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Orders Of The Day

Volume 972: debated on Tuesday 30 October 1979

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European Communities (Greek Accession) Bill

Order for Second Reading read.

4.11 p.m.

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

I must first apologise to the House for two errors that crept into the original text of the Bill. The Greek Treaty of Accession was of course signed in Athens on 28 May and not in Brussels on 24 May as the text originally stated. Those errors have now been rectified and I regret the confusion.

The Bill gives legal force as far as this country is concerned to a most important, welcome, and historic development—important for Greece, important for the Community, and important for the United Kingdom.

The strict purpose of the Bill is clear enough. It is to ensure that, once Greece enters the Community on 1 January 1981, the United Kingdom, for its part, honours in full the obligations undertaken in the treaties of accession between Greece and the Community. The Bill will achieve that by amending the European Communities Act 1972 to provide that Greece's treaties of accession to the EEC, Euratom and the Coal and Steel Community are included among the basic Community treaties referred to in section 1 of the European Communities Act 1972.

This is a dry legal summary of what the Bill is about and such a summary fails to do justice to its political and international significance. In fact, the Bill is about welcoming Greece, which has not long emerged from the grip of a military dictatorship, into the mainstream of Western European democracy.

Since 1962, when Greece became the first associate of the Community, the Community and Greece have looked forward to the day when Greece would be able to take up its European birthright and join the European Economic Community as a full member, as provided for in the Treaty of Athens. That objective suffered a temporary setback during the years when the colonels held sway, but when the colonels had been toppled the new Greek Government, led with vision and statesmanship by their Prime Minister, Mr. Karamanlis, whom we welcomed to London last week, was quick to identify Greece's re-emergent democracy with her long-established European vocation and applied to join the Community.

Greece without hesitation espoused the ideals of the founders of the Community, enshrined in the preamble to the Treaty of Rome, notably the aspirations:
"to preserve and strengthen peace and liberty … to ensure … economic and social progress … to lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe."
Greece's accession is a potent reminder of those post-war ideals upon which the Community is founded. Her accession perhaps also can be seen as a fitting repayment by the Europe of today of the cultural and political debt that we all owe to a Greek heritage almost 3,000 years old.

Greek accession has, as I have said, triple significance—for Greece, for the Community and for the United Kingdom. As far as Greece is concerned, I have already touched on the political significance of accession, the endorsement which it represents of Greece's democratic progress and of her decisive orientation towards Western Europe. But economically, too, accession will be of great importance to Greece. It will be a challenge and an opportunity.

The Community has shown understanding of the problems involved for Greece in agreeing to a number of transitional arrangements to ease adaptation, but Greece's readiness to shoulder the full range of Community obligations reflects her confidence in her ability successfully to do so, a confidence which I fully share.

The absorption of a tenth member is, of course, a significant event for the Community's institutions and mechanisms. Also of significance is the fact that Greek accession is the first stage of the Community's second enlargement. Portugal and Spain are waiting in the wings, both seeking membership of the Community for the same basically political reasons as Greece, and both having recently emerged, like Greece, from a period of repression.

Does the Lord Privy Seal intend to spell out some of the problems that could emerge as a result of Greece joining the Community? For example, will he explain some of the points made by Commissioner Giolitti in the document issued by the Commission last year? That made clear that there would be problems. I am not opposed to Greece joining the Community, but we ought to hear from the Government about their attitude in relation to some of the problems that are bound to arise.

I agree with the hon. Gentleman, but I am only at the beginning of my speech. I shall deal later with the point that he has raised.

Absorption of three relatively less prosperous economies, each with a large agricultural sector, will aggravate a number of the problems which are already facing the Community. New strains will be put on the CAP, the regional and social funds and Community policies and institutions generally. It is important to recognise that, but in the Government's view the economic and financial costs of enlargement are outweighed by the political gains for Western democracy of a larger, stronger Europe. Our predecessors in office took the same view. We are fully committed to support for enlargement, and hope that both Portugal and Spain will be able to join within a reasonably short interval after Greece joins in January 1981.

That brings me to the significance of Greek accession for the United Kingdom. In the first place, accession will put our bilateral relations on a new footing, and will create between us even closer links. We have traditionally enjoyed excellent relations with Greece, politically, economically and culturally. Those relations will now take on new strength and permanency as a result of our working together inside the Community.

Secondly, Greece's accession will bring us certain economic benefits. Our exporters will be afforded new opportunities in one of the fastest growing markets in Europe as Greece dismantles its tariffs and other restrictions. At the same time, we shall enjoy improved access to the Mediterranean agricultural produce which Greece exports. Those are worthwhile gains.

Thirdly, there will, of course, be budgetary and economic costs. Our efforts to reduce our contribution to the budget as a whole will, if successful—and they must be successful—reduce correspondingly the budgetary cost of Greek accession.

Is it not likely that we shall import cotton and tobacco from Greece? What estimates have the Government made of the effect on traditional markets in the Third world from which we have obtained cotton and tobacco?

I shall shortly be dealing with that problem.

So far as economic costs are concerned, we must open our markets to Greece just as Greece is opening her market to us. To a large extent, our market is already open to Greece. For some years, tariffs against Greek-manufactured products have been zero. But, in a few sectors, especially textiles and clothing, where certain import restrictions have remained, we must expect to see increased imports from Greece. There is a safeguard clause in Greece's Treaty of Accession, which is designed to ensure that sensitive sectors in the economies of member States and Greece are protected against disruptive upsurges of imports. We hope that we shall never be put in the position of having to invoke the safeguard clause, but it is there if needed.

Any discussion of the significance of Greek accession would be incomplete without reference to Turkey and the problems of the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkey is understandably anxious that Greece's acession should not tilt the EEC against Turkey. We and our partners in the Nine are determined that this should not happen and have tried to reassure Turkey on this score. At the same time, efforts are being made to put the present economic relations between the Community and Turkey on to a sounder footing. Inevitably these efforts are now complicated by current political uncertainty in Turkey. But we shall persevere.

If Mr. Demirel should decide, after consideration, that Turkey wishes to exercise her right to apply for full membership of the EEC, what would be the Government's attitude? What advice would the Government give to their EEC partners on such an application?

As the hon. Gentleman correctly implies, Turkey has that right under the present agreement. But the question of timing is of deep importance to both Turkey and the EEC. I do not think that it is for me to offer Turkey public advice on that matter at this point.

I should like to single out the part played by Mr. Karamanlis himself. He set Greece on its European course 18 years ago, and he has been associated with this historic enterprise from start to finish. I invite the House to set its seal on what is, in large measure, Mr. Karamanlis's personal achievement.

4.22 p.m.

This is a small Bill, but, as the Lord Privy Seal has said, it is of major importance to Greece, to the European Community and to Britain. It is also a constitutional Bill apart from having much economic content. I hope and assume that its remaining stages will be taken on the Floor of the House.

The reason that the Bill is small is that the practice with Community subjects is that all matters of substance are excluded from the face of the Bill and thus from the direct scrutiny of the House. But behind the single clause that amends section 1(2) of the European Communities Act 1972 a clause in which, almost incredibly, two mistakes have so far been detected, there lies the whole content of the Treaty of Accession between Greece and the Community, all 250 pages of clauses, annexes, protocols, joint declarations and the like. I have no doubt that a number of matters contained in those pages will engage the attention of hon. Members on both sides of the House.

It is fair to say, however, that both the particular question of Greek membership and the wider question of enlargement from a Community of nine to a Community of 12 have been debated in this House on a number of occasions. In the debates on 17 June 1976, on 12 December 1977, when hon. Members discussed a Definition of Treaties Order, which included two protocols relating to Greece and Turkey, on 2 May 1978 and, most recently, on 14 November 1978 I do not recall a single vote against the principle of Greek membership, or enlargement generally; I recall, rather, a welcome from both sides of the House, although for very different reasons. Although the treaty itself was signed only on 28 May 1979, and although I am aware that there can be a great difference between the approval of a general proposition and the approval of a whole package of detailed arrangements, I find no reason to do other than reaffirm from the Opposition Front Bench the general welcome to Greek membership which Labour spokesmen have strongly expressed in previous debates.

My right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal, with his customary candour and detachment, said that the accession of a backward agricultural country to the Community would bring problems but that these would be offset by political advantages. Doubtless, in the interests of brevity, he did not identify these political advantages. As the right hon. Member for Stepney and Poplar (Mr. Shore) has also said that he welcomes the political advantages, may we expect to hear from him a brief outline of these alleged advantages?

I do not believe that I need spend a great deal of time discussing the political advantages. I will have a lot to say, however, about the problems that I foresee will flow from Greek membership and enlargement generally. I wish to make some general observations about how those matters can be dealt with.

We are mindful of the fact that the Greek connection with the EEC long antedated our own. Greece's treaty of association goes back to 1961 and came into effect in 1962. That treaty was frozen during the interregnum of tyranny that Greece endured under its colonels from 1967 to 1974. But, with democracy restored, Greece applied for full membership in 1975. The treaty has been negotiated and completed in the intervening years. It will come into effect on 1 January 1981.

I reaffirm that we welcome Greece to the EEC, which we see, in spite of other major defects, as a league of democratic nations. We believe that democracy in Greece will be helped and strengthened by partnership with other European democratic nations. It would be a rebuff of the most appalling kind if the application of democratic Greece were to be turned down and its treaty rejected.

We also welcome the fact, in spite of the difficulties that it will present, that the relative poverty of Greece has not been made an obstacle to membership. If the EEC is genuinely open to all European countries, it cannot be an exclusive club for the richer and more prosperous nations of Western and central Europe. It has to take in the poorer countries in the South.

I now wish to turn, following the pattern of the Lord Privy Seal, to some serious questions that inevitably arise from Greek membership and the wider questions posed by a Europe of 12. I shall speak first of the impact of membership on Greece; next of the impact on the Community; and finally, about the impact on our own country. I intend to speak frankly.

No one should have any illusions that membership will pose serious difficulties for the Greek economy. When Greece applied in 1975, the immediate procedural response was for the Commission to publish an opinion on the many questions that Greek membership involved. No one who has read that opinion, published in 1976, would dispute that it was a cautious opinion. Major difficulties were envisaged. Our own Foreign Office published in March 1978 a substantial memorandum on the impact of enlargement. This included the applications of Spain and Portugal as well as Greece. It threw considerable light on what was involved for all three countries and for the Community.

Most recently, Agra Europe published on 1 June 1979 a special report on Greek accession which included chapters on the other applicant States as well. I would like to deal with the points made in all three reports. First, and properly, there is the identification of the effects of membership on Greek industry, much of it fledgling and small in scale. This is now to be exposed, over the five years' transitional period, to full competition from the advanced industries of the Nine. At the same time, under the Treaty of Accession, the State aids that the Greek Government give to their own industries are to be phased out in five years.

I foresee considerable difficulties flowing from this timetable. Greece is to comply with the directives on capital movements—substantially on entry—and will complete her harmonisation with the EEC directives by the end of the transitional period. That will not be easy. Greece is to introduce the Community's own resource system of external taxation and with it the introduction—it has not yet got it—of value added tax. The effect of that can, as we well know, be somewhat unpredictable, but seldom, in the experience of any country, is it a very happy one.

There seems little doubt that certain sectors of agriculture in Greece will receive strong Community aid. The effect of this could be very inflationary as well as being a stimulus to agricultural production. That stimulus will not always be in products where extra production is needed. In the last three years the Greek economy—

Before my right hon. Friend leaves the subject of agriculture, may I ask him whether he is aware that the Greek Government run an intervention scheme for the cost of wheat and, therefore, support very substantially the cost of bread to the ordinary people of Greece? As this system will be phased out over the transitional period, does not my right hon. Friend think that the difficulties arising from this would heavily increase the price of basic foodstuffs in Greece for people who have, I understand, not given assent to adherence to the EEC, just as this country was not asked to give, and did not give, its assent?

My hon. Friend says that this will be an additional problem. I have not studied the particular arrangement in Greece, but it may be that some internal arrangement will be possible to ease the burden by way of a direct subsidy to consumers of the kind that some countries have enjoyed. However, I do not wish to minimise the problems.

Community aid will be given to assist Greece during the transitional period, particularly for wheat, olive oil and processed fruits and vegetables, all of which are essential to the Greek economy.

I am sure that the House will take note of that.

In the past three years the Greek economy has shown considerable capacity for development and that development has been quite fast. It would, therefore, be wrong to assume that the impact of these changes will prove too much for the Greek ability to adjust. But it is right and proper to warn that major risks are involved and that the Community arrangements make little or no concessions to the particular structures and needs of the Greek economy outside the transitional period.

I turn to the impact on the Community itself. First, there is no doubt that the common agricultural policy is likely to recruit still more support in an enlarged European Community. Greece is a predominantly agricultural country, with 35 per cent, of its population employed on the land. In Portugal the figure is 28 per cent.; in Spain it is 22 per cent. The average for the Community—though the range is wide—is 9 per cent. There is no doubt therefore that we can expect support for the extension of the mechanisms of the CAP, particularly for such agricultural products as wine, tobacco, fruit and vegetables, citrus fruits and olive oil, which are the main agricultural products of these Mediterranean countries.

I am aware of existing arrangements, but the pressure for their strengthening, and indeed their additional cost, would be bound to involve a growth in CAP expenditure. Furthermore, Greece and the other applicant countries are more or less self-sufficient in those other agricultural commodities. I think particularly of grains but also of milk products, where the Community of nine is in gross surplus. So there will not be much relief there. It is not like Britain joining the EEC and becoming a second stomach for the Six. The problem of surplus in the CAP will not be relieved by the enlargement of the Community with the accession of Greece or of the other two nations.

There is no doubt that Greece—and Spain and Portugal when their turn comes—will be major claimants on the regional and social funds of the EEC. Since their GDP per head is so much lower than ours, this may be considered just. I can, however, see no matching growth of those funds to enable their needs to be met as well as our own at the same time. Anyone who wishes to be reminded of the discrepancy in GDP per head between the new applicant States and the original member States should look again at the Foreign Office document, signed by the then Minister of State, Mr. Judd, on 7 March 1978. The table on income distribution, that is GDP per capita as a percentage of the EEC of 12 members, shows that Portugal is 34 as against an average of 100, Greece is 50, Ireland is 53 and Spain is 60. The size of the problem, therefore, ought not in any way to be minimised.

The energy problems of the EEC will be increased rather than decreased by enlargement. As it happens, all three applicant countries are less self-sufficient in energy supply than the original nine members. There is no doubt that membership will bring about an increase in Community expenditure and a further increase in the already swollen EEC budget.

My final point relates to the institutions of the EEC. Institutional change is bound to take place, and that is shown quite clearly in the text of the Treaty of Accession. There will be an increase in numbers in the European Assembly. There will be an increase in membership of the Commission and of the Council of Ministers.

There is a school of thought that takes the view that, as the Community gets larger, the problem of orderly policy making becomes more difficult. Therefore, the argument grows that the Council of Ministers, in particular, should revert to the original purpose of the Treaty of Rome of taking more and more decisions by majority vote. I make it absolutely plain that we set our face firmly against any such development. The one thing we cling to more than any other as an institutional arrangement is the right of veto on the Council of Ministers. Where a national interest is involved, nothing must be allowed to detract from that.

What will be the impact of new membership on Britain? It will not, in my view, be significant for industry and trade, largely for the reasons I have mentioned. Our tariffs are already down in relation to Greece. Greek tariffs are still substantially up in relation to our goods. But Greek accession—and the subsequent accession of Spain and Portugal—will finally block any possibility of correcting the major imbalance in Britain's own contribution to the Community funds through enlargement of regional and social funds.

Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland are bound to be the major beneficiaries of these funds.

That leaves us with two major problems, not merely unsolved but made increasingly serious. First, the heavy cost of the CAP is now likely to increase, and support for the CAP is likely to be strengthened inside the Community by its new members. That is not good news for Britain. It is bad news. Further, the growth of the net contribution that Britain makes to the EEC budget—£1,000 million net this year and, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer is correct, £1,500 million per annum in 1983—is likely to grow with the accession of the new member States.

The new and poorer members of the Community are bound to be recipients of Community funds. That makes it all the more essential to secure an early and massive change in Britain's contribution to the EEC and in the method of financing it. The type of changes that we want and meeting the needs of different countries cannot be attained until we abandon the nonsensical mix of taxes which are known as "own resources".

I hope that I have not been timid in describing the difficulties. None of the difficulties disposes me to alter my welcome to Greek membership nor, indeed, to the enlargement of the Community generally. However, we are entitled to draw a number of conclusions. First, the Community of 10—and soon of 12—will be significantly different from the Community of nine, just as the Community of nine was markedly different from the original Community of six. It will be different not only in composition and numbers but in the nature of the problems which the Community must face and in the great divergence of the economies and standards of living throughout the enlarged Community.

Secondly, the Greek accession treaty, like the accession treaties of Britain, Ireland and Denmark, is a rigid and Procrustean document. Once again the applicant member is forced to swallow the doctrines, the entire legislation and the parcel of commitments which have been built up in the EEC since 1957—what is called the acquis communautaire. It is being asked to swallow all the medicine in the accession treaty. Not a single change to the Treaties of Rome and Paris is contemplated. The changes must be made entirely by the applicant country in a short transitional period of five years.

Thirdly, the adjustments that must be made by the new member will become more difficult according to the extent to which the applicant country lags behind the development of the original Six. It will have to make those adjustments, not in the context of sustained economic growth in Western Europe, but against a sombre background of lagging production and high unemployment both in the EEC and in the world economy.

If we are serious in our wish to help and sustain the new democracies in the African countries, it is time to turn our minds to the long-overdue reform of the basic European treaties and their adaptation to the needs, not of the 1950s and 1960s, but of the new and more difficult world of the 1970s and 1980s.

The membership of Greece and the other applicant countries will strengthen the case for change in the EEC. I welcome that. The strains on the CAP, on its competition, regional and industrial policies, on the coherence of the Community's institutions and, above all, on the financing of the Community budget will prove to be increasingly insupportable. We must move from the argument for enlargement to the argument for major change.

I remind the House that Private Business begins at 7 o'clock. I understand that it is for the general convenience of the House that this debate should conclude at 7 o'clock. I therefore appeal for brief contributions.

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Although it is convenient for this debate to end at 7 o'clock, will you confirm that the debate could continue after 10 o'clock should Members so desire?

I confirm that the debate could continue after the conclusion of Private Business, although there is further business after that. The hon. Gentleman is right, but I understand that it is convenient to end this debate at 7 o'clock.

4.45 p.m.

I wish to correct gently the right hon. Member for Stepney and Poplar (Mr. Shore). This is not a small but an admirably short Bill. What is more, it symbolises a great idea—that of the European family coming together. The Bill is an important step in that process, for a Europe without Greece is unthinkable.

Of course, enlargement will bring problems. We do not need to be reminded of that. The problems that will ensue when Spain and Portugal become members loom even larger. However, in the long perspective of history, the opportunities which enlargement brings for us all, including Britain, are much greater.

I do not intend any disrespect to the right hon. Member for Stepney and Poplar, because many of his arguments should weigh heavily with us in the great debate about what is to become of the Community and how we are to resolve its budgetary and other problems, but this debate does not call for the making of small points.

For my sins, I am the chairman of the all-party British-Greek group in the House. That group commands the support and affection of many hon. Members in all parties and in the other place, too. I am sure that its members, and many more of my colleagues, believe that this short but admirable Bill marks no ordinary event. I recall the early-day motion tabled just after the Greek Parliament voted by a substantial majority in favour of Greece joining the Community. We said that, being mindful of the cultural debt that all Europe owed to Greece and the many ties of common sacrifice and deep friendship which had bound our two peoples together in more recent times, we warmly welcomed its decision.

Indeed, many of us who vaue the friendship of our two countries look to our common membership of the Community as an opportunity for deepening that friendship and increasing our collaboration in the future. This is a great day for the friends of Greece in Britain—and there are many of them. Long may that be so.

I wish to ask a short and practical question. Greece has been waiting anxiously for the ratification procedures in this Parliament and in the Parliaments of the other Community members to be completed. Will my right hon. Friend ensure that every endeavour is made to ensure that the Bill passes through all its stages and gains Royal Assent as speedily as possible?

4.50 p.m.

There are those who ask, if Greece wishes to join the EEC, who are we to question that? I do not. This House has not only a right but a duty to consider the implications of membership for the United Kingdom's national interest, Greece, and the political and economic future of Europe.

In my judgment, the best that can be said about the effect of Greece's accession to the EEC on the United Kingdom's national interest is that it is likely to be neutral. That best may well not be achieved. Greece's membership may add a small but significant burden on the EEC budget and, through that, on the already outrageously high contribution made by the United Kingdom to the EEC.

The transitional arrangements provide that Greece will not become a net contributor to the EEC budget during the transitional period. On the basis of this year's budget and the estimates made by the Commission, Greece would have benefited by about 80 million units of account, or £55 million, from the budget. That is not something that I begrudge Greece. It is a more justified use of the money from British and other European taxpayers than many of the purposes to which the EEC budget is put.

It is, however, essential to make the point that in direct terms there will be burdens on the EEC budget. Those burdens are likely to be increased rather than decreased as a result of Greece's accession. There are two related reasons for this. First, Greece's economy is highly dependent on agriculture. It has a higher proportion of its population working in the farming industry than any other member State. It will seek to make substantial demands on the common agricultural fund.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Stepney and Poplar (Mr. Shore) mentioned olive oil. Within the Community last year olive oil was in surplus by more than 10 per cent, of the total production. Eighty-six thousand tonnes of olive oil were stored in intervention, having been bought up. Greek farmers will seek to benefit, as other farmers within the EEC have done, from the present regime on olive oil and from the production aid of £350 per tonne. That will add burdens to the EEC budget.

Secondly, the agricultural system in Greece is relatively underdeveloped, as is much of its industry. Geographically speaking, it is at the periphery of Europe. The consequences of those factors are that Greece will understandably seek substantial benefit from the EEC regional fund and social fund. They are the only funds from which the United Kingdom has gained any serious benefit since we became members. The House of Lords pointed out, in its Select Committee report last year on the EEC budget, that once Greece, Spain and Portugal came into membership
"it is likely that the net benefit to the United Kingdom from the Fund will be substantially reduced, and possibly eliminated".
There are, then, wider implications of Greece's membership. I accept that it is not for us to question the decision of the Greek Parliament. It is not a decision of the Greek people as a whole in a referendum but a decision of the Greek Parliament to make application for membership of the EEC, but we must seek to establish the effects of membership on Greece and on the EEC. Evidently the Greek Government and their Prime Minister, Mr. Karamanlis, believe that Greece's membership will have a beneficial impact on the Greek economy as well as upon its wider political role in Europe in ending what they say is 2,000 years of Greek isolation from the rest of Europe.

We may understand that desire and may share their hope that it will lead to a strengthening of Greece's economy and an ending of its isolation, but is that hope justified? It is difficult to predict the future. Although the Community has produced some weighty documents on the efforts of membership, there has been no detailed statement this afternoon from the Lord Privy Seal as to the real and detailed effects of membership.

The Greek Government have come under criticism internally for what the leader of the United Democratic Left, Mr. Elias Eliou, said in June was a failure of the Greek Government to inform the Greek people in depth as to the consequences of accession.

One group which has made a recent study of the potential effects of Greece's membership on the EEC and on Greece is the respected research group Agra Europe, to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Stepney and Poplar referred. Its report makes interesting but gloomy reading. It says that
"enlargement could impose severe strains on the economies of Greece, Spain and Portugal after accession. … Enlargement could aggravate these countries' already grave balance of payments position, as well as their rates of unemployment and inflation."
The Greek balance of payments position is already serious. In 1977 its exports were 100 million drachma, but its imports in terms of trade were 250 million drachma. Greece is in serious and chronic deficit. Agra Europe says that its accession to the EEC will make that position worse rather than better and that the
"economic burdens of enlargement could bring in their wake political tensions between the regions of an enlarged Community."
That is the most serious and worrying aspect of Greece's accession.

In my judgment, these tensions could be made worse, because the Greek people are in no sense united on the question of their desire to join the EEC. It is one of the most significant and controversial domestic political issues within Greece over very many years. Opposition to the Common Market has united almost the whole of the Greek Left, including Mr. Andrea Papandreou's Panhellenic Socialist Movement, which is opposed root and branch to Greece's membership. Among other things, it believes that membership will damage the Greek economy and Greece's prospects within the world.

If the pessimistic predictions of Agra Europe are correct and the economy of Greece is damaged and not in any way strengthened by Greece's accession to the EEC, then, far from Greece's accession encouraging stability in Southern Europe, the fat could well be in the fire. Instability could be the result. We must be aware that Greece's membership will not necessarily lead to a wider European stability but could achieve exactly the reverse.

There are those who believe that the membership of Greece, Spain and Portugal will create such tensions within the EEC as to hasten the day of reform. Many EEC institutions, especially the common agricultural policy, will become increasingly unworkable in the light of the burden that those countries pose on them.

The Agra Europe report concludes
"that enlargement will introduce new problems for the CAP without in itself solving any of the old ones. Among the difficulties that will arise … are the aggravation of the Community's agri-monetary (Green currency) tangle, the weakening of the Community's institutions controlling the CAP, and the threat to the Community's important 'special relationships' with its 'preferential' Mediterranean suppliers."
This point is underlined by the comment of the European Commission in its consultative document last year, when it said:
"The solutions to these problems must first of all be concerned with maintaining what the Community has achieved … in the agricultural sphere …"
We all know what the Community has achieved. It has achieved the outrageous and disgusting spectacle of the common agricultural policy. Yet the first priority of the Commission, when it discussed enlargement of the Community, was that the problem of Greece's accession had to be taken into account within what described as what the EEC had achieved. I remain extremely pessimistic about the possible beneficial effects of Greece's membership on loosening up the institutions of the EEC.

