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Commons Chamber

Volume 927: debated on Tuesday 1 March 1977

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House Of Commons

Tuesday 1st March 1977

The House met at half-past Two o'clock


[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]

Private Business


Read the Third time and passed.

Oral Answers To Questions


Minimum Wage


asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will communicate with the relevant interests with a view to introducing a national minimum wage; and if he will make a statement.

Since the Government took office, the most practical approach to the problem of low pay has been the special provision included in the TUC guidelines for negotiators. We have been glad to endorse these provisions and we are taking steps to improve enforcement of existing statutory minimum pay in wages council industries.

Is my hon. Friend aware that from time to time in the House there is criticism that some people are better off on social security than when they are working? Would he not agree that this is due not to the fact that the social security scales are too high but to the fact that many workers' wages are too low? Will he therefore take the initiative to ensure that a national minimum wage is fixed above the level of social security scales to correct this anomaly?

I think that there is widespread recognition of the problem to which my hon. Friend has referred. With respect to my hon. Friend, however, I suggest that perhaps the way he has proposed is not the right way to tackle it. Wages policy alone will not eliminate the problem; social security benefits and fiscal policies have their rôle to play too.

Since the cost of raising a family is so much larger than the cost of a household with only one or two people, would it not be better to solve the problem of poverty in families where the breadwinner is in employment by raising family allowances?

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that blanket provision across the board, by its failure to discriminate, will not tackle the pockets of poverty which undeniably exist. It is better to have a discriminatory approach in the provision of social security benefits, perhaps supplemented by fiscal policies. The hon. Gentleman will recognise that social security benefit policies are not matters for me.

Can my hon. Friend say what additional and urgent steps are being taken to make sure that employers obey the law in respect of people who are subject to wages council orders?

The House will have seen the widespread publicity which has rightly been accorded to the blitzes, as they have been described, launched by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State. These have exposed the extent of underpayment and have most beneficially concentrated the attention of those directly concerned on the need to comply with the statutory minima. My hon. Friend has now launched a series of talks with the TUC, the CBI and other interests to see how much further this can be carried out and made effective. In the meantime, proposals for further blitzes are, I understand, on the agenda.

Is it not a fact that if a national minimum wage was established at a high enough level to get over the problem that people with large families can in certain circumstances get a higher take-home income when they are out of work than when they are in work, the net effect of such a high minimum wage would be to destroy a large number of jobs?

I am not sure that I want to enter into a dialogue with the hon. Gentleman on that aspect. In countries where a national minimum wage has been introduced, there has been a speedy restoration of the differential that it set out to eliminate in the first place. An inter departmental committee was set up in the late 1960s to inquire into a national minimum wage and its possible effects. A report was published by the Department of Employment in 1969, and many of the areas which have been subject to questions are dealt with in that report. Perhaps we might usefully refresh our memories by looking at it again.

Large Cities And Towns


asked the Secretary of State for Employment to what factors he attributes the rise in unemployment in large cities and towns since the present administration took office in 1974.


asked the Secretary of State for Employment to what factors he attributes the rise in unemployment in large cities and towns since the present administration took office in 1974.


asked the Secretary of State for Employment to what factors he attributes the rise in unemployment in large cities and towns since the present administration took office in 1974.

The extent of the rise in unemployment that has taken place since February 1974 varies considerably between different cities and towns. These increases are in part a reflection of the present economic recession and in part a reflection of more fundamental changes taking place in the structure of employment.

These changes in the structure of employment—which reflect partly national trends and partly factors that are special to the larger conurbations—have led to an underlying increase in unemployment, which has been going on for between 10 and 15 years.

Does the right hon. Gentleman expect the House to believe that the Government's economic, industrial and financial policies have nothing to do with the increase in unemployment in virtually every town and city in the country?

Many of the Government's policies have sustained a considerable amount of employment in the large conurbations and the cities. The increase in the number of people employed in the public services has particularly helped.

Will the right hon. Gentleman learn from the Government's mistakes and accept that the unending increase in taxation legislation has placed an appalling burden on small businesses? Will he also recognise that a large number of jobs have been lost in the small business sector as a result?

We are, of course, concerned about the loss of jobs in any part of the economy, including the small business sector. This is an area that I am studying with a view to seeing how far measures operated by my Department may be adapted or even built upon to provide some assistance.

Does the Secretary of State realise that the Government's regional policies are completely unrealistic in attempting to deal with the appalling unemployment problems of the conurbations? Is he aware that every time he goes to the Dispatch Box the situation gets worse? Will he now have another close look at regional policy and see that the limited resources are concentrated upon those urban areas which are suffering the greatest hardship?

To take a minor point first, the situation does not get worse every time that I come to the Dispatch Box. On several occasions recently there has been a drop in the number of unemployed. In so far as we can identify a special problem with conurbations, I know that the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the fall in manufacturing employment has been faster in the conurbations than in the country generally. It is that to which we have to devote attention in pursuing an industrial and economic strategy to deal with the unemployment problem.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that a figure of 80,000 unemployed in the city of Liverpool means that Liverpool is now becoming a disaster area? Apart from the question of the Government changing their basic economic and industrial strategy, which is essential, cannot something now be done at least to convene a conference on Merseyside, where serious proposals might be put forward aimed at bringing down the high level of unemployment?

Certainly on Merseyside, as in Sunderland, there is a serious unemployment problem. A committee of Ministers is well advanced in studying the special problems of conurbation areas taking into account the special employment problems. I hope to be able to announce very shortly in the House some development of my Department's measures which will have a bearing on this as well as on other matters.

Will my right hon. Friend not agree that the temporary employment subsidy has saved 181,000 jobs in towns and cities and elsewhere? Ought not that scheme to be extended, at least until the end of this year?

The extension of the temporary employment subsidy is one of the major matters being considered by the Department of Employment. There has been a considerable uptake in the subsidy over the past few months during which the scheme has been operating. We shall shortly be facing the problem of certain firms whose 12-months' subsidy is coming to an end. This matter is under urgent review.

Does the target of 700,000 unemployed by 1978 still represent Government policy, or is there now some new Government target?

No. The Government have not adopted any new target. We are aiming to bring unemployment down in that period as rapidly as we can.

Training (Northern Region)


asked the Secretary of State for Employment what measures he is taking to promote the development of industrial training in the Northern Region.

The Northern Region has seven skillcentres plus three annexes, providing 2,013 training places in all. I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that this is a higher proportion of skillcentre places to working population than in any other region and is considered adequate for the present needs of the region. In addition, over 4,500 people were receiving training in January 1977 in colleges of further education and employers' establishments. The Training Services Agency will continue to make use of spare capacity in local colleges of further education and employers' establishments to develop industrial training.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that detailed answer. Is he aware that there is a widespread feeling in the Northern Region that there is a greater need for group schemes, especially to cater for the smaller engineering employer in some of the more scattered areas of the region, some of whom, among other things, experience financial difficulties in making provision for training? Will my hon. Friend look into that?

That is a valuable and useful contribution. As my hon. Friend said, some of the firms are likely to be particularly benefited by such group schemes. I shall draw my hon. Friend's remarks to the attention of the Chairman of the Engineering Industry Training Board. No doubt he will be interested and will be in touch with my hon. Friend. I shall also draw my hon. Friend's remarks to the attention of the Training Services Agency.

Several Hon. Members rose

Is it not a fact that there is an apparent reluctance on the part of people throughout the country to enter training centres to learn skills that would get them jobs in the engineering industry, such as capstan lathe-setting and operating, and milling and grinding? Is it not the case that there is a considerable shortage of people with these skills and that, once trained, such people could get employment almost immediately? What steps can the Minister take to stimulate people into undertaking this type of training?

It is true that in some areas there are such shortages of skilled engineeering craftsmen. However, there are difficulties in matching the needs of one region in terms of the vacancies there with the surplus of manpower in another. It is here that the Employment Services Agency has a rôle to play in enabling greater mobility of labour.

Will my hon. Friend take into account the fact that the Northern Region has always been heavily handicapped by unemployment and a lack of training services? While he is building up the efficiency of the training services and the number of training places in the region, will he also try to bring up the Yorkshire and Humberside Region to the same standard?

My hon. Friend, who has a constituency adjacent to mine, will be delighted to learn that it is hoped that the Doncaster skillcentre will be open this year.

Manpower Services Commission


asked the Secretary of State for Employment when he last met the chairman of the Manpower Services Commission.

Was my right hon. Friend able to discuss with the chairman the particularly difficult situation concerning training opportunities for girls, bearing in mind two points: first the reduction in college of education places, particularly as this affects opportunities for girls and secondly the deplorable record of British industry over the past decade in offering day-release facilities for girls?

Training was one of the subjects that I discussed with the chairman. My hon. Friend will be pleased to learn that the Training Services Agency has identified training in certain vocations for girls as a priority area. However, I point out that we are giving considerable support—about £55 million worth—to training in industry and that there is no sex discrimination in this form of vocational training. I am sure that a number of young male engineering apprentices will not object to a few female workmates.

While I do not wish to deny the importance of training, may I ask the Secretary of State to take note of what is happening at the Bristol West Dock, where the ratepayers have put in millions of pounds to build a new dock, which has not started operating because of an industrial dispute? Will the right hon. Gentleman give his immediate attention to this problem and use the good offices of his Department to try to get things going?

I am not quite sure how that supplementary question relates to the original Question. One of the many reasons why we have devoted so much time and attention to improving industrial relations is that some disputes can produce a loss of work. There has been an overall improvement, and I would have thought that that would have been welcomed by the hon. Gentleman.

School Leavers (London)

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many young people who left school in 1976 or earlier are still unemployed in South-East London.

On 13th January 1977, the latest date on which the unemployed were analysed by age groups, 7,103 young people under 20 years of age, of whom 2,675 were school leavers, who are defined as those still seeking their first employment, were registered as unemployed in South-East London. By 10th February 1977 the number of school leavers unemployed had fallen to 2,190. The statistics do not identify the date of leaving school but it is known that most of these were 1976 summer term leavers.

Does my hon. Friend agree that these scandalous figures show that South-East London is in quite as bad a position as many of the regions? Does he not agree that it is disgraceful that we should be paying thousands of youngsters to do nothing? Is he aware that the form of unemployment benefit often discourages young people from going back to school or from getting further training? Will the Government come forward with an opportunity guarantee to see that youngsters who cannot find jobs are given something useful to do from the time they leave school?

The figures are very disturbing, but they are much more disturbing in Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark than they are in Bexley, Bromley and Croydon. There is a very big difference between these areas. The idea that my hon. Friend put forward is in line with the social contract aim to provide further education opportunities for all young people, disabled or not. This idea is being examined by the Manpower Services Commission, and we are looking forward to getting its observations on this aim as quickly as possible.

Can the Minister tell the House whether discussions are taking place with the Department of Education and Science to discover what educational skills school leavers have, and whether there is a high correlation between lack of achievement and ability and the failure to get jobs?

We do not need discussions or inquiries to establish that. There is a very strong correlation between unemployed youngsters and those with a lack of training and qualifications.

Will the Minister take very seriously the remarks of his hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Price)? The whole House feels that the various methods we have at the moment for helping school leavers are not adequate and are not likely to be so over the next few years. What is required is a comprehensive training scheme to enable young people to go from school to some form of training that they feel is worth while and that the country can afford.

Because we believe that very stronely, we have the Manpower Services Commission working on the feasibility of such a programme at present. The real problem is not with the school leaver—there has been a dramatic fall in the number of school leavers unemployed—but with unemployment among young people under 20 who are unqualified and untrained.

Is my hon. Friend satisfied with the standard of equipment that youngsters receiving craft apprentice training are being forced to use? Is he aware that at the Percival Whitley College at Halifax youngsters are serving apprenticeships on clapped-out machinery the like of which they would never meet in private industry? Will he have discussions to ensure that craft apprentices are given proper equipment on which to serve their apprenticeships?

The mass of complaints that I receive are centred on the fact that training is very often on machinery that is far better than that used outside in private industry. When I visit my hon. Friend's constituency I will look into this problem.

Safety Officers


asked the Secretary of State for Employment when he proposes to implement the regulations in the Health and Safety at Work Act etc. 1974 providing for the appointment of union-nominated safety officers; and if he will make a statement.

As my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Employment told the House on 1st February, the regulations will come into operation on 1st October 1978, and, as I told my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) yesterday, they are now being printed and should be laid before Parliament by the end of March.

I appreciate that reply. Why have the Government adopted such a leisurely approach to such an urgent problem? Surely a delay of three months is excessive.

I do not think that we have adopted a leisurely approach. We would like to see the regulations brought in earlier. The Government have given this matter the closest possible scrutiny, but we must have regard to the current expenditure restraints. The position does not preclude the making of voluntary arrangements, and the Government would welcome that because we believe that there should be a lead-in period. Discussions with shop stewards in the regions show that there is a need for further preparations and clarification before the regulations become effective.

What discussions has the Minister had with shop floor supervisors and junior management? Their morale is very low at present. What representations has he received from industrial groups to delay these regulations and stop the irritant to industrial relations at supervisory level?

Before the hon. Gentleman distorts the facts, he should at least get them right. I have received no representations against the regulations from industry or industrialists. The CBI and the TUC together as members of the Health and Safety Commission have expressed a desire for the implementation of the regulations. There has been a very long period of consultation on the document issued by the Health and Safety Commission, so there is no foundation at all in the hon. Member's remarks.

How many men and women have lost their lives or received serious injury in industrial accidents in the past 12 months? What representations has the Minister received from the trade unions on the setting up of safety committees?

I will write to my hon. Friend about the first point and give him the exact figures. Of course, we received many representations prior to the period in which my hon. Friend made his announcement of the regulations being laid. There was considerable disappointment that we were not going ahead with them immediately. But the TUC has accepted the date that we announced, and so has the Commission. In fact, we have had very few representations about the date.

Textile Industry


asked the Sec retary of State for Employment by what number the labour force engaged in the textile industry has decreased during the last 10 years.

Between June 1966 and June 1976 the number of employees in employment in the textiles industry in Great Britain decreased by 221,000.

Is my hon. Friend aware that, despite the greatly diminished number of people employed in the industry, over the same period the output has been increased by some 30 per cent.? Does he recognise that this applies gen- erally throughout manufacturing industry and that it is time that the Government reappraised their approach by reducing the length of the working week and the working lifetime?

The increase in productivity is needed to maintain the present level of employment. Certainly, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has said that we should perhaps look, together with other countries, at the whole question of the working week.

Does my hon. Friend agree that the measure that has been of greatest help to the textile and footwear industries is the temporary employment subsidy? I was pleased to hear the Secretary of State say that an early decision would be taken on this issue. Can my hon. Friend give more precise details as many firms and employers are depending on it for the future?

The decision on the temporary employment subsidy will have to take place in the context of the Budget, because it is of enormous importance to British industry at present. Some 40,000 jobs have been saved in the textile industry.

Will my hon. Friend convey these figures to the Secretary of State for Trade and ask him to bear them in mind when he is arranging negotiations for a new Multifibre Arrangement? Such an agreement badly needs strengthening in the interests of textile workers in this country.

Certainly, my right hon. Friend is well aware of the problems that the textile industry has faced over the last 10 years. He will do all he can, against this background, to get the best possible arrangement for the textile industry.

Deaf Persons


asked the Secretary of State for Employment what action he is taking to facilitate the employment of deaf people.

I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that the Employment Service Agency, together with the Training Services Agency, provides a comprehensive range of services to help all disabled people, including deaf people, to get jobs. These services include the specialist attention of over 500 disablement resettlement officers, who advise about suitable employment; rehabilitation and in-depth assessment and guidance at any of the Agency's 26 employment rehabilitation centres; the loan of certain special aids to employment if these are required; and the training courses available under the Training Opportunities Scheme.

