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Oral Answers To Questions

Volume 986: debated on Wednesday 18 June 1980

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Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs



asked the Lord Privy Seal if, at the next meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers, the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary will raise the matter of Afghanistan.

NATO members consult on all matters of topical interest. I have no doubt that my right hon. and noble Friend will discuss Afghanistan with his NATO colleagues at the Ankara meeting of the NATO council, which begins on 25 June.

While being strongly opposed to the invasion of Afghanistan, does the Minister support the supply from America of large quantities of arms to the rebels, as evidenced by Western sources, including such reliable people as United Press International and others?

Our evidence is that the Afghan freedom fighters get most of their arms from defecting Afghan soldiers.

Is my hon. Friend reminded by the current situation in Afghanistan of similar, but not identical, events that took place in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968? Will he give an assurance that all possible help, aid and equipment, short of manpower, is being provided for the freedom fighters, who are fighting not only for their own freedom but for ours?

This war, unlike the other episodes to which my hon. Friend refers has continued for much longer and is getting more intense as more Russian troops arrive and as Afghans in almost every province show that they are determined to resist Soviet occupation of their country.

On the more general questions raised by Afghanistan, the Minister will recall that one of the immediate responses of Her Majesty's Government was not to renew the credit terms on which Britain used to sell goods to the Soviet Union. Will the Minister say whether there have been discussions with other NATO countries or within the EEC about measures of a similar kind being contemplated? What is the state of those discussions?

I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has reminded the House of the step that we took against soft credit for the Soviet Union. Discussions on this matter in OECD—the forum for them—take place from time to time but there is not yet a unified approach.



The British Government's trade sanctions against Iran came into effect on 30 May. The orders have since been approved by both Houses. The Government continue to support diplomatic moves which might lead to the release of the hostages, including the visit to Iran by Mr. Daoudi, the Syrian member of the United Nations Commission. In Iran, the Majlis has met but not yet considered the question of the hostages.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that those of us who were strongly opposed to the Shah's regime, and are certainly opposed to sanctions as serving no purpose, continue to be very much opposed to the totally unlawful detention of the American hostages, who should be released as quickly as possible? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that many of us are also deeply troubled by the almost daily executions that are taking place in Iran?

I am grateful for what the hon. Gentleman has said. I take note, as the House will have done, of the second part of his question.

What evidence does the Minister have that British or Western sanctions against Iran are working?

Our sanctions have been in effect for about three weeks and it is difficult to judge. Certainly, they have not produced the explosion of retaliation prophesied by some Opposition Members.

Arms Sales


asked the Lord Privy Seal, what criteria he adopts regarding the sale of arms to foreign Governments.

The standard practice in dealing with arms sales proposals is to consider them case by case in relation to their political, strategic, security, and economic merits.

Was the Foreign Office consulted by the defence sales office about the countries which are normally invited to the British Army exhibition? If so, why were States such as Zaire, Indonesia, Iraq and even Libya invited, although their contempt for human rights is notorious? Is it not humiliation enough that we should have supplied radios to Amin's secret police without us also supplying the tools of surveillance to every police State which happens to be outside the Warsaw Pact?

We were consulted. This is a matter for the Ministry of Defence. The Under-Secretary of State answered questions yesterday. I have nothing to add to what he said.

When the Under-Secretary of State answered questions yesterday he placed heavy emphasis on the human rights concept. Does my hon. Friend agree that the Republic of China, for example, is not a place where human rights have a high priority? Would not it be more apposite if, as with our allies the French, the sole criterion for the sale of arms was their effect on production and employment in this country?

We try to take a number of criteria into account when making a responsible judgment on each proposal. On reflection, my hon. Friend will recognise that that must be so. Human rights is one criterion.

Leaving aside the question of the exact criteria which govern the sale of arms, does the Minister agree with the statement in the Brandt Commission report that the escalation of arms sales generally is a serious and dangerous matter? Does he accept that the competition in selling arms between the Soviet Union, the United States and France—the three principal suppliers, although Britain and Italy are suppliers on a smaller scale—is damaging and dangerous in all its implications?

What has happened to the discussions begun two years ago between the United States and the USSR, with the support of the British Government, to try to find a way of limiting the sale of weapons, particularly to developing countries, which should be spending their money on other priorities?

