Before I call the Foreign Secretary, may I inform the House that I know that many right hon. and hon. Members wish to take part in the debate. I have resisted the urge to place a 10-minute limit on speeches, but I hope that hon. Members will respond by limiting their speeches in that way and so allow everyone to be called. There is also the possibility of a statement at 11 o'clock, and I hope that hon. Members will keep that in mind, too.
Returning to the Foreign Office after the election campaign, I had the impression that the world had in some way gathered speed. My diary, the diary of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister arid the diaries of other people for the next seven months have filled with extraordinary rapidity. That is not just because we will hold the presidency of the European Community in the second half of this year, although that will be exacting. The whole process of international diplomacy has become more intense with the end of the cold war. That is partly because of new problems such as nationalism which, time and again, overflows its banks and threatens to flood the new landscape.
Techniques and institutions designed for the cold war must now be rethought and reshaped if they are to retain their usefulness. Britain is part of the Security Council of the United Nations, NATO, the European Community, the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Council of Europe and the Commonwealth. They are all rethinking their purpose and machinery.
Obviously, I cannot deal today with all the problems that mark the world—not even all the important ones—or with all the enterprises that we have in hand. I hope that right hon. and hon. Members who are interested in subjects that I do not cover will forgive me. They will have other opportunities. I would rather say something more substantial about a few matters instead of something platitudinous about everything.
As a European power, we are concerned first of all with the prosperity and security of Europe. The main instrument for the prosperity of Europe is obviously the European Community. In that respect, I do not mean simply the prosperity of the existing 12 members. There is an increasing queue of applicants for full membership and that shows that the Community has a magnetic effect on its neighbours to the north, east and south.
As the Queen's Speech sets out, we shall soon be asking the House to pass the legislation necessary to ratify the treaty of Maastricht. That will give us an opportunity to renew the fruitful debates that we had in the House just before and just after the Maastricht conference. I do not want to consider all those issues today; I want simply to make a main point about the Community.
At Maastricht, we agreed to convene another intergovernmental conference in 1996 which will look at those elements of the treaty where we have agreed to review arrangements, without prejudice as to the outcome, of which common foreign and security policy is an obvious example. At the same time, the Commission was asked to prepare for the next summit in Lisbon in June a paper that would help to guide us in considering fresh applications for membership.
Although one might think otherwise from some newspaper reports, the Commission has not yet considered—let alone published—that report. However, I can give a broad British view about the relationship between the enlargement of the Community and its institutions. We are strongly in favour of enlargement. We believe that the Community will have to shape constructive replies to all the applications for membership. In particular, we would hope and expect to see a first wave of new members—countries that are part of the European Free Trade Association but which have applied or may apply for full membership of the Community. As the House is aware, in that respect Austria, Sweden and Finland have already applied and there will conceivably be others.
During our presidency, we would hope to prepare the way for negotiations to be concluded with those countries next year so that they and we can ratify the new agreements in 1994 and make their membership possible at the beginning of 1995.
Any arrival of new members will mean mechanical changes in the Community. The number of Commissioners, the voting rights in Council and the membership of the European Parliament will all have to be adjusted if new members come in. However, that need not and, in our view, should not justify reopening before 1996 the debate on the Community's institutions which was concluded at Maastricht. I see no advantage in permanent negotiation on the Community's institutions.
By 1996, we will be contemplating a second wave which may well include the countries whose Foreign Ministers I met this week—Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland. However, they will not arrive as full members of the Community until after further discussion of the Community's institutions provided for in 1996.
The Community has enough on its plate without indulging in a standing wrangle about its institutions. Let us solve the pressing financial and trading problems, complete the single market and pave the way for the first wave of new members. That will be the priority of the British presidency.
Notwithstanding what the Foreign Secretary just said about 1996 and the admission of new members and the fact that the paper that is due to be presented at the June summit has still not been discussed, we have obviously all read the newspaper reports about the proposal of Mr. Delors for some kind of supranational executive. I understand the position of the Foreign Secretary, but what is his view on those articles? One must assume that there is some substance in the suggestion about what Mr. Delors will present to the June summit.
The hon. Gentleman is too old a hand to believe any such thing. Correspondents who are short of a story listen to someone talking in the Commission in Brussels and write a story. I will comment on the report when we see it. It has not yet even been considered by the Commission.
The security of Europe may not seem to be an urgent subject for people in this country who feel relatively secure after the disappearance of the Soviet threat. However, that is not the case in central and eastern Europe, as I discovered again this week. Security in many newly democratic countries seems as much at risk as their prosperity. They see old but suppressed rivalries breaking out once more in new hatreds. They look with envy at the way in which western Europe has managed to put to sleep for ever disputes which used to lead to killing, such as those in Alsace-Lorraine and Schleswig-Holstein, and they want to be part of the arrangement that has created such peaceful certainties.
We have too many institutions in that area and there is inevitably an overlap. How can we develop the new co-operation council formed by NATO to make possible a dialogue with those who were our enemies? Should NATO's membership expand? If so, on what principles? How can we strengthen the Western European Union so that it works effectively as the European pillar of NATO and the forum from which its members can, if necessary, plan operations outside the NATO area?
Can the CSCE, which is huge in membership but tiny in strength and staff, provide the means by which democracies in central and eastern Europe can call upon the military and administrative resources of western Europe to deal with disputes between or within states? Unless we can find the answers to those questions fairly soon, we shall run into trouble. That is why the ministerial meetings this summer at NATO and the WEU and the summit at Helsinki in July will be of far more than routine importance. They will deal with the essential questions about the security of Europe.
Does the Foreign Secretary agree that under title V of the treaty of European union, the answers to the questions that he has rightly posed will have to be common answers of the European union so long as the treaties are endorsed? Therefore, they will not be entirely matters for us. Does not the Bill that the right hon. Gentleman published yesterday exclude consideration of title V, under which the common policy is to be arrived at? Indeed, on matters of justice and home affairs, about which there will be a great deal of legislation in the House in future, title VI is also excluded. Would it not have been wiser to arrange things so that both those matters could be discussed in debate on the Bill?