Deaf people who possess the requisite qualifications for entry to professional or degree courses are also eligible for help under the Training Services Agency's professional training scheme.

I am grateful for that reply. Does not the Minister agree that employers underestimate the capabilities, particularly in technical respects, of deaf people? Since the Department employs placement officers for the blind, will the hon. Gentleman consider using them to facilitate the employment of deaf people?

I agree that many employers undervalue disabled people generally, not only people who are deaf. We hope to be able to assist the situation by publishing a guide to employers that will shortly be produced by the Manpower Services Commission.

The difficulty about employing specialist officers is that such staff would have to be spread thinly. It would mean that they would not have the detailed knowledge of local jobs that is most important in the placing of disabled people.

Is not my hon. Friend talking a lot of nonsense when he says that a range of services is available, if he means skilled services? Will he bear in mind that, because of the depth of discrimination against deaf people and the subtlety of the problems they face, we require the services of skilled, energetic resettlement officers for the disabled? Will he do somethig about the matter instead of offering bromides in answer to legitimate questions?

I cannot accept that my answers were bromides. I believe that resettlement officers for the disabled are doing a good and skilled job. I have already given the reason why we do not accept that specialists in this area of activity would make the best contribution.

Does the Minister know what percentage of registered disabled people are deaf and are at the same time unemployed?

What progress has been made with the proposed scheme to make financial grants to employers who engage a certain category of disabled people?

I am pleased to be able to inform the House that a scheme of grants to employers for adaptation of premises and equipment will be brought into operation by the Manpower Services Commission in the financial year 1977–78. Up to £500,000 is provided in the Estimate. A general condition of the scheme will involve grants for modifications related to the needs of individual disabled people, and grants are considered to be essential to the resettlement of individuals with the employers concerned.

Newcastle Upon Tyne


asked the Secretary of State for Employment by how much unemployment has risen in Newcastle since February 1974.

Between February 1974 and February 1977, the numbers registered as unemployed in Newcastle upon Tyne and Walker employment office areas increased by 4,665.

I recognise that that represents a deplorable increase. Although in the region generally off the peg advance factories, such as recently announced, will help as a whole, does the Minister recognise that there is still an employment problem in city centres? Is he aware that small and medium-size businesses face increasing difficulties in employment because of problems of taxation, congestion and legislation, which make employment more difficult? Will he use his best endeavours with his governmental colleagues to do something for employers in urban areas?

I am well aware of the difficult situation in many of our inner city areas. The hon. Member will know that this is a matter for the Department of Industry, but I shall draw his remarks to that Department's attention.

Is it not a fact that the reason why the figures for unemployed school leavers in urban areas appear to have dropped dramatically is that once school leavers have taken advantage of the Government bonanza they then go to swell the adult unemployment figures? Will the Minister reintroduce the figures for young people so that the House can see the catastrophic situation which has arisen?

In a later reply I shall be giving figures related to the age distribution among the unemployed. I agree that there is a severe problem of unemployment among people under the age of 20. In an earlier reply I corrected the right hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior), who said that this problem was most marked among school leavers.

Older Workers (Survey)


asked the Secretary of State for Employment when his Department expects to have the result of the inquiry into why older workers give up or carry on working; and if he will make a statement.

My Department and the Department of Health and Social Security have jointly commissioned this survey from the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys with a view to increasing our understanding of the factors which influence older people to go on working, cease work or modify the nature and amount of work they do. We also hope to find out how their decisions are affected by the various rules which govern the receipt of the national insurance retirement pension. Initial results are expected at the end of this year, with further analyses in the first half of 1978.

As the survey has been jointly conducted with the Department of Health and Social Security, is the Department of Employment using it as a means by which it can make a formal recommendation for the age of retirement to be lowered? If that is not the case, to what practical use will this expensive research be put?

It is not particularly expensive as a piece of research. The estimated cost of the survey is £157,000. There are pressures for a more positive policy in this area involving earlier or more flexible retirement, age discrimination legislation, and generally more protection for older workers. I believe that the survey will be of value in disclosing the facts on those matters.

Does my hon. Friend accept that a major contribution to the solution of our unemployment problems would be made if there were an early extension of the job-swap scheme to all parts of the country and if it were to include other age groups within its compass?

This matter was discussed on Second Reading of the Bill, and if a few more Members are present in Committee we shall be able to discuss the matter generally then.

Construction Industry


asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will make a further statement on the level of unemployment in the construction industry; and what proposals he has for reducing it at least to the level of March 1974.

The latest available quarterly figures for the industry in Great Britain are those for August 1976, when 193.800 workers were registered as unemployed. Questions about future programmes of construction work should be addressed to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment. The Government's special employment measures are available to help workers in the construction industry who are unemployed or threatened with redundancy.

Since the work load in the construction industry is so abysmal and is growing steadily worse, will the Government at least insist that the report from the economic development council for building advocating more home ownership—a report which has been suppressed because it may be politically embarrassing—is published as soon as possible?

That is a matter for the NEDC. As for what the report will or will not disclose, I do not know the answer to that matter any more than does the hon. Gentleman, except what has been reported speculatively in the Press. We should find the facts before we make sweeping allegations of that nature.

Does my hon. Friend accept that the construction workers are sick and tired of always being hit by slumps? Is it not time that the Government got down to arranging some sort of crash programme to insist that the construction industry must build more houses, help in home improvements and assist local authorities to take their plans out of pigeon-holes to ensure that more use is made of construction workers on public buildings?

I share my hon. Friend's concern about unemployment in the construction industry. I hope that he will take some small comfort from the recent fall in interest rates, which is expected to lead to an increased demand for building in the private sector and has considerably improved the competitive position in the building societies. I hope that that will give some comfort and help to the building industry.

Will the Minister discuss with the Secretary of State for Industry and the Chancellor of the Exchequer the case for increasing development grants for new industrial building to promote construction and renovation in older areas? If necessary, will he consider making reductions in grants on new machinery to offset the cost as a switch in balance would be beneficial?

Of course, the hon. Gentleman knows that these matters are readily recognised by the Secretary of State for Industry. But it is equally recognised that the Government's industrial and economic strategy is one of providing for more assistance in the measures that are being taken in terms of Sections 7 and 8 of the Industry Act. I hope that in that way the Department of Industry will be able to express a positive response to the kind of strategy of which the hon. Gentleman spoke.

Does my hon. Friend realise that by cutting public spending he will automatically cut back on manufacturing industry? Does he not appreciate that the six-month moratorium on public utilities that arose out of the last set of measures in December and the housing cut-back of last July are throwing pipe-workers out of work and putting them on short time in North Derbyshire, in the Stanton and Staveley areas, and other regions throughout the country? If the Minister really wants to put things on a sound basis and footing, should he not stop listening to Members of the Opposition who are demanding public spending cuts?

My hon. Friend will recall that when my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer made his statement in December he made it quite clear that the programme that he was then announcing would not of itself lead to increased unemployment and that any increase in unemployment would be the result of other factors, such as the general state of the world economy. Our aim must be to achieve a general strengthening of the economy and to provide a sound basis for construction and other industries.

Northern Region


asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he is satisfied with the level of unemployment in the Northern Region.

No. That is why in addition to the allocation of an extra £145 million for training purposes, the Government have introduced a number of special measures to alleviate the worst effects of unemployment. These include the temporary employment subsidy, the job creation programme, the work experience scheme, the recruitment subsidy for school leavers, the youth employment subsidy, the job release scheme, and the strengthening of the careers service. So far, these measures have benefited more than 28,000 workers in the Northern Region.

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. In view of the high level of unemployment in the Northern Region, should not the Government consider introducing a new regional incentive to make up for the withdrawal of the regional employment premium?

The policy of the Government is quite clear. We intend to provide selective assistance to industry rather than assistance on the basis of geography.

Does not my hon. Friend realise that the sudden abolition of the regional employment premium has caused serious anxiety in the area? Is there not a need—in addition to the temporary measures that the Minister has mentioned—for some long-term industrial grant linked with the employment provisions of the industrial projects?

With the announcement of the abolition of the regional employment premium, which will not end before the end of March, came an expansion of the temporary employment subsidy. The Northern Region has already had 10,762 jobs saved by the temporary employment subsidy and the area stands to benefit from its extension.

Is the Minister satisfied with the level of employment on Humberside? Since the Minister was unable to go there himself, will he confer with the Minister of State, who will be visiting Hull this weekend? In the light of that consultation, will he make a statement next week about our difficulties on Humberside?

It was not a question of my not wanting to go to Hull. I am not satisfied with the level of unemployment in any part of the United Kingdom and my hon. Friend will bear that in mind when he makes his visit.

Job Creation


asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many new jobs he estimates need to be created by 1980 to provide employment for those coming on to the labour market, either for the first time, through technological innovation, or increased productivity.

If present trends continue, we estimate that about 140,000 additional people each year may be seeking employment. No reliable estimates exist of the employment effects of technological innovation or increased productivity.

Is my hon. Friend aware that estimates have been made that about 2 million new jobs will be needed to take account of the factors mentioned in the Question? Does he agree that the country's track record in creating new jobs, particularly in manufacturing industry, has left a great deal to be desired? Does the Minister also agree that sustained public expenditure cuts over a long period will aggravate and not improve the situation?

My hon. Friend knows that public expenditure restraint is an integral part of the Government's economic and industrial strategy, and we believe that that strategy is the right road to full employment.

City Of London



asked the Prime Minister when he last visited the City of London.


I last visited the City of London on 16th February when I attended the annual dinner of the British Overseas Trade Board and its Advisory Council.

Is the Prime Minister aware that both the City of London and British industry are gravely concerned about the fragile condition of British Leyland? Does the Prime Minister recall that in 1975 the Government said that future public money for British Leyland would depend on better industrial relations and increased productivity? Does he not agree that industrial relations at Leyland are in a parlous state and that production is only one-third of total capacity? When will the Government decide that enough is enough?

The hon. Gentleman has called attention to a serious problem. The funds that were made available by the Government and that are committed will of course continue to be made available, but there must be a review of the situation before further funds are committed. As the hon. Gentleman may know, the Secretary of State for Industry yesterday had a lettter from the National Enterprise Board. The Government are giving serious consideration to this and my right hon. Friend will make a statement as soon as we have been able to conclude our deliberations.

On industrial relations, I recognise the difficulties that have arisen as a result of the pay policy of the past two years and that the policy has created difficulties with differentials, but it has been a necessary step in overcoming inflation. I say to those who are concerned about differentials that perhaps the biggest differential of all is between the man who is in a job and the man who is out of one, and some of them could be out of one.

Is not the most helpful thing the Prime Minister could say to British Leyland that stage 3 of the policy will be more flexible? Would it not be the supreme irony and very sad if the social contract in the end was responsible for bringing down British Leyland?

I am grateful for the first part of the hon. Gentleman's question because it gives me an opportunity to say that the discussions with the trade union movement will clearly have to be on the basis of a more flexible policy than there has been during the past two years. I have made this clear from the Dispatch Box time after time, and I hope that this will be understood in British Leyland.

As the TUC does not wish to come to a conclusion on this matter until after the Budget, it is not possible for us to reach finality now. I hope that those in British Leyland who feel that they have a genuine grievance—and I do not deny that—will remember that the agreement runs out in August and that thereafter—and possibly before then if an agreement is concluded—there will be an opportunity to get greater flexibility. The Secretary of State for Industry is considering the position of Leyland and he will make a statement to the House as soon as he can.

Is the Prime Minister aware that last month foreign-made cars accounted for 43 per cent. of the home market? Given that choice and preference of the taxpayer, how much longer does the Prime Minister think that the British taxpayer will be willing to pour money into British Leyland to produce cars that are increasingly not wanted at home and to support a company that is, regrettably, giving a worse name to British industry every day?

I hope that we shall not carry that point too far, because I am sure that the hon. Gentleman does not want to pour scorn on an important British national asset. British Leyland's record last year was that the company failed to produce about 200,000 cars that had been included in its plan. I hope that Leyland understands that not only European car manufacturers but the Japanese are simply waiting to pour cars into this country for every car that we fail to produce.

When he visits the City of London will the Prime Minister discuss with what is probably the wealthiest local authority in the world the situation of tenants living in the Barbican, who not protected by the Rent Acts and who are in dire need because there is no willingness on behalf of the City of London to protect the interests of these people?

Perhaps my hon. Friend will put that question to the appropriate Minister. I shall draw it to his attention, but I am not sure that it is a responsibility for a Minister.

Will the right hon. Gentleman give no credence to the new myth that the problems of British Leyland are due to the pay policy? Is he aware that the problems of Leyland pre-dated the present policy and the last Government's pay policy? Will he also not go to the City of London for advice on how to run Leyland, because the City has already virtually destroyed the company? Will he look at Meriden, which has not been disrupted by the pay policy, and draw the appropriate conclusion?

I shall take all those considerations into account with pleasure. I have never thought that there was any particular connection between the Question on the Order Paper and the supplementaries that I am asked, so the hon. Gentleman can be certain that I shall not be going to the City for that purpose.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we are asking whether the problems of Leyland do not demonstrate the weaknesses of his two main pillars of policy, the social contract and the industrial strategy? Are they not mutually incompatible? Does he not agree that we are getting neither the production from the nation as a whole nor the productivity that we need because we have neither a pay policy that allows for differentials nor a taxation policy that permits of incentives?

The right hon. Lady is adding to her consistent policy of a completely negative approach on all these questions. She is aware that although she failed to support the incomes policy, some of her spokesmen did, including the Opposition spokesman on Treasury policy. I do not know why she should go back on his policy in this matter. The right hon. Lady is consistently negative on this matter and on industrial strategy. She is consistently negative on industrial democracy and consistently negative on devolution. Indeed, it is difficult to know what she stands for on any single issue.

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that the negative thing is to refuse differentials and the negative thing is to refuse incentives? Does he not realise that the positive thing is to give differentials for skill and the positive thing is to give incentives? Only in this way shall we get the positive results that his Government will never get.

The only way in which the right hon. Lady exceeds her capacity for a negative approach is in her capacity for stating the obvious. The Government's position on differentials has been made completely clear. I made it clear in my answer to the hon. Member for Surrey, North-West (Mr. Grylls), who asked a constructive question on this matter earlier. The right hon. Lady is not trying to help industrial relations in this matter; nor is she concerned with the future welfare of British industry. She has only one concern—naked ambition.

Royal Commission On Legal Services


asked the Prime Minister if he will appoint a further person to the Royal Commission on Legal Services.


asked the Prime Minister if he will recommend the appointment of an additional member to the Royal Commission on Legal Services.

In view of all that has happened since the Prime Minister appointed a Mr. Joseph Haines to the Royal Commission, including the publicaaion of a scandalous breach of confidence in a recent book, is he still convinced that Mr. Haines is a suitable person to sit in judgment on the British legal profession?

In view of that reply, will the Prime Minister tell the House by what criteria he judges whether a man is suitable to sit in judgment on the legal profession?

When I look at the hon. Gentleman, I have no doubts as to what is suitable.

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that, among other things, the Royal Commission will have to consider the arrangements foe determining the remuneration of the profession? Since one of the members, Mr. Haines, appears to get his remuneration by selling confidences to the highest bidder and since the legal profession exists, and only subsists, on the basis of trust and confidence between client and lawyer, does the right hen. Gentleman think that this gentleman has very much to offer?