Clearly the discussions did not lead to any marked progress. We are a long way from the Soviet Union joining others in restricting arms sales.

Can my hon. Friend comment on reports in the press today that the French Government are seeking to undermine the Jaguar aircraft deal with India which was negotiated under the previous Government? Is my hon. Friend aware that, in relation to that deal, the construction of about 40 aircraft has already begun in Britain? Will he comment on reports that the French have made strenuous efforts to have the contract annulled and replaced with the purely French Mirage aircraft?

I cannot comment on that today, but I shall look into the matter and let my hon. Friend know.

On a day when there is evidence that the South African Government are taking a heavy toll of lives, will the hon. Gentleman take the opportunity to make it clear that Government policy is that there will be no arms sales to South Africa?

Overseas Emergencies (Commonwealth Assistance)


asked the Lord Privy Seal what is his policy on whether to seek assistance from other Commonwealth countries when emergencies occur in a colony or dependency.

It is the policy of the British Government to seek assistance from Commonwealth or any other countries on such occasions as are deemed appropriate.

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. Does he agree that the strengthening of our Commonwealth links is important in order to facilitate help when circumstances demand it?

The Government have made it clear that they are fervent supporters of the Commonwealth. We had considerable success in rallying the Commonwealth in connection with Zimbabwe. My hon. Friend will recall that the Commonwealth played a valuable role there.

In view of the evidence of extreme starvation in Sudan, Ethiopia and other parts of the Horn of Africa, and of the worsening situation in Kampuchea, do the British Government intend to offer further assistance?

That is a question for my hon. Friend the Minister for Overseas Development. He is about to go to a conference in Sudan dealing with that subject.

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that it was only because of the wish of the Australian Government that we got embroiled in the New Hebrides because, for consitutional reasons, it was not able to sign a treaty with France?

My hon. Friend is well informed about the history of the New Hebrides. The situation in the New Hebrides is of considerable interest to South Pacific countries, many of which are Commonwealth countries. They have made it clear that they support the British Government in sending the Marines.

Is it not also true that the Australian Government have reminded both the British and the French Government of their joint responsibility to leave the territory in a proper state when it is given independence at the end of July?

That is correct. I am in close touch with the Australian High Comissioner in London. We need no reminding about our responsibilities to the New Hebrides.

Middle East


asked the Lord Privy Seal whether any new initiative is contemplated by the United Kingdom in concert with other West European States to help resolves the problems in the Middle East.


asked the Lord Privy Seal what steps he intends to take to help to achieve a peaceful solution to the Middle East crisis arising from continued denial of Palestinian rights.

As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister told the House on 16 June, the European Council issued a statement on the Middle East in Venice on 13 June. The Nine will determine their future action in the light of the contacts with the parties concerned called for in the statement. The Nine's objective is to reconcile Israel's legitimate security concerns with the political rights of the Palestinians.

Is the Lord Privy Seal aware that the forthright statement from Venice in favour of full self-determination for the Palestinian people is welcome and long overdue? Is he further aware that as long as the Arabs on the West Bank and Gaza continue to be treated in an insulting and humiliating way by the Israeli colonial Administration the prospect of conflict will become closer and closer?

As the Prime Minister said, there must be general agreement on the two principles—security for Israel and recognition of the legitimate rights of the Palestinians. There has been a serious situation on the West Bank in the last few weeks. That has concerned not only us. It has been the subject of considerable anxiety in the Knesset. It is a matter of great gravity.

Has my right hon. Friend noticed how frequently the denial of the legitimate rights of the indigenous population, be it in Zimbabwe, South Africa or Palestine, seeks to equate nationalism with terrorism? Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is obvious that there will never be a conclusive peace settlement in the Middle East, unless the Palestine Liberation Organisation is involved in direct negotiations? In the light of the European declaration, will my right hon. Friend use his best endeavours to bring together both parties, without preconditions, so that we can make positive progress towards the inevitable settlement that most British people would like to see?

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend that terrorism is not and cannot be a solution to the problem. We all condemn terrorism, from wherever it comes. Obviously, the problem can be solved only by negotiation and agreement. Before we get as far as my hon. Friend seeks, the reconnaissance proposed by the European Council is a worthwhile exercise. It is valuable to talk to all the parties so that we can clarify all the issues.

