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Opposition Day

Volume 160: debated on Monday 13 November 1989

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[2ND ALLOTTED DAY] [SECOND PART]

Cambodia

I must announce that I have selected the amendment in the name of the Prime Minister.

4.1 pm

I beg to move,

That this House records its profound concern at the continuing tragedy of Cambodia; calls on Her Majesty's Government not to sponsor any resolution at the United Nations which directly or indirectly gives support or comfort to the Khmer Rouge or its allies, and in the debate in the General Assembly on Wednesday to repudiate specifically Thiounn Prasith of the Khmer Rouge as delegate of Cambodia; insists that the Government provides clear answers to allegations that British military personnel have been providing training for forces fighting alongside Khmer Rouge forces, and ends forthwith any such training; believes that no aid other than humanitarian aid should be provided for any group or objective in Cambodia; and asks that such aid be increased substantially.

The intervention earlier by the hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow), who I notice has sloped off after making it, brought great discredit on him and on anyone who agreed with him. I am second to none in my praise for and excitement about what is taking place in East Germany and Berlin today. I was there yesterday and was able to see something of it for myself. But the tragedy of Cambodia, a country in which up to 2 million people were slaughtered in the most appalling way by a regime of profound inhumanity, is a matter which the House is right to debate—especially since, on Wednesday this week, the United Nations General Assembly is to debate Cambodia. The Opposition have used the time available to them so that the House can state its views on this agonising issue before the United Nations debate.

I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman is not saying that I was trying to change the debate on Cambodia—we could well have debated East Germany tomorrow.

I fully accept that. I know, from his presence here, that the hon. Gentleman cares about this issue.

Not only do we believe that two days before the United Nations debates Cambodia the House should discuss it, but we believe that the time has come for the United Kingdom Government to reassess and fundamentally to change their policy towards Cambodia. Throughout the world Cambodia has become a symbol of all that is most savage and unacceptable in the conduct of political relations and military activity; it is now a synonym for the depths of inhumanity to which those who wield power can descend in their maltreatment of the people whose lives they control.

The murder, torture and suppression of human rights and freedom associated with the name of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge can be compared in scale and horror only to Adolf Hitler's holocaust. It is easy for everyone, including the British Government, to say that the Khmer Rouge must never return to power in Cambodia, but unless there is a total change in policy towards Cambodia by our Government and by other nations there is a real danger that the Khmer Rouge will return to power there. Those armies are dominated by the Khmer Rouge and are fighting their way into Cambodia. Unless they are halted, they may overturn the Government of Cambodia, the Government of Hun Sen.

The allegedly acceptable face of those armies is Prince Sihanouk, the perpetual prince over the water of Cambodia. The largest part of those armies belongs to the Khmer Rouge. Sihanouk's so-called Democratic Coalition is dominated by the Khmer Rouge. Last month The Independent said:
"All the CGDK declarations, including Prince Sihanouk's recent five-point peace plan, are written by the Khmer Rouge, and simply presented to Sihanouk and the KPNLF leader Son Sann, to sign."
The coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea— so-called—has as its diplomatic representatives people who in number and importance are dominated by the Khmer Rouge. For example, the so-called Foreign Minister of that coalition was Head of State during Pol Pot's rule in Cambodia.

The British Government are playing an active part in assisting the armies that are dominated by the Khmer Rouge and in seeking to remove from power in Cambodia the Hun Sen regime that is today that country's legal and de facto Government. The rationale of those policies is that Hun Sen was placed in power by Vietnamese forces. There is truth in that, but whatever may be said against the Vietnamese it must be said in their favour that they drove out Pol Pot. It must also be said that the removal of Pol Pot by the Vietnamese has counted less with the United States Administration than the fact that it was the Vietnamese who removed him.

Because Vietnam inflicted on the United States the most humiliating defeat on the battlefield that the Americans had ever suffered, United States policy has been dominated by the compulsion to oppose anything with which the Vietnamese are associated. That is a foolish and dangerous motivation to govern the foreign policy of any great power. It is especially regrettable in the case of the United States which, under President Bush, has in many areas made changes in foreign policy that are beneficial and admirable. One can cite the change in policy towards the middle east and in arming the Contras and the way in which the Americans are enhancing the Reagan initiatives in negotiation with the Soviet Union on nuclear disarmament. It is particularly regrettable that on this issue the Bush Administration are continuing the vindictive policies of the Reagan Administration towards Cambodia.

In the case of Cambodia, the United States motivation has led to a profoundly wrong policy, not only on the part of the Americans but by other countries. Taking into account the situation since the Tiananmen square massacre, it is deplorable and even ugly that the policy of the United States and that of China towards Cambodia should be the same. It is an unholy alliance because of the shared loathing by both countries of Vietnam.

Has my right hon. Friend seen the absolutely amazing and excellent article by the former Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath)? It states:

"The main difference is that the Americans killed thousands of Cambodian civilians in their attempts to destroy North Vietnamese supply lines whereas the Vietnamese invasion ended the systematic murder of Cambodians by their own 'government'."

Yes, I have seen that article. I thought that it was an outstanding contribution to the discussion, and I am only sorry that the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath), no doubt because of other pressing engagements, cannot be here to express the same sentiments.

That would be particularly valuable because while the United States and China are at one in opposing a sensible solution for Cambodia, other Governments have allowed themselves to be dragged along by the White House and the State Department. I am sorry to say that the British Government are one of those Governments.

The extent to which British Government policy is dictated by the State Department can best be gauged from a speech on Cambodia made in the House on 21 January last year by the former Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the hon. Member for Enfield, North (Mr. Eggar). I reread that speech at the weekend. After nearly two years and in the light of changing events, I found it deeply obnoxious. Speaking of the Hun Sen regime, he said:
"Without the presence of massive Vietnamese forces, the regime simply would not exist."
The Vietnamese forces have been withdrawn from Cambodia and the regime still exists. The hon. Gentleman continued, in squalid and sneering language:
"We cannot accept that at this time we should give development assistance to a regime which depends for its very existence on Vietnamese occupying forces. We cannot allow Vietnam to bankroll its oppression of Cambodia with western aid."—[Official Report, 21 January 1988; Vol. 125, col. 1225.]

The Vietnamese forces are gone, but for Cambodia there is still no British development assistance and still no western aid. To justify this, the Government have now changed their rationale. Last month, the Minister for Overseas Development said:
"We remain convinced that our policy of not offering direct Government to Government aid to the Heng Samrin regime in Phnom Penh is right in present circumstances. We have no wish to sustain an unrepresentative regime spawned by the illegal Vietnemese occupation."
Once again, Vietnam, rather than the needs and the plight of Cambodia, is dominating Government policy.

Let us be clear. The suffering people of Cambodia are being punished for the American defeat in Vietnam. Led by the United States, with Britain as a compliant follower, the world community has blacklisted Cambodia. The result for that poverty-stricken land has been not only terrible suffering but a reverse in the progress that was being made in combating disease and deprivation. Children are dying in Cambodia from diarrhoea and other diseases in terrifying numbers. They die, among other reasons, because of the dreadful state of the water supply. Aid could help to improve the water supply yet, inexcusably, Cambodia is the only country in the world to be denied United Nations development aid.

In a recent leading article, The Times said:
"Now that that invasion"——
the Vietnamese invasion—
"is at an end—so long as it is not perpetuated by proxy—there is no reason why generous aid for humanitarian projects or to assist Vietnam's incipient economic reform should not begin."
The Times is right in its argument, but mistaken in its conclusion, because there is, unfortunately, a valid reason why such aid is not provided by the United Nations. It is because Cambodia is represented at the United Nations not by the Government who hold power but by the exiled opposition, the so-called coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea. The United Nations delegate of that bogus organisation, Thiounn Prasith, was a close adviser of Pol Pot during his years in Government, and is still a crony of Pol Pot's.

An avowed representative of the Khmer Rouge has been put into the United Nations by other countries as the representative of Cambodia, when he does not represent Cambodia at all. His presence at the United Nations misrepresents Cambodia but gives an international validity to the Khmer Rouge and allows it to influence United Nations policy and international attitudes to Cambodia.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, in addition to his being a member of the Khmer Rouge, three of Thiounn Prasith's brothers held three of the 10 posts in the Pol Pot regime's Government between 1975 and 1979? That family above all is connected with what happened at that time.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for placing that on the record. He, like others of my right hon. and hon. Friends, has a long, honourable and constructive record of fighting on this issue.

In a curious and opaque written answer to a question tabled by the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Lester) last week, the Foreign Secretary—the right hon. Gentleman has explained to me why he cannot be here today—stated:
"The report of the UN credentials committee again recommended acceptance of credentials of Democratic Kampuchea for the Cambodian seat and was approved without a vote."—[Official Report, 8 November 1989; Vol. 159, c. 645.]
The Foreign Secretary did not explain why there was no vote. He did not explain why the British Government did not vote against the seating of a Pol Pot crony as a representative of Cambodia at the United Nations. I regret to say that the Government have an odd and equivocal attitude towards the Khmer Rouge. The Prime Minister and others assert that they never wish to see Pol Pot back in power in Cambodia, but it is deplorable that the Government are shifting in their attitude towards the Khmer Rouge.

Last year, during a television interview, the Prime Minister was asked about the Khmer Rouge. The right hon. Lady stated:
"There is a much more reasonable grouping within the Khmer Rouge."
When asked to amplify that statement, she said:
"That is what I am assured by people who know, so that you will find that the more reasonable ones in the Khmer Rouge will have to play some part in a future Government."
It is a matter for concern to us all to discover who these "reasonable" ones in the Khmer Rouge, as cited by the Prime Minister, may be.

In a television programme two weeks ago—a programme which produced an enormous response from the public, as every hon. Member knows from his or her postbag—John Pilger tried to find the answer to the question that must follow the Prime Minister's statement. He put the question to the responsible Minister from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Lord Brabazon of Tara. In a singular and bizarre interview, Lord Brabazon replied,
"I don't know their names."
He continued:
"Well, there are obviously some more reasonable than others."
He could not say who they are. All the same, the Government continued to recommend that the Khmer Rouge should be included in the Cambodian Government.

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office briefing document reads:
"To exclude the Khmer Rouge completely from the transitional process could have the effect that we all want to avoid. It might drive their still powerful army into guerrrilla warfare."
Where are these people living? The "still powerful army" of the Khmer Rouge is involved in guerrilla warfare. It is involved in the invasion of Cambodia from Thailand. It dominates the armies that are invading Cambodia. The Government continue to say, however, that the Khmer Rouge should be part of Cambodia's Government.

My right hon. Friend presents a powerful indictment of the Government. Does he recall that last week I asked the Prime Minister whether she felt happy that the Foreign Secretary was sitting next to Pol Pot representatives, and that the right hon. Lady refused to answer?

I well recall that intervention by my hon. Friend, because I thought that the Prime Minister would try to respond to the valid and important point he raised. But instead, she made a cheap joke which demonstrated once again, as did the intervention by the hon. Member for Northampton, North before today's debate began, that the killing, suffering, ordeal and plight of Cambodia matter little to some members of the Government and to the Conservative party.

The latest pronouncement on the subject was made on 1 November by the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the hon. Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Waldegrave), who I understand is to speak next, when he replied to an Adjournment debate initiated by the hon. Member for Broxtowe. In that notorious speech, the Minister announced:
"I have only two minutes to devote to Cambodia."

Before this becomes a legend—the hon. Member for Cynon Valley, (Mrs. Clwyd) will remember this—the right hon. Gentleman will recall that there are 30 minutes for Adjournment debates. My hon. Friend the member for Broxtowe (Mr. Lester) spoke for his full time and then there was an intervention from the hon. Member for Cynon Valley leaving me only four minutes in which to reply.

I read the debate in full. I recognise that the Minister had little enough time to reply, but instead of reading from his brief, he might have rejigged his speech to deal with what is a paramount issue in the House.

It is very unfair for the right hon. Gentleman to charge my hon. Friend the Minister with any discourtesy. He tried enormously hard in a very short time to fulfil his requirement. My hon. Friend had flown in from Washington the night before. In those circumstances, the hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd) and I felt that it was more important to get on record our concerns than to get a reply which I hope we shall get today.

Obviously I accept what the hon. Gentleman says, but I quote what the Minister said in the two minutes that he was able to devote to the subject. He said:

"Absorption of some part of the Khmer Rouge movement might diminish the power of the rest of the movement".
He went on to advocate
"the attempt to include some part of the Khmer Rouge movement—but not the Pol Pot supporters—in a future Government."—[Official Report, 1 November 1989; Vol. 159, c. 444.]
So in his two minutes the Minister managed to cram in a recommendation that the Khmer Rouge should be part of the Cambodian Government.

What it all comes back to is that the Government, without the Prime Minister or any other Minister being able to specify or name those reasonable members of the Khmer Rouge, are ready to advocate Khmer Rouge membership of a Cambodian Government. Let us be clear that their objective is to get rid of the present Cambodian Government. Their explanation is simple—they claim that that Government are in power only because they are propped up by Vietnamese forces. There are no Vietnamese troops in Cambodia, yet there are Khmer Rouge troops, who the Foreign and Commonwealth Office readily admits are a powerful army and whose flag flies at the United Nations because no country opposes the Khmer Rouge delegate there and because each year Britain and other countries support the continued efforts of the Khmer Rouge and its allies to take over power in Cambodia.

In a speech in the House last year, the hon. Member for Enfield, North described the Government's stance as
"a ringing endorsement of the rights of the Cambodian people."—[Official Report, 21 January 1988; Vol. 125, c. 1225.]
That was his description of the United Nations' annual debate on Cambodia, but every year the United Nations once again endorsed the Khmer Rouge representative as the alleged representative of Cambodia.

If Jane's Defence Weekly is anything to go by, another ringing endorsement of the rights of the Cambodian people by the Government is the provision of training by British forces for troops fighting alongside the Khmer Rouge to overturn the present Government of Cambodia. Jane's Defence Weekly says that that has been going on for four years. When the Prime Minister and the deputy Prime Minister were asked about that on Thursday 2 November in the House of Commons, they dodged the question eight times. The deputy Prime Minister said that it was not the practice to give details of training by British special forces of foreign troops.

The Government cannot hide behind that formula any longer. Only last year, the Prime Minister boasted about British forces training Zimbabwean troops. On 19 July, she said that such training was "greatly appreciated." If that information can be given about training Zimbabwean troops, it must be given about training Cambodian troops. Unless the Minister states unequivocally this afternoon that British service men have not been training Cambodian forces, we shall take it, by his silence or lack of response, that those authoritative allegations are true. We shall have to proceed in the knowledge that the Government are taking positive steps to subvert by force the present regime in Cambodia by assisting fighting men who are part of an army dominated by what the Foreign and Commonwealth Office calls the
"powerful army of the Khmer Rouge."
As the Financial Times stated recently in a leading article,
"the Khmer Rouge remains a force to be reckoned with in Cambodia—and one even given a kind of legitimacy by Western Governments."
The Government provide that legitimacy by training troops allied to the Khmer Rouge and by co-sponsoring at the United Nations a resolution which, unless it is changed radically as a result of the Foreign Secretary's announcement last week, speaks of the
"continued and effective struggle of the Kampuchean forces under the leadership of Samdech Norodom Sihanouk to achieve the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and neutral and non-aligned status of Kampuchea."
That is to be attained by legitimising forces dominated by the Khmer Rouge.

As The Times stated in a leading article this month,
"power sharing is simply not in the Khmer Rouge vocabulary, except as a back door route to ultimate and absolute control."
The Government are conniving in the ultimate and absolute control of Cambodia by Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge.

The Labour party advocates a complete change of policy by the British Government. We believe that they should not continue to co-sponsor the resolution that is before the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday. I have been notified of a change to the draft resolution. The great alteration that the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs announced to the House in answer to the hon. Member for Broxtowe amounts to the changing of two or three odd words. The phrase
"continued and effective struggle of the Kampuchean forces"
is changed to
"the continued and effective struggle of the Kampuchean people."
What is that cosmetic alteration meant to prove? What struggle is there against the present Cambodian Government other than the armed struggle by the Khmer Rouge? It is a piece of sophistry by the Government to believe that, by changing that word, or one or two others, in the resolution, they can delude us into believing that they are changing their policy.

The Government should abandon their sponsorship of that resolution. I understand that the Swedish Government have done so, and I hope that other Governments are considering doing so.

What is more, we believe that the British Government's support should be withdrawn from the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea and from Prince Sihanouk unless he repudiates any connection with the Khmer Rouge and rids his so-called coalition of the Khmer Rouge. We believe, with The Times, that the Government should consider recognising the Hun Sen Government. On 2 November, The Times said:
"There is a case for shortcircuiting the niceties of diplomacy, and recognising the Phnom Penh regime without waiting for a comprehensive political solution. Mr. Hun Sen's government is not a pleasant one. It holds political prisoners and has little time for free speech and multi party-politics. But it has begun religious and economic reforms, encouraging private businesses and allowing farmers to own their land. It has adopted a policy of non-alignment, and it would no longer be accurate to dismiss Mr. Hun Sen as Hanoi's puppet."
The right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup made precisely the same point in his important article in TheGuardian today. It is about time that the Government stopped being a victim of the United States' delusion about Vietnam and acted for themselves properly and sensibly on this issue.

We believe that, from the starting point of recognition today of the existing Government in Phnom Penh, Britain should end its part in the inexcusable aid boycott of Cambodia. There is reason to believe that, despite the Foreign Secretary's claim last week in answer to the hon. Member for Broxtowe—
"We stipulate that none of our aid should reach the Khmer Rouge."—[Official Report, 8 November 1989, Vol. 159, c. 645.]—
such aid as is at present intended for Cambodians living in the camps along the Thai-Cambodian border may get into the hands of the Khmer Rouge. The Foreign Secretary announced in his answer that there would be some direct aid to Cambodia, but we believe that British aid for Cambodia should be substantially increased and should go into Cambodia on a large scale to alleviate the terrible suffering of the people of that country. What the Foreign Secretary offered last week is completely inadequate to meet the scale of the need. Once again, it is governed by an obsession with the nature of the Government in Phnom Penh compared with that which is to replace them, and which the Government are assisting.

In an otherwise powerful speech, which I very much respect, the right hon. Gentleman has not yet touched on the Paris conference, where all these matters were discussed at great length, nor has he attempted to say where responsibility lies for the failure of that conference.

As the right hon. Gentleman properly points out, the Paris conference was a failure. It was a failure because many of the main parties to it started from the clear assumption that they could not accept the Government in Phnom Penh and somehow had to get involved with the ragbag coalition behind Prince Sihanouk. Until we move away from that posture, which is invalid and unacceptable, there will be no progress towards settlement in Cambodia.

We believe that the Government should start the process which we have recommended the day after tomorrow in New York, when the United Nations debates Cambodia. The Government cannot attempt to convince anybody in the House who has studied these matters carefully that the cosmetic alteration to the resolution will begin to meet the needs of the situation. The Government should even now challenge the presence at the United Nations of the Khmer Rouge delegate. It is open to them to do so if they wish. They can, if they wish, call for a vote on the seating of the Cambodian delegate. They can, if they wish, demand that any resolution that they co-sponsor should call for the seating of the Khmer Rouge representative to be reviewed in the light of the Vietnamese withdrawal from Cambodia.