The right hon. Gentleman has suffered a great deal from personal obloquy and should be the last person to pursue that sort of vendetta against someone else.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the ex-Leader of the Liberal Party is the last person who should be raising matters of this sort, because he was the man who opened supermarkets on the South Coast and got money from pensioners and others—

The right hon. Gentleman was not referring to an hon. Member of the House or I should have intervened earlier.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I have never opened a supermarket or anything else on the South Coast.

It is a well-known fact that the right hon. Gentleman was involved in opening supermarkets and being paid appearance money by London and County Securities Limited when he was a director of that company and when the auditor had already published the result of his investigation on the accounts and the books of the company had been in default.

Chancellor Of The Exchequer


asked the Prime Minister if he will list the responsibilities which he has allocated to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer is responsible for all Treasury business, including the direction of economic and financial policy and the control of public expenditure. He is the Minister responsible for the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise and some other smaller Departments. The Chancellor is also Chairman of NEDC and a governor of the International Monetary Fund.

Can my right hon. Friend give the House his views on the proposal by the Cabinet Secretary for splitting the Treasury into different parts and, in particular, on the proposal, which had the support of his two predecessors, for putting the public expenditure part of the Treasury into the Civil Service Department?

I have been reading the evidence with very great interest and watching some of the articles appearing in the Press. I shall continue to give these matters my full consideration and if I have any change to propose I shall inform the House.

Will the right hon. Gentleman take this opportunity to tell the House and the country what he has so far refused to tell us, namely, what are the responsibilities between himself and the Chancellor of the Exchequer in view of his position as economic overlord, about which we have heard so much but seen so little?

I repeat that I have taken over no responsibilities from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but I am still First Lord of the Treasury.

The problem of unemployment is one that afflicts the whole of the Western industrialised world. I propose to discuss these matters with President Carter when I visit the United States next week and also to raise them at the Rome European Council, because it is clear that no one nation can return to full employment on its own. It will require international effort and we shall bend all our efforts to secure that at the earliest possible moment.

Does the Prime Minister recall a letter that the Chancellor of the Exchequer wrote on 15th December 1976 to the managing director of the International Monetary Fund in which he stated that it would be a continuing part of the Government's strategy to reduce the share of resources taken by the public sector? Will the right hon. Gentleman take this opportunity of confirming that that is still an essential element of Government strategy?

Yes, we shall keep to the formula agreed with the International Monetary Fund. If circumstances change, we shall have other discussions with it. If the circumstances change, the arrangements can be changed.

If the rate of inflation is likely to rise to 17 per cent. year on year together with massive unemployment, the two things happening together, does that not suggest that the Treasury has failed in its purpose? Is it not time to reconsider the dismantling of the Treasury? If we are serious about job creation, should we not have an economic directorate to replace the parts of the Treasury that have singularly failed to intervene in the economy and done nothing to put right the shortcomings of a free market system?

Although there may be advantages in changing the machinery of the Treasury and in making other combinations, I express no view on that this afternoon. I do not think that will solve the fundamental economic problems that we face, although it may make for a better organising of them.

As a result of the depreciation of sterling last autumn, together with the increase in food prices, inflation will be at a higher level than we had expected or were working for in the first half of this year, but I repeat as strongly as I can that if we can get a third round in the wages agreement, on the present forecasts and from what we can see of matters such as the strength of sterling and the price of imported commodities and food and raw materials, there is every reason for there to be a substantial falling away in the rate of inflation in the second half of this year and the first half of 1978.

Is the Chancellor of the Exchequer still responsible for devising the formula by which the current rate of inflation is dinned into the public's mind? If so, by how much is it reduced from the 84 per cent., which is the figure that he gave us so clearly during the last election?

The figure of 8·4 per cent. has been explained many times as a short-term forecast over a period of three months. I try to give the House the most accurate forecasts but I regret to say that, as others have discovered before me and no doubt will discover after me, they are usually wrong. However, we must try to take some account of what is forecast. The best forecast that I can give the House now is the one that I have already given, namely, an increase during the first half of this year and a rapid falling away from the middle of 1977 to the middle of 1978.

Does the Prime Minister agree that it would be quite wrong for his hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham (Mr. Atkinson) to blame the Treasury for the high rate of inflation and the high rate of unemployment? Would it not be better if the Government considered their own record and did the necessary thing?

I do not think that it would be altogether fair to blame the Treasury. I blame the previous Government. The right hon. Gentleman was a distinguished ornament of a Government who printed money like a drunken sailor on his first night ashore. At least his Government hold this record, namely, that the rate of expansion of the money supply under the Administration of which he was an ornament has never been exceeded in this country before. Thank heavens a Labour Government came in and started to put matters right.

New Member

The following Member took and subscribed the Oath:

Peter Leonard Brooke, Esq., for City of London and Westminster, South.

British Leyland Motor Corporation

I beg to ask leave, Mr. Speaker, to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration; namely,

"the worsening situation at British Leyland as a result of the continuing refusal of the tool-room committee to recommend a return to work on the advice of its union."
I rise with due good wishes to yourself, Mr. Speaker, on the occasion of St. David's Day, which is not a reference to the new Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs making his debut this afternoon.

This is a matter that is clearly specific—namely, the continuing refusal of the toolroom committee to recommend a return to work on the advice of its union. It is an important matter—even more important than yesterday—in that production of the Mini has now ceased, directly affecting the remainder of my constituents who were still at work yesterday at British Leyland. It also involves the cessation of production of the Maxi and Princess models.

The matter is important because of the Government's pay policy, because of the need for some incentives to be restored for skilled workers and because of the need for the company to have restored to it freedom of action in order to set a common starting date for the various agreements in its plants and to set common rates of pay. It is important for industrial democracy because there are real questions arising as to how skilled workers are to negotiate their differentials when they may not command a majority in their own unions.

It is a highly important matter because of the way in which a Left-wing extremist leadership is misleading a body of toolmakers who have a very genuine grievance. It is highly important for the Government's industrial policy as we have a situation in which there is extra manufacturing capacity yet we are unable in our factories to meet domestic demand, thereby allowing in so many imports.

It is an urgent matter, Mr. Speaker—you yourself described the situation yesterday as fluid and the Minister of State described the company as bleeding to death—because we have reports today that the company has drawn on its investment funds while the newspapers refer to the company being at a crisis point. I therefore submit that it is a specific, important and urgent matter.

The hon. Member asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he thinks should have urgent consideration; namely,

"the worsening situation at British Leyland as a result of the continuing refusal of the tool-room committee to recommend a return to work on the advice of its union".
The hon. Gentleman gave me notice this morning that he was going to raise this matter today. The House will recall that yesterday I said that the situation was fluid. I am satisfied that the matter raised by the hon. Member is proper to be discussed under Standing Order No. 9. Does the hon. Gentleman have the leave of the House?

The leave of the House having been given

The motion for the Adjournment of the House will now stand over until the commencement of public business tomorrow, when a debate on the matter will take place for three hours.

Unfair Dismissal (Overseas Employment)

3.41 p.m.

I beg to move,

That leave be given in a Bill to amend the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1974 in relation to the unfair dismissal of employees who ordinarily work partly outside and partly inside Great Britain.
This is a specific and important matter affecting the constituents of hon. Members on both sides of the House not by the thousand but by the tens of thousands—people who believe themselves to be protected by our law but who are not so protected. Drivers who go across to the Continent, executives who sell to our overseas customers, buyers who purchase abroad, directors, managers and ordinary working people whom it was intended that the law should cover have been stripped naked of their rights by two decisions of the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

My Bill, which I seek leave to introduce with support from both sides of the House, would consist of one clause only—namely, to provide that those who work outside the United Kingdom remain unprotected, but that those who work partly inside and partly outside do not lose their protection merely because they make journeys abroad.

Briefly, the position is that Schedule 1, paragraph 9(2) of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1974 provides that the right to bring an action for unfair dismissal
"does not apply to any employment where under his contract of employment the employee ordinarily works outside Great Britain."
I think that all of us believed that a person ordinarily works either inside or outside Great Britain. If he ordinarily works here, he cannot ordinarily work somewhere else.

Unfortunately, that view was not shared by the Employment Appeal Tribunal in the case of Portec (UK) Ltd. v. Mogensen. In that case a director who spent a part of his year working inside the United Kingdom and part of it working outside the United Kingdom was dismissed when he was working within the United Kingdom and he was awarded £5,200 by the Industrial Tribunal, that being the maximum permitted. The company then saw fit to appeal, and the Employment Appeal Tribunal held that if a person works partly outside and partly within the United Kingdom, provided that both employments are ordinarily part of his terms of service, he is not protected by the law. In other words, unless his visit abroad is either on an odd occasion or is "extraordinary", he is not protected and he loses the rights which otherwise he would have.

That means that if a lorry driver, reporter, exporter or anyone who maintains a machine goes abroad on anything other than an odd occasion, he will probably find when he gets back that his employers are entitled to dismiss him and that he will have no protection whatever from the rules which were introduced originally in the Industrial Relations Act in one of the very few parts which were totally uncontroversial and for which we all voted and which have now been restated in precise terms in the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act.

The other case is Wilson v. Maynard Shipbuilding Consultants. I do not want to say too much about that case, because I understand that there may yet be an appeal. However, in his judgment, Mr. Justice Phillips said:
"The law under which employees who might lose their right to claim compensation for un fair dismissal because they work partly in Great Britain and partly abroad should be amended to take account of the difficulties likely to arise from the development of the EEC, the growth of international companies, and the expansion of motor transport."
I submit that the law should be amended because, as it stands, it is unfair, unreasonable, ludicrous in the result of its interpretation and totally contrary to what all of us believed that it was intended to achieve.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Greville Janner, Mr. Ronald Atkins, Mr. Tom Bradley, Mr. David Knox, Mr. David Mudd, Mr. Arnold Shaw, Sir Derek Walker-Smith, Mr. Phillip Whitehead, Mr. Nicholas Winterton and Mr. Ian Wrigglesworth.

Unfair Dismissal (Overseas Employment)

Mr Greville Janner accordingly presented a Bill to amend the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1974 in relation to the unfair dismissal of employees who ordinarily work partly outside and partly inside Great Britain: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time upon Friday 6th May and to be printed. [Bill 79.]

Foreign Affairs

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[ Mr. Tinn.]

3.46 p.m.

In a typically incisive analytical passage in his last major speech, Tony Crosland at Luxembourg defined the essence of Britain's changing relationship with the world. He said:

"Looking back over a long span of history, we see that there have been two main strands in our relations with the outside world. At times we have been deeply involved in the European continent. Then, more recently, due largely to the preoccupations of empire, we pursued what has been described as the blue-water school of diplomacy. But one strand has never been completely exclusive of the other. It is now natural that, with the change in the relationship with our former imperial territories, there should be a change in the relationship with our neighbours in Europe. What we have learned from our blue-water school will, of course, continue to influence us and colour our contribution to Europe. But it is with Europe that, by will of people and Government, we are now inextricably involved."
This central reorientation of our relationships is one which I have long supported and am perhaps particularly identified with. Yet this strand in our foreign policy cannot be pursued exclusively. It is not a British instinct to seek to restrict our horizons and to think and act as if in a continental cocoon. The maritime influence is strong within many of us, and certainly within myself. I was born in Plymouth which I have represented in this House for nearly 11 years, and I was for two years Minister for the Navy.

We are an island race, part of Europe, but with the Atlantic breaking against our coast. An accident of history brought the industrial revolution to Britain before any other European country. This, coupled with British sea power, gave us the wherewithal to trade with and invest in almost every corner of the globe. Today our future lies with Europe as a member of the European Community. But the scale of our international interests is not such that we could withdraw from them even if we wished to do so.

There is in Britain today little yearning for past imperial glories. Over the last 10 years we have, all of us, become realistic about our influence in the world. Yet equally it is time to stop selling ourselves short. We need more self-confidence, more national buoyancy. We are in danger of exaggerating our weaknesses and of under-playing our potential. Let us examine our strengths first.

We play a leading part in the European Community. It is not just one of the wealthiest and potentially most economically powerful groups in the world. The aspirations of the member States go beyond immediate national concerns. They are in principle and in practice prepared to forgo national advantage in return for longer-term Community advantage.

We are a country which is unusually dependent on foreign trade with overseas investments second only to those of the United States and still the financial centre of the world. So we have to be actively involved in the major international economic institutions—the OECD, the IMF and the GATT.

We are a vital element in the Atlantic Alliance and the only European member State of NATO which contributes to the strategic, tactical-nuclear and conventional forces of the Organisation. We have a continuing responsibility for Berlin, the exercise of which is vital to the stability of Europe. We are a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

We are a member of the Commonwealth, which gives us a unique insight into the preoccupations and interests of 35 independent countries, representing a broad cross-section of the world's population. The Commonwealth embraces countries at almost every stage of economic development, but its diversity is a strength, not a weakness. The process of understanding each other's problems can only benefit from the frank and informal exchange of opinions which a shared language and, a shared history make possible.

We have established a democratic system and a tradition of political stability of which we in this country, remain justifiably proud. By 1980 we shall be self-sufficient in oil and will be for the next few decades the only major industrialised nation self-sufficient in energy. We have developed a way of life culturally and morally which is not only one of our most valued national assets but also a long-standing source of influence on Europe and on the world.

This is the positive side. I restate it today at the risk of sounding jingoistic because I think that our strengths are too readily overlooked at home and abroad. But, of course, there is a negative side, too, which no one but a fool would ignore. In today's world we can no longer rely on the natural advantages of our insular position to safeguard what we value. With the growth of interlocking relationships, we in Britain find ourselves increasingly limited in our ability to protect our interests on our own. We are of course not unique in this.

We live in a world in which probably no nation, and certainly no industrialised national, can any longer guarantee its prosperity and security without regard to the outside world. This in essence is what we mean by the vogue term "interdependence". It is interdependence which has, since 1945, transformed the international context in which British foreign policy has to operate. The central task of our foreign policy is to decide how best we can realise our fundamental objectives—to promote national prosperity and to safeguard national security—in an interdependent world.

We have first to recognise the link between prosperity and security. Prosperity is of little use without security. But, more important, our security, our reliability as an ally and our capacity to play a useful rôle in the world are infinitely more difficult to sustain if we are economically weak.

Against a five-fold increase in oil prices in 1973 and the subsequent runaway inflation of the summer of 1975 a great deal has already been achieved. But unless we complement sound domestic policies with international economic co-operation, most of our efforts at home, and in particular the benefits gained from the social contract, could very quickly be eroded.

We are increasingly vulnerable to decisions taken far from our shores and over which we have little, if any, control. Our exports of goods and services represent something like one third of our gross national product. We import half our food and even more of our raw materials. Developments therefore in the international economy can and do have a direct impact on the prosperity of every inhabitant in this country.

It is an extraordinary comment on what the Foreign Office once was that one can peruse those volumes of official documents on British foreign policy between the wars and find barely a reference to economic problems. And this was at the time of the great slump and when Britain's decision to move off the gold standard was the most far reaching in its influence on international affairs.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is very different today. Contributing to the export drive is a central task of every overseas post and my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, North (Mr. Judd) plays a key co-ordinating rôle between home Departments in Britain and the European Community so that we are deeply involved in domestic matters.

Since 1945 the management of national economies has become almost as much an area of international, as of domestic, decision making. The industrialised democracies have a common interest in stable currencies, the expansion of free trade and the overriding need to avoid a repetition of the slump which took place so tragically in this country and in others in the 1930s. The world economic crisis of the last three years has underlined still further this mutual dependence. The economic summits at Rambouillet and Puerto Rico represented a joint recognition of the power and responsibility of the industrialised countries to promote the prosperity of the developed and developing nations alike. They also marked a concerted effort to avoid competitive beggar-my-neighbour measures at a time of crisis; and to co-operate in bringing the Western world out of recession, without refuelling inflation.

