Foreign Affairs

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:16 am on 8th May 1992.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Gerald Kaufman Gerald Kaufman Chair, National Heritage Committee, Shadow Secretary of State (Foreign Affairs), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 10:16 am, 8th May 1992

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.