Given the fact that the Bill is likely to go through and that Greece will join the EEC, we all hope that there will be a new tomorrow, a new dawn, and that Greece will benefit from the EEC. But I suspect that Greece's experience of the EEC will be no better than that of the United Kingdom and that it is likely to be a good deal worse. If so, membership will be bad for us, bad for Greece and, above all, bad ironically for the idea of wider European co-operation which some of us seek as an alternative to membership of the EEC. The likely adverse experience of Greece within the Common Market, as of the United Kingdom, will be to discredit, not to enhance, the idea of wider European co-operation.

5 p.m.

As my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal reminded the House, the United Kingdom Government have subscribed to the Treaty of Accession whereby Greece became entitled to full membership of the EEC. That being so, it is clearly right and proper that the House should pass the Bill, and I would not urge any contrary course on hon. Members.

I should like to take advantage of this debate to voice some disquiet that I feel about the policy of enlargement. Despite what has been said by my right hon. Friend, I doubt whether Greece's accession at this time is likely to be in the interests of the Community as a whole. I feel these reservations even more strongly when I come to consider the proposal that in due course Spain and Portugal should also become full members of the Community.

In voicing these concerns I should like to touch on three areas, all of which have been mentioned by the right hon. Member for Stepney and Poplar (Mr. Shore). The first of these disadvantages associated with the accession of Greece is its effect on the common agricultural policy. As has been stated, a substantial proportion of the Greek population derives its livelihood from agriculture. The figure is about 30 per cent., which is much larger than in any other European country. Moreover, farms in Greece tend to be smaller, more fragmented and less sophisticated in their operating practices. As many hon. Members may know, local prices for important products tend to be lower than the Community's support prices.

The cumulative effect of these facts will lead to certain results. First, there will be a further increase in surpluses. Secondly, as the right hon. Member for Stepney and Poplar said, there will be no alleviation of surpluses in northern foodstuffs. It is absolutely certain that there will be a substantial increase in the cost of intervention buying, and in the long term there is bound to be a substantial increase in the cost to the regional fund.

All these real problems will be compounded if in the fullness of time Spain and Portugal join the EEC. The transition from a Community of nine to a Community of 12 will bring about an increase of 55 per cent. in the Community's agricultural work force, an increase of 49 per cent. in the agricultural area and an increase of 57 per cent. in the number of agricultural holdings. Despite these substantial increases in both acreage and labour, because of the low productivity which is a characteristic of the agriculture industry in Greece, Spain and Portugal, it is calculated that agricultural output will increase by only about 24 per cent.

I have been concentrating on the direct consequences that Greece's accession will have for the common agricultural policy, but there is another real disadvantage that the House would do well to consider. We are all agreed that the CAP is in need of urgent reform. We think that the surpluses are excessive and must be substantially reduced. We also believe that the system of intervention buying as a means of supporting agricultural prices is in need of thorough reform. I greatly fear that Greece's accession, especially if it is followed by the accession of Spain and Portugal, will make the task of reform much more difficult to achieve.

I turn now to a second but related disadvantage, and I shall put it briefly.

Before my hon. Friend does that, I should point out that these are matters of pros and cons. My hon. Friend and Opposition Members have been developing the disadvantages not only to this country but to the EEC from the purely agricultural standpoint. Does he not recognise that not one word has so far been mentioned of the fact that Greece is by far the biggest growth area for tourism in the world, as are Spain and Portugal? Therefore, the substantial bonuses of immense industrial advantage that they will get, plus the correlated industries which go with leisure today, will more than offset the problems that he has indicated in agriculture.

I have considered the points made by my hon. and learned Friend, but I do not agree with his general conclusion. It is a matter of judgment. Notwithstanding the points made by my hon. and learned Friend, I think that the balance of advantage lies against the accession of Greece to the EEC.

I was coming to the second of the disadvantages which I associate with the accession of Greece to the EEC, and it relates to the burden on the Community budget. By the end of the transition period, which will be in 1986, Greece will be a net beneficiary to the tune of about £324 million per annum. That is the present estimate, but I should not be surprised if the direct cost were substantially higher. Furthermore, I suspect that both Spain and Portugal, if they join the Community, will be substantial net beneficiaries in their turn.

We all agree that the United Kingdom Government's contribution to the European budget is too high. I cannot resist the conclusion that the prospective drain upon the European budget posed by the accession of Greece, especially if that is followed by the accession of Spain and Portugal, will make it more difficult for us to persuade the member States to agree to a substantial reduction in our contribution. Therefore, I doubt whether Greece's accession to the EEC is in our interests.

There is a third point which I feel the House would wish to bear in mind. If Greece is to join the Community and if in turn she is to be followed by Spain and Portugal, there will be a shift in emphasis and, I suspect, a shift in influence to the southern areas of the Community. That would not be in the interests of the United Kingdom.

I am conscious that the disadvantages I have been describing are of a somewhat narrow kind. No doubt the criticism will be made that my comments have been motivated by a somewhat narrow concept of national self-interest. If these disadvantages could be balanced by some other positive advantage, the House would not be concerned with them. But I have heard no argument in this debate so far to suggest that it is in the economic interests of the United Kingdom or the EEC that we should agree to the accession of Greece at this time.

I am glad to hear it.

There is then the political argument, to which I give some weight. I am sympathetic to those who believe that we need to have an enlarged Community if it is to have the kind of political status that I wish for it. I do not believe, however, that the time is now ripe for enlargement. The existing institutions of the Community are not working in the way that we would wish. The existing members are not co-operating as they should. France defies not merely the spirit but the letter of its treaty obligations. I believe that the accession of another member State, far from resolving these problems, is likely to add future confusion to existing disorder.

I am not seeking to urge the House to oppose the Bill. That would be wholly incompatible with our treaty obligations. However, I wish to sound a note of concern. I do not believe that the time is now right to enlarge the Community. We should be well advised to ensure that the existing structure is wind- and watertight before we add new wings or construct follies in the garden.

5.12 p.m.

Since the overthrow of the military regime and the restoration of democratic institutions in Greece, I have been the secretary of the British-Greek parliamentary group in this House. But it is in no formal sense that I express my support today for the Bill. At a time when narrow chauvinism and blinkered self-interest within the European Community are causing intense anxiety to many in Britain who, like myself, having fought hard for Britain's membership, still retain as firmly as ever our devotion to the Community's aims and aspirations, the Bill gives immense relief and satisfaction.

Greek accession has taken a very long time to negotiate. Although it obviously presented problems which were real and difficult and which merited the deepest consideration by all the parties involved, I believe that the negotiations on the Greek application were unduly protracted and that there was a good deal of unnecessary foot dragging. However, I am happy to say that Britain has not been guilty in that respect, and I feel sure that our Greek friends are aware of the spontaneous desire of the people of this country from the outset of the application to bring Greece into the Community with the least possible delay.

It is right to acknowledge the role played by Chancellor Schmidt at a crucial stage in the negotiations, but, above all, to pay tribute—and tribute has rightly been paid this afternoon—to Mr. Karamanlis, who has given a truly noble lead to his people in this historic advance into partnership with other nations which owe so much to the Greek heritage.

Membership of the Community will give the new Greece of today a sense of belonging and the inspiration that will flow from it that has been lacking perhaps for far too long.

Hon. Members on both sides have spoken with authority about problems for the Community that inevitably arise from enlargement. These include the dilution of resources at a time of growing economic strains within the Community, the institutional problems, the question of cohesion within a structure which now expands into new territories, and so on. It is right and proper and in the very nature of the Common Market that each of its members should seek to protect and advance its own interest. Enlightened self-interest, and thereby the promotion of collective advantage for all its members, is at the very foundation of the Community.

At this moment Britain is engaged in a profoundly important conflict with some of its European partners. If it should fail in the essentials of this argument, the consequences for the Community will be extremely grave. I hope that these words, coming even from a Back-Bench Member like myself, who is known in this Chamber to be a friend of Europe and to have fought hard for British membership, will be noted outside the Chamber.

It is necessary for our European partners to show a more honest realism about the workings of the Community and to face up to its defects, not least the patent absurdities and inequity of the common agricultural policy, and the unfairness of its system of budgetary contributions. Most of my right hon. and hon. Friends who supported our leader in his powerful representations on these matters will wish the Prime Minister all the muscle power she can command at the Dublin summit meeting.

Greek entry is an assertion of the true Community principles and spirit overriding those narrower material considerations. This Bill is a whole-hearted recognition of the democracy that has emerged in that land after a dark period. I doubt very much whether these new democratic institutions in Greece could have survived the humiliation and rebuff of a rejected application. If there had been a rejection it would have been a triumph for those political forces that are hostile not merely to the Community but to NATO and Western defence.

In January 1977 the then Foreign Secretary, Mr. Anthony Crosland, in a speech analysing the problems of enlargement—and clearly with Greece in mind—described it as an investment in the democratic future of Europe. It is in that spirit rather than with balance sheet pedantry that the House will view Greek entry into the Community.

The concept of a further enlargement is bound up with the restoration of democratic systems in the countries of Southern Europe. Social democrats will feel a great deal of justification for the Community for that reason alone. I go further. At a time when the West is under immense totalitarian menace from the evil regimes in Eastern Europe it is essential that we strengthen our Western defensive bonds in every direction. As her history shows, Greece has never failed to play her part in defence against totalitarian aggression. I have no doubt that Greece, together with her Western friends, will play an important role in defending world peace.

I believe that enlarging the Community now to include Greece, and in due course Portugal and Spain, offers a rare opportunity for a radical restructuring of the Common Market. Undoubtedly the potential accession of these countries, as well as the extension of EEC arrangements with other associated member States, and arrangements between themselves, will increasingly pose specific social and economic problems which will compel the existing nine member States to re-examine and re-think the present structure of the Community. There will inevitably be a strain upon the present political balances among the existing nine members. Enlargement is likely to make them more aware of the need for a fundamental restructuring. That process could take place partly in the context of the accession treaties themselves, partly in subsequent legislation and even in a later revision of the Treaty of Rome itself. As a social democrat, I look forward to changes of that kind coming about.

In the short term I look forward to an accelerating growth in our relationship with Greece in every area. There are great advantages—not least economic—to be derived by both our countries from the fullest association. As an internationalist, and one who thinks warmly of Greece as an ally in war and peace, I profoundly welcome her accession to our Western European Community.

5.22 p.m.

The Greek nation has made a distinguished contribution to the development of European civilisation. The hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Sandelson) cogently made the case for a welcome for Greek accession to the Community. I join him in that welcome, although I regret that, for a reason to which I shall come, my welcome cannot be quite as wholehearted as I should otherwise have wished.

We all recognise that Europe is about more than economics. We did not enter the Community merely to join a free trade area. The Community involves something more fundamental, so we have seen the development of parliamentary and judicial, as well as governmental, institutions. Those institutions are based on common principles of government, justice and individual rights, which are fundamental to, and shared by, all member States as part of our common Western European democratic heritage. It is not simply a matter of common economic interest; there is a shared tradition of democracy and freedom upon which the institutions of the Community have been built.

These common standards are vital to the Community in a number of respects. One that bears especially on the point that I wish to raise is that the Community encourages the free passage of workers from one country to another to live and work within the Community. Therefore, it is essential for the security of those who do so that they must know that their rights are being protected within the country of the Community in which they are working as much as they would be were they living at home.

It is essential that any member of the European Community should not merely possess the economic wherewithal for membership but should also adhere totally to those common standards, so that the shared principles that underlie the Community and the security of all of us who live within it can be maintained.

I do not want to be thought to be underestimating the enormous strides forward that have been made by the Government of Mr. Karamanlis since the days of the junta. However, I wonder whether, in some respects, the standards of openness and justice prevailing in the Greek Government still do not leave something to be desired. I say that especially in the light of the circumstances that I wish to detain the House for a few minutes to develop.

Ann Chapman lived in my constituency. She went to Greece in October 1971, where she was murdered. She was a radio journalist. At that time, she was believed to be working on a story about the then Greek regime that involved visiting at least one prominent dissident, Lady Fleming, who was then in detention. A Greek citizen, a man named Moundis, was convicted of her murder, the basis for the prosecution case being that this was a sexual crime—an attempted rape that led ultimately to murder. That was not an acceptable theory to her parents, who are my constituents. It was apparent that her journalistic activities were known to the Greek security forces. It was probable, on the evidence as we have it, that she was being followed by the police throughout her five days in Greece prior to her murder. In 1976, owing to the persistence of my constituent, Ann Chapman's father, the case was reopened. Professor David Bowen, one of our leading forensic scientists, looked at all the forensic evidence and came to the settled and firm conclusion that this murder was the work of two people and not one. There was no way in which the case against Moundis could in any way embrace the addition of another participant in the crime. Rumours and mysteries have surrounded the death of Ann Chapman from the day that it happened to this very day. Indeed, a few months ago the matter returned to the headlines, when there were press reports that the Soviet defector, Schevschenko, in his de-briefing to the United States authorities, indicated that more sinister reasons lay behind her death.

Mr. Chapman has worked tirelessly to have this case properly reopened by the Greek Government. Up to a point, it appeared that he had been making progress in that direction. Latterly, as the evidence against the court's initial finding and the conviction of Moundis became apparent, he has come up against a barrier of indifference—indeed, almost hostility—from the Greek Government, from the Ministry of Justice and from the public prosecutor's department.

It is difficult to know why the Greek Government should wish to conceal a scandal that dates back to their predecessors. This matter was tirelessly followed through by my predecessor, Hugh Jenkins, and I took on a file four inches thick representing his endeavours to get to the bottom of this matter.

In the absence of any coherent explanation from the Greek Government, one is driven to consider the evidence of certain other prominent Greeks to whom my constituent has spoken—to the effect that there is a cover-up—because today there remain active in the Greek security and police forces persons who were equally active and equally senior during the previous regime.

The case of Ann Chapman is disturbing, not just for me but for all Members of Parliament. I know of no other country at present in the Community where my constituent, Mr. Chapman, would experience so much difficulty in trying to unravel a matter when it is apparent that there is so much firm evidence on his side.

Let me refer to the European Convention on Human Rights, as these matters are all bound up with the progress towards which those of us who believe in the Community think we are working. Greece ratified the convention, as, indeed, have all the member States of the Community. However, there is a declaration under article 25 that allows individual applications to the Commission. That is an essential safeguard of individual liberty.

Only one member of the Community has not adhered to that; needless to say, it is France. The Greek Government have not done so, and this remains a formidable obstacle not just in the way of those seeking justice on behalf of Ann Chapman, but to anyone else who might find himself, unhappily, in a similar position. The article 25 declaration, and the Greek Government's obstruction of my constituent's efforts, suggest that the Greeks may be out of step on the fundamental and important question of individual liberty that concerns hon. Members. I am grateful to see an indication of that from Opposition Members.

Economically, it is to be hoped that Greece stands to benefit from membership of the Community. It is equally to be hoped that the Community will benefit from Greece's accession. It is essential that a consequence of Greece's becoming a member of the European Community is that, in a case such as that of Ann Chapman, it rectifies its failure to live up to the commonly accepted standards to which the rest of us would wish to adhere. I certainly hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Government Front Bench will play their part in ensuring that the Greek Government do so.

5.30 p.m.

The hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Mellor) very properly used the opportunity that he had in this debate to raise a particular question. It is a good tradition of Parliament that we do that sort of thing. When I was a member of the European Parliament, and consequently a member of the EEC Greece committee, many members of the Socialist group used the opportunity to raise matters of this kind. Some members of the Greek Parliament interpreted that as discourtesy, but we stuck to it and managed to ameliorate some of the problems raised about the treatment of certain religious minorities, and the way the Greek Government used national service as a weapon against them.

Does my hon. Friend agree that it would be a good thing if those who are leaders of public opinion in Greece were to read the kind of speech that we just heard from the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Mellor) and understood that throughout this House there are strong feeling that things should be changed.

My hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) is quite right. I say that as someone who is wholeheartedly behind the Bill. I have supported Greek entry and, indeed, many other things Greek, during my political career. It is absolutely right that the issue raised by the hon. Member for Putney should be aired, and I congratulate him on airing it.

The irony is that most of the debate has been taken up by Members pointing out the severe disadvantages that will accrue to the United Kingdom, the EEC and Greece as a result of the latter's entry, yet it is confidently expected that there will be no vote this evening and that everything will go through smoothly.

Although accepting the very cogent arguments by my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw), and the many problems put forward by other hon. Members, I wish to say why I feel that the Bill should be supported in spite of the fact that it will bring many problems.

It must be emphasised that the debate takes place against a backdrop of very bitter divisions in Greece about the advantages of entry to the Common Market, and the prospect of that country entering by a simple majority vote in its own Parliament.

Indeed, comparisons with the way in which the United Kingdom was taken into the EEC against bitter opposition of the Left-wing party are legion. Anyone who has talked to members of Parliament and officials of the PASOK party, as I did during August, will realise that it should not be written off. That party gains more votes in each general election in Greece, and one must come to terms with the fact that it is an important force, representing a very real political opinion there. The feelings of the PASOK party about being railroaded into Europe in the same way as the British Labour Party was need to be understood.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Sandelson), who has just left the Chamber, mentioned NATO. I am sure that the problem of Greece's virtual non-membership of NATO is relevant to the Bill. The truth is that Greece has been treated appallingly by NATO, as have the compatriots of the Greeks in Cyprus who were shot at and murdered with NATO weapons during the invasion of that island by Turkey. I do not follow my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington in his arguments about strengthening NATO as an argument for bringing Greece into the EEC. NATO needs to be strengthened in other ways.

One must also remember that this debate takes place against a background of increasing chaos in the Europe of the Nine. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe (Mrs. Dunwoody), anyone who served on the European Parliament and who is aware of the sheer mechanical problems that now exist in making the machine operate, knows that the mind boggles at how it will work at all with three further languages. An enormous new army of interpreters will be required. If anyone has any money to invest he had better invest it in Greek typewriters, because the Commission will need to hire several thousand new typewriters with different characters. The list goes on and on.

It is worth remarking that 70 per cent. of the cost of the European Parliament—slightly less than for the other institutions—is attributable to linguistic and geographical movement, the fact that the Parliament keeps shooting all around Europe, and words have to be interpreted and translated into other languages. The entry of Greece, Spain and Portugal will raise the percentage of the cost of the Parliament spent on sheer mechanics. In my view, it will be much higher than the present 70 per cent.

In spite of that, everyone is in favour of the entry of Greece into the EEC. I would like to ask why. I think that there are three reasons. First, we in Britain, particularly, feel that it hardly becomes us to oppose the entry of Greece when we complained so loudly and for so many years about having the door shut in our face. I was not one of those complaining, but as a nation it hardly lies with us to try to prevent Greece from entering the EEC.

Secondly, what everyone calls the political argument, put crudely and brutally, is a piece of blackmail, not only by Greece but by Spain and Portugal. It is a piece of blackmail with which I have great sympathy. What those countries are really saying is that if we do not let them in they will go Fascist again. They are saying "If you do not give us a share in the economic advantages of your rich man's club, which you rather smugly associate with Western democracy, we shall be in danger of reverting to the dictatorial regimes that we have had until quite recently".

When one talks to leading politicians from each country and unwraps the various political arguments that they are using, one finds that they are saying "If we do not come under your umbrella and enter the EEC, where there is a sort of unwritten rule that we are not allowed to have a Fascist dictatorship—we would probably be expelled if we did—there is a danger that we shall revert to one. For us politicians, that is the greatest guarantee to keep democracy going in our countries, where it is a rather fragile plant." Although I have put it very crudely, it is an argument that I accept. Democracy in Europe is something that is worth sustaining. If one way of sustaining it is to use the umbrella of the EEC, one of whose great virtues is that democracy is a membership card, so be it. For that reason alone, it is proper that Greece should come into the EEC.

My final reason for welcoming the Bill warmly is that, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Stepney and Poplar (Mr. Shore) said, although problems will come with enlargement the EEC can never again, with enlargement, be the rich men's club that it started as. I disagree here with my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn. The problems of enlargement will, in the end—it may be a very long time—force the EEC to undergo a fundamental transformation, perhaps very much more towards its becoming nearer to the free trade area that many of us wanted it to be in the first place. I may be rather starry-eyed in believing that, but I do believe it.

Inevitably, the entry of Greece, Spain and Portugal will be followed by an application from Turkey, as I indicated in an intervention during the Lord Privy Seal's speech. Turkey has every right to make such an application, because it was explicit in its association agreement that that agreement would lead to full membership.

When one talks to members of the Commission about this one finds that they all admit that this is their great nightmare and that the day that the Turkish application arrives in the Berlaymont building in Brussels they cannot see how they will be able to run the EEC in its present form any longer. To that I say "Three cheers", because I am certain that enlargement in this way will both get the EEC away from its introspective obsession with its own material prosperity and widen its horizons—I welcome the southern parts of Europe coming in; they have a great deal to offer the northern nations of Europe—and, as I say, fundamentally alter the nature of the club.

Quite apart from my belief, along with my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington and others, that the Greeks have something unique to offer to us, and although there are defects in Greece to which, as the hon. Member for Putney said, we have every right to draw attention. I believe that the Greeks have a unique idea of what Europe and what democracy may have to offer. It is for those reasons that I very much welcome the Bill. I shall support it as it goes through the House.

5.43 p.m.

When I flew back from Athens last week, little did I dream that I would hear quite so much criticism in this debate, or that it would be so wide ranging. That it is wide ranging is a matter for warm welcome. That it is critical in many respects is a matter that I welcome, because it gives me the opportunity to reply to and to knock down some of the arguments.

As I see it, on political, historical and cultural grounds it is essential that Greece should join the European democracy. I shall deal with the economics a little later. The background is absolutely essential to understand and is understood by few.

On 12 June 1975 Greece submitted her application for full membership, and the negotiations began a year later, on 26 July. Over a long period Greece had evolved the moves towards Greek accession. The association agreement between Greece and the EEC, which was an ambitious one, has existed for the past 15 years. It made the transition of Greece from its associate status to full membership of the Community likely to prove very much smoother than would be the case for countries that had not had prior links with the EEC.

As to that position, one has also to bear in mind that, historically, Greece is a country that was not only in the war with us way back in 1945, when it suffered greatly, but managed to survive a very severe civil war and, following the civil war, the even more damaging dictatorship of the colonels. The whole of that is part of the background of a country which we see when we look at its present economic improvement—which I shall show—is changing very quickly and showing quite remarkable capacity for development.

For example, it is always understood that the harmonisation of agriculture policies applies and has been applying, and must be resolved in any event, under the terms of the agreement. In fact, that association agreement was signed in Athens on 9 July 1961. That was then regarded as the pre-accession arrangement to prepare Greece, with the help of the Community, for full EEC membership. That was at a time when Karamanlis was first in power as the Prime Minister.

The task of the Commission was enormous. The technical adaptations of Community law occupied no fewer than 40,000 words in the Official Gazette, drawing up in Greek the text of the treaties, of the existing regulations and of the accession instruments for Greece in 10 languages. All of these have been part of the successful preparatory work.

The basis of the Greeks' agreement accepts the acquis communautaire, which means that it is accepted entirely. without any changes at all in the Community rules, subject to the usual transitional measures to adjust any problems on either side. Generally, a five-year transitional period has been agreed, with very limited exceptions. The freedom of movement of workers has been put at seven years. That is due to the fact that in Greece there has been a large exodus of Greek workers, mainly to Germany but also to other countries, many of whom no doubt may return to Greece in the years that lie ahead. It has also meant a severe limitation on the grant of permission for foreign workers working in Greece, and this transitional period may take a little time.

Also, one special exception has had to be made in relation to agricultural products, namely, tomatoes and peaches, which are two products upon which the Greeks largely depend. The five-year period has been agreed to eliminate the customs duties on imports into Greece, and that is essential for the development of many products which are able now to be developed in Greece in conjunction with Britain, France and other countries, for there is now a rapid improvement in the future industrial status, position and development of Greece.

As I indicated during an intervention, aid by the Community will assist Greece through the transitional period, particularly in relation to olive oil, wheat and processed fruit and vegetables, which are also essential to the Greek economy.

These are matters that may cost money in the EEC budget. I take the points that have been made. The drachma, for example, will come within the basket of currencies within five years of the EUA.

Before I turn to the position on capital improvements, I want to say what really has changed the picture in Greece. I know Greece very well; indeed, I should do. I went there almost immediately after Karamanlis had begun his new regime. When I went there in 1974, I went specifically for the purpose of recreating the British-Greek parliamentary group. I went there to see Mr. Bitsios, the Foreign Minister at that time, and other people. On arrival in Athens I found that students were stoning the British embassy. It will be remembered that that was at the time of Cyprus, and that feelings were running very high against the British and the Americans. Relations were really disastrous. Those relations have improved immeasurably, but nothing like as much as the Greek economy itself is improving. I do not suppose that it is generally known that a figure of £2 billion is now the picture presented by the Greek tourist economy. Over the last five years this has increased at an immeasurable rate. It is the fastest growth area of tourism anywhere in the world, and adequate staffing will ensure that it develops even faster.

At the present time, as the newspapers and advertisements in this country will show, Greece is becoming the principal tourist export area from Britain. I am looking to see whether there are certain correlative advantages to Britain. Taking Greece into the Community means that we are not taking in a pauper. On the contrary, not only in regard to tourism but, we hope, in the British-Greek industrial get-together we shall have opportunities. In industry, there may be opportunities for factory building. For example, the whole question of prefabricated housing from this country is one sector in which there could be successful endeavour. It is not just a question of the export of processed fruits; it is in the areas of housing and property development that both this country and Greece can share an improvement in their economies.

Incidentally, it is equally true that both Spain and Portugal—more particularly Portugal—are showing rather the same tendency towards trying to improve their industry, as well as the expansion of tourism, to enable them not to become paupers in a rich man's club.