The hon. Gentleman is trying to have it both ways. He is one of those who have argued strongly that discussion between Europeans about foreign policy should not be part of the Community. We have achieved that at Maastricht. The hon. Gentleman is talking about intergovernmental work. He cannot, at the same time, expect us to put it in a Bill. It is not to do with the European Communities Act 1972. It is not to do with the legislation that the House needs to pass. It is not legislation, precisely because we have achieved the objective that the hon. Gentleman has preached at us for a long time.
I now refer to the striking example and the lack of security in central and eastern Europe. In the past few weeks in Yugoslavia, our eyes—our feelings—have been drawn to Bosnia. The ceasefire is holding only in places. In other places such as Mostar there is still fierce fighting. The Bosnian Foreign Minister came to see me yesterday evening. I agreed with him on the need to increase the pressures on Serbia and the JNA. I am in no doubt that we must continue our efforts to negotiate ceasefires—perhaps ceasefire after ceasefire—until one of them holds.
I pay tribute to the work of Lord Carrington and his team, to Ambassador Cutileiro, the Portuguese representative of the presidency in charge of the negotiations, to Major Doyle and to Mr. Brade, the sole British member of the negotiating team in Sarajevo.
I talked yesterday to a young British monitor on leave from the EC team in Bosnia. Anyone who listens to people who are going through that experience will understand both the difficulty and the worth of what they are trying to do. Some of them are young and inexperienced, but they are brave people who are trying, village by village, to keep people from killing and attacking each other.
May we step back just for a moment from the details and consider more basically what we and our partners are trying to do in Yugoslavia? There is no surge of public interest here in the subject. I do not know whether the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) had the same experience, but I do not recall being asked a single question about Yugoslavia in the election. There are passionate feelings here among individuals and, of course, in the media. They take different forms. There are those who question whether there should be European or United Nations action at all in Yugoslavia, although I must say that inaction would have meant that, by now, Serbia would have dominated the whole of Yugoslavia, except perhaps Slovenia. There are others who view the matter as Serbia's responsibility and would have wished us to intervene earlier and with greater force against the Serbs and the JNA, both in Croatia and now in Bosnia. Those are serious arguments and they have to be dealt with.
I do not hide my view that the best answer would have been Yugoslavia by consent—that is, a new constitution that kept the country together by giving its component parts greater rights and freedoms. I do not see any grounds for admiring the kind of destructive nationalism which is now loose in Yugoslavia. Its peoples will look back on an opportunity lost. That the opportunity was lost irretrievably last autumn there can be no doubt. From that time, it became clear, as it is clear today, that the only acceptable answer is independence for each of the former republics of Yugoslavia within the present borders. Republics may combine as Serbia and Montenegro now propose to do, but that has to be by consent, not force. However, if we look at the ethnic map of Yugoslavia, we will see that that solution works only on two conditions —first, that each republic respects the integrity of its neighbours and, secondly, that within each republic there is effective recognition of the rights of minorities.
Neither of the two strongest contenders—neither the Serbs nor the Croats—have fully observed either of those conditions or are fully observing them today. But the Serbs, through their considerable—not total—control of the Yugoslav national army bear the heavier responsibility for the suffering and destruction that have resulted from the neglect of those conditions.
The whole effort of the Community, of Lord Carrington, of Mr. Vance for the United Nations, who are working very closely as old friends, of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the diplomats, the monitors and the liaison officers, has been directed at achieving peace based on those principles. Of course, we could have refused the effort or we could have given it up when it became difficult. We could have treated those concerned in Yugoslavia as hopeless cases—just bands of brigands—who should be left to kill each other in their villages and mountains until exhaustion led them to stop. If we had taken that line and if there had been no EC presence and no United Nations effort, there would have been no ceasefire in Croatia and the killing there and in Bosnia would have been substantially greater. I do not think that the House would have welcomed such cynicism as compatiable with any sense of decency or order in the area.
We cannot suppose that, by armed force, we or anyone can impose peace on our terms and turn Yugoslavia into an international protectorate. A ceasefire has to come before an international force can be useful. Peacemaking has to come before peacekeeping.
We have heard well-publicised arguments within the Twelve about the timing of recognition of those republics, but not about the principle. Those arguments are still continuing as regards Macedonia, whose President has been in London and whom I saw yesterday. We have had to weigh economic measures, both positive and negative, but on the two principles that I mentioned there has been no argument inside the Community, and I am sure that the resulting collective effort has to continue. The task of the peacemakers is hard—it often is. The disappointments come more often than the successes. Ceasefire follows broken ceasefire until one ceasefire more or less holds. It is quite easy for onlookers to jeer as the stone, which was so patiently pushed near the top of the hill, rolls down again to the bottom and everything has to start once more.
I have no time for the notion that we in the European Community should give up the search for agreement or should fragment our policies and go our separate ways in the Balkans, as we did before the great war, with disastrous results. We are playing our part. We will be at the head of the EC monitoring mission from the beginning of July. As the House knows, we are providing a field ambulance for the United Nations peacekeeping force. The 36-strong advance party is already deployed. We hope that the full 260-strong unit will be operational by the first week of June.
We have no legal compulsion to act jointly with our partners in Yugoslavia. I hope that the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing), a former Chairman of the European Legislation Select Committee, will listen to this point, because it bears on something that he said. All our discussions prove, as far as I am concerned, that we were right to resist majority voting on such matters at Maastricht. That is our view. It means constant determination to reach agreement among ourselves, to give the lead from the EC, which the United Nations and particularly the United States and Russia expect from us, to apply all the persuasive pressures that can induce those concerned in Yugoslavia that the two principles that I mentioned are not just concepts which are tossed about at the conference table in Brussels or Lisbon but are the plain conditions for a peaceful future for the peoples of Yugoslavia.
I have two quick questions for the Foreign Secretary. First, has he direct contact with the Serbs? If so, has he been saying anything to them about the particular problems of Kosovo, which is undoubtedly the outstanding example of Serbian repression? Secondly, as he mentioned talking to the Macedonian President the other day, is there any lessening of Greek opposition?
On the first point, we are certainly in touch with the Serbs through our ambassador in Belgrade. They know our strong belief that they need to provide for minority rights in Kosovo along the lines laid down in Lord Carrington's peace plan. On Macedonia, no. There is a deadlock. The Macedonians propose to call themselves Macedonian. The Greeks believe, as the Greek Prime Minister passionately explained to us last weekend, that that implies a threat to Greece. There is a deadlock in the matter which is damaging and which the presidency is trying to break.
