Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs
Cyprus (British Property)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has now made to the Governments of Cyprus and Turkey about compensation for British nationals who lost property and personal possessions in the Cyprus disturbances of 1974.
I told my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Thomas) on 19th December—[Vol. 883, c. 575–6]—that we have been considering an approach to the Governments of Turkey and Cyprus on this problem. After careful assessment of the responsibility for the various categories of loss and damage reported, my right hon. Friend has authorised Her Majesty's Am- bassador in Ankara to make representations to the Turkish Government. An approach to the Government of Cyprus is still under consideration.
Is the Minister satisfied that the Government are doing all they can to help these people, most of whom are not rich and many of whom are now destitute?
I fear that I must accept the definition given by the hon. Gentleman of the condition of some of these people, but I hope he will accept my assurance that the Government are doing all they can, and are doing it repeatedly, to establish their claims and the responsibilities of the Government in question. This is a matter of some difficulty, although I promise that we shall continue to pursue it.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that hundreds of thousands of Cypriots also lost property and possessions in 1974? Does he agree that the recent action of the Government in acquiescing in the transfer of 10,000 Turkish Cypriot refugees to Turkey who were then sent to the north of Cyprus is regarded as a betrayal by many of the Greek community in Greece and Cyprus and also those in this country, many of whom are my constituents? Does he not agree that it is time for the Government's policy to be made absolutely clear to avoid the charge of betrayal and of a complete reversal of policy?
I agree that there are many thousands of Greek Cypriots living in desperate conditions for whom something should be done—essentially by the Government of Turkey and the military authority in the north of the island of Cyprus. As for the Turkish refugees who were lately in the western sovereign base, we always knew that if we were to allow them to leave that base by air charges of duplicity would be made against us. We always knew that it would produce difficulties and embarrassments for Her Majesty's Government, but we took the view in January that their conditions, were they to remain there under canvas for the winter, would become so desperate that, out of compassion, it was our duty to allow them to leave by air. I am sure we were right to do so.
One accepts that the Government's judgment in that regard may be correct, but can the Minister say what representations were made to the Turkish Government and what assurances were sought from them in consideration of the concession we made?
My right hon. Friend rightly refused to bargain over this matter, saying that the lives and the health of several thousand Turkish Cypriots were not suitable subjects for making a deal with the Government of Turkey or anyone else. At the same time, however, he told the Turkish Government how strongly he and, he believed, this House would feel about their obligations to do something on behalf of the Greek Cypriot refugees. The right hon. and learned Gentleman will know that 1,000 Greek Cypriot refugees have already returned to their homes, but we continue to press as strongly as we can for the sort of humanity which we have shown to be shown by other nations.
May I give notice, Mr. Speaker, that I shall wish to raise a point of order on Question No. 35 at the end of Question Time, about the way in which the Foreign Office has avoided making a statement about this situation?Further to the questions already answered, may I ask what attitude the Foreign Secretary will take when or if he discusses this matter with Dr. Kissinger tomorrow? What will be the Government's position? Why have the Government now decided on non-intervention in the Clerides-Denktash talks, and what is the position of this Government as guarantor of the original treaty? I understand that the discussions next week will now be about the geographical allocation of territories in Cyprus, and many people are hoping that this Government will do something to avoid de facto recognition of the partition line, which is on the agenda for the talks.
I am sorry if my hon. Friend thinks that our answers have been less than frank. With great respect, I doubt whether that is how they will seem when read in Hansard tomorrow.As far as the Clerides-Denktash talks are concerned, it has always been the policy of Her Majesty's Government that these talks are the talks which are going on and which it is possible to see continued and, therefore, are the best prospects for making progress in the island. It is not known—but it ought to be—that the beginnings of these talks came about when the Secretary-General of the United Nations and my right hon. Friend the Minister of State had a conversation in August about how progress might be made towards a settlement in the island. Because of the very considerable progress that has been made on some issues and the willingness to expand the talks into political matters, Her Majesty's Government continue to believe that they are a prospect for progress. If my hon. Friend has any other material or practical suggestions about how progress should be made, I shall be happy to hear about them.
What about Kissinger?
Middle East Arms Supplies
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will ask the United States of America, the USSR and France for a joint embargo with Great Britain on arms and weapons spare parts to both Arab and Israeli contestants in the Middle East; and if the Government will give the lead by prohibiting such supplies from Great Britain forthwith.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will propose at the appropriate international organisations a total ban on all arms supplies to the Middle East by Great Britain, France, the USSR and the United States of America.