The arrangements for capital movements are particularly important, because Greece is likely to see rapid investment—and that should occur now—particularly from Britain, where in relation to both property and tourism substantial investors are anxious to advance and invest money in Greece as, indeed, in other countries. The current payments will be liberalised on accession in January 1981, but Greece may defer until December 1983 the liberalisation of the transfer of the proceeds of direct investment in Greece made before 12 June 1975 by persons resident in the Community.

I hope that Greece does not exercise that discretion, as the more liberal its policy towards financial investment the more likely it is to bring in investors from overseas, both from Britain and elsewhere, and the greater the benefits that will accrue both to the investor, whether British or otherwise, and to Greece. The more liberal that investment is, and is seen to be, the more likely it is that those who have to subscribe the money will wish to put forth the moneys that are necessary. Although Greece is underdeveloped at present, it is anxious to develop along the right lines.

As to property, the EEC does not permit Greece to retain exclusive dominion over its boundary islands. Therefore, Greece must recognise that Rhodes, Crete, Lesbos and Corfu, to name but a few, will be areas in respect of which there can be free investment by those outside to the benefit of those islands. Greece must realise that such investment can take place without the necessity of forming Greek companies or being limited to Greek investors. As most of the islands concerned—such as Lesbos and Crete—are those that are likely to be blocked for fear of a Turkish takeover, it is necessary to ensure that these outside investments by other EEC countries in no way inhibit future negotiations between Greece and Turkey.

Greece has shown that for nearly 20 years it has been awaiting the moment of this accession. It is quite true that at this time there is a great deal of confusion within the present countries of the Nine over the agriculture policies in particular. It is true that some moneys by way of aid will be to the advantage of Greece in terms of agriculture. It is not true to say that there is an over-production of olive oil, or an over-production of any of these agricultural products, in Greece. This is more likely to be decreased as industrial and tourist input shows a marked improvement. As that develops there will be a move away from what I might call the previous almost entirely agricultural approach to the more industrial and tourist approach.

It seems to me that Karamanlis and the negotiators have effectively negotiated terms that are reasonably beneficial—and they are much to be congratulated—against the present background of first-class relations between Britain and Greece and, indeed, between Greece and other EEC countries. It seems to me that this is a European club, on the basis of which I would support the entry of Portugal and Spain. At this stage I say nothing about Turkey, about which I have grave misgivings. However, if the House, as I am sure it will, gives its wholehearted support to Greece's entry in 1981, I hope that that country will continue to pursue conservative but effective policies.

I must point out that PASOK is a small party. Papandreou has always been a man with a mind very much of his own. That party represents nothing more than a small proportion of the Greek people. I can assure the House that the overwhelming proportion of Greeks are most anxious to see that this Bill is passed and that they enter into the Community on 1 January 1981 with the solid support of Britain as well as the other European countries.

5.57 p.m.

The hon. and learned Member for Thanet, West (Mr. Rees-Davies) was very optimistic, on the basis of his understanding of what will happen when Greece enters the Community, as it undoubtedly will. I should like to draw his attention to a letter from the Commission of the European Communities, signed by Mr. L. Natali, to Mr. K. B. Andersen, President of the Council of the European Communities, on 20 April 1978. This is an official Community document. On page 7 it states:

"Greece, Portugal and Spain are very different, but agriculture in these three countries has common characteristics, which are also shared by the present Mediterranean regions of the Community. The imbalances existing within the present Community will therefore be magnified by the accession of these three countries."
It also states, and this rather contradicts what the hon. and learned Gentleman said:
"There is a real danger of an increase in the rate of self-supply in some sectors which are already in surplus or bordering on surplus (wine, olive oil, certain fresh fruit and vegetables)".
I apologise for quoting from this letter, but it is an official document from the Commission to the Council of Ministers and it is, therefore, important. It adds:
"Application of the rules of the common agriculture policy to products in deficit in the applicant countries will have adverse effects on their trade balance".
It would have been a good thing had some people pointed out—I think that some of them did—the adverse effects on Britain's trade balance of our joining the European Community.

Let me quote further from this important document. It states:
"Enlargement is bound to intensify trade flows between the present Community and the three applicant countries and give a fresh boost to the economic growth: this, however, is liable to be of greater benefit to the developed regions whose economic fabric is sufficiently flexible and dynamic to take great advantage of the opportunities offered by a larger market. In the absence of suitable corrective policies, trade liberalisation might even go so far as to jeopardise the continued development of a number of weak regions in the enlarged Community."
Throughout this document there is much evidence of that kind. Therefore, in approaching the matter of Greek accession we should look at the adverse effects of the entry of Greece into the Community.

I shall not oppose the Bill, because I think that it would be confounded cheek on my part, or on the part of any British politician, to say that Greece should not join the European Community. If the Greek people wish to join the Community, that is a matter for them. It would be equally wrong to suggest to this House that there is not a strong body of opinion in Greece that is opposed to Greece's joining the Common Market.

It would have been a very happy occasion had hon. Members who were opposed to British entry into the Common Market won the day. When I consider the results of our entry into the Market, I do not think, with due respect to all the Euro-fanatics in the House, that any of them could honestly stand up and say that Britain's accession to the European Community has been beneficial to Britain. If there are any such hon. Members, let them stand up now, or for ever hold their peace.

Ah, we have one. My hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) is always an honest man who fights hard for his point of view. But he is about the only hon. Member who has risen.

We are told that if Greece does not enter the Community she may revert to some form of dictatorship—Fascism, and so on. But is entry into the Common Market an absolute guarantee that from that point onwards a country will remain democratic? I do not think that we can hold our hands on our hearts and say that because a country joins the Common Market it will always remain democratic. Greece was a member of NATO at the time when the Colonels took over.

Perhaps the hon. Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Cranborne) has never read the NATO agreement. The first point in it is about the defence of democracy. Greece became a dictatorship when she was a member of NATO. It does not follow that because a country belongs to an organisation such as NATO it will abide by the letter of its treaties. Therefore there is no guarantee that Greece will remain a democracy because it is a member of the Common Market, any more than Britain can say that it will always remain a democracy because it is a member of the Common Market. A country is a democracy if its people want it to be a democracy. It is a democracy because its people fight for it to be a democracy. It is a democracy because its people are prepared to defend democracy. A country is not a democracy simply because it is a member of NATO, the Common Market or any other organisation. That is no guarantee of democracy.

A lot of rubbish is talked about Greek democracy. We have in this House a great scholar of Greek democracy. The right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) will know, as I do, that the original Greek democracy was for the slave owners. They were democratic. There was plenty of discussion and democracy for those who owned the slaves. There was no democracy for the slaves. In that sense democracy is a word with different meanings, and it has not always had the same meaning. It depends upon the situation at the time. If we are talking now about defending the Western type of democracy, we cannot argue that a State is of necessity a democracy because it is in the Common Market.

As for the attitude of the Labour Party, my right hon. Friend the Member for Stepney and Poplar (Mr. Shore) was absolutely right. At no time has the Labour Party said that it is opposed to Greece acceding to the Common Market. The Labour Party has welcomed the accession of Greece. It has taken the same attitude in relation to Spain and Portugal. Why has the Labour Party done that? It is because we do not believe in a narrow Common Market, based strictly on the existing rules of the Treaty of Rome, and want to see a much looser and wider type of Common Market. We want to see changes in the Treaty of Rome. We want to see a much more liberalistic attitude on the part of the Common Market.

The strange thing about the Common Market is that although there is written into the Treaty of Rome a defence of free enterprise and capitalism, it then has within it a bureaucratic concept that is worse than anything I can think of. I do not know how Conservative Members who say that they believe in freedom can at the same time argue for total support of the Rome Treaty, because the two concepts contradict each other. Conservative Members ought to wake up to the fact of this contradiction and join us in arguing that there should be fundamental changes in the Treaty of Rome.

We are not opposing the Bill. I do not think that any of us would oppose it. But that does not mean that we shall not give our verbal support to those in Greece who say that they do not want Greece to join the Common Market. If they were to be in the majority, I would say "Good luck" to them. I am only sorry that they are not able to have a referendum in which to record their views.

6.8 p.m.

Max Hastings, in today's Evening Standard, says:

"The greatest fear within the corridors of the Commission today is of the effects on the creaking edifice of Europeanism when Greece joins, almost certainly to be followed by Spain and Portugal."
At this stage it is very important that we should stand back from the trees of Brussels and look at the woods of Europe. The Conservative Party has the reputation of being the party of Europe. There are two reasons for this. First, having divested ourselves of empire, we wished to combine with other countries of like culture and interest, and also to combine our industrial base, so that Europe could regain influence throughout the world. Secondly. During the reign of the previous leader of the Conservative Party, my right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath), Europe was something of a crusade. In private life, cleanliness is supposed to be next to godliness. In the Conservative Party, godliness as a virtue comes way below loyalty to the leader.

For many of us until now, Europe and things European have been vested with an infallibility that any pope would covet. In the event we joined, as Greece hopes to join, an organisation whose detailed rules were flawed. We joined in the anticipation that the great issues would predominate and that people of good will, intelligence and common purpose would make short work of the petty anomalies that existed. We hope that when Greece joins that will happen. However, it is not easy to be sanguine.

The stage Irishman, when asked how to get from A to B, always replies that he would not start from here. But we must start from here. For the last 1,000 years we have lived in a world in which power politics predominates. The difference now is that the power blocs are not on a national scale, but are continental. One of those power blocs is the Russian empire, which, with its client States, is busy rolling up the map of Africa, sapping the foothills of Western oil supplies, threatening our raw materials, threatening our supply routes, and trying to subvert the future markets on which the wealth of our industry and the well-being of our peoples will depend. This would be very dangerous at any time, but it is particularly so now, when America seems to have lost its way, when it has lost its self-confidence and is crumbling in the hands of a President whose only virtue is to make Mike Yarwood appear an effective politician, a man who, if predictions are to be believed, will be succeeded by a man whose only virtue is that he makes Richard Nixon appear an honest politician. Now, if ever, there is a need for a strong, outward-looking and united Europe. I hope that if Greece joins us it will join a united Europe.

The time has come for a new age of European influence throughout the world, dedicated to preserving the Third world for the free world. But what is Greece about to join? What do we have in Europe now? Napoleon once referred to Britain as a nation of shopkeepers. Heaven knows what he would make of Brussels, with its wine lakes, butter mountains, MCAs, levies, guide prices, target prices, intervention prices and sluice gate prices—the whole rotten paraphernalia. Perhaps Napoleon would enjoy his revenge—£1,000 million of British taxpayers' money going in reparation for the battle of Waterloo. Then, we have £750 million of taxpayers' money being paid to that most French of apparatus—the common agricultural policy. That means 30 shillings a week for every family of four in this country. Without that we could take 2p off income tax and 2 per cent. off VAT. It is said that on a quiet night in Paris one can hear Napoleon chuckling in his tomb.

Whatever commitments have been made by British Governments in the past, and whatever commitments and undertakings have been given by my party, the one principle that dictates my personal actions is the interests of my constituents and the people of my country. I am appalled by the budget deficit from which this country suffers. It is Robin Hood in drag—take from the poor to pay for the rich. I am appalled by the misdirection, and by the concentration on the petty to the exclusion of the important. I am appalled by the lost opportunities that Europe has put on one side, just as I am appalled by the unfairness to the British people.

I am a European and I want Europe to succeed. But Europe cannot succeed without the wholehearted support not just of the British Government but of the British people as a whole. This will not be forthcoming while we have this massive deficit that we are pouring into Europe. Something must be done before we can hope to get the support of the British people. This is a great tragedy, because of all the countries in Europe we have the contacts, the knowledge and the experience to develop Europe and the European influence throughout the rest of the world.

We have spoken about the effects of Greek accession on the European budget. Let us look at the budget now. The Prime Minister is determined to put right the injustices of our massive subventions. I have every faith in my right hon. Friend. When the history books are written, Joan of Arc by comparison will appear to be uninspired, uninspiring and faint-hearted. I have every faith in the case that we can put to Europe. He who pays the piper calls the tune, but at the moment we are paying for the whole bloody orchestra.

I am sure that when the Prime Minister goes to Dublin she will be met with sympathy, good will and kind words. I am sure that she will be told "Yes, we would help but we have problems with the farmers in Bavaria. The Paris basin may be very wealthy but we have problems with farmers in the rest of France." She will be told also "The pressures are too great. We soon have elections. We must be realistic. You accepted the rules when you joined. Would you change them now?"

I have news for Europe. Europe as it is now is no use to Britain. Unless there are changes, there will be no Britain in Europe. This is not my voice nor the voice of the House. It is the voice of people throughout the length and breadth of this country. Until there are significant changes in Europe, and unless we get progress at Dublin, this party—the party of Europe—will become increasingly impatient with Europe. We, too, have our political responsibilities; we, too, are determined.

6.17 p.m.

The matter that we are debating today is neither ephemeral nor transitory. It is a matter of lasting importance—[Interruption.] Mr. Deputy Speaker, it always seems to be my fate that when I get up to speak there is an interruption from the Gallery. On the occasion that Miss Mintoff threw horse dung from the Gallery, it was I who was speaking at the time. I seem to have that effect on people.

I should like to ask the Minister some specific questions. I interrupted the Lord Privy Seal to ask about cotton and tobacco. He told me to wait a minute, but as so often happens it was a little difficult to detect the answer from his speech. I press this again because it is a matter of some importance. Clearly the import of tobacco from Greece will be substantial, as will be the import of cotton. I shall not press the question about peaches, because that is not quite so important. The Government must have made some estimate of the imports that will stop as a result of the accession of Greece. Will we import less cotton from India or Egypt and less tobacco from elsewhere as a result? It is reasonable to suppose that the Government have done some calculations.

I endorse strongly the contribution of the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Mellor), who put forward an extremely good case on behalf of his constituent, Ann on behalf of his former constituent, Ann will give an undertaking that they will raise the case of Ann Chapman with the Greek authorities and say quite gently but firmly that many hon. Members in this House and Members of the previous European Assembly have raised similar cases. Whereas it could be understood that under the regime of the colonels there was this difficulty, it would be intolerable to have that sort of difficulty from another sister member of the Community.

One matter I wish to raise is not so much a personal question as a matter of principle. Some of my hon. Friends and I are concerned about the case of Ambassador Roussos, who was a distinguished Greek ambassador in London. We understand that his potential appointment as a Greek Commissioner has been vetoed in advance by some Commissioners in Brussels. According to the press, those Commissioners are Mr. Haferkamp, Mr. Natalie, and Mr. Cheysson. I hope that the matter can be clarified. Technically, the Commission might well have the power to refuse an appointment, but it would be unusual, to say the least, for the choice of a Government to be turned down because of objections from the Commission. I am glad to see that the Parliamentary Private Secretary has gone to the Box, because I should like to hear the Minister's comments on the matter.

I should like to couple that with another observation to the Minister. Am I right in believing that, although the United Kingdom makes up 20 per cent. of the members of the Community and pays 20 per cent. or more of the funds, we are allocated only 8 per cent. of the jobs in Brussels? As a matter of principle, it is unsatisfactory that, after a number of years, the number of jobs for an entry State should still be relatively low. I hope that we shall have clarification on that matter.

During the time of the celebrations on the Greek accession, it was widely reported, and it was the impression given on television, that the President of the French Republic, who also represented the Community as the President in office of the Council and, ostensibly, represented the Community as a whole, acted very much in his capacity as the President of France. It appeared that he used the occasion to advance French national rather than EEC interests in Greece. It is a delicate matter, but it creates difficulties in the Community if one of the parties occupying the presidency uses the occasion to advance national interests.

I also felt that it was a pity that on that historic occasion in Athens this country was not represented by the Prime Minister. Other countries sent their Prime Ministers—the Germans did not, because of a last-minute hitch—but we were represented by the Foreign Secretary. I hope that some comment will be made as to why the Prime Minister did not feel it necessary to attend that occasion in Athens.

I turn to the major issue I wish to raise—the impact of Greek accession on Community institutions as such. I declare a background interest to the matter, having been a member of the EEC Assembly Greece committee. I have had many arguments with Professor Pesmazogolou, in meetings in Greece, in the European Parliament and in Luxembourg, together with some Dutch Socialists, as to whether Greece should enter the Community. However, I extend to the professor and his colleagues my congratulations and good wishes. The best reason of all for Greece joining the Community was the determination of a large number of Greeks across a wide political spectrum so to do. Like some of my hon. Friends, I do not doubt the number of people in Greece, not only those who are associated with PASOK, who have grave misgivings and who are concerned about their infant industries. However, some of us had been concerned about the diluting of the Community in the last three or four years. If that is to be carried out, we should recognise that it will be a different Community.

But, having accepted with good grace and warmth the Greek accession, let us be under no delusions that it will have an effect upon European institutions. My hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Sandelson) was right to use the words "shake up". One minor consideration is the question of language. Cheap remarks about how many interpreters can interpret Danish into Greek or Portuguese into Greek can easily be made. Nevertheless, there is now a real problem of communication in the Community, if everyone insists on the right not only to express himself in his own language but that every document should be issued in every language. That produces a massive volume of paper and slows down decision making.

I suggest to the Government that there should be two categories of document. In the second category there should be two languages only—possibly English and French. The Germans and the Italians may well have comments on that proposal, and I do not say that it is practicable or even acceptable. However, the huge machine expands at an exponential rate with the addition of every new language. We should consider the question of conducting business efficiently.

Long before the Greek accession, I understood the Greeks to be saying that two categories of business would be acceptable to them, because the Greeks were good linguists and they could manage in English or French. I do not hold them to that statement, because it was a matter of informal discussion. However, we should face up to the fact that there is a language problem. It is no good sweeping it under the carpet and saying that it will be easily solved or will solve itself; it will not.

Presumably from 1981 there is to be a Greek commissioner. Sooner or later, there will be a commissioner from Spain and one from Portugal. If that is not the intention, I believe that the Minister would have interrupted me. Therefore, I am entitled to ask, what job will they perform? It is widely believed that the Commission, albeit smaller than a cabinet, is rather unwieldy. Should we create an extra Commissioner every time there is a new entrant? Should there not be an optimum size for the Commission?

The idea of having an extra Commissioner just because of entry presupposes that there is a defined job for him to carry out. It is doubtful whether two or possibly three of the existing Commissioners have a job to perform. Therefore, is the number of Commissioners to be expanded for the political reason of the number of countries in the Com- munity,or is the Commission to be geared to functioning efficiently? It could be said that we should be realistic and that, if a country comes in, it must have a Commissioner. In that case, there should be some rethinking about the portfolios in the Commission. We should not merely spatchcock new Commissioners into the Commission, inventing new jobs for them.

My hon. Friends have talked about the unsatisfactory nature of the peripatetic European Parliament. A Parliament that travels is a gross waste of money and anti-communautaire. As the European Parliament can do little itself, I hope that national Governments will see the entry of Portugal and Spain as an opportunity to consider making the European Parliament sit in one place.

Those of us who were on the committees of the indirectly elected European Assembly cannot fail to understand the inefficient nature of the Council of Ministers. Within the technical Ministries the Minister and, perhaps more importantly, his civil servants and key supporting staff are geared for three months or more to preparing themselves for the presidency. Once they are there, what do they do for the next three months? They merely prepare to hand over to someone else. That is bad enough when there are nine countries involved, but when there are 10, 11 or 12 the previous experience becomes more remote, and that is a fantastic way of operating.

There is a constant merry-go-round—a revolving presidency. One wonders whether many of the rows and troubles that have bedevilled the running of the Community are related to the nature of the institutions. The accession of new States makes that situation worse. Do our Government have any ideas how the presidency can be made more businesslike and efficient? Should we not ask our partners to extend the presidency by one year—although that has great disadvantages with a presidency every 11 or 12 years—or establish an understanding, at least in the technical Ministries, that one country has a presidency for two, three or four years? I ask that question as an unreconstructed Marketeer—I shall not say pro-Marketeer—who wishes to make the Community work well.

The institutional shackles are a detriment to sensible decision making. I should like the Government to undertake to ask how the presidency and Council of Ministers work, especially with the accession of Spain and Portugal.

I should also like late night meetings brought to an end. Ministers tend to sneak out and leak information to their press against one another. Some of us, whatever our views on the Community, do not believe that these institutions can serve any purpose.

I have asked from time to time in the European Parliament about the relationship between the Community and, in my case, the Scots. However, let us take any of those regions of the Community that are far from the capital city. I shall put it, therefore, not as a Scottish question but as a Macedonian question. What is the Government's thinking about the relationship between the centre in Brussels and the many new interests that will be raised by such countries as Spain with the Catalans and Greece? I hope that the loud and clear answer is that there will be no relationship other than that with the capital on political matters and matters of policy. However, I should welcome a direct relationship on a regional aid basis between a region and the centre of the Community.

6.35 p.m.

I associate myself with the words of the Lord Privy Seal when he acknowledges our debt to ancient Greek culture. I am not sure, however, whether some of the people who have recently run Greek affairs have a great affinity with the ancient Athenian democrats. Whether Greece should join the Common Market is a question for the Greeks. The point is, do they want to join? We do not know. We have no evidence, because the Greeks have not been asked. We know that the Opposition parties are strongly opposed to entry and that Mr. Papandreou has said that if he comes to power in the next election—as he might if Greece does badly in the Common Market—he will reopen the issue.

The EEC is supposed to be an association of democratic States. I was interested in the remarks of the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Mellor). There is much to be desired in Greece in terms of democracy. A fortnight ago I discussed Greece with about 200 Greek university students. I was amazed at some of their stories. They explained that there were severe limitations on trades unions and that there were 35,000 political refugees from the Greek civil war who were not permitted to return to Greece. I do not know whether the police force has been purged and democratised or how democratic Greece is.

Despite the euphoria of some about the enlargement of the Community, there are problems. The average gross domestic product per head of the population in Greece is one-half of the EEC average. There will be a problem of convergence. Greece invested one-eighth of the average investment in OECD countries between 1960 and 1976.

The Commission has described Greek industry as fragile. It has many family businesses, and tourism and shipping will continue because of the sunshine, whether or not Greece joins the EEC. Greek industry is fragile, and it will be opened to competition. Anyone who thinks that a weak country will benefit by joining the EEC has only to look at Southern Italy to have that myth dispelled.

The existing Common Market countries export twice as much to Greece as Greece exports to the Common Market. The association agreement in 1961 gave Greece duty-free access to the Community, so it already benefits from a larger market. The Greeks have an average import tariff of 13 per cent., but on certain items it is higher. On footwear it is 43 per cent., on clothing 30 per cent., on leather goods 28 per cent. and on metal 15 per cent. Forty per cent. of Greek industry is highly protected. The common external tariff of the EEC is lower than the average Greek tariff, and therefore Greece will face increased competition and the benefit will be negative.

The Greek balance of payments will become worse and worse, and the disparities between rich and poor wider. As we have seen in the EEC, rich nations become richer and weak and poor nations become weaker and poorer. That has been the experience of England. If our industry has been swamped, that will happen to Greece as well.

Greece could benefit from trading in fruit, vegetables, olive oil, wine and tobacco, but those commodities are already in surplus—and we saw the attitude of the French when the Italians wanted to export their surplus wine. The Greeks, however, will have to pay more for their cereals, beef and dairy products.

I believe that Britain will not benefit from the entry of Greece. There will be a special mechanism in the budget, and in 1981 the Greeks will benefit by £54 million. We shall have to pay our share of that. The right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) claimed the introduction of a regional fund as his great achievement and said that it would benefit this country and outweigh the costs of the CAP. However, we get peanuts from that fund. Only a little dribble of our money comes back. Countries such as Greece, Spain and Portugal will have a greater claim. Thirty-four per cent. of the Greek people are engaged in agriculture, and such exports as textiles, shipping and shoes are in surplus.

Decision making will become more difficult. We shall move towards majority voting. The veto does not exist in the Treaty of Rome, but it was introduced by General de Gaulle in the Luxembourg compromise and it could well come under attack.

It has been said tonight that within seven years there will be the free movement of labour and that that will give freedom of access also to workers' families. Where Greece leads, surely Turkey cannot be far behind, and Portugal and Spain are certainly moving along. After three years, family allowances for Greek workers will be paid to their dependants in Greece.

If the Government believe in immigration control, they cannot support these applications and the enlargement of the Community. I do not know why these three countries want to join this sinking ship. If they join and it becomes more unwieldy, or even sinks, and a more free and open arrangement in Western Europe results, I shall be pleased.

6.43 p.m.

It has been a good debate, but I am surprised that the Government have not taken the opportunity clearly to state their attitude. Today Commissioner Gundelach, not for the first time, spelt out the fact that the agriculture budget would run out in less than a year. Specific proposals will be put forward to restrain the amount of sugar in the Community and undoubtedly to take action against the farmers producing the milk surplus. If there is a serious basis for the ferocious noises coming from the Prime Minister, concerning the budget, surely the Government should have made a clear statement.

Have the Government considered the implications of Greek accession and the inevitable changes in the Community? I do not suggest that Greece is not entitled to make the application, but it is possible that the Greek people have not understood the effect that it will have on their lives in view of their existing standard of living. Nevertheless, if they want to enter the Community, this House can only wholeheartedly welcome that as a basis for maintaining the democratic institutions in Greece.

The speech of the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Mellor) was admirable. If member States are not prepared clearly to demonstrate their commitment to human rights, it will be a cause for grave reservation. However, there is no machinery in the European Assembly for expelling a member State which fails to comply with the straightforward standards of democracy.

With the enlargement of the Community its institutions must change, and the Government should be considering not only the budget but the institutions. They should put forward a plan that the British people could support. The Commission's view, delivered in the mildly peevish tones that we have come to expect from it, is that there are considerable difficulties where Parliaments have a say in how existing Community legislation should be applied.

The Commission feels that sometimes there is either lack of interest or blatant hostility, frequently leading to considerable delays in the transposition of directives. It therefore insists that the institutions must move towards clear majority voting, which has never been accepted by this House. If the institutions cannot change under the impact of new accessions, they should consider returning to Parliaments like ours a greater degree of control over existing legislation, certainly on matters such as the directives and regulations that pour out of Brussels with such astonishing speed.