The Times, in its leading article on 2 November, said that, directly and indirectly, the British Government, with other Governments, were helping to make possible the return to power in Cambodia of the Khmer Rouge. It pointed out:
"The Khmer Rouge when in power depopulated the towns, and systematically starved and murdered thier countrymen. The absolute priority is to deprive them of a second opportunity."

Let us make no mistake: any country that directly or indirectly helps to make possible the return of the Khmer Rouge to power in Cambodia is colluding in a repetition of the atrocities in Cambodia which have added new words to the world's political dictionary and which are branded on the minds and consciences of millions throughout the world, including many British people. We speak this evening for those millions in urging a change of British Government policy on Cambodia. If the Minister does not announce such a change, we shall tonight not only speak for the millions who care, but register our votes for them.

4.35 pm

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:

'welcomes the Government's consistent refusal to give support to either the PRK or the murderous Khmer Rouge; commends its commitment to finding a peaceful and comprehensive settlement endorsed by the Cambodian people; and welcomes the increased assistance which the Government is providing for the innocent victims of this tragic conflict.'.

The speech of the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) was eloquent, and no one doubts the genuine care and passion that have gone into it.

I genuinely welcome this debate, because this is a difficult and important subject. It is a welcome opportunity to describe in detail the consistency of British Government policy, both under the present and the preceding Labour Administrations, in condemning the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in 1978, in refusing to have dealings with the Phnom Penh regime or to support the Khmer Rouge in any way and in a steady commitment to a sovereign, independent, neutral Cambodia, with the Cambodian people deciding their own future through free and fair elections.

We are witnessing the collapse of worldwide Communism. Regional conflicts, such as Cambodia and Afghanistan, should be soluble on the basis that the long-suffering people themselves decide under which form of government they want to live. That is our policy, and doubtless that of the Opposition as well.

The Opposition motion concentrates heavily and rightly on the paramount need——

I will give way to the hon. Gentleman, but I then want to develop my argument.

This is an important point. The Minister said that the Government had never given support to the Khmer Rouge, but have the Government ever challenged the credentials of those who sit in the United Nations and who are known to be Khmer Rouge?

I shall come to that very point in the central part of my speech, so I ask the hon. Gentlemen to be patient for a short time.

If the motion had said simply that it was intolerable to support the Khmer Rouge, there would have been no problem about accepting it. Let us be clear at the outset that the Khmer Rouge is a particularly evil mutation of Communism and Pol Pot a particularly evil man.

The Khmer Rouge was helped to power in 1975 by the then North Vietnam. From 1975 to 1978, the Vietnamese leadership repeatedly praised the Khmer Rouge and its
"precious assistance to the revolutionary cause",
and attacked the West and the United States for slandering the regime. That was done while mass murder was being committed. Also during that terrible period, there were those in the West who chose to be silent about what was going on inside Cambodia and who denounced atrocity reports as American fabrications, aimed at ex post facto justification of United States involvement in the Vietnam war. One such was the ineffable Professor Noam Chomsky. Such people, including journalists, are not well placed to lead moral crusades, least of all against the West, when it might stimulate us to look back at what they were writing at the time.

The attitude of the then Labour Government to the murderous Pol Pot regime was stated by the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Mr. Evan Luard, on 30 March 1977 in reply to a Conservative Member's request that the large-scale slaughter in Cambodia should be raised in the Security Council. Mr. Luard replied:
"With regard to Cambodia, however much we may deplore the situation there, it is clear that till is primarily a domestic matter, and, therefore, not a matter for the United Nations."—[Official Report, 30 March 1977: Vol. 929, c. 379.]
Nevertheless, that attitude, happily, soon changed. In 1978, the British Government took the lead in raising the situation in Cambodia at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and called for an inquiry.

At the end of 1978, following an increasingly anti-Vietnamese line by the Pol Pot regime, the Vietnamese invaded. The Soviet Union vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire and the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Cambodia in the wake of that invasion.

The Minister missed out a small matter in his history of the conflict. The Vietnamese invasion was not unprovoked. It followed attacks by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge on border provinces, in which perhaps 20,000 men, women and children were horribly butchered. There were similar attacks on and around the border of Thailand, but we choose to forget that. In addition, several hundred thousand refugees fled Cambodia under the Pol Pot regime, so terrible was life there. Whether the Vietnamese invasion was right or wrong, we should not ignore the reasons for it.

The hon. Gentleman is perfectly right. Perhaps I made an understatement when I said that the Khmer Rouge took an increasingly anti-Vietnamese line. There were serious attacks by the Khmer Rouge on Vietnam.

When the people's army of Vietnam had overrun the country, its tanks were only a matter of hours from Bangkok. Naturally, Thailand and its friends and allies were alarmed. As I am sure the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Mullin) will agree—indeed, he has just confirmed it—the Vietnamese invaded for strategic reasons. As Thailand's Foreign Minister, Nguyen Co Thach, later told Congressman Solarz:
"Human rights was not a question; that was their problem … We were concerned only with security."
The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Mr. Evan Luard, stated on 21 March 1979:
"I do not think that two wrongs make a right. Therefore, however bad the human rights situation was in Cambodia, I do not think that it excuses an almost equally bad situation in Vietnam. It does not excuse an attack by Vietnam on Cambodia."—[Official Report, 21 March 1979; Vol. 964, c. 1479.]
The Minister of State, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, referred to
"one dictatorship imposed upon another."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 14 February, 1979, Vol. 398 c. 1385.]
At the same time, the Government decided to terminate most aid to Vietnam. Mr. Luard stated:
"since 1978 Vietnamese policies on human rights, over the exodus of boat refugees and in relation to Cambodia have caused us increasing concern … Because of our concern about recent developments in Vietnamese policy we have cancelled most of this aid."—[Official Report, 21 March 1979; Vol. 964, c. 1478.]—
that is, bilateral aid. We continued the same policy. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister confirmed that on 3 July 1979, when she stated:
"There will be no more aid to Vietnam so long as the present circumstances continue."—[Official Report, 3 July 1979; Vol. 969, c. 1117.]

The hon. Member for Sunderland, South raised the often misunderstood question of the recognition of Governments and of credentials. Since 1980, Britain has recognised states, not Governments. One advantage of that is that we do not have to judge between competing claimants in circumstances of civil war or conflict. But in 1979, the position was different. Our criterion then for recognition of a Government was whether or not it had effective control over the greater part of the country. That was not a moral criterion, simply a descriptive criterion, and it led us to abandon recognition of the Khmer Rouge Government in 1979.

As we now recognise states, not Governments, our only judgment is whether there is a Government within a country with which we are able to deal. Obviously the extent of that Government's ability of themselves to control their territory, will be one consideration. So will the assessment of British interests. At present, we recognise no Government in Cambodia.

There is also the separate issue of Cambodian credentials at the United Nations, which is mentioned in the motion. It is clear that the credentials committee could find no technical or legal reason for debarring the Cambodian delegation from this year's General Assembly. It is equally clear that, if there had been a vote in the General Assembly, the so-called coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea would have won it overwhelmingly. This has not, therefore, been the most profitable pressure point on which to concentrate.

As I have said, neither our recognition of the reality of the situation, nor any other action of ours implies recognition of the coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea or any other party as the legitimate Government in Cambodia. A dispute over credentials might also have split the unity of the Association of South-East Asian Nations which we hoped would be the principal vehicle for diplomatic progress towards a settlement in Cambodia.

We are adopting our stance at the United Nations. We have taken action with our friends and partners to modify the draft resolution which we, with 74 other member states, are co-sponsoring at the United Nations General Assembly in the debate on 15 November. The changes are intended to make it clear that the situation in Cambodia has altered and that we do not support the Khmer Rouge in any way. They have been welcomed by Hanoi.

I am aware that these are difficult diplomatic issues. Does the Minister accept that to object to the credentials of the Government of Kampuchea presently represented at the United Nations would at least facilitate a debate on the matter, but would not necessarily precipitate a vote, with the adverse results that he anticipates?

All the expert advice from our mission to the United Nations is that such a move would be wrong.

As I said, the main thrust of British-Cambodian policy was laid down during the 1978–79 period and has been consistent ever since.

No. If I continue to give way, there will be no time for anyone else to speak in the debate.

Our policy has been to secure the withdrawal of Vietnamese forces from the country which they invaded and to allow the Cambodian people themselves to decide their own government. It seeks to prevent the return of the Khmer Rouge to power and to avoid providing legitimacy for a regime of former Khmer Rouge officers, originally imposed by Vietnamese bayonets. Since Vietnam has withdrawn its combat units, our policy has had some success, although the need for self-determination for Cambodia and for arrangements which prevent the return of the Khmer Rouge remain as strong as ever.

Despite regular comdemnation by the international community at the United Nations over the past decade, it was not until this September that Vietnam finally decided to withdraw its combat units. We believe that this represents another result of Mr. Gorbachev's pragmatic and positive foreign policy. On 5 April 1989, in a tripartite declaration with Laos and the Phnom Penh regime, the Vietnamese Government announced their intention to withdraw their troops unconditionally by the end of September, while asserting the right to return if the need arises.

That announcement led to the courageous decision of the French Government to convene an international conference in Paris in August. The purpose was to put in place a comprehensive settlement covering all aspects of the problem, including an international control mechanism, before Vietnamese troops withdrew at the end of September. It was hoped that the withdrawal would then be internationally monitored.

The conference was a race against the Vietnamese deadline. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the noble Lord Brabazon participated in that conference, which made a good start. French and Indonesian diplomacy persuaded all four Cambodian factions—that is, the Phnom Penh regime, the two non-Communist factions, and the Khmer Rouge—to sit down together at the same negotiating table behind one plaque entitled "Cambodia". That that was possible at all was also in large measure due to the efforts of Prince Sihanouk, still the only person in a position to claim widespread allegiance in Cambodia.

The Paris conference decided that the objective should be a comprehensive settlement. It therefore set up three working committees. The first was on a ceasefire and the operation of an effective international control mechanism to supervise and control the comprehensive implementation of a settlement. The second was to define the commitments of participating states to guarantee the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and neutrality of Cambodia, to ensure the cessation and non-recurrence of all foreign interference and external arms supplies and to prevent the recurrence of genocidal policies and practices—the return of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge—and the return of foreign interference—Vietnamese re-invasion.

What evidence is there that, to use the Minister's words, Prince Sihanouk was the only person with widespread influence in Cambodia? Some of us who were there a long time ago doubted it then, and there is every reason to doubt it now.

The phrase that I used was "widespread allegiance". The best evidence to give—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) asked a question, and perhaps he would like to hear the answer. The best evidence is to be found in the steps that led to the creation of that joint delegation in Paris. I do not believe that that would have come about without Prince Sihanouk's intervention, which showed that he still carries considerable influence. I can understand the hon. Gentleman's scepticism, but Prince Sihanouk is perhaps the best there is.

The Paris conference decided that the objective should be a comprehensive settlement. The third of the three committees was to define the conditions that would enable refugees and displaced persons to return home if they so desired and to prepare the main elements of an international plan for the reconstruction of Cambodia. All those elements are necessary if settlement is to be truly comprehensive and not partial. Most encouraging of all was the agreement to create an ad hoc committee to examine questions concerning the implementation of national reconciliation and the setting up of a quadripartite interim authority under the leadership of Prince Sihanouk, with responsibility for organising internationally supervised free elections within a reasonable period.

I draw the attention of the House to the crucial fact that the Foreign Ministers of all the participating nations, including Vietnam, China and the Soviet Union, as well as the United States and the ASEAN countries, agreed that the interim authority should be quadripartite—that is to say that it should include all four factions, including representatives of the Khmer Rouge and the former Khmer Rouge who constitute the Heng Samrin regime.

The basis for that general agreement—this is the heart of the Opposition's disagreement with our policy, although it is not an illogical policy and it is certainly not a dishonourable policy—was the judgment that, if a protracted civil war is to be avoided and if the settlement is to be durable, it would be better to include all the factions in the interim authority, rather than exclude the Khmer Rouge and risk its return to guerrilla warfare in the jungle.

If the Government want to avoid a protracted civil war in Cambodia, why are they providing special forces training to one of the participants in that war?

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, I will give no answer—any more than my right hon. Friends did. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"]

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, then the Foreign Secretary, made it clear that the composition of the transitional arrangements was primarily a matter for the Cambodian leader to decide.

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Minister has been asked a question of fact. Does he not have an obligation to the House to answer a question of fact?

That is not a matter over which I have any authority. Ministers and hon. Members must be responsible for their own statements and speeches.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. We are talking about taxpayers' money. Surely the Minister cannot deny that that money is being used to fund the murderous Pol Pot.

Further to the point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Can you tell us whether the Minister's statement will preclude hon. Members from tabling further questions on the matter? Am I right in thinking that it will not preclude the Minister's appearing in front of the relevant Select Committee to answer—or not answer—similar questions?

I do not have responsibility for the conduct of Select Committees. The hon. Gentleman asked about questions. Nothing that is said in a debate of itself precludes the tabling of questions, although other criteria may well influence it.

Order. I thought that I had made it clear that this is not a point of order for me. I remind the House that there are a number of hon. Members waiting to take part in this brief debate.

The Minister said that he could not answer, but he answered a similar question on Zimbabwe. Will he withdraw his remarks and say not, "I cannot answer," but, "I refuse to answer"?

The hon. Gentleman inadvertently makes my point for me, because there have been no special forces ever involved in Zimbabwe.

So what the hon. Gentleman is saying is that there are special forces involved. If there were not special forces involved, he would be able to answer the question about military training.

The right hon. Gentleman, with his slightly schoolboyish debating skills, tries to make a bogus point. The military training for the Zimbabwe army is not special forces training. We do plenty of open military training for friendly countries around the world. We have never ever commented on the role of the special forces —either to say yes or to say no—and that remains the position just as it has been the position of Labour Governments.

My right hon. Friend the then Foreign Secretary made it clear that the composition of the transitional arrangements was primarily a matter for the Cambodian leaders to decide. But, he added, the international community
"has a duty to ensure that Cambodia is never again subjected to the degradation of the Pol Pot era. Through their action between 1975 and 1978, the Khmer Rouge must surely have forfeited any right to regain power."
The opening ministerial conference also agreed to send a United Nations fact finding team to establish whether a United Nations monitoring force could be deployed. It reported that this should be feasible, thus demonstrating that United Nations auspices could be established for a settlement, even though this issue too proved a major obstacle to agreement.

It is a source of profound regret that, despite these hopeful beginnings, one month later, when the second ministerial conference reconvened, the four Cambodian factions were further apart than they had been at the beginning. In particular, the Phnom Penh regime was not prepared to share power with the external Cambodian resistance in the transitional period before elections. Its position had hardened.

The attempt at national reconciliation therefore foundered and a return to the battlefield became inevitable. It seemed that, once Vietnam decided that a partial solution was not on—that is to say, international credit for troop withdrawal but no more—it lost interest in the proceedings. Those countries directly concerned must bear a heavy responsibility for the failure, and I have in mind the leaderships in Phnom Penh and Hanoi as well as in Peking. It is their consciences which should be under the spotlight; they are the centrally involved countries.

Agreement could have been possible if all concerned had shown the necessary flexibility. Up to the last moment, the French and Indonesian co-chairmen worked tirelessly for a political breakthrough. But it never came.

Even now, we refuse to renounce the hope that it will be possible to reconvene the Paris conference where so much useful work was done. We stand ready to play our part, for example, by participating in realistic international guarantees, if and when the conference is able to resume. It would, we are convinced, be a mistake at this juncture to abandon hope of a comprehensive and durable settlement, which we firmly believe to be the best way of keeping out the Khmer Rouge. That is why we continue to support that objective, as set out in the United Nations General Assembly resolution on the situation in Cambodia, which we shall co-sponsor.

Vietnam announced the final withdrawal of its forces from Cambodia on 26 September. Despite the absence of international verification, as the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs said on 8 November, we accept that their combat units have been withdrawn, and we have reviewed the implementation of our objectives in light of these events.

I remind the House what my right hon. Friend said because in large measure it anticipates the Opposition motion over the United Nations and over humanitarian aid. He announced that we shall build up our humanitarian aid programme. We shall continue to provide substantial help to the many thousands of Cambodians living in camps along the Thai-Cambodia border who have been made homeless by the years of fighting. We stipulate that none of our aid should reach the Khmer Rouge.

We shall now increase the humanitarian aid that we give inside Cambodia, while continuing to channel aid through non-governmental organisations and organisations such as UNICEF, and not direct to the Phnom Penh regime. As part of the policy, we propose to offer now a further contribution of £250,000 to UNICEF for humanitarian projects inside Cambodia. Arrangements will be made for a member of the British embassy in Bangkok to visit Phnom Penh soon to report on the situation at first hand. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will meet the heads of the non-governmental organisations tomorrow to discuss details. As I have already said, we have taken action to adapt our stance at the United Nations.

I should like to say a word about our policy towards Vietnam, which bears a heavy responsibility for the Cambodian tragedy. As I explained at the beginning, in 1979 the decision to cut off British aid was related to Vietnam's policies on human rights, the exodus of boat people and the Cambodian invasion.

In recognition of Vietnam's role, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer made it clear in Paris that
"we look to the Vietnamese Government to live up to its wider responsibilities—towards Cambodia, towards its neighbours and towards its own people. Only in these new circumstances is my Government prepared to consider contributing to programmes of assistance to help Vietnam."
The withdrawal of Vietnamese combat units from Cambodia is an important and welcome step. In the context of a comprehensive settlement, it could indeed be a decisive step towards Vietnam's international rehabilitation. But for that we need a negotiated settlement, not a trial of strength on the battlefield.

We also accept that the human rights situation in Vietnam has improved, despite the cold-war rhetoric of the seventh party plenum, with its outdated references to "capitalist encirclement". It is surely evidence of Vietnam's improved performance in that area that the screening of boat people in Hong Kong reveals that the vast bulk are not fleeing persecution, but simply seeking a better economic life. In one sense, that is encouraging.

But we still look to Vietnam to state clearly and unequivocally that it is prepared to accept back in safety and dignity all those who are screened out, in accordance with the responsibilities of states towards their own people. We welcome Vietnam's co-operation over the return of volunteers, 500 of whom have now gone back.

We will go on working with our friends and partners for a sovereign and independent Cambodia whose people are free to decide their own future. That remains the overriding priority. We have never given, and will never give, support of any kind to the Khmer Rouge.

There are new diplomatic ideas coming forward, for resuming the Paris conference, for a step-by-step approach, as proposed by the Thai Prime Minister, for an interim United Nations authority, as suggested by Congressman Solarz. We are considering these carefully, in the context of the forthcoming United Nations general asembly debate and its aftermath. A return to the negotiating table is becoming increasingly urgent.

We wish to see peace and stability restored to Cambodia through a comprehensive political settlement which will create the conditions in which the Cambodian people can elect a Government of their choice, free from the fear of Khmer Rouge atrocities, foreign occupation or civil war. In consultation with our friends and allies, notably the ASEAN group of countries, we will continue to work to this end.

I do not believe that the Cambodian people would willingly choose either the murderous Khmer Rouge or the ex-Khmer Rouge which constitute the present regime in Phnom-Penh. What we need are free and fair elections to decide. Our diplomacy will be directed towards bringing them about.

