surely harming them in the long run.
Medical and scientific meetings are valuable not only in their own right but also as a means of increasing international understanding. This was brought home to me recently when I had the privilege of representing this country as an observer at a joint Inter-Parliamentary Union and WHO Conference in Thailand on Health and Development in South-West Asia and the Western Pacific. I was delighted to see legislators at that conference from countries which have no diplomatic relations. Delegates from North and South Korea, China and Vietnam were sitting in the same conference chamber and rubbing shoulders at the less formal events. The fact that possible enemy countries had common problems and that their representatives were approachable human beings must have reduced the tension between them.
1077 It is in that context that I should like, finally, to put a question to the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne—and I have given notice of it. Is there any likelihood that co-operation in the field of medicine and public health between the United Kingdom and the USSR will return to the level envisaged in the Anglo-Soviet agreement of February 1975?
In the preamble to the agreement, it is stated that the two Governments wanted,to promote the further development and extension of co-operation between their countries in the field of medicine and public health".When the agreement was renewed in 1983 it was stated that the two Governments were,convinced of the important role of scientific and cultural links between the peoples of the two countries as a means of promoting mutual understanding and confidence".Sadly, however, events in Afghanistan and Poland (which I regret as much as any noble Lord—the Soviet Union has lost many friends here) have been given as reasons for curtailing such exchanges. But surely if medical exchanges are of value at all, this will be so just as much after the invasion of Afghanistan as before. If the Government really are convinced,of the important role of scientific and cultural links between the peoples",then exchanges should be increased, and not decreased, at times of tension. Consider how much may be achieved when, for instance, a Russian kidney is flown to Britain for transplant, as occurred in September last year, or a British kidney is flown to the Soviet Union. It is surely wrong to use this form of exchange as a political weapon.
Finally, I should like to put one further question. In a Written Answer on 14th February the noble Baroness, Lady Young, said (at col. 379 of Hansard):Although political factors — have had their effect on cultural and educational exchanges — the improvement in the East-West political climate should permit some increase of exchanges in coming years".If the Government believe, as I do, that exchanges are important, could they not make moves to reactivate them now and not just wait for "coming years"?
§ 7.56 p.m.
§ Viscount Massereene and Ferrard
My Lords, when I was a very young man in the 1930s I had one or two acquaintances and friends who were communist-inclined; it was quite fashionable in those days. I did not share their views, and in order to try to educate them I used to question why, if Russia was such a wonderful Utopia, it spent so much money on propaganda, why it did not open its closed frontiers, and why it did not say, "Come and see". My friends always looked a bit glum after that; they could not give an answer.
I should like to thank my noble friend Lord Home of the Hirsel for initiating this debate. I cannot think of anyone more apt to do so.
When I woke up one morning and heard on the radio that we were now the allies of Stalin, whose purges in the 1930s made Hitler look like an amateur, I remember saying to somebody, "We will win the war but we'll lose half of Europe". I was ticked off for saying that, but I believe it was a fair enough comment.
1078 I never usually quote any of my own speeches, but on this occasion I should like to quote something I said on the subject of foreign affairs in this House in 1957:Foreign affairs can cover a wide field, hut I doubt as to whether any nation in the history of the world has so completely dominated this field as does Soviet Russia today. Every speaker in a foreign affairs debate must of necessity return to the enigma of Russia. as from Europe to the Far East the monstrous Punch and Judy show is performed with the genie in the Kremlin pulling the puppet strings".—[Official Report, 1 2/ 3/5 7; col. 148.]I have not altered my opinion since then.
I should like to agree with the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, who pointed out that many communists are not Marxist communists—but in that I see quite a danger. Why such people can be communists but do not want to be Marxist communists is because they are unwilling to associate themselves with the cruelties perpetrated by the Soviet regime. Therefore, they hope, or they think—I am sure with sincerity—that with a pure form of communism they will reform the world and make it a happier place. Of course, that is quite impossible because if it were not for capitalism the rest of the world would starve even worse than it is starving now. As we know, before the First World War Russia was the greatest grain exporter in the world and today it is the greatest grain importer.
I want to speak about Africa, of which I have had some experience. I shall not bring South Africa into it because I was hoping that my noble friend Lord Kimberley would speak about South Africa; but he does not appear to be here. A long time ago I was extremely keen on the information services and the external broadcasting services. I initiated one or two debates in this House on this subject. I begged the powers that be to give more money to the external broadcasting service because I considered it to be of extreme importance in combating communism in the undeveloped countries. My arguments fell on deaf ears. At that time the external broadcasting services were costing only £3 million. At the same time Russia was spending £500 million, with the result that it captured Africa. With illiterate and semi-illiterate people, broadcasting and, today, television is of extreme importance. I have been a soldier myself, although a very junior one, but I have always said that the pen is mightier than the sword. If you can capture the minds of men you will capture the world. The Soviets knew that and acted accordingly.
We made a great many mistakes in Africa in those days. We gave the Soviets an almost open hand to take control of Africa. For instance, when we scuttled out of our responsibilities in Africa the Prime Minister of the day said that we had freed 700 million people. Not all were in Africa and he was probably thinking also of India. We gave them freedom but I am afraid that we did not give them the freedom that many wanted. Many of them found themselves under their own leaders but in extremely corrupt and tyrannical regimes. They would have been far better off under the impartial justice of British administration and they would have been able to think somewhat better for themselves; but they were completely mesmerised by Russian propaganda, as were their leaders.
Finally, we sold the pass to Russia when we applied for sanctions on Rhodesia at the United Nations The United Nations at that time was infiltrated by Russia, and many of our former colonies were members of it 1079 and followed Russia. Many international lawyers, and lawyers here, said at the time that the imposition of sanctions was illegal; but I do not want to go into that as it is all history and we cannot undo what has been done. Once you have imbued something into people's minds, certainly into Africans, it is very difficult to undo it. In some ways we must admire the Russians for being so much cleverer than us on this indoctrination. We are very bad at that.
The amazing thing is that the Russians obtained this vast power and influence in Africa without firing a shot—not officially, because we all know that Russia works through mercenaries like the Cubans, and so on. It is an amazing achievement but it was to a great extent helped by us and by some of our media—no doubt unwittingly. The other aspect, which I believe the noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby, had something surprising to do with, was when we gave £.15 million to the communist regime in Mozambique during the trouble in Rhodesia. I think that the right honourable lady, Judith Hart, was Minister for Overseas Development.
I should like to say a word about the invasion of Afghanistan. It was, as far as I am aware, the only time apart from in Europe where Russia used its army. That invasion came as a great surprise to many people but we must remember that two years previously Russia had put one or two of its men in the Afghanistan Government, or in high places in Afghanistan. We should not have been as surprised as we were. We should have tried to stop the war. I know that there was very little we could do, but if our intelligence had been better we might have been able to discourage the Russians from going to war because from Afghanistan's point of view it has been an absolute disaster. I do not see what we can do about it now. However, we do have one hope. I had the honour last autumn of entertaining some people from the commercial side of the Chinese Embassy. I understand that China will not agree to any new treaty with Russia unless Russia pulls out of Afghanistan. I sincerely hope that that will come to pass.
I should like to refer now to the new Russian leader, Mr. Gorbachev. I see a glimmer of light there. He is, I believe, the youngest leader of Russia since the Bolshevik revolution; or rather, since Stalin. Therefore, I see some light, but I cannot see Mr. Gorbachev doing a great deal until the old guard fades away. The Kremlin is very conservative in its way. I think that even Mr. Andropov saw the weakness in the Russian economy and was trying to do something about it, but he did not last long enough to achieve any change. I think it will help that Russia's economy is very much overstretched and inefficient. They have made vast promises of great financial help to the African states, but this has never been forthcoming. All they have provided are arms, and I think the African states are becoming a little restive about that.
I should like to raise the question of South Africa for a few moments. The new developments in South Africa have rather taken us all by surprise in the past few months. The South African Government has become a lot more co-operative; the franchise is now larger, and they are being very reasonable over Namibia. I do not think Russia wants that. It has been 1080 rather a shock to her. She would rather see South Africa at loggerheads with the West. I think the men in the Kremlin are very worried.
I understand that Soviet Russia is trying a new form of propaganda in that they are saying that the two super powers—the United States and Russia—should now look after the 205 lesser powers, to lead them in the right way, and they will not alter their wishes in any way. That is complete nonsense. They are really suggesting that the United States and Russia divide the world into two halves. If that is the propaganda that they are going to indulge in it must surely be a trick because it would be completely out of keeping with their whole attitude.
It would be disastrous if Russia ever got control of the minerals in South Africa. If they did, unemployment would probably treble in the West, and especially in this country because, as we all know, there are certain minerals there which are vital for our industry. I hope that this new leader will try—he will have to wait until the old guard go—to have better relations with the West. If that happens, this will be a far nicer world to live in, without the blackmail of the atomic bomb that we always have to put up with. If we ever try to check Russia in any way, there is always that blackmail.
Before I sit down, I should like to take up some remarks of the right reverend Prelate. I know he is not here, but I am not going to say anything which would annoy him. I understood him to say that half the population of Russia were now practising Christians. The population of the whole of Russia is 270 million. I understand that nearly half are followers of Islam, and it is not so far ahead when that population will be larger than that of European Russia. What I should like to have asked the right reverend Prelate was: if there are that number of Christians in Russia, where on earth do they worship? Before the Revolution there were over 900 churches in Moscow alone. Now I understand that there are only 60. That applies throughout the Soviet Union, so I should like to have heard his explanation of how there are 135 million practising Christians in Russia.
My Lords, I have spoken for too long, I think; but I should like to repeat that I see some hope with this new leader.
§ 8.16 p.m.
§ Lord Hankey
My Lords, I am very glad to support my noble friend Lord Home's Motion. I think it is most important to improve our relations with the Soviet Union and to have a constant dialogue with the Russians on all current international questions. But we really must not be bamboozled any more. I propose to embroider this theme.
In my 38 years as a diplomat I served in five countries neighbouring on Russia and also dealt with the USSR and with communist policies generally for a number of crucial years in the Foreign Office itself. My first visit to Moscow was with Anthony Eden in 1934. Hitler had left the League of Nations and was rearming, and the problem was to draw Russia into a more effective system of collective security. It was obviously in Russia's interest too, and the atmosphere was quite good. I remember we went to lunch with 1081 Litvinov, the Soviet Foreign Minister, at his dacha outside Moscow. The door was opened by Mrs. Litvinov, who turned out to be a Londoner. She greeted us warmly with the words "Well, fancy you coming to lunch with a horrid old bolshie like me". We went in laughing and the atmosphere never declined.