We welcome the Bill because we believe that there is a political argument for accession, but the Government have failed disastrously to say how they see the Community developing. How will Greek accession be paid for? How will the direct transference of money from the Community to Greece be carried out? Only under the guidance fund and the regional fund can that take place. The Government opposed any increase in the regional fund but presumably told the Greeks that they would give them as much monetary support as they could during the early years of transition.

In practice we welcome a new State and hope that it will adhere to democratic principles and that the people will be worthy of our support. However, we want plain answers from the Government to the questions that they have skated over in the debate.

6.48 p.m.

I shall try to give some plain answers.

To deal first with an ancillary matter, I should like to refer to the Ann Chapman case, rightly touched on by my hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. Mellor), and others. The man convicted of the murder is a Greek citizen. He was convicted by a Greek court of a crime committed in Greece. The standing of the British Government and of our consuls overseas to intervene is strictly limited. Every assistance was given to Mr. Chapman by the British Consul, who went out of his way to do more to help than he would normally.

Now that the case has been closed by the Greek Government—and it is entirely an internal matter for them—the British Government have no standing to make further interventions, though Mr. Chapman is free and correct to pursue the matter through his lawyers, as I believe he is doing. I hope that my hon. Friend will accept that, in terms of our legal position, there is no more that I can say.

With few exceptions, hon. Members have given the Bill a warm welcome. I am sure that that will be much appreciated in Greece and will reaffirm the friendship and old traditional relationship that has existed between this country and the Greeks. My hon. Friend the Member for Essex, South-East (Sir B. Braine) wants to see the Bill on the statute book as soon as possible, and I can tell the right hon. Member for Stepney and Poplar (Mr. Shore) that the Committee stage will be taken on the Floor of the House. As an old hand at amending legislation, I must say that if I wished to oppose the Bill I would despair at the possibility of finding more than one or two amendments that would be in order. Good luck to those who seek to do so.

The hon. Members for Crewe (Mrs. Dunwoody) and for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) asked me to discuss what we foresaw as the major reforms of the institutions of the Community as a consequence of the Bill. We have no such plans, and if we had it would hardly be for me suddenly to reveal them. I do not believe that the accession of Greece will cause major changes in the institutions to be imminent, paramount or necessary. I cannot therefore accept the kind invitation of the hon. Member for Crewe to go along those exciting avenues.

I should like to answer some of the specific questions asked by the hon. Member for West Lothian. Like the hon. Gentleman, we deplore the handling of the Roussos case. The application was not put to member States by the Commission, and the British Government knew nothing about it until the Greeks withdrew Mr. Roussos' candidature. We believe that we should have been given the opportunity to comment. We would have been delighted to welcome him as a Commissioner.

The hon. Member for West Lothian also pressed the question that he asked my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal about imports of tobacco and raw cotton. There are no restrictions on the import of tobacco or raw cotton into the Community, so the accession of Greece and the end of its transitional period will make no difference to the import arrangements for those commodities.

The situation as regards restrictions on trade will not change, and it is likely that there will be little, if any, change in the origins and destinations of trade. Indeed, there is a special acceptance in the Treaty of the need to look after the interests of Third world exporters of those commodities. If there is any change, it is much more likely to be due to market forces and consumer preference than to anything in the Bill.

My hon. Friend is being a little lighthearted if he is implying that there will be no impact on the United Kingdom textile industry, which views with grave concern the accession of Greece and the possibility of imports of large quantities of textiles that could further undermine our important strategic industry. Will my hon. Friend comment on that?

I did not say that there were no restrictions on textiles. I referred to raw cotton. My hon. Friend has made a valid point, which is noted.

A number of hon. Members have referred to contributions to the EEC budget. I confirm for my hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) that after the transitional period the value to Greece of its membership will be about 600 million units of account. Translated into intelligible currency and in terms of our contribution, that works out at about £65 million. If nothing else changed, and if both Spain and Portugal were members at that time, the figure would rise to 1,100 million units of account, which works out at about £110 million as our share. That is on the assumption that there will be no change in the budgetary arrangements or the contribution that we pay and it would be unwise for any hon. Member to make such an assumption.

I thank the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Sandelson) for his clear and welcoming speech. He wished my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister all the muscle power that she could command in her negotiations in Dublin and elsewhere. With respect, I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would have preferred to use words such as "rhetoric" and "logic" rather than "muscle power" about my right hon. Friend, but I am grateful for his support and I assure him that the Prime Minister has all the qualities needed to take on the major problem of our contribution to the budget. It is wrong to assume that the present arrangements will transform themselves into payments of money in 1986. I am certain that a great deal will have happened before then to make those figures irrelevant.

In our case, the inequity is that there is a transfer of money from a relatively poor member of the Community—we are seventh out of nine in terms of standard of living—to the relatively better-off members. In the case of Greece, there will be a transfer of resources from the richer members to the poorest member of the Community. The hon. Member for Newham, North-East (Mr. Leighton) mentioned that the standard of living in Greece was about half that of the Community average. I should not have thought that the hon. Gentleman, as a good Socialist, could find much to complain about there. It is a small and purely economic price to pay to secure into the Community a nation of the importance and historic traditions of Greece and to underpin and secure the newfound and much-welcomed democracy in that country.

The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer), with the usual unremitting zeal of the convert, suggested that membership of the Community was no guarantee of democracy. But even if it is the merest assistance, it is a major step forward. Democracy is a fragile plant, and the more that it can be watered, nurtured and assisted, the better it will become.

The truth is that for Greece to join the Community is a political imperative of the first magnitude. My hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) wondered whether godliness or cleanliness came first. I suggest that democracy comes ahead of both and that the House should give the Bill an unopposed Second Reading in order to demonstrate our welcome to the Greeks as members of the Community.

The Minister was asked about having documents in only two languages rather than having translations of Greek into Portuguese, Danish, and so on, with all the problems that could arise. Will he answer that point before he sits down?

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton.]

Committee tomorrow.

University College London Bill Lords (By Order)

Order for Second Reading read.

7 pm

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

I am honoured to be invited to move the Second Reading of this Bill by the University of London, University college, London, and University College hospital medical school, which are its promoters. The hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South, (Mr. Dobson), in whose constituency University college and the medical school reside, felt unable to do so for reasons that I fully understand and sympathise with. I will be referring to them. In these circumstances, the university asked me, as an hon. Member for a university constituency, who has a particular interest in higher education. I am glad to have the opportunity of assisting a university and a college for which I have high regard.

There is another connection. One of the principal purposes of the Bill, which is to achieve the reunification of University college and the medical school, stemmed from the Royal Commission on medical education of 1968, which was chaired by my eminent constituent, Lord Todd. The Commission envisaged this reunion, and extensive deliberations culminated in a report which was accepted by the councils of the two institutions and by the University of London, which fully accepted this principle.

I should emphasise that this principle is fully supported by the staff and the students of the two institutions and that no petitions against the Bill have been laid. It is, in short, a wholly agreed measure of great benefit for the two main institutions.

University college hospital grew out of the university dispensary which was opened in 1828 and was managed by the college. But, in 1907, it was felt that when University college was incorporated into the University of London, the medical faculty teaching attached to the hospital could be more conveniently carried out by a separate body. For this purpose, the school was formed, as such, in 1907. Even before the Todd report of 1968 the feeling had grown that this formal separation of two institutions which are physically and geographically so close together was not in the best interests of either.

The difficulty lay in the fact that since 1907 University college had been incorporated in the University of London and had lost its previous separate corporate status—a major factor in the decision to establish the medical school as a separate entity. But this separate status was reacquired by the college's Royal Charter in December 1977, and this fact, combined with the arguments in the Todd report, opened the way for the formal reunification of the college and the school. The discussions about this reunification were harmonious and successful, and this Bill is the result.

University college, London, as the House is fully aware, has a most distinguished record. Among its most respected and influential lecturers was the late Hugh Gaitskell. When, in 1931, he attempted to begin the UCL Labour Club, he discovered that it was contrary to the college statutes to hold political meetings on the premises, with the result that the UCL Labour Club had its first meeting in a nearby pub. It did not surprise me, on reading Philip Williams's biography of Hugh Gaitskell, to discover that he did not regard this as an outrageous infringement of political liberty. As we all know, there are many worse places than a pub in which to hold political meetings.

One of Hugh Gaitskell's most devoted friends and admirers at the time—who, if he had been alive, would be supporting this Bill strongly—was Frank Barlow, whose death during the recess has deprived not only the Parliamentary Labour Party but this House of a widely respected, deeply liked and admired personality. He was a dear friend of mine for over 20 years. His friends were grateful to the Leader of the Opposition for the recommendation of the award of a knighthood, which gave pleasure to his family and to his political opponents as well as to his friends. I hope that his widow will receive some consolation from the knowledge of how greatly and how widely he was respected and liked in this House and how much his many friends miss his companionship, wise advice and decency.

Clauses 3 to 10 of the Bill and the schedules meet the altered situation in which the college now has corporate status. Clause 11 gives legal effect to the agreement by all the authorities concerned to reunify the college and the medical school. It had been intended that this would come into operation on 1 October this year, but this was not possible because of objections by the hon. Member for Hackney, South and Shore-ditch (Mr. Brown), who is the parliamentary consultant of the National Association of Local Government Officers.

The reason for the hon. Member's objection to the Bill stems from a dispute between NALGO and the Central Council for Non-Teaching Staffs in Universities on the employers' refusal to include national appeals machinery in the procedure agreement under discussion in the council. The matter is complex and obviously highly controversial. The situation reached the unfortunate position in which the hon. Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch felt that unless the employers altered their position he must block this Bill and all university Bills in the House. As a result, the greatly desired and highly desirable reunification has been delayed for reasons wholly unconnected with the objectives of the Bill, to the regret, I know, of the hon. Member and also of the hon. Member in whose constituency the university resides.

I would like to emphasise that I fully understand why the hon. Members have taken up this position. I am the last person in this House to criticise any other hon. Member for making use of the procedures of the House to pursue a particular campaign. I occasionally have twinges of conscience—very occasional ones—when I reflect on the occasional havoc that I was able to cause in the last Parliament, which I now deeply regret and look back upon with humiliation, hoping that hon. Members do not study Hansard too closely to discover some of the devices that I used.

I have considerable personal sympathy for the NALGO position and the arguments. While I cannot become involved in this dispute, I hope that it can be amicably resolved in the appropriate way and not at the expense of further delays to the Bill. I am glad to inform the House that, following discussions over the past week, the promoters have asked me to make the following statement to the House:
"The promoters appreciate that the motive of the objector to the University College London Bill springs from his concern to secure the best possible conditions of employment for members of trade unions. The promoters naturally share this concern. In the opinion of the promoters, the question of the establishment of national appeals machinery in relation to the grading of non-academic staff, should continue to be a matter for discussion between the trade unions and the Universities' Committee for Non-Teaching Staffs. The promoters are party to normal voluntary collective bargaining, with the objective of determining the terms and conditions of employment of non-academic staff. It is therefore the promoters' hope that the two sides would be able to reach agreement on this issue."
I understand that this statement is acceptable to the hon. Member and I should like to thank him for the characteristically open and fair manner in which our discussions have been held. I hope that this statement will now enable this most valuable Bill to proceed.

The medical school is, in modern circumstances, too small and inadequately financed for independent existence, particularly in its research programmes. The reunification makes financial, administrative, academic and practical sense. Five years of discussion have preceded this Bill and have resulted in total agreement. I am sure that the House would wish to join me in conveying our warmest good wishes to the university and the college for a long, happy and successful partnership.

7.10 p.m.

I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Rhodes James) for the courtesy and friendship he has shown to me during the difficult period since he undertook to present this Bill on behalf of the promoters. I very much appreciate his studied attempt to find a solution to our difficulties. I also thank the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon), who has discussed this issue with me many times. He has done his best to achieve a satisfactory solution. The Minister of State has also discussed the issues with me, in an impartial manner, in trying to discover what my motives were and what was my objective. After all the help that has been given to me, I accept entirely the statement that the hon. Member for Cambridge made tonight and I have told the promoters that I accept it.

I join in the tribute to the late Sir Frank Barlow, who was also a friend of mine. I supose all of us in this House can claim him as a friend. He discussed this matter with me in July, when he too asked about my motives. I explained them to him in some detail and also why I believed it was not possible for me to let this Bill—or any other Bill—go through unless there was some sign of justice and fairness for the 60,000 nonacademic staff employed in our universities.

I latched on to this Bill particularly in relation to clause 11(4). It seemed to me originally that perhaps we could have a statement concerning appointments which would establish a system of national appeals on grading.

Perhaps, Mr. Deputy Speaker, my duty to the House requires me to explain briefly why I have chosen to block this otherwise worthy Bill and the pangs I feel, since I have always thought that University college and the medical school were of outstanding excellence. It hurt me to do something which would in any way destroy any agreement on reunification. My objections stem basically from the fact that in 1970, after many months of joint discussions between the universities and the trade unions, an agreement was reached to set up a central council for non-teaching staffs in universities. Its duties were said to be
"essential for consultation on issues of national and general importance to preserve good industrial relations and to provide a formal disputes procedure."
From that moment there have been continuing discussions between the trades unions and the employers. The employers have made it abundantly clear from the word "go" that they have no intention of implementing that objective, deciding when the central council was set up. The discussions were almost ceaseless until July 1977, when, after long and protracted negotiations, the trade unions formally went into dispute with management on the procedure agreement.

The employers again refused to agree the right of national appeal where there was a failure to agree locally on individual gradings. This was on the ground that such a right would infringe the individual autonomy of the university. When the dispute had been determined ACAS was asked by the trade unions to look at the situation to see whether there was any possibility of its mediating. In May 1978 ACAS said that, given good will between the employers and the unions, a resolution of this difficult problem could be found. The employers simply refused to take part in such a solution. After that ACAS could go no further.

I was brought into the discussions in June 1978. I asked to see all the papers on the case and came to the view that there was a very serious example here of the university vice-chancellors being unwilling to do what one would believe was right in normal, decent industrial relations. Having read the papers and discussed the issue in depth, I invited both the chairman and the secretary of the employers' side of the central council to a meeting in this House to discuss in detail the kind of progress I thought could be achieved. It was a very disagreeable meeting. The chairman of the vice-chancellors' committee made it quite clear that he had nothing but contempt for this place, and for any other place; and if I thought I would get his help he made it clear that I would not.

I told the chairman that he was being rather foolish in his approach. I told him that I was so seized of the argument and that his response was so unacceptable that I would block every university Bill that came before this House until such time as the vice-chancellors' committee studied the issues carefully and entered into negotiations with the trade unions to implement the agreement of 1970.

The vice-chancellors appeared to be saying that they were God. I do not believe vice-chancellors are God. There may be other gods, but university vice-chancellors are not among them. It seemed to me that the national appeals procedure should be followed. To that extent, I justify my harassment—and my future harassment—of Bills on this subject. Despite the truculent attitude of the representatives of the vice-chancellors, I made it clear that the blocking of this Bill was a tragedy. I had sought their help to try to unblock it and it was only the intervention of the hon. Gentleman, of his right hon. Friend and indeed, the Minister of State which gave University college the opportunity of reviewing the situation.

The publication of the promoters' statement is a declaration of intent which will be very well received by their own staffs and certainly by staffs in other universities. I say to the vice-chancellors' committee that the only thing I can be charged with is having honoured the statement I made to its chairman in 1978. Is that so bad? Am I such a bad fellow for doing what I said I would do? I accept that University college was not privy to those discussions because, apparently, the vice-chancellors' committee studiously avoids relationships with its constituent bodies and does not tell them what is going on.

I give three examples of why I believe I am right to pursue this case. Let us take Sussex university. An applicant there assessed her own job and came to the conclusion that it was at too low a grade in relation to other universities and the work being done in them. She asked for a new grading. She met local management according to procedure and everything went well. A disagreement was recorded and then the university said it was not prepared to accept the grading that she wanted. They jointly agreed, however, that the matter should go to national level on appeal to the joint committee. There was a hearing at national level and a letter to the secretary of the employers' side of the university committee for non-academic teaching staff was on the agenda. The appellant was brought to London and sat around for three hours while the committee deliberated. She was then told there was no machinery to deal with her case.

The young lady in question does not complain any more. Sussex university got round her little problem. It had a simple device by which it decided to give her more than she asked for in a grade that it recognised. By this fiddle she got far more than she asked for even though it was said there was no national appeals machinery for achieving such a solution.

Birmingham university is another example. It has a representative on the national employers' body. He signed the request for a number of appeals to be heard at national level. The letter was on the agenda of the national joint negotiating committee. Then that representative voted against the appeals being heard because there was no machinery. Locally that representative signed a letter asking for the appeals to be considered. Nationally he decided that there was no machinery and he killed the request.

There is a similar example from Southampton university. The personnel officer of that university sits on the national body. He signed a request for the national committee to consider a particular issue involving his university. He ensured that it was defeated at national level. That is dishonesty. There can be no justification for it. The arrogance and truculence of the vice-chancellors is beyond belief.

I cite Bristol university as another example. I pay tribute to the Opposition Chief Whip, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South (Mr. Cocks), because he works hard for his constituents, although he cannot always express his opinions in the House. On his behalf I looked at the work being done by the vice-chancellor of Bristol university. I do not wish to argue whether my right hon. Friend is right or wrong, but he is the elected Member for Bristol, South and he has a right to express his view. He judged that Bristol university was interfering unreasonably in National Health Service procedures in Bristol. My right hon. Friend argued that the vice-chancellor of the university did not understand what was happpening. He attempted to point out the errors of the vice-chancellor's ways. He tried to explain what he thought about what was happening.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South received a letter from the vice-chancellor, Sir Alec Merrison, which stated:
"I have warned you before that you were asking us to undertake what would necessarily be a long historical research into the records of bodies now defunct."
A vice-chancellor had the temerity to warn my right hon. Friend! Who is this man? Is he asking God to move over? His attitude is unbelievable. One of the vice-chancellor's staff wrote a letter to the local newspaper without signing his name. In that letter he discussed why my right hon. Friend was right. What did the vice-chancellor do? He upbraided the author of the letter and, in a letter to my right hon. Friend, said:
"The reason he remained anonymous was simply cowardice and unsureness of his ground—powerful motives for anonymity throughout the ages, and ones which I find particularly disagreeable."
What right has Sir Alec to do that? What right had he to call a coward a man who wrote to his local newspaper to support his Member of Parliament? His attitude is symptomatic. Sir Alec is the big wheel. We have to discuss with him such issues as are before the House tonight. Do we really believe that Sir Alec will give the consideration necessary to ensure that 60,000 people are properly represented and have their say about their gradings? My right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South continues to fight his corner in Bristol. More power to his elbow. Bristol must be proud of him. University college generously has indicated that it believes that this matter should be investigated. With the help of ACAS, there will be a solution to the problem. If meaningful negotiations do not begin immediately, I shall ensure that this issue is aired. Each time a university brings a Bill to the House it will have to face continuing scrutiny until justice is seen to be done to the 60,000 people who have the right to question their gradings.

I say to the vice-chancellors "Stop being feudal barons. Stop behaving like nineteenth century employers. Set up a proper national appeals machinery." That can only enhance good relationships in a vital sector of our academic life.

7.26 p.m.

I intervene briefly because I have an interest—albeit not a financial interest—as a member of the court of London university, which is the governing body for financial matters. There is a general agreement in the university that the reunification of University college and the University college hospital medical school will be of benefit financially and administratively not only to those institutions but to the university as a whole.

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Mr. Brown) for the references that he made to my interest. We have discussed university Bills on other occasions, even in Strasbourg and Luxembourg. The hon.

Member has the good of London university and its colleges at heart. We all understand why he has intervened. I am glad that the hon. Member has withdrawn his objection to the Bill in the light of the assurances given on behalf of the promoters. Those assurances are sincere.

The hon. Member's objective, about which he spoke with such passion, is to draw attention to a vital aspect that is causing widespread anxiety. It is not directly related to the purposes of the Bill. We are dealing with the operation of the national appeals machinery for nonacademic staff. I agree that this must be examined carefully in other places and in other ways. I support the promoters' undertakings. We all hope that the two sides will, in due course, agree. In those circumstances I trust that the House will proceed without much delay and give a fair wind to a valuable Bill.

7.30 p.m.

University college is in my constituency. I welcome this measure because, of all the medical schools and colleges in Britain, the University college and University college hospital medical school have been amongst the most integrated in their courses. It is clear that the provisions of the Bill will help to improve and strengthen that integration and will be of benefit to the medical school and the college.

Originally I was invited to introduce the Bill, and that I agreed to do. However, in the end, the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Rhodes James) introduced it and did so extremely well. The most distinguished politician born in my constituency was Mr. Benjamin Disraeli. I add in passing that he referred to the Tory Party as an organised hypocrisy. He also said that in politics one should never apologise and never explain. In relation to my eventual non-introduction of the Bill, I am not prepared to apologise, but I propose to explain.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Mr. Brown) made clear to me details of the dispute which he has explained to the House. I met representatives of University college and had subsequent meetings with representatives of NALGO. I wrote to the college asking whether it would be prepared to give, or enable me to give on its behalf, an undertaking broadly on the lines of the undertaking that the hon. Member for Cambridge has eventually been able to give. It refused and said that it was not on. In those circumstances, I was reluctant to introduce the Bill and we reached the parting of the ways.

I congratulate the hon. Member for Cambridge, who, with the assistance of other right hon. and hon. Members, managed to persuade the University college to give the undertaking. That means that the Bill can proceed and that some progress has been made towards resolving this festering sore in university industrial relations.

If University college complains about the delay, I am afraid that it has only itself to blame. If the undertaking given by the hon. Member for Cambridge is acceptable now, it must have been acceptable months ago. If there are lessons to be learnt, I learnt one. It is quite clear that if Back-Bench Members such as my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch, stick out on Private Bills, they can achieve considerable changes in the direction that they wish to go. I find that rather promising, because I am not impressed by the influence of Back-Bench Members over other matters in the House.

I hope that other universities and colleges which may be contemplating promoting Bills will draw lessons from this one. I hope that they will voluntarily move towards improving their industrial relations. It is ironic that we have a bad industrial relations problem on the nonacademic side of universities at the same time as several universities run courses on industrial relations.

I welcome the Bill. I am glad that it is going through at long last. I am only sorry that it did not go through earlier.

7.34 p.m.

I support the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Mr. Brown). It may offend some people that a Scottish Member should speak on a London Bill. I promise not to make a habit of it. However, I feel strongly about events in the universities over the past few years, especially their refusal to concede a system of national appeals.

It has been pointed out that in 1970 a central council for non-teaching staff in universities was set up. The universities strongly resisted that move and its formation was achieved only through the intervention of the TUC and the then Minister of Labour. The agreement to set up the central council was based on a working party report in 1969. That working party represented the vice-chancellors, the TUC and the trade unions. The object was to establish a national machinery for consultation, promotion of good industrial relations and provision for a formal disputes procedure.

Trade unionists were concerned when it was discovered that the universities were not prepared to face up to that commitment. The trade unions' case for a national appeals machinery is based on the fact that the terms and conditions of employment in the universities are negotiated nationally in the technical staffs' joint committee, the clerical staffs' committee and the manual and ancillary staffs' committee. The criteria for job gradings are determined at national level. The agencies jointly responsible for determining these criteria are the employers' side and the appropriate trade unions.

It makes nonsense of national negotiations if there is not the follow-through that exists throughout the public sector and the appropriate mechanism to monitor the agreements that have been reached. The original agreement set up by the central council was based on the understanding that an individual gradings appeal system would be set up. The original procedure agreement contained provision for individual national appeals.

The employers refused to hear any appeals, on the basis that no machinery existed to deal with the grievances. It is my understanding that the principal point made in support of their case is that it would offend their autonomy and would in some way reduce the autonomy that they say they enjoy. That argument could be offered with equal force by the local authorities. They often, quite rightly, assert their autonomy, yet they have national gradings, agreements and machinery for the reconcilation of disputes. That in no way diminishes their autonomy. That is equally true of the gas and electricity supply industries.

The National Health Service, which in some ways has much in common with the universities, has a similar mechanism for reconciling disputes. Yet the universities are refusing to do this. That is regrettable. Not only does it detract from the quality of their industrial relations but it damages staff relations in the long term. I know that we shall hear much this autumn about industrial relations. I shall be reminding Conservative Members that the universities are behaving in this way and are turning their faces against the introduction of a procedure that is commonplace throughout the public sector.

7.38 p.m.

I welcome the opportunity to say that the Government have no objection to the Bill having a Second Reading this evening. We had no objection when the Bill was introduced in the House of Lords and we have no objection now. [Interruption.] I welcome the Opposition Chief Whip's saying that it is a handsome gesture on our part.

I remember reading that the University college was once known as "the godless institution in Gower Street" because it was founded by many Nonconformists and Non-Unitarians. My only personal connection with it is that it houses the Chadwick library, which contains all the papers—not the bones—of a gentleman named Chadwick, who was heavily involved in public service development in the 1830s and 1840s. I spent many an afternoon going through those papers. I trust that others have gone through them since, as they are very illuminating.

The original objections to the Bill voiced by the hon. Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Mr. Brown) are honestly and firmly held. At the beginning the hon. Gentleman made clear his position to the university vice-chancellors. Any delay that has followed has come not from a misunderstanding of what he stated, but from an inability somewhere to close the gap between the university vice-chancellors and the unions involved at national level.

We are all delighted that some bridge has been built. I am glad to say that I had a little to do with that at a meeting with both sides over lunch. What better way than over lunch to meet the university vice-chancellors and indicate the strength of feeling of the hon. Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch, who maintained that he was not going away, but was going to remain here? As he and I occasionally make arrangements to be or not to be here, it is vital for me that he should remain for my general stability.