The forthcoming economic summit will enable us to consider further ways of stimulating world economic recovery. It is clear that such recovery depends first and foremost on an expansion of demand in the stronger economies of the world. A central economic issue is what to do about the OPEC surpluses. Then there is the problem of unemployment: increasingly structural and long-lasting, not cyclical; increasingly an international, not a national, phenomenon. Any summit meeting of the world's leading industrial powers must examine closely and urgently the possibility of co-operation on an international scale to rid us all of the scourge of unemployment.

An equally important aspect of economic inter-dependence which is of concern to many hon. Members, the relationship between the developed and developing worlds. The fundamental and most intractable features of this relationship are that in the international economy one third of the world's population has a per capita income of less than £100 per annum; and that the present population of the developing countries is likely to increase by 60 per cent. before the end of the century.

But the gap between rich and poor countries is not simply a matter of statistics. It is supremely a moral question which demands a firm and principled stand. It is even a question of security. Gross and ever-increasing inequalities are in the world at large, as they are in our own national societies, a source of confrontation and ultimately open conflict. The British Government are committed to working for a more fair and rational world economic system which will offer the people of the poorer countries the possibility of lives no longer dominated by malnutrition, want or chronic insufficiency. The fact that it is simply not possible, within the framework of national consent, to meet the demands of the less developed countries immediately or all at once does not diminish the force of our commitment. Our national resources are finite, although the influence that we can have in redressing the imbalance in the world economy is greatly enhanced by our membership of the European Community and such things as the Lomé Agreement to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Lanark (Mrs. Hart) made such a major contribution. The countries involved in the North-South dialogue are engaged in a complex and long-term process that virtually amounts to a permanent state of discussion and negotiation. It is vitally important that both sides should try to work together, despite their differences, in the forthcoming Common Fund conference and the ministerial session of the Conference on International Economic Co-operation.

Increasingly since 1945 Britain has been voluntarily placing herself in common decision-making structures with other nations. This has meant compromise; not always getting one's way; but also achieving through common effort solutions to common problems which on our own we, like other nations, would be incapable of solving. This applies in particular to our membership of the European Community and our membership of NATO.

The unique quality of the Community is that it is an economic institution with a political future. It is also a solid buttress for democracy. There has been controversy about whether progress can be made towards political unity without progress towards economic unity and the interplay between the two. Experience shows that progress can be made at different speeds and that the two areas will not always move in tandem. But political advance and economic advance are inevitably linked. When one analyses the achievements of national Governments the linkage becomes obvious. Similarly, when measuring progress within the Community, one cannot escape a simple fact that the reason why the economically strong nations are prepared to consider helping the less well off members is political. It is polities not economics which is the decisive factor behind further enlargement—in the negotiations with Greece and in the discussions with Portugal and maybe later with Spain. [Interruption.] Turkey has shown no signs of applying yet. Over the next five years the Community must systematically face the problem of economic divergence between the member States. The immediate need is to restore economic growth to the Community so that we can establish the basic preconditions for successful policies which will promote convergence. While we can and must continue to make progress in political unity, there can be little doubt that were the present trends of economic divergence to become even more firmly established, then of itself it would present a serious threat to the cohesion of the Community.

The Community needs, if it is to command greater public support, to become more relevant to people's daily lives. We can make it so, economically and socially, by taking action within the Community framework to reinforce and supplement national efforts to restore growth and fight inflation and unemployment. We can avoid creating butter mountains and selling off the surpluses to the Russians. We can do so democratically by giving people a say in directly electing the Members of the European Parliament. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] If direct elections are to make a positive contribution—

Why does my right hon. Friend so disparage the efforts of his right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture and suggest that his right hon. Friend cannot settle the problem of the butter mountain in a way that he suggested elected Members could do so?

Far from disparaging the efforts of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, I strongly support them. The stand that he has taken over the butter mountain is part of a continuing policy to try to reform the common agricultural policy so that we eradicate the surpluses that exist. That is the Government's policy.

I did not claim that. If my hon. Friend had listened, he would have heard that what I said was that there were a number of different ways in which we could make the Community more relevant. One was to deal with issues such as unemployment. One was to deal with the question of surpluses, which has caused in the public mind a great deal of feeling, and it is something that damages the Community. We can do this—and I know my hon. Friend's view on this matter—democratically by giving people a say in directly electing the Members of the European Parliament.

I recognise that there are different views on this matter. But if direct elections are to make a positive contribution, then any electoral system adopted in the United Kingdom, as in other member States, must carry conviction and must be truly representative. It is in this spirit that the Government genuinely intend to use their best endeavours, along with other member States to meet the 1978 May or June target date. A White Paper which will contain some points still for decision in the light of the further discussion will be presented to Parliament within a few weeks. Then some of the problems and difficulties of electing 81 representative Members for Britain already discussed by the Select Committee will become more apparent to the House.

Constitutional changes need to be very carefully considered by Parliament as a whole. The cause of European democracy will not be served by repeating the problems we face on the Floor of this House with devolution. Nor will democracy be served by adopting in a hurry any system whose result will not add, when it comes, to people's confidence. in the directly elected Parliament. Of course, there are timing difficulties in delay. But no other member State has yet carried through the legislation necessary for direct elections. The more agreement we can reach now, the easier it will be to pass the legislation foreshadowed in the Queen's Speech.

The formation of NATO in 1949 reflected the fact that individually the States of Western Europe could not defend themselves and that security could lie only in collective effort made with the United States. The relationships of Britain and Europe with the United States are an integral feature of the interdependent world in which British foreign policy operates. This is the logical consequence of the United States' position in the international economy. It also reflects the United States' military strength. Anglo-United States relations rest on the strongest of foundations: shared ideals and shared principles.

Membership of NATO is the foundation of British security. The Organisation is as essential in an age of détente as it was during the cold war. For détente without security is a contradiction in terms. The continuing cohesion of the Atlantic Alliance and of NATO is therefore vital. Fortunately, the basic feature of this particular aspect of Europe's relations with America is its reassuring stability despite rapid change in international affairs. It is remarkable that after 30 years of peace and profound economic and social changes the Atlantic Alliance—an association of 15 free and democratic nations—should still be strongly united and confident in its common objectives.

We are equally committed to détente, to the continuing search for a more constructive, more manageable and safer relationship with the Soviet Union and the other countries of Eastern Europe.

One of the priority tasks of détente is arms control and disarmament. This lies at the core of détente. The success of the present talks between the United States and the Soviet Union on strategic arms limitation is in everyone's interest. I hope that we can also move forward at the talks on mutual and balanced force reductions at Vienna.

A positive feature of our relations with the Soviet Union and some of the Warsaw Pact countries is the degree of cooperation which we have already achieved in the field of nuclear non-proliferation. We intend to build on this further so that we can together encourage further accessions to the non-proliferation treaty, and eliminate the risks inherent in the uncontrolled spread of nuclear technology. This whole area of policy is one which has interested me for many years. Britain takes very seriously her current chairmanship of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

We must also ensure, as best we can, that the Helsinki Final Act is fully implemented and that we can bring a much needed human dimension to the development of detente. The Belgrade review conference in the summer gives the 35 signatory States the opportunity to examine progress on implementation over the last 18 months. The British Government's approach to the review meeting will be constructive. We do not want fruitless polemics. But we shall not hesitate to state our views frankly where we consider the performance of other countries to be unsatisfactory.

It would be a serious error to see detente as an exclusively European process or one confined to a bilateral relationship between the two super-Powers. There are a number of areas outside Europe where tensions present a chronic threat to world peace. The future credibility of detente depends on the restraint and responsibility of all States in their approach to crises inside and outside Europe. This is what we mean by the indivisibility of detente.

There are three major potential areas of conflict where Britain has an interest and where its policies will be tested over the next few months. In Southern Africa the intractability of the problems of the region, mainly stemming from racial discrimination, puts an increasing premium on violence. We shall uphold the principle of democracy in Namibia. The people of Namibia must be given the opportunity to determine their own political and constitutional future. We have repeatedly stated that it is an essential requirement that there should be countrywide elections in which all the political parties, including SWAPO, should be free to participate, and which would take place under United Nations' supervision.

The tensions are probably at their most acute in Rhodesia. Over the past year and especially during the last five months we have devoted a very great deal of effort to trying to bring about a settlement by negotiation—an orderly and peaceful transfer of power out of the hands of the white minority and into the hands of the majority, where it properly belongs.

The present position is that the Geneva Conference, of which we had high hopes, has had to go into recess while we seek a new basis for negotiation. In the course of this search we have ourselves put forward our own proposals for a transitional government. These were laid before the House on 25th January. Given good will on both sides, and a real desire to make progress towards early majority rule and independence, our proposals would, I am convinced, have enabled us to obtain agreement to the establishment of a transitional government. I much regret that, on 24th January, Mr. Smith rejected them even as a basis for negotiation.

Since then we have been considering with our American allies the options that remain open. We remain in contact with the nationalists and the front line presidents. We and the Americans have recently had joint discussions with South Africa at official level. In the light of our continuing consultations with all the parties concerned we shall decide in what form it may be possible to resume negotiations for a peaceful settlement.

Will the right hon. Gentleman give consideration to introducing more moderate black and white spokesmen in Rhodesia into the discussions?

One of the problems is that it is not for me or the Government to introduce leaders. We have to deal with the leaders that are there. What we must do is to make sure that they are properly representative. That is the main issue. We must try to see that all shades of opinion are able to participate. I must say that I think the Geneva Conference did achieve that.

I was saying that with regard to a peaceful settlement it is still not too late, but time is rapidly running out and nothing we have heard over the past few weeks gives any ground for optimism. But we cannot allow our vision of a free, prosperous and non-racial society in Rhodesia to become dimmed. This applies with equal force to Namibia and to South Africa itself. The situations in all three areas demean human dignity, create tension between races and sow the seeds of violence. We must do everything in our power to help establish conditions in the region in which people of all races can work together in equality and mutual respect. The alternative is the bleak prospect of bloodshed and chaos. Even now appalling tragedies are becoming more frequent.

This House rightly, feels moved by compassion and wishes to intervene, but we must realistically face the limitations of our power. I for my part stand ready at any time to go anywhere and talk to anyone if I judge that it will make a genuine contribution for a peaceful settlement.

In the Middle East there is now some prospect of breaking the deadlock. Let us hope that fresh minds and fresh opportunities will enable early progress to be made. I am hoping to visit Egypt and Israel in the next few months to talk to their leaders and to assess the situation at first hand. We recognise that, for the time being, the rôle of the United States in getting negotiations under way will be decisive. But Europe cannot and should not stand aside. Europe's interests in the Middle East are enormous. The nations of the area have become Europe's major trading partners and we have strong links based on traditional friendship and history as well as commerce.

As a preliminary, may I just say how much we warmly welcome my right hon. Friend to the Dispatch Box? Does he not agree that one of the absolute prerequisites for any settlement in the Middle East is the cessation of the continuing colonisation of Israeli settlements in the Arab occupied territories?

The Government's view on this subject was made clear in United Nations' debates and United Nations' discussions. This is one of the factors that need to be corrected if we are to reach a peaceful settlement in the Middle East. There are factors on all sides which need to be considered. One of the ways of forging peace will be to try to balance all these different factors and bring them together possibly in some overall settlement.

In order to avoid doubt, when my right hon. Friend said that this is one of the matters to be corrected is it not part of the Government's policy that there should be secure and recognised frontiers for all of the countries in the Middle East, including Israel?

Yes, that represents the Government's policy. When we look at the whole question of boundaries we have to look at all these aspects. But as I understood it my hon. Friend's suggestion touched on the specific question of some settlement.

In Cyprus, the recent meetings between Archbishop Makarios and Mr. Denktash are a hopeful sign and yesterday I discussed the situation in detail with the President's emissary, Mr. Clark Clifford. It is too early to say whether substantial progress towards a settlement will be made in the inter-communal talks in Vienna starting on 31st March. We shall remain in close touch with our allies and our partners in the Community to decide what, if any, initiatives we can take to further a negotiated settlement. The recent declaration of the Nine on Cyprus reflects our concern.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that at the moment a delegation of Greek Cypriot Members of Parliament is on its way to this country to discuss this problem with him? Does he not feel it unfair that either side should be coming here while delicate talks are going on?

I have tried to make myself available to all sides. I visited Cyprus myself and spoke to Turkish Cypriot leaders and Greek Cypriot leaders. I have spoken to individual Greeks, Turks and Greek and Turkish Cypriots coming through London. What I have always felt in this complex situation is that one needs information about how people feel on the island. My door has been open to many different sides and I can assure the hon. Gentleman that there is no discrimination.

It is concern for the rights of the individual that govern our policies towards our few remaining dependent territories. We cannot avoid responding to changing circumstances but we must consider at all times the wishes and interests of the people who are dependent upon us. My hon. Friend, the Member for Merthyr Tydfil (Mr. Rowlands) has just returned from a gruelling and very hard-working visit to the Falkland Islands. He will give the House an account of his consultations and conversations there and in Buenos Aires when he speaks at the end of this debate but I should like to remind the House of the purpose of that visit.

The Government believe that a framework of greater political and economic co-operation in the region of the South-West Atlantic is necessary if we are to have any prospect of achieving a prosperous and durable future for the Islands. The Government therefore decided that the time had come to consider both with the Islanders and with the Argentine Government whether a climate existed for discussing the broad issues which bear on the future of the Falkland Islands and the possibilities of co-operation between Britain and Argentina in the region of the South-West Atlantic.

As my predecessor indicated, any such discussions would inevitably raise fundamental questions in the relationship between the Islands, Britain and Argentina. However, any changes which might be proposed must be acceptable to the Islanders whose interest and wellbeing are our main concern. In conse- quence there must be full consultation with the Islanders at every stage; nothing will be done behind their backs.

I now reaffirm these pledges. My hon. Friend had very full discussions with all sections of islander opinion and made it clear that the issue of sovereignty is bound to be raised in any negotiations which might take place with the Argentines. He also assured them, however, that such negotiations would take place under the sovereignty umbrella; that is, Her Majesty's Government would wholly reserve their position on the issue of sovereignty which would in no way be prejudiced. It was on the basis of this assurance, and on the understanding that there would be full consultation at every stage, that the Joint Legislative and Executive Council of the Islands gave their approval for the Minister of State to hold talks in Buenos Aires to try to establish a basis for negotiation with the Government of Argentina. These talks have not yet been concluded but I can assure the House that there has been and there will be no sell-out. That would be to betray the very principles which I believe guide our British foreign policy.

The right hon. Gentleman said there would be the fullest consultations. As with the analogous position of Gibraltar, it has been the position of successive British Governments that there would be no question of handing over sovereignty without the consent of the population. Can the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that consultation also involves consent in this case?

One assurance I can give is that any change in the sovereignty would have to come before this House. I am confident that this House would not pass any legislation involving the sovereignty of the Islanders if it was not satisfied that this was in their best interests. The fact that their interests will be looked after not just by this Government but by this House is the best safeguard for the islanders.

In spite of that why can my right hon. Friend not give a plain assurance that there will be no transfer of sovereignty without the consent of the islanders, as has been done in other cases?

The wording I have used has been carefully phrased. There are no weasel words in what I have said. I have weighed this issue very carefully. I think the conduct of foreign affairs in this very difficult situation is quite clear. This House has to pass legislation before there are any changes in sovereignty. This House has always zealously guarded its reputation for looking after the interests of minority groups wherever they are, and of respecting democracy.