5.2 pm

This afternoon, the Minister appeared to be a decent, fair-minded man who was landed with an awful brief. It may well be, as his historical chronology showed, that there is some continuity between this Government and the Labour Government of the 1970s, but none of his comments were any more relevant than that. I was saddened as I listened to him plough grimly through his speech, and I suspect that he was a bit sad himself—not least when he was struggling with questions about military training which were obviously right on the button. It must have been a very bad day for the Minister.

This is a most appropriate time to have this debate. We are debating the subject not just because of the situation in Cambodia, but because of the hard work of Oxfam, the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development and Christian Aid and because of John Pilger's television programme which had a tremendous effect on so many people and resulted in a remarkable number of people writing to hon. Members and to the Foreign Office.

I commend the Labour party for having this debate today. As my hon. Friend the Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) said during business questions last Thursday, we are very much at one with the Labour party on this issue. I commend the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) on his speech.

As the right hon. Member for Gorton said very clearly, there is a real and terrible risk that the Khmer Rouge could return to power. Those with expert, first-hand knowledge of Cambodia have warned of that for well over a year. For some reason that I do not understand, from the very start the Government and the Foreign Office have been unwilling to respond. There is some weird, deeply misguided, chess game of politics going on.

In that excellent book on Cambodia, "Punishing the Poor" by Eva Myslievisc, there is a startling quote from a member of the British embassy:
"Let's be realistic, it's only 6 million people."
That attitude is quite unacceptable to the people of this country. However, it seems to be the attitude that the Government are taking.

I agree with the right hon. Member for Gorton that we cannot really understand the present situation without looking back to the Khmer Rouge's tyranny between 1976 and 1980. However, we must consider that. As we remember the fallen of two world wars, we must also accept that the Khmer Rouge were far more brutal and murderous than Hitler. We must consider the terror and damage in the killing fields among a population not much bigger than that of Greater London. One million people were executed or were killed in other ways. There were 450 doctors in 1975, but only 45 remained in 1979. Schools, hospitals and the legal system were abolished. There was an extraordinary, savage madness. The idea that that should be allowed to return is appalling.

Presumably Conservative Members will support the Government if there is a Division. However, they must recall that the Khmer Rouge regime was brought to an end only through Vietnamese intervention. That is a fact. No hon. Member could put his hand on his heart and say that the Vietnamese were wrong to intervene and topple such a regime. In a rather extraordinary passage towards the end of his speech, the Minister said that somehow or other the Vietnamese had a heavy responsibility for Cambodia. For God's sake—hey stopped the regime. That is the crucial point.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia took place the very week that Tanzania invaded Uganda, with western support, to put an end to the Idi Amin regime? Quite different things were said about that.

I had forgotten that, but the hon. Gentleman's point is fair and apposite.

We must surely accept that ousting Pol Pot was justified. What possible justification is there for the continuing isolation of what is the de facto Government of Cambodia in Phnom Penh? Despite the long passage in the Minister's speech about that, in any other country we would by now have accepted reality and sent ambassadors. In response to questions, we would have said that of course that does not mean that we approve of the regime, but it is in control and that has always been our policy. I have heard that policy reiterated many times when hon. Members have asked for ambassadors to be withdrawn because they did not like a regime. The answer is always that the regime is in control and the Government do not express a view for or against it.

The only reason for non-recognition was the continuing presence of Vietnamese troops. The argument was that the regime was not the de facto Government because the Vietnamese were in control. That argument has disappeared: the rug has been pulled out from under it. The Government must change their position. It is extraordinary that on Wednesday we shall be prepared to continue to support the United Nations recommendation of that gentleman from the Khmer Rouge.

The hon. Gentleman is suggesting that on Wednesday we shall debate the recognition of the representative of democratic Kampuchea. That is not on the agenda for Wednesday. There is a substantive resolution on what attitude or action the United Nations should take.

On Wednesday the Government will have the right to object to the credentials of the Khmer Rouge representative, and that can change their position. They can do that if they have the political will to do so. That point was also made by the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton and it is crucial if the House is to influence what the Government do at the United Nations.

The recent so-called Paris peace conference did not succeed because the West made the profound error of pushing to have the Khmer Rouge accepted as part of an interim Government. That is unacceptable to the remainder of Cambodians. I do not understand the Government's position and all the stuff about moderate Khmer Rouge participation. Who are the moderates and where are they? It is incredible nonsense and should be recognised as such. Lord Brabazon of Tara said that he did not know the names. The Minister and the Foreign Office have had time to produce the names of all those moderates.

I will give way in a moment, if the hon. Lady will calm herself.

I will give way in a moment. I was about to finish my sentence.

If the Minister knows any moderate Khmer Rouge, hon. Members would be interested to hear of them. I certainly do not know any and those who work for Oxfam and other agencies in Cambodia do not know any, either.

I did not realise that I was being excitable. I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way. About 10 days ago, I wrote to the Prime Minister asking who were the reasonable members of the Khmer Rouge. I have had a holding letter but no reply to date.

Perhaps the Minister for Overseas Development will comment on that.

To put it bluntly, the Paris conference failed because of the West's insistence of Khmer Rouge participation. I respect the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He is a fair-minded and reasonable man. If the Government are serious about this matter, the best way forward is to establish links with the existing Phnom Penh Government and support a negotiated peace settlement based on free elections in which the Khmer Rouge play no part—no part whatever. The Khmer Rouge are not interested in free elections or fairness. Such an outcome could—I do not say will—lead to a more pluralist and neutral Cambodia. If the Government continue with their present policy, they may one day need to explain why the Khmer Rouge have again taken power by force.

5.14 pm

I lived in Cambodia for two years, so I speak against the Khmer Rouge with as much feeling as any other hon. Member. I view with as much horror as any other hon. Member the possibility of the Khmer Rouge's return to greater influence. I speak also with a greater feel for the country and certainly a greater knowledge of its history than some hon. Members have.

During the speech of the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) I questioned how much of the recent history of Cambodia he was familiar with. I regret that, once again, the right hon. Gentleman's paranoia about the United States seemed to dominate his speech. Conservative Members are familiar with Labour Members' paranoia about the United States. It often causes them to make foreign policy misjudgments. It was interesting that the right hon. Gentleman did not mention a group of countries that have had a much greater influence on the formation of this country's policy. I refer to ASEAN, the Association of South-East Asian Nations, our European allies, our NATO allies and many other countries at the United Nations which agree with us. There are 74 United Nations countries, in addition to ourselves, sponsoring the resolution to be debated on Wednesday.

The right hon. Gentleman did not mention ASEAN at all. If an Opposition spokesman makes a major speech on this subject and does not mention ASEAN, he obviously does not know what he is talking about. That is patently obvious to anybody who knows the history of Cambodia or south-east Asia over the past 10 years. That is a fundamental condemnation of the right hon. Gentleman's speech. The thought crossed my mind that the right hon. Gentleman might regard this issue simply as a convenient bandwagon on which to jump.

The right hon. Gentleman suggested that we should recognise Hun Sen. He overlooked the fact that we do not now recognise any Governments. By implication the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber (Sir R. Johnston), too, suggested that we should recognise the Hun Sen Government. He said that if such a situation had existed for 10 years in any other country we would have recognised the Government in control. I do not believe that we would have recognised a Government who had been put into power by force or by war and had never been exposed to a free election. That is not our tradition.

My hon. Friend the Minister reminded us that the Conservative Government withdrew recognition from the Khmer Rouge in the days when we did recognise Governments or withdrew recognition from Governments, a practice which, as he explained, was changed in 1980.

The previous Labour Government declared that the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia was unjustified. Border incidents provoked by the Khmer Rouge have been mentioned. No doubt they occurred, but they did not justify the Vietnamese action. I agree with what the Labour Government said at the time. It certainly did not justify an occupation which lasted 11 years, without an opportunity for the Cambodian people to express their wishes.

I cannot speak for the right hon. Gentleman, but when he referred to "border incidents" and to "troubles", I remind him that we are talking about 20,000 people dead.

I do not know whether there were 20,000 dead, but the Pol Pot regime certainly caused trouble on the border. What I have just said—perhaps the hon. Gentleman should listen—is that not only did the Vietnamese occupy the whole of Cambodia in an all-out war which was launched on, as I recall it, Christmas day 1978, but they stayed for 11 years. If it was a punitive expedition and if there was no intention of establishing a Vietnamese influence, having established their point by punishing the Pol Pot regime, why did not the Vietnamese give the people of Cambodia an opportunity to show how they wished to be governed?

I draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention to an article by the former Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath), who stated:

"Any visitor to that country would tell you that whatever the natural dislike of the Cambodian people for their aggressive neighbours, the vast majority is far more horrified by the prospect of a return to power of the Khmer Rouge."
Does that mean nothing to the right hon. Gentleman?

Before the right hon. Gentleman resumes his speech, I must point out that the Labour Government were wrong in what they said about the Vietnamese. Does what has happened, with the stopping of more than 2 million people—because 2 million people were killed—mean nothing at all to the right hon. Gentleman?

I can only assume that the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heller) was not listening to the early part of my speech, because I started by saying that I feel the same abhorrence for what has happened as any hon. Member. For heaven's sake, I lived in Cambodia for two years—which I do not think that any other hon. Member has done—so I know about the Cambodian people and how agreeable they naturally are. I lived in that country with great pleasure for two years. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to intervene, he should first take care to have listened to the earlier part of the speech in which he wishes to intervene.

I suspect that one reason why the Opposition have chosen this debate is that we have recently seen on television another example of what I describe as "Pilgerisation"—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Well, I know something of the facts of Cambodia——

I know Cambodia from further back—for a longer period—than Mr. Pilger. To Pilgerise is to distort the real picture by a mixture of 50 per cent. fact, 25 per cent. omission of facts, and 25 per cent. innuendo. If anybody really believes that the true and dispassionate picture of Cambodia is that presented by Mr. Pilger's programmes, that person is sadly misled.

Before coming to what I believe should be done, I want to put three points right. First—I do not believe that this has been mentioned so far—Vietnam is the hereditary enemy of Cambodia. Their relationship is as acrimonious historically as the relationship between any two countries of which one cares to think. The two countries are racially and culturally different. They are also different in religion and language. They have almost nothing in common. Their relationship is as acrimonious as that between India and Pakistan; Iran and Iraq; the Hutu and the Tuts; Wanda and Burundi; the Islamic people of Sudan and the Christian people of Sudan; the Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland. Although that is the sort of relationship about which we are talking, no one has mentioned that yet. That is the context in which one has to put the 11 years of Vietnamese occupation. It is not occupation by a friendly neighbour, it is occupation by the ancestral enemy.

While accepting that that is the historical position, may I ask my right hon. Friend to accept that for the people of Cambodia their relationship with Vietnam is considerably better than their relationship with the Pol Pot regime?

There seems to be some impression that I am defending the Pol Pot regime—

The hon. Gentleman should read his speech in Hansard in the morning.

I am assuming that hon. Members are intent not simply on scoring points, but on understanding the position. I accept that after Christmas day 1978, when Vietnam invaded and destroyed the Pol Pot regime, the position for most—nearly all—Cambodians was better than under the Pol Pot regime. I entirely support that proposition. I have never denied it. I am saying, first, that the Vietnamese invasion was condemned at the time by the Labour Government——

I accept that many Opposition Members think that what the Labour Government did was wrong. They think that lots of things that the Labour Government did in office were wrong. It is an entertaining experience to watch them——

It was not necessary for Vietnam to remain in occupation of Cambodia for 11 years with large forces and, knowing the relationship between the two countries, to give the people of Cambodia——

No, I shall not give way at the moment.

Knowing the ancestral ambitions of Vietnam, which, during the entire 19th century, was gradually nibbling away at Cambodian territory—as Thailand was from the other side—it should have been Vietnamese policy, if Vietnam was genuinely peace-loving and had the interests of the Cambodian people at heart, to give them the opportunity of freely deciding by what Government they should be ruled.

Surely the events of the past few weeks justify the period of that occupation by the Vietnamese, because, when the Vietnamese withdrew, the Khmer Rouge invaded. Indeed, they have already occupied the town of Pailin—there are reports of 17,000 people killed in that part of the world—and are now approaching Battambang, which is the second largest town in Cambodia. Unless there is some international action, there will be a return of Pol Pot, which the right hon. Gentleman seems to be justifying.

I can only assume that the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) is not listening to my speech either. I wish that Opposition Members would listen to what I am actually saying as opposed to what they think I am saying or what they would like me to be saying. That is not what I was saying.

I will come—if I am allowed to—to some proposals about what should be done. Meanwhile, I repeat that Britain has not been alone in the policy that it has followed during the past 11 years.

My second point is that, after the Vietnamese invasion we were urged, as were our friends and allies in Europe and the United States, by the countries of ASEAN, next door to Vietnam and Cambodia, to adopt the policy to which we eventually agreed—that is, to reject the credentials of the Vietnamese-installed regime at the United Nations and to insist that Vietnam should withdraw from Cambodia. That urging was not from the United States, it was from the people of ASEAN: the south-east Asian nations, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia and subsequently Brunei. They were extremely nervous about Vietnam which, after all, only a few years earlier had won the Vietnam war in which North Vietnam was the aggressor. The Vietnamese had by far the largest army in that part of the world—an extremely powerful army. There would have been great alarm in ASEAN if we had adopted any other course. Indeed, that course was adopted by most of the free world.

To assume that the United States policy is one of revenge against Vietnam and to assume that, along with the other 74 countries at the United Nations which share our view, we have tamely followed the wishes of the United States, is wholly to mislead oneself. The policy was motivated by a refusal to recognise aggression, and it was urged on us and other like-minded countries especially by the friendly countries of south-east Asia. Our action had the successful effect of stabilising south-east Asia during a dangerous time.

My third point relates to Prince Sihanouk. When I was in Cambodia in the 1950s, Prince Sihanouk, who had been king, but abdicated because he wanted to become Prime Minister, ran for election. I observed the election of 1955 on behalf of the British Government and it was the first election to be conducted after independence was declared in 1954. In the judgment of all the observers, including not only our embassy of which I was a member, but the international control commission, consisting of Poland, Canada, and India, that election was fair. Sihanouk emerged as the victor with an enormous margin. It is no exaggeration to say that the people of Cambodia regarded him as something close to God.

Since the 1955 election, things have changed. Sihanouk has frequently made statements that have been regarded, understandably, as eccentric. It is my guess, however, that if a free election were conducted again, any party led by Sihanouk would win with a substantial majority. The way to find out would be to arrange for a properly conducted, internationally supervised, free election. The speech of the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton was extremely thin regarding his own proposals.

Sihanouk is no friend of the Khmer Rouge. I believe that five of his children and many of his grandchildren were killed by the Khmer Rouge, and he was imprisoned by it. He has no reason to love the Khmer Rouge. Sihanouk's forces, which, unfortunately, are less numerous than the forces of the Khmer Rouge, are separate from them. The so-called coalition between the Khmer Rouge, Sihanouk and Son San does not represent one army controlled by the Khmer Rouge—there are three armies fighting in three locations. If Sihanouk and Son San believe that it would be right to have an interim Government to prepare for elections, in which part of the Khmer Rouge would be included, Opposition Members should attach importance to that view.

I also believe that it would be legitimate for the British Government, and for other Governments who want Cambodia restored to freedom, to support Sihanouk. Among other things, that support would strengthen him against the Khmer Rouge.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman accept that the coalition is dominated diplomatically, politically, militarily, and legally by the Khmer Rouge? That is the problem with recognising that coalition—the dominant partner is the Khmer Rouge.

Certainly the forces of the Khmer Rouge represent the largest power militarily, but I do not accept that it dominates the coalition.

One of the problems is China. The Chinese Government have been the principal supporter of the Khmer Rouge. A few months ago there were signs that China was prepared to change that policy. Chinese spokesmen have told me that the Khmer Rouge have made blunders—a strong statement coming from the Chinese. I do not know the present Chinese posture nor whether it has changed since the events of 4 June. When my right hon. Friend replies to this debate, I would be interested to know whether there is any information about the current Chinese attitude. One of the keys to resolving this extremely difficult problem would be for China to stop helping the Khmer Rouge.

What should be our course of action? We are right to aim for a comprehensive settlement, and that was something that the recent Paris conference hoped to achieve. That settlement should involve United Nations verification that the Vietnamese forces have withdrawn. An interim Government should be established to prepare for the elections. It is not satisfactory for the Hun Sen Government alone to prepare those elections as I do not believe that the rest of the world would have confidence in their freedom. The elections should be supervised by the United Nations. When the comprehensive settlement has been achieved, the incoming Government should receive large-scale economic assistance from all aid donors.

We cannot tell who would win such an election as the situation has changed enormously in the past 15 years. Perhaps the scepticism displayed by Opposition Members towards Sihanouk is justified—I do not know. The only way to find out is to hold such an election. I doubt very much, however, that the victor would be Hun Sen.

Unlike the right hon. Member for Gorton and the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber (Sir R. Johnston) I do not believe that it is sufficiently established that Hun Sen is the acceptable Head of Government for the Cambodian people. There are strong suggestions that all the Vietnamese forces have left, but we cannot assume that that is correct. That withdrawal requires verification, especially as the Chinese have said that they will withdraw support from the Khmer Rouge once they are satisfied that the Vietnamese forces have left.

The Labour party has initiated this debate with inadequate understanding of the history of Cambodia or of the factors that influenced our Government, in common with 74 other Governments, to adopt their present policy. That policy is right, but I also believe that the Government have been right recently to shift it in a more positive direction. No doubt we shall continue to assess what the next step should be. We should work as hard as we can for the resumption of a comprehensive conference leading towards a comprehensive settlement.

Order. This is a brief debate and obviously a number of hon. Members want to take part. I appeal for speeches shorter than those we have had so far.

5.37 pm

I assure you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that I shall be brief, as I know that a number of my hon. Friends want to participate. I believe that my hon. Friends' contributions will represent a much more accurate reflection of the situation in south-east Asia than that presented by the right hon. Member for Blackpool, South (Sir P. Blaker). It is relevant that the only date he could mention when he had been in the area was in the mid-1950s. His speech reminded me of someone harking back to those old colonial days of the 1950s. I hope that some of my hon. Friends, who have had much more up-to-date experience than the right hon. Gentleman, can contribute to the debate.

The right hon. Member for Blackpool, South attacked the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman). The right hon. Gentleman suggested that my right hon. Friend had omitted to mention a number of things. I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd) will rectify that when she replies.

What my right hon. Friend the Member for Gorton was trying to make clear, not only on behalf of the Labour Party, but on behalf of the other opposition parties, and even some Conservative Members, was the absolute abhorrence among our people of the way in which the British Government are deliberately distorting our position in the United Nations and other world bodies as it relates to Cambodia. I am sure that, when we read the speeches in Hansard, even the right hon. Member for Blackpool, South will have cause to regret some of the things he said, especially when he reads the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Gorton.

Some of the right hon. Gentleman's comments were incredible. He said that, when the Vietnamese forces invaded Kampuchea, as it was then known, they destroyed Pol Pot. That is nonsense, and I hope that it is the last piece of nonsense we hear in the debate. They managed to drag Pol Pot from Kampuchea across the border into Thailand, where the regime was sustained by the same forces who are trying to justify that sustenance today in the Chamber. From the camps, the Pol Pot regime continued a policy of genocide against the Cambodians, both in the camps and in Cambodia by incursions across the Thai border.