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree with his right hon. and noble Friend Lord Home that before the British Government and the EEC start any initiative with the PLO the PLO must renounce its avowed aim of the destruction of the State of Israel?

We have said many times that we have no intention of recognising the PLO. As the Prime Minister said the other day, there can be no negotiation even after reconnaissance unless the PLO recognises the right of Israel to exist. Of course, this must be a two-way process, as the hon. Gentleman will understand. Just as the Fatah declarations at its conference the other day were not such as to help to produce a negotiated settlement, so Israeli claims to alter the status of Jerusalem and to sovereignty over the West Bank are, similarly, not in accordance with a negotiated settlement. We need compromise on both sides.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is of the greatest importance that there should be contacts—if necessary at an unofficial level—between European Governments and moderate PLO leaders, not only to encourage the moderate elements of the PLO leadership who are silent but who believe that it is possible, and desirable, that in future Israel should exist within secure frontiers next to a predominantly Palestinian State?

Of course, my hon. Friend is absolutely right. If we refuse to speak to people on any level we are, obviously, unable to persuade them to the way of thinking that we believe to be right. To boycott the PLO—whatever we may think of it—when it plainly represents a large part, though not all, of the Palestinian people will defeat our objective of bringing it into the peace process. The PLO must be talked to and we must get it to agree to the fundamentals of the Venice statement.

May I press the Lord Privy Seal further on that point? Is it not a fact that the fundamental cause of the conflict is the injustice indicted upon the Palestinian people? Is it not therefore essential that they should be brought into discussion and negotiation? Is not the PLO the only possible body representative of Palestinian opinion?

It has long been clear to virtually everyone that there can be no comprehensive settlement in the Middle East without the involvement of the Palestinian people. That is fundamental. It also follows that the PLO must be brought in not as the sole representative of the Palestinian people but as the representative of a large number of them.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is a tragedy for all those who wish to see peace and recognition in the Middle East that a resolution of its problems should await a resolution of the American domestic situation? Will my right hon. Friend give the House an assurance that the Venice declaration will not be a time-filler until the American presidential election is resolved and that every effort will be made, by this and every other European Government in the meantime, to press and fulfil the purpose and spirit of that accord?

As my hon. Friend indicates, the American election creates difficulties in relation to this issue. One of the objectives of the Venice declaration, and one of the most reasonable and legitimate of them, was to recognise that there would otherwise be something of a hiatus between now and the American presidential election and that it was important that momentum should be kept up. The leaders of the Nine made it clear that they in no way sought to cut across, or spoil, the Camp David process but that they were acting in conjunction with it. I am sure, therefore, that what they decided to do was extremely valuable.

The purpose and meaning of the statement issued by the Nine on the Middle East is far from clear, as I think the Lord Privy Seal will acknowledge. It has not become a great deal clearer from the right hon. Gentleman's replies this afternoon. However, we have noted that the Government have no present intention of recognising the PLO. Does not the right hon. Gentleman think—and here, I reiterate a point made by one of my hon. Friends—that to associate the PLO in any way with these negotiations must be made contingent upon a quite clear recognition and declaration by the PLO that it will accept the right of the State of Israel to exist and enjoy full security? That is essential.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman understand that the credentials of Western Europe in relation to the Middle East are marred and spoiled? It is not that we are not conscious that there is a real problem and that real injustice is being inflicted on many people on the West Bank. But surely the right hon. Gentleman understands that European countries, with their massive dependence upon oil, are indeed suspect in the approaches that they have made?

Almost everything that the right hon. Gentleman says is untrue. The idea that, because Western Europe is dependent upon oil, it is unable to say something about the Middle East is utter rubbish. The implication that the Palestinian people have no rights in themselves and that they are given rights by us only because of the oil problem is also absolute rubbish. The idea that there is any lack of clarity in the Venice statement is also untrue—[Interruption.] It may well be that hon. Gentleman do not wish to solve the problem of the Middle East. Most people do. We have already said that we shall not recognise the PLO. But as the right hon. Gentleman must know, from his experience in foreign affairs, to refuse to talk to people because one does not always agree with them is not a sensible way of carrying matters forward.