To cut a very long story short, we brought the Russians into the League of Nations and we had a certain amount of co-operation with them in those years, until the Spanish Civil War and Munich, which was an awful calamity. Please note carefully that it was in those years of reasonable relations that the Soviet Union recruited in Cambridge Burgess and Maclean, Philby, Blunt and certainly many more of our countrymen. They also penetrated Spain in a big way, and the amount of communism they were able to introduce in parts of Spain certainly contributed to the rise of Franco. I am not saying anything on Franco's side in this, but there are things to be said on both sides.
Come forward, my Lords, to the last part of the war and to the terrible aftermath. We were allies with Russia and we really tried our utmost to help the Russians. Our people at home really wanted to believe in Russian friendship. Mr. Churchill and President Roosevelt got to know Stalin quite well and could not easily believe he would be as mistrustful after the war as he had been before. We hoped to co-operate in a post war settlement of Germany. But note carefully what happened: it was in those years that the USSR reneged on the Yalta and Potsdam agreements and they forcefully communised Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Albania, Romania and Bulgaria, and we only just saved Greece.
They had previously absorbed Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia into the Soviet Union. They had a good shot at the Finns, but the Finns were too tough for them. They communised East Germany, contrary to all the agreements we had made with them. If it had not been for the Marshall Plan, OEEC and NATO, for all of which we must be greatly indebted to the Americans and to our great Foreign Secretary, Mr. Ernest Bevin, and I must say also to the generous bipartisan support from Mr. Churchill and Mr. Anthony Eden in Parliament, I think Stalin might well have communised the whole of Western Europe. I know that he intended to do that. There really was a cold war, but it was Stalin's cold war and definitely not ours.
In the 1950s the scene changed again. Stalin died in 1953. A new era opened. B & K travelled all over the place, if your Lordships remember. We were extremely glad to see them and we all tried hard to open the way for better times. But then what happened? That attractive wolf in sheep's clothing, Fidel Castro, replacing an unpopular and brutal dictatorship, was established in Cuba and became a centre of support for subversive moments in Latin America, led by brilliant guerrilla leaders like Che Guevara. When the French had to withdrew from Indo-China, another brilliant guerrilla leader, Ho Chi Minh, communised North Vietnam; and, finally, in spite of the agreements which we had made and about which we were told today, conquered South Vietnam, where the Soviet Union has now one of the biggest and 1082 best naval bases in the Pacific. Attention has been drawn today to the domino effect, which is now going on in South East Asia. Incidentally, the Soviet Union also got a naval base in India from which area we had withdrawn. Does not all that call for some reflection?
In the 1970s, we had the heady period of détente. We are greatly indebted to my noble friend Lord Moran for the fascinating description that he gave of the misuse of those attractive phrases by the Soviet Union. Having lived for years behind the Iron Curtain, including in Hungary, I listened with fascination and agreed with everything that he said. But, unfortunately, the Helsinki agreement did not carry us very far on human rights behind the Iron Curtain. President Carter was bamboozled by the talk of detente, which he construed quite differently from the correct way that my noble friend put it. The Europeans were in a mess and were bamboozled also. In those years, the Russians secured communist control of Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Libya and South Yemen. They have a naval base in Aden now and they have troops on Socotra Island—something that we never achieved. Now of course there is Aghanistan. They also laid the groundwork for extensive penetration and subversion in Central America which, if it now succeeds, would change the balance of power in the world. We really have to watch that situation, although like the mass of my countrymen I do not like it.
Over 50 years the Russians have taken advantage of every improvement in our official relations with them to recruit agents among us, to press forward insidiously to get influence and even control of more and more countries in the outside world and to undermine Western influence there. It is what the French call un recul pour mieux sauter, and we have to look out for that. They have built up a world-wide fleet, far too big to be purely defensive. Their very high level of armaments, both conventional and nuclear, hangs like a dark cloud over Europe and over all their neighbours.
It is extremely important to negotiate an understanding to limit or reduce the arms race. We cannot do that from a position of inferiority. Any act of unilateral disarmament on our side would be entirely counterproductive and probably very dangerous. I am very sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, is not present to hear me say that. I speak from great experience of dealing with these people. The conclusion of this short review of our era is, I think, very clear: try to be friends with the bear but do not let him hug you. That is very dangerous.
Now we have this new leader in Russia, Mr. Gorbachev, with a far more agreeable and forthcoming personality than his predecessors. How ought we to handle our relations with him in the light of our previous experience over the years? I think that it is extremely important—but extremely important—to lose no opportunity of settling outstanding problems with the Russians. Let us get our official relations on the best possible basis. I agreed with everything that the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill of Harrow, said about getting the widest possible contacts. Let them go on with the scientists and everybody else. Let them get to know lots and lots of 1083 Russians. I think that the Russians have more to learn—and, in a way, to lose—from contacts with us than we have from contacts with them.
We should realise the importance of "the idea". I agreed very much with what my noble friend Lord Mayhew said. I do not think that we have to be ashamed of what we have done. We have done a splendid job in Europe. But the force of "the idea" is something that the British underrate. We underrated the force of Hitler's idea. That was a great error. We never believed that he would start extermination camps; I could not possibly believe it. With the Russians also their ideas are very important.
I remember once going to a dreadfully boring dinner party in Warsaw and sitting opposite General Spychalski who was the principal communist in the Polish army. After a time the dinner got too boring and I fixed the general with a beatling eye and said, "Now look, General, there is something I don't understand about what you do". "Why, what's that?". "Well", I said, "you purvey politics to the Polish army, don't you? If we purveyed politics to our army, they probably wouldn't fight. How do you explain the difference?" "Ah", he said, "you haven't understood the position at all. You see, your secret weapon is the atom bomb but our secret weapon is 'the idea'. We believe that if you combine a million men together with the same good idea they will fight even better than if they had an atom bomb". That was a jolly good answer. I just say to your Lordships that we have a very, very good idea in our democracy and it is reasonably successful. I wish that we had less unemployment; it is dangerous. But our democratic idea is something that I think we have to propagate and to bear in mind in our relations with the Soviet Union and the satellites.
It is amusing to recall that General Spychalski was later accused—not so much later—of having co-operated with me and the American ambassador to produce a counter-revolution and introduce a regime of priests and landlords. I had already left Poland. I was not a Catholic, although I belong to the Church of England, and I had never owned a square yard of land, so I thought that this was a big joke. But General Spychalski was condemned to 10 years in prison, and I was careful not to go back to Poland. When Stalin died, he was let out after three months, and he became Minister of Defence and later was President of Poland for years and years. That shows your Lordships what communist justice consists of.
I think that we should do our best to get to know Mr. Gorbachev. I think that Mrs. Thatcher's line was quite right: "We think quite differently about a lot of things but we can do useful business together". Even little problems which remain unsettled have a way of causing enormous damage over the years. I think that we should do what we can to settle them. We should always be polite to him, and we should try never to snub him or brush his suggestions aside without consideration, or at any rate not more than we absolutely have to, so long as our own people are not misled or bamboozled by it.
Any summit meeting should have the most careful preparation; and let us have no leaks about this. One cannot negotiate or settle delicate questions if every 1084 move is published and perhaps misrepresented in the media. I think it would be very dangerous not to make an absolutely major effort to settle this dreadful problem of disarmament. I was at the disarmament conference in 1933. I think this is one of the most difficult subjects that can be approached. The balance of weapons and missiles and the control of any agreement reached is extremely difficult and important. The rule should be totally secret negotiations and absolutely open agreements.
I think it would be wrong to expect Mr. Gorbachev to make big changes in policy at once. He has to work with the existing Politburo, though he is sure to make changes in its composition when the new one is elected next autumn. Some members have died; others are clearly old enough for retirement. He has great internal problems to solve but I do not believe that we should count on their being so great as to force him to change his foreign or armaments policy unless he wants to and can carry the Politburo with him in doing that. On this I agree with what my noble friend Lord Moran said. I thought yesterday's leader in The Times was substantially true but slightly overdrew the picture. It was too highly coloured. All the same, I think that we should get Mr. Gorbachev used to having constant contacts with us and try to build up mutual understanding.
A great deal has been said about subversion. I am extremely concerned about it. However, I do not propose to repeat everything that has been said. I shall go straight on to say that I think we are faced with a renewed period of subversion in the NATO countries and no doubt outside. We have to be careful about this. I have been very struck by the coal strike and by some other matters. The instructions for communists, or communist agents, abroad used to be these. First of all, you collect reliable cadres. Then you train them in subversion; but, more particularly, you train them to come together suddenly at certain points where they can make trouble or join in trouble, and always to blame the police and the authorities. These used to be the standard instructions.
I do not know what the instructions are now in the schools which have been established all over the communist area. It is a matter of great concern. However, the instructions that I have mentioned correspond exactly with what has happened in some cases about which we have heard. My mind goes back to the Grunwick case. I think of the troubles that Mr. Eddie Shah had. It is monumentally clear that Scargill and his merry boys were carrying out some kind of policy based on that line of thought. I think it is dangerous. We have to watch it. I agree with my noble friend Lord Mayhew that we do not know how much of it is communist; some of it may be Trotskyite. I entirely agree with him. There are cross-currents now in the extreme Left-wing which are very difficult to follow.
This brings me to my next point. I am sure that it is essential that our intelligence authorities should study most carefully what is being prepared and what is going on, look out for other attempts at subversion or terrorism, and make sure that we defend our democracy by all possible means. If telephones have to be tapped, so be it, so long as it is under proper control. I welcome the Interception of Communications Bill 1085 which was recently laid before your Lordships' House. We must not be too wet to defend our democracy. Once one has lived, as I have, in places where truth, mercy and justice have all been abolished, one feels very strongly about this. The basic principle is that the defence against subversion has to come primarily from secret intelligence organisations—and I say "secret". We absolutely have to have them.
This brings me to my next point. Our intelligence organisations, by which I mean MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, and I suppose the Special Branch of the police, really must be protected against unauthorised publicity. How can they work effectively if their personnel, premises, safe houses, activities and methods are written about by investigative journalists, broadcast by "Panorama" and Channel 4, written up in books by well known communists like Philip Agee, and so on?
The "Panorama" broadcast, describing our intelligence organisations in detail, some two years ago, was an absolute scandal. The Channel 4 broadcast last month, giving fascinating but very damaging publicity to our intelligence organisations by a shameless renegade, Ms. Massiter, and others, was even worse. There is at present no effective legal means of stopping this. I agree with what my noble friend Lord Stewart of Fulham said about this. His remarks hit the nail on the head absolutely squarely.
Make no mistake about it. Because our defence against subversion, spying, and terrorism depends upon these intelligence organisations and the police, they are obvious targets for Soviet and militant Left-wing attempts to undermine them. We should certainly doubt the real intentions or loyalty of all those who seek to damage their effectiveness and secrecy.