It is a pleasure to see the Bill introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Mr. Rhodes James), supported by hon. Members on both sides of the House. I recognise that the industrial matters cannot be settled inside the House, but at least a lesson has been learnt. We trust that these matters will be settled outside the House, so that the hon. Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch will not feel so strongly that he must object to any other university Bills. We have certainly made some headway there.

The Murray committee of inquiry into the governance of the University of London recommended that King's college and University college should be encouraged to apply for independent charters. University college was granted its Royal Charter in November 1977. The University College London Bill provides for the transference of rights, properties, liabilities and so on from the univesity to the college and for the reunification of the college with the University college hospital medical school.

It was wise of us to debate this matter tonight. It seems that we can now give the Bill a Second Reading without objection from either side of the House. I trust that similar arrangements may be made for future university Bills.

7.41 p.m.

By leave of the House, I shall reply. It was no part of my task to defend the vice-chancellors' committee, particularly not the vice-chancellor of Bristol university. I am glad that my relationship with my vice-chancellor at Cambridge was rather different.

Finally, I want to emphasise two points. First, the undertaking is given in total good faith. I hope that it will be the beginning of a much better relationship than existed in the past. As I emphasised before, I have strong personal sympathy with and understand of the action taken by the hon. Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Mr. Brown). The undertaking is given in good faith.

I am glad that the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mr. Dobson), in whose constituency the university resides, fully supports the Bill. I hope that it will now have a good and quick passage through the House, so that this reunification may be completed as soon as possible.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time and committed.

Ministry Of Overseas Development (Dissolution)

7.42 p.m.

I beg to move,

That an Humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Ministry of Overseas Development (Dissolution) Order 1979 be made in the form of the draft laid before this House on 25 October.
It is proposed that this order should be made under section 1 of the Ministers of the Crown Act 1975. Section 1 of the Act gives Her Majesty power exercisable by Order in Council to provide for the dissolution of a Government Department in the charge of any Minister of the Crown and for the transfer of the functions previously exercisable by that Minister to any other Minister. By virtue of section 5(1) of the Act no Order in Council which provides for the dissolution of a Government Department shall be made under the Act unless copies of it are first laid in draft before both Houses of Parliament
"and each House presents an Address to Her Majesty praying that the order be made".
Upon his appointment the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs assumed full responsibility for overseas aid and development, and the Ministry of Overseas Development became an overseas development administration within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. My noble Friend's full title is Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and Minister of Overseas Development. These arrangements have already been put into effect administratively. However, this order is necessary in order formally to provide for the dissolution of the Ministry of Overseas Development and for the transfer to the Secretary of State for the functions of the Minister of Overseas Development.

As part of the new arrangements, my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) was appointed in May to be responsible to my right hon. and noble Friend for aid and development matters within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and to be in charge of the overseas development administration. He was given the title of Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Minister for Overseas Development. These arrangements stand. They have had, and will continue to have, a number of consequences.

When development matters are considered among Ministers, they are handled by my right hon. and noble Friend in consultation with my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury. Parliamentary questions on development matters are normally taken in this House by my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury, although there may be occasions when my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal, as spokesman on Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in the House of Commons, will wish to answer questions himself.

Detailed arrangements have already been made to ensure closer liaison between officials of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and of the overseas development administration, and a number of studies are in progress to examine how these arrangements can be still further streamlined. Some of these studies are being done in the context of the general review of Government efficiency being undertaken by Sir Derek Rayner.

These arrangements will not result in any loss of effectiveness in the administration of our aid programmes. In previous debates, when the Conservative Government placed the overseas aid department under the overall direction of the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary and when the Labour Government re-established the department as in independent Ministry, Members on both sides of the House paid tribute to the efficiency and dedication of the civil servants in the overseas development department. On the basis of nearly six months' experience in Government, I am happy to repeat that tribute. The skills of the civil servants in the Overseas Development Administration will now be directly available to my right hon. and noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

As hon. Members will know, the Government have had to make a reduction in the aid budget this year. This is part of our general review of Government spending. But after the reduction the planned programme of expenditure for this year will, in real terms, be no less than the planned programme for last year.

Will my hon. Friend explain that in greater detail so that the House may understand what he means by it?

I thought that it was clear. However, my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury has taken note of the point and will elaborate on it, if possible, when he winds up the debate.

With regard to the machinery for forming policy and the administration of the aid programme, I can tell the House that, as far as I am aware, during the six months of the new arrangements we have received no indications from Governments of countries which receive British aid that things are running less smoothly than before. Nor, as far as I know, did recipients of aid between 1970 and 1974, when arrangements were similar to the arrangements which apply now, make complaints about those arrangements. Therefore, I see no reason why the present arrangements should not function well.

Indeed, the structure which we have now introduced resembles the arrangements favoured by a number of other important aid-giving countries. In Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Canada responsibility for formulating aid policy rests with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, though separate agencies are responsible for implementation. So far as policy is concerned, that is the arrangement we now have. So far as administration is concerned, the overseas development wing of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office remains housed in separate offices in Eland House.

As we said in our manifesto, Britain has a vital interest in bringing prosperity to poorer nations. Many of them supply us with raw materials on which we depend. If their economics improve, ours will benefit. We have a particular obligation to many of the poorer nations which are members of the Commonwealth. Hon. Members should be in no doubt about the sincerity and determination of the Government to foster the development of a prosperous Commonwealth. It is one of our most important foreign policy objectives. An equally important foreign policy objective is the development of the EEC not only as a trading community but as a group of like-minded nations increasingly able to co-operate in foreign affairs. As part of this development the Government are anxious to encourage the EEC to be generous and outward-looking not only in its trade but in its aid policies.

I come now to the reasons why the Government decided to make this change. The first is that we believe that close co-ordination is essential between foreign and commonwealth policy and aid policy. It may be that the previous Government went some way towards recognising that point when the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary assumed overall responsibility in 1975 for aid matters as Minister of Overseas Development. We are going somewhat further than that, in that there is now no separate aid Ministry.

I believe that there have been a number of cases in recent years in which it is doubtful whether the co-ordination of foreign and Commonwealth policy with aid policy has been as close as it should have been. I have only to mention the provision of ships to Vietnam to make my point. Hon. Members will be able to think of other examples.

I am not saying that foreign policy factors should necessarily have priority over developmental factors. Obviously developmental factors are relevant. But a balance has to be struck, and the Government believe that that balance can best be struck by a Minister who has responsibility for both foreign and Commonwealth policy and aid policy together.

There is another field in which I believe the arrangements of the previous Government were open to criticism. The separation of the Ministries enabled the Minister of Overseas Development to take a narrower view than might have been taken of where Britain's interests lay. In many of the small poor developing countries development cannot be divorced from security. I am sure that it is right, for example, that we should help some of the newly independent Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean with the development of efficient police forces. Stability and security are essential preconditions for economic development. I believe that this factor was given too little weight by the previous Government, and this was due to some extent to the separation of the two Ministries.

Our second reason for the change is that it will mean that a senior member of the Cabinet, my right hon. and noble Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, will be speaking in the Cabinet both on foreign and Commonwealth affairs and on aid. This is not a downgrading of aid. It is, if anything, the opposite. In previous Labour Governments Ministers of or for Overseas Development, including the right hon. Member for Lanark (Dame Judith Hart), were not in the Cabinet. In spite of all her formidable talents of advocacy, this must have made the aid voice in the Cabinet less strong than if there had been a senior Cabinet Minister responsible for aid in his own Ministry. It may be that the right hon. Lady was called in to Cabinet meetings when aid was under discussion. But this is a very different matter from being a member of the Cabinet all the time, and a senior one at that.

Let me make an analogy. One of my interests in this House has been the subject of tourism. Over the years hon. Members on both sides who are interested in the subject have had pressure from the tourist industry for a separate Minister of Tourism. I have always resisted that proposal in the interest of the tourist industry itself.

I have always thought it right that the Minister responsible for tourism should be a member of the Cabinet—that is the Secretary of State for Trade. If we had had a separate Ministry of Tourism the Minister could not have been in the Cabinet and therefore could not have carried so much weight. Similar arguments apply to the case of aid.

I believe that the new arrangements are working well. The speed and effectiveness of the Government's response to the crisis over Vietnamese refugees earlier in the year and the quick reaction by the Government to the urgent need now for famine relief for Cambodia confirm that claim. The Cabinet may soon have to take decisions about the eventual scope of our aid programme to an independent Zimbabwe. It is to my right hon. and noble Friend the Foreign Secretary that the Cabinet will look for advice. That, I believe, confirms the wisdom of this order.

7.55 p.m.

The Minister has presented a nice, facile argument, and I look forward to doing the best that I can completely to demolish it. Under this order we shall no longer have a Ministry of Overseas Development. There have been a number of changes over the past few years in terms of Ministers of and Ministers for Over-veas Development. However, what matters is that, apart from the unfortunate period betwen 1970 and 1974, when its transfer into the overseas development administration was scarcely real, and was only formal and nominal, the Ministry of Overseas Development has always been a Ministry with its own independent civil servants. They are highly committed civil servants, and I am glad that the Minister paid regard to them tonight, because some of us know how they feel about this order.

Now, however, there is to be no separation of powers between the diplomatic civil servants of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the members of the Home Civil Service of what was the Ministry of Overseas Development. It is as well to recognise, in talking about integration in Whitehall terms, that they are members of separate Whitehall services, and that full integration of the service is not therefore within the competence of the Foreign Secretary without wide changes in all the machinery affecting the civil servants of Whitehall. All is now subsumed in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

One of the things that the Government have overlooked is the reputation of the Ministry of Overseas Development, not only in the developing countries but among our colleagues in the EEC, the United States, Canada and all countries which share with us the responsibilities of providing development assistance to the Third world.

I have no doubt—and I speak not on the basis of my long experience as the Minister, but of the experience of the Ministry and its highly skilled and expert officials—that the Ministry of Overseas Development commanded tremendous admiration and was seen almost as a model in many parts of the industrial world of how best to do things. I do not think that that will now be so with the merger into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

This is the most major structural change in Whitehall since the Government came to power. In the context of international relationships in the world of the 1980s and of British interests I believe it to be disastrously wrong. One could make a strong case for enlarging the role of the Ministry in terms of overseas staffing in a number of key foreign posts, in terms of overseas trade with developing countries and in terms of certain limited functions carried out by the Treasury—for example, in relation to those aspects of the International Monetary Fund concerned with developing countries and in relation to those meetings of Finance Ministers in which the agenda is largely concerned with North-South relationships. One could therefore make a strong case for enlarging the scope of the Ministry rather than abandoning and subsuming it completely into the realm of foreign policy.

There is a convention—I am not sure that it should not be modified in the interests of freedom of information—that an incoming Government must not see the papers of a previous Government. If the Minister of State had seen the papers of the Labour Government he would not have made the remarks he made tonight implying that there was a great difference of view between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and myself on ships to Vietnam or on the development of security forces in the Third world. All those matters are determined in Cabinet committees. They were not major points of tension between myself and my right hon. colleagues in the Foreign Office. The hon. Gentleman is wrong, and I correct him on that point.

I now refer to the Minister's second point about the development of police and security forces. The Labour Government always distinguished—certainly I did—between police forces and armed forces. If he saw the examples he would probably agree with the decisions that were made. There were scarcely any examples where legitimate training and assistance with police forces were refused However, the hon. Gentleman would find some examples where the training of armed forces was refused. That was right. I still believe it to be right. Heaven forbid that the aid budget should go into the business of providing armies for any country. That is not what aid is about. Nor is that provision contained in the Overseas Aid Act 1966. If the hon. Gentleman is proposing to do that he must amend the Act.

And security forces. I took down the hon. Gentleman's words. He referred to the development of security and police forces.

I am happy to welcome the Minister's clarification of that point.

The Minister said that the Foreign Secretary would speak in the Cabinet on aid questions. I hope that the Minister for Overseas Development will forgive me for being a shade derogatory. It depends whether a Foreign Secretary's voice in the Cabinet is a voice in favour of the Third world or against it; in favour of aid or against it.

In the time of the previous Labour Government we had a powerful Cabinet. People were called in as necessary to the Cabinet. The major decisions were made in Cabinet committee. It will probably be the case—the Minister can tell me if I am wrong—that the voice of the Third world will be reduced as a result of the changes proposed in this order.

Changes in functions and the statutory position of overseas development within Whitehall reflect a change in approach and attitude. If we are to assess the consequences of this fundamental change, I measure the results, as the Minister did, in terms of what we have seen to occur so far.

The hon. Gentleman referred to the reduction of the Budget. The result that we have seen so far from Foreign and Commonwealth Office control of the aid programme is what the Opposition regard as a savage, foolish and short-sighted programme of cuts. The reason is clear. One understands the philosophy. One recalls the Chancellor of the Exchequer's speaking at the meeting of Commonwealth Finance Ministers recently. He said that Britain would have to put its own house in order before being able to provide more official aid to less developed countries. He urged Commonwealth countries to make more effective use of the market place.

We are entirely familiar with the thesis. However, when the Minister of State, in his facile way, says that in real terms this year's programme, following the cuts, will be equal to that of last year, perhaps I could put the existing figures in a slightly different way. That might answer the point raised with him by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Steen), which he said that his colleague would answer at the end of the debate.

We now confront a £50 million cut in this year's aid programme as against the steady increase of 6 per cent. in real terms for the next four years, which was in the Labour Government programme—the fastest increasing public expenditure programme.

The hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Steen) raised the question of the level of expenditure when the Minister addressed the House. However, the Minister immediately left the point. Had he proceeded on that line I should have asked him to explain how it was related to the order.

I venture to give the answer which the Minister promised to give at the end of the debate. In doing that I must be in order, otherwise the Minister would have been out of order in giving that promise of further facts at the end of the debate. I shall be brief. The contrast is that the cut in the aid programme this year means that there is a 5 per cent. cut in the aid budget in real terms, compared with what would have been a 6 per cent. increase in real terms. We do not know, but we fear a greatly increased cut next year. I shall be happy if the Minister can advise his colleague that the figures are different. That is my understanding of them.

As I know that you will be anxious about this point, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I refer specifically to a matter in the order. We have examples of the effects of the cuts. The order refers to the British Council. The responsibility for the British Council in certain respects is now transferred from the Ministry of Overseas Development to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

We were told about the effects of this in a paper by the staff side of the British Council that was published earlier this month. It is aptly entitled "How to lose friends and stop influencing people". We are told that the management of the British Council, under the merger, which is mentioned in the order
"have told the Staff Side Unions to expect cuts of over £5 million (10–12 per cent.) next year. The Director-General, Sir John Llewellyn, has said in the Staff Journal, 'it is more than likely that there will be further cuts in years to come.' … There will be massive reductions (probably 50 per cent.) in training awards for students from developing countries handled for the Overseas Development Administration, at a time when fees are likely to be more than doubled."
About 50 per cent. of British Council money came from the Ministry of Overseas Development. As a result of the merger of functions there is a merging of money. Now we are talking about one budget—a Foreign and Commonwealth Office budget. The immediate result is a reduction in British Council expenditure on overseas students at a time when we are all desperately worried.

On Friday the Minister faces an Adjournment debate initiated by his hon. Friends on this issue, the BBC external services and overseas students. I understand that next year there is likely to be a 14 per cent. reduction in British Council staff serving overseas. That could involve—I shall be very happy if this can be denied at the end of the debate—the closure of 17 British Council offices in developing countries. That is a massively mistaken concept in the interests of projecting whatever we think we are about in Britain, whether it is a Tory or a Labour Britain, yet here it is in the order. That is one consequence of the merger that we are discussing tonight.

Will the right hon. Lady clear up the confusion in my mind? Is she arguing that the cuts—which she obviously deplores—result from increased Foreign Office control over the overseas aid programme or simply that they result from mistaken Government policy? It seems to me that what we are discussing this evening is Foreign Office control over the overseas aid programme.

We are, indeed. What I am presenting to the House for consideration is that were there still an independent Ministry of Overseas Development I doubt whether the view that governs the aid programme at present would have succeeded, as it has, in imposing cuts in a number of vital areas. There would have been an independent voice and a constructive tension between Departments that might have preserved some of the things that in my view are very important. That is the essence of my case.

I have two questions. First, does the Scretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs propose to close the development division concerned with southern Africa? Is the Rayner exercise on staff cuts, to which the Minister has referred, likely to fall most heavily on overseas development administration and will the effect of staff cuts bear most heavily on technical co-operation, the most labour-intensive activity in overseas development functions and work and one of the most valuable activities to the developing countries? Perhaps the Minister can say "Yea" or "Nay" to those questions. I would be very happy if the answer was "Nay".

I have another question, indirectly related to the British Council, regarding overseas students, which I have already touched upon. There has been an avalanche of protest on this matter from the universities and even The Economist. which I assume even the Chancellor of the Exchequer occasionally reads. About 8,000 overseas students from developing countries receive grants through the aid programme. Those students study development subjects. If they are to share in the cuts it will be inconceivably shortsighted and irresponsible. I put the question: will 8,000 or more overseas students share in the cuts?

Order. Is the right hon. Lady arguing that the cuts flow from the change in administration? That would be the point, not the level of the cuts.

With respect, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the overseas students who are supported from the aid programme mostly have their grants adminstered by the British Council, which is specifically referred to in the order. I think that puts me in order on that point.

On the subject of the British Council, does the right hon. Lady agree that there was a substantial measure of opinion throughout the House, at the time of the Berrill report and the Central Policy Review Staff review, that the British Council was not operating in the most efficient way? I seem to recall that there were occasions when it was felt that some cutting back of British Council activity could be usefully carried out to save cost to the taxpayer and improve the service that it gave in the developing world. It would be charitable of the right hon. Lady to acknowledge that, and say that at least there is a possibility, now that the British Council is to be faced with one budget rather than two, that the budget will be administered more effectively and efficiently, as a result of which the British taxpayer will gain some benefit and the developing countries may get better service.

The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that I have put questions to the Minister tonight. Those of us who served on the Select Committee on Overseas Development all remember our questioning on these matters. The question essentially is, will this order mean that there is to be any sacrifice in the quality and quantity of service that the British Council gives to Third world countries and to students from those countries? That is the question that I put, and I think that the hon. Member for Norfolk, North-West (Mr. Brocklebank-Fowler) would not disagree with my posing that question.

The right hon. Lady will recall serving with me on the Select Committee. Would she also address her mind to the way in which this order, by bringing the Ministry of Overseas Development under the aegis of the Foreign Office, might improve the efficacy of aid and advice that we give to foreign Governments on development? That is the question about which many of us are concerned. We are concerned with the effective deployment of what aid we can manage to scrape up. I should like to hear the former Minister for Overseas Development address herself to that aspect.

If I am allowed to do so, I hope to touch on that matter in a moment. Before I do that, perhaps I could touch on other areas related to the British Council, such as education, overseas students and many of the functions that the council will now undertake through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office rather than the Ministry of Overseas Development.

One crucial related field is development education. The Labour Government began what we regarded as a crucial but modest programme costing £600,000 this year and rising in roughly three year's time to about £3 million a year. That would be 0·3 per cent. of the aid budget, used by many bodies such as churches, voluntary organisations, schools and colleges, and much of it related to advice given by those working for the British Council.

I remember the commitment that was made at Lusaka by the Prime Minister when she said that she supported—indeed, she signed—a communiqué that declared that
"circumstances (affecting the economic, social and political structures of countries) call for bolder endeavours and a new approach for … improving the public understanding of the need for change in the countries participating in the interdependent international system."
That was the commitment at Lusaka.

A matter of three or four weeks later we hear that the whole of the development education budget of what was the Ministry of Overseas Development—now part of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office—has gone, and that the advisory committee on development education no longer exists.

On a point of order. If it is in order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for the right hon. Lady to argue the demerits of the substantive Government policy on aid, is it in order for other hon. Members to argue the merits of it later this evening?

I have been doing my best to limit the debate to the matters of reorganisation. As I see it, under this order levels of aid and policy decisions are not before the House tonight.

With great respect, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I listened extremely carefully to the opening speech by the Minister and waited for you to challenge him on certain aspects. When you did not do so I assumed that I, too, would be allowed to discuss some of the issues that the Minister had discussed. I think that I have not referred to anything that came outside the remit of the Minister's remarks this evening—so far. I might do so, but then no doubt, Mr. Deputy Speaker, you would, no course, pull me up very sharply.

However, in terms of the development education programme of the Ministry—if we are allowed to indulge for a second I shall turn away from the matter in a moment—those who have objected to this absurd and mean cut include the Baptist Union, the Church of England, the Methodist Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Catholic Institute for International Relations, the Trade Union Research and Education Group, Christian Aid and Oxfam. I hope that the hon. Gentleman is happy in his defence of the merger of ODM into FCO to be greeted by such an avalanche of protest from organisations which I think a Conservative Government would wish to hold in some high regard.

But the Minister spoke of the basic purposes, as he saw them, of the Government's aid policies. He spoke specifically of aid to the poorest. He will recall, of course, that one of the marks of the previous Ministry of Overseas Development was the publication of the White Paper "Aid to the Poorest".

What is happening now? I ask the Minister in terms of his remarks in opening the debate. As I go around the world, I happen to pick up information about British Ministers. Indeed, I think it was the Minister of State, the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten), unfortunately, who told the governing council of the United Nations development programme that there was no more money in the kitty for that this year. I hear that there is no more for rural development arising from the Rome conference in July.

Then we come to the poorest countries, with which we are most concerned, as the Minister said. We come to India and to Bangladesh. India has a gross national product of $150 per head as compared with almost $5,000 here. It is over 30 times more here than in India. One comes to Bangladesh, where the figure is even less.

Turkey has a gross national product of $1,000 per head a year. This relates essentially and entirely to the Minister's remarks about the Government's concern to continue to give priority to the poorest countries under this merger of the Ministry of Overseas Development with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. From a cut-down aid budget that the Minister has mentioned, we have found —15 million for Turkey. However, I understand—I shall be very happy to have this denied—that there is to be a 40 per cent. cut in the forward planned framework of expenditure for India, with debt relief included in that figure, rather than being additional, over the next three or four years.

Where is aid to the poorest if that, indeed, is within the minds of Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers, without an independent Ministry of Overseas Development?

The hon. Gentleman talked about our relationships with the European Community. Where does he think we shall stand in terms of the campaign that has been conducted by successive Governments of both of our major parties for greater help from European EEC aid to the non-associated countries of Asia, when that is the consequence of the Government's own actions? Where is the strength of argument to say that the EEC ought to be providing more assistance in Government aid and trade to India, Bangladesh and other countries of Asia? The case is lost.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, on the figures that she has just given, the proposal will cancel out the effect of the rescheduling of debt which the previous Government arranged and which right hon. Members from the Conservative Front Bench assured me categorically they would maintain?

I am sorry to say that I referred to it myself, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Perhaps I could elucidate what I said, because it might assist my hon. Friend. My understanding is that over the next three or four years the 40 per cent. cut in planned expenditure in the framework of aid to India will include the debt relief. In other words, the debt relief will not be additional but will come out of the sum. That is my understanding, but I should be very happy to hear a denial of that tonight.

There could be no clearer example of the policy consequences of this merger of ODM and FCO than that which came not from the Foreign Secretary but from the Home Secretary. We had the Home Secretary's announcement that there is to be an end of the Latin American refugee programme, to which there has been a contribution from the Ministry of Overseas Development of between £2½ million and £3 million for each of the last three or four years. That would not have happened if a Minister of Overseas Development had been around the scene and if the Labour Government's Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Home Office Ministers were still in power.

The hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Sir B. Braine) appreciates deeply the problems of refugees from Argentina. He and I met some of the mothers from Argentina only two or three months ago. I am sure that he will be one of those who join with all those on the Labour Benches in deeply regretting what the Home Secretary had to say last night.

I must be very careful of my words, because it would not do for me to abuse the privileges of the House. The statement made by the Home Secretary spoke of the Latin American refugee programme, which began in 1973 after the coup in Chile. I hope that my words fall within the conventions of the House when I say that that was an error of fact and a grave distortion of truth.

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. If it is the right hon. Lady's contention—I think that it is—that these demerits in Government policy arise from the organisational changes which are proposed, that argument can be rebutted by the argument that there are other good reasons for these changes. Does that then make it open to the House to discuss what good reasons there may be for Government aid policy?

Order. The hon. Gentleman may use any arguments in rebuttal that are in order at a later stage, but not on a point of order.

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will seek his opportunities and take his chance.

However, I have made a rather serious accusation against the Home Secretary. I have gone as far as I can. I have said that his statement yesterday on the Latin American refugee programme was a grave distortion of the truth.

That programme began in 1974. Having made such a grave accusation, I should like to back up my own knowledge of this matter. The first refugee from Chile who came into this country came during Christmas week in 1973, as a case of political asylum. He was a young man, with his wife and their year-old baby, who happened, as it turned out, to stay with me subsequently for four or five months. They came by train, after crossing the Channel to Dover. It was the first test case of whether a refugee from Chile could be admitted into Britain. The refugee programme began in 1974. Will the Minister seek from his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary some correction of yesterday's misleading statement? I believe that it will disturb deeply the conscience of this country.

One of the merits of the proposed merger—perhaps some Conservative Members will attempt to argue this case—could be that we might achieve a more consistent programme in relation to human rights. Had I been a Conservative Member, I would have argued that case. I would have said "Look, if we have FCO dominance it is likely that we could have a more consistent programme of human rights".

The hon. Gentleman thinks not, but it could be argued that there is a certain logic in that argument. Of course, I would have disputed that. However, it is certain that there is no logic in a foreign policy which proceeds to dominate and disturb policies relating to the overseas aid budget which have been consistently exercised in the cause of human rights in the last four years. That was the iniquitous act which the Home Secretary took last night in relation to refugees from Latin America. I doubt very much whether the Home Secretary understands that if one takes a prisoner, or someone in detention, in Argentina under our refugee programme, one is taking him out of detention and torture, because those are the arrangements that the Argentinian Government have for voluntary exile. I do not think that is understood. I hope that some of us—perhaps the hon. Member for Essex, South-East will assist us because he knows so much about the matter—will persuade the Home Secretary to change his mind.