We should remind ourselves that it was the deliberate intention of the Pol Pot regime to remove the intellectuals from the infrastructure of Kampuchea. That caused the problems, which meant that the Vietnamese had to stay in that country until the Cambodians thought it was important for them to withdraw. By the policy of genocide, the regine removed a whole stratum of doctors, academics and other educated and intelligent professionals who would have been required to rebuild Cambodia. The removal of that stratum resulted in the problems with which Cambodia is still struggling. The Government have neither given nor offered aid to Cambodia that would make up for the removal of that stratum, and it is not as if we do not have the facilities or the people power to have given that type of support.

It is important that we remind ourselves of the comments made by the aid organisations in Cambodia. Frank Judd, the director of Oxfam, described the British Government's policy as "naive". At the end of the debate, the House will share that view. It is naive for the British Government to suppose that military training and aid given to the camps will not help the Khmer Rouge. He compares the British Government's policy of not giving aid inside Cambodia to that of the British people who are donating generously and willingly to the aid organisations working in that country.

On Friday, Mr. Derek Lietch, a constituent of my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion), stood in Dundee high street and within two hours had gathered 150 signatures on a petition which simply said that there should be an end to British Government support for the Khmer forces in Cambodia. If people were to go on to the streets outside the House or in any constituency, they would have no difficulty in achieving more than 150 signatures opposing the British Government's present proposals for Cambodia.

If the Minister has a chance to talk to her right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary before she replies to the debate, she might be able to tell me what response he intends to send to the philosophy department at Dundee university. On 7 November, a letter signed by the entire department was sent to the right hon. Gentleman making clear its concern for the plight of the civilian population in Cambodia and its horror and incredulity that we should co-sponsor a resolution in the United Nations that would ultimately leave the Khmer Rouge with some form of control in Cambodia.

During this short debate, it would be wrong not to speak of some of the other problems that need to be dealt with if there is to be a realistic end to the problems faced by the Cambodian people and the whole of the south-east peninsula. We should address ourselves not only to Cambodia but to Vietnam.

There has been reference to the Paris peace conferences. The Paris peace conference that failed in August this year was important for the forces in Cambodia. In the peace talks of 1973, the United States Government agreed to pay $3·2 billion to the Vietnamese people for the war of attrition that was launched against them. Not one cent of that money has been paid to a country that suffered considerable war damage and experienced the first large-scale use of herbicidal warfare. Over 41 million lb of agent orange were dropped on the Vietnamese people between 1961 and 1971. The damage can still be seen among the Vietnamese people and in the defoliation.

The United States and British Governments have made no effort to help the Vietnamese people, despite the fact that the Vietnamese have said that they are prepared to discuss—particularly with the United States Government—ways in which they could be involved in the rebuilding of Vietnam. Only with the economic aid that is dearly required for Vietnam and Cambodia will there be an end to the problems in that area.

Many Opposition Members wish to contribute to the debate, and I am sure that, if they catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, we shall hear their experiences of visits to Cambodia and Vietnam. They will be able to tell the House about the determination of the Cambodian and Vietnamese people to live peacefully with their neighbours, if they are allowed. They will not be able to live in peace if we are party to Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge being allowed back into Cambodia.

5.47 pm

I disagree profoundly with my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow), who said that this is not a matter of grave urgency. It is a matter of international concern and of profound public concern in this and other countries. As the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) said, I initiated an Adjournment debate on 1 November. In that debate I pressed for a major debate on this part of the world and I welcome the fact that the Opposition have provided that opportunity.

It is now time for statesmanship of high order. The House should pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, South (Sir P. Blaker), who has had a profound interest in the subject for many years. Those of us who have followed the matter realise that the position is changing fast. I welcomed my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary's reply to me in his statement. However, we need to consider the matter in reverse order to the way that he put it. The first and most critical matter is the United Nations debate on the resolution. Within its five pages, the changes are minimal and insufficient to fulfil the statement to me that it would reflect the changing position.

I remain concerned that our attitude is one of high risk: our ambivalence over our support for Prince Sihanouk and the Cambodian people leaves open the risk that the Khmer Rouge military could return as a result of the civil war. I suspect that, within the American Administration, and—as my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, South said—the Association of the South-East Asian Nations, there are many different views. One has only to witness what the Thai Prime Minister is trying to do to recognise that. I suspect that the same applies to our European partners. We should look carefully at our policies and statements at all times.

I shall ask a straightforward question about this resolution of my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench: what would our policy be if Prince Sihanouk resigned tomorrow? He has resigned more than once from different posts. What would our policy be if we built it entirely on Prince Sihanouk? I recognise the worries and tribulations which he has suffered. I have read his book, and it would be a good thing if others read it. His book was written in French and has not been translated into English. I understand the man, what he feels about the Khmer Rouge and the interim period in which he was, and I believe remains, a puppet.

Prince Sihanouk is not the vehicle for a settlement in Kampuchea. He is a creature of China and less independent than Hun Sen, who has often been accused of being a creature of the Vietnamese. However, I know, because I have discussed with Hun Sen, the 100 hours of negotiation which he had with Prince Sihanouk in an effort to bring him back into the Government and reconcile him with the Kampuchean people.

Prince Sihanouk demanded various things, such as a new flag, a return to calling the nation Cambodia instead of Kampuchea, and a new national anthem. Hun Sen returned to his assembly and, however much it is criticised, he has obtained a new flag which is more attractive than the old one, and the country is now being called Cambodia. The only thing with which he had trouble was the national anthem, because the national assembly in Phnom Penh did not like its slowness and wanted something brighter. That is an example of how things have been done to assist reconciliation, yet each time Prince Sihanouk goes back to Peking, he returns to his original formula involving the Khmer Rouge.

Much of the propaganda, which is still about and which poisoned the Paris conference, is reflected in a letter which Prince Sihanouk wrote to The New York Times on 13 March, following an article by Elizabeth Becker:
"It is most regrettable that Ms. Becker confuses the traitor regime of Cambodia that serves only the interests of the Vietnamese Communist colonialists with that of the real Cambodia. The People's Republic of Kampuchea of Hun Sen is not Cambodia; it is merely a creation, and a creature of the expansionist and colonialist Vietnam Communist regime."
Are those the words of settlement? I think not.

Those of us who have had the good fortune to travel to Cambodia twice relatively recently—in 1987 and only a few weeks ago—know that this is not an accurate picture of Hun Sen, Vietnam or the scene within Cambodia. I suspect that the United Kingdom Government and others have a lack of balance in this matter, because they have no appreciation of the reality of what is happening within Cambodia.

Earlier this year, The Bangkok Post of Wednesday 17 May said:
"Khmer resistance leader Prince Norodom Sihanouk has said Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping strongly warned him against breaking his alliance with the Khmer Rouge … The Bangkok-based diplomats told AFP Prince Sihanouk had told them Deng had threatened to 'fight' him if he 'expelled the Khmer Rouge'."
Bearing in mind the fact that we have a civil war and a coalition of convenience, my horror is that there will be not just three armies against Hun Sen, but armies against one another: the Khmer Rouge against the Sihanoukists—with whom they have been in conflict in the past. Therefore, it is essential that we have a far better understanding of the problem.

I understand the argument of Prince Sihanouk and the coalition, that, as we have this army, the only way to deal with it is to involve it in the coalition or the interim Government, which is what we are really talking about. I fear that philosophy, because it supports Mao's theory that power grows from the barrel of a gun. That is a dangerous argument to accept.

The only reason why the Khmer Rouge army has not been defeated is because it has had refuge in Thailand. If the Vietnamese had gone after it in Thailand, all hell would have been let loose. It has been sustained, in secret, in China and in Thailand. The only way in which genuinely to judge its military effectiveness would be if the Thais were allowed to pursue the policy which they now seek.

I do not know whether there is any truth in the notion of Sihanoukists being trained. In his policy to the American Administration, Steve Solarz suggested that Prince Sihanouk and his forces should be supplied with lethal aid to give them greater bargaining power in Paris. As I understand it, Steve Solarz changed his mind following the events at Paris, and that aid was not provided. I suspect that, if we had done any training with Sihanouk forces, it would be more designed to deal with the question posed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, South (Sir P. Blaker) and to suggest that there was a more equal force between the Khmer Rouge and the Sihanoukists, rather than to train the Sihanoukists to fight the Vietnamese. That is why I constantly refer to the coalition as one of convenience.

We cannot impose, as we tried in Paris, perhaps through diplomatic skills, a quadripartite interim Government. There are three options which we should pursue more deliberately. The first is the Jakarta formula which was negotiated between Hun Sen and Prince Sihanouk. That required that there should be external Khmers, represented by Prince Sihanouk and his coalition Government—within which there could be members of the Khmer Rouge, although members could not stand in their own right. The most politically unacceptable factor in Cambodia, and the one which, Hun Sen says, would stop him delivering an interim Government, would be if that Government included the Khmer Rouge with its armies intact.

We could pursue this Jakarta formula, which was nogotiated and then reneged upon, with the external and internal Khmers in an interim Government for a short period to organise the elections which we all seek. We all—including the internal Government—want to find the quickest way to organise elections which are eligible, free and fair, to enable the Cambodian people to choose their own future Government.

The second option is to back the Prime Minister Chatichai of Thailand in his small steps policy, which is well documented in The Washington Post of 11 November, in which the Thais urge a shift in United States policy and the Prime Minister wants President Bush to be more conciliatory to Hanoi. The Prime Minister says that we should abandon the elusive goal of the power-sharing formula and recognise much more the Vietnamese position. We should get the three or four competing factions in an informal manner to proceed towards the goal of a United Nations team visiting the country to reassure everyone of two facts: first, that the Vietnamese have withdrawn, and secondly that—this is one reason why the Paris talks failed—the settlers are no longer there.

The third option is the Namibia solution, which we all hope and pray has been successful, even as the votes are being counted. In Namibia, the United Nations was able to organise free and fair elections with what was seen to be an illegal regime—the South African regime. The conditions were that the South African military were withdrawn into their barracks and the external military were not allowed to return with guns, although they could return without them. An election was organised, of which we shall all, hopefully, see the results soon.

On the question of external military, what is the hon. Gentleman's view of alleged British military training of forces in Cambodia? Does he accept that, when Ministers say that they never discuss these matters, that is belied by the fact that press statements were issued in relation to the SAS training for the South Korea olympics, and in relation to Mazambique, Spain and a Foreign Office statement on the work which the British military are rightly carrying out in Colombia. Therefore, there is no precedent for not making statements to the Commons about the military problems.

I have read the Jane's Defence Weekly articles, which may or may not be true. I do not want to be sidetracked by this issue, but as I read it, the document revealed basic military training to forces under the control of Prince Sihanouk in Thailand, not Cambodia. Whether that happened, I do not know. However, if it did, I suspect that it was more because Prince Sihanouk, in all his representations to western leaders, has constantly complained about the weakness of his military position in relation to Khmer Rouge. I suspect that if that happened, it was more to give him increased political and military power as against the Khmer Rouge within the coalition than to enable him to be successful in any civil war. In any case, I strongly press all sides to end the civil war—that is paramount.

The resolution to be debated next Wednesday should include a new form of words that would enable the Secretary-General to continue his policy which started in Paris and to initiate a mission to Phnom Penh and Cambodia. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, South suggested, that mission should verify the Vietnamese withdrawal and all that should flow from that. It is wrong to move the goalposts as events unfold.

When the Foreign Affairs Select Committee went to Vietnam way back in 1986, we recommended that our policy should be to encourage the normalisation of relationships with America and with other ASEAN countries as soon as possible after the Vietnamese had left Cambodia. We do not need to verify that they have left, but many Governments will not formally recognise that until it has the UN seal of approval. That should be given quickly, so that normalisation can follow and we can end the embargo on Vietnam, which should be rehabilitated within ASEAN, as it has applied to join. The ASEAN nations must put their thinking caps on and make a proper response to that application.

The mission should also verify that there are not 1 million Vietnamese settlers. If one studies carefully what happened in Paris and in the ad hoc committee, one discovers that it all fell apart because of the prejudices of the factions.

The arguments revolved around "genocide" not being allowed to be included in the resolution, and the Vietnamese settlers.

As I have said before, we all know that genocide took place. Those of us who have been to Cambodia have tried hard to discover the 1 million Vietnamese settlers who are paraded by the Chinese and Sihanouk. The commission could verify that; the commission offered by Hun Sen would include Khmer-speaking external Khmers who can tell the difference between Vietnamese and Khmers, and who speak the language.

The resolution should also underline the need for the immediate suspension of hostilities and of arms supplies from all sources—whether from China, Russia or America. I hope that the Americans are not sending the lethal aid that they talked about. It is not good for the British Government to continue to be seen to be siding with the coalition to the exclusion of the internal Government. Such a lack of balance cannot lead to the solution that we all seek.

Many of us have been to the camps on the Thai border. The resolution mentions people being allowed to return freely and safely to their homeland. Most of us who have been to the camps recognise that the people cannot even return freely to the villages around them and certainly not those between the camps. The condition in the camps has been well documented—we have had to send a special police force to uphold a form of justice there, to replace the barbarism that prevailed before.

To suggest that these camps are good advertisements for the coalition Government and for the way in which they treat people is untrue. We do not know much about the camps under Khmer Rouge control, because until recently no one was allowed into them. Although one receives a tremendous welcome when entering the other two camps, one can detect that they are camps for the rest and rehabilitation of the military forces who have been fighting in Cambodia.

The internal Government's signature on a document allowing these people to return to Cambodia was given to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees long ago, but I suspect that they could not cross the threshold of the country even if they wanted to. In Phnom Penh, we looked carefully at the conditions for the return of the external Khmers and at the work done by the Red Cross with the UNHCR in the form of plans to facilitate the end of the misery of the people in these camps.

I welcome my right hon. Friend's efforts to give increased aid to Cambodia. I know that she had a great deal to do with that and with the much more forthcoming attitude of her predecessor—who began pound-for-pound aid to the non-governmental organisations—and that she is using the heads of NGOs to talk about what can be done on a greater scale. I refer, for instance, to the £250,000 which has been promised to UNICEF and which I hope will go to the hospital that we saw on the Pilger film. The hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd) and I have been there and can vouch for its needs.

The United Nations Development Programme report which I mentioned in my Adjournment debate is available; it analyses constructively the desperate needs of Cambodia, despite the fact that the UNDP could not go to Phnom Penh. The report draws a conclusion similar to that to which we came when we visited the country: an aid programme on a sufficient scale cannot be started until there is peace, and until there is confidence among those who have to administer it. A return of the people who are capable of interfacing with those who want to give the aid must come first.

Part of the problem is that the aid programmes, even those from the Soviet Union, have great difficulty finding the necessary intermediaries to transfer the knowledge and aid, thanks to the ravages of Pol Pot and the lack of confidence among many of the people serving in the Administration. It is not enough merely to increase the aid programme—the waterworks are a good example of that. Oxfam has done marvellous work getting the waterworks up to World Health Organisation standards—when the water leaves the waterworks. It then goes into a piping system which is completely destroyed and broken into at every level by people using it instead of wells. Replacing the water system in a city like Phnom Penh is not work for an NGO; it is a matter for a massive infrastructure aid programme.

The Government have recognised that it is important that someone from Bangkok should visit Phnom Penh to see for himself what the hon. Member for Cynon Valley and I have been trying to say since 1987. We are not spokesmen for the Hun Sen Government; I have been around the world enough to be reasonably fair, but I know that the picture in Phnom Penh does not bear out the propaganda that we hear from Bangkok. The Government in Phnom Penh have struggled against impossible odds to bring about some rehabilitation. A fundamental change has been wrought between 1987 and a few weeks ago. There is a thriving market economy, in which gold and motor cars can be bought; there are new hotels, but there is still a desperate need for infrastructure.

Pagodas are being rebuilt and pagoda education is beginning again—hardly the action of a Stalinist-Communist Government. The rehabilitation process is borne out by the UNDP report.

Hun Sen has been attacked in an underhand way as having been a former member of the Khmer Rouge, but that must be put in context. As he said in his press conference in Phnom Penh, he joined the Khmer nationalist movement with Prince Sihanouk at a time when the Americans backed Lol Non's attempt to take over. Hun Sen sees himself—in this he is supported by the Prime Minister of Thailand—as a nationalist, and that is what he is. Prince Sihanouk was the big fish in that struggle, and Hun Sen was a very small fish, so it is not good enough to cast doubts on his sincerity and on what he has tried to do by linking him with the Khmer Rouge and its terrible activities.

As we have continually said, Britain can play a role if it sets out to do so. We are the only member of the Security Council which has not been directly involved in the conflict and we chaired the committee which finally settled the Vietnam war. I beg my right hon. Friend the Minister to go to the Foreign Secretary and to all members of her team and press them to pay much more lively attention to what has been said in the House. They should bring about a dramatic change of policy and should do a great deal more to achieve the result that we all seek.

6.10 pm

When I saw the answer that the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Lester) was given by the Foreign Secretary last week, I thought that it signified some change of mood by the Government, in that they were willing to give some aid to Cambodia. However, when I heard the Chamberlainesque speech by the Minister, my doubts about Government policy returned very rapidly.

At least the Vietnamese have left Cambodia. In his answer to the hon. Member for Broxtowe, the Foreign Secretary said as much—that the Government accepted that the Vietnamese had left. However, we have heard speeches from the Minister and from the right hon. Member for Blackpool, South (Sir P. Blaker) the main tenor of which was how nasty the Vietnamese were to invade Cambodia and get rid of the murderous Pol Pot. When I hear such speeches, I wonder where we are going.

The right hon. Member for Blackpool, South talked about free elections. How can there be free elections in the middle of a civil war? The danger that many people thought would arise if the Vietnamese withdrew from Cambodia is unfolding before our eyes. There are reports of 17,000 people already killed and of the town of Pailin already occupied by the murderous legions of Pol Pot.

I shall not give way. Other hon. Members wish to take part in the debate.

The forces of Pol Pot are now marching on Battambang. It is a regional capital and the second largest city in Cambodia. Poor and desperate as it is, Cambodia depends greatly on its jute production and Battambang has Cambodia's only factory for making the sacks in which the jute is wrapped and sent to market. The factory is financed by Oxfam and there are British people in the town, Oxfam people working on an irrigation scheme. If that town falls, it is widely rumoured that the Khmer Rouge has said that it will go full belt for a military solution.

How can we talk about free elections and about the Vietnamese at a time when armies similar to those of Hitler in 1940 are sweeping across Cambodia? It can only be a matter of weeks before they reach Phnom Penh and once again impose the foul Pol Pot regime. The people held responsible for that will be those who take no action now and just laugh about the situation, the people who will go to the United Nations next Wednesday and refuse to take any action whatever.

In August I visited the camps at Khao-I-Dang and Rythisen on the border with Thailand. I pay tribute to the gallant British nurses who are working in the hospital there. They are from Bristol, Gloucester, Manchester and Stockport. Those young girls are doing a marvellous job in that hospital, as I know the hon. Member for Broxtowe and my hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd) have seen for themselves. A Finnish women surgeon working on her own is dealing with all the necessary amputations in an area ravaged by minefields, which from time to time suffers shellfire. A young Frenchman is training the Cambodians to make wheelchairs and artificial limbs from the very poor materials that they have.

Those people require assistance, and so far no practical assistance has been given by the British Government to Cambodians on either side of the border. However, the silence of the Minister confirms that aid is going to the Khmer Rouge by way of training its allies in weaponry. We know that is true because the Government remain silent about it and silence speaks volumes.