I recognise the Government have that reputation, too. Although I give an assurance on behalf of the Government I have to recognise that it is not always a decision just for the Government. It is not a decision which would be made just by the Government. It will also come back to this House, and that is the essential safeguard.

In conclusion, an effective foreign policy does not simply depend on a sound and prosperous economy; nor even on the vigour and stability of a nation's political institutions, vital though these are. Equally important is our commitment to the proclaimed values and beliefs of our society, based upon the ideals of morality, equality and justice. These ideals must permeate all aspects of our foreign policy.

In the field of human rights, this means that we must take our stand in any corner of the globe. We must not discriminate. We will apply the same standards and judgments to Chile as we do to Communist countries or to Uganda, or to South Africa. For, without respect for human rights, we cannot hope for peace and stability in the long run. It is not a question of interfering in other people's internal affairs. The United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the UN Covenants on Human Rights demonstrate clearly that abuses of human rights, wherever they may occur, are the legitimate subject of international concern. Of course, we have to balance morality with reality. In the last analysis, it is the Government and this House which must judge how best to give effect to the beliefs to which we all aspire; and, inevitably, different circumstances and different countries will require different measures. Governmental action must be hard-headed and practical. Above all, it must have realisable objectives, for otherwise it is all too easy to drift into a combination of what Winston Churchill once called in this House "mush, slush and gush".

It is early days for me as Foreign Secretary. I have much to learn, but on one matter I shall be unshakable. Foreign policy must project outwards the values which lie at the core of British society. This is the only way in which a Foreign Secretary can hope to carry public opinion, and without public support any foreign policy is ultimately doomed to failure. I will apply this standard as best I can to the decisions which I take during my tenure of this office.

4.22 p.m.

May I first extend to the right hon. Gentleman my compliments on his speech today and my good wishes for his tenure of his present office? He will understand if I say that I hope that that occupancy will be brief but successful.

I have a real sense of sympathy and fellow-feeling with the Foreign Secretary because I, too, was rather precipitated into a position on the Front Bench following the death of a great and much-respected parliamentarian in the person of Iain Macleod. Therefore, I have a strong sense of feeling for the right hon. Gentleman at this time.

In some ways, today's debate on foreign affairs comes as a very welcome one, because the Opposition have been pressing for it for a long time. However, to some degree it comes as a pointed commentary on the Government's assessment of priorities. It cannot fail to appear to the Opposition that the occasion for this debate arises largely from the fact that a sudden vacuum was found in the Government's programme as a result of the devolution disaster and that otherwise we might have been going on week after week calling for such a debate.

It would be hard to fault a lot of the general statements made by the Foreign Secretary today. Most of us will find ourselves at one with most of his broad feelings and with his general approach to the task facing him. But it is inevitable that on individual issues that may not be the case. Indeed, there may be—and it is illustrated by what I said about the occasion for this debate—a sense of difference in the fundamental approaches of the two sides of the House to the purposes of foreign policy. I should like to consider, as the right hon. Gentleman did, some of the issues where the principal areas of tension lie at the moment rather than to dwell on other longer-term issues, such as the problems facing the less-developed world, which I hope we shall have an opportunity to debate in due course.

In foreign political terms, it seems to me that 1977 is a year of both dangers and opportunities. It is perhaps a singular year in this respect. The dangers are very great. The opportunities are quite exceptional in some senses. In considering the various areas of tension, perhaps I may be allowed to dwell upon those opportunities. I do not necessarily observe exactly the same order as that chosen by the right hon. Gentleman. But I do not seek, either, to assess what I have to say in terms of the precedence of individual questions.

The Foreign Secretary spoke last of all about the Falkland Islands. As he will know, there is a widespread feeling of anxiety on both sides of the House about the sovereignty issue and the position of the islanders. We are not unaware of the dilemma which the right hon. Gentleman faces. We know that although he is faced by proposals that might be made for the improvement of the islanders' economic prospects, they involve very heavy capital expenditure at a time when obviously that is unwelcome. The right hon. Gentleman will have in mind the extremely interesting Adjournment debate initiated by my hon. Friend the Member for Shoreham (Mr. Luce) some time ago when these issues were carefully and sensibly rehearsed.

However, in the light of what the right hon. Gentleman said, we do not feel completely satisfied and assured about this problem of the absolute sovereignty and the islanders' wishes in this respect. "Consultation" is a word that has all sorts of overtones. Too often it implies an endeavour to bring people into line with an existing state of decision. This is a kind of consultation that is totally inappropriate to the circumstances of this issue.

It was a disappointment to the House that the Foreign Secretary could not in clean terms say in response to my ight hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) that he could assure the House that there would be no transfer unless there was consent. I hope that the Minister of State will feel able to go somewhat further than the right hon. Gentleman did just now.

Might not my right hon. Friend seek an assurance that if this matter is to be determined in the House of Commons it will be determined by a free vote and that the Government's majority will not be used to push through a measure that will be opposed by the islanders?

That is an important concomitant. But I should still like a clean statement to this effect. The House will make its decision in the way that it thinks fit, but it would be terrible if we were in any sense compromising the right of these people to decide their own future.

The Foreign Secretary dealt with Cyprus. In this area I believe that the opportunity is brighter than in almost any other and in some ways rather unexpectedly brighter. The developments which have taken place following the encounter between Archbishop Makarios and Mr. Denktash, and followed up by Mr. Clark Clifford's mission, all seem to suggest that it is possible now to find a degree of flexibility between hitherto immobile parties that will lead to a conclusion.

But the issue does not stop at Cyprus. The area of concern is the whole of this NATO flank and not least the very important problems that arise in relation to the eventual expansion of the European Economic Community. All these issues are involved in finding some sense of stability in the Eastern Mediterranean and one's feeling that the long-standing disputes and disagreements which have damaged the interests of Cyprus itself and those of Turkey and Greece can at long last be set aside. I feel sure that the House will only support the right hon. Gentleman in his endeavour to pursue the action of this reconciliation to a finality.

In the Middle East the prospects again are substantially better. There, however, there is a dangerous factor as well. The opportunities are perhaps not very long-lived. The alternative to seizing the opportunities at this moment to bring about a settlement in that highly vital area can have the most incalculable consequences. The Middle East situation would seem to be characterised by extreme possibilities—the possibility of at long last an understanding and settlement or, failing that, the possibility of a most frightening explosion. Therefore, the issues of opportunity and danger are at their most evident in that area.

The deadlock must be broken. There is obviously a peculiarly delicate situation obtaining during the run-up to the Israeli elections. It is hard to see a situation emerging before then that will allow the reconvening of the Geneva Conference, but from all the discussions that I have been able to have I believe that there are signs of good will on both sides to create acceptable circumstances for the reconvening of that conference thereafter. I am sure that the visits of Dr. Waldheim and Mr. Vance have contributed to that situation.

The primary obstacle, the biggest hurdle in the way, is the whole issue of the Palestinian representation at such a conference, on the one side, and, on the other, the whole problem of the Palestinians' attitude to the State of Israel. It seems to me that inevitably a prelude to the conference must be some relaxation on both sides of their respective views. It seems to me inevitable also that in order to reach the far wider and more vital ultimate interest which exists both parties have to recede from their more extreme positions so that the purposes envisaged in Resolution No. 242 of the Security Council can at last be tabled as a matter for conference negotiation rather than for assertions of rigid positions by both sides.

There is an infinite number of intractable problems to solve at the conference table itself, but I believe that it is the first step now that counts, the approach to this essential tripwire of interest, represented by the real interests of the Palestinian people on one side and the real interests of the Israelis on the other. Again, the interest in the situation goes very wide. The United Kingdom and the whole of the EEC have deeply entrenched interests in the area. The right hon. Gentleman referred to them—the very high state of investment there, the great reliance of Western Europe on Middle East oil.

There is no doubt that in the event of an explosion in the area the first issue which would almost fatally ensue would be an interruption of oil supplies, with all its incalculable effects on the Western industrialised countries. Then there is the strong trading relationship, which has recently intensified to the extent of movement in and out of the area. I welcome that, and I believe that the influence of our business men going there and of their business men coming to Europe serves again to try to reconcile the interests of all the parties in the area, to their eventual benefit.

Are we mobilising adequately the depth of interest of the EEC in this area in order to support the welcome efforts made by the United States and the United Nations to this end? Have they been adequately persistent in bringing home the immense importance of the interest there is in a resolution of the problems? At the last meeting of Foreign Ministers within the political forum of the EEC conclusions were reached which are not known outside at the moment, but it is to be hoped that they are not simply banal conclusions arrived at, thrown up in the air and left at that. They needed to be brought home to the people concerned.

I turn now to the question of Southern Africa. My hon. Friend the Member for Horncastle (Mr. Tapsell), if he catches your eye, Mr. Speaker, will deal in more detail with the problem of Rhodesia. It is my intention to deal with the problems of Southern Africa in their wider sense, and he will try to draw together some of the views which may be expressed by my right hon. and hon. Friends on these intractable problems. Nor is it my intention to try to reopen a kind of post-mortem on what has happened—that would be valueless—but I want to try to look to the future.

It is no secret that on this side of the House we were and continue to be deeply dissatisfied with the Government's handling of this matter, both for its dilatoriness and for its lack of any purpose. But that is in the past. The future is before us and it is to that that we must address ourselves. The issues go far beyond that of Rhodesia itself. The ultimate question embraces the relationship of the whole of the continent, including, and not unimportantly, Nigeria. The whole continent is involved in what may now happen and what may happen in the very near future.

The strategic issues arising concern not just the vital mineral resources of that important continent but the key importance of the Cape route. Is it realised that the EEC is dependent upon imported hydro-carbons for more than 50 per cent. of its energy needs now and that it will continue as far almost as one can see forward in the light of present energy policies to import a very large proportion of its supplies round the Cape?

Again, 40 per cent. of the hydrocarbon needs of the United States are being imported. Not all of that comes round the Cape—a considerable proportion comes from nearer sources. But the situation of both the United States and the EEC illustrates the immense importance of this area, not just as an area of potential political, social and racial unrest, but as an area of practical importance to every industrialised Western country.

It is vital from our point of view, and for that reason it is necessary to lose no time. Time is not on our side in relation to the issues of Southern Africa, and there is no room for a long-winded reappraisal of the issues. There must be urgent action by the Government, including inducing the United States to take a far more forward rôle in prosecuting the whole of the need for a settlement for the future.

While the denial of minerals or port facilities is itself vital, it is not just a question of having the risk of a hostile force and a hostile interest launching missiles at tankers round the Cape. Let us think what the situation would be if there were implanted in the whole of the Cape area people whose interests were directly divergent from the interests of the future of the Western industrialised world. It would have the most overwhelming effect upon our whole strategic and tactical situations.

I turn now to issues nearer home, particularly to the question of the EEC. Much as I agree with a lot of what the right hon. Gentleman has said, when it comes to the EEC. I am in much greater difficulty. My whole impression in many contacts with the Community at all levels and with all its member countries is that disenchantment with this country was never greater. It is pitiful to contrast the situation with what it was five years ago at the time of negotiation for our accession. There were difficulties, but most of the countries were avid to see us in the EEC, because they believed that we had something of a broad nature to contribute to its future.

Yet I am bound to say that petty-mindedness has been the hallmark of the United Kingdom contribution to the Community since the referendum. I deeply regret this. The whole of the Government's behaviour in relation to agriculture, the green pound, the problems of dairy produce and most recently the pig-meat arrangements, in relation to energy and the minimum safeguard price and all that it implies, its intervention in the North-South dialogue and its original terms and its original purpose signifies a failure to understand the rôle that this country had to play in the future of the Community. This is deeply disappointing to me and, I think, to many other people in other countries.

We now face the problem of direct elections. The right hon. Gentleman could not have been proud of his Minister of State's handling of European business questions yesterday. His rather smirking attitude to what was meant by the phrase "best endeavours" was particularly disagreeable to us. We believe that the phrase "best endeavours" means what it says—that one will act to the limit to achieve something one has undertaken, not to use it as a cloak for one's own pusillanimity. It will not be easily forgotten or forgiven if we are the people who bring the whole process of direct elections to a halt and frustrate it.

There is no need for a White Paper with green edges. It is a whole year since we had the original Green Paper, and since then we have had a Select Committee, which worked diligently and quickly. Why cannot we have the Bill before us now? None of us can understand that. The Foreign Secretary spoke movingly about the need to reinforce the buttress that the Community represents for world democracy—

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree—obviously he does not agree—that there is no enthusiasm in this country for direct elections except among the Euro-fanatics and that most people in this country are about as enthusiastic for direct elections as they were for devolution? The right hon. Gentleman must know that if a referendum were held now on the subject of Common Market membership it is quite possible that the answer, based on experience, would be very different from what it was last time.

Not content with answering himself, the hon. Gentleman also puts himself forward as a person who can accurately define what the balance of opinion is in this country, but I take issue with him. I think that if it were put to the House, there is little doubt what the outcome would be.

That is why I ask for the Bill now. Let us have it and put it to the test. I ask for nothing better.

It is lamentable that we should be speaking of the Community as a buttress of democracy but denying it the opportunity to be so in a more real sense.

I remember attending with Mr. Speaker the conference of European Speakers and registering that we then represented two-thirds of parliamentary democracies in the world. Yet the Government are apparently too inept to wish to pursue that to the logical conclusion of making the Community more democratic.

The right hon. Gentleman has referred to other Speakers in other legislatures. Would he not agree that because of the history and the unwritten constitution of this country, the implications of direct elections to the United Kingdom might be of different and fundamental constitutional importance when compared with the implications for some other members of the EEC?

I believe that they are of fundamental constitutional importance to every member of the EEC and that it was because constitutional change was regarded by all member countries as necessary and desirable that each of the Prime Ministers of those countries gave his undertaking to use his best endeavours—meaning it—to that end last September. It is incredible in some ways that there should now be an endeavour to withdraw from an undertaking given solemnly at that time by the Labour Prime Minister.

I turn briefly to the Foreign Secretary's problem in relation to the Soviet Union. Undoubtedly overshadowing so many of the problems that we face is the brooding and enigmatic presence of the USSR and the difficulty of understanding precisely what its objective is, how far it goes, and how far it can be contained and shifted. What is undoubtedly the basic pervasive issue within the Soviet Union is a relentless pursuit of ideological struggle.

The USSR wishes by all means to obtain a state where more and more countries are brought into the net of the Russian attitude to political dominion. It does not do this in terms of following a precise, well-planned blue-print. It pursues its needs with a degree of inexorable relentlessness that the West has shown itself poorly equipped to match. But whereas for the USSR all the issues involved in the ideological struggle are related and interlocked and each issue is seen as the motive force of the next, that is not matched on our side. We look at these things as individual bits of a sectionalised proposition and therefore we are weak in front of them.

I have frequently visited the Soviet Union in other capacities. One can complain about much, but not about any lack of a determined sense of purpose. It is this sense of purpose that we have hitherto failed to match. That is what worries me above all in our relationship with that country. We cannot see that that linkage is not simply a linkage in negotiation but a comprehension within the Western World, whether in NATO or in the EEC, or in the other organisations with which we are concerned.

We cannot see how closely inter-related these issues are. We cannot match the monolithic purpose of the Soviet Union in this issue, but we must, for otherwise all these issues of current tension, which are all in some way or another related to the massive problem of the reconciliation of the East-West struggle, will be totally nugatory in their ultimate effect on us.