An effective agreement on some measure of arms limitation in the Middle East is likely to be possible only with the support of the parties to the dispute and in the context of a general settlement.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Middle East war could escalate into the third world war, which none of the four Governments mentioned wants? If agreement is difficult, as he suggests, why should not Britain give the initiative by getting out of this dirty business herself instead of selling arms to both sides? Lastly, is not talking of a balance in supplying arms, as some people do, a poor excuse, because it is really accelerating the arms race in that part of the world?
First, I agree with my hon. Friend that there are great dangers in the Middle East. That is why I think it is the responsibility of all of us to put as much pressure as we can upon the parties concerned. Most of us will welcome the fact that Dr. Kissinger is proposing to pay a further visit to the Middle East. I think we would wish him well in that. As to whether Her Majesty's Government by taking unilateral action would affect the situation, I very much doubt that.The main decision concerning arms is that taken by the countries themselves. They decide for themselves whether they want arms, in the same way as we decide whether to produce them. There is little doubt that if the British Government were to decide to impose a unilateral embargo, the orders would be taken up by other countries. I do not think that anything would be achieved.
Is the assumption made in the Question correct—that only the countries named are supplying arms to the area?
I cannot answer for my hon. Friend who put down the Question.
While I agree with the purport of the questions of my hon. Friends, may I ask the Minister to bear in mind when considering this matter that an embargo limited, in the terms of the Question of my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Allaun), to
would not be good enough, because there are other people who, as intermediaries, are willing to pass on arms to some of the contestants?"both Arab and Israeli contestants in the Middle East"
I think that my hon. Friend is right.
May I also ask my hon. Friend to bear in mind that if he is considering an embargo of this kind he should also be considering the complete division of the British Aircraft Corporation which has been set up for the supplying of sophisticated weapons to Saudi Arabia, which I believe is situated in the Middle East?
That is another question.
Does not my right hon. Friend agree, however, that in 1973 Her Majesty's Government made a unilateral declaration and decided, during the October war of that year, to refuse to supply arms to either side? Therefore, by doing as the Question suggests we would not be embarking upon any new policy but would be following a sensible decision made in 1973.
I do not think I can agree. I thought that the decision taken at that time was deplorable. I do not think many of my hon. Friends thought that the decision of the previous Government to deny arms to one country when it needed them was a decision that was promoting peace or anything else.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement about the progress made in securing a constitutional settlement in Rhodesia.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a further statement on moves by Her Majesty's Government towards a settlement in Rhodesia.
My right hon. Friend has sent messages to Mr. Smith and Bishop Muzorewa. Mr. Smith's reply says that a proposed visit to Salisbury by British officials would not be helpful at this stage. The ANC has not yet replied. My right hon. Friend remains in consultation with the African leaders principally concerned.
While there will be widespread disappointment that the Foreign Secretary's offer to send an official to Salisbury has been turned down, may I ask the Minister whether he accepts that the somewhat ill-tempered and ham-fisted remark of the Foreign Secretary about comparing Rhodesian leaders to men stuck in an ice floe may well have contributed to this decision? What steps will the British Government now take to keep the tempo of negotiations going? Will the Government at one and the same time urge the African leaders to bring an effective end to terrorism and urge Mr. Smith to recommend the release of detainees?
Perhaps I should deal first with the serious part of that question. I think it is a disappointment. I think it is only a temporary setback. We cannot assume that there will not be an opportunity for exchanges with Mr. Smith. He has certainly not closed the door. I also agree that it is of great importance that the agreement reached in Lusaka should in every respect be carried through by all the parties concerned. I have no doubt that the African presidents are using their influence. I hope that Mr. Vorster will continue to use his influence. I think we would want to wish well to the talks which have begun between Mr. Smith's representatives and the African National Council. When my right hon. Friend made his statement in the House, he said that a constitutional conference could result only from these talks in Rhodesia. We would want to wish them well.As for the non-serious part of the supplementary question, the hon. Gentleman is fooling himself. My right hon. Friend said that Rhodesia was in a serious situation and facing serious problems. If the hon. Gentleman doubts that he must be alone in doing so.
Does my right hon. Friend accept two facts of life, as I have done for some years? The first is that since 1922, when Southern Rhodesia, as she then was, opted not to become the sixth State of the Union, Her Majesty's Government have had little if any constitutional status in Salisbury. Secondly, nowhere in Africa, outside the former colonies such as Kenya, has any white settler population voluntarily handed over power to the black masses. In the light of those two facts of history, does not my right hon. Friend think that we ought to leave it to Kenneth Kaunda and the other black leaders, because sooner or later there will be conflict in the territory such as that in Angola and Mozambique?