I shall now say a word about a far too longstanding dispute in Europe. Britain, along with Greece and Turkey, is still a guarantor of the Cyprus constitution. That constitution has not seemed to count much in recent years. The division of the island since 1974 has nurtured bitter mistrust between the two communities. As there is not much direct communication on the island, outsiders have to take on the difficult task of go-between. We are the largest contributor to the peacekeeping force in Cyprus.
The previous Secretary-General of the United Nations made some good progress towards an outright settlement in the first half of 1991. Then there was stalemate and disappointment. Following my discussions in Ankara and Athens last month, I believe that there is now a real chance —I put it no higher than that—for new progress. The United Nations Secretary-General is the person to carry that forward and we fully support him. We work to increase the activity and involvement of the Security Council, including the permanent five.
The new Secretary-General has just circulated, following the most recent resolution, a new set of ideas which have been well received on the island, in Ankara and in Athens. We must help to keep up the momentum. The outline of a settlement is there—one Cyprus, a bicommunal and bizonal federal state with two regional governments as equal partners. But then there are the sensitive issues of territory, displaced persons and the powers and composition of the central Government. Those issues have received a thorough airing in the past 15 months. There are gaps, which will be hard to breach, but both sides see the dangers of a recurrence of the ugly events of the past. They draw different conclusions and neither has convinced the other of its goodwill.
We have a role, which we shall continue to play, to convince the two sides of the need to come together on the basis of the Secretary-General's set of ideas.
I welcome the Secretary of State's comments as, I am sure, will all Members of Parliament who are deeply involved in Cyprus. There is a debate on Cyprus in the Council of Europe this week and specifically this morning. The clear impression of those who have been to Strasbourg this week is that sadly there is still deep hostility to the report which will be published and discussed today and which was drawn up at the specific request of the Council of Europe. I welcome what the Foreign Secretary said today, but sadly there are still many hurdles to get over.
The hon. Gentleman is perfectly correct about that. There are wide differences, but I believe that in both Greece and Turkey and on the island we now have people in charge of affairs who see the need for a settlement. That has not always been so, but I believe that it is so now. It may not always be so in the future if this opportunity is lost. That is why it is important that it should not be lost.
I welcome my right hon. Friend's comments on Cyprus. May I encourage him and his senior ministerial colleagues to visit the island? We have a rather poor record in that regard in the past 10 years. My right hon. Friend mentioned the problem of the settlers in the north. He will know how the Turks have changed the demographic structure of northern Cyprus. It will be extremely difficult to resolve these difficult international issues if whole populations are moved from one country to another. What is the British Government's attitude to that specific problem?
I mentioned the specific problems of displaced persons. It is one of the most difficult points and one on which progress needs to be made before we can reach agreement on a constitution. My hon. Friend may be right about our actual visits to the island, but we are in close touch with President Vassiliou and, indeed, his Foreign Minister. They are often here. We met at Harare and we meet in New York. There is a constant flow of communication between Nicosia and ourselves.
I have come to the conclusion that we in western Europe must build a new and stronger relationship with Turkey. Mr. Demirel's new Government have a formidable array of problems. I have mentioned Cyprus, where they have a clear responsibility to discharge. There is also inflation, the promotion of human rights, unrest among the Turkish Kurds and terrorism. There are strong feelings in the House and elsewhere about human rights. When I visited Ankara and Istanbul last month, I found that the new Prime Minister and his colleagues were sincerely determined to make progress on all those matters.
The interests and influence of Turkey stretch across the middle east and into central Asia. To the new republics in central Asia, Turkey is a secular, democratic model. There is another specific point. For the past year, Turkey has allowed Britain, the United States and France to station aircraft at Incirlik to monitor the situation in northern Iraq. That is crucial to the safety of the peoples of northern Iraq. We are in touch with the Turks about our hope that the agreement will be renewed beyond the end of June. I believe that the Turks and, indeed, all members of the coalition, realise the importance of those aircraft. Their presence helps to keep up the pressure on Saddam Hussein to comply with the United Nations resolutions. We very much hope that that operation can continue.
Will the Foreign Secretary assure the House that in his negotiations with the Turkish Government he is making serious representations about the many denials of human rights throughout Turkey, the treatment of the Kurdish people in the south and east of the country, the large numbers of people who are still in prison for quasi-political offences and the role of the military, as opposed to the Government, in the oppression of many people in that country?
As I just said, I explained to the Turkish Government when I was in Turkey the anxiety felt in Britain on those matters. The hon. Gentleman follows these matters and will know that the Turkish Government have just decided on a range of judicial reforms dealing with periods of detention, access to lawyers and so on—issues which are familiar to us in the House. If the Government can carry those reforms through the Parliament, it will be a substantial step forward in the direction that the hon. Gentleman wants.
It is in our interests that Turkey, a stalwart member of NATO, should build a new relationship with the European Community covering political, economic and security matters. We and our partners will have to work hard to recast the present relationship. We have offered full participation through associate membership of the Western European Union. It is a big job which will need some fresh and imaginative thinking on the part of the Europeans, including Greece and the democratic Government of Turkey.
So far, I have focused on Europe, but, of course, we have concerns elsewhere in the world. I wish to mention one of them. We must maintain steady pressure on Libya to meet the demands that the British, French and United States Governments wholeheartedly endorsed by the Security Council, have made following the bombings of the Pan Am flight over Lockerbie and the French UTA flight over west Africa. We in Britain are often asked to have regard for the sensitivities of other people who have suffered. We have tried to do so, but it cannot be a one-way business. Some 440 people died in those two outrages.
The Dumfries and Galloway police undertook a painstaking investigation, at the end of which the Lord Advocate authorised the issue of warrants. The demand that the two officials against whom the warrants were issued should be handed over was endorsed by the Security Council and limited sanctions were enforced. The hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) is not in his place, but he will read what has been said. I wish to make three points to him and other hon. Members. The demand that the two officials should be handed over was not put together by Her Majesty's Government and the United States Administration. Hon. Members who suggest that it was some sort of political job know perfectly well how the police and the prosecuting authorities work in Scotland and in this country. The evidence—I underline the word "evidence"—pointed to those two men and no one else. If other evidence—again I underline the word "evidence"—had pointed in other directions, those leads would obviously have been followed.