I ask the Government to reconsider their position, whether it is at the Belgrade meeting concerning the Final Act of Helsinki, or the question of the support of the SALT initiative between Russia and the United States, or in the MBFR arrangements, or in any other field. They have close inter-relationships which are to be seen from the side of the West. These relationships must be comprehended and the negotiating position seen as a whole, not as separate bits. If they are seen as bits, they will be picked off as bits.

A great anxiety on this side of the House, particularly in the Conservative Party, is that the Government, in the all-important field of our relationships abroad, have had a sense hitherto of almost disinvolvement, a desire to be clear of so many issues without too great exposure.

Does not my right hon. Friend feel as I do that it is rather shameful that the new President of the United States should be so much more outspoken on the subject of dissidents than the Prime Minister is? Is it not perfectly possible for the leader of a Western democracy to criticise Soviet attitudes to dissidents at the same time as conducting talks on arms control?

I do not believe that any one part of our concern over our relationship with the Soviet Union is a separate and intact matter which may be segregated from the rest. All aspects of the relationship have an inter-involvement which is of fundamental importance in trying to devise a proper strategic method of handling our relationships with the Soviet Union, and only when that is done, embracing the point my hon. Friend has raised, shall we be on even terms.

So I believe that if the new Foreign Secretary is now to show a sense of reinvolvement in the world's affairs, reflecting what he said at the opening of his speech, he will find nothing but support from here. It is when he shows, as has been shown too often over recent years, a sense of withdrawal, a sense of indifference, negligence or incompetence in the face of the world's problems that he will have no sympathy from here and no support for such action.

4.50 p.m.

I join the right hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) in offering kind words to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and in wishing him well. I disagree, of course, about the length of time that he should be at the Dispatch Box. I hope that he has a very long period there.

My right hon. Friend referred to Tony Crosland's speech in the European Parliament in January. It was an impressive speech and, as the Foreign Secretary commented, he made clear that we were not only a European—he was there, of course, as a European—but also an Atlantic and a Commonwealth Power. In the European Parliament we often find ourselves involved in all three areas. For example, it is no accident that British MPs play a disproportionate part in the European Parliament's Development Committee. Many of the questions answered by Tony Crosland on that day concerned Africa, especially Rhodesia. Rhodesia is one of the greatest problems facing my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary.

I welcome the emphasis that the right hon. Member for Knutsford put on the subject of Rhodesia, telling us that his colleague on the Front Bench would be bringing up this matter again later. I have no solution to offer, but I have a few words of encouragement based on the experience of Kenya. Twenty years ago it was impossible for us in this House to believe that in 1977 tens of thousands of white people could live and work in peace with blacks under a black Government. By 1963, however, when independence came to Kenya, it was accepted by the British Government—Sir Alec Douglas-Home was Prime Minister then—and by the whites living in Kenya that there was a reasonable chance of whites and blacks living and working together under a black Government.

I well remember the doubts which existed at the time. I was the British High Commissioner at independence. We went ahead, and today, 13 years later, blacks and whites live together in peace under a black Government. It can be argued that the figures of blacks and whites in Kenya are different from those in Rhodesia, but I feel that we have something of value to learn. In Kenya at independence there were only 50,000 whites, while in Rhodesia there are about five times as many as that. The really important point is that in Kenya today there there are 20,000 whites living and working under a black Government—nearly half as many as the 50,000 there were at independence.

In addition to the numerical comparison that the right hon. Gentleman makes, there are two other factors to be borne in mind as differentiating the two cases. The first is that the harmonious relationship to which he refers in Kenya appears to depend to an alarming extent on the continued existence of one man. That is not a satisfactory state of affairs for a European community. The second consideration is that Rhodesia, different from all the independent African countries, is a highly advanced, sophisticated and industrialised country. Does that not make an almost crucial difference?

Of course it is a difference. The hon. and learned Gentleman asked me a question, and I shall try to reply to it. I was making the point that it was once thought impossible for blacks and whites to live and work together in peace under a black Government. It has been proved that it is possible. There are half as many whites in Kenya today living and working in peace with the blacks. I mention that as a point of encouragement. It is a relevant factor, but it is not a solution. I said expressly that I was not offering a solution, but we should bear in mind that these things are possible.

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary spoke about the European Parliament and directly-elected Members. The Government promised to use their best endeavours to bring in legislation in time. On 20th October, the present Foreign Secretary said that it was our "firm intention" to "use our best endeavours". He repeated that statement, but now we are faced with the problem.

Every two or three weeks there is a meeting of the Bureau of the European Parliament. At every meeting the question of Britain's progress on direct elections is an item on the agenda. It is all very well to say that other countries have not completed their task. They have not, but they have got far along and we have not even started. As a British MP and a Vice-President of the Parliament, I have had to reassure the Committee that Britain will stand by its undertakings. I have explained the delay caused by the overloading of parliamentary business. I have explained the Committee system and said that constitutional matters must be taken on the Floor of the House. Yesterday, however, my hon. Friend the Minister of State went as far as to talk of the danger of rushing ahead impetuously. That was unbelievable in view of the undertakings that were given so long ago.

What on earth have the Government been doing these last six months, or even this year, if they were not working out how to implement their undertaking? I know it is no duty of the Government to make my life any easier. They have other problems. But what am I to tell my colleagues in the European Parliament? On the strength of the Government's undertaking of September, I fear that I have misled them.

Is not the position of the Government at the moment dishonourable on this matter? Have they not been coming before the House saying that they will use their best endeavours, and did not the Minister of State make it clear yesterday that they have no such intention? Would it not be more honourable for them to come to the House and say that they have changed their minds and that they will not bring in the Bill, or, alternatively, tell us that they will bring in the Bill instead of sheltering under a facade of dishonour?

I have never used the words "honour" and "dishonour" lightly inside the House or outside, and I do not intend to do so today. I am encouraged that the Foreign Secretary repeated today that the Government would use their best endeavours. I am encouraged by that, but I was deeply discouraged by what happened yesterday.

Let me set out certain facts. First, the Government are bound by a solemn undertaking. Secondly, they have reached only the White Paper stage. Thirdly, the Select Committee which recommended the single-Member constituency system and that the first direct elections should be on our Westminster model has been overtaken by events. It was recognised that it would need 15 months after Royal Assent to get such a system established. Fourthly, the Governments of the other member countries of the Community want the European Parliament to be infused by this shot of electoral democracy. It is interesting, in view of what certain of my hon. Friends have said in interventions, that the more unpopular the Commission has become, such as the nonsense about selling cheap butter to the Russians, the more people appear to want direct control through election of their Members of Parliament in the European Parliament. Presumably this is to get a grip on the inefficiencies which they see in the Commission.

In the autumn of 1973, the Commission's public opinion poll showed that in the United Kingdom only 33 per cent. of people wanted directly-elected European Members, but by the autumn of last year that figure had risen to 57 per cent. The Foreign Secretary made the point that there is a lot of public criticism of the Community, especially of the Commission, and that there is a wish to have a choice in the selection of MPs to go to the European Parliament. Because of the time which has passed, it is impossible to offer the Select Committee solution. I know no one who has applied himself to this task who thinks that 81 constituencies can be drawn up by the Boundary Commission in tinme.

Fortunately, two years ago we had the experience of the referendum. It proves that we can count votes by counties and regions and arrive at an expression of public electoral opinion. We know that the machinery exists. We have the possibility of using proportional representation on a national list, in the same way as the French will use a national list. The French have a constituency system just as we have, with single Members. For this first European election, however, they have decided to use proportional representation with national lists. One of the reasons why they have done this is because their single-Member constituencies, like ours, will not be accepted by the other countries for the second European election in five or six years' time. We should have some form of proportional representation to the European Parliament in five or six years' time.

The Times, in a leading article on Saturday, 26th February, said:
"The arguments for PR in the European context are overwhelmingly strong.… The list system…is the commonest system among our European partners. It would therefore not be an inappropriate choice for European elections which eventually are to be standardised throughout the Community."
I ask the Government to note this when they start work on their White Paper. It is an important point, and I do not see how there is anything inconsistent—certainly the French do not—between having single-Member constituencies for national parliamentary elections and a system of proportional representation for elections to the European Parliament. Under our system, when we come to Westminster our first rôle is to serve as an electoral college and to choose our Government. There is no such rôle foreseen—certainly not in our lifetime—for the European Parliament.

The European Parliament's task is to reflect the opinions of democratic Europe, and the rôle is in no way that of an electoral college. If we are to have the White Paper, let the Government be realistic and admit that it is impossible to arrange the 81 constituencies in time. One of the reasons for that is that the Liberal Party will oppose every single Boundary Commission report, and it has said so.

It is a well-known fact that it wants to hold up the establishment of these constituencies. I want the Government to bring forward a plan for having national lists, one each for England, for Scotland, for Wales and for Northern Ireland. I admit that there is an obvious undemocratic feature of the list system. It gives the power of selecting candidates to the party machine and not to the people in the constituency. In the interests of getting the 81 elected Members to the European Parliament in time, we have to face that obvious disadvantage and—

I am sure the right hon. Gentleman would agree that the real difficulty, which I wholly concede exists, could be overcome by having primaries.

I want to make this as simple as possible in order to get our 81 people on parade. There is a lot to be said for primaries, and there is a lot in favour of the French system of single-Member constituencies and an effective primary. I am not arguing that but I am trying to obtain the simplest method of getting our people to the Parliament in time. After all, the same system will not be adopted in future elections.

We have to recognise that the list system hands power to the machines of our parties. I am convinced that the parties will have enough sense of responsibility to the public to balance the lists to reflect minorities on European views. The Labour MPs who go to the European Parliament have found it easy for pro-Europeans and anti-Europeans to live together. This is helped by the fact that in the European Parliament we are organised into transnational political groups. The Labour Party Members belong to the Socialist Group, and our leader is a German.

The differing views of Labour MPs are diffused among 66 Members of the Socialist Group of nine nationalities, so there is little opportunity for disagreement among ourselves. One result, for example, is that we British Members of the Socialist Group have elected unanimously as our chairman my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott), who has not supported direct elections. I am convinced that our parties will be big enough to consider their responsibility to the public and to reflect minorities in their lists.

I ask the Government whether they are prepared to face the fact that Britain may be the only one of the nine countries unable to fulfil its obligations and that we will have to nominate Members to the European Parliament. I remind the Government that our country, not our Parliament, was described more than 100 years ago by John Bright as the Mother of Parliaments. I feel that our Parliament has the duty not to let down the Mother of Parliaments in this way.

The right hon. Gentleman asked whether the Government would be prepared to envisage a situation in which they alone were nominating Members to the European Parliament. But that is not the situation. It is that if the Government fail to take the action they must take, all will be frustrated.

That is the present position. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman, however, that a lot of thought has been given to the matter, and, despite the Government's assurances, it is very likely that the eight other countries would go ahead in their own way. I do not see exactly how it can be done, but the point is that some assurances must be given. We may bring the whole lot down, but, even if we do not, failure will certainly prevent us from being represented by democratically-elected Members at the European Parliament.

5.8 p.m.

I congratulate the new Foreign Secretary and I wish him well. He will find that we shall chide and criticise him, but when he speaks for Britain in the world we wish him well and we want him to succeed. Our objective is to see that his voice speaks as accurately and as effectively as possible. It is very tempting to range over a whole number of topics in a debate such as this, delayed as it has been for a long while, but I want to deal with three points.

First, I agree strongly with the Foreign Secretary that there are new opportunities in the Middle East. I am delighted that he is going there, and I am sure that he will have a warm welcome. Indeed, the initiative that Britain and Europe can take is important.

Secondly, concerning Rhodesia, I have never yet understood—and I should like an answer to this if possible—why the Government blame Mr. Smith for turning down their proposals when we were told by the Foreign Secretary's predecessor that those proposals differed in nothing but detail from the Kissinger proposals which had been turned down by the nationalists. Why should the blame fall on Mr. Smith when previously the nationalists had turned down the same proposals? That is a mystery that has so far not been explained.

I seriously ask the Foreign Minister not to underestimate the prospects of what is called an internal solution. He should not too easily assume that the guerrilla forces outside speak for the people of Rhodesia as a whole. Nor should he too easily assume that the front-line Presidents speak entirely for the people of Rhodesia as a whole.

I took note of what the right hon. Gentleman said about Namibia—that it was for the people of Namibia to decide their future and that there should be country-wide elections to decide what they want. It seems that the fundamental problem of Rhodesia is, first, to find out what the people who live there want. Secondly, it is necessary to find some means of guaranteeing to the European population there that a constitution for majority rule which will, as it must, guarantee individual rights and free courts of law will be a constitution that endures, as in Kenya, and is not torn up within a few months by some Rhodesian Amin.

My third incidental point concerns the Falkland Islands. I was a little disappointed with what the Foreign Secretary said about this subject. He should be a little more explicit and I hope that the Minister of State will be more explicit when he replies. There was talk about consultation and about acceptance by the islanders. When asked by my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) whether he would give a firm undertaking that he would not agree to a transfer of sovereignty without the consent of the islanders, he said that that was a matter for Parliament.

With deep respect, that is not true. What we want from the Government quite categorically is an assurance that they, as Her Majesty's Government, will not propose to Parliament a transfer of sovereignty without the full acceptance of the islanders. It is a simple question to which I hope we shall receive a simple answer this evening. Unless we do, disturbance, doubt and worry will abound. That is not the right climate in which to find a lasting solution.

The main issue to which I wish to refer is that of East-West relations, which seems to overshadow everything else. There seems to be a state of confusion, and confusion in these matters can mean danger. There is apparently a deepening difference between Russia and other Communist States. There is a loosening of ties in Eastern Europe and a growth of the Communist parties in Western Europe as well as a growing feeling of independence among those parties. For instance, there is the conference about to take place in Madrid.

One sometimes feels that the NATO Powers, and in particular the United States, are uncertain how to react to these new developments within the Communist world which are of such great importance. There is disappointment over the result so far of Helsinki. Yet there have been mixed reactions. The Russian forces continue to grow and expand while we are cutting down ours and the Americans are apparently concentrating on the SALT talks.

There is continued political aggression from the Communist world, throughout Africa in particular. The attitude of the new United States' Administration to the Cuban arrival in Africa seems a little ambivalent. There is no truce between the two sides in the political battle. There has been little movement by the Russians over Basket III. Yet we continue in our economic relations the extraordinary system whereby we transfer resources to the East at our expense.

I am not talking just about the butter mountain which, whatever the technical details, is manifestly absurd. I am talking about the massive transfer of resources involved in the extension of credit running to tens of billions of dollars from the West to the East. Any transfer of resources on that scale must mean an addition to the economic power of the East and therefore to its ability to build up its armed forces. It seems that the West is still uncertain what it wants and expects.

The basic document is the Final Act of Helsinki. I agree with the Foreign Secretary about the need for a thorough review of this, not a shouting match, but a sensible review. Different views can be taken about Helsinki. It can be said that it is the dawn of a new era of peace, or that it is a complete sell-out by the West and détente is a sham. I do not accept either view. Helsinki achieved nothing in practice. But it created an opportunity and now time is needed to develop this opportunity—far more time than we realised when it was being made. Above all, let us not throw away this opportunity.

Because the dangers of war between East and West are so stupendous it is almost impossible to envisage them. People talk in terms of tens of millions of casualties. I am reminded of the words of Winston Churchill who spoke of "roaming and peering about around the rim of Hell." This is precisely what will be happening if we are not careful. I say to those so anxious to dance on the grave of détente "Beware. You may be dancing on the grave of civilisation at the same time."