I think my hon. Friend recognises—if he does not, perhaps I can mention it—that Presidents Kaunda, Nyerere and Seretse Khama have been extremely anxious and have made it clear to my right hon. Friend that he should play as active a part as he can. The question is, how active a part? Clearly, although we have legal constitutional responsibility for what is still constitutionally a British dependent territory, our influence is not such that we can directly intervene. I think it is quite right, therefore, that my right hon. Friend should indicate his willingness to convene a conference at such time as the situation leads one to believe that it can succeed.
Is it not clear that a major factor in opening up even the possibility of a settlement has been the determination of the British Government, of both parties, to keep the illegal régime isolated in the international community? Have the Government considered what further negotiations may be useful in this very fluid situation? Will they keep in mind that a settlement must include reliable safeguards not only for the African majority but also for the European minority in Rhodesia?
Concerning the last part of the question, I think my right hon. Friend told the House on 14th January that if he were present at a constitutional conference he would certainly do his best to ensure that there were guarantees for the minority. That is one of the basic Six Principles.I agree with the hon. Gentleman that the decision, of both sides of the House—though many Opposition Members did not agree—to sustain sanctions and not to recognise the Smith régime, was a perfectly proper measure and was paving the way for this situation. As for further initiatives, my right hon. Friend is in close contact with the Africa presidents and with Mr. Vorster. We await also to see not only the reply from the ANC but such later replies as we hope to receive from Mr. Smith.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that all past records show that there is absolutely no possibility of constructive dealings with Smith and that until he is removed there is no possible way forward?
I cannot accept that conclusion. It is too early to say what the outcome of the present negotiations will be. We must accept that representatives of the Smith régime accepted certain principles in Lusaka. They, together with others, declared their intention to carry them through, and it is our wish to see that agreement fully respected by all concerned.
The Minister of State will remember that the Foreign Secretary wisely overcame his initial reluctance to meet Mr. Vorster. Would the Foreign Secretary be prepared in appropriate circumstances to meet Mr. Smith?
It depends on what those appropriate circumstances are, but there would have to be a great deal of change before that became possible.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will take into account, in considering any settlement of the Rhodesia question, the need to restore the rights and homeland which have been illegally taken away from the Tangwena tribe.
I hope that any settlement of the Rhodesia question will lead to a satisfactory resolution of many problems including those of the Tangwena people.
I thank my right hon. Friend warmly for that reply, even though it does not contain any commitment. I ask him to bear in mind when these matters are being considered that the Tangwena were brutally evicted from their ancestral homeland in 1968; that the Supreme Court in Rhodesia, even under UDI, declared that eviction to be unconstitutional and was overruled only by Mr. Dupont, who usurped the powers of the Governor; and that the land is occupied by a ranching company most of whose proprietors are English or Irish. Will my right hon. Friend please ensure that when the constitutional talks start this point, perhaps small in relation to some others but large in relation to justice, is not overlooked?
I have deep sympathy with the point of view presented by my hon. Friend and with the conditions, the problems and the history of the Tangwena people. I agree that it is essential that the problem should be resolved. I know that part of the problem is that parents have been separated from their children. I have heard that parents are now free to take their children away from their present position, which is a welcome advance. Certainly this is one problem that must be solved as part of the settlement in Rhodesia that we hope to achieve.
Would not British influence in all these important matters be strengthened if Her Majesty's Government had a representative in this territory for which the Government claim responsibility? Despite the present difficulties with Mr. Smith will the Government pursue that matter?
Maybe the hon. Gentleman was not in the House when I answered an earlier Question—
Yes, I was.
when I said that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary had suggested to Mr. Smith that there should be a visit from officials to discuss the situation and the state of the negotiations, and that Mr. Smith said that the time was not opportune. If the hon. Gentleman is suggesting a way in which there should be diplomatic recognition by the back door, the answer is positively "No".
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will pay an official visit to the Persian Gulf.
My right hon. Friend has no plans to visit the Gulf at present. I am proposing to visit the Arab States of the Gulf myself early next month.
In view of the political and economic importance of the Gulf area to this country, and in view also of the deep dismay engendered in the Gulf by the remarks attributed to Dr. Kissinger earlier this month that the United States did not wholly exclude the possibility of circumstances in which it might intervene militarily in the area, will the Minister reconsider the possibility of a visit by the Foreign Secretary to the Gulf States. If he went he could carry with him the view of our Government that we have nothing but good intentions towards that part of the world.