There are 140,000 refugees in the camps around the Thailand-Cambodia border. Of those refugees, no fewer than 59—35 per cent. are under the age of 24. That means that most of them remember very little about Cambodia. They were very young or not born at all when Pol Pot ravaged their homeland. The site 2 camp of Rythisen has the largest concentration of Cambodians outside Phnom Penh. They are living in a relatively urban community. There should be steady repatriation to Cambodia, because those people need to be trained as farmers, the only occupation that will be open to them. We need an economic development package, not a military training package, to train those young people. The fact that they are predominantly young people reflects what happened in the killing fields of Cambodia, when their elder brothers and older people were killed in the Hitlerite fashion that we know as the hallmark of Pol Pot.

The Khmer Rouge are undoubtedly being assisted by the Chinese and encouraged by the United States and Britain by the silence and their intervention in attempts to train people to carry weapons into Cambodia. China probably more than any other country was responsible for the collapse of the peace talks in Paris. The Chinese Government were the perpetrators of the massacre in Tiananmen square and China's Foreign Minister is quoted in the South China Morning Post as having insisted that any change in Cambodia would mean the end of the existing Government in Phnom Penh and the installation of a coalition Government which must, as far as China is concerned, include the Khmer Rouge.

There seemed some sign in the Foreign Secretary's reply on Wednesday that the Government will look again at their policy. The right hon. Member for Blackpool, South talked about "Pilgerisation", but it is not just that, because on television we saw the actuality of conditions for the people in Cambodia, the life of the people in the camps. British people recognise the truth when they see it; that is why they will put increasing pressure on their Members of Parliament to make the Government change their mind.

The Government have a golden opportunity on Wednesday to raise the whole issue again in the United Nations General Assembly. I fear that, in a few weeks, we shall be talking about Phnom Penh as if it were Paris after 14 June 1940, when the Nazis occupied it. There is a serious war and a crisis in Cambodia and the legions of Pol Pot are not standing aside and saying, "Let us wait and see if we can have free elections." They are getting on with their murderous job of returning to power. Our Government have an opportunity to speak for what the British people want, which is justice for the people of Cambodia.

6.19 pm

I thought that the Minister's contribution was shameful. It seriously damaged his justified reputation as a decent human being. I appreciate that he did not write it, but he should have had the strength to refuse to read out what was clearly written by a civil servant. I trust that when my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman)—he is not here at the moment—takes office, there will be a shakeup of the south-east Asia department of the Foreign and Commonwealth office.

The low point of the Minister's speech was his attempt to provide a history of events in Kampuchea but to omit the fact that the Vietnamese invasion was in response to what the right hon. Member for Blackpool, South (Sir P. Blaker) called "an incident" on the border. This incident was an attempt by the Khmer Rouge to annexe the western provinces of Vietnam. I know some of the people who were living there at that time, and I know what they saw. This attempt resulted in the butchery of thousands of women and children and similar incidents took place on the border with Thailand.

Whoever wrote the Minister's speech knows that such events occurred. The Minister does not know that. As he cheerfully admitted in the Adjournment debate the other day, he knows not the slightest thing about this issue, as it is not within his remit. It is fundamental to the dishonesty that ran throughout his speech that he attempted to skip over the history of those events, and did not mention them. I invite the House to contemplate how Her Majesty's Government might respond if a foreign power attempted to annexe the southern counties of England, and in the process butchered thousands of our citizens. I wonder whether we would have described that as "an incident".

The second low point of the Minister's speech was his refusal to respond to the determined attempts by my right hon. Friend the Member for Gorton to get from him the facts about the presence of the SAS on the Thai-Cambodian border. We have been told that that is only a token gesture. Jane's Defence Weekly has said that there are only six or seven of them and that they are training people to put mines on roads and to blow up some of the bridges that Oxfam is helping the people to build. No doubt we have made that token gesture as a result of great pressure from the United States, just as, when the Vietnam war was at its height, we were under great pressure to send British service men there to make the war look respectable. I believe that we did and that the bodies of a number of SAS people are still to be found in the soil of Vietnam, but I shall pass over that.

Like other hon. Members, I have been to Cambodia. I went for the first time in August 1973 and my experience was a little different from that of the right hon. Member for Blackpool, South because I strayed off the cocktail party circuit. At the time, Phnom Penh was surrounded and American B52s were burning the country down village by village. I saw with my own eyes what they were doing. I woke up at night and the whole city was shaking because of the bombs, and the sky was lit up. They were bombing up to the suburbs. That bombing was controlled from the windowless bunker which passed for the American embassy.

The Americans were caught at it. I remember an American journalist, Sylvanna Foa, accidentally twiddling with the knobs of her portable radio and discovering that the instructions to the pilots of the B52s were coming directly from the American embassy, and could be heard on the radio frequency. That is possibly the only time that diplomats accredited to a country were attempting to burn it down.

I also vividly remember the American Government's principal problem in this case—their ignorance. The Americans must be mentioned frequently because we were only following on behind them in this as in many other cases. They were amazingly ignorant even then about the events in the country that they were burning down. I remember sitting in that windowless bunker in Phnom Penh in August 1973 and an American first secretary describing to me how the Khmer Rouge did not exist. He developed the theme at some length.

We have to pinch ourselves to remember that the official policy was that it was a Vietnamese invasion, although a handful of indigenous Khmer might be involved. He told me that Saloth Sar, which is Pol Pot's real name, Hou Youn, Hu Nim and Kieu Samphan, who were the original leaders of the Khmer Rouge, had been murdered by Sihanouk. However, there was a film of Sihanouk visiting what were described as the liberated zones. A film-maker himself, he had filmed himself embracing the three "ghosts" as they were known. That film would have been available, but when I put that to the first secretary, he said, "We think that one of them may be alive, but the other two were actors impersonating the leaders." That was the line 18 months before Phnom Penh fell. The Americans were still denying that the Khmer Rouge existed.

The irony is that now the people whom they were bombing—the Khmer Rouge—and the Sihanouk supporters are those whom the Americans are helping to get back to power. We have to pinch ourselves to remember—the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Lester) referred to this—that Sihanouk was removed in a military coup run by the Americans. The country was a wholly-owned subsidiary of the United States at that time. The Americans replaced him with the lunatic Marshal Lon Nol—a man who believed that the Communists were strapping rockets to rabbits and sending them into Government installations.

I remember all that because I was there and I remember going back in 1980 shortly after Pol Pot had left town, courtesy of the Vietnamese. By then, Cambodia was a wholly isolated country. The scenes that one saw have been recorded elsewhere, so I shall not repeat them, but I remember many things. I remember the day, in February 1980, when I flew out of Phnom Penh. I turned on the radio in Bangkok and heard a British Foreign Office Minister speaking at a conference in Geneva about Vietnamese atrocities in Cambodia. When I got back to London, I rang up the man and asked him for chapter and verse of evidence for that statement. He became extremely flustered and said that he had left his notes in Geneva. We can see that the knowledge among Foreign Office Ministers has not improved.

I will not give way, if the hon. Gentleman will forgive me. Time is short and those on the Front Bench wish to speak. I have waited rather a long time to get this off my chest.

I have travelled extensively in those regions and one of the questions that occurs to me is this. Where does the Foreign Office get its information? Does it come from the British embassy in Hanoi? I know many of the people there. They are decent, intelligent good people and I believe that they are reporting back accurately on what they see around them. The information driving the Government to this ludicrous policy is thus unlikely to come from that source. Does it come from the British embassy in Bangkok? The ambassador in Bangkok, Mr. Tonkin, was the former ambassador in Hanoi. I have not met him since he went to Bangkok, but he was a decent intelligent man then and I believe that he and his staff are reporting accurately. So the information does not come from Bangkok.

The answer is that the information comes on the telex from the United States. One day a telex from Washington will give Mr. Colvin and the other civil servants in the south-east Asia department—the architects of this policy—permission to change the line, and it will change. A Minister will come running down here and read another brief that he does not wholly understand. I am sad to say that we are a satellite state, and this is one of the most humiliating examples of our satellite status. We are the Bulgaria of western Europe, but at a time when glasnost is running through Bulgaria one would like to think that it might also extend to the western satellites of the United States.

I leave the House with one question. If, as Ministers repeatly assure us, Pol Pot is unpopular—everyone assures us that they have nothing to do with him—and nobody loves him and nobody has anything to do with him, how has he survived in exile over the past decade? Let no one say that it is all to do with the Chinese. China has no contiguous border with Cambodia. The weapons that come from China are transported in ships which come from the former American air base at Utapao. They are taken in Thai army trucks to the various Khmer Rouge camps along the Cambodian border. The Thai army, which is a partial subsidiary of the United States, pauses only to take its rake-off from the Chinese weapons.

Where does the food come from? It comes from the United Nations border relief operation. Tony Jackson of Oxfam has recently returned from one of the Khmer Rouge camps on the border. He saw United Nations food being packed for onward transmission to the interior.

Where is Pol Pot now? It is no secret that the last recorded sightings of Pol Pot were at the Cardoman mountains inside Cambodia. He has with him a force of about 6,000 men. He and his men are being sustained by United Nations rations. We all contribute food, including the British, American and Japanese Governments. All western countries have contributed to the supplies of food that sustain the Khmer Rouge.

The factor that has sustained the Khmer Rouge most during the past decade has been diplomatic recognition, and a great deal of arm twisting has taken place to secure that. The right hon. Member for Blackpool, South mentioned ASEAN. The ASEAN countries understand that their satellite status is dependent on continuing to toe the line on an extremely unpopular issue.

When I passed through Bangkok last September I stopped off at the Thai Prime Minister's residence for a few hours. It was made clear to me that Thailand was doing everything possible to get out from under, but it cannot do so because it is afraid of the military. Who runs the Thai military? The United States has more control over it than the Thai Prime Minister, as has been demonstrated by the repeated military coups in Thailand over the past 30 years. The Thais are being leaned upon to keep the line.

How can Pol Pot and the other Khmer Rouge leaders come and go from Thailand? Do they use a motor boat to land on some abandoned island? No, they come through Don Muang airport, the main international airport in Bangkok. They use the military section. I am told that Pol Pot has twice been hospitalised in Bangkok. I am told also that at one stage he and the other leaders of the Khmer Rouge had a suite in the Erawan hotel. That hotel has since been demolished. Friends of mine in Bangkok have seen Khmer Rouge leaders in the Liberty hotel in Bangkok. Everybody knows what is going on and it is fraudulent for Ministers to pretend otherwise.

We see a shameful state of affairs. We all realise that we are just bit players, but Britain is being degraded. Decent people of all political persuasions around the world consider that we are being brought into disrespect. I appreciate that whichever Minister replies to the debate will have to read out another brief written by Mr. Colvin and his friends. I hope that when the Ministers return to the Foreign Office they will give him a bollocking and tell him that he should go to the department of folding deck chairs before too long. I trust that their policy on this issue will change.

6.33 pm

It is a pity that the right hon. Member for Blackpool, South (Sir P. Blaker), who challenged the authenticity, veracity and knowledge of my right hon. and hon. Friends, was not present to hear some of the speeches of my right hon. and hon. Friends for the past 45 minutes.

We have heard precisely what the British Government's policy is on Cambodia. It is clear that Cambodia is being punished because of a grudge against Vietnam. That has been made clear by those who have spoken from the Government Benches. The continuing punishment and isolation of Cambodia can be seen in its children. Those of us who have been to Cambodia on two occasions, such as the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Lester) and I, have seen children in the paediatric hospital in Phnom Penh lying in corridors because there are no beds for them. Others are lying in their mothers' laps because there is nowhere else to put them.

Some of the children we saw were desperately ill. There are children crying in hospital everywhere. Many die from conditions as simple as diarrhoea. They do not get the proper medical care that they should receive. One in five children die of preventable diseases before the age of five. Many die because they drink contaminated water. We have heard described this afternoon what Pol Pot did to Phnom Penh. He went into the city with his Khmer Rouge troops in 1975 and smashed the waterworks.

Sir Robert Jackson, a former United Nations Under-Secretary-General, wrote:
"In a disaster operation, three phases are normally distinguished: relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction and development. In the case of Kampuchea, not even the phase of relief has been advanced to what in other humanitarian operations would be regarded as 'just adequate'. At best it can be said that the lives of the people have been preserved after that holocaust, but no more."

Cambodia is the only country in the world to be denied United Nations development aid, which provides such necessities as a clean water supply, decent sanitation, tractors and irrigation pumps. Cambodia receives practically none of those things because of a 10-year blockade that is led by the United States and China, which is supported by ASEAN and Britain. If the right hon. Member for Blackpool, South would listen, he would understand that that was the mention of ASEAN that he was so anxious to hear.

Few Governments have tried to help by giving money to non-governmental organisations. Oxfam and other agencies have done a tremendous job in Cambodia. As the hon. Member for Broxtowe said, Oxfam is supplying and installing water pumps in rural areas. That work has been exceptionally important, but we can provide only a fraction of what Cambodia really needs.

In June 1989—this is an example of how the United Nations has been unable to carry out its proper function—the United Nations Development Programme sent an exploratory mission to Cambodia. It never got further than Bangkok, because the United States and Japan vetoed the mission.

The hon. Member for Broxtowe and I visited Cambodia for a second time in. two years:. We have seen how much the country has changed in that period. Many people pin their faith on the Prime Minister of Cambodia, Hun Sen. They believe that he has the most lenient regime in Cambodian modern history. Everyone acknowledges that he is the driving force behind the reforms that have taken place.

The legal system and the constitution have been reformed. If anyone thinks that the hon. Member for Broxtowe and I are stooges of the Cambodian Government, let him or her understand that on two occasions we put searching questions to the Cambodian Government on behalf of Amnesty International because of our concern about human rights in the country. Over the past two years, there have been remarkable improvements, following some of our earlier criticisms. That is true especially of the practice of holding people in detention without trial. The Prime Minister said that he was considering ways of allowing Amnesty International and other international agencies such as the Red Cross to visit prisons in Cambodia.

First, however, Hun Sen has to fight the civil war. He reiterated time after time that he was not heading a Communist regime. He asked, "Tell us where you can see it?" He wants Cambodia to be a non-aligned state. He asked, "Why is it that the West continues to punish the victims, the Cambodian people?"

The United States and the West force Cambodia to depend on the eastern bloc. That is the only way in which the country can breathe. That is a stupid policy and it is high time that the British Government and other western Governments recognised it. I received a telex from the Cambodian Government today, in which they repeat their invitation for a United Nations mission to verify withdrawal. In the event that there is any doubt in anyone's mind, they are inviting that verification.

We have heard much this afternoon of John Pilger. I think that he is responsible more than anyone else for raising the conscience of the British people on this issue. He went to the Foreign Office to discover who were the reasonable people among the Khmer Rouge whom the Prime Minister has mentioned so often. Not to put too fine a point on it, the Minister of State with responsibility for South-East Asia was caught napping. He has the same relationship with South-East Asia as Alice in Wonderland has with nuclear fission.

When asked who were the reasonable elements in the Khmer Rouge, he um-ed and ah-ed and said, "The ones that Prince Sihanouk can work with." "But you must know their names," pressed Mr. Pilger, and the noble Lord's face crumpled like an autumn leaf and he gasped like a dying goldfish. His Foreign Office heavy stepped in to protect him: "Stop this now," he shouted at the cameras. "This is not the way that we were led to believe the line of questioning would go. I think the Minister is doing remarkably well under an aggressive line of questioning that we were not told we had to brief the Minister for." In other words: "It is not fair at all, because we had briefed him to tell a different set of lies."

On 8 November, the Foreign Secretary told the House, the British Press and the public that United Kingdom policy on Cambodia was being modified and that those modifications would be introduced into the draft resolution to be debated at the United Nations on Wednesday 15 November. As my hon. Friends have said, that resolution has been altered by only two words.

Not only has the Foreign Secretary attempted to mislead the House and the country, but we are faced with two conflicting statements of United Kingdom policy on Cambodia. First, the Foreign Secretary and the Minister state that Vietnam has withdrawn its combat units from Cambodia, but the draft resolution states only that it deplores
"foreign armed intervention and occupation in Kampuchea."
The Foreign Secretary's statement cites the Khmer Rouge six times and makes clear the Government's condemnation and opposition to their return to power. However, the draft resolution, which the United Kingdom is cosponsoring on Wednesday, contains no explicit condemnation of the Khmer Rouge, nor any statement condemning its return to power. Indeed, there is no reference by name to the Khmer Rouge anywhere in the United Nations resolution.

Such deviations would not make much difference if all that was at stake was a ritual debate at the United Nations, but the implications of such a resolution which disregards the changes which have taken place in Cambodia ensures that the Khmer Rouge continue to enjoy the prestige of their United Nations seat.

The Foreign Secretary's statement—
"We have never given and will never give, support of any kind to the Khmer Rouge"—
is a deliberate attempt to mislead the House. We voted three times—in 1979, 1980 and 1981—to seat the Khmer Rouge at the United Nations. Since 1982, we have not challenged the seating of the coalition controlled by the Khmer Rouge at the United Nations.

That is why a challenge to those who occupy that seat at the United Nations is an important symbol to the people of Cambodia. They cannot understand, and nor can the Opposition, why nations such as Britain should be party to such a situation. It is as though West Germany's seat at the United Nations was occupied by Himmler, and the swastika flew at New York. Britain has therefore voted to keep the Khmer Rouge in the United Nations, ensuring it international recognition and prestige, access to funds and a right of veto in major United Nations humanitarian agencies.

As we have heard, the coalition is made up of former Khmer Rouge murderers and include Khieu Samphan who was head of state and presided over the mass killings in 1976–80, and Thioun Prasith, a top Khmer Rouge official during the killing fields years, whose job was to tempt back from overseas Khmer intellectuals, who were then murdered in Cambodia.

In his statement on 8 November, the Foreign Secretary said that the credentials committee of the United Nations had approved the credentials of democratic Kampuchea and that was the end of the matter. But again, that is not entirely accurate. Any country, at any time during this week's debate, can challenge the representation of Cambodia by war criminals who were their murderers only 10 years ago. Many western countries are looking for a major player at the United Nations to take a lead. Britain has a chance to speak on behalf of a small nation that has been bombed, murdered and devastated over the past 20 years.

Since when has Britain slavishly supported mass murderers? It needs only one country—how wonderful it would be if Britain were that country—to stand up to the Chinese and American pressure which is silencing everyone else. The United Kingdom has been on the wrong side of this dirty war. Over the past 10 years, the policy of the West has been to get the Vietnamese to leave. Now we admit that they have gone, it is no longer logical to support the seating of the coalition at the United Nations or the resolution.

We need a radical rethink of our policy to release aid to Cambodia and to Vietnam. It is now illogical and dangerous to pursue the old American policy of bleeding Vietnam white on the battlefields of Cambodia.

The Khmer Rouge have taken Pailin, an important strategic town. Their forces are reported to be about 30 miles from Battambang, the second largest city in Cambodia. We are not dealing with a fanciful possibility; we are standing on the sidelines watching mass murderers on the march. The killing has started again. According to a Chinese source, 17,000 are dead and the Khmer Rouge have knocked out a crack Government battalion, and they intend to purge 300,000 Cambodians. Even more sinister, Pol Pot is back in Cambodia. Oxfam representatives who returned from Thailand at the weekend have been told that Pol Pot is in Cambodia and is in charge of 6,000 troops, having successfully captured Pailin. The border refugee camps are preparing for war and sending soldiers to the front. There is no doubt that those camps are a prime source of sanctuary and supplies for the Khmer Rouge.