Yet another thing we must remember is that to let down our guard would be the greatest folly. That is why we on the Conservative Benches are concerned about the latest defence White Paper and the Government's attitude to defence generally. This applies not only to military weapons but to intelligence weapons, too.

The danger to peace comes from an imbalance of forces. No one will attack us because we are too strong. They are only likely to attack us if they think we are too weak. In this balance of forces intelligence is just as important as guns or tanks or bombs or aircraft. Without an intelligence service forces are blind and cannot operate. That is why, when I hear this constant denigration of the CIA I reflect that people do not realise that the CIA matters as much to our defence as does the American Fleet or the American Air Force.

It does. Without intelligence these things are useless. Perhaps the CIA makes mistakes. Maybe the KGB makes mistakes—we do not hear about them. Without intelligence our defence system is completely useless.

What is the Russian aim? It is impossible to tell whether it is world domination or whether Russia merely wishes to defend itself within Mother Russia. Whichever it is, the tactics of the Russians are obviously to weaken the West for offensive or defensive reasons. If it is trying to weaken us, we must also try in any way we can to weaken it. I want to see mutual and balanced force reductions not only in weapons but in intelligence. Until the Russian intelligence service is reduced, we cannot afford to reduce ours.

In his defence of the CIA and intelligence operations is the right hon. Gentleman also defending the covert operations carried out by the CIA?

I am not defending any particular operation, about which I probably have no knowledge, by intelligence forces on either side. All that I am saying, with the greatest conviction I can muster, is that to cast away our intelligence services is to cast away something vital to the defence of the West.

Human rights is the most difficult area of all. Much that happens in Russia, and even more in Cambodia is totally repugnant to us all. It is right that we should say so and say why we find it repugnant. It is also wise of the Foreign Secretary to remember that we want to get practical results. How do we do that? I do not think that simple denunciation of the Soviet Union and all its works is a form of statesmanship that is likely to get results. The Russians have their own ideas, which are often different from ours.

I remember last year discussing with Mr. Gromyko the question of Russian citizens coming to this country, something about which we feel very strongly. He argued that it was a privilege for a Russian to leave his country. I said "Mr. Foreign Secretary, this is where the gulf lies between us. For us in Britain it is not a privilege to go abroad; it is a right. You as a Russian consider it a privilege." This is something deep in the Russian character. But it is not a new feature of Communism. I would imagine that it was equally true in the days of the Tsar and has been present throughout Russian history.

We must never under-estimate the different backgrounds and outlooks of various peoples. We shall not change points of view by force. That can only be done by persuasion and in particular by showing people in the world as a whole that our way of life is a better way of life than that in a Communist country. It will take a long time and while this is going on we must maintain our own position in defence in the interests of maintaining peace. So long as the Communist Powers try to subvert Western countries, we are entitled to support resistance in Eastern Europe. But in the short term, at least, that cannot be a productive process.

It is essential to achieve understanding in the long run with the Soviet people, who form such a vast proportion of the population of the world. The West must work together to do this. The West needs to increase the attractiveness to the ordinary human being of our system of life and society. The West needs to maintain its defences and it needs to promote a contest of ideas between the two sides. This should not be a war of subversive propaganda, but a genuine contest of ideas.

This may be very idealistic, but it is a course that we must pursue, because the alternative in the long term to co-existence and understanding with the Soviet Union could be the charred remnants of all civilisation.

5.21 p.m.

I also congratulate the Foreign Secretary on his appointment. As a fellow Devon Member I say to him

"Us be mighty proud of 'ee, m'dear, and us hopes you'll do a proper job."
Since the right hon. Gentleman is a lineal descendant of Lord Palmerston, I must warn him that there are those in Devon who expect him to blow the Russian and the Scottish trawlers out of the sea when they are overfishing within our fishing limits if we fail to get rid of them by negotiation.

It is a pleasure to welcome the right hon. Member for Lanark (Mrs. Hart) to the Government Front Bench once again. Although she says it is her last performance, she is rather like a prima donna making her third return. I hope that her absence is only momentary and will not last several weeks or months, as on previous occasions.

I agree with the right hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) in that I think there are exciting initiatives which could be taken by this country. Some of these we could take on our own, some within the EEC, some within the Commonwealth, and some as a permanent member of the United Nations.

Among those we should take on our own within Europe is the initiative on the reforming of the common agricultural policy. I support the robust remarks of the Minister of Agriculture about the butter mountain. I would rather see a surplus than a grave shortage, but to spend £910 a ton to export butter to a third country which is not even a developing country is lunacy on stilts. We must look at that situation and renegotiate the common agricultural policy. I hope that we shall take a major initiative in this respect.

I do agree with the right hon. Member for Kettering (Sir G. de Freitas) about direct elections. It is a year since the Green Paper was published and in that time there have been three reports from the Select Committee. We know exactly why the Government are in difficulties. It is not because this is a major change and they cannot make up their minds. They have discovered to their horror that under our existing Westminster electoral system certain minorities will be gravely under-represented. One of these minorities is the Roman Catholic element in Northern Ireland and another is the Labour Party itself. That is a wonderful way of concentrating the Government's mind.

This sort of under-representation can happen under our electoral system and it is no coincidence that our European colleagues, who were persuaded to give us an additional seat so that the Roman Catholic minority in Northern Ireland could be represented, know that any Roman Catholic candidate who got more than third of the vote would not have any guarantee of being elected. In fact. the probability is that he would not be elected.

It is inevitable that we must have a list system on a regional or national basis. The Government have not a hope in hell of getting 81 single-Member constituencies delineated by the Boundary Commission because there would be strong protests about every possible permutation. It is also a fact that every possible permutation of four, five or six constituencies could give any result that one wanted to see, and the Government would be open to charges of gerrymandering from any party that felt disadvantaged.

I accept that the Government have problems, but I am certain that if the fair representation of the Labour Party is at stake, they will persuade the Leader of the House to defend proportional representation for the European Parliament elections as passionately as he attacked it for the Assemblies in Scotland and Wales. If he was asked why he had changed his mind, I suspect his answer would be like that of the High Court judge who on one set of facts found in favour of the plaintiff and 10 years later on the same set of facts found in favour of the defendant. When asked why he had changed his mind in this way he said that things did not appear to appear to him now as they had appeared to appear to him then. When the right hon. Gentleman is raised to the peerage, I suggest that he take that as his motto.

I think that we should drag him and his colleagues into the twentieth century. The only passionate defenders of the present electoral system are the two Front Benches. There is no alternative—we must have a modern electoral system. The Government should welcome something which would have the majority support of this House. That would be a refreshing change. I do not think that there is a shadow of doubt that there would be a large majority for direct elections to the European Parliament as there was for staying in the EEC on the renegotiated terms. I suggest that the Government take their courage in their hands.

On the problem of Cyprus, I understand why the Foreign Secretary cannot say more on the talks with Mr. Clark Clifford, the President's special adviser. The talks that have taken place between Mr. Denktash and the Archbishop, one of which was chaired by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, give us great hope. I hope that the Secretary-General himself or some other senior UN representative will take the chair at the talks in Geneva. Obviously, a continuing peace-keeping rôle by the United Nations is needed for a considerable period of time.

Also I hope that we shall consider the possibility of the EEC having a rôle in Cyprus in the settlement. We cannot force it upon it, but we can make it clear that if there is some need for a European Community monitoring system, we should be willing and ready to help. We have the NATO connection with both the Greeks and the Turks and Common Market negotiations are proceeding with Greece. I hope that we can bring about some meaningful economic connection between the Community and Cyprus itself. I am fairly optimistic about that. I hope that the Turkish community will realise that there will have to be a very thorough inquiry and investigation into the list of undeclared prisoners and missing persons. This is well-documented and there is considerable disquiet on the part of Greek Cypriots who believe that a large number of prisoners are being held in Turkish-held territory and on the mainland itself.

I welcome the visit of Mr. Cyrus Vance. But having listened to the speeches at the 31st General Assembly of the UN on the Middle East, I was disappointed by the repetitiveness of the arguments. As far as public performance is concerned, the UN has changed very little. I say this with some regret as I am chairman of the United Nations Association, but I do not believe that the next initiative on the Middle East will come from the UN. While one supports the reconvening of the Geneva conference to see how we can clothe Resolution No. 242 with flesh and blood, there are still very grave problems and stumbling blocks, in particular the recognition of the PLO.

I believe that what we shall see is a series of bilateral agreements—between Israel and Lebanon, Israel and Egypt and possibly Israel and Syria. If this could be brought about successfully, there would still be a need for a UN presence and guarantees. There is no question about the desire for a settlement; it is a question of how best to keep people round the table. I am not convinced that a full-scale Geneva conference with all the problems of PLO recognition is the best way to go about this.

I turn to Africa and particularly to Uganda. I was a member of an all-party delegation which in 1961 went to see Pandit Nehru as Prime Minister of India. We urged upon him the view that if the Commonwealth was to be a multi-racial organisation, it was quite inconsistent to have the continued membership of countries such as South Africa that practised blatant racialism. Not only was Mr. Nehru sympathetic, but at the Commonwealth Conference the presssure of Commonwealth opinion, led notably by the then Conservative Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Diefenbaker, caused Dr. Verwoerd to withdraw South Africa from the Commonwealth.

I take the view that the same vital principles are at stake in the case of Uganda, because the Commonwealth subscribed to a certain degree of human rights. We must accept that in this regard there are several members of the Commonwealth which are far from perfect, and I do not intend to enumerate them because they are well known to the House. Others have military or other forms of authoritarian government, but what is happening in Uganda is unique.

There is a regime of oppression and terror that constitutes a total rejection of the principles for which the Commonwealth stands. The expulsion of the entire Asian community from Uganda was blatantly racialist and has brought appalling hardship to many. The pattern of repression and violence culminated in the deaths of two Cabinet Ministers and Archbishop Luwum, and led to acts of genocide against members of the Langi and Acholi and acts of unparalleled barbarism and offences against civilisation.

Our quarrel is not with the people of Uganda, with whom we maintain friendly relations, but with the dictator who at present misrules them. In my view, unless the Commonwealth is to be regarded as an organised hypocrisy we should agree collectively to suspend Uganda from membership. I hope and believe that the Commonwealth will take that line.

I turn to another troubled part of the African continent—namely, Rhodesia. There is one positive sphere of influence in which we can give practical help, and that is in regard to Rhodesian students who are in this country. When I saw the Minister of State who received a United Nations Association delegation, I pointed out that since 1970 there has been a dramatic fall amounting to 75 per cent. in the number of students who come from Rhodesia to the United Kingdom.

The right hon. Gentleman who was then in charge of the Ministry of Overseas Development and who is now a Minister of State at the Foreign Office has agreed to set up a special scheme for those students from Zimbabwe who did not get awards under the regular programme. That will help 120 more students who are in this country from Rhodesia. I refer principally to African students—not for racialist reasons, but because they do not obtain the training in Rhodesia that is readily available to Europeans.

This is one area in which we have a great and continuing responsibility that we can discharge. That responsibility involves training people who cannot otherwise obtain the necessary training in Rhodesia. If I am told by the Government that we cannot increase the public expenditure involved, we shall have to do what we did in regard to the Maltese with work vouchers by giving priority treatment to students from Rhodesia in the same way as we gave such treatment to Maltese citizens.

I hope that the Government will examine the activities of Shell and BP, which allegedly are subsidising Freight Services in South Africa, which is directly re-exporting to Rhodesia and therefore indirectly breaching sanctions. I believe that it is possible successfully to bring pressure to bear on responsible companies.

My colleagues, led by Sir Anthony Nutting, wrote to the Chairman of Barclays Bank the other day about the £10 million purchase of defence bonds in South Africa through a South African subsidiary. The Chairman of Barclays Bank—and I wish to pay him full credit—has reacted responsibly by recognising the dangers and the emotive situation throughout the rest of Africa. When the moment is right, he has agreed to switch that holding back into normal gilts.

I agree with the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) that there is no instant formula for Rhodesia. Is the two-year commitment to majority rule still accepted by Mr. Smith? By "majority rule" I mean the rule of the majority and not what Mr. Smith referred to as the majority of "reasonable people". If the idea of majority rule is still acceptable, we must try to set up a working party in the transitional two-year stage. That is what must be put in a referendum to all the people of Rhodesia. I do not believe that the referendum should be a popularity choice between Mr. Mugabe and Bishop Muzorewa, but it should broach the question whether interim arrangements are acceptable to the Rhodesian people as a whole.

The bargain would have to involve the consideration that violence would be called off during negotiations. It would also mean that the verdict would have to be accepted by both sides, and thereafter I suggest the possibility of a Commonwealth monitoring mission to ensure that the transitional agreements are honoured. That monitoring agreement should be involved at ministerial, military and police level, rather as the United Nations carried out its rôle in the Congo shortly after the war in that area.

If Mr. Smith does not accept the concept of African majority rule in two years—and even if he does and is not prepared to use his best endeavours to move towards an interim settlement—we must be blunt with him and say "Sorry, we have tried, but you are now on your own, and there is nothing more we can do to help." At some stage Mr. Smith must be brought up against the facts of the situation, or the situation in Rhodesia will be appalling month after month. We must seek to establish whether that two-year acceptance still stands and we must try to work for an interim settlement.

There are certain other hopeful signs. I was delighted that one of the actions taken by the Foreign Secretary was to instruct our delegate at the United Nations to raise before the Human Rights Commission the situation in Uganda with particular reference to the Archbishop and the two Ministers. I hope that we shall he able to see the appointment of a commissioner for the United Nations Human Rights Commission, but even if that does not happen it is very much better that cases are referred to the Commission and that the offending country should refuse to entertain those objections than that the world should be silent and do nothing. There is now a movement to try to obtain some agreement on human rights, and I hope that when the General Assembly reconvenes the German initiative on terrorism will be given a fair wind.

The position of President Carter—with his obvious intention to achieve success in SALT II and to move on to SALT III and to disarmament questions generally, as well as his firm stand on human rights—is enormously encouraging. I agree that when we reach Belgrade we must be firm and make plain our reaction to continued repression in the Soviet Union. One of the most frightening developments has been the arrest of Mr. Orlov, whose main crime was that he was the head of a committee that sought to monitor the Helsinki Agreement in the Soviet Union.

The fight against terrorism was not greatly helped by the French and the Abu Daoud affair, but since the European Convention on Human Rights is to be ratified in the next few weeks, we may soon look on that episode as a thing of the past.

If I may sum up, I am optimistic about the situation in Cyprus and think that the Community may have a rôle to play. On the Middle East, I think that progress will be slow and probably on a bilateral basis. I am gloomy about Rhodesia and I believe that it will be saved only if Mr. Smith genuinely wants to save all the people from the catastrophe that will follow.

The situation in Europe depends on whether the Labour Party has the courage to honour its commitment on the subject of direct elections or whether it wishes to gerrymander—which it will not succeed in doing—or whether it is prepared to come into the twentieth century and adopt electoral practices which are well known in other parts of the world but which have not yet reached these shores.

5.40 p.m.

I wish the new Foreign Secretary well in his vital job. If he succeeds in bringing peace and disarmament to a world that needs both so badly, he will do well for his country and for all mankind. He would, incidentally, achieve personal greatness.

I propose to make two suggestions. I want to tell the House about a discussion that I had with Tony Crosland three days before his fatal stroke. It took place in the Corridor outside the Library of the House of Commons. I raised with him the speeches that President Carter has been making about arms reduction. I referred, in particular, to the President's determination to reach agreement in the SALT talks; to cut the colossal American arms bill; and to stop all nuclear test explosions, not only in the atmosphere but underground.