The Americans, certainly, committed themselves not to talk to the PLO and have probably been regretting that decision ever since. The PLO represents a large part of the Palestinian people. Dr. Nahum Goldmann has for many years suggested that Israel and the PLO should recognise each other. That is a suggestion from, probably, the most distinguished living Zionist.

For the right hon. Gentleman to try to crab the European initiative—which he must know is extraordinarily important not only because of the severe tensions on the West Bank but because of severe tensions in the Middle East as a whole—is entirely wrong and is extremely unhelpful to the West and to this country.

Order. We shall come back to this but I hope that we shall have shorter questions and answers.

Hong Kong (Housing)


asked the Lord Privy Seal what has been the total completion of public and private housing in Hong Kong each year for the last five years; and what completions are anticipated each year for the next five years.

In the last five years the average annual total completion of public and private housing was 40,128 units. The estimated average annual total completion for the next five years is 64,498 units. I will circulate in the Official Report figures for each of the years in question.

Is not that a wonderful achievement when we recall that Hong Kong is short of land and building materials? Should not the House congratulate Hong Kong and take note of what it has done, bearing in mind that private enterprise gets on with the job and provides much-needed housing?

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. In the housing context, as in others, the Hong Kong story is one of success.

Is the Minister aware that the proposals for the re-introduction of elections recently announced by the Hong Kong Government in some of those areas where new housing has been provided are welcome, even though they do not go as far as some of us would like? Will the Minister seek to ensure that the House has an opportunity to express an opinion on the Green Paper dealing with the new democratic structure in Hong Kong before discussions on it are concluded, before the end of August this year?

I think that we are getting away from the subject of housing in Hong Kong. Nevertheless, I take the opportunity of welcoming the hon. Gentleman's remarks. As regards an opportunity for a discussion in the House, I shall draw the hon. Gentleman's comments to the attention of my right hon. Friend.

Is my hon. Friend aware that in some matters we treat Hong Kong as a colony but that in others, such as overseas students, we treat its people as foreigners? Does he think that this is fair?

There is a difficulty in our relations with Hong Kong because of its relations with China. Again, we are getting away from the issue of housing in Hong Kong.

No Hong Kong building programme will be able to meet the growing problem of refugees entering Hong Kong from China and the Vietnamese boat people. Will the Minister tell the House how many Vietnamese boat people are still in Hong Kong? Has he had reports of new arrivals in boats in Hong Kong and neighbouring territories? Does he anticipate that there will be another wave of Vietnamese boat people entering Hong Kong in the next two weeks?

There has been a slight increase in the number of Vietnamese boat people coming to Hong Kong recently. We have no evidence to suggest that this is a deliberate change of policy on the part of the Vietnam Government. We think that it is connected more with the seasonal winds.

It is true that the enormous influx of people into Hong Kong from both China and Vietnam has placed a tremendous burden on the Hong Kong authorities. It is very much to their credit that they have managed to keep up so well with the situation. The latest figures that we have for the number of Vietnamese boat people still in Hong Kong—[Interruption.] This is relevant to housing if hon. Gentlemen would just follow the point. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydfil (Mr. Rowlands) is entitled to raise this matter. The latest figure that we have is about 40,000.

Following are the figures :

In the last five years total completions in public and private housing were as follows :
1975–7631,290 units
1976–7729,906 units
1977–7835,724 units
1978–7943,720 units
1979–8059,998 units

The following estimated total completions are anticipated :
1980–8168,420 units
1981–8270,944 units
1982–8364,092 units
1983–8462,656 units
1984–8556,280 units



asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on Government policy towards Namibia.

The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
(Mr. Richard Luce)

The Government continue to work in conjunction with our partners in the group of five Western countries and with the United Nations Secretary-General for an early and peaceful transition to internationally-recognised independence for Namibia to be achieved through the plan for United Nations-supervised elections.

Are the Government considering, within the five Powers, making any recommendations for onward transmission to the United Nations concerning the United Nations monitoring of SWAPO bases in Angola and Zambia in the course of a peace settlement?

The South African Government gave their reply on 12 May to the proposals for a demilitarised zone. The ball is now in the court of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, in consultation with all the parties, including the contact Western group of five. It is for them to respond to the South African request and to see thereafter whether future progress can be made.