In August 1988, the Prime Minister, in a visit to the camps on the Thai-Cambodia border, made a ringing declaration:
"The Vietnamese must go, but we must not allow the return of the terrible Pol Pot regime in their place. No civilised country could accept that."
The Vietnamese have gone and we have a chance at the United Nations this week to show whether we are a civilised country. There is still time. If ever there was a time for consensus, this is it. I appeal to Conservative Members to heed the common-sense voices of the British people. Three and a half thousand people have written to the Foreign Secretary, 1,500 have written to the Prime Minister and hundreds have written to right hon. and hon. Members. Unless we act, we shall be accused of a shameful and shocking stain on Britain's foreign policy.

Finally, I shall quote one paragraph from a letter I received:
"I write to you as a private individual. I am a member of no political party and have no vested interest. I am only a human being … Cambodia receives no aid, Vietnam receives no aid, yet Pol Pot receives aid. Great Britain is a founder member of the United Nations and a member of the Security Council yet we do nothing. A nation that talks so proudly of previous conflicts against tyranny sits back whilst the key to the killing fields is returned to Pol Pot. I implore you. In the name of humanity, DO SOMETHING."

6.49 pm

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Waldegrave), I very much welcome the debate. It is important to place on the record exactly what is happening, and in the short time available, I shall do my best to do so.

Our objective is clear and consistent—an independent and sovereign Cambodia. We want to see peace and stability restored to Cambodia through a comprehensive political settlement, which must create the conditions in which its people can elect a Government of their choice free from fear of Khmer Rouge atrocities, foreign occupation or civil war. Our repugnance of the Pol Pot/Khmer Rouge regime is well known. We have never given it, and will never give it, support of any kind.

In the light of the false statements made by the hon. Members for Dundee, West (Mr. Ross) and for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing), I want to put in context the humanitarian help that we are giving. Humanitarian aid is being given to people inside Cambodia. In 1988, we contributed £250,000 to the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund programme on humanitarian activities in Cambodia, and £100,000 to a special appeal by the Food and Agriculture Organisation. We continue to help, and last week we announced a further £250,000 for UNICEF. In the past year, we have contributed nearly £1 million to UNICEF, the FAO and British nongovernmental organisations, which is being distributed to people inside Cambodia. That sum was in addition to the £13·7 million that was given to Cambodians in the border area.

After the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia, Britain was the first country to give humanitarian aid to the camps. We believe that that was important and right. Hon. Members asked whether humanitarian aid for people in the camps is being given to groups other than the Khmer Rouge. We rely on assurances from NGOs and international organisations that British aid is being given directly to non-Communist refugees. Indeed, it is given only to camps controlled by the two non-Communist factions led by Son Sann and Prince Sihanouk. At the Foreign Secretaries' meeting tomorrow, I shall follow that up with British NGOs and other organisations to ensure that aid is being given only to non-Communist refugees in the camps.

We shall continue to help through the United Nations border relief operation, by which help is given to non-Communist refugees, and in other ways to ensure that the needs of the Cambodian people inside and outside Cambodia are met. We are determined that humanitarian aid should be given to those who truly need it, so I am considering the position anew, which I began to do last week before the Foreign Secretary's announcement.

Statements were made about British military help for South Korea during the olympic games and for help with the drugs problem in Colombia. What is the position on British military aid for Cambodia? Will the Minister clear this up?

That question has been asked many times before in the House. Both the Labour Government and the present Government——

Will the hon. Gentleman let me finish?

We have been helping Colombia with its serious drugs problem. The question asked about Cambodia concerns the special forces. Neither previous Labour Governments nor this Conservative Government have commented on the use of special forces, and I have no intention of doing so now.

May I deal with the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Lester), who made a valuable speech this evening and who has shown his care and concern for the Cambodian people? I may not agree with all that my hon. Friend says, but I thank him for all the work that he has done.

The answer to the question that my hon. Friend posed on 8 November is that there has been no fundamental policy shift; the statement does not contain the untruths that the hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd) suggested. The statement was clear, and we all know, as my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe said, that circumstances have changed in Cambodia. We have responded to take account of those changes. The current position in Cambodia is complex and changes frequently, but we must respond to it. Our most effective contribution—the answer given by the Secretary of State to my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe endorsed this—is to concentrate not only on providing humanitarian aid but on promoting a comprehensive political settlement.

Many hon. Members mentioned Cambodia's seat at the United Nations. Britain's record is consistent. We voted for the annual United Nations General Assembly resolution, which was drafted by the Association of South-East Asian Nations, because we believed it right to do so. Our aim is a peaceful, independent Cambodia, whose people can decide their own future. With our friends and partners, we sought and agreed certain changes to this year's draft resolution. We made it clear not only that circumstances have changed but that we wished to remove any implication that we support the Khmer Rouge. We do not and shall not do so.

This year's amended resolution has attracted 75 co-sponsors, because it endorses the need for a comprehensive political settlement in Cambodia and condemns the Pol Pot regime. Voting in previous years suggests that well over 100 United Nations member states are likely to vote for it in the General Assembly debate this week. I do not believe that greater changes would have received such widespread support. The debate will not address Cambodia's representation at the United Nations, which was settled on 17 October when the General Assembly adopted, without a vote, the report of the United Nations credentials committee for the forthcoming year. At a future United Nations session, we shall have to return to the question of who occupies Cambodia's seat.

Only two countries stated any reservations in the report of the credentials committee—Byelorussia, which is one of the ways that Russia has three votes, and Laos. They stated a number of reservations on behalf of themselves and their allies about the acceptance of Democratic Kampuchea's credentials. No other country stated reservations——

Would the hon. Gentleman allow me to finish the point?

We stated that our position on credentials did not imply support for Pol Pot or the Khmer Rouge, and we made it absolutely clear that we wished to return to the subject. It is not true that the occupation of Cambodia's UN seat by the coalition Government of Democratic Cambodia prevents the UN from contributing humanitarian relief inside Cambodia. UNICEF, the World Food Programme and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees are active, and I am certain that they will take further action.

We believe that a comprehensive political settlement that will enable the Cambodian people to elect a Government of their choice is the best way of achieving peace. If we were to exclude, as some people have suggested, the Khmer Rouge from the peace process, it would drive them further into a guerrilla war and would make free and fair elections impossible, which is why we have backed the judgment of those who support all four factions getting around the table. Clearly, there is no place in Cambodia's future for Pol Pot or the murderous Khmer Rouge.

If Prince Sihanouk's judgment changed or he were no longer there, we would still need to bring all the parties to the conference table. Britain will give humanitarian aid directly to the people of Cambodia, as my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said in his answer last week. Equally vital is our work, beyond any United Nations debate, with our partners for a comprehensive political settlement. It has to be——

rose in his place, and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.

Question put accordingly, That the original words stand part of the Question:—

The House divided: Ayes, 192, Noes 258.

Division No. 402]

[7 pm

AYES

Abbott, Ms DianeDouglas, Dick
Allen, GrahamDuffy, A. E. P.
Anderson, DonaldDunnachie, Jimmy
Archer, Rt Hon PeterEadie, Alexander
Armstrong, HilaryEvans, John (St Helens N)
Ashdown, Rt Hon PaddyEwing, Harry (Falkirk E)
Ashley, Rt Hon JackEwing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)
Ashton, JoeFatchett, Derek
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)Fearn, Ronald
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich)Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Beckett, MargaretFields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Bell, StuartFisher, Mark
Benn, Rt Hon TonyFlannery, Martin
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)Flynn, Paul
Bermingham, GeraldFoster, Derek
Blair, TonyFraser, John
Boateng, PaulFyfe, Maria
Boyes, RolandGalloway, George
Bradley, KeithGarrett, John (Norwich South)
Bray, Dr JeremyGarrett, Ted (Wallsend)
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)George, Bruce
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)Godman, Dr Norman A.
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)Golding, Mrs Llin
Buchan, NormanGriffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Buckley, George J.Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Caborn, RichardGrocott, Bruce
Callaghan, JimHardy, Peter
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)Harman, Ms Harriet
Campbell-Savours, D. N.Heffer, Eric S.
Canavan, DennisHenderson, Doug
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)Hinchliffe, David
Cartwright, JohnHoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Clay, BobHome Robertson, John
Clelland, DavidHood, Jimmy
Clwyd, Mrs AnnHowell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Coleman, DonaldHoyle, Doug
Cook, Robin (Livingston)Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Corbett, RobinHughes, Roy (Newport E)
Corbyn, JeremyHughes, Simon (Southwark)
Cousins, JimIllsley, Eric
Cox, TomIngram, Adam
Crowther, StanJohnston, Sir Russell
Cryer, BobJones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Cunningham, Dr JohnJones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Dalyell, TamKaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)Kennedy, Charles
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)Kirkwood, Archy
Dewar, DonaldLambie, David
Dixon, DonLeadbitter, Ted

Leighton, RonRadice, Giles
Lewis, TerryRandall, Stuart
Litherland, RobertRedmond, Martin
Livingstone, KenRees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)Reid, Dr John
Lofthouse, GeoffreyRichardson, Jo
Loyden, EddieRoberts, Allan (Bootle)
McAllion, JohnRogers, Allan
McAvoy, ThomasRooker, Jeff
McCartney, IanRoss, Ernie (Dundee W)
Macdonald, Calum A.Rowlands, Ted
McFall, JohnRuddock, Joan
McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)Sedgemore, Brian
McKelvey, WilliamSheerman, Barry
McLeish, HenrySheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Maclennan, RobertShort, Clare
McWilliam, JohnSillars, Jim
Madden, MaxSkinner, Dennis
Mahon, Mrs AliceSmith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Martlew, EricSnape, Peter
Maxton, JohnSoley, Clive
Meacher, MichaelSpearing, Nigel
Michael, AlunStott, Roger
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)Taylor, Rt Hon J. D. (S'ford)
Molyneaux, Rt Hon JamesThomas, Dr Dafydd Elis
Moonie, Dr LewisThompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Morgan, RhodriTurner, Dennis
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)Vaz, Keith
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)Wall, Pat
Mowlam, MarjorieWallace, James
Mullin, ChrisWareing, Robert N.
Murphy, PaulWatson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Oakes, Rt Hon GordonWelsh, Andrew (Angus E)
O'Brien, WilliamWilliams, Rt Hon Alan
O'Neill, MartinWilliams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Orme, Rt Hon StanleyWilson, Brian
Patchett, TerryWinnick, David
Pendry, TomWise, Mrs Audrey
Pike, Peter L.Worthington, Tony
Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Prescott, JohnTellers for the Ayes:
Primarolo, DawnMr. Frank Haynes and Mr. Ken Eastham.
Quin, Ms Joyce

NOES

Adley, RobertBowis, John
Aitken, JonathanBraine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard
Alexander, RichardBrandon-Bravo, Martin
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelBrazier, Julian
Amery, Rt Hon JulianBright, Graham
Amess, DavidBrowne, John (Winchester)
Amos, AlanBruce, Ian (Dorset South)
Arbuthnot, JamesBuck, Sir Antony
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Burns, Simon
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)Butler, Chris
Ashby, DavidCarlisle, John, (Luton N)
Aspinwall, JackCarlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Atkinson, DavidCarrington, Matthew
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)Carttiss, Michael
Baldry, TonyChalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Chapman, Sydney
Batiste, SpencerChope, Christopher
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyClark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Bellingham, HenryClark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Bendall, VivianClarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Benyon, W.Colvin, Michael
Bevan, David GilroyConway, Derek
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnCoombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Blackburn, Dr John G.Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterCouchman, James
Body, Sir RichardCran, James
Bonsor, Sir NicholasCritchley, Julian
Boscawen, Hon RobertCurrie, Mrs Edwina
Boswell, TimCurry, David
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n)Davis, David (Boothferry)
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Day, Stephen

Dicks, TerryMacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Dorrell, StephenMaclean, David
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesMcNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
Dover, DenMadel, David
Dunn, BobMalins, Humfrey
Durant, TonyMans, Keith
Dykes, HughMaples, John
Eggar, TimMarland, Paul
Emery, Sir PeterMarlow, Tony
Fallon, MichaelMarshall, John (Hendon S)
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Fookes, Dame JanetMartin, David (Portsmouth S)
Forman, NigelMaxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Forth, EricMayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Fox, Sir MarcusMellor, David
Freeman, RogerMeyer, Sir Anthony
French, DouglasMills, Iain
Gale, RogerMitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Gardiner, GeorgeMitchell, Sir David
Garel-Jones, TristanMoate, Roger
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir IanMonro, Sir Hector
Goodhart, Sir PhilipMontgomery, Sir Fergus
Gorman, Mrs TeresaMorris, M (N'hampton S)
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)Morrison, Sir Charles
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester)
Gregory, ConalMoynihan, Hon Colin
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E')Neale, Gerrard
Gummer, Rt Hon John SelwynNelson, Anthony
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)Neubert, Michael
Hanley, JeremyNewton, Rt Hon Tony
Hannam, JohnNicholls, Patrick
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Harris, DavidNorris, Steve
Haselhurst, AlanOnslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Hayes, JerryOppenheim, Phillip
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir BarneyPaice, James
Hayward, RobertPatnick, Irvine
Heathcoat-Amory, DavidPatten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)
Heddle, JohnPawsey, James
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Hind, KennethPorter, David (Waveney)
Hordern, Sir PeterPortillo, Michael
Howard, MichaelPrice, Sir David
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)Rathbone, Tim
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)Rhodes James, Robert
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)Riddick, Graham
Hunt, David (Wirral W)Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)Rossi, Sir Hugh
Hunter, AndrewRost, Peter
Irvine, MichaelRowe, Andrew
Jack, MichaelRumbold, Mrs Angela
Jackson, RobertRyder, Richard
Janman, TimSackville, Hon Tom
Johnson Smith, Sir GeoffreySainsbury, Hon Tim
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)Sayeed, Jonathan
Jones, Robert B (Herts W)Shaw, David (Dover)
Jopling, Rt Hon MichaelShaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Kellett-Bowman, Dame ElaineShaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Key, RobertShepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)Shersby, Michael
Kirkhope, TimothySims, Roger
Knapman, RogerSkeet, Sir Trevor
Knight, Greg (Derby North)Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)Soames, Hon Nicholas
Knowles, MichaelSpeed, Keith
Knox, DavidSpeller, Tony
Lang, IanSpicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Latham, MichaelSpicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Lawrence, IvanSquire, Robin
Lawson, Rt Hon NigelStanbrook, Ivor
Lee, John (Pendle)Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)Stern, Michael
Lennox-Boyd, Hon MarkStevens, Lewis
Lilley, PeterStewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Lord, MichaelStradling Thomas, Sir John
Luce, Rt Hon RichardSumberg, David
Macfarlane, Sir NeilSummerson, Hugo

Taylor, Ian (Esher)Waller, Gary
Taylor, John M (Solihull)Ward, John
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Tebbit, Rt Hon NormanWatts, John
Temple-Morris, PeterWheeler, John
Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)Widdecombe, Ann
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)Wiggin, Jerry
Thorne, NeilWilkinson, John
Thornton, MalcolmWilshire, David
Thurnham, PeterWinterton, Mrs Ann
Townend, John (Bridlington)Winterton, Nicholas
Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)Wolfson, Mark
Trippier, DavidWood, Timothy
Trotter, NevilleWoodcock, Dr. Mike
Twinn, Dr IanYeo, Tim
Vaughan, Sir GerardYoung, Sir George (Acton)
Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Waldegrave, Hon WilliamTellers for the Noes:
Walden, GeorgeMr. David Lightbown and Mr. Nicholas Baker.
Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)

Question accordingly negatived.

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 30 (Questions on amendments):—

The House divided: Ayes 253, Noes 189.

Division No. 403]

[7.14 pm

AYES

Adley, RobertConway, Derek
Aitken, JonathanCoombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Alexander, RichardCoombs, Simon (Swindon)
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelCouchman, James
Amery, Rt Hon JulianCran, James
Amess, DavidCritchley, Julian
Amos, AlanCurrie, Mrs Edwina
Arbuthnot, JamesCurry, David
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Davis, David (Boothferry)
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)Day, Stephen
Ashby, DavidDicks, Terry
Aspinwall, JackDorrell, Stephen
Atkinson, DavidDouglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)Dover, Den
Baldry, TonyDunn, Bob
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Durant, Tony
Batiste, SpencerDykes, Hugh
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyEggar, Tim
Bellingham, HenryEmery, Sir Peter
Bendall, VivianFallon, Michael
Bevan, David GilroyField, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnFookes, Dame Janet
Blackburn, Dr John G.Forman, Nigel
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterForth, Eric
Body, Sir RichardFox, Sir Marcus
Bonsor, Sir NicholasFreeman, Roger
Boscawen, Hon RobertFrench, Douglas
Boswell, TimGale, Roger
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n)Gardiner, George
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Garel-Jones, Tristan
Bowis, JohnGilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Braine, Rt Hon Sir BernardGoodhart, Sir Philip
Brandon-Bravo, MartinGorman, Mrs Teresa
Brazier, JulianGrant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)
Bright, GrahamGreenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Browne, John (Winchester)Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E')
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Buck, Sir AntonyHamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)
Butler, ChrisHanley, Jeremy
Carlisle, John, (Luton N)Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Carrington, MatthewHarris, David
Carttiss, MichaelHaselhurst, Alan
Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs LyndaHayes, Jerry
Chapman, SydneyHayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Chope, ChristopherHayward, Robert
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)Heathcoat-Amory, David
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)Heddle, John
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Colvin, MichaelHiggins, Rt Hon Terence L.