Admittedly not all Presidents—and, if I may say so, not all Prime Ministers—have been known to carry out their election pledges entirely once the votes were in the ballot box. Nevertheless, it is exceedingly encouraging and significant that throughout his election campaign, and subsequently, Jimmy Carter gave such prominence to disarmament. It suggests that peace is an electoral asset.

Moreover, I understand that President Carter is expressing strongly-held personal views. There is no doubt that he will encounter tremendous pressure from the military-industrial complex to which President Eisenhower referred in his powerful valedictory address—the combination of big businessmen and top military officers with a strong vested interest in war scares and a vast military programme. So, Jimmy Carter will need all the support he can get.

I put it to Tony Crosland that it was high time that Britain made a public initiative to support the Carter proposals. The Foreign Secretary could not have been more amenable and I left his company feeling tremendously encouraged and hopeful. This made his death, for me, all the more tragic, I appeal to his successor to pursue this matter right away. It is noticeable that Sweden is doing so whereas, so far, our country has been almost completely silent. Why is that?

Thanks to that tireless veteran and highly respected worker for disarmament, the right hon. Philip Noel-Baker, I have been supplied with a detailed report of all Jimmy Carter's speeches on this subject. I hope that the Secretary of State and other Foreign Office Ministers will study them, if they have not already done so.

I regard the proposals for stopping all nuclear test explosions as being of tremendous importance, for if one stops the testing of new weapons that helps to prevent such weapons ever being developed and produced. There has recently been a response from a leading Soviet spokesman saying for the first time that the Russian Government will agree to inspection on site within Soviet frontiers, though I believe that seismic technique has so advanced that this is hardly necessary.

As for arms spending, a week ago Carter cut back the bill. It was not as great a reduction as had been promised, but, all the same, it was a step in the right direction and I believe that there will be more to come. There has been another vital development and that is the statement by Cyrus Vance, the new Secretary of State, a statement that clearly could not have been made without the President's approval. Vance dealt with the dangers of the vast exports of arms. He said that America should not be guided by commercial motives so much as by peace and political motives. That should go for Britain, too.

In addition the Catholic and other Churches are now taking a forthright line on peace. But what about the British Labour Government? The Foreign Secretary should show his determination in some dramatic way, such as by going to the United Nations and voicing there his support for President Carter's proposals. The Foreign Secretary should seize this favourable opportunity. Otherwise some incident may arise somewhere which would make progress more difficult. He should note the sympathetic reaction by Mr. Brezhnev who in speech after speech has appealed for a cut in arms spending in the East and West.

This is particularly significant for us in Britain. Yesterday's defence White Paper, presenting expenditure of nearly £6½ billion a year, means that the average family of four is now spending £8.40 a week on military preparations. People may not realise this, but that is the sum that they pay in income tax, VAT, petrol and other taxes.

I add in passing that I am sometimes referred to in the Press—and more recently in Joe Haines's book—as a pacifist. I am not. A pacifist says that in no circumstances would he use violence. As Fenner Brockway said in 1936 when General Franco staged his military revolt against the democratically elected Government of Spain, there may be occasion when force is a necessary resort. But one does not need to be a pacifist to say that arms spending must be cut or that our aim should be not to try to win an East-West war but to avoid it.

I wish to warn the new Foreign Secretary of the danger of reactionary views being pressed on him by top figures in his Ministry. Two chapters in Joe Haine's book,"The Politics of Power", are relevant. I am not referring to the kitchen tittle-tattle that seems so to excite the Press—almost exclusively so—but to far more important and serious sections of the book which I have scarcely seen mentioned in the Press. I ask the Minister who will reply to the debate to make a specific admission or denial of four particular allegations. I hope that this will be taken up by the civil servants who are present today and that it will be referred to in the Minister's speech. In addition, I ask the Foreign Secretary to be on guard to see that things never again happen in this way in future.

Dick Crossman's diaries showed the great pressure, usually based on mistaken views, exerted by the Civil Service mandarins over their so-called masters. He described how top Treasury officials manipulated a financiad crisis to stampede the Cabinet into a policy of wage restriction. Joe Haines's chapter on the Treasury entitled "All Brains, Little Sense" gives detailed confirmation. I might add that there are growing grounds for suspicion that civil servants did precisely the same thing recently—using a run on the pound to scare the Cabinet, or a majority of it, into drastic cuts in housing, health, education and war on want. Facts are now coming to light showing that the Government never really needed to make those cuts at all.

In his chapter on the Foreign Office, Mr. Haines says that the main characteristics of most of those gentlemen is their:
"enthusiasm bordering on the fanatical"
for the Common Market and their "implacable hatred" of Russia. He recounts four incidents in which even the Prime Minister was deliberately disobeyed and embarrassed by Foreign Office officials. He writes:
"At times the Foreign Office was acting like a State within a State".
His first instance was when the Foreign Secretary, now Prime Minister, was standing firm on Britain having a seat at the International Energy Conference. His position was being undermined at home here in Whitehall.

Secondly, there was the Soames affair. General de Gaulle had given an interview to Sir Christopher Soames in which he said that he wanted Britain to promote a new free trade association in Europe instead of the EEC. He would later—but not until later—come out and publicly support a British initiative.

The Prime Minister refused the Foreign Office demand to divulge this proposal to the German Federal Chancellor. Despite this, when the Prime Minister returned from a visit abroad he found that the Foreign Office had leaked the news to other EEC Governments and to Washington. Of course it reached the international Press and the Foreign Office Press Office flouted an express Prime ministerial edict and briefed the British Press in detail. This did serious damage. If this allegation is incorrect, there has so far been no correction or denial.

The third occasion was in 1973 when the right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson) visited Czechoslovakia and secured the release of the Rev. David Hathaway, who had been imprisoned for smuggling Bibles into that country. The Foreign Office belittled his success and attempted to claim that it was due to pressure from Sir Alec Douglas-Home, the then Foreign Secretary. Once again a private telegram was deliberately leaked.

Far more serious was the fourth incident, during the Labour Prime Minister's visit to Moscow in 1975. He carefully prepared a speech urging peaceful co-existence—but the Foreign Office knew better. Officials said that reference to peaceful co-existence must be deleted because the phrase did not mean detente as the Prime Minister understood it, but some sinister Soviet scheme for ideological struggle.

The Prime Minister dug in his heels. He went ahead and explained his own interpretation in Moscow. Mr. Brezhnev was greatly impressed and said so. But that was not the end. Six months later—just before the Helsinki Conference—the Prime Minister prepared to refer again to peaceful coexistence. He was asked by a senior diplomat to drop the reference, but replied that he did not intend to be diverted.

Later that day, the Prime Minister was told by the Foreign Office that the British Foreign Secretary, the present Prime Minister, who was in Hungary had written saying that he felt strongly that the Prime Minister should not use the phrase "peaceful co-existence" at Helsinki. Fortunately, the then Prime Minister refused to accept that this was an accurate report. He went ahead and his speech received wide acclaim.

The then Prime Minister mentioned the matter to the then Foreign Secretary when he arrived at Helsinki and discovered that the purported message was a fabrication—to put it more bluntly, a lie. The Foreign Secretary sacked the Private Secretary on the spot, but the real responsibility was that of a more senior colleague, who is probably still across the road in Whitehall.

Mr. Haines writes on page 91 of his book:
"Officialdom had deliberately set out to deceive the Prime Minister."
I repeat my question: will the Minister who is to wind up say whether Mr. Haines is right or wrong? Will he ensure that this sort of thing never occurs again?

I conclude with an appeal to the Foreign Secretary to heed more the Labour Party foreign policy than that of his official elite, who have an innate class bias. If my right hon. Friend does that, he will do great things for mankind at home and abroad.

5.56 p.m.

I hope that the hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Allaun) will forgive me if I do not follow him in his revelations from Mr. Haines's book, but rather turn to some of the Foreign Secretary's remarks.

The right hon. Gentleman rightly referred to areas of the world which are of particular significance, and there are two that stand out not only for their importance, but because the consequences of failing to achieve an acceptable solution to their problems would be serious, dangerous and damaging to Britain, Europe and the western world. They are Central Africa and the Middle East.

In Rhodesia, as a result of powerful American pressure exercised via South Africa, Mr. Smith took a tremendous step forward which opened up the possibility of achieving a peaceful transition to majority rule and a reasonable settlement. This was an opportunity that should have been seized by the British Government with the utmost vigour and a tremendous sense of urgency. In particular, British diplomacy should have kept as one of its primary objectives the need to maintain the total involvement of the United States in any negotiations.

The Americans were primarily responsible for breaking the log jam. Without their involvement, it was going to be impossible to achieve a soluton, but the British Government instead allowed themselves to get bogged down in the Geneva conference and allowed that to take place without American participation.

The result, as everyone knows, was a slow-moving fiasco that ended in complete failure. I urge the Foreign Secretary to use his best endeavours—I use that maligned phrase in the sense in which it was used by my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies)—to bring the United States back into the centre of the negotiating arena. The Foreign Secretary's reference to keeping in touch with America over this is not enough.

Rhodesia should be one of the first items on the agenda of the dialogue between the United States and the Soviet Union. The other item at the top of the agenda should be the Middle East.

Before dealing with the situation generally I shall refer briefly to the Euro-Arab dialogue. I hope that the Foreign Secretary will understand the disappointment and frustration among those who had great hopes when the dialogue began in 1974 that there would be a real breakthrough to a new mutually advantageous partnership between Europe and the Arab world. There was the prospect of a new start, a new era of partnership as equals.

The prize to be gained was immense not merely for the material advantage that would accrue to both parties from their partnership but for the contribution that the combined economic and political power of Europe and the Arab world could make to the economic welfare and progress of poor and under-privileged peoples elsewhere. During his chairmanship of the EEC Council of Ministers perhaps the Foreign Secretary will try to ascertain what has gone wrong and will put the dialogue back on the rails again.

According to a number of reports, and one in particular that appeared in The Times of 14th February, the dialogue is still blocked over the question of the PLO. If that is so, I ask the Foreign Secretary to take a fresh look at realities. Whatever may be its faults, the PLO is the only leadership that the Palestinians now have. There is no reliable evidence to support the allegation that it does not have the bulk of the Palestinians behind it. The elections that took place on the West Bank last year were a strong indication that it has a wide measure of popular support.

The whole Arab world, including Jordan, acknowledges the PLO to be the sole legitimate representative organisation of the Palestinians. The General Assembly of the United Nations has accepted this judgment. Surely it is high time that the EEC followed suit.

I was delighted to hear that the Foreign Secretary is to visit the area in the near future. As the right hon. Gentleman and my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford said, there has been a good deal of optimistic talk lately about getting a settlement—at last—in the Middle East and indeed there are many hopeful signs. In the Arab world there is overwhelming evidence of a real and widespread desire to have done with the destructive conflict with Israel. The bogy of Arab insistence on the elimination of Israel and the refusal to accept Israel's existence has been laid to rest. President Sadat, President Assad, King Hussein and most influential Arabs, including leaders of the Palestinians, have swallowed what was to them the rather bitter pill that Israel is an established fact and cannot be undone, except, perhaps, in the distant future, and then only by a process of agreement and gradual change.

On the Arab side the substantial threat to peace that still remains is that, if the present opportunity is lost, the Arabs may conclude that peace with Israel is unattainable on any terms they could accept and that renewed war sooner or later, and probably rather sooner than later, had become for them inevitable. If that happens their present mood for peace might disappear and they might well revert to a more uncompromising stance.

In the United States a new Administration has come to power that proclaims its concern for human rights and for morality in the conduct of foreign affairs, and it has the opportunity for a fresh start towards peace in the Middle East. The question is whether it has the will to seize it.

In the world at large a consensus has now emerged in respect of the form which a settlement should take and this, too, is an encouraging sign. There is wide agreement within the international community that a settlement should be based on the principles laid down in the Security Council Resolution 242, supplemented by the creation of a Palestinian State on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip so as to afford some satisfaction of the Palestinians' right of self-determination.

On the question of the extent of the withdrawal from occupied territories required of Israel by the resolution there is wide support for the interpretation enunciated in 1969 by the then American Secretary of State, Mr. Rogers. The Secretary of State then declared that
"while recognised political boundaries must be established, and agreed upon by the parties, any changes in the pre-existing lines should not reflect the weight of conquest and should be confined to unsubstantial alterations required for mutual security."
There is also wide agreement within the international community that a virtually total withdrawal by Israel from the territories occupied in 1967 must be accompanied by international guarantees and other safeguards, such as demilitarised zones, to ensure the security not only of Israel but of all States in the area including any new Palestinian State that may be established.

Against the consensus that has now emerged so widely throughout the world Israel stands virtually alone. Echoing Mrs. Meir's frequent "Noes" we have Prime Minister Rabin proclaiming a series of "Nevers"—never talk with the Palestinians, never negotiate with the so-called PLO, never accept a West Bank Gaza Strip, and never withdraw from Jerusalem. Worse than any words, the Government of Israel, day by day, consolidate their illegal annexation of Jerusalem—that is of East Arab Jerusalem—and extend their colonisation in the rest of the occupied territories. In doing so they fly in the face of the rest of the world.

There is indeed no reason to doubt that any Government of the United States would come out unequivocally in favour of the sort of settlement that has such wide international backing if it were not for the pressures of the Zionist lobby in Washington. What is in doubt is not Washington's acceptance of the consensus but whether it has the will and political courage to enforce it. That is where serious questions begin to arise about the present current of optimism about a settlement.

In spite of the present hopeful signs, the probability is that if ever a peace conference is reconvened at Geneva it will break down over three crucial issues—namely, that the Israelis would not agree to relinquishing Arab Jerusalem, that they would not agree to anything approaching total withdrawal from the occupied territories and that they would not agree to any return of Palestinian refugees who were expelled in 1948.

We hear a great deal of comment about the vital importance of Jerusalem to the Israelis, but we do not hear so much about the equally unshakeable determination of the Arabs to recover the Arab city of Jerusalem and not to make peace without it. If that is a breaking point for Israel in negotiating peace, so too, it could be a breaking point for the Arabs. That is why some compromise must be found.

One such compromise could be something on the lines suggested by Lord Caradon, by which the city would remain physically undivided but with the Jewish and Arab parts under separate sovereignty. If there is not some such compromise, on this issue alone a peace conference is very likely to break down.

We also hear a great deal from Israeli politicians about the Golan Heights, Sharm el Sheikh, the Gaza Strip and large areas of the West Bank being essential for Israel's security and, therefore as they put it, non-negotiable. But if the Israeli leaders believe that they can get peace while still hanging on to substantial parts of the occupied territories, they are mistaken. As King Hussein has said, they can have peace or they can have territory, but they cannot have both. To judge by what many leading Israeli politicians have been saying, it looks as though they have already made their choice and that it is for territory and against peace.

If that is so it is intolerable and deeply worrying, because, despite the many difficulties, not for a very long time has there been a better chance of achieving an acceptable peaceful settlement. The relevant Arab leaders have all made unequivocal statements indicating their desire for peace and the Palestinians are also ready for a compromise.

Should there be another war, with the exception of the countries directly involved, Western Europe would suffer most. Europe must therefore use its influence to persuade the United States to act in its interests and in the interests of the West by putting pressure on Israel and persuading it of the need to compromise as well.

Western Europe must also indicate its willingness to share in the responsibility for any peace talks and its preparedness to participate in guarantees and, if necessary, in the policing of demilitarised zones which might be established as part of a peace settlement.

The situation is not static and time most definitely is not on the side of Europe or on the side of peace.

6.12 p.m.

Mr. Colin Jackson
(Brighouse and Spenborough)