With a separate Ministry of Overseas Development, in co-operation with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and with the full support of everyone in the Labour Cabinet, we had a clear and consistent policy on human rights. We shall now be out of step with Germany. I am happy to learn that the Prime Minister is meeting Chancellor Schmidt tomorrow. Perhaps they will compare notes on this subject, because West Germany offers 400 visas a year to Latin American refugees.

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Surely at this particular point in her speech the right hon. Lady is out of order. She is talking about what other countries may or may not do in matters that do not relate at all to the provisions of the order.

I have not been in the Chair all that long, but I understand that the debate has been ranging rather wide. There are limits to how far one can go. I hope that the right hon. Lady will refer to the order that we are debating. The issues that she is raising are obviously emotional and affect us all, but they are not part of the debate.

I apologise on this occasion, Mr. Deputy Speaker, because I believe that the hon. Member for Norfolk, North-West is correct. I have strayed a little beyond the order. But the hon. Gentleman understands, and I hope that you will understand, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that I did so in order to allow the House to appreciate the devastating effects that the proposed merger is having upon the Government's reputation in regard to human rights. In that sense I was perhaps on the edge of order.

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. With respect, I find it difficult to follow your ruling. This proposal, which frankly horrifies me, is to dissolve the Ministry of Overseas Development and to absorb it into the Foreign Office. That must mean at least a qualitative change in an aid policy that has been accepted by successive Governments for a long time. Whether the effect is devastating or not, there will be a change. Surely it is in order, not only for the right hon. Lady, but also for any other hon. Member, to discuss the effects of that change upon the country's standing in the developing world as well as upon the effective deployment of aid resources.

I therefore hope that the right hon. Lady will be allowed to develop that argument, because some of us certainly wish to do so. While keeping within the bounds of order, I hope that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will permit some discussion of the effects of this extraordinary proposal, the case for which I have not yet heard.

Obviously some of the matters that the hon. Gentleman raised are completely in order, but I do not think that anyone in the debate is in order in going into the specific amounts of aid that we are giving, and I have heard several comments about that since I came into the Chamber.

With the greatest respect, this goes right to the heart of the whole issue. I recall that previous proposals were made in 1969–70 for a similar merger. If we place the concentration of expertise that the ODM possesses under the control of another Department, there is no guarantee that it will not be dispersed, and that its aims and objectives, its policies and practices, will not be distorted. I have in mind the way in which the Foreign and Commonwealth Office— I am not referring now to specific Ministers—has looked after the national interest of this country. I am thinking of the way in which Parliament was deceived over Rhodesian sanctions, and over the repatriation of Russians after the war—

Order. The hon. Gentleman is making a speech. Interesting as it is, he is getting out of order now. Obviously the House is in order in debating financial matters in so far as they are affected by the administrative change, but I do not think that it is in order for hon. Members to mention specific amounts which have been given to any particular areas. That is not part of the order.

The point on which the right hon. Lady admitted that she might have strayed beyond the bounds of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, related to the area of human rights. Although I have some sympathy with some of the things said by my hon. Friend the Member for Essex, South-East (Sir B. Braine), I hope, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that you will confirm that it would be wrong for anyone in the debate to speculate on any area of policy that the Foreign Office, having assumed these new responsibilities, might or might not pursue. Surely the matter of human rights is one that we should recognise as being outside the parameters of the debate.

Mr. Hooky Further to the point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Minister, in his opening statement, referred—I believe quite properly—to the quantity, the quality and the nature of our aid programme. He referred precisely to certain matters that he thought were correct and in regard to which he thought the previous Government were incorrect. The Chair did not indicate at that time that the Minister was in any way out of order. Indeed, in a debate of this kind, it would be virtually impossible to be out of order in discussing the nature of a Ministry the whole aim and purpose of which is the aid programme. With respect, therefore, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I hope that we shall be able to debate matters which are directly related to the order, the implications of which the Minister spelt out in his opening speech.

I was not in the Chamber when the Minister spoke, but I understand that he referred to certain aid. Whether I would have felt it necessary to bring him to order in that respect, I do not know. I might have done. I do not think that the order deals with specific amounts of aid; it deals with administrative changes. As long as hon. Members keep within that ambit, and deal with what might be the effect of the change, they will be completely in order. But during the last hour or so, from what I have gathered, there seems to have been a tendency to wander outside the ambit of the debate.

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. When I was at the Ministry of Overseas Development we had a clear-cut policy on human rights. It seems to me that it is perfectly proper to argue, within the confines of this debate, that that policy may be directly affected by the change.

As hon. Members debate this order, they are apparently making the assumption that there is to be a change. There is a change in the responsibility of Departments, but that does not necessarily mean that policy will change. If hon. Members insist on making hypothetical assertions, they are outside the ambit of the order. That was the only point that I was trying to make to the right hon. Lady.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is indeed the case that what one is arguing here is that as a consequence of the change of functions in the order there has been a change of policy, particularly in respect of human rights. I hope that it is in order to argue that.

We are concerned here about the transfer of a Department which disburses aid to the Foreign Office. Aid is about development, development is about people and people are concerned with human rights. It can be argued that under Governments of both parties foreign policy has made it possible to sell arms to those who oppress people. E1 Salvador is an example of this which has been mentioned. That being so, surely it is within the bounds of this debate for hon. Members on both sides to refer to the possible qualitative changes that will take place as a result of the removal of this Department's autonomy. Once, the criterion was purely development and not foreign policy. Surely it is within the bounds of order for that to be argued. If not, this debate is a farce.

It would be completely in order to do as the hon. Member suggests. However, hon. Members must not deal with completely hypothetical matters. They must relate them to the order itself. There is nothing in the order to indicate that policy is necessarily changing. If the hon. Member or anyone else can see where policy is being changed because of the order, then he is in order to mention it. I suggest that we proceed, and, having regard to what I have already said, perhaps hon. Members will try to narrow their remarks from some of the wider issues that have been mentioned.

Perhaps I could assist the House. Before you took the Chair, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I referred specifically to paragraph 3(2) in the order, which relates to the British Council. I submit that the implementation of the aid budget in relation to refugees from Latin America has great relevance to the relationships between the Ministry of Overseas Development and the British Council, and therefore has a direct bearing upon the change of function that we are discussing in the order.

We are not discussing hypothetical changes in policy; we are discussing real changes. This distresses many of us who feel passionately and deeply about this issue. We place responsibility for it to some degree at the door of this Government, who brought about the merger. One cannot separate the mechanics of change from the content of change.

Can the right hon. Lady explain why she believes that para 3(2) indicates any change in policy? As far as I can see, it merely changes the person who has the right to make the appointment. It does not in any way imply a change of policy.

Of course it does not in itself. But one of the ways in which a separate Ministry exercises its voice in policy is by having the power to make appointments. I am surprised that the hon. Lady does not appreciate that simple point. Having said that, and knowing the passions that were aroused by the decision of the Home Secretary last night, I will now relate my argument directly to what the Minister said in opening the debate.

The Minister talked about aid to the poorest countries and I believe that he mentioned the word "interdependence". He will be aware that the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs stated the Conservative Party's aid policy a few months ago. I shall quote some of his remarks. They echo some of the comments that have been made tonight by the Minister. I have obtained the Under-Secretary's permission to quote from the article he wrote. He said:
"We recognise the interdependence between the Third World and ourselves. Apart from the arguments of mutual self-interest in helping to create a higher standard of living for the poor in the world so that they will be in a better position to buy our goods and services, we believe that the conditions of fellow human beings must be a matter of profound concern to us all. We will point this out at every opportunity and show that, abroad as at home, we will put people first."
Those are admirable and excellent sentiments.

Where from that flows the Government's mandate to abolish the Ministry of Overseas Development? Where from that flows the mandate to make a 5 per cent. cut in real terms in the aid budget? Where from that flows the mandate to make those changes in policy which I have attempted to touch upon tonight? Where from that flows the mandate to inflict such an effect on those dedicated people who work in what is now the overseas development administration?

My information is that over the last few years, when Civil Service recruitment was taking place every year, about 60 per cent. of university graduates chose as their first choice for employment the Ministry of Overseas Development. Of course, the Ministry could absorb only a fraction of that number, but it indicates the degree of commitment and dedication that is felt among many in Whitehall to the principles for which the Ministry of Overseas Development stood. I believe those principles are endangered by the order which we are debating.

Does my right hon. Friend recall that during one of the brief interludes when she was not the Minister —I hope that this is yet another brief interlude—there was an indication from the then Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson), that he wanted to go up the same road? A number of my hon. Friends and I resisted that proposal strongly and we dissuaded him from doing so, on two grounds: first, on the basis of the effect on the developing world in its belief that we would be weakening our commitment to aid, and, secondly, on the matter which my right hon. Friend has just raised, the morale of the staff. I confirm that many of those staff are the most dedicated of people. That is a road which we should not be treading tonight.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I am aware of the amount of work that he put into that matter at the time. I am sure that there must have been voices from the other side of the House who argued the same case. The difference is that we succeeded and they lost.

The then Minister is on those Benches now but he did not work for them.

My hon. Friend is right. If we are talking about interdependence, mutuality of interest and Britain's image and role in the world, it is highly narrow and unintelligent of any Government, Cabinet, Foreign Secretary or Prime Minister to fail to realise that one of the most important key dimensions of Britain's relationship with the world of the 1980s is our relationship with the developing countries. I am referring to trade, assistance to those countries and helping them to develop the resources which the world will need in 20 years. The concept of mutuality of interest is not served by reducing the influence and capacity of a highly efficient and dedicated Ministry of Overseas Development by taking the action that is proposed. It is against British interests and the interests of the Third world. The Opposition will firmly oppose the order.

8.50 p.m.

I make no apology for speaking in the debate. I am not known to take part in debates on foreign affairs, Commonwealth matters or overseas aid. However, I have a deep interest in this topics. I have always longed to take part in such a debate in a capacity other than that of a Back Bencher. I should like to have served my party and the House in that field, but that has never come my way and never will.

When I heard of the merger, I had doubts about it. I am still not totally convinced, although the Minister made out a good case. I accept his greater knowledge and the wisdom of those who put the proposition together. We must wait and see, and it is worth giving the merger a try.

I was not convinced by the right hon. Member for Lanark (Dame Judith Hart), who did not put up many arguments against the merger. She talked of the need for a separate Ministry of Overseas Development, but I do not think that she proved her case. However, the action taken by this country since the merger is important. The Minister gave the example of Cambodia and its refugees, where action was taken at the top level by the Foreign Secretary and the Cabinet. Other examples could be given that prove it to be a good merger.

It is important that the voice for aid is heard loud and clear in the Cabinet. I do not wish to belittle the efforts of those previously in charge of that separate Ministry. However, if it is under the control of the Secretary of State and the Minister for Overseas Development, and if decision are taken at Cabinet level, it will be for the better.

When I was a junior Minister, a Cabinet committee, although fairly important, was not as important as a meeting of the whole Cabinet. There are important and weighty decisions that must be made on overseas aid during a difficult period, and the Cabinet should make them. The voice of aid must be heard at the top—in Cabinet.

It is also important that aid and foreign policy should work and plan together, and that is more important now than before. We live in changing times, and foreign policy and overseas aid become more difficult matters.

My hon. Friend almost invites me to intervene. Is he aware that in the United States overseas aid was always specifically linked with foreign policy and proved quite disastrous to American and Western interests? Anyone in the developmental field knows that to be so. Is he also aware that when I was Chairman of the Select Committee we took evidence that clearly showed a lack of co-ordination between developmental aid and external trade policy? If there are to be mergers, the case is stronger for bringing external developmental policies in line with external trade policies, but for goodness sake do not put developmental aid together with the basic needs of poor people in the world. Further, the Foreign Office should not be put in control. That Department makes mistake after mistake and has the worst record of all for errors of judgment. There have been betrayals of secrets and truth does not seem to matter much. Prime Ministers do not know the—

Order. The hon. Member is speaking on an intervention. I did not call him to make a speech.

It is rather sad that my hon. Friend the Member for Essex, South-East (Sir B. Braine) began his intervention in a pleasant manner, but then worked himself up into anger against me. I find that strange. He has expert knowledge and far more experience than I have, so I listened with great attention until he began to get excited and overstated his case. His lack of faith in the American Administration may be well founded, but I have faith in my right hon. and hon. Friends in the Foreign Office, and perhaps they will learn from the mistakes of the Americans.

It is a changing world, and foreign policy and aid must go together. There has to be co-operation, and under a single Ministry that is possible.

We are in the Community and must work together on foreign affairs and aid. I hope that we can encourage the Community to be more outward-looking, and move forward in conjunction with our friends and partners in Europe. Our policy must be closely worked out together.

I agree with some of the sentiments expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Devon, West (Mr. Mills), but does he agree that these separate arms of foreign policy are at present handled through different directorates-general in the Community—DG 1 and DG 8? Is he proposing that the policy of co-ordination that we have adopted should be sold to our partners in the Community?

To be frank, I cannot answer that question and it was totally unfair of my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, North-West (Mr. Brocklebank-Fowler) to ask it. Had I known that he was intending to ask such a question, I should not have allowed him to intervene. I could not have been more frank when I said that I spoke as a pure amateur. I am simply saying that now we are in the Community we must work together and that the Community should be more outward looking. The practical application of that proposal is for the experts.

I wish my hon. Friend would stop muttering. I have allowed him one intervention and, after what happened last time, I am not sure that I shall allow him another.

The West Indies has been mentioned and particularly the new Governments in St. Vincent and St. Lucia and some of the small islands that I have had the privilege of visiting. There could be serious dangers if we do not have co-operation between our foreign policy, our efforts to guide and help those islands and the aid that is given to them—certainly in defence matters.

Finally—and that word will, I am sure, bring a great sigh of relief from most hon. Members—the right hon. Member for Lanark did not prove her case. She talked about cuts and the failure of the Government to support education, but she did not deploy her arguments against the merger. Even an agriculturist can understand that it is the merger which we are debating. The right hon. Lady sought to sidetrack the House from discussing the merger.

The Opposition have not proved their case. I am almost 100 per cent. certain that the Government are on the right track with the new course. We shall wait with interest to see how it works out in practice. I am prepared to support the Government.

9.1 p.m.

The debate concerns the dissolution of the Ministry of Overseas Development, which, by any standards, is a major act of policy. It will not do for the Government to say that it is merely a reorganisation or that it will make no difference. If they argue that it will make no difference, they can hardly justify taking several hours of our time to debate the order.

To be fair to the Minister, he made clear that there were implications for the size, quality and nature of our aid programme. He was drawn into a fairly sharp exchange with my right hon. Friend the Member for Lanark (Dame Judith Hart) on an important aspect of the nature of the aid programme that might follow from the dissolution of the Ministry and the transfer of its functions to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

We cannot sensibly discuss the order except in the context of the general background of our relations with developing countries and how far the dissolution of the ODM will affect those relations and the standing of our country in the Third world. The Ministry must be regarded as a sensitive contact with the Third world and not just as a governmental charity dispensing money. That is contrary to the whole concept of aid. The Ministry can feed back to the machinery of Government the feelings, policies and ideas of the hundred or so Third world countries with which our aid programme is concerned. The dissolution of the ODM must mean that there has been a change in the Government's attitude and policy on overseas aid and our relations with the Third world. The decision cannot be construed in any other way and it must be considered in the context of other Government action in this area, to which I shall refer later.

We are debating one aspect, perhaps a narrow one, of what has come to be called the North-South dialogue, the relationship of this country with the Third world countries and how we can help those countries and our general relationships with them. In my view, and in the view of many others, this is a fundamental aspect of foreign policy. In many people's view it transcends the importance of East-West relations, which have dominated the foreign policy argument for two decades since war.

I do not think that we can regard the dissolution of this Ministry as simply a reorganisational shuffle and jiggery-pokery within Whitehall, with civil servants becoming responsible to some other or different Minister, though that, in itself, could be important. We have to ask the Government what are the intended consequences of this change in certain precise fields of our relations with the Third world and in overseas aid and development policy.

This year, as the House knows, an important conference in Manila discussed many aspects of overseas aid. The conference touched on certain matters that I wish to raise. I want to know how the dissolution of the Ministry of Overseas Development and the transfer of its functions to the Foreign Office will affect Government policy on these important issues. If it will make Government policy more forthcoming, more outward looking, more generous and more constructive, there will clearly be a case for the order. If, on the other hand, it is likely to constrain, restrict and downgrade our behaviour towards the Third world, the order clearly becomes more questionable and the House, and certainly the Opposition may well decide to vote against it.

We are entitled, under this order, to ask the Government for an explanation of the consequences, if the House adopts the order, for certain precise fields of policy covering aid and development. Let us consider, for example, the common fund, which was finally negotiated at Manila. Will this change of policy, the dissolution of the ODM and the transfer of responsibilities to the Foreign Office, mean that we shall be more generous, or less generous, in our voluntary contributions to the second window of the common fund? Will the Foreign Secretary, if he assumes these responsibilities, argue in Cabinet for greater, more rapid and more powerful development of this new instrument? Or will he argue for it to be downgraded still further or for it to be restricted and curbed in various ways so that it will not be a great international instrument of development as originally conceived?

Does the dissolution of the ODM mean that the common fund and all the associated arguments, in terms of commodities, and so on, will be pushed way down the agenda? Does it mean that the Foreign Secretary, with all his multifarious responsibilities, will take little interest in this particular instrument of development and that it will play little or no part in the development policy of Her Majesty's Government during the next two or three years? That is a question that the House is entitled to ask. This is an important feature of development strategy. There is also the question of how far we, as an important market for the goods of other countries, will make conditions easier for them to sell their goods in our markets. Or do we intend to introduce protectionist and restrictive polices?

I am fairly satisfied that the Ministry of Overseas Development, if it continued to exist—after all, we might defeat the order—would argue for a generous attitude towards the products of developing countries and say that trade, as well as aid, is an important component of the development process. I am sure that the Ministry has examined the issues with great care, because a special study on the subject has been produced by someone in Whitehall.

We should take a generous attitude towards the Third world about preferences and trade policies. Does the dissolution of the Ministry of Overseas Development mean that such an attitude will not prevail and that proposals for restricting the flow of trade between the Third world and the United Kingdom will be welcome? Does it mean that when the matter is discussed in Cabinet the Foreign Secretary will say that it is all very well to trade with such people but that he does not regard it as a major matter of foreign policy and will not add his voice to those who advocate a liberal attitude? The House needs to know that. If this order is passed there could be a change of attitude towards the flow of goods between this country and the Third world. If the ODM is dissolved, matters could proceed in a way which I and many of my hon. Friends—and indeed many hon. Members on the Government benches—would not welcome.

Then there is the straightforward question of the volume of the flow of aid. If the ODM is dissolved, will we find that progress towards the United Nations target of 0·7 of GDP gets slower and slower? Progress towards that target has not been very pronounced in the past few years. Or will we find that the Foreign Secretary—

Will the hon. Gentleman acknowledge that many recent surveys have shown that much private investment is more beneficial to the countries receiving it than some of the official aid?

I shall not venture into that argument, because I should be out of order if I were to do so. The ODM does not control private investment.

My hon. Friend may be aware that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when advising developing countries to go to the market place, specifically referred to private investment. My hon. Friend might want to mention the inadequacy of private investment in financing any infrastructure which it does not find profitable.

If I allow myself to be sidetracked into discussing all the right hon. and learned Gentleman's misdemeanours my speech will abuse the tolerance of the House and the Chair. I shall not, therefore, get tangled up in that issue. I come back to the point about the flow of official aid. I am sorry if I did not make it clear to the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mrs. Kellett-Bowman) that when I speak of aid I mean what is called official development assistance. That does not include private investment or arms. If there is a specific, internationally recognised definition of aid, I am sorry that I did not make myself clear.

Such aid over the past couple of decades has barely reached half way to the target to which we, as a member of the United Nations, have been committed for many years. Will the dissolution of the Ministry mean that we shall progress more rapidly, or more slowly, towards the target? Alternatively, will the Minister argue that with the Foreign Secretary in charge he will press for a rapid and substantial increase in the aid programme so that we can honour the international commitment that has been on the books for many years? The dissolution of the Ministry and the transfer of responsibility could have important implications for aid and development policies. We are entitled to know exactly what those implications are. Without an explanation we cannot vote sensibly on the order.

Monetary reform is a complicated matter. I do not wish to examine it in detail, but an important aspect is the IMF's compensating financing facility, which is of help to poor countries which run into balance of payments problems. I imagine that the Ministry, as it is at present instituted, will be interested in seeing a strengthening and enhancement of the IMF's role in assisting poorer countries which run into difficulties because of the fluctuation in commodity prices or because of natural disasters.

This is an important area of policy on which the existing Ministry must have some views. Some of us argue that there may be a conflict in developing the IMF facility as against developing the Stabex system under Lomé. By dissolving the Ministry, are we to move forward with international monetary arrangements as they affect the Third world, or will we lose interest and shuffle off these issues?

Originally, this Ministry was known as a technical co-operation department. The concept of overseas aid 15 years ago involved giving a little help and a little scientific know-how to Third world countries so that in 10 or 20 years they would achieve what took us 150 years. That was a simplistic attitude, which was reflected in the title of the department.

We have come a long way since then. The transfer of technology, how it operates, under what circumstances, at what cost and how the Third world countries can use this seemingly magic weapon to develop their economies and raise the standards of living of their people has become an important element in the aid debate. Will the dissolution of the Ministry contribute positively to the transfer of technology, or, when the matter is put on the Foreign Secretary's desk, will he confess to be ignorant of technology and take little interest in it? The Foreign Secretary has many wide-ranging responsibilities. Technology could come a long way down his list of priorities.

An important development occurred at Manila this year, on which the Foreign Secretary might have more interesting views than those of the ODM, which we are proposing to dissolve. The question of economic co-operation between the developing countries, which arose at Manila, led to a decision that the UNCTAD secretariat should give special help with administrative arrangements to Third world countries co-operating with and helping one another, rather than waiting for the rich world to come to their rescue. I am prepared to listen to what the Minister has to say on that matter.

It is possible that the Foreign Secretary will have views about the possible dangers or advantages of that sort of development. I do not know whether the Ministry of Overseas Development gave much thought to that argument in its preparations, discussions and papers that it presented to the UNCTAD V conference. My own view is that the emergence of this idea in a more precise and better defined form was an important straw in the wind in Manila. It might mean that the Third world is becoming fed up with waiting for the rich world to honour fully its promises on aid, technical assistance, monetary reform, trading rules, and so on.

With the new idea of economic co-operation between developing countries, the Third world may be coming to the conclusion that it is the poor who help the poor and that unless they combine their forces—as OPEC has done in another context—they are not likely to make any great headway.

That could have profound and interesting consequences for our foreign policy. The Government are proposing to dissolve the ODM and put more direct responsibility on the shoulders of the Foreign Secretary. He may have to give more time to the political behaviour and the consequences of a development in which the Third world, so far from taking part in the dialogue, might give up the idea that the dialogue was useful and turn in on itself and say "We shall fight our own way through these problems and give up the notion of interdependence".

With the dissolving of the ODM and the putting of a more direct responsibility on the shoulders of the Foreign Secretary, that development—or at least the political aspects of it—might receive more attention from the Government than it does under the existing arrangements. I should be interested to know whether the concept of economic co-operation between developing countries—the Third world helping itself—has played any part in the Government's decision to dissolve the ODM and give more responsibility to the Foreign Secretary.

We must look at the impact of the order on Lomé II. The ODM, presumably, has been responsible for a considerable amount of the input into the negotiations that have led up to Lomé II, which will be the successor instrument to the first Lomé convention, which runs out in about a year or 18 months. Lomé II has been a difficult agreement to negotiate. I suspect that even now many of the cracks have been papered over with useful phrases, high-sounding declarations, letters of understanding and all the other mish-mash of international negotiation. But it was negotiated while the ODM was in existence, and presumably it put in its views on matters such as Stabex, the European development fund and access to the Community's markets.

I am sorry to offend the Minister's delicate ears with these rather unpleasant matters which over the years have caused him so much anguish and anxiety. However, they are part of the aid argument and, in his new position, he must take some account of them, or I presume he has already done so.

As I said, there is the question of Stabex, the European development fund, access to markets, and investment rules as between the 59 and the Nine at present, or the 10. These negotiations have gone on with the Ministry of Overseas Development as a fairly independent entity. Now the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary will not only have to take more direct responsibility for the problems of lamb, fish, herring, net sizes and all the other minor complications of this delightful Community but will have to superintend the working out of the Lomé arrangements between the Common Market and the 59 ACP countries. That could be of considerable importance.

Stabex is an interesting development. I have not seen the text of the final agreement—I am not sure whether any text has been published—but I believe that the Nine resisted the proposition that Stabex should be extended to cover minerals, apart from iron ore, which is already there.

Are we to understand that, as a result of the dissolution of the ODM, the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary may, in so far as matters concerning Stabex come to his notice, take a more generous and wide-ranging attitude towards that instrument, or will it be construed in as narrow a manner as possible?

Will the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary be concerned with the disbursements from the European development fund, which in past years have been deplorably slow, clumsy and bureaucratic? In future will they be speeded up and made prompt and effective? Under the new arrangement, if the House agrees to it, the Foreign Secretary will have the opportunity to look at that matter.

What will be his attitude to investment? Will he ensure that investment is concentrated simply on tearing out the mineral resources of the Third world to feed the insatiable demands of Western Europe's industry, or will he ensure that some of the investment, at any rate, is concentrated on the infrastructure which my right hon. Friend mentioned as being of fundamental importance to the development of Third world countries? The House is entitled to know whether this change of policy will have the one effect or the other in the context of Lomé as much as in the context of UNCTAD V and the other great international treaties on overseas aid and development.