If we are serious about resisting terrorism, we cannot allow that crime to be forgotten and the evidence so carefully put together to be neglected. We do not seek to change the Government of Libya. Nor are our practical demands unreasonable. If by some procedure or other the two men were handed over to either Scottish or United States jurisdiction, the position would be transformed. There are other Security Council requirements, but if that requirement were met, the position would be transformed.
We note the efforts that the Libyan authorities continually make to persuade the world that they have changed their ways. But those efforts are not persuasive to us unless those two individuals are brought to trial. Colonel Gaddafi needs to draw a clear, permanent line under the history of his support for terrorism. It is worth making the point that if the two men stand trial in Scotland, they can be sure that it will be fair and in accordance with normal Scottish procedures, including trial by jury. They will not be subjected to interrogation while awaiting trial. They will have the right to remain silent throughout the proceedings. They will be under the protection of the courts at all times. While in custody they may, if they wish, have daily visits by United Nations or other observers, who would, of course, be free to attend the trial.
We need to keep up the pressure on Iraq. There is some sign that that is paying dividends, but vigilance and patience are still required. The investigations of the United Nations special commission in Iraq over the past year have revealed nuclear, chemical and biological programmes far bigger than we first suspected. Inspectors have made progress—they have supervised the destruction of weapons, components, production equipment and facilities crucial to those programmes. That destruction is scheduled to continue until at least the end of this year. We may now be nearing the bottom of the Iraqi dirty tricks barrel, but we want to cleanse that barrel completely.
In the meantime, we and our coalition partners will continue to do what we can to prevent the Iraqi regime from persecuting its civilian population, both in the Shia areas in the south and the Kurdish areas in the north. Since the election, some hon. Members have spoken to me about recent attacks by the regime on the Shias in the south, and we are worried about that. We must keep a close watch on the humanitarian position in Iraq. We must help the United Nations, which is co-ordinating the international relief effort—to which Britain has given more than £50 million since April last year. However, in the long run, although the humanitarian element is necessary, it is not sufficient. The basic problem can be solved only when Iraq implements the Security Council resolutions, which would then allow Iraq to sell its oil to pay for humanitarian supplies.
We have historical responsibilities in other parts of the world, most obviously in the dependent territories. We have just appointed a new governor for Hong Kong.
If the hon. Gentleman knew a little more about it, he would not excite himself in that way. There is no more demanding a job in the public service. I pay tribute to what Lord Wilson has achieved during his five years as governor. He has successfully steered Hong Kong through some difficult moments. It must be of great satisfaction to him that he is handing over the governorship of Hong Kong at a time when that country is prosperous, forward-looking and has greater confidence in its future than at any time in recent years.
It was right to make a change now and Chris Patten has the right mix of talents to make an outstanding governor of Hong Kong. I get two overriding impressions when I go to Hong Kong or meet people from there. First, they want the Government to stand up for Hong Kong's interests in dealing with the People's Republic of China, but, secondly, they want us to ensure a smooth transition. Harsh words and diplomatic commotions upset confidence, and confidence is essential for the future of capitalist Hong Kong. Its future rests on confidence. Virtually everybody in Hong Kong accepts that its future lies with the carrying out of the joint declaration with China. That has brought a stability which has allowed Hong Kong to prosper.
What was not foreseen in 1984 was the way in which the economies of Hong Kong and southern China would interlock. That is happening very quickly now, to the benefit of both sides. It has stimulated Hong Kong's growth and has shown the world that Hong Kong and China can co-operate successfully. For the southern Chinese provinces, it has brought investment and skills for their development. That is encouraging and it is the main reason why there is greater confidence in Hong Kong than there was a year ago.
The dynamism of Hong Kong's economy brings opportunities for Britain. As the House will know, last week a consortium including Trafalgar House and Costain won a massive and exciting contract to build one of the largest single-span bridges in the world as part of Hong Kong's new airport. That was the result of the agreement that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister reached last autumn. I am sure that the House will wish to join me in congratulating the British companies in winning a hard-fought contest on their merits. It brings the total value of the contracts won by British industry in Hong Kong and southern China this year to more than £1 billion. That shows the measure of what is happening not just in Hong Kong but in the provinces of southern China.
The new governor will find the political development of Hong Kong high on his list of priorities. With his advice, we shall need soon to start putting in place arrangements for the 1995 elections to the Legislative Council. As the House knows, we will raise with the Chinese the need for a faster pace of democratisation. We shall also have a range of other issues to discuss with them. We want—this is familiar ground to the House—to promote the political development of Hong Kong in a way that is capable of enduring beyond 1997—a through train. Reconciling those two requirements will be one of the main tasks in Hong Kong over the next year or so.
It is a huge and amazing privilege at this time to be the Foreign Secretary of a country which, by history and vocation, works at the centre of the world's problems—and I have sketched only one or two of them. Sometimes, like most hon. Members, I feel anxious about the new landscape in the world, and sometimes I feel optimistic. The dangers are clear, but so are the opportunities. My colleagues in the Foreign Office and I continue to rely on the knowledge and experience of right hon. and hon. Members in all parts of the House, sometimes on general matters and sometimes on particular problems in which they take an interest. I hope that they find us, and will continue to find us, ready listeners. I do not regard foreign affairs as a necessary battlefield between the political parties. We all share a commitment to make, on behalf of this country, a decent contribution to a safer and more decent world.
The beginning of a Parliament is a time to take stock and to look forward to the sort of world that we want to see when this Parliament comes to an end four or five years from now. We need to look at the world as it was five years ago and assess what progress has been achieved and what setbacks have been endured.
Change has been so precipitate that it is difficult now to imagine the world that the new Parliament faced in 1987. The cold war gripped the entire planet and communism controlled the Soviet Union and the whole of eastern Europe from the Baltic states to Albania. The iron curtain, running through a divided Germany and a divided Berlin, split off the democracies from communist autocracy. Soviety troops fought guerrillas in an occupied Afghanistan. There were no nuclear disarmament agreements between what President Reagan still called the evil empire and his United States. The INF treaty had not yet been agreed and the START agreement was very far off, subject to unsolved political and technical problems. Conventional disarmament talks were bogged down in Vienna.