Do not recent and current developments in South Africa shorten the time scale for getting a peaceful negotiated settlement in Namibia since the longer there is not a peaceful settlement, eventually the tougher the line that South Africa will take? Will not that undermine the efforts of the group of five to secure the negotiated settlement that we all wish to see?

Inevitably it is a matter of judgment for all of us to decide what effect internal developments will have on Namibia. Equally, we have to consider the effect upon the successful result of free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.

I share the view that it is important that progress should be made. The South African Government have made a response with some constructive points in it. I think that it is now possible, as a result of the meeting of the neighbouring States in Lusaka which have expressed this view, that progress can be made based upon United Nations—supervised elections. We now await the Secretary-General's response and hope that progress can be made.

Are not the South African Government proceeding with trying to impose their own internal settlement on Namibia? Will the Government condem any such move and make it clear that there can be no peaceful settlement in Namibia so long as the South African Government are prepared to send military forces to attack refugee camps in Angola ?

Neither we nor the contact group recognise the National Assembly that has been established in Namibia. It is important to keep our sights on the fact that all the parties, iincluding South Africa, are commited to the concept of United Nations-supervised elections. As long as no obstacles are put in the way and we make progress on that issue, there is hope of a successful result.

Middle East


asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on Her Majesty's Government's attitude on progress towards peace in the Middle East.

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given earlier today by my right hon. Friend to the hon. Member for Sheffield, Healey (Mr. Hooley).

This question has already been well ventilated, but, while accepting that advance towards peace in the Middle East has been helped considerably by the clear declaration of the Nine in Venice, may I ask my hon. Friend whether he agrees that much will now depend on the speed with which the follow-up operation takes place? Will he confirm that a dialogue will be initiated soon with all the relevant parties, including the PLO, which is obviously the only effective representative of the Palestinian people?

My hon. Friend is right. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister indicated, we are considering the methods of the follow-up. I think that she also indicated that it would probably start fairly soon after the new presidency of the EEC begins in January.

Does the Minister agree that the decision on the status of Jerusalem will form an important part of any final settlement of the problem? Will he clarify for the House that part of the EEC communique which said that the EEC would not accept any unilateral change in the status of Jerusalem?

I think that the statement is fairly clear and is in line with the position which has been held by British Governments for some time.

Is my hon. Friend aware of the strong feelings of many people in this country that it is wrong for democratic Governments to engage in negotiations and talks with terrorist organisations and that the EEC Governments are mistaken in their decision to seek to invoke and involve the PLO, particularly when it has not renounced violence or agreed to accept the right of Israel to exist? As the West Bank was taken from Jordan in 1967, a predominant Palestinian State, is it not time that the West Bank was restored to Jordan?

We condemn violence, whether it comes from the PLO or anybody else. The fact is that the PLO represents large numbers of Palestinians. It is also a fact that we shall not have a very sensible agreement on Palestine if we try to set up an autonomous machinery which Palestinians will not work, or autonomous elections in which they will not vote. Therefore, in our view, the PLO has to be involved in any final negotiations.

I hope to do better with the Minister of State than I did with the Lord Privy Seal. It is one thing to have unofficial communications and contacts with bodies such as the PLO and others —we understand that—but the point at which we are getting is that the reference to bringing in the PLO is in an official communique signed by the Nine heads of Government and that the contact is to be made unconditionally without any prior move by the PLO to accept the fundamental need to recognise the existence of the State of Israel. Does not the hon. Gentleman think that is a foolish move to take? Does he not also think that it would have been helpful if the Nine had issued a clear statement to the effect that the full autonomy already agreed under the Camp David formula ought to have been carried out?

I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman welcomes contacts with the PLO at the right level. I think that is a step forward.

It is clear from the declaration of the Nine and from what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said in the House that if there are to be proper negotiations, the PLO will have to accept the right of Israel to exist, just as the Israelis will have to take a step forward in accepting the political rights of the Palestinians.

Does my hon. Friend accept that, while it might seem surprising to hon. Members on both sides of the House that the recognition of Palestinian rights should be equated with the need to create an independent State on the West Bank, it is nothing short of astonishing to many of his hon. Friends that the Government should seek in any way to promote the creation of a State which, if dominated by the PLO as seems likely, would be a threat not only to all its neighbours but, through its support for terrorism, to the free world wherever it is found?

