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Oral Answers To Questions

Volume 178: debated on Wednesday 24 October 1990

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Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

United States Of America


To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next plans to visit the United States of America to discuss American-European relations.

I have no firm plans for my next visit to the United States. I am in frequent touch with Mr. Baker, and last met him in New York on 2 October during the meeting of CSCE Ministers.

Does the Foreign Secretary agree with his American counterpart that, in the light of the end of the cold war in Europe, NATO is increasingly likely to become a political rather than a military alliance? If so, what steps does he intend to take to further that change?

Those steps were clearly set out at the July NATO summit held in London. We set out the military essentials of the alliance. We—and, of course, the Americans and all the allies—intend to maintain the integrated command, the presence of substantial American troops on the continent of Europe and a sensible mix of nuclear and conventional weapons. We then went on to illustrate the change, in particular by holding out the hand of co-operation to eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

Will my right hon. Friend go a little further? Does he realise that the North Atlantic Assembly is the only governmentally accepted body where American members of Congress and European Members of Parliament can meet? Although much consideration is being given to the military structure, the future of a body in which American members of Congress, Canadian Members of Parliament and European members can get together is of the greatest importance and is worthy of serious consideration.

I know the importance of the Atlantic Assembly and the part that my hon. Friend plays in it. I certainly agree that such contacts, forming part of the political side of NATO's work, are extremely important.

As the IRA has extended its activities into many countries of the European Community, and as much of its funding comes from the United States—some of its blood money was probably used this morning in the atrocious attack on the Royal Irish Rangers in Newry and on another regiment in Londonderry, which no doubt the Foreign Secretary will take the opportunity to condemn—has the Foreign Secretary ever raised the question of funding by Americans for the IRA in Europe?

Of course, I condemn this morning's tragic events in Newry and in Londonderry. We have often raised this point. When I was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, I raised it when I visited the United States. The present Administration and the Reagan Administration before them, have taken as strict a line as they can within United States law to ensure that such contributions are not given in a way that could help the outrages about which the right hon. Gentleman is concerned. I agree that we need to keep those reminders constantly before the United States.

Does the Foreign Secretary agree that relations between America and Europe could be seriously undermined because of the failure of the EEC to put forward realistic proposals on agricultural expenditure? Does it worry my right hon. Friend, as Foreign Secretary, that, despite all the pleas that were made for strong action, the EEC is planning a substantial increase in its agricultural spending next year and that, once again, food mountains are growing to all-time highs?

Yes, indeed. I made the first point strongly to my colleagues in Luxembourg on Monday. It is not sensible for the European Community and its leaders to suppose that they will attract much credibility when talking about economic and monetary union or, indeed, political union if they cannot produce a reasonable offer for the GATT negotiations. At the moment, the European Community is isolated. I believe that when examined at the negotiating table, the American offers will prove to have a good deal of fustian in them, but we cannot examine them at the negotiating table until we have a position of our own.

When replying to my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, South (Mr. Marshall), the right hon. Gentleman referred with approval to the declaration made at the July NATO summit, which the Prime Minister signed. Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that in that declaration NATO endorsed a new NATO strategy making nuclear forces

"truly weapons of last resort",
and that those are the words of President Bush himself? Will the right hon. Gentleman explain why, in her speech in Helsinki on 30 August the Prime Minister said:
"Our first task is in reality to preserve the essentials of the present order. That means … continuing to station nuclear weapons in Europe, without putting new constraints on them such as … 'weapons of last resort'"?
As the Prime Minister signed that declaration and as she has disgracefully repudiated it, will the Foreign Secretary now uphold President Bush and repudiate the Prime Minister?

The right hon. Gentleman has earned his reputation for selective quotation. He omitted—[Interruption.] I see that some of his text is highlighted, but I am not sure whether that is the bit that he left in or the bit that he left out. I recall clearly our discussions at Lancaster house on this point and the balancing sentences and phrases that were used to safeguard the position of the Alliance. One thing that it must preserve is a sensible mix of nuclear and conventional weapons.

Middle Fast


To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next intends to meet the Foreign Minister of Israel to discuss the middle east peace process.


To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next plans to visit Israel to discuss the middle east peace process.

I met the Israeli Foreign Minister on 16 October. We had a thorough discussion of middle eastern issues. I have no firm plans to meet Mr. Levy again, but we agreed to stay in closer contact in future.