If we are at all correct in expecting an upsurge of Soviet penetration and subversion now, we must take early steps to defend our intelligence organisations. We need a much better and more sensible Official Secrets Act, as the Government and your Lordships' House recognised in our debate of 20th March. We need better legal provisions and procedures which will make it impossible for people like Ms. Massiter, Channel 4, "Panorama" and Philip Agee to get away with it without effective prosecution. And we must protect the police against the innuendoes of the Left-wing militants like Arthur Scargill and others.
To conclude, I urge that we take every possible step to promote good relations with Mr. Gorbachev's Government. We must urgently take effective measures to protect the anonymity and secrecy of our intelligence organisations which are our primary defence against any subversion drive. In the next one minute I want to look forward. The wind may be blowing in the wrong direction. However, if any of your Lordships have sailed a yacht you know quite well that if you cannot go straight you turn to the right and tack a little, and then you turn to the left and tack a little. This is an occasion when some tacking in European diplomacy is required. I should like to see us take advantage of the present situation to strengthen Europe. Let us join the EMS. Let us build up Europe. We shall need a stronger Europe to face a stronger Soviet Union in the future. We should take advantage of the present situation to go forward with a positive policy on that line.
§ 8.39 p.m.
§ Lord Beloff
My Lords, as has been said, we are all very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, for introducing this wide-ranging topic for our debate, and for his own speech, based, as it was, upon practical experience of almost unique length in this field.
I should like to comment from quite a different point of view. My only claim is a long academic study of this subject. From it I derive a feeling that had the Motion been mine I should not have framed it quite in these terms, for this reason. It distinguishes between the desire, which we all share and which has been generally expressed, that we should seek, where possible, better relations with the Soviet Union. However, there exist certain obstacles to progress in the way, largely of Soviet activities, subversion and so on, which other noble Lords have detailed. This is, I think, a false dichotomy. It is rather like saying, if contemplating a weekend guest, that you would quite like to have So-and-So to stay—he is a nice chap and you would like to get on with him—were it not for his habit of spitting in the soup, seducing the maid, or whatever it may be. You have to take nations as you have to take people—as a whole.
The conclusion, I believe, that one must reach after the Soviet phenomenon, that has now gone on for a very long time, is that the external activities of the Soviet Union are part and parcel of the Soviet regime itself. They are not separable from it. Therefore, as long as the Soviet regime continues to be based upon the doctrines of Marxism-Leninism, one simply has to take for granted that they will behave in this way. The reason is this. Whereas we keep trying to find ways, whether through the reduction of armaments, through the conclusion of treaties or through economic means, by which a greater measure of stability can be brought into the world (we would all feel happier if we thought that the newspapers for the next 10 years would have nothing in them but trivia and that the international situation would suddenly stabilise and give us no cause for sleepness nights), the Soviet Union has been committed from the beginning to an entirely different view of the world.
It is a view in which stability is not something to be sought, a view in which the world is seen, as other noble Lords have said, as a struggle between two different conceptions, this struggle being partly waged by the traditional means of diplomacy, armoured strength, or a combination of both, and partly by a correct appreciation of what are the great social movements in the rest of the world and the extent to which they can be used to forward the purposes of Soviet diplomacy and the ultimate coming of the world communist state to which they look forward in some far distant utopian future.
This seems to be an answer to a point that was forcefully made by the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, that we on this side are alarmist. I agree with the noble Lord that one can easily overlook the ebb and flow and that the relations of forces, in Soviet language, look different from year to year and decade to decade. There, I would agree with him, but not, I think, with the point that he made, the perfectly correct point factually, that a great many of these movements or organisations that worry us are nowadays not directly 1087 controlled or even directly inspired by the Soviet Union and that in some cases—for instance, in the case of most of the organisations that are broadly styled Trotskyist—they are actually hostile to the Soviet Union, at any rate under its present rulers. Although all that is true, it does not make much difference. The fact is that if there is brought into our affairs disorder and industrial strife and if we are inhibited from deploying weapons that we believe important for our own defence, then, whether it is a communist party, a communist front organisation, a Trotskyist party or even, if you like, an idealist movement like CND professes to be, the result, from the Soviet point of view, is exactly the same. The West is weakened and their relative power is enhanced. That is why I do not find the consolation that the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, finds in that particular line of argument.
There is, of course, a very important reason why the Soviet Union will not be satisfied with that, why it will always try and, no doubt, is trying now, to draw back into its orbit even movements which, in their own language, objectively give them an advantage. The reason is that it is clearly important, or could be important in certain international circumstances, to be able to ask a movement of this kind rapidly to change fronts and to seek a different objective. If one looks back to the 1930s, to which reference has been made by the noble Lords, Lord Hankey and Lord Greenhill, and others, one has some admirable examples of exactly this. The line that was propagated by the Kremlin and accepted by Soviet communist parties at that time varied a great deal. At one moment it was to bring about some kind of anti-Nazi alliance. But as soon as the Soviet Union, for reasons we need hardly go into in this debate, decided that it would do better to come to terms with Nazi Germany, the whole of that propaganda effort was switched off, and propaganda against the war-making machine, the military preparations, and war conducted against Nazi Germany by Britain and France was turned on.
It is true that when this happened—there have been other examples—a certain number of people were shed. Far more people have passed through the Communist Party, certainly in all Western countries, than have ever belonged to it at any one time. But it is still clearly thought by the Soviet Union advantageous to have available to it in key countries organisations which will react very quickly to what the Soviet Union thinks is a major threat. In the field of armaments someone mentioned the campaign against the neutron bomb and the campaign against NATO's two-track decision. It may occur in diplomatic terms, There has always been—understandably if you like, if you place yourself in the Kremlin's position—a fear of the coming together of the main non-communist powers in workable alliances. In the case of NATO there have been efforts, and no doubt this will continue, to make ourselves suspicious of the United States or indeed, in so far as the Soviet Union has access to people in the United States, to make the United States less confident of its European allies. We must expect, in other words, that there will be a constant combination of straightforward power politics diplomacy, as has always run through the ages, and this particular advantage which the Soviet Union enjoys of having movements which help it to tilt the balance in its favour.
1088 The difficulty, as pointed out by the noble Lord, Lord Hankey, and others, is that in a competition of this kind, although we should like, of course, to do our best to cultivate movements on the other side of the Iron Curtain that look to Western ideals for inspiration, democracies start at a considerable disadvantage. We cannot, without bringing in oppressive measures, prevent a great deal of this activity. If we have repressive measures, civil libertarians and others who might otherwise be suspicious of the Soviet Union and its friends may flock to its banner whereas the Soviet Union can and does act, together with its neighbouring countries, as the noble Lords, Lord Hankey and Lord Greenhill, reminded us, in that way. Therefore, there is a disadvantage in that competition.
Since we still need to make or to attempt to make agreements, the question that we must ask ourselves is on what basis those agreements can be made and in which directions we should look for progress. It may have been thought—and I believe that this is one of the main examples of the way in which, whereas the West's policy has fluctuated, Soviet policy has been constant—that the great change made in the world for mankind, the invention of nuclear weapons, would itself create a great change. Everyone agrees that it has created a great change for us. Deterrence by bombers was more frightening than deterrence by dreadnoughts. However, deterrence by nuclear weapons gives us far greater qualms of conscience, and understandable qualms of conscience, than deterrence by manned aircraft.
On the Soviet side, however, this vision—if you like, this apocalyptic vision—of the possible destruction of humanity, which is brought before us with some constancy by certain noble Lords in this House, never seems to have made a very deep impression. The nuclear weapon has somehow or other been absorbed into their political and military doctrines and the language of military writing—textbooks. The language of diplomacy is not very different now from what it was before these awesome weapons came upon us. Therefore, we cannot expect fear to be the solvent, although that does not mean that, for reasons which others have gone into, an attempt to seek some kind of armaments agreement is not still the first of our priorities.
The other and longer-term question is, if not the transcendence by fear, then the transcendence by love. In other words, can the common humanity which has been raised and which is talked about in relation to cultural and scientific co-operation and exchanges, can that sense that we are all human beings, somehow or other bridge this frightful gap? I think that in the long run, but only in the very long run, that is our only hope, because I do not believe that the Soviet Union, until it has found a different way of articulating its beliefs, a different relation between Government and subjects, or, if you like, between rulers and people, can be more than a dangerous and difficult adversary in world politics. However, it is tremendously important when we look for signs that this is happening that we should not let ourselves be carried away too easily.
I am sorry that the right reverend Prelate is no longer with us because in his speech I thought that he blurred a very important distinction between the Soviet regime and the Russian people or the peoples of 1089 the Soviet Union. When he talked about (and I believe this to be a correct observation) the growth of interest in the practice of religion, the right reverend Prelate did not sufficiently make it clear that this was not something which was encouraged by the official, recognised Orthodox Church, but was the work of believers who were doing it against a background of very intense and at times dangerous persecution. That has been amply documented by Keston College itself, to which the right reverend Prelate referred.
The right reverend Prelate was answered from a Christian point of view by my noble friend Lord Lauderdale. However, he also—and this is the only matter which justifies my dwelling on the point—talked of an increase in Jewish observance. I know enough about my co-religionists in the Soviet Union to know that, while it is certainly true that there has been a revival of interest in Judaism, in the Bible and in Hebrew, where that is followed through it leads to very intense and at times deadly persecution. It is not lawful to prepare people for the rabbinate, to teach Hebrew, or to circulate the Hebrew Bible. Anyone who does any of those things is liable to find himself in very severe trouble.
Therefore, although we may talk about the revival of religion in the Soviet Union and look to that perhaps in the long run as a bridge between the Soviet Union and the West, bridging what the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, called a basically theological gap, it is not something that we can consider at the moment except in terms of admiration for those whose faith is strong enough to stand up against persecution. The fact that a small, tolerated, state-controlled, Orthodox Church has meetings with churchmen from other countries does not by any means obviate the truth of these remarks.
Finally, we have been asked to look at the matter in historical perspective. For a child, historical perspective may be a matter of months; for an adult it may be a matter of years; for a nation it may be a matter of centuries. In the past we have had religious wars, some of which are still unresolved on their edges, between Christian and Moslem, between different branches of the Christian Church, and between Moslem and Hindu on the Indian sub-continent. Those are not matters which come to a head and which are somehow resolved by a treaty or an agreement in a matter of years or decades. They are matters which continue and which can and do cause loss of life and conflict. It may well be that the phenomenon of the Soviet Union—this curious unity that has Come about between a regime which holds itself partly by force and partly by presenting itself to itself, if you like, as the embodiment of a world cause—may go on, alas!, long after even the youngest of your Lordships has passed from the scene.