There is no reference to a State in the communiqué, for reasons which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister explained at length in her statement. I hope that my hon. Friend will take into account the argument that the effect of totally neglecting the PLO, with the support that it enjoys on the West Bank, would make it certain that it would pursue a pro-Soviet line.

Does the Minister really expect the State of Israel, without whom no peacemaking process could succeed in the Middle East, to negotiate with a body that remains devoted to its destruction through methods of terrorism, and which reiterated that aim in a statement only last week?

I do not believe that even the hon. and learned Gentleman would suppose that a settlement could be reached except by negotiation. That negotiation must include Israel—without whom, as he said, no settlement could take place—and representatives of the Palestinians.

European Community

Foreign Policy


asked the Lord Privy Seal what further proposals he intends to place before his European Economic Community colleagues for the development of a Community foreign policy.

The United Kingdom has always made a positive and, I believe, effective contribution to political cooperation among the Nine. We shall continue to do so. The practice of seeking to act together in dealing with practical problems is of great value in strengthening European unity on foreign policy questions. I should, nevertheless, remind my hon. Friend that political co-operation consists of co-ordination among independent States, and stops short of being a common foreign policy.

Although considerable progress has been made in recent months in co-ordinating foreign policy in the Community, now that the budget problem has been resolved does my right hon. Friend think that the present is an appropriate moment for a major initiative in the development of foreign policy in the Community?

I agree that the present moment is propitious. My right hon. Friend and I have various technical ideas that we are discussing with our friends in the Nine.

Does the Lord Privy Seal agree that, if there is to be a unified approach by the EEC countries on foreign policy, they should extend their discussions to take in the European countries that are not in the Common Market? Should they not also consider that one of the most fundamental things at this stage is to try to reach agreement among them to remove nuclear weapons from Europe?

I am afraid that I cannot agree with the hon. Gentleman on either count. We are talking about political co-operation within the EEC, not about political co-operation with countries that do not belong to the EEC. Nor, as he knows, is the matter of nuclear weapons one that comes within the competence of the EEC.

If it is part of EEC policy to recognise the PLO, how long will it be before it becomes part of EEC policy to insist that we recognise the IRA? If this is not so, what is the difference?

There are considerable differences. As my hon. Friend knows, it is not our policy to recognise the PLO. Therefore, the question does not arise.

There is not much cooperation over the New Hebrides, is there? What is the Government's reply to the French view that the Marines should not be deployed?

My hon. Friend the Minister has made a number of statements over the past few days. The hon. Gentleman knows the answer very well. We believed that after the French had sent in the gendarmerie it was entirely right that we should send the Marines to the New Hebrides. The matter has been exhaustively discussed over the past few days, and I do not have anything useful to add today.

United Kingdom Budget Contribution


asked the Lord Privy Seal if he has had any further consultations with his Community counterpart since the ministerial statement on 2 June concerning the European Economic Community budget payments by the United Kingdom.

Now that the outstandingly successful agreement on the United Kingdom budget payments has been reached, and the Commission is beginning its work on the longer-term view of the budget, does not my right hon. Friend feel confident that, with the necessary amount of energy and co-operation between member States, all members will be able to move forward on the construction of a new budget in two or three years' time, which will involve the agricultural proportion reducing to perhaps 50 per cent., and more money being spent on other projects, including industrial reconstruction and revival?

My hon. Friend is basically right. The agreement reached in Brussels does, for the first time, give us a good opportunity to restructure the budget so that the over-emphasis on agricultural expenditure can be mitigated, and other areas of expenditure substituted. That is the most hopeful development to come out of our agreement.

Surely the point about reaching an agreement is that, whether successful or unsuccessful, it is only an interim agreement. What response are the Government making to the welcome call by Chancellor Schmidt for a wholesale overhaul of the CAP in the next two years?

The hon. Gentleman said that the agreement is an interim measure. I tried to explain to the House recently that, because of what was said about restructuring, it holds promise for a permanent agreement. Chancellor Schmidt's remarks were very much in line with what we have been saying over the years. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, when making a statement recently, said that because other countries are having to share the burden of the CAP it tends to alter people's attitude.