On the other hand, China seemed a land of burgeoning hope. Multi-party democracy remained off the Chinese agenda, but the cultural revolution had been repudiated; the country was opening up economically to the outside world; the joint declaration between Britain and China on the future of Hong Kong was regarded as a breakthrough, with its promise of one country and two systems; and Tiananmen square, if referred to at all, was known as the public space where increasing numbers of western tourists photographed each other against exotic backgrounds.
In the middle east, war meant the seemingly endless conflict between Iraq and Iran. Both warring parties were regarded as odious, but many viewed Iraq as the lesser of the two evils. The west, including Britain, the Soviet Union and China readily, even eagerly, armed Saddam Hussein, and both Kuwait and Saudi Arabia financed Saddam's war machine as a barrier against the onrush of Muslim fundamentalism.
Nearby, the Palestinians seemed resigned to Israeli occupation. The intifada had not yet begun, peace talks between Israel and her Arab neighbours seemed unimaginable and no political party in Israel risked contemplating negotiations with the Palestinians.
In South Africa, Nelson Mandela was completing his 23rd year in gaol, a prisoner of a regime determined to maintain every one of the apartheid laws and unwilling to loosen its grip on Namibia. Further north, the legitimate Government of Angola continued to be beset by Unita rebels. Across the Atlantic, the Pinochet regime continued to maintain its stranglehold on Chile. The United Nations was in stalemate, its Security Council frequently unable to act and always liable to the veto of one or other of the cold war contenders.
Much has changed, and much of what has changed has changed for the better, although there are some areas where sorrow and foreboding still prevail. Five years from now, shall we be able to look back on a further half decade of dramatic change, much of it welcome and beneficial? What part will the United Kingdom have played in whatever changes have taken place? We should not, and must not, overestimate the part that we can play, hut, as the Foreign Secretary said, we are unique in being a member of a number of international organisations—G7, NATO, the European Community and the Commonwealth, together with having a permanent seat on the Security Council—so we have interlocking opportunities that are not available to any of our allies, including the United States.
Will Britain five years from now have been a catalyst and an initiator in beneficial change? Or will Britain have dragged its heels and held progress back? Will the British Government have met the challenges of the first half of the 1990s, having too often failed to meet challenges in the 1980s? This House can play its part in urging the Government to meet those challenges.
Nobody expected the end of the cold war to produce a prosperous, democratic Europe overnight. On the other hand, more should have been done, and more must be done, to provide the economic and industrial underpinning that is essential if the former communist countries are not to slide into chaos. They must be helped to build on their democratic aspirations so that they do not fall into the kind of turmoil to which Yugoslavia is tragically subject and to which the Foreign Secretary referred.
The turmoil in Yugoslavia is a warning of what could happen on a far greater scale, with far wider and unpredictable international ramifications, if urgent and substantial action is not taken to underpin democracy in the former Soviet Union and the rest of former communist Europe. Such chaos, particularly in the former Soviet Union, must be avoided at all costs. Beyond Gorbachev there was Yeltsin. If Yeltsin and his counterparts go, their successors will not be more, but much less, democratic —authoritarians of the right instead of the pseudo left.
The Labour party has for several years urged a new Marshall plan to assist the reconstruction of central and eastern Europe and to underpin its burgeoning democracy. We welcome the fact that others increasingly call for such a new Marshall plan. We welcome the progress that has been achieved in aid for Russia, but such aid is still too narrowly based and, despite its growing dimensions, is still too unambitious. The G7 summit in Munich in July must address itself to those basic problems and issues that the G7 summit in London last July culpably ignored or deliberately evaded. Time is slipping by. There are not many opportunities left. This one must not be lost. NATO and the west must help to solve the military and strategic problems left behind by the disintegration of the Soviet Union.
In the Gracious Speech, the Government rightly voice their support for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, but, with the cold war over, with Russia now seeking to be an ally rather than an enemy and with every NATO Government ruling out a land conflict in Europe, the alliance has still not found a new role. It has decided, rightly, as President Bush said, that nuclear weapons must be weapons truly of last resort.
But NATO still has no clear policy for nuclear arms. There are eight strategic nuclear powers in the world since the break-up of the Soviet Union. One of the largest, Kazakhstan, has made no progress in accepting its responsibilities as a nuclear power to participate in nuclear arms control. Nor, indeed, has the United Kingdom.
It is all very well to talk, as the Gracious Speech does, of helping Russia to get rid of its nuclear weapons. That is right and we welcome the progress that is being made, including on getting rid of nuclear weapons in the Ukraine. But we need to know—I regret that the Secretary of State did not find time to deal with these issues—the United Kingdom's policy on nuclear weapons. In the general election campaign, the Government thought it enough to announce that they would build a fourth Trident submarine. That did not even help them electorally, as the presence here of my hon. Friend the Member for Barrow and Furness (Mr. Hutton) confirms.
Four submarines are not a defence policy, nationally or internationally. The Government must think through, and present to Parliament, their views on what is an appropriate defence policy for Britian in a post-cold-war period. They must tell Parliament who is the potential enemy, what is the best way of defending the country against such an enemy, what is the role of our armed forces and what is the role of NATO.
Britain spends large amounts on men, weapons and equipment and it is right for us to spend whatever sums are required. But if Parliament is to authorise that expenditure, Parliament has the right to have clearly explained to it the objectives of that expenditure, in particular what our defence aims are and how they are to be achieved. Five years from now, and countless billions of expenditure later, will this country have what it does not have now—a defence policy? Or will it simply have an ill thought out defence budget which the Government will continue to pretend is the substitute for a defence policy?
Such questions are being asked in your city, Madam Deputy Speaker. What will be the Government's policy at home on the redeployment of defence industries and the hundreds of thousands of men and women employed in them? There is not a word on that subject in the Gracious Speech. How many of those men and women will still be employed in defence industries?