I had better go first myself before I recommend my right hon. Friend to follow me the week after. I can assure the hon. Member that I shall be having wide-ranging talks in Kuwait, Bahrein, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman. My visit will deal with political issues, including those referred to by the hon. Member, and economc questions. In so far as there are points which can be elaborated, I am certain that that will be done during this visit. I shall find it of great advantage to exchange views with countries which have had traditional friendly relations with us.
Will my right hon. Friend make clear to the Sultan of Oman that there is a considerable body of opinion in Britain which regards the war in Oman as being totally unjustified and which believes that British support in that war should be completely withdrawn?
I am not quite certain how widespread that support is. I have no doubt that the Sultan has seen the Questions which have been put by my hon. Friend, but I think that most people in this country who know much about what is going on in Oman recognise the great advances which are being made in social and economic development in the interests of the people under the present Sultan, and I think that we should give them every encouragement.
May I fully support my hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge and Mailing (Mr. Stanley) in what he said and go a little further?May I ask whether, in addition to making visits, the Foreign Secretary will extend invitations to leaders in the Gulf and other areas which are so immensely important to us to visit this country?
Most of the leaders of the five countries which I shall be visiting in the Gulf have paid visits to this country during the past 12 months and have had valuable talks during their stay here.
Turkey (Computer Sale)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the sending out of a British team of computer specialists in support of the supply of a United States manufactured computer to the Turkish Government when this may be utilised to aid the disposition of Turkish troops in Cyprus.
As my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Trade told the House on 13th January, Her Majesty's Government were not involved in the sale of an American computer to Turkey, nor have we been involved in the despatch of computer specialists to Turkey or to the Turkish-held part of Cyprus.
I am grateful to the Minister for clarification of the facts, but does he agree that the reports which are of such a nature as to show an apparent partiality towards the Turkish Government support the view expressed earlier in the House today that there is a feeling of betrayal of the people of Cyprus, and of the Greek Cypriots in particular? Does he accept that we need early action on behalf of the Greek Cypriots rather than fine words?
On the need for early action, I have expressed the view of the Government and I gladly reiterate it. On the matter of reports which imply partiality, since the reports about a computer were entirely false and were described as such six weeks ago it is unnecessary for me to deny them any further, and it is not helpful for hon. Members to raise the question.
Is not United Nations Resolution No. 353 the most significant resolution yet to be tabled about the Cypriot struggle? Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the Foreign Secretary, who is to meet Mr. Ivor Richard tomorrow to discuss initiatives to be taken by the United Nations in furtherance of the resolution, will meet Dr. Kissinger to discuss this matter? Does not my right hon. Friend believe in open government and, therefore, in saying so?
I agree with all the facts my hon. Friend has described. The Government have obligations as a member of the United Nations to the resolutions of that body. We have obligations as a member of the Commonwealth to a Commonwealth country. We have obligations as guarantor of the Cyprus constitution to Cyprus itself. My right hon. Friend will do his best to observe those obligations. Consultations will take place in New York and eventually in Washington which will provide an opportunity to consider what should be our attitude in the United Nations and the co-operation we might receive from the United States. My right hon. Friend will explain to Dr. Kissinger what our policies on these matters are. I think he will expect, and I think his expectations will be fulfilled, that the Secretary of State will go on co-operating with us in the helpful way in which he has done so since the Cyprus crisis began.
Iraqui Kurdistan (Refugees)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make funds available for humanitarian aid to refugees from the war in Iraqui Kurdistan.
No, Sir. British official assistance is given only in respect of a request from a United Nations agency or an overseas Government, and no such request has been made in this case.
Does the Minister accept that many people will regard the total inactivity of the British Government in this area as deeply to be regretted, particularly in the light of claims that there are now up to half a million refugees and that 10 children are dying of malnutrition and disease every day in parts of Kurdistan? In these circumstances, will the Minister of State bring pressure to bear on the Turkish authorities to open their frontiers for humanitarian aid? Will he invite the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to investigate at least the plight of hundreds of thousands of homeless and suffering people?
All hon. Members would regret a situation in which there was human suffering. Certainly my figures show that there are upwards of 120,000 Kurdish refugees who have crossed the border into Iran. As for representations to the Turkish Government, it must first be recognised that we have no status in this situation. It is also very doubtful whether if we made representations they would bring the required result. As for the border, my information is that it is not officially closed, but I do not have further details on that.
Will the Minister of State stop pontificating about our status? Will he recognise that this is a brutal genocidal war, that we have a historical responsibility as the country which established Iraq and that we have a humanitarian duty to aid the refugees and to protest insistently at what is being done?