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that on 2 June the Government undertook to accept the fundemental principles of the CAP? If they did that, how is it consistent with a review of the EEC budget?

From my hon. Friend's remarks, I have a feeling that he is not as intimately aware of the principles of the CAP as he perhaps once was. If it will not weary the House, I shall read out the principles. The principles of the CAP, as laid down in the Treaty of Rome are first :

"to increase agricultural productivity by promoting technical progress and by ensuring the rational development of agricultural production and the optimum utilisation of the factors of production, in particular labour."
I do not think that my hon. Friend would object to that. Secondly :
"thus to ensure a fair standard of living for the agricultural community, in particular by increasing the individual earnings of persons engaged in agriculture;"
I do not think that my hon. Friend would object to that. Thirdly :
" to stabilise markets."
" to assure the availability of supplies."

It is not waffle. Those are the principles. I know that the hon. Gentleman does not like hearing the truth for a change. If he spoke less from a sedentary position the proceedings of the House would go better. Fifthly,

" to ensure that supplies reach consumers at reasonable prices."
I think that my hon. Friend would agree that the principles of the CAP—I am not talking about how they were worked out—are entirely in accordance with what he would accept.

We are grateful to the Lord Privy Seal for reminding us of the principles, as well as the practices, of the CAP. Ignoring, as I hope he will, the rather orchestrated sycophancy of his Euro-fanatical friends, will he confirm that, under the remarkable arrangement, we are to pay some £400 million this year and £500 million next year? Will he also confirm that both the French and the Germans have made a claim that their arrangements and agreement to pay back money to Britain is contingent upon agreement on the agricultural price review next year and upon agreement on the common fisheries policy?

Neither of the conditions described by the right hon. Gentleman is true. He spoke of an orchestrated sycophancy on the Conservative Benches, and that is not an apt phrase. If he would, for once, throw off his own peevish insularity and take time off to read the European newspapers he would see that his view of our settlement is quite different from theirs.

Foreign Policy


asked the Lord Privy Seal what steps he will be taking to ensure greater European co-operation in foreign policy now that budget difficulties have been overcome.

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave earlier to my hon. Friend the Member for Leek (Mr. Knox).

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in the rest of Europe the reaction is that Britain has secured an extremely good deal on the budgetary question, and that the kind of strong leadership that my hon. Friend shows bodes well for the future? Can we now build on that with some clear and practical propositions for a much closer European foreign policy to make the Community what it should be—much more than a mere trading arrangement?

I am sure that my hon. Friend's comments are generally very much in accordance with the wishes of the House. We are deeply interested in the progress of political co-operation. My hon. Friend referred to the satisfactory nature of our settlement. Since this seems still to be disputed by the Labour Party for what to me are obscure reasons perhaps I should give the figures. In 1980 we shall pay £370 million. In 1981 the figure will be £440 million——

Yes, net. Under the Labour Government in 1978 we paid £840 million, and in 1979 we paid £959 million.

Does the Lord Privy Seal accept that there is nothing to be ashamed of in trying to secure oil supplies? What attitude have he and his European colleagues taken towards the OPEC summit at Algiers, and in particular to the price relationship laid down there and the supply position for the forseeable future?

There has been no consultation. Obviously, it is in the interests of this country and of the whole Community that oil supplies should be kept down——

Does it not make sense for the Community countries to coordinate and concert their action against a regime that has imprisoned 50 Americans? Does it not make even greater sense to try to co-ordinate and to concert action against the bestial regime which is at the moment murdering thousands of Afghans every week?

There has been a great deal of consultation about Afghanistan. A declaration was issued last weekend at the Venice summit. It is extremely important that the Western response to Russian aggression in Afghanistan should be co-ordinated.

Does the Lord Privy Seal consider that existing political cooperation between Britain and France in the New Hebrides is an adequate example of the way in which we should be able to communicate within the Community in future?

The hon. Lady may not have been listening, but her hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) has already asked that question.

Effectiveness And Influence (Proposals)


asked the Lord Privy Seal what further initiatives he intends proposing to his European colleagues designed to strengthen the effectiveness and influence of the European Economic Community; and if he will make a statement.