Will Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Limited, Barrow, have any future workload as the Trident series approaches completion, or will thousands more have been made redundant there? During the election period I met the management of VSEL and was told that even on a projected four-Trident submarine programme, thousands more redundancies were expected in the relatively near future. What future is there for that shipyard, the whole workload of which is tied to the Trident programme? Will thousands more be made redundant there? Will the yard be doomed to closure ? There are great fears in Barrow that the yard will not survive the decade. My hon. Friend the Member for Barrow and Furness rightly drew attention to those concerns in his constituency in his excellent maiden speech on Wednesday. What will have happened to the defence complex around Bristol, where many thousands of defence workers are deeply concerned about their future?
If the hon. Gentleman will allow me to complete this passage, I shall give way in a moment.
Will the Government have squared the circle and satisfied the expectations of Rosyth and Devonport for Trident refitting? Is there a future for Devonport dockyard? Workers in Plymouth are very worried about that, as the Secretary of State must know. The Government have a profound responsibility towards our defence workers and they must promise them a future in which their skills will both keep them in employment and continue to benefit the nation. During the general election campaign we said that we would set up a defence diversification agency and work with industry and others on that. The management of Devonport dockyard, for example, greatly welcomed that proposal. However, that is not to be, so the Government have a great obligation to make it clear to the many thousands of defence workers who will undoubtedly lose their jobs as a result of technological change and disarmament negotiations what their future is to be. The most recent defence White Paper specifically washed its hands of that problem. The Government cannot continue to wash their hands of the problem.
It is fascinating to hear the Labour party's defence policy evolving. During the election campaign it reached the stage of a fourth but unarmed submarine at Barrow—a floating holiday submarine. The right hon. Gentleman has not yet reached the stage of saying what specific orders he would bring to that shipyard to keep jobs for the people about whom he claims to be concerned.
Clearly, the hon. Gentleman did not follow what was said during the election campaign. To enlighten him I shall send him a copy of the speech that I made on 17 March, which dealt fully with those matters. If the hon. Gentleman then has further problems, I should be glad to discuss them with him and enlighten him further.
What role will the Government play in international disarmament? Will they have accepted that Britain must be involved in eight-power negotiations to reduce stocks of strategic nuclear weapons? The Gracious Speech refers to action to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. What is that action to be? Five years from now, how many more nuclear powers will there be? Will the Government make it clear to countries seeking to acquire nuclear weapons that acquisition by them of such weapons is not acceptable? Will the non-proliferation treaty have been strengthened to warn off those and other countries?
Will there be strengthened inspection and intrusion procedures, as the Labour party recommends? Will there be strengthened sanctions against proliferation? Will there be an international ban on the export of all nuclear materials, including so-called peaceful nuclear materials, to countries that fail to sign the non-proliferation treaty? We certainly recommend that. Will this country's hands be clean? They were certainly not clean in the case of Iraq.
Will action have been taken to curb the sale of conventional weapons which, as we saw in the Gulf war, can be terrifying lethal? Will there be a ban on arms sales to countries with poor human rights records? We shall press for such a ban. What about arms sales to the middle east? At present, apart from co-operation on sanctions against Iraq, the Government ban arms sales only to Israel. I shall support that ban on Israel provided that it is part of a general ban throughout the middle east, with exceptions to be specifically justified and explained.
Before the Gulf crisis, I warned repeatedly from the Dispatch Box of the danger of a war in the middle east. That danger remains, even if one instigator has been quarantined. Will peace prevail, however uneasily, in that strife-torn region, or shall we, in five years time, be conducting an inquest into the causes and outcome of yet another needless and lethal conflict in that region? Such a conflict would undoubtedly involve missiles, might well involve chemical weapons and could possibly involve nuclear weapons. It could be a regional conflict which nevertheless drags in the rest of the world, as the Gulf war did. What action are the Government taking to seek to prevent such a war?
Will there have been a settlement of the Palestinian issue or will the intifada be in its second decade? What action will the Government take to assist the Madrid process? The hon. Member for Bexleyheath (Mr. Townsend) intervened in the Secretary of State's speech to say that the Government should visit Cyprus. It is about time that that happened because there has been no Government visit to Cyprus in 13 years and the Cypriots are resentful of the fact that the Government have not sent a senior Minister to visit them there. The Foreign Secretary referred to the issue, but the question is how we deal with the division of Cyprus. I welcome the Foreign Secretary's visit to Turkey and hope that he pressed the Turks strongly not only on Cyprus but on the subject of the Kurds, because the solution to the Kurdish problem lies far more in Turkey than even in Iraq. When the Foreign Secretary was discussing Cyprus with the Turkish Government, did he make it clear that the continued presence of Turkish troops on Cypriot soil, against the will of the sovereign Government of Cyprus, is unacceptable and against international law? In discussing Cyprus today, the Secretary of State said that he looks forward to two regional governments on the island as equal partners. It is important that the Government make it clear, so that there can be no misunderstanding, that if there are to be two regional governments in Cyprus they must be within a united Cyprus under one Government and one president.
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for clarifying that. As he knows, what we say about those matters is studied intensely in Cyprus. It must be made clear—it is a possibility that has been mooted —that a two-state solution to the problem of Cyprus is absolutely unacceptable and will be tolerated neither by the Government nor by the House.
Basic principles of international law and territorial integrity are at stake in Cyprus and a solution covering the rights of both communities is essential. My hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Mrs. Roche) rightly drew attention to that issue yesterday in her eloquent maiden speech.
The Gracious Speech fails to mention Kashmir and I am sorry that, although the Conservative party managed to cram a mention of the matter into its election manifesto because it was worried about one or two marginal seats, the Secretary of State has not spoken of it today. Five years from now, will Kashmiris still be dying, losing their homes and livelihoods, in that tragic conflict? Kashmiris of all religions—Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist—are affected. Will young Indian and Pakistani service men still be losing their lives pointlessly and tragically? I hope that the Government will explain what action they propose to take to help to bring about a solution, because they mooted the possibility of such a solution in their election manifesto.
Will a solution have at last been found to the problem of the western Sahara? A plebiscite should have been held there three months ago. Britain is seeking to facilitate such a plebiscite. Will the Government take the initiative in the United Nations Security Council to hasten such a plebiscite?