There is the question of Commonwealth links and connections. Obviously the ODM has been very much concerned with the development of Commonwealth countries, since these include India and Bangladesh, which, as my right hon. Friend rightly pointed out, are some of the poorest countries in the world and have enormous developmental problems.

We know that at Lusaka a short time ago the Commonwealth gave this country great assistance in helping to resolve a difficult problem in Central Africa. At that conference the Prime Minister committed the British Government to work for
"increasing information, understanding and appreciation of the Commonwealth among the general public"—
that is on adequate aid—and also for
"improving the public understanding of the need for change in the countries participating in the interdependent international system."
Will the switch of responsibility contemplated in the order mean a change of attitude to Commonwealth countries? Will it mean that the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary will, for example, impress upon the Common Market that it should be more generous and more alive to the needs of the non-associate States and should not concentrate all its mind and effort on the 59, important though they may be?

The House may think that in all these matters of relations within UNCTAD, within the Lomé convention and within the Commonwealth, the United Kingdom has a very insignificant voice. We are, we persuade ourselves, not a terribly rich country operating among many other powerful industrial countries. We might think that what we say in the context of the existence of the Ministry of Overseas Development, or what is said by the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary in his more direct role of administering the aid and development programme, does not matter.

It is worth quoting here, however, an interesting comment that was published in The Guardian yesterday by our former ambassador to the United Nations, Mr. Ivor Richard, who was writing about Britain's role in the world. He wrote:
"We are, after all, heavily dependent on what goes on in areas of the world no longer under our control. Britain still imports a very large percentage of its food, and we depend upon foreign trade to maintain the living standards of our people. Thus the Third world demands for fundamental alteration in the operation of the world economy are demands that we ignore at our peril. We have a direct interest in world economic stability, and it is very much to Britain's advantage that changes should come gradually and in a way that gives us maximum time for adjustment. They must come by negotiation, and not confrontation."
He went on to say:
"To find ourselves in international economic discussion slightly to the right of West Germany and almost indistinguishable from Japan is nothing short of disgraceful for a country which is as rich as we are."
I quote further, and I promise the House that this is the last quotation from this article—

Order. The hon. Gentleman has so far related his comments to the subject with which we are dealing. I feel, however, that he is now straying outside that specific subject. This is not a general debate on overseas aid. Will the hon. Gentleman relate his remarks to how overseas aid will be affected by switching over to the Foreign Office?

I take this opportunity to remind hon. Members that we have heard three speeches in one hour and 40 minutes and that a large number of hon. Members wish to speak in the debate. It is unfair that right hon. and hon. Members should go on for so long.

I am much obliged to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was trying to work out, in quoting the opinion of a distinguished diplomat, whether the dissolution of this Ministry would mean a change in our foreign policy attitude and our aid and development attitude towards Third world countries. Surely that is what the debate is all about. I was also under the impression that we were entitled to debate this matter until 11.30, and if I am wrong about that I am sorry—

Order. The hon. Gentleman is right, but we shall hear exactly four other hon. Members if they all speak for as long as he has.

I take that point, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I shall now try to draw together the threads of the argument that I have been putting to the House.

The order must be considered in the context of the Government's aid policy. There is no point in the House supposing that this is merely a reorganisational convenience. If it does not matter, we should not spend the time of the House on it. I believe that it does matter. The Government are right to claim that it matters. The Minister is right to claim that the order is of importance. Therefore, we must consider it in the context of what else the Government are doing in the area of aid. The Minister said that the volume of aid had been cut by £50 million. My right hon. Friend the Member for Lanark said that, in real terms, there had been a fall of about 10½ per cent. in the purchasing power of the total aid budget this year.

There was a regrettable proposition to increase the level of overseas students' fees to about two and a half times the rate prevailing in other countries. That is way, way ahead.

Order. The hon. Gentleman is well outside the matter that we are debating. This is not a general debate on overseas aid. The hon. Gentleman should return to the subject of the debate.

With great respect, Mr. Deputy Speaker, my right hon. Friend pointed out that the order concerned the activities of the British Council. The Council is responsible for paying the fees of 8,000 overseas students in this country. If the resources of the British Council are to be pre-empted by a 100 per cent. or 150 per cent. increase in overseas students' fees, the order will affect them. That has a direct bearing on the matter.

As the development education fund has also been scrapped, I should like to know whether the dissolution of the Ministry of Overseas Development has any bearing on that. Would an independent Ministry of Overseas Development have concurred with that action? Is there any point in making representations to the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, under the new dispensation for the restoration of that fund?

The order is significant. It provides not merely for a Whitehall reshuffle. It is an act of policy. Looking at it in the context of other acts of policy in the short period of this Government's tenure of office—the cut in overseas aid, the raising of students' fees, the scrapping of the development education fund—we see that the omens for the future are bad. I have profound misgivings about shifting the responsibility from an independent Ministry on to the shoulders of a Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary who, in the modern world, has enormous responsibilities in the context of our EEC membership and a formidable complexity of matters with which to deal. I cannot support that move.

9.39 p.m.

I shall try not to speak for 38 minutes. Valuable though the speech of the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley) was, there are many hon. Members on both sides of the House who would like to make a contribution to this important debate.

The Ministry of Overseas Development, or the Overseas Development Administration—it has been both in the course of its history—has had a career that has involved it, since 1961, in no fewer than six statutory instruments. That must be a record for the reorganisation of any Department in the last 18 or 19 years—and that is not counting the occasion in 1975 when there was a change that I have not been able to trace and the Government announced that the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs would exercise overall responsibility as Minister for overseas development. At that time we had a Minister of Overseas Development who, I believe, was a Minister of State and the Foreign Secretary at that time was the Minister responsible in the Cabinet. The truth is that we have had Ministers of State or Ministers of Overseas Development in both Conservative and Labour Governments, and under Governments of both parties there have been times when overall responsibility has been with the senior Foreign Office Minister in the Government.

Having said that, together with the fact that I am already on record this Session as having recognised the quality of our present Foreign Office team, I must accuse my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker) of being a bit of a shrinking violet. When I reflect on his words I realise that they were very carefully drafted to tell us as little as possible about what may prove to be a major change.

I believe that the House as a whole, whatever view it takes of the Government and their Ministers, is entitled to know precisely what changes will flow from this substantial change whereby the Ministry of Overseas Development will cease to be a separate entity and, once again, will be absorbed into the Foreign Office.

On the last ocasion when a similar change was made—in November 1970—the Ministry was dissolved and its functions were transferred to the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. Development work was carried out by the overseas development administration as a separate functional wing of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office under responsibility delegated to the Minister for Overseas Development by the Secretary of State.

My hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, South must forgive me if I did not detect from his remarks precisely what the chain of command was, other than that there would be certain times when up to three Ministers might be involved in overseas development affairs and other times when, apparently, my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) might be in charge of overseas development affairs. I hope that my hon. Friends will forgive me for being a trifle worried about this change, because it follows closely the loss of a significant period of time for Foreign Office questions.

Although it is true that we have a separate period within the overall Foreign Office time for questions on overseas development, those of us who might wish to ask questions about foreign affairs and overseas development—I am one—have lost that opportunity to put Ministers under pressure. The opportunity was never very great, because the Foreign Office is rather good at answering questions without telling us anything.

I believe that hon. Members are now at a substantial disadvantage when wishing to find out about overseas development matters during Question Time and in debate. This change has significantly reduced the opportunity for Back Benchers to contribute and to seek information.

I hope that when winding up this evening my hon. Friend the Minister for Overseas Development will assure us that development work will be carried out by the ODA as a functional wing of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and that my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury will be fighting, within the Foreign Office team, to ensure that development matters receive the consideration which they have historically received when decisions are made as to how to deploy our expenditure on overseas aid.

I noted from the Minister's remarks when he opened the debate that many of the details of reorganisation within the new combined Ministry were to be part of Sir Derek Rayner's more general review of the operation of government. But the House is entitled to know today some of the practical changes which will flow from this decision. For example, will there be any saving of staff? If so, what will happen to the staff who are to be displaced? What will be the saving, if any, in the annual cost of administration? What assurances can we be given that the administration of our aid programme will be no less good—indeed, that it will be substantially better—than it has been in the past?

I think that these are reasonable questions for anyone to ask, particularly as my hon. Friend the Member for Essex, South-East (Sir B. Braine) and I had the honour of serving together on the Select Committee on Overseas Development for many years. At various stages during that work, as my hon. Friend has already mentioned, we had grounds for considerable misgivings about the quality of interdepartmental liaison, specifically in the areas of foreign policy—that is, political, strategic and defence questions—and as between trade policy, development policy and aid policy. We detected over a long period of working together on that Select Committee that all these things were inextricably interdependent and needed to have some framework not only within Whitehall but probably in Cabinet subcommittees as well which enables these matters to be discussed as part of a coherent whole, which again, through Cabinet sub-committees, ought to be related to Britain's domestic policy as well.

Frankly, one of the problems over several years which worries some of us on the Conservative Benches is the extent to which the Foreign Office runs a team of its own that does not seem to be keyed into the overall requirements of British policy, both domestic and overseas. I should like to be assured that the interdepartmental liaison on important matters such as this will not lie on the table of the joint aid policy committee—JAPC—which is a peripatetic feast of civil servants which sits first in one Ministry and then in another, but that there will be, as a result of this new central direction of policy which the Minister is proposing, some coherent coordination of all the various strands of foreign policy into a composite whole which is more cost-effective than our policy has been in the past.

The hon. Gentleman will recall the occasion in the Select Committee on Overseas Development when these were matters of questioning. He will recall also that I went as near as I could to telling him that that system existed under the Labour Government.

I am grateful to the right hon. Lady for reminding me of some interesting exchanges on that Select Committee. It is true that she was unusually frank as a Minister before that Committee, and we welcomed that at the time. We enjoyed the exchanges very much. I do not exclude from my mind the hope that should we have a subcommittee of the foreign affairs Select Committee in due course my hon. Friends on the Government Front Bench will come before it and be equally frank and helpful in their exchanges. I feel sure that that is the least that we can expect from them.

However, what I should like to know tonight is the extent of these changes in the organisation of the Ministry. I refer to the point that I have just made about the need for interdepartmental liaison. The Select Committee referred to it in House of Commons Paper No. 125 of Session 1977–78. In the then Minister's reply—Cmnd. 7213 of Session 1977–78—various comments were made on the important recommendations that the Select Committee made. For example, recommendations 1 and 2 were that
"There should be a Cabinet Committee on Bilateral Relations to co-ordinate interdepartmental consideration of the interaction of domestic and overseas policy".
It would be helpful if the Minister could say whether that at least is still under consideration.

In recommendation 5 the Committee recommended that:
"The Government should take early action to establish an inter-departmental system for the evolution of co-ordinated country policy programmes".
Perhaps we shall hear later that part of the reorganisation will mean that some of the staff of the old ODM will become part of the desk staff in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. If that is so, it is arguable that that would be a step in the right direction to get fully co-ordinated country programmes. If that is the case, I hope that my hon. Friend will tell us about it later.

Recommendation 7 of the Select Committee report stated:
"Consideration should be given by the Government to establishing a consultative committee reporting to ministers, to improve liaison with all those concerned with aid, trade and industry".
Speaking for myself, and I think many Conservative Members, although we realise that the aid programme is of vital importance to infrastructure in developing countries, aid is not always the best means of encouraging countries to develop their resources. I personally feel that major flows of private investment in developing countries, under suitably controlled conditions and the laws of the country concerned, can be just as efficient as, if not more so than, some parts of the aid programme. I hope that in his reply my hon. Friend will tell us that this is a subject of continuing consideration, and that the Government will give encouragement to investors in this country to look to the developing world and to play their part in building up their capacity to produce their own food, to export their own surpluses and to earn foreign exchange in order to be expanding markets for what we have to export.

In recommendation 9 it was proposed:
"The Government should take steps to ensure that all Diplomatic Personnel, including those who may subsequently become Heads of Mission, have the opportunity to acquire expertise in the fields of industry, trade, international finance and aid as well as political relations.".
It is a fact that much is demanded of our Foreign Office staff on posts in the developing world. Not all of the heads of mission that I have seen in the developing world have had a good enough background in development, economics, trade, aid or whatever. I very much hope that when the Minister considers how to deploy the forces within this new Foreign Office organisation he will realise that successive reports on our overseas representation have recognised the importance of having a variety of skills available for deployment in the developing world and on major posts overseas. That is something that we would hope to see continued.

On page 27 of that report there is a table showing in percentage terms the extent to which Britain's trade with the developing world has diminished over the years 1970 to 1975. For example, it has diminished by 25 per cent. to the American developing countries; by 20 per cent. to Asian developing countries; by 25 per cent. to African developing countries; and by 33 per cent. to Middle East developing countries. These are very—

The hon. Gentleman has been in order up to now, but these facts and figures are not related to the transfer of the organisation to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

With respect, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I am trying to show that circumstances have existed, in our trading relations with the developing world, of which I am urging my hon. Friend to take account in deploying his resources in the revised Ministry which will be set up as a result of the order. It may seem to be a somewhat tortuous argument, but one can recognise in it a link with the order. I hope that I may be allowed to make the general comment that there has been a substantial loss in Britain's share of trade with the developing world, which was referred to in the Select Committee's report and in the ministerial reply at that time.

What is even more alarming is that the share that we lost has over the years been almost precisely taken up by the increase in the French share of trade with the developing world. I hope that in reorganising the Ministry as a result of the order Ministers will take account of the real need to give our people in the developing countries both the education and the back-up from central Government to ensure that they will no longer continue to lose ground to the French and to other countries which are now exporting to what have been our traditional markets.

During the course of its work over the years, the Select Committee on Overseas Development has had the opportunity of visiting certain of the development divisions, and has in most cases formed a very good view of their ability to spread expertise throughout an area where particular expertise was not available on post for that purpose. I hope that as a result of the reorganisation none of these development divisions will be in danger, and that my hon. Friend will be able to give me an assurance about that.

Many Conservative Members would be very concerned if the Barbadian development division and the Caribbean development division were to cease to exist, because at the moment the Caribbean, with its emerging independent territories, is a particularly vulnerable area. It is important that the Caribbean development division should continue to play a part in ensuring that British resources of aid and so on are available to add to the stability of that area.

The Middle East is another area in which we have had an extremely valuable development division over the years. I hope that my hon. Friend will be able to reassure me that there are no plans now—or likely to be in the future—for shutting down that important division.

The same is true of Southern Africa. Particularly at a time when we hope to welcome an independent Zimbabwe, it is surely of crucial importance that we have technical assistance and technical expertise on hand to ensure that such aid as we give to that new country will be used effectively and to good purpose.

I have heard rumours that the South-East Asia development division in Bangkok could be at risk. If that were to be the case, it would be a very bad thing for us, not least because, as the Minister will recognise, the last report of the Select Committee on Overseas Development saw a role for a development division in the Indian Sub-continent, and we argued forcefully that part of this job could be carried out by the development division based in South-East Asia.

The reason I argue for the maintenance of these development divisions is principally that, quite apart from making expertise available to many countries at a relatively low cost, the development divisions are, quite simply, the best means of project identification that exist. Project identification means not only that British industry has the chance to get in on lucrative contracts at a very early stage but that our manufacturers and traders can play the part that the Conservative Government want to see them play in the development of the Third world.

I hope that the Minister will take these remarks in the spirit in which they are meant. I am perfectly prepared to accept that there is a need for reorganisation and better co-ordination, but I think he owes it to the House to give a fuller account of the detailed plans he has in mind.

10.1 p.m.

The hon. Member for Norfolk, North-West (Mr. Brocklebank-Fowler) accused the Minister in opening the debate of being something of "a shrinking violet". I thought that the Minister was positively brimming with self-confidence in trying to justify this order. I hope that the mauling that he has just had, not least from his own Benches, is a sufficient tribute to the Ministry which he and his colleagues are trying to destroy.

In the years of its existence the Ministry of Overseas Development has won friends on all sides of the House. It is no accident that interventions about overseas aid from the Conservative Benches, which have been most spirited and pertinent, have come from hon. Members with direct experience on the Select Committee on Overseas Aid. Ministers have shown a certain blind loyalty to this decision, but that does not give us much confidence.

On the Opposition Benches there must be either total silence because we believe that no changes have taken place, or protests because we believe that there are changes, and we have the right to ask the Minister what these changes are. The intervention of my right hon. Friend the Member for Lanark (Dame Judith Hart) was particularly pertinent. I believe that fundamental changes are taking place in policy. This is not just an issue of the machinery of government or tinkering around by Whitehall bureaucrats. We are seeing a fundamental change in Government policy towards the developing world.

I was pleased that the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Parris) twice intervened to say that there was a change in philosophy. He threatened to defend that change. Presumably he would bring the same compassion to the people in the developing countries as he brought to the tenants of council houses during the general election campaign.

It is not cheap, and the hon. Member knows it. My goodness, how the Conservatives wriggle when they are faced with the facts!

The Minister gave three specific reasons for bringing forward the order tonight. He said that he wanted closer coordination between aid and foreign policy. More ominously he said that he wanted a better balance between aid and foreign policy. Even more ominously he said he wanted to get rid of the narrow views of my right hon. Friend the Member for Lanark. I presume that by "narrow views" he means the policy of giving aid to the poorest countries.

The Ministry that is being destroyed had a high international reputation and a coherent strategy for aid. It also had high staff morale and trust among the voluntary agencies on which the Government say they will rely for their own strategy.

I do not share the view of the hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Sir B. Braine) about the Foreign Office. As a special adviser, I spent three happy years at the Foreign Office, where I learnt a great deal about foreign policy and the machinery of Government. But, equally, three years' experience convinced me that there was in the Foreign Office, is now and has been since the Ministry of Overseas Development was created, a sort of hard-nosed policy that believes that aid should be an arm of foreign policy.

What we have discovered tonight is that that hard-nosed policy in foreign affairs has won the day. There has been a change and it has been one for the worse. Aid should be about development. If that principle is not kept to the forefront, the sort of short-sighted mistakes in aid policy that were referred to by some of my right hon. and hon. Friends will be made. We face a change in policy. Earlier, Mr. Deputy Speaker, you asked for evidence of that change. We have heard from my right hon. Friend the Member for Lanark and from the Minister that a growth path of a 6 per cent. increase had been cut to a decrease of 5 per cent. We face the removal of a strong ministerial voice. That is what my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley) referred to when he spoke of the fundamental debate about terms of trade.

We also lose a strong voice in the argument between aid and weaponry. Yesterday, I had the honour of listening to the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Michael Manley, talking about aid. He quoted the frightening figure of $300 billion which is spent each year on weapons of war in this world. I wonder whether the hard-nosed realists in the Foreign Office will argue the case that we, among other developed countries, have to fight hard to cut back on that transport and trade in weapons and will put forward the case for aid.

What we have heard and seen tonight and in the last few weeks and months is a sign that foreign policy is dominating aid policy. We have only to look at the fact that the Foreign Office has foolishly abandoned its own careful rules on recognition with reference to Cambodia to see the politics of aid and of foreign policy becoming disastrously mixed up. That change in philosophy matches the change that there has been in domestic affairs.

I am finishing my remarks and I shall not give way.

Domestic affairs now concentrate more on the police and less on social policy. In foreign affairs the emphasis is more on arms and less on overseas aid. It is the same philosophy. It is a policy of folly and it is embodied in the decision before the House tonight.

10.8 p.m.

I welcome the opportunity to express my support for the Government's intention of removing the Ministry of Overseas Development from the political stage and allowing the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to tread the boards unencumbered once again. The danger of such an independent Ministry is clear. It tends to roam the political stage as an extra, desperately trying to avoid the inevitable exit. It is ever a member of a crowd scene crying out for more bread, despite other Ministries having to go away with fewer crumbs.

At a time of economic difficulty, with a clear need to reduce public spending, there can be no further argument. The curtain must finally be run down. An additional question should also be posed. How much overseas development aid can the United Kingdom afford when we are so financially constrained? The Foreign Office, when it takes full control, will be better placed to answer that with its voice in the Cabinet. On this side of the House we recognise the folly of spending money that the nation does not have, but if resources are available, are we sure that the nation should not be benefiting from them?

As a candidate in two earlier general elections in Bethnal Green and Bow, I was struck by the appalling poverty to be found in the East End of London. I now have the honour to represent Welwyn and Hatfield and am conscious that many Hertfordshire people have to struggle valiantly to ensure the essentials of life. The views of the Cabinet can be directly discussed with the Foreign Secretary when he has full control over the levels of overseas aid.

I respectfully commend to my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench the old adage that charity begins at home, and that should be remembered in our efforts to fulfil the Disraelian principle of one nation. Being one's brother's keeper does not necessarily entail a view to distant horizons and sunnier climes.

The right hon. Member for Lanark (Dame Judith Hart) is unfortunately no longer present, but she was kind enough to intervene in my local newspaper, the Welwyn and Hatfield Times, before the last election with the object of teaching me the rudiments of overseas aid as seen by her Ministry, which was a separate entity. In support of her approach, she quoted for my benefit three Conservative principles of giving aid. The first was humanitarian grounds, the second that acute poverty causes political instability and provides a breeding ground for communism and the third that Britain as a trading nation needs expanding markets for its exports. While the right hon. Lady had the privilege to be a Minister of the Crown with a separate Ministry, she failed lamentably to fulfil those three principles to which she was happy to give voice. I am confident that the Foreign Office will not take such a cavalier attitude.

Let us consider the assistance given to Mozambique by the right hon. Lady's Ministry in the form of a £20 million interest-free loan. Surely that was not done on humanitarian grounds when that country assists guerillas who are attacking Africans and Europeans in Rhodesia? It is a breeding ground for Communism.

Order. We are not having a general debate on overseas aid. Will the hon. Member for Welwyn and Hatfield (Mr. Murphy) relate his remarks to the order and the transfer of the Ministry?

If you will forgive me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the point that I am about to make approaches the control by the Foreign Office. The right hon. Lady's action on Mozambique in no way fulfilled the principles—

Order. I have ruled on that point. The hon. Member should proceed to a different matter.

The clear lesson from that appalling episode is that, if overseas aid is to be given, there is a fundamental need for it to be fully considered by the Foreign Office to ensure that there is no conflicting aim or approach. Such aid as we can afford must be totally in line with our foreign policy, and that points firmly to the ending of a separate and often maverick Ministry. It is not real aid if it follows a divergent policy rather than one complementary to that of the Foreign Office.

It would be wrong to brand the Ministry of Overseas Development as purely villain to the Foreign Office hero. Much good and successful work has been carried out without melodrama. However, to ensure firm direction and subsequent approving notices, the Government are absolutely right in moving the order tonight.

10.14 p.m.

The chequered history of this Ministry has been mentioned tonight, and that is where we should start looking at the order. There have been changes from one Government to another in the way in which the Ministry has been operated. The right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson) set up the ODM, which was absorbed under a Conservative Government in 1970. He established a separate ODM again in 1974 and the present Government want to reverse that decision as well. In the meantime, the fundamental issues are inevitably ignored. That is one of the problems bedevilling British politics. One side seems to want to undo what the other side has done, while ignoring the fundamental problems that both Ministries should be looking at.

That does not create the right sort of climate for encouraging consistent policies or Third world confidence. The preoccupation with where the responsibility should lie, instead of an acceptance of our responsibility to developing countries, has been one of the major reasons why we have failed in our attempts to prove our sincerity to the developing countries of the Third world.

There is no chance of Britain being able to talk about solidarity with the poor of the world when we have failed to achieve solidarity at home. The Government's policies, characterised by the order, have led to two Britains being created—a bad starting point from which to try to create one world.

The hon. Member for Welwyn and Hatfield (Mr. Murphy) spoke about charity beginning at home. That is not the sort of remark that one wishes to hear in the House. If charity begins at home, it certainly should not end there.

Do I take it that the hon. Gentleman is declaring that there should be no charity in this country? On that basis, how does he regard his political future in the Liberal Party?

The hon. Gentleman said that charity began at home and tried to set that up as the standard by which we should live our lives. We in the Liberal Party do not believe that that is the way that we should operate. We believe that we have obligations to countries other than our own. We should be talking about the poor of the world and not just looking after our own interests, a course that is characterised by what the hon. Gentleman said and by what the order seeks to achieve.

The dissolution of the ODM will suggest to developing countries that we are less committed to aid. Of course, that is the case under the present Government, because the aid budget has been cut by 5 per cent. in real terms—a greater cut than has been suffered by any other Government Department. The dissolution of the Ministry will result in further cuts because there will not be the political force or determination to ensure that aid is maintained.

The object of the order seems to be to link aid with foreign policy rather than only with development. If there is no strategic benefit in Britain aiding the poorest countries, but some benefit in our aiding the richer ones—for example, aiding Turkey for NATO reasons—it is likely to be too bad for the poorer countries. That is a course which we should not countenance.

As the hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Sir B. Braine) said, other countries are making their aid policies more independent of their foreign policies. The new United States international development corporation is separate from the State Department, yet we appear to be trying to reverse that trend.

The apparent downgrading of the ODM seems to be in line with the size and distribution of aid, and it is strange that we can find money to increase defence spending by 3 per cent. in real terms while we are cutting aid by 5 per cent. when it is already so pitifully low. The United Nations recommended that 0·7 per cent. of our gross national product should be devoted to aid. We currently give only half that amount, and that has fallen from 0·53 per cent. in 1964. With a Ministry that is absorbed into the Foreign Office, I do not believe that there will be—

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I do not feel that the hon. Gentleman's dissertation is relevant to the dissolution of the Ministry.

I was thinking the same, but the hon. Member for Liverpool, Edge Hill (Mr. Alton) just managed to get in a mention of how aid would be affected by switching the ODM to the Foreign Office, and that brought his speech into order.

I am grateful, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

The right hon. Member for Lanark (Dame Judith Hart) talked about the order and its relation to the British Council. I should like to make a few remarks about the effect of the order on the abolition of the development education fund. This will save a miserable £600,000 a year, and will make it even more difficult for Governments to get the political support they need for aid programmes. Sweden spends 50 times the amount we spend on development education and as a result has a noticeably better record on aid than Britain. Money used to finance voluntary agencies, churches and local authorities will suffer as a result of the order.