We debated the report of the Committee of Three on European Community institutions on 10 June. On that occasion I outlined the Government's reaction to the proposals in that report designed to strengthen the effectiveness and influence of the Community.

In spite of the contents of the Venice declaration, is my hon. Friend aware that considerable disappointment at the outcome was expressed by the indigenous Palestinian people living on the occupied West Bank? Is my right hon. Friend further aware that it is most important to restore a sense of urgency to this matter and to prepare an updated version of resolution 242 by the European Governments to give effect to the aims and aspirations of the indigenous Palestinian people?

I am aware that there was disappointment on the West Bank about the Venince declaration, just as there was some disappointment in Jordan. The Prime Minister of that country welcomed the declaration as a step in the right direction, but wished that it had gone further. However, the Americans have expressed themselves very clearly about an amendemnt to resolution 242. It is very important that we should work in conjunction with them. There would be nothing to be gained by putting forward a resolution which was then vetoed by the Americans.

On the effectiveness of the EEC over its statement about Afghanistan, has Lord Carrington made any representations to his old bank, Morgan Grenfell, and to his son, who is a director of that bank, in order to ensure that the trading that is going on through Morgan Grenfell with Russia involving two chemical firms is stopped?

I do not think that that entirely characteristic question is worth answering.

In his efforts to increase the effectiveness of the EEC, will my right hon. Friend try to persuade his European colleagues who take an interest in foreign affairs to join the Government in their ban on the sale of arms to the military junta in E1 Salvador, particularly since reports are now reaching us that about 200 people are being murdered each week in that country, where there is no judicial process?

Is the Lord Privy Seal aware that the last thing many hon. Members want is a military role for the EEC?

The hon. Gentleman ought to be aware that defence is excluded from the Treaty of Rome.

How can we best advance the effectiveness and influence of the EEC if the interests and outlook of two of the major partners—the United Kingdom and France—are so different and so divergent? France has shown that its interests clearly differ from ours. What can we do genuinely to advance the interests of Europe in this respect?

I disagree with my hon. Friend. I do not think that the interests of Britain and France are so far apart. They are far closer than is often realised, perhaps by both Britain and France. They may diverge in certain places about which a lot of people had not heard very much until recently, but we ought not to exaggerate those differences.

Enlargement (Timetable)


asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the likely timetable for enlargement of the European Economic Community.

Greece will join the Community on 1 January 1981. The Portuguese and Spanish Governments wish to join in 1983, and we fully support them in that aim.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that there is an overwhelming political case for the enlargement of the EEC by the admission of Spain and Portugal at the earliest opportunity? Does he agree that if major national problems are caused for new or existing members these should not be used as reasons for delay in granting membership or for preventing it, but should be overcome by national solutions? If that approach is adopted that will be a welcome trend in the development of the Community.

I entirely accept that. There are overwhelming political reasons for the accession of Spain and Portugal as soon as possible. Our aim is certainly that they should join in 1983. If there are any difficulties I agree that they should be sorted out as soon as possible.

Cannot the Government put an end to this EEC nonsense by declaring UDI for Britain?

With respect, I do not think that this is a sensible moment to ask such a question—when we have recently concluded a satisfactory agreement with the EEC.

Will not my right hon. Friend hasten slowly on this difficult matters? Does he not agree that the Community has taken some time to digest us, and vice versa? Will not the advent of three new, largely agricultural countries, be liable to cause further indigestion in the Community?

I am not sure that my hon. Friend has got his digestive processes right. Greece joins in January this year——

If Greece has not joined already, it follows that it will join next January. Spain and Portugal will join two years later. There is, therefore, a considerable interval. As my hon. Friend knows, this has been under consideration for some time, and I am confident that the accession of Greece, Spain and Portugal can be brought about without the troubles that he fears.

Has the Lord Privy Seal seen the recent statement of President Giscard, questioning the timetable for enlarging the Community? Has the Foreign Office made clear to the President of France that we reject his proposals that the advent of Spain and Portugal be delayed?

We have certainly made it clear that we believe that any problems over our budget solution should have nothing to do with the date of Spain and Portugal's accession to the Community. We have made it clear to Spain and Portugal that we strongly support their entry on the original date.