Our problem—the problem of Her Majesty's Government and of our allies—is how, recognising the difficulty that this presents, they can still manage to extract from it that minimum of agreement, contact and co-operation which will at least keep our descendants alive to see the change when it happens.
§ 8.59 p.m.
§ Viscount Trenchard
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Home has performed another service of many services in a long lifetime of fairly selfless services and 1090 with his unique experience has given us all a great deal to think about. I am on the side of those who believe that, while the new talks are important—and talks are always important for all the good reasons that the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill of Harrow, and others mentioned particularly to prevent misunderstandings and possible mistakes—nevertheless the Russians are not likely, as noble Lords have made clear, to abandon their doctrines. They will, whatever they agree at the conference table, continue to interfere, and, if possible, to swallow any other parts of the world where opportunity presents.
It is nice to hope that they now have accepted coexistence of their part of the world with the rest, but, as has been pointed out clearly, there has been no evidence that is so either in the areas of armed expansion and intervention or in the areas of subversion, misinformation and propaganda. I believe that the dangers for this country are propaganda, disinformation, subversion and causing trouble wherever possible. There is certainly no sign of diminution. Although there are many other countries where the dangers are greater than in the United Kingdom, there could be a danger in under-estimating the dangers in the United Kingdom.
The first reason I believe that the danger should not be underestimated in the United Kingdom lies in the appalling performance economically of this country under governments of all parties throughout the 1960s and 1970s, so that we are today down to No. 16 in the order of wealth per head in the world, where as in 1960 we were still No. 3. That is the main reason we have even higher unemployment than some other European countries. That is why our social services are inadequate and are constantly criticised as such. That is why our education is not what we should like it to be, and is constantly criticised as such. This soil is fertile soil for sowing seeds in almost every sphere.
The second reason why we are perhaps more vulnerable than we realise is that the interference in this country is not as easy to see as it is in a number of other European countries. It is not labelled "Communist"; indeed, the Communist Party of this country has little influence and its name tends to be counter-productive.
I do not believe because of the second reason that the public as a whole have any proper understanding of the network of Soviet organisations operating under the guidance of their international department, nor of the resources that the Soviet puts behind its subversive campaign. My noble friend Lord Orr-Ewing gave the House the tip-of-the-iceberg picture, as it would take far too long to give the full picture. Nor do I believe that the public have any real appreciation of the conditions in Russia, whether or not the leading article of The Times yesterday went a little over the top. One of the reasons they do not have a clear appreciation of the situation in Soviet Russia lies in the fear of expulsion of our correspondents if they report even that part of the truth that they are able to observe.
With better understanding by the British public both of what goes on here and of what goes on there I should feel a lot happier about our defences against subversion and propaganda. I hope that this debate will have encouraged the Government, the media and all responsible people to make more efforts to ensure 1091 that more of the public in our free society, which must remain free, are aware of what is going on.
The network of front organisations is confusing even to those who have tried to study it. Reference has already been made to the hijacking of words—the words "world", "international", "democratic"; and, more particularly, "peace". How can the public be other than confused—to take the peace area alone, and the same is true in nearly every other area—when they read about the activities of the World Peace Council, the International Institute of Peace, the British Peace Committee, the National Peace Council, the British Peace Assembly, the All-British Liaison Group, the Peace Pledge Union, the Authors for World Peace Appeal, the Artists for Peace, Science for Peace, etc? Let me hasten to add that of those I have mentioned the National Peace Council and the Peace Pledge Union are certainly not front organisations. Most of the rest are, or are very heavily infiltrated by, front organisations, particularly the daddy of them all, the World Peace Council.
I wonder how many editors, let alone their correspondents, know the network of front organisations and their subsidiaries. The same potential for confusion exists in education and in students' organisations, trade unions and with many professional organisation titles. How many editors know? How many people invited as guests to conferences in organisations know who they are supping with? How many reporters know what they are reporting on?
Tens of millions of pounds or even hundreds of millions of pounds must come—and there is evidence that they do come—mainly from the Soviet Union not only to maintain the fronts, but on top of that to feed funds into the critical organisations of our country in order to reach positions of influence. As a result of our freedom, our country abounds with critical organisations. What better way to get elected to the council of any organisation than to be able to secure funds in one form or another? What more fertile soil for sowing seeds of trouble could at present exist than the more disaffected and demoralised areas of our teacher and student population? There the front organisation, the International Union of Students, is the centre of a similar array and network of satellites.
On the apparent tacit assumption that many of us are hell-bent on war, part of our teaching profession at this time has decided, notwithstanding centuries of experience, that a new discipline called peace studies should be taught. I am all for new disciplines in areas where scientific change or the advent of computers makes that obviously necessary, but the causes of war have been taught as objectively as our excellent teaching profession can do in history, geography, English literature, politics and economics for centuries and the causes of war that have been written about have been various. But behind all the causes there has always been a common theme: that whoever the aggressor was he thought he could get away with it; because his intended victim, whatever the reason, for aggression—whether it was religion, economics or social, or whether the aggressor was an adventurer or a desperado—looked too weak in will or substance to inflict any painful damage.
1092 The noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, made an eloquent impassioned appeal for the maintenance of deterrence. Can there be any real doubt, from recent examination of peace studies (to which my noble friend Lady Cox and Dr. John Marks, among others, have made such a contribution) that the objective of much, not all, of the peace studies is to increase the pressure to disarm at home and thus to make us potentially a more tempting and weaker victim? Even where such peace studies seem to have a multilateral disarmament bias, I wonder if those who support them realise that the only pressure that they are effectively exerting is on our own defence at home because of the nature of the Soviet system. This must be known by some who advocate peace studies and encourage them. I do not myself believe that peace studies can be, or should be allowed to be, a single subject because I do not believe that it can be taught objectively and independently in that way. It needs to be taught in the old time-honoured way.
I do not want to over emphasise the point made by my noble friend Lord Orr-Ewing about the very healthy period which lasted the whole time between 1933 and 1972 when known communist front organisations were proscribed by the Labour Party and when membership was deemed to be incompatible with membership of the Labour Party. But it is terribly important. I would also underline the TUC decision taken to withdraw from the World Federation of Trade Unions in 1949. I trust and hope that there will be no risk of their rejoining; although there are more and more contacts with members of WFTU and WPC by unions and union leaders. The point is that, since the end of the proscribed period, these front organisations, which had had a very lean time, have flourished again. They have become much stronger, much more active and much better supported. The situation therefore has become far more dangerous since the Labour Party has swung to the left and removed proscription.
Today, some Members of Parliament and trade unionists, both wittingly and unwittingly, are fostering the purposes of the front organisations. To add to what my noble friend Lord Orr-Ewing has said, there is, I believe, a 20-strong Parliamentarians Committee for Peace which sits under the chairmanship of James Lamond, MP. It is pledged to support the initiatives of the World Peace Council. Do the public realise that 20 MPs, not sitting as communists but sitting as socialists, today in the Socialist Party are pledged to support the initiatives effectively of the Soviet Union? I look at members of the Labour Party opposite whom I have known for a very long time in many different contexts. I ask them whether they really can feel happy about this and whether, in the interests of the preservation of democracy and peace, they have not got to do more about it. Do they not feel the eyes of Attlee, Deakin, Bevin, Gaitskell, Carron and others boring in on them?
I wish to say a quick word on the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. This, of course, is not a front organisation, and it has a wide and varied membership of all sorts and kinds of peace-loving people, which I hope we all are. But I wonder whether they realise how strong the Left-wing influence has become, At this hour, and with 15 minutes on the clock, I shall not go 1093 into that further; but there is no doubt about the strength of the influence of the Left in high places and about the sympathies of those who are really controlling the policy. I just hope that the many noncommunist members of CND will resist the influence of the Left in the movement, which is currently of such obvious delight to the Russians.
I hope that this debate will have made a contribution towards alerting more of the public as to what is going on in our free society. I hope, too, that on some other occasion we can help to draw a clearer picture of life in Russia today, and in Russia as it is seen by those who still get an opportunity to go there. I have not been there myself, but many of my close business associates have, some of them very recently. Some of them get an opportunity to see a wide area of Russia from East to West, and to travel.
I believe that it is questionable as to whether The Times article which has been mentioned today really does overestimate the situation. The stories that certainly I have heard right up to date tell of the appalling, virtually pre-tsarist conditions, with mud tracks through the villages, poor housing, a desperate economy, and prostitution on a large scale in the towns, as well as the other things that have been mentioned during this debate, with evidence of the military everywhere—hundreds of them. One middle-aged and very able director to whom I spoke the other day thought that they looked as though they were on a war footing, the whole aspect, other than in the military area, looking shabby in the extreme, with the terrifying proportion of the richer part of the economy depending on maintaining 15 per cent. of the GDP spent on military weaponry.
I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, that I believe we should not underestimate their technical ability in that military area. By concentrating upon that area with all their technical resources in some respects they are ahead of us and in others they are not far behind. But outside the military area, I doubt whether The Times leading article is in any sense an exaggeration.
If every editor or director-general of TV in our free country would study not only this debate but would read, if he has not already read, the excellent book written by our retiring Ambassador from NATO, Sir Clive Rose, called Campaigns against Western Defence, and if they would take every opportunity to make a greater effort not just to give equal time to two points of view, one of which comes from these many front organisations, but to look at whom they are reporting and to guide their reporters, I would feel happier that the in-roads of this subversion would make less headway.
§ 9.18 p.m.
§ Lord Kagan
My Lords, I have lived in Russia, in Stalin's Russia, for three years, and The Times article is not an exaggeration. The key to better relations with the Soviet Union is a strong Britain inside a united, strong and independent Europe, and a self-reliant Europe. Although this would involve a small surrender of sovereignty to the EEC, it would be a small price to pay to avoid the alternative, which would be "Finlandisation".
1094 The Soviet leadership are chess players, my Lords; they are not poker players; and chess is a pragmatic game, not an ideological game. The assumption that ideology and doctrine rule Moscow is misleading. Russia is an empire; power is its main purpose; security and survival its main concerns. Ideology is merely a tool, a weapon in the armoury. It is retained so long, and only so long, as it serves to maintain or expand power; it is changed or abandoned when it does not.
If Russia ever faced a choice between losing power or abandoning ideology, ideology would be abandoned. The army is the most effective and efficient part of the Soviet state. A Napoleon could emerge. Bolshevism is as relevant to fundamental communism as the Inquisition was to Christianity. It is easy to be misled. At the moment, I think that the Soviet leadership does not any more consider western capitalism as its most dangerous adversary, nor the EEC nor the USA. It becomes a threat only when it weighs in behind the real challengers to the Soviet empire, to Soviet supremacy, and these are, in their view, in the Far East: China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and the emerging Asian economies.