However strongly the hon. Member may feel about the situation, he must recognise that this is an internal matter. I cannot accept that the Government have a responsibility in this respect other than a general humanitarian concern, which we would show. We have not been approached by the United Nations or any other member State to give assistance.
Is it not incredible that on a humanitarian issue such as this involving up to half a million refugees the Government are not prepared to make a diplomatic move? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that British voluntary agencies, including War on Want, have made an on-the-spot investigation and are appalled at the extent of the human suffering? Is it a fact that the Government are making arms available to Iraq? If that is so, will the Government reconsider the position and try to induce a change in a situation which has appalled all those who have had the opportunity of witnessing what has happened?
The hon. Gentleman refers to 500,000 refugees. As far as I know, there are 120,000 refugees. [Interruption.] I have no figures of those who are in Turkey.
The hon. Gentleman's hon. Friend said that the frontiers were closed. I was asked whether I would bring pressure to bear to see that they were opened. The refugees in Iran are being looked after by the Iranian Red Lion and Sun Society and, as far as I know, are being well looked after. The hon. Gentleman is coming to discuss the matter with me in a few days' time, when I shall be happy to consider further any points he wants to put to me.
South Vietnam (Military Aid)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will raise in the United Nations Security Council, as a threat to world peace, the recent provision of military aid by the United States of America to the Republic of South Vietnam.
No, Sir. The replacement of military equipment is permissible under Article 7 of the Parish Agreement.
I am concerned about arms supplies to Vietnam from any quarter. Does my right hon. Friend accept that recent escalations of arms supplies from the United States to Vietnam are an indication that President Ford is seeking to step up the warlike activity there? Does my right hon. Friend also accept that the Labour movement would like to see the Labour Government support the Democratic majority in Congress in seeking to curb the warlike aims of President Ford in Vietnam? Can he convey those sentiments to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary in Washington as a matter of urgency?
I cannot accept all the points made by my hon. Friend. I think that not only the Labour movement but all thinking and caring people in this country will be desperately concerned about the increased level of violence and warfare in Vietnam. I do not think that the majority of the British public would want to start apportioning blame as between one party and another, and I do not want to add my apportionment of blame. There is a tragic situation in Vietnam. The most important thing is that the political talks between the Vietnamese people provided for in the Paris Agreements should be resumed. We have discussed these matters with representatives of both the North and South Vietnamese Governments, who are well aware of our concern.
Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that a far greater threat to world peace is posed by the intolerable invasion of South Vietnam by an army of upwards of 200,000 men, fully equipped and making no disguise of the fact that they appear as a hostile force upon the territory of an independent country?
I have already said that I and the Government deeply regret the increase in fighting and all the consequences in terms of loss of human rights, liberty and lives. The main thing, how- ever, is that it is clear that the Paris Agreements are not being properly fulfilled and that they should be fulfilled by all the parties concerned.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that nearly 2 million refugees have gone into South Vietnam as a result of the armed incursions and violations of Articles 3(c) and 10 of the Paris Agreement by the North? Are the Foreign Office and the Overseas Development Department taking steps to succour those refugees?
The Government are contributing £1 million towards the UNICEF programme in Indo-China, which goes to North Vietnam, South Vietnam and other parts of Indo-China. We have also contributed £100,000 to the International Red Cross relief programme.
In view of the clear breach of the Paris Agreements in that there is a substantial invasion force from North Vietnam in the territory of the Republic of South Vietnam, may I ask whether the Government are unable to establish the facts and to make representations to the guarantors of the Paris Agreements that they should be upheld?
I said in answer to a previous supplementary question that we have been in touch with both the North Vietnamese and the South Vietnamese Governments expressing our concern at the present situation. I think it is true that many parts of the Paris Agreements have not been fulfilled. We are deeply concerned about that and we have made known our concern.In welcoming the hon. Gentleman to his new position, may I say that it is encouraging to see the weight in numbers of spokesmen on the Opposition Front Bench this afternoon. I cannot say the same in other respects.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the issue of the demilitarisation of the Indian Ocean.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action he is taking in response to the United Nations resolution calling for a nuclear-free zone to be established in the Indian Ocean.
Although we did not support this resolution, we and the United States Government have agreed to consult about possible arms limitation measures in the Indian Ocean. We have also expressed our support for the Australian Prime Minster's proposal for consultations between the United States and Soviet Governments on the possibility of mutual restrictions in the area.
Does not my right hon. Friend accept that the CENTO naval exercise in November was the largest maritime exercise in history and that the defence review decision on Diego Garcia indicates that the Government support a policy of deliberate militarisation of the Indian Ocean? Is it not time we changed direction?
