International Development (Brandt Report)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:31 pm on 16th June 1980.

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Photo of Mr Cranley Onslow Mr Cranley Onslow , Woking 6:31 pm, 16th June 1980

That was a remarkable speech, and it would be very difficult for me to follow it, even if I wanted to do so. I hope, therefore that the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) will forgive me if, in what I want to say, I merely allude from time to time to one or two of the points on which I am most clearly and evidently in agreement with him.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath)—who, unfortunately is not with us now—must acquit me of cynicism if I disagree with him, because it is the right of each of us in this House to express his view and the right of no one to brand us as cynics because we do not agree. I wish to disagree with much of what he said and with much of what is in the report.

In one thing I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup, and also with the right hon. Member for Stepney and Poplar (Mr. Shore), namely, that we cannot afford to ignore the problems of the world and that the oil crisis is a key to many of them. It would have been well if more attention had been paid by both right hon. Members to the realities rather than the generalities of the situation, and if the Brandt report had focused on the intractable situation that we know to exist. It would have been better if, for instance, my right hon. Friend had suggested to us how it is that he sees OPEC as a homogeneous organisation that one man can represent; how Colonel Gaddafi, the Ayatollah Khomeini, the President of Mexico, and the ruler ad interim of any other oil-producing State, can be persuaded to agree in advance on the price that they will make the West pay for allowing itself to be blackmailed. It would have been better if my right hon. Friend had said how well he thinks it would go down in the United States if he went there and said that we must behave in such a way as to obtain the support of OPEC, because at the United Nations the Americans need our votes and the votes of the underdeveloped countries on the Arab-Israeli issue.

I mention those examples only to show that there are areas that, had my right hon. Friend come slighdy closer to them, he might have illustrated as being more difficult than he left us as supposing them to be.

I might as well begin by saying that I disagree first with the cover on the report, and with the map on it. A line is drawn between what we are led to believe are North and South. It is thick, black, arbitrary and misleading. There is no good reason, except an arbitrary judgment, why any one country should appear on either side of that line. If the line represents an economic concept, why is South Africa on the south of it? I hold no brief for the Afrikaaners, but I dare say that if anyone wishing to protest against the Russian equivalent of the Soweto riots took his chance in Red Square in Moscow he would suffer a good deal more severely than if he did it in Johannesburg. So why is South Africa on the south of the line and the Soviet Union on the north of it? A political, not an economic, criterion must have led to that decision.