China has a population four times the size of Russia, a massive, docile manpower; it is modest in consumption of its own resources and urgently in need of technological know-how. Japan has a most efficient and effective economy, desperately short of raw materials and space. Over the horizon is Siberia, abundant in raw materials, abundant in space, one person per square kilometre, and that person is not even Russian. If a Japanese imperialist ever dreamt about the ideal world, he would imagine Japanese technology, Chinese manpower and Siberian resources and space. He might pray for it, and the Russians wonder whether he would fight for it. This is the real fear of Russia, and this it must prevent at all costs.
Yet there are signs of closer co-operation between Japan and China. They are each other's biggest trading partners. Did not the Weimar Republic, the German Reichswehr, when it was barred by Versailles from developing tanks and aircraft, do a surrogate operation with Russia? We remember Marshal Blücher, a truly Russian general with a truly Russian name, reorganising the Russian tank forces. Might not Japan's military, barred from atomic weaponry, have thought on these lines? Generals can and do talk over political barriers, because they talk the same language. In fact, long after Hitler came to power, the German Reichswehr still co-operated with the Russians.
The second danger is of course an internal one. The Kremlin, Moscow and Russia are the heart and core of the Soviet empire. The Moslem and non-European minorities in the Soviet Union are increasing in population and influence at a decisively faster rate than the European population, influenced if not pulled by Moslem fundamentalism and fiercely resisting "Russification". In the year 2000, it is expected that the non-European elements in the Soviet population will overtake the white European population of mother Russia, both in number and in influence, thus challenging their supremacy. Anybody who has lived in Russia will not hear it debated in Russia, but is well aware of it.
1095 The third danger are the republics acquired, or so-called liberated, after Yalta: the Baltic states, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and so on. These were shotgun marriages which were accepted, even if not blessed, by the west. These nations proved to be reluctant brides in bed, with great expense, little joy and even less loyalty and fidelity—surely, a doubtful asset to the economy and a great liability to the Soviet Union in times of crisis.
Then of course there are the economic problems which are massive and which have been stated so well by other speakers. Russia has enough problems in her hinterland not to look for any more enemies in the west because it is desperately in need of their friendship and their neutrality. Time was once on the Soviet Union's side. It is not any more so. China is developing rapidly. German industries work very largely for orders from behind the Iron Curtain. Europe is the only continent which can offer the know-how and the manufacturing base to satisfy Russia's huge needs. Finland has been kept as a shop window. Russia is its biggest customer. It chooses not to interfere in the domestic pattern of Finnish life. The Russian message is: "We do not want to fight you. We want to be your trading partners. We want your goods. Our colossal markets will be your future jobs. We do not even want you to take sides. Was Switzerland or Sweden so unwise to stay neutral? Did they damage their nations by it?"
It is a very seductive appeal. Giscard d'Estaing, before Mitterrand, nearly fell for it. He was the first to visit Russia after the Afghanistan affair started. But unless Europe is very strong and very united, it could easily become "Finlandised" and totally lose its independence. It must, it can and it will become too strong to be swallowed. It is not happening yet because of the American shield which, as was said earlier, is the only thing that stands between us at the moment. But sooner or later Russia might offer the USA an accommodation.
They will point out: "We have no real conflict with you. We will get out of your backyard. You will have total control over South America. There you have all the oil you need, all the resources and all the markets that you need. If we stop interfering, there is nobody left to oppose you there. You will be in control. All we ask you is to leave us alone and, in effect, decouple Europe from yourself. The Atlantic should be our frontier of influence. We do not want to occupy Europe. All we want is to trade with it. We are complementary and we need Europe's know-how, its technology and its manufacturing base. We are a market and we need it as a customer for our raw material. Look at Finland! Look at Hungary! We are even encouraging their movement to the incentive economy. Our quarrels are with the East. We have no quarrel with Europe." That will be the Soviet message.
I wonder what will be the USA's response to it. Mr. Gorbachev is going to Washington. Isolationism is latent in America, and Europe is rampant with anti-Americanism, largely fostered by Soviet influence. "Yankee go home" is plastered all over Europe. The help and investment of the Marshall Plan can be measured only by the amount of abuse that the 1096 Americans have had for it. A potential future Labour Government here say quite clearly, "We will send your cruise missiles packing—your protective umbrella". The response might well be, "Don't bother. We will go home and take with us the hundreds of thousands of Americans who do not want to be in Europe at all, and keep the 60 billion dollars a year it costs our taxpayer to keep them in Europe to protect you. If you don't need us, we don't need you. You can look after yourselves. After all, you have a population of 250 million, you have sophisticated know-how and advanced technologies. You can stand on your own two feet, or perhaps you deserve to go down on your own two knees. And instead of living in each other's pockets we will be good and distant friends". With Oscar Wilde, they might say to Europe, "Well, sometimes God punishes us by granting us our wishes".
That could happen; and if this country in a United Europe would make it its top priority not to wait for it, to become strong enough and independent enough to be the third world power, which it can be, it would be nearly as strong as the United States of America and definitely much stronger than the USSR, and a partner, a third world power, and possibly a deciding factor in contributing to the peace of the world. It is possible that even in the counsels of the Kremlin a strong Europe would be preferable to a weak one.
In 1936, when Hitler was plainly preparing for aggression, we disarmed. Now when you talk to the responsible Germans they say, "Why did you let us down, we who cautioned Hitler and tried to defy him, by encouraging and proving him right?" The Soviet Kremlin has factions. The faction which wants peace, particularly with Europe, would be strengthened by a strong Europe and not by the attraction of a vacuum and a weak Europe.
§ 9.32 p.m.
Lord Campbell of Croy
My Lords, like others in your Lordships' House, I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Home of the Hirsel for this debate and for his introductory speech. Towards the end of the debate it seems that the most suitable role for me would be to add a few observations on two subjects: first, comparisons in the handling of information; and, secondly, attempts to influence the education of young people.
The present Soviet leadership could significantly improve relations with the West if they were to give up or to relax some of their past practices. They will doubtless continue to disagree with the West on methods of government and on what they consider to be in the best interests of their own people and of other peoples in the world. But they do stand to benefit from straightforward dealings and reciprocity with the West in their daily business; for example, in trade, culture, transport and tourism.
Let us first consider the handling of information. Here the Soviet Government, in the Helsinki agreements, gave the impression that they were about to adopt a new attitude. It is now 10 years since the Helsinki Final Act was negotiated. Far from implementing the freer flow of information, the Soviet authorities have continued to restrict the circulation of 1097 Western newspapers such as The Times, the Financial Times, Le Monde and Corriere della Sera to a total circulation of about 8,000 in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The only significant British exception is the communist Morning Star. Almost half of its print run is taken up behind the Iron Curtain. This provides an effective subsidy without which it would have collapsed financially in Britain long ago.
The situation is as bad in broadcasting. There are about 3,000 jamming transmitters in the Soviet Union alone. It has been estimated that together they cost more than the combined budgets of the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty.
Still on this subject of exchanges of information, I would draw attention to the supply of books and other materials free of charge to British schools by Novosti Press and by the Soviet Embassy in London. These include Soviet News, Soviet Weekly, New Times, Sputnik and Soviet Woman. These books and papers purvey propaganda only. They are vehicles for disinformation, and many criticise the West. If the Soviet leaders are serious in wanting better relations, they should provide reciprocity in the form of freedom for British publishing houses to distribute books in Soviet schools.
In the meantime, we should ask ourselves: does it matter that the democratic countries of the West lay themselves open to direct or indirect Soviet infiltration? By its nature democracy must be vulnerable. Its precious and cherished attributes of tolerance and freedom of speech are inherently open to abuse. The challenge to us is to protect and maintain these attributes against those who would exploit them. The most effective way of doing so is through education, to give our young generations the opportunities to think critically and to provide them with balanced information about world affairs, the nature of Soviet policy and the realities of life behind the Iron Curtain. This will enable them to put issues of defence and deterrence into a well-informed context. Then, without being complacent about our own economic and social problems they may also appreciate and wish to preserve those aspects of our way of life and national heritage which are worthwhile and which help to preserve freedom.
So I turn to my second subject and examine attempts to influence education in the West and in this country in particular. I start by referring to the International Union of Students, the IUS. Like several other organs of the Soviet front system, such as the World Federation of Trade Unions and the Christian Peace Conference, the IUS has its headquarters in Prague. It campaigns against NATO, but not against the Warsaw Pact. It campaigns against Western but not Soviet nuclear weapons. It takes a special interest in the alleged violations of student rights in noncommunist countries, but ignores arrests and the imprisonment of students and academics within the Soviet empire. When the president and the secretary-general of the IUS dared to voice opposition in 1968 to the crushing of the Czechoslovak national resurgence under Mr. Dubchek, they were very soon removed from office.
It is disquieting to see the forging of links between this Soviet-controlled body and the British National Union of Students, to which a number of British 1098 university and college student unions are affiliated. The office bearers of the British NUS visiting Eastern Europe are reported as publicly uttering Soviet propaganda and criticising Western policies. For example, last year the president of the British NUS did so on a visit to the IUS headquarters in Prague. Also, he said that the British National Union of Students would give publicity to the World Festival of Youth and Students due to take place this summer in Moscow. This brings in another Soviet front organisation—the World Federation of Democratic Youth. Another is the World Peace Council, which seeks for members in this country as elsewhere in the West, and tries to promote "peace studies" in schools.
Wherever such proposals for "peace studies" are put forward in our education system in this country, I urge those in charge to examine their origin and to determine whether their purpose is to advance one point of view only. If so, they are not real studies of ways of maintaining peace and they are not fair to children.
I believe that the early 1950s, in Stalin's days, were the most dangerous time through which we have passed since the end of the 1939–45 war. We came through that period and subsequent years without world wars mainly as a result of the deterrent and our determination to be strong and resist. That was a major factor—probably the main one—contributing to peace among the great powers since 1945. The West must maintain its defensive shield while working for better relations. That should be part of "peace studies".
I hope that your Lordships will allow me a brief reminiscence with which to end. I was a First Secretary at our embassy in Vienna in October 1956, at the time of the Hungarian uprising. It is very vivid in my memory. There was a young general in the Hungarian Army in the uprising named Pal Maleter. When the Russians came in and crushed the uprising with their tanks, he was given sanctuary in the Yugoslav Embassy in Budapest. After a period of time he was assured by the Soviet Government—as were the Yugoslays—of a safe conduct. When that assurance was taken up and General Maleta was released, he was immediately captured. The Soviet Union took no notice of what had been agreed about safe conduct, and he was executed. That was done without scruple. The Yugoslavs were shocked. Even they did not think that such duplicity and ruthlessness were possible.