I cannot accept my hon. Friend's interpretations. I have never seen CENTO as a threatening, challenging organisation, and I cannot accept the suggestion that a CENTO exercise presents any threat or challenge to anyone. As for Diego Garcia, I do not see anything that is in conflict with our wish to see an extension of peace in the Indian Ocean. I see no contradiction between that and the decision to grant to the United States a limited expansion of services in Diego Garcia.
Will the Minister point out to his hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens) that the recent naval exercises in the Indian Ocean are very small compared with those undertaken by the Soviet submarine and surface fleets and that the Soviet establishment in Somalia antedates considerably the expansion of the Diego Garcia facilities?
It is true that there has been an increase in the naval presence in the area.
Will my right hon. Friend explain why the Diego Garcia expansion is so limited when the American Government are budgeting £40 million for its expansion? Is he aware of the evidence given to the Senate Armed Services Committee that after expansion Diego Garcia will have the capability for F111 aircraft which have a nuclear capability? Is my right hon. Friend aware of the almost unanimous opposition to expansion from all the littoral States around the Indian Ocean? Why has he not listened to that opposition, and what reply has he given to the recent protest from the Indian Government over this matter?
I shall deal first with the services provided on Diego Garcia. I referred to a modest improvement of the facilities. The improvement is to enable Diego Garcia to have ships and aircraft. It will include a lengthening of the runway, an improvement of the ship support facilities and an enlargement of the airfield parking area. This is not in any way to provide base facilities for the United States. The cost of the expansion is expected to be about £35 million. Nevertheless, in current terms I do not believe that this modest expansion presents a threat to anyone.
European Economic Community
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a further statement about his negotiations on continued British membership of the EEC.
We are continuing to make progress. We shall have an intensive period of negotiations in the next two months but I hope that we shall be able to conclude renegotiation by Easter.
Will the Minister say which he thinks is the most stubborn of the outstanding matters? Is it his aim that they should be gathered together and dealt with at the Dublin Heads of Government Meeting?
I do not think it is possible or wise in this situation to evaluate the various items of renegotiation and to say that some present greater difficulties than others. If it is necessary to use the Dublin Heads of Government meeting to give extra impetus to our renegotiation, the meeting will be used for that purpose. My right hon. Friend's hope is that the following meetings of the Council of Foreign Ministers in February and March will see through the renegotiation on their own initiative.
What concessions to the British case have so far been agreed in the first 10 months of the negotiations?
My right hon. Friend is inviting me to go through the area of stubborn problems in rather the reverse way. I accept part of that invitation. He will recall that at the Paris Heads of Government meeting there was agreement that our case for an adjustment to the budget contribution was understandable and acceptable. It was, indeed, accepted. He will recall the enormous progress that was made regarding the relationship between the EEC and the developing world. I shall not weary him with every item of success, but there are others.
It is clear that supplementary questions on this Question will take up the whole of the 20 minutes allotted to EEC Questions. I propose to go on to the next Question. Mr. Dykes.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what outstanding policy areas remain to be discussed with the other member countries in the context of Her Majesty's Government's renegotiations of the United Kingdom's membership of the European Economic Community.
We have still to reach agreement on a number of important issues, including the details of the correcting mechanism for the budget, trade with countries outside the Community, particularly the Commonwealth, a new understanding on the Community rules for national regional aids, relations with developing countries and a number of matters relating to the common agricultural policy.
Will the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that the prefix "re" to the word "negotiations" was inserted by the printers and not by myself? I am sure we can agree on their ruthless impartiality continuing. In the context of the list which the right hon. Gentleman has just read out, will be guarantee and reaffirm that no other additional items will be entered into the list of potential subjects to be negotiated?
I must confess that I do not understand the semantic point that the hon. Gentleman made at the beginning of his question. I can give him an absolute assurance that my right hon. Friend said in April that our list was complete and total and that no additions can be made to it now.
Does my right hon. Friend appreciate that there is already concern in this country about the activities of that European civil servant Sir Christopher Soames, bearing in mind that his first loyalty now is to the Common Market? Does my right hon. Friend realise that there is the additional complication that presumably Sir Christopher Soames is using the resources of the Common Market, let alone those of the Conservative Party? As the Labour Party and this Labour Government gave a pledge that the people would be consulted on this matter, is it not essential to ensure that the referendum is held in a fair manner?
The Government, from the Prime Minister downwards, have expressed their determination to ensure that the referendum is held fairly and impartially. That is a matter on which none of us disagrees. On the rôle of Sir Christopher Soames, I recognise that there is disagreement. Sir Christopher is a British citizen who will be entitled to vote in the referendum. In that capacity he is entitled to take part in the campaign.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he now expects to complete renegotiation of the Treaty of Accession to the EEC.