The Secretary of State referred to Hong Kong. Five years from now, British rule in Hong Kong will have less than two months to go. The Secretary of State referred to what the Gracious Speech said about political development in the territory, but gave the House no hint of what the Government have in mind.
What will the political condition of Hong Kong be on the eve of its becoming a special administrative region of the People's Republic of China? Will the number of directly elected members of the LegCo have been increased beyond the total at present envisaged? Will the electorates of the functional constituencies have been widened to include all the members of the relevant organisations? That would be a means of giving the vote to hundreds of thousands more people in Hong Kong. Will the nominated members he far more representative of political opinion in the colony than they are now? Will directly elected members of the Legislative Council be serving on the Executive Council? We believe that they certainly should, and that the problem requires an urgent approach.
Will the Executive be more directly answerable to the Legislative Council? Will the governor make himself available to answer questions in the Legislative Council, as is being requested? If so, I hope that he will be a good deal more forthcoming than he was when he answered questions in the House. What exactly do the Government have in mind for the political development of Hong Kong? Those questions are being asked.
The Gracious Speech refers to one of the most important roles that the Government will play this year, as president of the European Community. What sort of Community do the Government envisage five years from now? How large do the Government expect that Community to be? Will the Government support not only the membership of additional countries named both by the Prime Minister on Wednesday and by the Foreign Secretary today, but the application of Cyprus? There is no reason why that application should not be proceeded with.
Do the Government accept that, in principle, every country in Europe, including the former Soviet republics, should be eligible for membership of the European Community, provided that they fulfil the necessary criteria of economic viability and political stability under proper democratic systems?
I am grateful to my right hon. Friend, who grabbed my attention forcibly as I was about to go and make a telephone call. On the question that he has just posed about the republics of the former Soviet Union, it could be argued that if we carry that policy right through, Europe will be extended to within a few miles of the United States. I suppose that it could go further and further, until it reaches Australia and New Zealand. Does my right hon. Friend not have a definition of Europe? Surely it cannot extend to Asian republics in the former Soviet Union?
My hon. Friend has drawn attention to the problem posed by the fact that the Russian federation, the capital of which is Moscow and which includes St. Petersburg, extends to the Aleutian islands. It is a European country with the overwhelming majority of its population in Europe. In principle, I would certainly support the membership of such a country in the Community, provided that all the criteria to which I referred were fulfilled. I would not say that Asian countries should be included as we are talking about a European Community. Countries that are solely in Asia should not be included. The Foreign Secretary spoke about including Turkey in the European Community, although only a minute fraction of Turkey is in the continent of Europe, but provided that Turkey gets out of Cyprus and fulfils the human rights criteria to which we attach importance, I would welcome Turkey's membership of the European Community.
Following the 1996 review, will the Government have accepted the central bank and the single currency? Do the Government have a five-year vision for the Community, as distinct from a six-month vision which they will outline to us in the debate on the Maastricht treaty? The Government have accepted a foreign policy role for the European Community, but what sort of foreign policy do they believe appropriate?
The Government have accepted a defence identity for the European Community. The Labour party believes that they were wrong to do so, but, if they have accepted that, they have an obligation to the House to spell out their concept of the European defence role. We have not heard a hint about that subject today.
What about the aid role of the European Community? What of the Government's aid role? The Gracious Speech refers to maintaining a substantial aid programme to reduce poverty in developing countries, but the Government have reduced this country's aid programme by a half. Do the Government intend to end that decline? Do they intend to accept the United Nations target of aid as 0·7 per cent. of gross national product? What is the Government's aid policy, as distinct from their aid slogan? Do they accept that a special aid programme for South Africa will be necessary when a multiracial Government take office there?
As I listened to Her Majesty deliver the Gracious Speech on Wednesday, I lamented the lost opportunities. I compared the negativism of that speech with the abundance of positive proposals for arms control, non-proliferation, defence diversification, the resolution of regional conflicts, Europe and aid, which would have been contained in a Labour Government's Queen's Speech. That speech was not to be.
I hope that the Government, with their narrow majority and narrow base of popular support, will be more responsive to the House than they were in the previous Parliament. In this Parliament, a strengthened parliamentary Labour party will fight with even more determination for the ideals to which we are dedicated: the combating of hunger and deprivation, and the pursuit of world peace.
Given that our aims in foreign policy are, in the words of the prayer said each day,
saving health among all nations",
and in the words of the Foreign Secretary today, primarily the security and prosperity of Europe, the Gracious Speech is welcome. It refers to three vital means of securing that prosperity and stability in Europe.
The first and, I believe for the immediate future, by far the most important, is the undertaking to help Russia—and it will be more than Russia—to dismantle its surplus nuclear weapons. There is no greater danger facing world order and the security of European nations than the awful prospect of either strategic nuclear warheads or the vastly greater number of tactical nuclear warheads—the storage of which is not nearly as organised as it should be—getting into the hands of people who do not accept the code of reasoning that might restrain them from using such weapons. That is a likely prospect.
I think that, some months ago, the Foreign Secretary assured us that, after a visit to Moscow, he believed that the strategic weapons were under proper control and the codes were in the hands of the high command of the Russian part of the Commonwealth of Independent States. But evidence suggests that the control of the thousands upon thousands of tactical nuclear warheads is not so well secured.
There remains a colossal danger, indeed likelihood, that weapons and—which is more sinister—people with the techniques and technology to assemble those weapons, have moved into the employ of states in the middle east and elsewhere. Such people are ready to put the weapons together and use them on impulse or whim, without reason, as we saw the impulse of Saddam Hussein turn against Kuwait the year before last. That is a vital matter. It would be interesting—perhaps not in speeches now, but later—to hear how we and our allies are to act more effectively to ensure that such weapons are brought under control and do not fall into the hands of mad dictators and alien despots.
The second issue that directly affects the security of Europe and which my right hon. Friend mentioned is Yugoslavia. The Gracious Speech expresses the pious hope that a peaceful settlement can be obtained. I fear that that looks less and less likely as the days go by. My own view is that the well-meaning policy of the European Community—it should certainly be supported in respect of the monitors—which involved the premature recognition of Bosnia has been a catastrophe and has led, as was widely predicted, to a vast increase in the bloodshed. The former Select Committee on Foreign Affairs said before the recent election that premature recognition would lead to the bloody dismemberment of Bosnia. Now that that has happened, our task is the new and horrific one of somehow preventing the killing fields of Bosnia from turning into a full-scale Balkan war—as well it may unless we are somehow able by diplomatic, economic or ultimately military means to curb the activities of the Serbian official army and forces and of the irregular army and forces that roam the whole area killing at will.