Hind, KennethPorter, Barry (Wirral S)
Hordern, Sir PeterPorter, David (Waveney)
Howard, MichaelPortillo, Michael
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)Price, Sir David
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)Rathbone, Tim
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)Rhodes James, Robert
Hunt, David (Wirral W)Riddick, Graham
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Hunter, AndrewRossi, Sir Hugh
Irvine, MichaelRowe, Andrew
Jack, MichaelRyder, Richard
Jackson, RobertSackville, Hon Tom
Janman, TimSainsbury, Hon Tim
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)Sayeed, Jonathan
Jones, Robert B (Herts W)Shaw, David (Dover)
Jopling, Rt Hon MichaelShaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Kellett-Bowman, Dame ElaineShaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Key, RobertShephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)Shersby, Michael
Kirkhope, TimothySims, Roger
Knapman, RogerSkeet, Sir Trevor
Knight, Greg (Derby North)Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)Soames, Hon Nicholas
Knowles, MichaelSpeed, Keith
Knox, DavidSpeller, Tony
Lang, IanSpicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Latham, MichaelSpicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Lawrence, IvanSquire, Robin
Lawson, Rt Hon NigelStanbrook, Ivor
Lee, John (Pendle)Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)Stern, Michael
Lennox-Boyd, Hon MarkStevens, Lewis
Lightbown, DavidStewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Lilley, PeterStewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Lord, MichaelStradling Thomas, Sir John
Luce, Rt Hon RichardSumberg, David
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)Summerson, Hugo
Maclean, DavidTaylor, Ian (Esher)
McNair-Wilson, Sir PatrickTebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Madel, DavidTemple-Morris, Peter
Malins, HumfreyThompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Mans, KeithThompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Maples, JohnThorne, Neil
Marlow, TonyThornton, Malcolm
Marshall, Michael (Arundel)Thurnham, Peter
Martin, David (Portsmouth S)Townend, John (Bridlington)
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir PatrickTownsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Mellor, DavidTrippier, David
Mills, IainTrotter, Neville
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)Twinn, Dr Ian
Mitchell, Sir DavidVaughan, Sir Gerard
Moate, RogerWakeham, Rt Hon John
Monro, Sir HectorWaldegrave, Hon William
Montgomery, Sir FergusWalden, George
Morris, M (N'hampton S)Waller, Gary
Morrison, Sir CharlesWard, John
Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester)Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Moynihan, Hon ColinWatts, John
Neale, GerrardWheeler, John
Nelson, AnthonyWiddecombe, Ann
Neubert, MichaelWiggin, Jerry
Newton, Rt Hon TonyWilkinson, John
Nicholls, PatrickWilshire, David
Nicholson, David (Taunton)Wolfson, Mark
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)Wood, Timothy
Norris, SteveWoodcock, Dr. Mike
Onslow, Rt Hon CranleyYeo, Tim
Oppenheim, PhillipYoung, Sir George (Acton)
Paice, James
Patnick, IrvineTellers for the Ayes:
Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)Mr. John M. Taylor and Mr. Nicholas Baker.
Pawsey, James
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth

NOES

Abbott, Ms DianeArmstrong, Hilary
Allen, GrahamAshdown, Rt Hon Paddy
Anderson, DonaldAshley, Rt Hon Jack
Archer, Rt Hon PeterAshton, Joe

Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)Ingram, Adam
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich)Johnston, Sir Russell
Beckett, MargaretJones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Bell, StuartJones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Bermingham, GeraldKennedy, Charles
Blair, TonyKinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Boateng, PaulKirkwood, Archy
Boyes, RolandLambie, David
Bradley, KeithLeadbitter, Ted
Bray, Dr JeremyLewis, Terry
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)Litherland, Robert
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)Livingstone, Ken
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Buchan, NormanLofthouse, Geoffrey
Buckley, George J.Loyden, Eddie
Caborn, RichardMcAllion, John
Callaghan, JimMcAvoy, Thomas
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)McCartney, Ian
Campbell-Savours, D. N.Macdonald, Calum A.
Canavan, DennisMcFall, John
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)McKelvey, William
Clay, BobMcLeish, Henry
Clelland. DavidMaclennan, Robert
Clwyd, Mrs AnnMcWilliam, John
Coleman, DonaldMadden, Max
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)Mahon, Mrs Alice
Cook, Robin (Livingston)Marek, Dr John
Corbett, RobinMarshall, David (Shettleston)
Cousins, JimMarshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Cox, TomMartin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Crowther, StanMartlew, Eric
Cryer, BobMaxton, John
Cunningham, Dr JohnMeacher, Michael
Dalyell, TamMichael, Alun
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Dewar, DonaldMoonie, Dr Lewis
Dixon, DonMorgan, Rhodri
Douglas, DickMorris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Duffy, A. E. P.Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Dunnachie, JimmyMowlam, Marjorie
Eadie, AlexanderMullin, Chris
Evans, John (St Helens N)Murphy, Paul
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)O'Brien, William
Fatchett, DerekO'Neill, Martin
Field, Frank (Birkenhead)Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)Patchett, Terry
Flannery, MartinPendry, Tom
Flynn, PaulPike, Peter L.
Foster, DerekPowell, Ray (Ogmore)
Fraser, JohnPrescott, John
Fyfe, MariaPrimarolo, Dawn
Galloway, GeorgeQuin, Ms Joyce
Garrett, John (Norwich South)Radice, Giles
Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)Randall, Stuart
George, BruceRedmond, Martin
Godman, Dr Norman A.Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Golding, Mrs LlinReid, Dr John
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)Richardson, Jo
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Grocott, BruceRogers, Allan
Hardy, PeterRooker, Jeff
Harman, Ms HarrietRoss, Ernie (Dundee W)
Heffer, Eric S.Rowlands, Ted
Henderson, DougRuddock, Joan
Hinchliffe, DavidSedgemore, Brian
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)Sheerman, Barry
Home Robertson, JohnSheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Hood, JimmyShort, Clare
Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)Sillars, Jim
Hoyle, DougSkinner, Dennis
Hughes, John (Coventry NE)Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Hughes, Roy (Newport E)Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark)Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Illsley, EricSnape, Peter

Soley, CliveWatson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Spearing, NigelWelsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Stott, RogerWilliams, Rt Hon Alan
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Taylor, Rt Hon J. D. (S'ford)Wilson, Brian
Thomas, Dr Dafydd ElisWinnick, David
Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)Wise, Mrs Audrey
Turner, DennisWorthington, Tony
Vaz, Keith
Wall, PatTellers for the Noes:
Wallace, JamesMr. Frank Haynes and Mr. Ken Eastham.
Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Wareing, Robert N.

Question accordingly agreed to.

MR. SPEAKER forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House welcomes the Government's consistent refusal to give support to either the PRK or the murderous Khmer Rouge; commends its commitment to finding a peaceful and comprehensive settlement endorsed by the Cambodian people; and welcomes the increased assistance which the Government is providing for the innocent victims of this tragic conflict.

Birmingham City Council (No 2) Bill

Motion made, and Question proposed,

That the Promoters of the Birmingham City Council (No. 2) Bill shall have leave to suspend proceedings thereon in order to proceed with the Bill, if they think fit, in the next Session of Parliament, provided that the Agents for the Bill give notice to the Clerks in the Private Bill Office not later than the day before the close of the present Session of their intention to suspend further proceedings and that all Fees due on the Bill up to that date be paid;
That on the fifth day on which the House sits in the next Session the Bill shall be presented to the House;
That there shall be deposited with the Bill a declaration signed by the Agents for the Bill, stating that the Bill is the same, in every respect, as the Bill at the last stage of its proceedings in this House in the present Session;
That the Bill shall be laid upon the Table of the House by one of the Clerks in the Private Bill Office on the next meeting of the House after the day on which the Bill has been presented and, when so laid, shall be read the first and second time (and shall be recorded in the Journal of this House as having been so read) and, having been amended by the Committee in the present Session, shall be ordered to lie upon the Table;
That no further Fees shall be charged in respect of any proceedings on the Bill in respect of which Fees have already been incurred during the present Session;
That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House.—[The Chairman of Ways and Means.]

7.27 pm

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It has been brought to my attention that a Birmingham evening paper has reported that there have been behind-the-scenes negotiations about the Bill. Would not such a report cast a slur on the Chairman of Ways and Means, who, as I understand it, should adopt a completely neutral view? The report suggested that the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. King) used his influence to bring this motion on the Bill before the House and that if he had not, he would have found it more difficult to obtain support in the House. That implies that the hon. Gentleman has special influence.

I am sure that that must be wrong, because any promoter of a private Bill has the same influence as any other and can obtain the same prominence for his Bill. I am sure that the article is misleading. Will you assure us that it is fallacious and that the hon. Gentleman has not done a deal behind closed doors and thereby trampled on the rights of Parliament?

I shall deal with this point first. I am not sure whether the hon. Member is saying that there might be a prima facie breach of privilege. If so, he knows the procedure and should write to Mr. Speaker. The sooner that we continue with the debate, the sooner all will be revealed.

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Can you advise the House whether it is in order for one of my hon. Friends to advise all Labour Members to go home and not to participate in the private business, as he did in a loud voice in the Division Lobby just now? I find that action reprehensible.

That is a matter of tactics and has nothing to do with the Chair.

Further to the point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Would you place on record the fact that there is no obligation on hon. Members to attend and listen to debates prior to voting? Moreover, there is never an official view on private business. There is never a view from a Government Whip or an Opposition Whip, so it is left to individual Members to advise their colleagues of the importance to be attached to that business. As I said earlier today, we ought to be debating the changing boundaries of Europe rather than the wasting of ratepayers' money on a road race. The European people will not understand the way in which the British Parliament is conducting its business today.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. At long last the House has shown its willingness to debate a private Bill at a sensible time. As a rule, the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) rages and rants about the rights of the House and private Bills, yet now we find that he is an avid reader of the Birmingham Post all of a sudden. That is a very good thing, because it is a first-class newspaper but I do not know what that publication has to do with Bradford—unless the hon. Gentleman's remarks emanated from some other Birmingham Member.

The Chairman of Ways and Means and the Panel should be applauded for the fact that, at long last, private Bills are given prime time. I do not wish to offend the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) whom I look upon as a friend in a Birmingham sense, but his claim that we should be discussing the problems of Europe—or Cambodia or outer Mongolia or outer space—rather then the problems of Birmingham and his imputation of the motives of my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. King) should bring shame to the hon. Gentleman's eyes and tears to ours.

We are already launched into the debate. It would be far better to conduct it in the regular manner than by means of points of order.

Further to the point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is not normal for me to intervene at such an early stage, but I must comment on the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer), who alleged that the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. King)—has used his influence improperly——

I have not finished yet.

The implication was that the hon. Gentleman used his influence to bring the Bill before us tonight. I must rush to the hon. Gentleman's defence. I must tell my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South that, if the hon. Member for Northfield had any influence, he would long since have arrived on the Government Front Bench—a role that he has been seeking with passion since the day he was elected. I cannot really believe that he has any influence.

On the point made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell), who said that my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) had been standing in the Division Lobby urging hon. Members to go home, I can only say, as an ex-Whip, that it strikes me as odd that someone of my hon. Friend's competence should waste his time on such duties, which are extraneous, to say the least. It has always appeared to me that hon. Members do not need too much encouragement to leave this place when they have the opportunity. I do not think that my hon. Friend the Member for Perry Barr has done much to change matters.

Yes, Mr. Deputy Speaker, it is a point of order.

I have been working. I have been a Teller at the door of the Lobby. I do not know what has been going on in there, but I do know what has been happening for the past few moments. I am a bit surprised that you did not challenge the hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Beaumont-Dark). We are wasting time and we should get on with the business.—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am supporting the occupant of the Chair. I am a little surprised that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, did not have a go at the hon. Member for Selly Oak for wasting time. I am always here, but he is hardly ever here. More often than not he is flying around in a jumbo jet somewhere. I am a little surprised that you let him carry on because he was wasting time and he is usually one to complain about waste of time.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. King) is seeking to catch my eye and I now call him. Mr. Roger King.

7.36 pm

I am somewhat flattered by the accusations concerning my ability to influence the operations of the House. I only wish that that were true, but those who know will know that I have not been party to any negotiations directly—[HON. MEMBERS: "Indirectly?"]—or even indirectly. I have had nothing to do with them. The hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) does me an honour by even suggesting that I have such influence. What the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape) said is true to an extent. That is why I sit on the second row—I am but one row from the front.

It is early in my remarks and I do not want to take more than a few moments. Last time we debated the Bill the hon. Lady rightly pointed out that we had taken an awful long time to explain its intricacies and had allowed a large number of interventions, which cost her the opportunity to speak. Nevertheless, I give way to the hon. Lady.

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would not want to say different things in the House and in the Birmingham press. Will he confirm the report in the Birmingham press which said that delicate negotiations behind the scenes had brought the time forward so that there would be 100 hon. Members present to carry the Bill? Will he confirm that he said:

"I do not anticipate any problems in getting 100 colleagues to support this measure. We are very, very confident."
He should not say different things here and to the press, as that is dishonourable behaviour.

I am confident that the necessary number of hon. Members will be here. There has been a change in the timetable, but I stand by what I said—in terms of negotiations, I have not been involved. That is perfectly fair and honest.

Let us move on to the object of our debate, which is the progress of the Bill. The subject has received considerable debate over the years. The Birmingham City Council (No. 1) Bill, which authorised motor racing in Birmingham, received much debate, with further debate on Second Reading and in Committee. On Second Reading, on Tuesday 18 April 1989, 145 Members voted for the Bill to be read a Second time and 24 voted against. That was a significant majority and reflects the overwhelming desire on the part of the city of Birmingham. Out of 65 councillors who voted, 30 Labour councillors and 31 Conservative councillors were in favour of the Bill. Sixteen Conservative and Labour councillors were against and four members of minority parties registered their disapproval.

At that time there were eight petitioners objecting to the Bill. In the usual manner, the promoters—the city council—have discussed objections with all the petitioners prepared to negotiate. Undertakings were reached with all but three.

The Committee met in May, with seven days of hearings and one site visit. The Committee heard evidence from representatives of the National and Local Government Officers Association, a residents association from the area of the race circuit and a residents association from somewhat further afield. The outcome of the deliberations was a number of amendments to the Bill, accepted by the promoter and to be considered by the House should the Bill be carried over. These are:
"1. An acceptance that four days of racing would only be for Grand Prix racing, and that a three day event would be part of a Bank Holiday.
2. The reinstituting of strict liability for personal injuries or damage to property, except for competitors.
3. Streets being closed from 7.30 am to 7.30 pm, rather than 6.00 am to 8.00 pm"
as originally proposed.
"4. Equipment should be dismantled within 10 days after the event, not 20. Moreover, all work should take place between 8 am and 8 pm.
5. A reinstituting of the agreement to pay all police costs." In addition——

No, I have not.

In addition, the Committee has the agreement of the city council to the following 11 undertakings:
"1. That, for a period of four weeks before the race and two weeks afterwards, the Council sets up a telephone call-line to provide full information to residents in relation to the road race and to record any complaints regarding the road race, so that immediate action may be taken.
2. That there should be an increased provision of security patrols both for local residents and businesses.
3. There should be an increased provision of parking areas for local residents when the circuit streets are closed, to reduce the distance between residents and their cars.
4. That religious worship should take place during the racing period without any undue interference.
5. That the River-Rea subway crossing should be brought into use as a circuit crossing point at the earliest opportunity, and that it should so constructed as to enable disabled persons to cross at this point.
6. That underpass crossings should be made more welcoming, kept clean and well lit, and be clearly marked.
7. That the disabled should not at any point he prejudiced in gaining access to and from the road race area.
8. That in any of its future building projects, or major repair works to existing buildings, within close proximity to the race circuit, the Council should consider installing double glazing.
9. That the Council should strive to introduce permanent, rather than temporary, beautification features on the circuit.
10. That there should be an increased number of manned crossing gates in the circuit area.
11. That noise levels should be measured at various parts of the circuit, and that the records of such measurements should be available for public consultation."
We believe that those amendments and undertakings go a considerable way towards easing the inconvenience of local residents and businesses.

I hope that the hon. Gentleman has finished his list. He was speaking rather quickly and I did not hear anything about stopping the illegal use of ratepayers' money to fund the revenue account. We have had undertakings before. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. King) is effectively in charge of the Bill. If he has not been involved in the negotiations about the Bill, but he promoted its Second Reading, can he tell us who has been involved in the negotiations, so that we know where to direct our representations?

A few moments ago, in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short), the hon. Gentleman said that he had not been involved in any negotiations. He clearly implied that other people or other hon. Members had been involved. The hon. Member for Northfield is the promoters' man on the Floor of the House. He moved the Bill and he is effectively in charge of it. Who has been responsible in this House for the negotiations about the Bill and its timetable?

The city council, as is its right, made representations. I was expecting the Bill to be debated at a different time this week, but was informed that it would be debated this evening. I cannot go into the exact details, because I was not privy to them.

Does not my hon. Friend find the allegations from Opposition Members of some kind of impropriety, almost of dishonesty, quite amazing? Has not the council in our city of Birmingham, through no will of ours, a large Labour majority? Is it right that hon. Members should accuse a Labour council of dishonesty? Is it possible that we should agree with Labour Members that it is dishonest? Is this not a proper Bill for the benefit of Birmingham, and is that why all the Conservative Members representing Birmingham constituencies are doing their best to help it to make progress against the opposition from some of the laggards on the Opposition Benches?

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Beaumont-Dark) heard what I said. Perhaps he has not read Friday's edition of the Birmingham Post. It is clear from that article that the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. King) is claiming full knowledge of the negotiations to bring the time for the Bill forward so that he could—[Interruption] It is obvious from the article that the hon. Member for Northfield is claiming full knowledge of the negotiations and is confident that the Bill will be carried. He has said in the House today that he knows nothing about that. In that case, he was dishonest, either to the Birmingham Post or in the Chamber today.

I should have thought that the best service that anyone could provide in the debate would be to allow it to proceed without examining that particular issue. Nothing will be gained from that, except a loss of time to debate the issues which undoubtedly the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) would like to raise.

All matters relating to private Bills are very provisional. We are all anxious to ascertain when such a measure will come before the House. As a sponsor of the Bill, it would be part of my job to try to determine when the debate will take place. The support and the hon. Members who want to speak must be organised and we must adjust our timetable accordingly. I was given to understand that the Bill would be debated on a different day this week. However, presumably as a result of normal parliamentary procedures that are adopted in relation to any private Bill, the timetable was adjusted to this evening.

Clearly negotiations took place between certain individuals—no doubt supporters of the Bill—who made their voices adequately known. I know that there is no record of any letter from me or any verbal approach to anyone in authority in order to change the timetable. When the timetable has been changed, as it has, that must have happened as a result of negotiations.

I am always anxious to help the hon. Gentleman, as he knows. As the hon. Gentleman so wisely said, perhaps he did not put anything down on paper. However, perhaps he would agree that a conversation took place, perhaps with Mr. Nigel Hastilow, the esteemed reporter from the Birmingham Post, during which the hon. Gentleman might have verballed Mr. Hastilow that perhaps his influence was so great in this place that the business had been changed. Does the hon. Gentleman accept that that might not be an unreal version of what happened last Thursday?

I wish that I could confirm that I have that kind of power and authority. Alas, I have not. I was not a party to negotiations. I remained deliberately on one side because I did not want to have these aspersions cast upon me. Negotiations have presumably taken place between some individuals, and perhaps some people here today, were part and parcel of them, but I cannot say who they are.

As someone who is disinterested, but not uninterested, in the progress of the Bill, does the city council of Birmingham with its Labour majority supported by a Conservative minority want this Bill? Do the majority of Birmingham Members want the Bill? If that is so, I might be one of the 100 hon. Members required to see it through the Lobby at 10 pm. No one has asked me about it, but if that is the case, I do not believe that Birmingham Members are doing their great city much good by these childish exchanges.

That is exactly the case. It is a city of Birmingham Bill. It has all-party support, and the city leader, Sir Richard Knowles, is 100 per cent. behind it, as are all other city leaders and the Conservative opposition group. The reasons for that support are self-evident, having regard to the four events that have taken place so far and what they have brought to the city. They have indirectly made the city a centre of attraction. There has been wide international media coverage. Investment in the city of Birmingham is now about £1·5 billion—a substantial investment—entirely due to the city council's attitude to attracting business and investment from all over the globe. The council is to be congratulated.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) referred to the financial arrangements of the Bill. They were not discussed in Committee. In the hon. Gentleman's opinion, that matter must be debated further. The carry-over motion will allow us to do just that next year. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will be as keen as ever to introduce the necessary amendments and give us his ideas on how the Bill should be changed for the better. He will not serve the House by delaying the Bill's passage if he wants to debate its financial aspects.