We must remember that when it is a matter of a leader of that kind who can seem a threat to the Soviet Government, then that Government have no scruples about making sure that such a leader is wiped out.
At that time I remember, too, that the representative in Vienna of the Daily Worker—because that is what the Morning Star, to which I referred earlier, was then named—resigned and left his post. He had seen with his own eyes—with thousands of refugees crossing the border nearby—events which he was not prepared to see reported in his newspaper in an entirely false manner.
Those who have had that kind of experience, close to the events of the day, can see for themselves. It is important that the very many others who can only know of such things at second hand are not misled by determined efforts to misinform them.
§ 9.44 p.m.
§ Lord Kennet
My Lords, according to my count there have spoken in this debate, or will have, three Alliance Peers, five Cross-Benchers and Bishops, six Labour Peers, and 13 Conservatives. It has been a Conservative debate and it is clear that all 13 Conservatives have read Sir Clive Rose's recent and useful book The Enemy Within, or a digest of it.
In my opinion it has been a day of cobwebs—and I shall later come to the question of blowing them away —punctuated by occasional bursts of cobwebbery so majestic as to pass over the frontier into sheer, magnificient eccentricity. We have had two good quotes about British gullibility in regard to the Soviet Union. One was from Wells and the other from Webbs—both 50 years old. We have had the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale, who said—if I remember his words correctly, and he will correct me if I am wrong—that the World Council of Churches and its British member body, the British Council of Churches, fit neatly into Soviet-Marxist propaganda. He said that they have succeeded in turning Christ's Easter peace on its head and making it equivalent to the work of the World Peace Council.
§ The Earl of Lauderdale
My Lords, I said that the Christian peace conference in Prague has turned those things upside down. I said that there is a fascinating overlap between that and the WCC and the BCC and that together they have the effect in some of their pronouncements of turning a thing upside down.
§ Lord Kennet
My Lords, I remember the words "fit neatly", and we shall see in Hansard tomorrow.
The noble Lord, Lord Bauer, seemed to lay most of the world's evils at the door of the correspondence editor of the Guardian. I sometimes feel the same way myself, especially when the paper will not print the more moderate letters sent from this quarter of the British political spectrum; but that was a good eccentric example, too. The noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, believes that the British press does not know the difference between the World Peace Council and the Women's Institute; and the noble Lord, Lord Orr-Ewing, told us that he believes The Times, Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph, Sunday Times and colour supplements carry Soviet disinformation, of course without knowing it, which has been handed to them by the industrial correspondent of the Morning Star. I should very much like to know, as his was a careful and well-thought-out speech, whether the noble Lord has in his pocket any examples of that which he could give to the House. I give him notice of my question.
§ Lord Orr-Ewing
My Lords, I do not have any examples. It is absolutely true that journalists get their stories to investigate and write about from sources which provide entertaining stories. Mick Costello of the Morning Star provides interesting stories. Moderate trade unionists have told me, and repeated it, that they get extremely frustrated and suspicious because their stories of the battle they are fighting to 1100 prevent more union executives being hijacked by the hard Left do not receive coverage, while Mick Costello's stories do. I think it is a judgment, and I am not prepared to reveal the names of the moderate trade unionists any more than any journalist will reveal his sources.
§ Lord Kennet
My Lords, the House will note with interest the judgment reported to it by the noble Lord, Lord Orr-Ewing, and will also note with interest that he cannot produce examples of Soviet disinformation printed by the newspapers he alleged did print disinformation.
The problem of how to live with Russia has been an increasingly important one for this country for 200 years, and in the past 40 years it has been by a long way the most important and the most difficult question facing this country in its foreign relations. I submit that the only sensible way to tackle this terrible problem is to make sure that our judgments of that country are up to date and to base our policy accordingly. I think that most judgments which we have heard in this House today were distinctly not up to date. Russia has a double aspect which makes it very different from any other European country. Not only is it the largest European country, which goes without saying, but it has two other attributes which make it an altogether different kettle of fish.
The first is that in 1914 there were 11 European states with empires outside Europe. The second last, the Portuguese empire, collapsed in the early 1970s, and the last, the Russian, is still there. The whole of the North of Asia is populated by Asians living under the rule of a European people—the last such phenomenon in the world. It seems to me that it is most unlikely that it will endure forever. There is nothing intrinsically different between a North Asian and a South Asian of a corresponding educational level, and the North Asians will not endure it very much longer than their brothers in the South of Asia endured it. When that moment comes it will be one of terrible danger, of course. There is no need to spell out the alternatives which will be open to a beleaguered Russian people who have to give up their empire, the last European empire.
The second attribute is that it is, alone of the European countries, a powerful—I have to put in that proviso because there are others which have the main adjective—the only powerful ideological state. There is an interesting and amusing paradox here. To Marx, that amazing poet of justice, the word "ideology" was a bad word. He laughed at it and regarded it as a distortion of human thought. To his so-called followers—and how far they are from him in the Soviet Union today—it is an ordinary word; they are pleased to have ideological conferences to refine their understanding of this and that. We adopt it about them quite naturally. It seems to us that that is what they are. We should know that it is we who are using the word "ideology" in the Marxist sense when we cry it down, when we put it in inverted commas and hold it in a certain degree of intellectual contempt.
There is at present an ideological—or as we should say, perhaps, intellectual—ferment in the Soviet 1101 Union about the nature of society and about the future of their socialist or, as some Russians say, communist government. At the moment they are all agreed—Chernenko laid it down before he even became leader of Russia—that non-antagonistic contradictions may exist in mature socialism. That was his formulation about four or five years ago. That means that not all is peace and beauty the instant you have had a socialist revolution. We remember that Marx said there was going to be no more state and the human race within socialist society would enter Nirvana. In Russia they do not claim to have done that, and recently they have admitted the continuation of these so-called non-anatogonistic contradictions.
There is now in the last year or two a lively intellectual debate about whether non-antagonistic contradictions in a socialist society might flip, might topple over into antagonistic contradications. The debate is fought out largely in terms of the Polish experience. The Russians are arguing about Poland. Was what happened in Poland in 1980 merely the result of imperialistic interference, in which case they were exploiting non-antagonistic contradictions and making them antagonistic; or is it possible that it was the intrinsic result of Polish experience, in which case they are in the presence of an antagonistic contradiction within a socialist society? This gives them no end of trouble. It would, would it not? It is the kind of thing they live on.
They are not allowed to talk freely about it, but fortunately we are, and to us and I believe to some Russians—it came out in the Samizdat publications—it is perfectly clear that that was an antagonistic contradiction. It was, in short, a workers' revolution against the state. That is what Solidarity was, and it is what it would be again if it had half a chance. We can all see that. That is a communist state. Are they or are they not going to achieve the intellectual maturity in Russia to admit that truth and to say that struggles continue, revolutions continue, and justice has to be renewed with an open mind from generation to generation?
This poses problems for us. All these things pose problems for us. We have to live with this strange creature, the Russian state. Treaties govern much of it, and much has been said about treaties. We have to insist as best as we can that those with whom we sign treaties keep them. The Russians have a record on treaty-keeping which is not among the worst in the world. The one which jumps to my mind when I think of Soviet infraction of a treaty is the Montreux Convention of the 1930s about passing aircraft carriers through the Bosphorus. It prohibited it. The Russians passed an aircraft carrier through the Bosphorus about five years ago and have since then passed one or two more. What did we do? We did nothing. Was there any protest from the other signatories of that convention, including ourselves? Not a word was said. We cannot expect them to keep treaties if we do not show that we mind when they break them. We, too, are to blame in that matter.
Afghanistan is still a bit of the old Russia. They are still collecting pieces of Asia. It is surprising that it 1102 should have happened so late. I imagine that it happened because of the great feeling of confidence in the late 1970s, to which I shall come in a minute. It is not a human rights matter. Invaders always behave brutally. By definition they are unwelcome, so they behave brutally. Human rights is best, I think, conceptually limited to the native country of the government whose conduct we are measuring. This is an invasion and of course it has led to refugees, cruelty, bombing, strafing and all the rest of it. Invasions always do. That is an international offence and not a human rights issue, which is a domestic matter.
As was said by the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, with some eloquence at the beginning, in these judgments we have to remember that it is a bipolar world. There is another super-power in it. The United States since Vietnam has not done anything like Afghanistan. Let us pray that it will not, but the question of Nicaragua is inescapable at this point. I am hound to put this quite blandly and almost personally. President Reagan has told us that Nicaragua is already behind the Iron Curtain and that it is a communist dictatorship. I was able to visit it twice last year during the run up to the election and to visit it during the election.
The country that I saw and the country that was reported to President Reagan by his ambassador, as I know from conversations with him, was a country where a nationalist socialist dictatorship which had seized power in the civil war was gradually liberalising itself. It held an election last year in which the turn-out was only 70 per cent. and the vote for the Sandinistas was 63 per cent. of that 70 per cent. It is commonly said that the abstention of a powerful and respected block of so-called "Right-wing", but really, just capitalist, opinion in that country, and the fact that that block did not choose to take part in the elections invalidates the elections; to which the answer can only be that the Right-wing parties which took part got 31 per cent. of the vote. That simply suggests to me that one of the Right-wing blocks knew how to fight democratic politics and the other did not.
One thing I believe that we have forgotten in this whole debate is that there is an arms race. Russia is not operating alone facing Western Europe, still less facing this country; and it is not operating in a political field. It is operating in a politico-economico-military field, and the extent to which military considerations dominate Russian thoughts and fears can, in my experience, hardly be exaggerated.
The noble Lord, Lord Thomas, in a characteristically interesting and well informed speech, said that he believed that the Soviet military build up over the past eight years was due to Kissinger making concessions—Kissinger and Carter; let us block the two together. If that were so, how easy life would be now in the Reagan age when no more concessions are made, and how good and quiet relations with Russia should be. But they are not. I believe that the reality is more difficult than that and more tragic. The Soviet build up had its origins long before the Kissinger age. It had its origins in the Kennedy build up which began in 1962. That is the timescale of the arms race: what I do now I will see your reaction to in 20 years, and vice versa. Mankind is on a very slow pendulum, and 1103 the fact that each stroke takes the destructive capacity of the weapons yet higher does not mean that the strokes are getting faster.
Let us look for a minute at the most recent experiences of the Soviet Union. In 1977 they were so confident of their military superiority, and that they were up-and-up in the Carter world, that they turned down, without discussion, consideration or acknowledgment, President Carter's proposal that both sides should halve their nuclear armouries. After Watergate and the Vietnam humiliation, the Russians thought they could do what they liked.