The third major task for Europe outlined in the Gracious Speech is the welcome commitment to promoting and developing democracy in eastern Europe. That is going to be difficult; it is by no means assured that the eastern European countries—Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland, to take the leading three—will make it all the way to free, pluralist societies. It will be a tough fight, and we must certainly help them all the way and must promote democracy there and elsewhere in the world wherever we can.
It is on these three issues that we should concentrate when thinking about our aims, as the Foreign Secretary put them, of European security and prosperity, and it is against this background that I come to the other issue in the Gracious Speech, which will take up more time of this House but which may prove to be far less important: the decision to put a Bill before the House—it is already printed—to give lawful expression to the Maastricht treaty.
As time goes by, and even since we fought the election, it appears that the aims of the treaty and the discussions surrounding it are less and less relevant to the Europe that we now contemplate. Since the treaty was signed, all the doubts that some of us sensed would arise in Germany have come to the fore. The Germans are asking why they did not have a debate like the British had. They are discovering that they do not like some of the things to which they joined up—they do not want to get rid of the deutschmark, for instance.
There are intense debates in France, where there are the beginnings of a political earthquake. The Spaniards are far less happy now that they realise they will not get all the regional cash for which they had hoped. The Italians are in political chaos. The Dutch are beginning to have doubts and the Danish do not like the whole idea. The Irish, because of their abortion problems, are beginning to wonder why they signed. All in all, we have to ask whether the high aims and rhetoric in the preamble to the Maastricht treaty really fit well with the priorities that I have just mentioned, to do with furthering the stability of Europe.
Before the election, the former Foreign Affairs Committee was in the midst of a study of the implications of the Maastricht treaty, comparing them with some of the implications of the Single European Act. We only got as far as asking a series of questions. I hope that there will now be an opportunity to pursue some of those issues. I also hope that it will be possible to set up the Select Committees again quickly, within 30 days. I have heard it suggested that the process will be delayed until the Opposition leadership election in July, which may well be after the House has risen.
There is absolutely no reason why that leadership election should delay the setting up of all the Committees. It may create one or two marginal problems which will have to be sorted out in the autumn. If the Committees are not set up within 30 days, we will have to assume that there are other motives at work. I trust that what I have said will be taken to heart by the usual channels and by the powers that be in the major political parties.
Let us contemplate what the House will be asked to do when we come to approve the European Communities (Amendment) Bill, which will turn parts of the Maastricht treaty into the law of this land. If my right hon. Friends are to persuade us to give the Bill a green light, they must first establish that they recognise that Maastricht is not just a milestone on some inevitable, irrevocable, irreversible advance towards the full political union and monetary union of a new integrated European state. We neither like nor want that language.
Instead, we want it to be recognised, as I believe my right hon. Friends did recognise at Maastricht, that this is a turning point, an opportunity to begin the development of Europe in a new and better direction than the one articulated by many of the great enthusiasts for European integration in its fullest sense. If we are to be told that Maastricht is a turning point on the way to a more modern kind of Europe, that will be much more welcome.
All this will be more convincing if my right hon. Friends can explain to us how they will give substance to the idea of subsidiarity, that unhappy and rather unEnglish word which is nevertheless of great importance, and which makes a rather vague appearance in article 3B of the treaty. I think that the time may have come not merely to talk in general terms about subsidiarity but to set out a list of the powers that we believe should be repatriated from the Community institutions and the Commission to the nation states.
My former Cabinet colleague, Sir Leon Brittan, now an outstanding Commissioner and an effective force in Brussels, has recently been airing his thoughts about such possibilities—not merely that subsidiarity means that further powers should not go to the centre but that powers should be returned from the centre. It will be important to begin compiling a list of those powers which are overdue for repatriation to the nation states, to remind ourselves that the Europe that we want in future is the result not merely of a process of ever greater centralisation but of a balance between the powers of the ancient nation states and the Community institutions which are and should be our servants.
Secondly, my right hon. Friends will need to show that they do not accept, any more than I suspect the rest of the House accepts, the irreversible road to European political and monetary union. Thanks to the enormous skill of the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister, this country succeeded in obtaining a version of the treaty which enables us to call a halt to European monetary union. My own view is that the full monetary union—a single currency running from Palermo to Glasgow, from Lisbon to Warsaw or Berlin—will never occur. The more one hears the debate in Germany, the more likely it seems that EMU in that form will never happen.
Fortunately we are not committed to this fantasy—to this castle in the air of European monetary union—and it is interesting to note that other European countries are showing equal reluctance. So let us have a clear view from my right hon. Friends on this matter.
Thirdly, we will need strong reassurance about accountability for the powers given to the Community's institutions and to the new European union institutions, the so-called pillars around the main trunk of the European Community which were set up by the Maastricht treaty. The other day, the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing), who chairs the European Legislation Scrutiny Committee, wrote an excellent article in the New European rightly pointing out that, whether we like it or not, the complexities of trying to keep track and account of the new powers as exercised under the Maastricht treaty will be vastly greater even than those the House now faces trying to stay ahead of the European Community and European Parliament and all the directives and regulations emanating from them.
We shall need to know a good deal more about the part that accountability will play in these new powers. It is not enough to say that the intergovernmental processes under the Maastricht treaty will all involve Ministers who of course are accountable to this House. All sorts of new undertakings and new commitments of a semi-collective kind will be given, and it is fair and right that the House should have increased opportunities, which we shall have to devise, to hold to account and keep track of the activities that are pursued within the European union pillars.
The conference of Parliaments proposed in the Maastricht treaty will have to be approached with vigour and in a way that preserves the position of the national Parliaments. It must not lead to us all being submerged in party groups across frontiers, with the whole exercise hijacked and controlled by the Commission or the authorities of the European Parliament.
It being Eleven o'clock, MADAM SPEAKER interrupted the proceedings, pursuant to Standing Order No. 11 (Friday sittings).