One of the major tasks of a properly financed development education fund would be to show the British people what is in it for them—a matter that the hon. Member for Welwyn and Hatfield seemed to think was of vital importance. The act of introducing this order will ensure that education is reduced. This will mean that people will be less aware of the benefits that can accrue to Britain by developing better relationships with other countries.

We would do well to heed the words of Dean Acheson, who observed that Britain had lost an empire and not yet found a role. We still have not found one. Our role might be to take a positive lead in creating a world free of poverty and a world where peace was more than just a figment of someone's imagination and could become a possibility. We have lost power in the traditional sense, but we still have influence. We should be using that influence by standing up for the world's poor and oppressed, by being on their side in the councils of the world, and by arguing for the removal of injustices about which they feel so strongly. The introduction of this order will be another blow in the fight to achieve those aims. For those reasons, I hope that the order will not be approved.

10.22 p.m.

I promise that I shall try to make the shortest speech of the evening.

The order has been interpreted by hon. Members on the Opposition Benches as an order that will automatically lead to a change in attitude by the Conservative Government in their aid policy.

There was an interesting intervention when an hon. Member reminded the right hon. Member for Lanark (Dame Judith Hart) of the moment when the right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson), as Prime Minister, had proposed exactly this action. We know that the right hon. Lady was a doughty fighter on behalf of her particular interest at the time. She managed to ensure that the decision was not proceeded with. I am sure that she would be the first to recognise that she did not win every battle that she ever fought. It is possible that she would have lost that battle.

I am sure that right hon. and hon. Members on the Opposition Benches would have resented very much implications from the Conservative side that what is an administrative change necessarily meant that their whole attitude and commitment to the Third world had changed. There is no cause necessarily to believe that this order must automatically mean that the Conservative Government have changed their attitude on these matters.

The hon. Gentleman is pursuing an interesting point. Does he recall that his hon. Friend the Member for Welwyn and Hatfield (Mr. Murphy) said that he believed that aid should be attached to the policy of the Foreign Office? Does the hon. Gentleman agree that this makes his case difficult to support and that if we do not recognise Cambodia, as we do not, the corollary is that we should not give aid to Cambodia?

I have not yet started to develop my case. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. The point I am trying to make is that I do not accept, as I am sure my right hon. and hon Friends do not accept, that this administrative change, in itself, necessarily means a change of attitude by the Government. I had the feeling that many Labour Members were making this point, as wish being father to the thought. I find that deeply upsetting and dishonourable.

The Minister said that he considered that the link between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the overseas development agency would bring about greater efficiency, and that point was elaborated by my hon. Friend the Member for Devon, West (Mr. Mills). I accept that there are many Members on both sides of the House with more experience of dealing with these matters than I have. I hope, however, that they will allow that a new Member is entitled to give credit to his own Government on an issue such as this. Labour Members are perhaps being unfair in assuming that the passing of this order will automatically mean a change of attitude. There has been speculation as to what effect the merger might have on our policies. My hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) announced recently that the development education fund was to be cut. I regard this as a savage and retrograde step. In a democracy such as ours right hon. and hon. Members have a duty to carry their constituents with them when they are attempting to explain why it is vitally necessary for this country to continue our aid policies. The development education fund has made a considerable and significant contribution to that end.

Last Sunday I attended a meeting in my constituency which could not have taken place had it not been for the help given by the development education fund. That meeting, late in the evening, was attended by nearly 60 people. These issues were discussed there and those of us interested in them had the chance to put our views to the public. Those views will duly be reported in the press and that is part of the process of educating our fellow citizens as to the vital need for continuing our aid policies. My hon. Friend the Minister of State mentioned a number of countries in which development aid was linked to their Foreign Office. Germany, Canada and Sweden spend, respectively, six times, 20 times and 50 times more on the education of their citizens in these matters than we do. I ask my hon. Friend to give those of us who have serious concern for these issues some assurance that continued cash support will be allocated by the Government to promote this kind of knowledge and understanding among the British public.

10.29 p.m.

The hon. Member for Watford (Mr. Garel-Jones) has chastised some of us for being suspicious of the motives of his Government in merging the Ministry of Overseas Development with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It was said, within his hearing, by the hon. Member for Welwyn and Hatfield (Mr. Murphy) that objections were raised as to the policy decisions of the ODM during the period in office of my right hon. Friend the Member for Lanark (Dame Judith Hart). The way in which the hon. Gentleman's remarks were greeted by the backwoodsmen behind him made it perfectly clear to me that these Ministries are being merged as an act of vindictiveness because the Tory Party disagrees with some of the ways in which overseas development money was spent during that period.

Occasionally the cat slips out of the bag and the mask falls off Conservative Members. Their fundamental objection to a separate Ministry is that some aid was given to Marxist countries. I shall not develop that argument, because it would be out of order, but will the needs of the developing countries be absorbed into the Government's general policy?

The Ministry has built up a first-class reputation in the Third world for expertise, independence and being impartial. The Ministry should have the independence to criticise the way in which aid is spent. We are in danger of regarding development funds as a means not of developing a country but of helping a Government with which we have sympathy.

The real argument is about how many strings are attached to aid and how often it is used to prop up Governments of which we approve. Those who benefit most from development aid moneys from this country or the United Nations are not the developing countries but the donor countries. That is true of Western nations, the Soviet Union and of China. The bulk of development aid does not remain in the country to which it is directed. Too much of it is returned to the donor country.

One accepts that there are risks in foreign policy becoming involved in overseas aid. As there are so many poor people in the world, does the hon. Member think that it is dishonourable to give more money to a country which is likely to be friendly and less to those countries which support political theories to which we are opposed?

I hope that the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) will not respond to that invitation.

I can respond to the question only by asking how far this merger is designed to do what the hon. Member for Watford suggests. There must be a reason for the change. Is it simply because of administration or is there a policy directive behind the change?

In a book entitled "Aid in Africa" Guy Arnold argues that that is the criterion used by the Soviet Union and China when they give aid. They give aid solely to ensure that the receiving country is tied to their foreign policies. If the merger means that we are deliberately setting out to do that and that we are trying to Balkanise the Third world we shall lose out. Development aid was never meant to be charity. It was intended to help the poorer countries to better their standards and to serve the needs of their citizens. If the purpose of aid is based purely on foreign policy, it will be dangerous for the Third world, for us and for the developing nations.

I do not expect any Minister to be totally altruistic, but we must have an assurance that the main criterion for aid is not foreign policy but the need of developing countries.

10.35 p.m.

hope that the debate will not deteriorate into an argument about whether Labour or Conservative Governments are more generous or helpful in providing aid to under-developed countries. I suggest that we should debase the debate if we allowed that to happen. At some stages in the debate that has intruded on our thought about this change in the manner in which the Government administer aid.

As the House knows, I have been interested in the Third world. "Interested" is an insignificant word. I have been profoundly interested in the necessary aid that goes to the Third world from the industrial nations. I suggest to my hon. Friend the Member for Welwyn and Hatfield (Mr. Murphy) that it is not a question of charity beginning at home. Of course, we grow up with and accept that phrase, but we need not use it in this debate.

We are talking about the best method of administering the greatest amount of help that we can give to the Third world. We have to consider the amount and the means, but the debate is about the method and the means rather than the amount. I hope that there will not be any argument about the amount or our willingness to make it available.

I do not think that we are concerned to ensure that our delivery of aid to specific countries is tied bilaterally to our foreign policy, determined by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, but it would be idle to suggest that there is no communication there. There must be. I am pleased to see the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) nodding in agreement.

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I see on the annunciators that I am alleged to be making a speech, not my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch). I have come in to assure you and the House that I am not making a speech. I now give way to my hon. Friend.

For a moment I thought that my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Mr. Price) was making a speech and trespassing on my time. But he is helpful, as always. His hair is not as white as mine, but it may seem so from the distant recesses of the House.

In 1968, when the right hon. Member for Lanark (Dame Judith Hart) was responsible for overseas aid—

I am grateful to the right hon. Lady. It was 1969. I initiated a debate on the Pearson report on the importance of the delivery of aid from an industrialised country, as we were. I argued in favour of all the recommendations in that report. We had a day-long debate on a Friday. The right hon. Lady, who was attending a meeting in Paris, her Parliamentary Secretary, and the then Member for Hampstead, Mr. Whitaker, did the House, not me, an honour by being here for the debate.

It is not surprising, knowing the way in which we debate and consider overseas aid, that it had been many years before we had had a full day on overseas aid up to that time, and many years passed before we had another long debate on the matter. Such is my interest.

Last year I had occasion to speak twice on the continent—I use that word advisedly because we are in Europe; it was in another part of the Europe to which we belong, namely, in Lisbon and in Bonn—on the debts of many Third world countries to the industrialised nations. For my guidance in making those speeches I drew from a speech made by the right hon. Member for Lanark. I make no apology to my colleagues for drawing on the right hon. Lady's knowledge of overseas aid in helping me to formulate my ideas. The question of aid transcends the parties, as has been demonstrated by my hon. Friends, and by no less a person than my right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) in his application of overseas aid.

In deciding whether it is better to have a separate Department for overseas aid, as happened under Labour Administrations, or to have a single Department, as is now proposed, we have to consider the person concerned. I say in generosity to the right hon. Member for Lanark that she was a good Minister in the delivery of aid. But I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) will be an equally good Minister, under a Foreign Secretary, to administer aid in the same way.

I am inclined to think that it is not so much a question of Civil Service administration of a Department delivering the service, but of the person who is in charge of it. I heard the hon. Member for Stockport, South (Mr. McNally) express concern about the question of to whom he should address his questions on aid. He asked whether it was better to address them to a Minister of State, or even the Cabinet Minister concerned with overseas aid, rather than to a subordinate Minister. The best person to whom one can at Question Time address a question on overseas aid is the Secretary of State. It is up to hon. Members how they use the procedures of the House to get their questions across.

Little time has been allotted through the years to questions on overseas aid, but a great deal of time has been allocated to questions on foreign affairs in general. Why should we not be able so to direct our questions within the orbit of foreign affairs as to include within them matters of overseas aid which can then be properly directed to the Secretary of State? I would not expect on those occasions to see anyone less than the Secretary of State answer those questions.

Is not my hon. Friend aware that for decades American aid policy has always been subordinated to the State Department, and that as a consequence other aid donors have seen grave disadvantages follow? The United States has now reversed that policy. Can my hon. Friend give me one good reason—I have not heard one this afternoon—why we should now subordinate a Department that has served this country well, and earned us a high reputation abroad, to the Foreign Office? That is the very reverse of what has been a successful policy under successive Governments for many years. Where is the justification?

My hon. Friend never speaks without passion in these matters, and quite rightly so, because he knows the subject perhaps as well as anyone in this House. But we sometimes move forward. There is no need to move backwards and provide for a small Department on overseas aid. It would be better to have within the overall control of the Foreign Office a significant part of the office concerned with overseas aid, independent in its opinion, if not in its final determination, within that Department.

The matter depends on the person who is responsible for speaking up on the whole question of aid. I do not see this change being a failure just because it comes under what the late Anthony Crosland called a conglomerate Department. We have been moving towards such Departments and the United States has had them for a long time in its Administration. I would rather see 12 great Secretaries of State and Departments, perhaps embracing within their control two or three former Departments of State—as we are tending to have in, for example, the Department of the Environment today, and in the economy and so on; and in the foreign service, too, in the Foreign Office—than little Departments here and there. On the question of overseas aid there is a very real advantage.

I say with respect to my hon. Friend the Member for Essex, South-East (Sir B. Braine) that I am not absolutely sure. Time will tell. I may be proven wrong. Perhaps the right hon. Member for Lanark is right. Perhaps my hon. Friend is right. I believe that there is an advantage here, but it depends on the man who will be delivering the goods. That man will be the person responsible. I believe that it is to be my hon. Friend the Minister for Overseas Development, who will have to deliver the goods. But he will have to deliver the goods under a responsible Foreign Secretary.

This has been an interesting debate. It has been a debate not so much about quantity of aid, or whether this side or that side will deliver more or better. It is a question of how we deliver. That is really what we are considering.

10.46 p.m.

Quite clearly, what has emerged in at least the more coherent part of the debate is the fact that there is not an emerging consensus that the Ministry of Overseas Development or the overseas development administration should actually move into the Foreign Office. The key issue in this respect, even if the Ministry of Overseas Development were to be under the general aegis of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, is whether there should be a separate Minister there. In my view, and in my experience as an adviser in the Ministry of Overseas Development for some time, there is a very strong case indeed for there being an individual Minister, who is thereby able to advocate the case of less developed countries and development needs within the government structure.

What is not clear from the arguments which have been made by those in favour of the Ministry of Overseas Development being dissolved and its functions being taken over by the Foreign Office is the scale of conflict and problem areas. While there may or should in the last analysis be a single Government view on what the specific policy is, none the less there is a strong case for the advocacy of different views because of the conflict of interest.

This feeds back on the effectiveness of both development and foreign policy. One could give several examples of it. For example, on the energy question, is the Foreign Office to argue in Brussels the case in defence of a high oil price simply because we happen to have very considerable reserves of oil? Naturally, from the Treasury's viewpoint one would have thought that the answer would be "Yes". But what about the impact of a hike in oil prices on less developed countries? What about the technical means of possibly softening that impact on countries which are in a critical debt situation and had chronic payments problems even before the increase in the price of oil? What about the problem of aid versus trade in relation to something which is clearly of interest to many Conservative Members—the activities of multinational companies?

If we are in a situation in which there is no support for the interests of less developed countries versus our business abroad, and a situation which can be clearly interpreted as exploitation in some of those countries, we should not be surprised by the expropriation of companies, as has recently happened with British Petroleum in Nigeria, rather than their negotiating with us on the terms and conditions on which, for example, compensation might be made or new joint ventures might be started in such countries.

I give one example in this respect. Recently, when my right hon. Friend the Member for Lanark (Dame Judith Hart) was Minister, a proposal was developed in the Ministry of Overseas Development for public enterprise joint ventures between less developed countries and Britain. Had that formula been pursued, it could have safeguarded the interests of companies such as BP in the longer term.

In practice, we have neither a Minister of nor a Minister for Overseas Development. In effect, we have this proposal for the merger of what in practical terms can be conflicting functions into one Department. That augurs very badly indeed, not only directly for development interests but also indirectly for the foreign policy of this country

10.50 p.m.

We have had an interesting debate. From reading the reports of the debate of 3 November 1970, I would say that we have had an exact re-run of that debate, when the Tory Government of that period—

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I gathered that this debate was likely to carry on for some time. Since I have not spoken, I would appreciate your advice.

That, I fear, is the position in which many hon. Members find themselves from time to time. I only wish that I could accommodate everyone.

I understand the hon. Gentleman's difficulties. It is something from which we have all suffered.

As I said, this debate is an exact re-run of the debate of 3 November 1970, when the then Government carried out the intention of the present Government and destroyed the independence of the Ministry of Overseas Development by putting it into the straitjacket of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Indeed, the then Member for East Ham, North was the present right hon. Member for Daventry (Mr. Prentice), who put it very succinctly when he said:
"This is a foolish, unnecessary decision … quite unrelated to any argument of merit connected with the aid programme."—[Official Report, 3 November, 1970; Vol. 805, c. 909.]
I support that view, as well as the views expressed in the Tory Government's White Paper of that period. I quote from paragraph 34, which said:
"The Government recognises that the management of overseas aid is a function distinct from the general conduct of foreign affairs."
So far during this debate no Conservative Member has rejected that philosophy. It was certainly not rejected during the debate in 1970. The Government's action in regard to this matter leads many people, including myself, to believe that what we are seeing—whether or not the Minister rejects it—is a downgrading of the importance of overseas aid. We believe that this is what is in the Government's thoughts.

Although we were advised not to speak about the financial situation, the Minister referred to it when opening the debate. I think that the £50 million cut is the first of many cuts still to come. That is one of the main reasons why the Department is being subsumed into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

It is worth recording that over the last five years Britain has enjoyed a substantial international reputation for having not only an independent and extremely efficient overseas development ministry but also a Minister who was not only efficient herself but also had a caring and compassionate instinct during her time in that Department. The Minister should not misunderstand the people and organisations operating in aid, despite their rightful criticisms. I hope that they will continue to make their criticisms, because they are not unmindful of the domestic and economic pressures that face this country. This Ministry, which was created by the Labour Government in 1964, was an expression of our deep concern about world poverty. I am afraid that its loss has dismayed and appalled them.

The hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) said that we should not argue about how much money was given by the Labour Party or the Conservative Party when in Government. It is not really a question of money; it is a question of philosophy. We have always had a different philosophy, in our approach to social need either at home or abroad, from that of the Conservative Party. This is at the core of the argument, and it is the reason why we had so many points of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, at the beginning of the debate. There is acute embarrassment among those Conservative Members who have a social conscience and are unhappy about supporting the Government in the Lobby tonight.

I do not deny that the Labour Government had to make cuts in their aid programme. The essential difference is that we did it as a result of pressing economic reasons. On this occasion the cuts in aid are largely benefiting those rich taxpayers who by their support helped to bring the Conservatives to power. Since their first day in office it has been evident that the money changers are back in the temple. That is obvious from their actions against the poor, either at home or abroad. We are all expected now to worship at the altar of monetarism. Any Conservative Member who denies that is not being true to the philosophy of the Conservative Government.

I should like the Minister, in his reply, to deal with the effects of the proposed change. Will he not agree with me that, as there will no longer be a separate Ministry, he will have no standing at all in the conference chambers of the world? We all remember Nye Bevan's famous remark about going naked into the conference chamber.

Another concern that we have on the Labour Benches is that aid will be used by the Foreign Office as a diplomatic instrument against regimes which are regarded as being unsympathetic to its point of view.

What weapons does a Minister of Overseas Development need in the conference chambers of the world? What difference does it make whether or not he is of Cabinet rank?

As a junior Minister in the Labour Government, I had some experience of sitting in conference chambers. Any Minister coming to a conference chamber to represent a Government who have debased the very principles of overseas aid will find that he will not carry much weight in the deliberations.

I hope that the Minister, in replying to the debate, will give us an assurance that the Foreign Office will not use aid as a diplomatic instrument in dealing with particular regimes. My hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) mentioned that aspect. We could have put aid into Kampuchea much more quickly if the philosophy of the Conservative Government had not prevailed in the Foreign Office. Indeed, the decision to close down the Latin American programme appears to be because the Conservative Government do not like some of the Governments emerging in that area of the world. I believe that that kind of view will prevail during the lifetime of the Conservative Government.

Having been a Minister in earlier Conservative Administrations, the Minister must know that much of the work done in Government is in Cabinet sub-committees. When he attends a Cabinet subcommittee his colleagues will know that, being virtually a Minister without portfolio, he carries little or no weight. There is competition within Cabinet sub-committees in seeking to uphold various ministerial points of view and to get financial support for whatever a Minister is seeking to do. The Minister will find that this is so when he is trying to get money for any purpose.

Would the hon. Gentleman care to withdraw the unjustified criticism that he made in respect of aid to Kampuchea? It will be recalled that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was very quick to suggest the setting up of an international conference to deal with the boat people. My recollection is that my noble Friend the Foreign Secretary was very quick to contribute £4 million towards relief in that country. The hon. Gentleman's charge is therefore absolutely unjustified.

I am sorry, but the hon. Member is wrong. I am surprised, because he has quite a reputation for being interested in that area. Although the Government were quick to respond to the boat people's plight—and I give them credit for that—they were terribly slow in responding to what I shall call the plight of the "foot people" in Kampuchea. This was because the Government still recognised the Pol Pot regime. The Foreign Office view prevailed at that time.

The hon. Member is badly informed. The Government were one of the first with promises of aid for Cambodian famine relief. We responded just a few days after the International Red Cross and UNICEF made their appeal, and we were one of the first countries to do so.

I am sorry to disagree with the Minister, but he knows better than that. The Government decided to act after three weeks of intense public pressure. During those three weeks, many thousands of people died who need not have died had this Government taken positive action at an earlier date.

I hope that the Minister who replies to the debate will give us some answers and assurances. Even though he is a Minister without a Department, I hope that he can still press initiatives. I am still waiting to hear his reaction to the suggestion that teachers should be sent abroad to Third world countries. I put this to him in July, and told him that it had the backing of a large teachers' union in Scotland, but I have had no reaction. Does the Minister envisage our getting a development education programme back into Government policy? As his hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Mr. Garel-Jones) said, it was an atrocious decision to cut that integral part of our overseas aid programme.

It is obvious that to the ordinary man in the street the problems of the Third world are like an iceberg—mainly below the surface. We have a duty to raise the consciousness and concern of ordinary people. I have one suggestion to make, which I hope the Foreign Secretary will consider. The Government soon will approve the very lucrative franchises for commercial television and radio stations. Conditions are put into these franchises. I hope that it would not seem too obtuse to suggest that as a condition of the renewal or granting of these lucrative franchises there should be some development education—

The Minister spoke about the financial implications and money for police in Third world countries, and I had hoped to have a little latitude to finish the point. This is an extremely important matter. I hope that the Minister will give an assurance that if nothing else we shall have 0·7 per cent. of viewing time devoted to this aspect in order to raise the concern and consciousness of the British people. That would be a measure of our activity in the political world, and I do not think that there would be any disagreement about that in this House.

I have examined the Tory Party manifesto to try to ensure that the Government are carrying out what they promised to the British electorate. It is depressing reading. On page 31—and this is relevant to the sort of subsumed department of foreign aid that we shall have within the Foreign Office—it says:
"The next Conservative Government will help them"—
the Third world countries—
"through national and international programmes of aid and technical cooperation".
The Minister visited Vienna in August of this year, when the United Nations committee for science and technology development decided to set up a fund to aid research and development in Third world countries. The Minister, whether or not he was acting under instructions from the Treasury, told the international gathering "Britain will give no money". Once again, we demeaned ourselves in the eyes of international conferences. I hope that the Minister will prevail upon the Treasury to do something about that decision. It was wrong and it caused despair to all of us who read about it at home.

During the Lusaka conference a cornmuniqué was issued on behalf of the British people. It is evident from reading that document that the Government's policy on aid is one of total deceit.

Order. I see little chance of what the hon. Gentleman is saying relating to the order.

The debate has been wide-ranging during the period of your absence, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I accept your decision. Nevertheless, I am responding to the alternative philosophy that has been put forward by Conservative Members.

I am sorry that the Leader of the House is not present tonight. I had indicated to him that I would refer to him. Clearly he felt it wise to stay away from the Chamber. It is worth remembering that in 1970 the Government subsumed the Ministry of Overseas Development and the right hon. Gentleman, as a Back-Bench Member, voiced concern about the matter. He said that if he thought it would be adverse to the objectives of aid he might not support the Government. That fact has been proven time and again, and I hope that he will be in the Lobby with us tonight.

My main complaint against the Leader of the House is that he was responsible for supplying the Prime Minister on the fateful day on the steps of Downing Street with the words of St. Francis of Assisi, who was well known to have had a deep interest in the poor. When the Prime Minister's actions against the poor at home and abroad, after six months of Tory government, are recorded they will stand out as the best example of a retreat from the road to Damascus that has ever been witnessed. This has been a bad day for the Third world, for the House and for democracy.

11.9 p.m.

It is customary when winding up a debate to say that it has been a wide-ranging debate. Never has that been more true after the rulings from the Chair, which tried to confine the debate to the order under discussion, and yet practically everything to do—and not to do—with the aid programme has been mentioned. There are therefore many matters for me to cover.

Many of the points raised were purely hypothetical. There were gloomy predictions of what might happen in certain circumstances, and Labour Members were seeing bogies all over the place. I hope that the Opposition will be a little more reasonable and will not continue to exaggerate the order in the way that they have in the debate.

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Queen's Park (Mr. McElhone)—the wide-ranging Member—said that this was a re-run of the debate on 3 November 1970. It is not. I have read the report of that debate and it was confined purely to the order under discussion.

As Minister for Overseas Development, I do not know whether I have any standing in the world. Since the overseas development administration merged with the Foreign Office, I have been to meetings of the World Bank, the FAO and a United Nations science and technology meeting in Rome, which was also attended by the right hon. Member for Lanark (Dame Judith Hart). I have been to Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, and no one has mentioned the change. I have seen many Ministers from developing countries on their visits to London and not one has mentioned the merger. I do not believe it matters to them.

My hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker) gave the reasons. If the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) was not in the Chamber, he can read those reasons in the Official Report, study them and take them to heart.

The hon. Member for Queen's Park mentioned the United Nations conference in Vienna on science and technology. At that conference I objected to another United Nations organisation being set up to transfer science and technology. We do not want another organisation with large offices and the salaries that go with them. The money should be spent in the developing countries.

In this country we have a lot of technology that we are willing to transfer. At the conference I produced a book prepared by my Ministry which set out that technology and said to the developing countries that if that was the technology they wanted, they should come to us and discuss it. That is by far the best, cheapest and most realistic way to transfer technology to developing countries.

The right hon. Member for Lanark, in her opening speech, paid tribute to the officials in the ODA, or ODM as it was when she was there. I support her in that tribute. In my six months in the Department, I have gained the same impression of a dedicated group of officials who know their jobs.

The right hon. Lady misunderstood a point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, South about aid to security forces and the police. I assure the right hon. Lady that it is my intention—and would, I hope, be the intention of any other hon. Member—that aid will never be used for military purposes. That is why I had to turn down the request from President Nyerere for aid to recompense him for his incursion—I do not want to use the word invasion—into Uganda. I feared that such aid would have been contrary to the Act to which the right hon. Lady referred.

We hope that the Council of Ministers will give up to 140 million units of account—the amount recommended by the Commission—to countries that are not associate members of the EEC and will keep up a steady progression of aid for those countries.