Then there were the Polish events which began this agonised debate in the Soviet Union, which has only just come to the surface. At that very moment, or very soon after the Polish events, Russia entered three or four years of what we may perhaps call rule by a person in terminal illness, which meant that the Russian Government were going forward on a kind of Heath Robinson auto-pilot. Perhaps one may call that period the period of Russian "comatocracy", if I may coin a word. During that time President Reagan was spending and spending on his new defence plans.
The Soviet Union has now in effect woken up under a new, younger and more conscious leader. President Reagan sees himself as riding some kind of endless wave of triumph which will carry him to an apotheosis which perhaps is not too clearly defined, even in his own mind. However, this wave rides on an unsustainable deficit. What it is storing up economically for the American people in the future is alarming and saddening to think about. Future generations will pay in many ways for what is now going on in many countries.
I now come to the new Soviet ruler, Mr. Gorbachev. A typical Gorbachev quote is when he said in a recent interview:Confrontation is not an inborn defect in our relations with the West; rather it is an anomaly. There is no inevitability about its continuation".He would say that, would he not, if he was trying to charm us and put us off our guard? But he would also say it if it happened to be true. Usually we naturally think that it is true; if only the Russians would see sense and realise that it is true. Well, here is one who has said it, and the challenge to us is to know how to interpret this kind of utterance. I believe it would be more dangerous to rule out the possibility of their sincerity than to rule out the possibility of their insincerity.
Those who have talked to Mr. Gorbachev know that there is one subject which causes his eyes to light up. It is not detente. It is not disarmament. It is not the introduction of economic reforms in the Soviet Union, as one might expect. Still less is it the introduction of market forces. It is not, of course, greater freedom for the Soviet people. It is not any consideration of removing the Russian yoke from North Asia and Eastern Europe. It is none of those things. What it is is freer information for the Soviet peoples.
If you come to think of it, my Lords, that may be worth all the rest put together. Everything in the Soviet Union which over the years has troubled the world has 1104 been rooted in the ignorance of its own peoples. You cannot long run a tyranny, you cannot long run a dangerous foreign policy without secrecy and censorship. Let us hope that Mr. Gorbachev does not forget his vision of a well-informed Russian people. After all, the Russian people are, like us, an ex-Christian European people. They, too, have taken a hand in forming our own culture, as we have in forming theirs. Perhaps the greatest wrong that is imposed upon the countries of Western Europe by the existence of the closed communist society in the Soviet Union is that we cannot meet the largest, one of the most ingenious, likeable and creative of all our own European cousins.
§ 10.4 p.m.
My Lords, in the course of the authoritative speech of the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, there was one important phrase which I regard as perhaps a basic phrase in his Motion, to which he gave much less attention than I should have wished. I call attention to the phrase about,Soviet exploitation of economic and social problems in developing countries".I recognise that probably the stringency of time was a cause of that omission. However, I think it has been an omission from the debate in general that not sufficient attention has been given to that part of the Motion before us.
The same is true of the debates on this subject that we have had over the course of some years. I recall at least two previous occasions, when debates have been almost exclusively about the military threat of Soviet communism, I have tried to direct your Lordships' attention to the fact that the Soviet Union has a powerful ally in the third world. That ally is the poverty of the people. And that is the breeding ground for communism.
Therefore, I certainly welcome the fact that the Motion calls attention to this problem. I regard it as one of the most important factors in international affairs today. That is why, at the beginning of the debate, I very much welcomed what the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, said about the need to develop the economies of the third world as the most certain defence against the spread of Soviet communism. The truth is that the threat of Soviet aggression takes two forms. There is the challenge that the Soviet Union presents to the West and indeed to the world in military terms. On the other hand, there is the challenge of Soviet exploitation of world poverty for communist ends. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, and other noble Lords, will understand that I wish to deal principally with that in my remarks.
First, however, may I take up a question that the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, asked towards the end of his speech and to which my noble friend Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos responded. The question was, "Now that Mr. Gorbachev has arrived on the scene of leadership, can we hope for improvement in the relationship with the Soviet Union?" My noble friend Lord Cledwyn said that he was optimistic on that. Other noble Lords have given various opinions. I noted particularly what the noble Lord, Lord Moran, said about it being early days for us to reach a 1105 considered judgment. I share the optimism for one reason. At the time that Mr. Gorbachev took office I looked carefully at his opening statement of what he foresaw as his task. I was delighted to see in his statement that he put improving relations with China as one of his objectives. That I believe to be a very important statement indeed. I hope that it will be proved in action as well as in words.
My noble friend Lord Shinwell, in talking about the Soviet Revolution, said, in ringing tones, that in 1917 something fundamental occurred. Those were his words. I would echo them in relation to the other great communist country, China. Something fundamental has occurred in China. It occurred four or five years ago when, under the leadership of Mr. Deng, a new liberal form of communist economy was inaugurated. I have noted that the Chinese have sent a high-powered delegation to Moscow. Therefore, although one must not raise hopes too high, one certainly does hope that there can be rapprochement between those two great world powers. That leads me to the thought that possibly our best or one of our best ways in which to pursue the first phrase in the Motion before us; namely, the need to establish:better relations with the Soviet Union".may be achieved by the indirect path—that is, through a better relationship with China, which in turn we hope might have better relations with the Soviet Union.
Recent events in British/Chinese relationships, particularly over Hong Kong, have surely shown that it is possible for us to have improving relations with a communist power. We must build wherever we have achieved some success. However, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester pointed out, in seeking those objectives we need to be very careful about our choice of words. I think that that is what the right reverend Prelate said. Indeed, it led him into certain trouble with militant communicants on the other side of the House. I hope that he will not object to a little support from a non-communicant. However, I certainly welcomed his contribution to the debate and I welcomed what he said about the need for us to have a continuing forum where West and East can meet. I believe that that is essential to an understanding of this subject.
The right reverend Prelate naturally gave the example of the World Council of Churches as providing that forum. I, from my personal experience, would instance a large, many million member organisation, the International Co-operative Alliance, which has brought together co-operators from many countries through war, cold war and more peaceful times. I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Orr-Ewing, that this is not a fourteenth subversive organisation for him to examine!
As the right reverend Prelate pointed out, in all these matters we need to use careful words of diplomacy. Certainly the noble Lord, Lord Home, managed both to talk in plain speaking terms—I think that that was what he said—and at the same time to use words of diplomacy. I only wish that some of the speeches that we have heard from the Benches opposite had followed his example, and indeed the example of the 1106 noble Lord, Lord Beloff, who I thought put forward a very attractive speech.
However, I return briefly to what I was saying about poverty in the third world being the ally of Soviet communism. I said that the threat from the Soviet Union was a double one. In summary, I would say that the western nations have responded to the first challenge, the military challenge, but have almost completely failed in the face of the second challenge—that is, the challenge of world poverty. We have built up our armaments, but we have failed to make any significant impact on world poverty.
This failure on our part is extremely helpful to the Soviet Union. As the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, implied in his speech, the Soviet Union has been completely cynical in respect of aid to third world countries. Their provision of economic aid has been small by comparison with that provided by the West—and, as noble Lords will know, I regard that contribution of aid to be, in all conscience, inadequate enough. The Soviet Union compares unfavourably in terms of aid with the West, and the aid which the Soviet Union does provide to the third world is strictly related to its own commercial, diplomatic and military objectives.
The Soviets have a glib propagandist response whenever challenged about their negative attitude to third world development, and it is this. They say that world poverty is the result of imperialism and results from colonial exploitation by the imperial powers, and therefore in the post-war and post-imperialist era it is the responsibility of the Western powers to provide the means of overcoming the economic and social problems of the developing countries and they, the Soviet Union, have no such responsibility.
Indeed, the Soviet Union has been particularly successful in presenting relations between developed and developing countries as the international extension of the class war. They have presented the West as being the rich and the developing countries as being the proletariat whose very poverty has been due to exploitation by the rich. Such an interpretation is easy to sustain if you are talking to impoverished people recently emerging from the political subservience of colonialism. That message will continue to have a ready acceptance in the third world unless and until we enable the developing countries to achieve economic independence as well as the political independence which they have achieved in the postwar world.
Soviet propaganda is very easy indeed in the light of certain basic economic and social facts which are facing third world countries. I refer to a few of them. World market prices of the commodities that they grow on their farms slump. They have in fact slumped The manufactures that they wish to buy become more costly, and that looks to the peoples of the third world like exploitation. One can understand it appearing like that. To pay interest on the money which they borrowed during the 1970s they have to borrow more money at higher rates of interest, and that, understandably, looks to them like usury. In some cases, reverse flows of money are greater than outward flows. The noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, made this point in relation to Soviet aid, but there are Lases where countries to whom we provide aid are having to 1107 pay back more now than they are receiving year by year, and that certainly looks to third world countries like injustice.
Therefore, it is no wonder that there are calls from the third world for a new international economic order. It is no wonder that the Soviet Union jumps in whenever it gets the opportunity and uses that situation to good propagandist effect. Sometimes, I regret to say, we in the West make the Soviet Union's propagandist task even easier than it already is. Take the recent example of UNESCO. The United States decides to withdraw because UNESCO is too political in its judgment. Britain proposes to follow suit and immediately the Soviet Union offers UNESCO a further £2 million—a small sum, indeed, in UNESCO terms but worth many millions more in propaganda value in the developing countries, in the other members of UNESCO. So that we score an own goal, we make it easy for the Soviet Union to win the battle of propaganda.
As has become clear from the debate, we are living in a terribly unstable world because of the existence of great armouries of nuclear weapons, but there are other causes of that instability, each in its way as frightening as nuclear weapons. If things do go wrong concerning the arms race, then mega-deaths loom in the future. But deaths on a comparable scale are occurring now, deaths from malnutrition and disease. And instability has other causes: apartheid in South Africa, poverty in Central America, conflict in the Middle East and the population explosion in many third world countries. All these are contributing to the instability of the world almost as much as the arms race itself. Unless we in the West find ways of solving those problems, it will be communist parties throughout the world which will benefit from the chaos. The Soviet Union and its satellite parties will not need, in the words of Lord Home's Motion, to exploit the "economic and social problems". That job will have been done for them by western neglect of those problems. The communists will need only to step in and take control of a chaotic situation, just as the Cuban Communist Party did a quarter century ago, having played a comparatively minor role in the overthrow of the Batista régime.