I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton) on 14th January.—[Vol. 884, c. 184.]
Is it not a fact that the Government have not renegotiated any of the terms of the Treaty of Accession? Will he therefore pay tribute to my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) who negotiated it to the complete satisfaction of the Labour Party? Does he agree that the concept of renegotiation has been a dodge to help the Labour Party to stay together in a period of time which is soon running out?
I noticed the hon. Gentleman's reference to the treaty in the Question and I put it down to an error of drafting. He will recall that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made it clear on 1st April that it was not our wish, if it could be avoided, to negotiate changes in the treaty. It is our wish to make substantial and fundamental alterations in the terms in which the treaty is applied. That we are doing with great seriousness and with some success.
I revert to renegotiation. Does my right hon. Friend see some anomaly in the fact that while this Government and the country are still concerned with renegotiation one of the Commissioners, with whom in theory we are renegotiating, is making his views known? Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Questions which I have tabled concerning the terms of employment of the Commissioners have been ruled out of order? Will he tell the House the exact terms of reference, and where they may be found, concerning the terms of appointment and employment of the Commissioners of the European Community?
All the Commissioners are employees, if that is the appropriate word, and are responsible to the Community. Questions about their ability to take time off to take part in the referendum campaign, if hon. Members think such questions are appropriate, which I do not, ought to be addressed to their employers. I base my view that such questions are not altogether appropriate on the fact that so many of us are allowed time off by our benevolent employers to take part in local authority work, for example, and other activities. But on the question of Sir Christopher's participation in this campaign I must reiterate that he is a British citizen and a free man, and I have no wish to curtail his rights in either of these capacities
First, may I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on being appointed to the Privy Council? In a previous anwer he said that there would be no additions to the terms of renegotiation. Can he also give an assurance that there will be no subtraction from the renegotiation terms as set out precisely in the Labour Party manifesto?
I can give the hon. Gentleman that assurance without pause or qualification. He has attended virtually all our debates and must have heard almost all the questions and answers on the subject, so no doubt he will agree that no item in either the February or the October Labour manifestos has been neglected.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that even the pro-Europeans on this side of the House are concerned about the lack of democratic control of the existing institutions? Does he not agree that the only way to solve that problem is to have a democratically-elected European Parliament?
I said earlier that I understand the democratic arguments in favour of democratically-elected membership of the European Parliament, but my hon. Friend will agree on reflection that were we during the next three months, to mount proposals for the setting up of such an electoral system, the seriousness of our renegotiations would be questioned, and since they are serious I do not believe that we want these questions to be raised.
European Parliament (Elections)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Government have yet reacted to the EEC proposal to hold direct elections to the European Parliament by 1978.
The Government's position remains as stated in the communiqué issued by Heads of Government after their 9th-10th December meeting, Cmnd 5830. We shall not take up a position on this proposal before the process of renegotiation has been completed and the results submitted to the British people.
Will the Minister reflect that it is rather extraordinary that the Government are not taking a position on the question of direct elections before this spurious referendum is held? Surely the British people are entitled to know whether the Europe to which they are being asked to be committed is moving in a democratic direction.
I cannot imagine how the hon. Gentleman comes to regard the referendum as spurious. I believe that the referendum will be a matter of seriousness and that it should be taken in that way. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will do so when the time comes. As for a decision on the elections to the Parliament, it would be ridiculous if the Government were to make a major shift in their policy before the outcome of the referendum was known. Were we to establish permanent membership, that would be the proper time to examine the matter. Until that process is concluded, I do not think that the Government can move.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that some years ago we indicated to the Italian Government our support for that very proposition?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. There are a number of arguments which I could advance, and which no doubt could be advanced by my hon. Friend and by the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel), which would show the advantages of such an organisation being given the added element of democracy. That is a matter that must be considered after the outcome of the referendum.
Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the terms of the treaty are mandatory? As the Government are accepting the treaty and are renegotiating within it, they must have accepted the principle of direct elections and are arguing only about detail.
The hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that we discussed the matter in a debate before Christmas. While the principle is there established, the timing of its implementation is a matter for the individual States. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made clear our views on timing at the Paris Summit.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about the current extent of political co-operation with the European Community.
A report on political co-operation was included in the Government's White Paper on Developments in the European Communities, March to October 1974 (Cmnd. 5790). There is now regular co-operation on broad problems of foreign policy at many levels involving the Foreign Ministers of member States and their officials. It is increasingly helpful on a number of international questions.