There is an excellent case for starting the Bill again and for not agreeing the carry-over motion. The questions that Opposition Members have asked about finance have been asked by senior Birmingham Tories. The hon. Gentleman owes it to his hon. Friends to raise the same doubts about financial arrangements as the Opposition have raised. Those doubts were raised also by Conservative members of the council. Labour Members opposed the Bill in the first place by a free vote. The matter is not neat and tidy. The Bill would benefit from our starting it again.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned the carry-over motion. Will he explain the different paragraphs, particularly the last one, and tell us how much has been spent to get the Bill this far? As that is a necessary detail of the carry-over motion, an explanation should be put on the record.

I do not have the exact figures to hand, but I will try to obtain them before the end of the debate and let the hon. Gentleman know, if he is successful in catching your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I do not doubt that the costs are considerable, which is why the city of Birmingham would not relish starting the passage of the Bill again. The hon. Gentleman's tactics would not be warmly applauded by the ratepayers or community charge payers. The hon. Gentleman is correct to say that the Conservative group on the city of Birmingham council will not necessarily give the Labour council a blank cheque. They have their own interests in ensuring accountability and are of the opinion that the motor race must continue to develop and produce a profit for the city. The motor race has been successful in terms of investment in the city.

I do not dispute that the Conservative opposition on the council are not happy about certain financial aspects. However, they are 100 per cent. behind continuing the event and see no reason why their detailed financial concerns should cause the measure to be dropped and the motor race not allowed to continue.

The hon. Gentleman was saying that he is unaware of the allocation of fees for the passage of both Bills. I understand that the figure agreed by the city council was £100,000. There has been no subsequent discussion or decision on whether extra moneys must be allocated.

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Mr. Corbett) for those figures. I hope that the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr has duly noted them.

The city of Birmingham believes that it is worth continuing this event and that, as the Bill wends its way through Parliament, all aspects of the motor race will be discussed. Many worthwhile amendments have already been undertaken or promised by the local authority to make the event more relevant and more responsive to the local community.

The hon. Gentleman listed several decisions that were made in Committee. It would have been helpful if copies of those decisions were available. Certain points arise from the council's minutes of 21 June. Obviously, changes occurred as the Committee proceeded. There is a list of 12 points, but the hon. Gentleman mentioned only 11. A change occurred later. There is no published list. We have had only a verbal presentation, and that seems to be a general problem with private Bills.

The hon. Gentleman's most important point about the Birmingham (No. 2) Bill is the possibility of a grand prix being held in Birmingham. He mentioned a four-day race ending on a Sunday. That matter was decided by a majority in Committee, whereas the other decisions were unanimous.

I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman's intervention. We are not debating the Committee's report. That will occur in due course if consideration of the Bill is allowed to be carried over into the next Session. The list that I read out is the list to which the city has undertaken to commit itself as a result of the Committee's deliberations. Of course, it is subject to amendment and ratification by the House. I have been trying to say that real progress has been made.

If the House agrees that consideration of the Birmingham (No. 2) Bill should be carried over to the next Session, all requirements and other items in respect of the grand prix and the Committee's decision by casting vote will be fully discussed.

The hon. Gentleman is effectively in charge of the Bill, but he has no list of possible changes. Opposition Members have received no communication from the council about the Bill since Second Reading, other than a brief exchange of letters. There has been nothing of substance. The hon. Gentleman has said that certain matters will be debated. Would the hon. Gentleman prefer to debate changes rather than allow the Bill to pass without further debate? Is the hon. Gentleman prepared to say that he would rather do that? The hon. Gentleman knows, as does everyone else, that the only way in which the changes can be debated is for us to object procedurally each time the Bill comes before the House so that we can create space in the parliamentary programme. However, whenever my hon. Friends and I do that, we are pilloried by prejudiced and spiteful media and by senior Tory councillors in Birmingham for simply carrying out our parliamentary duties.

I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's last point. The press can look after themselves, but the comments and criticisms made by the Conservatives on Birmingham city council have been most discreet. They could have been much more vociferous if they had had a mind. The supporters of the Bill are ever mindful that, even at this late stage, we could all move together, as Birmingham Members of Parliament. We are mindful of the changes that the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) introduced to ensure that the Bill received a long stint of examination in the Select Committee. Indeed, the Bill is all the better for that. The recommendations that have been made were put forward after a lengthy period of deliberation and if there are any further changes that the hon. Gentleman would like to introduce, I am sure that he will have the opportunity of making his views known.

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will remember that he has made that statement once before. When the previous Bill passed through the House and ultimately became an Act of Parliament, the hon. Gentleman said that it had been much improved as a result of the opposition of my hon. Friends and myself. He said that the amendment that was introduced by Sir Reginald Eyre, on behalf of the city council, which stated that the race would stop if it had not made a cumulative profit after five years, much improved the Bill, yet he has connived at sidestepping that Act.

I do not accept that. I know that we have faced a contradiction or a difficulty in the meeting of minds about the financial structure of the motor race. The hon. Gentleman voiced his grave concern about that on Second Reading, and the city has obviously taken note of the points that he made. No doubt if the House is agreeable to the carry-over motion, he will have the opportunity at a later stage to continue to voice his points of view and to seek to make changes wherever and whenever he can. I understand and fully appreciate his right so to do.,

My point is that the city has tried to reach accommodation with all the people who have petitioned for change, and we may wait and see——

Before the hon. Gentleman leaves that point, will he tell the House that the amendments pressed on the Bill are to be welcomed because they improve it? The hon. Gentleman made the same sort of statement four years ago and is now party to sidestepping that provision. Indeed, "sidestepping" is the word used by the city solicitor.

The hon. Gentleman knows why this No. 2 Bill is before the House this evening. When the original Bill was approved by the House, we were not aware of the change in the rules that the international motor racing body, FISA, was to introduce into the form of motor racing staged by the city. I refer to the necessity of having two days for practice and one day for the actual race when, at the moment, all that we can have is one day of practice and one day for the race. It is for that reason and that reason alone that this Bill has come before the House.

At the same time, we are taking the opportunity of reviewing the circuit and making some alterations to it. It is also a good opportunity for petitioners and for those who have experienced problems with the motor race to come forward and to ask the city council to agree to a number of amendments. Indeed, the city has accepted such amendments. That is the way in which the Bill has been improved. As a result, it is a better Bill and more responsive to the citizens of Birmingham as a whole.

On the narrow point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker), which is effectively the only business before the House tonight, we are considering whether the Bill, which has now had its Second Reading and Committee stages should—because of the difficulties of the parliamentary timetable—be carried over. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that if the Bill were carried over, the rights of hon. Members to move amendments and to make objections would properly continue, so that all that hon. Members are doing by objecting to the Bill this evening is frustrating the normal parliamentary procedures of democracy? They are stopping the Bill from being argued on its merits, although I accept that that is what my hon. Friends say that they wish to do, but the end of that process will be to cost the city of Birmingham and its ratepayers another £100,000 if we start again—and that is both parliamentary and economic nonsense.

The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell) is perfectly right. One difficulty that I face at the moment is asking for a carry-over motion when we are only halfway through the Bill's progress. Of course, there are questions still to be asked and points still to be raised—I do not doubt that for one moment—and that is precisely why we need the carry-over motion. It will mean that those points can be debated during our remaining sittings on the Bill——

Yes, again, because this is an important matter. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Beaumont-Dark) is making one of his rare appearances in the Chamber, but I want to press his hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. King), who has been here throughout our debates. The hon. Member for Northfield has said that he is proposing the carry-over motion to allow my hon. Friends and me to put forward our amendments and objections to the Bill. If the hon. Gentleman is so anxious for the Bill to be thoroughly debated, why did he move the closure motion to prevent my hon. Friends from taking part in the last debate?

At the end of our Second Reading debate, it was clear that that debate was centring on the financial aspects——

Obviously, those financial aspects caused concern to some hon. Members. During that debate we had an element of disruption because of the number of questions asked although I was happy to seek to address those questions because the Bill is contentious and Opposition Members had every right to intervene to ask their many and varied questions during my description of the Bill——

The hon. Gentleman is well aware that I waited in the Chamber throughout the whole of his hour-long speech and that I was the only hon. Member seeking to speak through whose constituency the race runs. The hon. Gentleman must be aware that my constituents have strong feelings about this. Yet he was a party to preventing me from speaking and to preventing the House from hearing what my constituents had to say.

The record will show that there were about 24 interventions in my speech when I presented the No. 2 Bill. The hon. Lady made several interventions on a variety of matters and I was delighted to assist her in every way that I could. It is not for me to comment on the Chair and who is called, but other hon. Members were called on that occasion. Personally, I am sorry that the hon. Lady was not called, but it is not within my power to seek to have her called. Nevertheless, if the opportunity presents itself, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I very much hope that the hon. Lady will catch your eye later this evening.

The measure having come all this way, the best course that anyone could adopt would be to allow the No. 2 Bill to be carried over into the next Session so that the many points still at issue will receive due and careful consideration. To abandon the Bill now would be disappointing for the city of Birmingham and its citizens, who in the last four events of the super prix have seen the benefits that it can bring. One accepts that this matter is not without controversy, but I believe that the measures taken by the city and those already laid down in the Bill—which, of course, need to be ratified and confirmed—show that the city wants to stage the event with the willing support and agreement of its citizens.

8.9 pm

It is my strong view that the House should not give permission for the Bill to be carried over into the next Session, because it is deeply flawed. The power already exists for a two-day road race to be held in Birmingham, but that power requires the road race to break even in five years. I shall describe later how that requirement of the House has been disregarded. The flawed Bill before us gives the power necessary to hold a four-day road race, with no requirement to break even. That is a disgrace, and it is one major reason why the Bill should not be carried over.

My first objection to the carry-over motion, however, relates to the way in which the Bill has been handled in the House. It was introduced by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. King). He spoke for more than an hour, and I sat through his speech waiting to make my own. It is not good enough for that hon. Gentleman to talk about the number of interventions in his speech—in fact there were far more interventions in the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell), who spoke for a shorter time.

I counted the number of interventions that my hon. Friend made in my speech. In my 30 years in the House, I have never had so many interventions in such a short speech. I am glad, however, that my hon. Friend has had the opportunity to speak tonight.

My right hon. Friend is obviously not listening. I said that there were far more interventions in his speech—I agree that I made many of them—than in the speech of the hon. Member for Northfield.

The hon. Member for Northfield spoke at enormous length, and a large part of his speech was irrelevant to the Bill. He went on and on about the convention centre and the failed olympic bid—I do not want to trample on the feelings of my right hon. Friend the Member for Small Heath—and said how everything was hunky-dory in Birmingham. That was before the publication of the document on poverty in Birmingham, which shows that half the people in that city live in serious poverty. The hon. Gentleman, however, went on and on with his glorious picture of Birmingham, which was absolutely irrelevant to the road race. The hon. Gentleman took up too much time in that debate, and he was largely responsible for the views of my constituents not being put to the House before the Bill went into Committee.

In that debate, my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill (Mr. Davis) spoke about the finances behind the Bill, which are an important part of our objection to it. After my hon. Friend the Member for Hodge Hill spoke, my right hon. Friend the Member for Small Heath and the Minister made brief speeches. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Mr. Bevan) then got up and was just getting into his stride when who came into the Chamber but the Government Chief Whip. He walked up to the hon. Member for Yardley, whose speech came to an abrupt halt. The hon. Gentleman nearly fell on the floor the instant the Chief Whip went up to him. The hon. Gentleman was obviously instructed to bring his speech to a rapid conclusion, which he did with total obedience——

I have no doubt that the hon. Gentleman intended to make a long speech, but when the Chief Whip appeared and started to walk up the steps towards him he brought his remarks to a close instantly. My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perr Barr (Mr. Rooker) then stood up to speak, but he did not get much of a chance to do so before the closure was moved.

I do not wish to embarrass the Chair in any way, but it had been intimated—if I may put it like that—that, because the hon. Member for Northfield had spoken at such length and because the views of the people who live in the area where the road race takes place had not been put before the House, it was unlikely that the closure would be granted. The Chief Whip then arrived, however, went up to the hon. Member for Yardley and then appeared to have words with the people who make decisions about whether a closure can be given. Shortly afterwards, that closure was given.

The procedural way in which the Bill has been handled has been unacceptable. It is obvious that the Government Chief Whip organised the votes for the closure to get the Bill through the Chamber. The husband of the Prime Minister has a financial interest in Halfords, which is a major sponsor of the road race. He has been to Birmingham to show his support for the road race, and he enjoyed the hospitality, of which there is plenty, given to prestigious visitors to the road race. I believe that there has been improper interference with the procedures of this House. There has not been proper consideration of the interests of the people of Birmingham, who are opposed to the passage of the Bill.

Is my hon. Friend telling the House that Burmah Oil is short for Birmingham Oil?

No, I am not. I was just saying that the Prime Minister's husband has a financial interest in the company that sponsors the road race. It is obvious from the proceedings in the previous debate that the Chief Whip organised to abbreviate the debate to ensure that there was a closure, which was overwhelmingly carried by Conservative Members.

I appreciate the complaints that my hon. Friend makes about the way in which the House handles such matters. My hon. Friend should go back a step, however, to recall that the Bill was approved on a free vote by the majority of elected councillors of the city of Birmingham. Is my hon. Friend saying that those councillors, irrespective of party, totally ignored the wishes of the people they represent?

No, I am not. I do not know how much detailed information some councillors had when they voted in favour of the Bill. I doubt that they have had as much detailed information about the finances and about some of the undertakings given in the House when the first Bill was passed as is available to hon. Members because of procedures relating to the passage of the Bill.

Through my hon. Friend, perhaps I can ask my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Mr. Corbett), who is my Member of Parliament if he has forgotten, that he voted against the closure on Second Reading.

Will my hon. Friend confirm that it is not Birmingham city council that decides whether to have a Bill, but the House, and only after a discussion of the representations made to it? Hon. Members discuss the ins and outs and they make their decision.

My hon. Friend is right. If it was in the power of Birmingham city council to run a road race, it could do so and it would be accountable to its voters. We have the power to vote for or against the Bill, and therefore we have a duty to do our best by the people of Birmingham. We must protect their interests to ensure that some of the truth is told, as opposed to the hype and the fibs about the profitability deriving from the Bill. I consider that it is my duty to use my platform in the Chamber to put the truth on record because so many misleading statements have been made.

Let me make it clear that, although I support the Bill, I voted against the closure because I thought that it had been inadequately discussed. I am all in favour of adequate discussion.

As I recollect, my hon. Friend thought it was important that I should have the opportunity to speak. Whether I spoke was not important: what was important was that I was the only person who had been in touch with people living on the circuit of that race. They feel passionately about the Bill, but there was no chance to put their views on record. My hon. Friend voted against the closure, because he agreed that their views should be known.

I am always fascinated to hear Socialists talking about Socialists. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Mr. Corbett) has spelt out the majority held by the Labour party on Birmingham city council. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) has used such words as "untruths" and "lies" and has said, "If only the truth could be told." Does she think that the Labour leadership of our great city has told untruths? We have said so more than once, but she has always said that we were wrong. Why should she be believed on this one issue?

The hon. Gentleman must be aware that the Bill has cross-party support as well as cross-party opposition in Birmingham——

Perhaps there is no opposition to it on the Conservative Benches. We all know how craven they are in the face of their Chief Whip. The hon. Gentleman must be aware that Conservative councillors from Selly Oak voted against the Bill at the area sub-committee meeting shortly before the debate in April——

I think that the hon. Member for Selly Oak has enjoyed himself too much earlier today——

The hon. Gentleman is not listening as seriously as he might to what I am saying. The Bill is not about Conservative or Labour support—it has cross-party support. From reading press reports, however, it seems to me that the support of senior Conservative councillors in Birmingham for the Bill and the race is eroding. They are making more and more qualified statements about how worried they are about money and whether the race should go on as it is because they recognise that it is becoming increasingly unpopular. We must deal with what is best for the people of Birmingham, rather than cheap points misleading people about where the support comes from. There is support and opposition from both Labour and Conservative councillors.

It was a pity that the hon. Lady was not called in the former debate, and I am glad that you called her this evening, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

It is important that, when we discuss these matters with the eyes of our city upon us, we are absolutely accurate in what we say. I have received a number of letters from my constituents who are also on the route. I have been impressed with the way that every complaint that I have received, whether it concerns access, noise or drunkenness on the day of the race, has been properly investigated and all my constituents have been seen. If there were to be the erosion of support about which the hon. Lady speaks, we would all have received letters. I have had no such letters suggesting any erosion of support.

I have no wish to be impolite to the hon. Lady, but I have had meetings with the residents associations which have come together over the Bill. They have complained about the number of requests they have made to meet the hon. Lady and her refusal to meet them.

That has been put to me by a significant number of people from various residents associations.

My first objection to the Bill going any further concerns the way that it has been handled. Before it went into Committee, the people of Ladywood and those living around the circuit did not have a chance to have their views put before the House. Procedurally, that was wrong. For that reason alone, we should start again and do things properly.

Secondly, there has been improper pressure from the Conservative Chief Whip to get the Bill through. That is an improper interference in the fair-minded consideration of the Bill and the interests of the people of Birmingham. For those two procedural reasons it is my strong view that the Bill should not be carried over and that we should, if necessary, and if it is not possible to persuade the city council to think again, start properly in the next Session and consider the Bill in a better way with less party political interference for reasons which might be improper.

The people of Ladywood feel strongly about the Bill, and I shall attempt to put some of their views on record. That is difficult, as I have with me a large number of letters—just some of the many I have received. My judgment is that about 50 per cent. are opposed to the whole road race. The majority of people say that it could be better run and that they are worried about money. They do not say that the two-day road race should be abolished. However, there is no doubt that the overwhelming opinion of people living near the circuit is that the Bill dealing with the four-day road race should not be passed.

I will not read out all the letters, as that would detain the House for too long, but I shall read a letter from a headmaster at a local school. I will not name him.

I do not know whether to name him or not. I am afraid that a matter of privilege has been put before the House because of the treatment by the city council of one individual who was brave enough to try to put information before the House about the operation of the Bill. The overwhelming and disproportionate support for the Bill among senior figures in the city council means that they might use their powers to damage the interests of individuals who dare to tell the truth about the Bill.

The headmaster wrote to me saying that he wanted to enlist my support against any extension of the road race. He said:
"This disruption of our school environment is without precedent in the United Kingdom. It would never get any sort of acceptance in Edgbaston, Solihull, Sutton Coldfield or around the streets of Dulwich. It is a grotesque example of how people who lack political clout are treated with contempt and are walked over for the sake of commercial interest and/or vainglory. It has very little to do with genuine civic pride. For a city whose educational provision is £10 per pupil below the national average and also whose teacher-pupil ratios are amongst the worst in England, there are clearly more important ways for the city to raise its self-esteem.
On behalf of the parents and Governors of this school, I urge you to speak most strongly against the Bill coming soon before Parliament."
That was in April, and I attempted to do as he asked.

The letter went on to say that that school and others in the area are currently
"fighting for our survival as inner-city secondary schools. The main problem causing the demise of falling rolls is the perception parents have of this inner-city environment ie, it is one to be moved away from as soon as possible. Is it any wonder that so many parents believe they must seek a 'better' social-educational environment for their 11-plus age children.".

Let me finish the letter.

It goes on:
"The superprix and/or its extension only reinforces the perception that local parents have of this area—it is one on which they are treated with contempt—even that which they have is taken away ie, the right to some peace and quiet and not to be exploited by others.".