In my view, such a sequence of events cannot be stopped by force of arms—which is what my noble friend Lord Shinwell seemed to be implying; and it has been the tone of some other speeches. The armies of Chiang Kai-Shek did not stop the Chinese communists because the strength of the Chinese communists rested in the landless Chinese peasantry whose cause the communists espoused. American armed might on a massive scale did not prevent the communist take-over in Vietnam and it will not stop communism in Central America if the Americans fail to learn the lessons of history and the need for development of the economies of those countries. While we are debating this issue here in your Lordships' House this evening, I am conscious that a more critical debate is taking place on Capitol Hill in Washington and, in my view, it is very much to be hoped that Congress there will take this opportunity of preventing President Reagan from making the same kind of basic error which his predecessors made in 1108 Vietnam. Western nations must realise that in the third world, as I have said, communism cannot be stopped by military means.
What we must do is to show the third world countries that in practice there is a better way than the communist way. We must take action on a massive scale to demonstrate to the people of the third world that it is we, the democratic West, who can help them to develop their economies in the interests of their own people and that this can be done by the process of genuine democracy. In other words, when we uphold, as we must, the values of freedom—freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom to choose governments and freedom to travel—and when we point out that these essential freedoms are denied by communists, we must at the same time ensure that the economic and social freedoms which are so much part of true freedom are available to the peoples to whom we are talking.
Above all, if we wish to forestall communism in the third world—and that is a large part of the Motion we have been debating—we must be, as my noble friend Lord Stewart of Fulham so clearly explained, very careful about the political partners with whom we are prepared to work, because if we are seen to favour dictatorships and oppressive governments, that again will be an easy and significant propaganda boost for the communists. As I have said several times, we should not only tell the peoples of the third world that there is a better way than communism: we should also show them, by the policies we pursue, by the political partners that we choose, and by the aid that we give that we are intent on helping them to overcome their problems by the democratic path and not by the path of communism.
§ 10.27 p.m.
§ Lord Trefgarne
My Lords, in rising to draw together the strands of this debate, I am conscious that I may do so only with your Lordships' permission, and I hope that I have it. I am conscious, too, that this has been an occasion of the utmost importance—witness the number and eloquence of the speeches, and, indeed, the standing of so many of the participants. At this late hour I suspect that your Lordships would not wish me to deal with each and every point from each and every speech, but perhaps I may touch on one or two which struck me as particularly important.
Perhaps I may first turn to the matter which was referred to by several noble Lords; namely, the recent expulsion of certain Soviet officials and the Soviet Union's wholly unjustified reaction. As your Lordships may know, this matter was raised in the other place this afternoon, and I believe I can do no better than quote from the reply which was given by my right honourable and learned friend the Foreign Secretary to a Private Notice Question from the right honourable gentleman the Member for Leeds, East. My right honourable and learned friend said:Our policy towards the Soviet Union is consistent and clear and has been made clear to the Russians on numerous occasions, including most recently when informing them of the expulsions. We wish to improve relations with the Soviet Union. We have made considerable efforts in this direction, which will be maintained, but they have been hampered by the unacceptable activities of certain Soviet officials in this country. In the circumstances, and in accordance with our long-established policy, we had no choice but to expel the officials concerned. We deeply regret the retaliatory 1109 action taken against three members of the staff of our Moscow Embassy. This was wholly unwarranted and the accusations made against them without substance. We have protested strongly to the Soviet authorities. There can be no relaxation of our policy where our national security is concerned, but we shall continue our policy of seeking improved relations with the Soviet Union and better relations between East and West".Turning now, if I may, to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, he asked me particularly about the end of the first session of the Geneva talks. The three chief US negotiators will be briefing the North Atlantic Council tomorrow on the first round of the Geneva talks, which finishes today. In addition, a special consultative group in NATO is meeting in Brussels today to review the Alliance's position on the INF element of the talks. We welcome this continuing close consultation in the Alliance but not until these consultations are complete will it be possible to judge the overall progress made. The United States and the Soviet Union have agreed that the negotiations at Geneva should remain confidential, and it is clearly therefore inappropriate for me to say anything more at this stage.
The noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, and I think at least one other noble Lord referred to the upcoming Ottawa CSCE Human Rights Conference. It is a meeting of experts to be held in Ottawa next month. I can assure your Lordships that the British delegation will indeed be raising the question of the non-implementation of a wide range of their commitments at Helsinki and Madrid by the eastern signatories. We have no intention of turning the meeting into an empty confrontation; but that does not mean we shall speak other than frankly on these important issues, which I know are of concern to your Lordships as they are indeed to the Government.
My noble friend Lord Orr-Ewing spoke about the question of Soviet money for British miners during the recent strike. As several noble Lords pointed out, the WFTU, which favours strikes against capitalist regimes but never against communist régimes (as Polish trade unionists know to their cost), was engaged on the sidelines in support of the miners' strike in this country. It is indeed interesting to note that when Mr. McGahey boasted that Soviet trade unions, which are collectively affiliated to the WFTU, were to send nearly £1 million to support Mr. Scargill's strike, Soviet newspaper readers were told that the money was to be passed on through the Soviet peace fund—an interesting example of how these disruptive bodies cooperate. In fact there seems to be considerable doubt as to whether any of this much-publicised subvention ever reached British miners.
My noble friend referred also to the question of trade union training in the Soviet bloc. In October 1983 there were press reports that 22 members of the National Union of Mineworkers were attending an all expenses paid one-month course at the Soviet High School of Trade Unions in Moscow to learn how unions work under the Soviet system. The school runs similar courses for trade union members from many countries, particularly in the developing world, but that group was the first to consist of British students. It can have had only a very marginal relevance, if any, to recent events in the mining industry.
1110 The noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, and the noble Lord, Lord Hankey, referred to the question of the Official Secrets Act and what changes might be made to it. I can perhaps do no better than refer to the words of my noble friend Lord Elton, speaking at the close of a recent debate in your Lordships' House on this matter, when he said: "Our mind is not closed and we can accept the first part of the Motion". He was referring, of course, to the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, which your Lordships were considering on that occasion. But it was a commitment, first, to take careful note of the views which had been expressed both in this Chamber and elsewhere, and then to consider whether there appears to be any measure of agreement in which the Government could join, in the light of their own particular responsibilities, and which might form the basis for a further attempt at legislation. My noble friend therefore stopped short of giving an undertaking for further legislation but certainly did give an assurance in the words that I have referred to.
The noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, and the noble Lord, Lord Hankey, referred to the value of the BBC External Services. I referred to them in my opening remarks, and I do not think I need do any more than say how much the Government appreciate the work of the BBC External Services and indeed the high reputation which they enjoy.
§ Lord Hankey
My Lords, will the noble Lord give way for one instant? Will he be so good as to give an undertaking to draw the attention of the Home Secretary and the Foreign Secretary to what the noble Lord, Lord Stewart, and I said about these secret organisations and the need to preserve their anonymity?
§ Lord Trefgarne
Yes, my Lords, I shall certainly see that the remarks of the noble Lord and of other noble Lords are brought to the attention of the relevant Ministers. The noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, and my noble friend Lord Mottistone referred to the support of the Soviet Union for terrorism in various parts of the world. The Soviet Union has indeed provided support, including military training, for a wide variety of what it calls "national liberation movements". However, and unfortunately, western terrorist groups have shown themselves perfectly capable of developing terrorist expertise from their own resources and there is no reliable evidence of Soviet control of, or substantial support for, terrorist activities in the West. Indeed, the Soviet Union has from time to time condemned individual acts of terrorism. The Soviet press, for example, was critical of the Brighton bomb attack. That the Soviet Union may be a beneficiary from terrorist activity in the West does not, of itself, prove that it supports or encourages it on any but a purely opportunist basis. So far as concerns Ireland, it is true that there is much Soviet press comment sympathetic to the more extreme political views of some sections of the Irish republican movement in Northern Ireland, but there is no evidence of Soviet material support for the terrorist activity of the Provisional IRA.
The noble Lord, Lord Rea, asked whether we would be ready to resume co-operation in the field of medicine and public health under the existing, but inactive, United Kingdom/Soviet agreement The 1111 Government would be happy to consider a formal request from the Russians to reactivate this agreement. The noble Lord also asked why the United Kingdom does not take the initiative in this matter. The Government have considered this question carefully. We have concluded that we would be ready to respond to a Soviet request; but at present there seem to be insufficient fields of interest to the British medical profession to warrant a British initiative. In general, we regard such bilateral technical agreements with the Soviet Union as valuable, provided that they are of mutual advantage to both sides.
These subjects to which I have referred all form part of the realities of the inter-relationship between East and West, and the way in which the Soviet Union pursues its interests. I do not believe that we need be discouraged that these activities are continuing with much the same vigour as in the past. Experience has shown that the West is well able to look after its own interests, and that the money and time absorbed by Soviet propaganda and its activities through International Communist Front Organisations has not produced results commensurate with the size of this investment. In short, provided that the West remains vigilant to its own interests, its own security and to the realities of certain Soviet activities, especially those pursued by front organisations, it will be well able to defend itself.
I said in my opening remarks that our aim is to build a relationship with the Soviet Union on a long-term and realistic basis. Long-term, because nothing is achieved rapidly in negotiation with the Soviet Union. Adequate confidence needs to be built up for the two sides to trust each other sufficiently to do business and to work towards balanced arms control agreements. That is what our policy of increased contact is about. And our Western colleagues are also pulling their full weight in this process. Experience has shown that to move forward simply on the basis of hope is not an adequate foundation for doing business with the Soviet Union or for properly representing our interests.
I do not think that any of your Lordships would wish to argue that we do not need better relations with the Soviet Union. It is becoming increasingly important that there should be reliable channels of communication between us. And we need to be able to understand each other when we speak on these channels. We need to know the face at the other end. This, the Government believe, is the way to build the basis of the kind of relationship that will offer greater security and eventually a sense of constructive cooperation in both East and West. It will not be a rapid process. As my right honourable friend the Prime Minister said when she was in Moscow in 1984 it is a policy developed over time and designed to be put into effect over time; one for the years and months ahead, not the weeks or days.
Lord Home of the Hirsel
My Lords, it merely remains for me to express my gratitude to all the noble Lords on all sides of the House who have spoken in this debate. In particular, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, the Leader of the Opposition, for taking so much trouble with a speech 1112 which was very thoughtful and which set the tone for many speeches that followed, and my noble friend Lord Trefgarne for, at a very few hours' notice, making two contributions, with all the skill we have come to expect of him.
To sum up my impressions would be to oversimplify. We have agreed that we should diligently continue to seek closer relations with the Soviet Union. We know that there will be many difficulties; nevertheless we ought to persevere, and as at the end of the day it is example that counts, we should make the most of our democratic values. Much more I have heard from this debate, and I hope that other noble Lords have been similarly rewarded. My Lords, I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.