In the light of my right hon. Friend's experience of political co-operation in the Community, will he tell us whether he believes that the political influence of this country in the world would be greater or less if we were to withdraw from the Community?
That is a soft one.
If my hon. Friend thinks that that is a question I find easy to answer, he underestimates the difficulties in this situation. Certainly, over a whole range of subjects, including our relationship with the Arab world, our position in face of a potential energy crisis and our relationship as a European Power with the United States, our position is eased and made more powerful by membership of the Community. But were we to choose, as the Government or as the people, that we no longer wished to remain in the Community, we should be able to establish or re-establish a rôle in the world which would be satisfactory to hon. Members.
Scotland may be dragged into the Community after the referendum as a result of the vote of the people of England. Has the right hon. Gentleman told the other member States about the effect of the promised legislation for a Scottish Assembly?
The other member States were told of the proposals for devolution, contained in the Labour Party manifesto which carried the majority of seats in Scotland, and they know that when the referendum comes the Labour Government are intent on calculating the views of the people as a whole. That must mean, of course, the views of the United Kingdom as a whole.
The right hon. Gentleman is trying to get away with it.
Can my right hon. Friend assure us that if the renegotiated terms meet the terms of the Labour Party manifesto the Foreign Secretary will recommend them to the British people?
In his speech to the London Labour mayors, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made it clear that he took the view—I do not see how any other view could be taken—that since the Government were operating according to the letter and the spirit of the Labour Party manifesto, on which we fought and won two elections, if the terms of the manifesto were to be achieved and if we obtained the results which we sought to obtain, it would be our automatic duty to recommend acceptance of those terms to the British people. That is the Prime Minister's view, clearly stipulated, and I may say that it is also mine.
Can the right hon. Gentleman clarify an important constitutional point? He said that it would be the duty of the Prime Minister and the Government to recommend the terms to the people. Could we be sure that we would first of all have a recommendation to Parliament?
I do not think that these constitutional aspects are for me but are for the party leaders and, if I may say so, aspiring party leaders.
Can my right hon. Friend, for the benefit of the whole House, give an estimate of the authoritativeness of a Government recommendation carried by eight votes to six, with five abstentions?
I take it that my hon. Friend has been making one of his books again. Since I find his bookmaking ability more reliable than his political judgment, I will leave it at that.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what calculations his Department has made about the effects of United Kingdom withdrawal from the EEC.
The implications of the United Kingdom's continued membership of or withdrawal from the EEC are kept under review. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has made clear, the House will have an opportunity to debate the whole question at the appropriate time.
Would not my right hon. Friend agree that if we were to withdraw one very likely consequence would be that international companies which are now contemplating investment in this country would transfer their investments to the remaining members of the Community? Can he give an undertaking that the Foreign Office will carry out a serious examination of this quantifiable aspect of withdrawal and inform the people, when they come to vote, of the results of the study?
I must tell the House that we have had notification by some companies that their investment intentions are to some degree dependent on whether Britain remains within the Community or leaves it and finds its future and destiny somewhere else. Clearly, however, this is only one of the considerations we must face. The House regards the future as a matter of balancing the advantages against the disadvantages. My hon. Friend has drawn attention to one of the disadvantages, and that must be balanced along with the general package.
Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that one of the considerations is that, if we left the Community, food prices to the housewife would be much higher than if we remained inside it, in view of high world prices and continuing shortages?
There is no question of that. Indeed my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection has told the House that the overall level of food prices enjoyed here is slightly lower than it would be were we outside the Community. That is the position that exists now. But it would be rash to make long-term predictions. There might be fundamental changes in the cost of raw materials in the world. As things stand at the moment, however, we are in benefit.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the most extravagant calculations are being voiced by Sir Christopher Soames from Tory Party platforms up and down the country? Will he take steps to ensure that investigations are made into who is financing Sir Christopher's appearances at these conferences? Will he also take steps to ensure that Sir Christopher concentrates on the job for which he is so lavishly paid?
It seems to me that it is not Labour Members but Conservatives who should be preoccupied with the future of Sir Christopher Soames. Having said that, however, I must repeat that, irrespective of our judgment as to the accuracy or the value of what Sir Christopher has said or may say, he has rights as a citizen of Great Britain, and I shall continue to defend them.
Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that, if the question of withdrawal arises, the withdrawal would have to be negotiated and the terms approved by Parliament, as the Foreign Secretary said at his first meeting with the Council of Ministers?
There can be no question about that. Those who will be most optimistic about our future outside the Community are people like my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay), who believe that we should come to a free trade arrangement with the Community. That would be a long and, many of us believe, difficult negotiation.