Did my right hon. Friend congratulate the Israeli Government on their actions in deactivating the Basra reactor? Without that action, the bloodthirsty butcher of Baghdad would have been able to threaten the whole world with a nuclear disaster.

I take my hon. Friend's point, but I am not sure that the world would be a safer place if everybody acted as Israel did in that respect. Nevertheless, I take note of what I believe is my hon. Friend's point for the future. Iraq has obligations of great importance under the non-proliferation treaty and it is of crucial interest to the whole community—not just to Israel—that those obligations should be respected.

Given the disastrous results of the Foreign Secretary's attempts to clarify the Government's position with regard to the Palestinian problem when he was in Jerusalem recently, will the right hon. Gentleman take this opportunity to make a clear and unambiguous statement to Parliament on the Government's commitment to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the west bank and the Gaza?

As the hon. Lady knows, we have never had such a commitment. What we are saying and have said for a long time is that the Palestinians have the right to self-determination and that that right can be exercised only in the context of a negotiated settlement, which must also include provision for the security of Israel within secure borders. That has been the position for a long time, and I restated it in Jerusalem. I am sorry that, for one reason or another, the way in which it came out prevented Palestinian leaders from meeting me a week ago as I had hoped. That would have balanced my visit to Israel.

When my right hon. Friend met the Israeli Government did he raise with them the horrendous and appalling massacre of hundreds of Lebanese Christians by the Syrian army? If he did not, will he join me in inviting the United Nations to pass a resolution condemning that outrage to prove to the world and the parties in the middle east that it is not the one-sided, biased organisation that it sometimes appears to be?

We made it clear with regard to the killings on Temple Mount, the later killings in Jerusalem, and what happened in the Lebanon, that we condemn all acts of violence of that nature. They are separate problems and neither will be resolved by political violence.

After his visit to Israel, does the right hon. Gentleman feel that he now has a better understanding of the legitimate sensitivities and anxieties of that democratic country? If Britain is to help in the peace process, it must be seen to be even-handed and balanced. That means continuing its opposition to the Arab boycott. If he believes that that is right, will he speak to the Secretary of State for Energy about the reported compliance of National Power with that boycott, which I am sure he would regard as intolerable?

One of the purposes of my visit to Israel was to get into close touch with not only Israeli Ministers but people such as Mr. Peres and Mayor Kollek. Israel is a democratic society and I hope that within the democratic debate in Israel there is a growing realisation that its security cannot satisfactorily rest on a regime of occupation. It is neither a just nor a sustainable basis for the security of Israel, about which Israelis, as the hon. and learned Gentleman said, are rightly anxious and sensitive.

On the hon. and learned Gentleman's second point, we deplore boycott efforts and campaigns of that nature. How specific British enterprises respond to them is not a matter for me.

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the presence of the Iraqis in Kuwait is totally unacceptable, as is the presence of the Israelis in parts of the Lebanon, Syria and Jordan?

Yes, in parts of Jordan. The presence of both forces is unacceptable for exactly the same reasons—[Interruption.] My hon. Friends have had their say and now they should let someone else have theirs. They are in defiance of the United Nations resolutions against invading and occupying the territory of their neighbours. Will my right hon. Friend also confirm my understanding of the position? The reason why we, the Americans and others are in Saudi is that we were invited there by the Saudi Government, in the same way as the Syrians are in the Lebanon because they were invited there by the Lebanese Government. Am I correct in that assumption?

The right answers to both the problems which my hon. Friend mentioned have been set out in Security Council resolutions. In the case of Kuwait the resolutions are very clear because they respond to a clear act of aggression and require the unconditional withdrawal of Iraqi troops. In the case of Arab-Israel, another set of Security Council resolutions, in particular Nos. 242 and 338, require the sensible reconciling of Israel's need for security—a particularly sensitive matter because of its geography and recent history—and the right of the Palestinians to self-determination. Those two things must be reconciled. They can be reconciled only through negotiations for a comprehensive settlement.

It is not sensible to draw too many exact comparisons between the positions in Syria and Kuwait but my hon. Friend is right that originally, whatever one's view of their later activities, the Syrians went into Lebanon at the request of the Lebanese Government.



To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the Government of Romania about the development of democracy there.

Neither I nor my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs plans to visit Romania at present. However, I hope that Ministers will be able to discuss economic matters with the Romanian deputy Prime Minister in the United Kingdom next month. My right hon. Friend discussed Romania's troubled progress towards democracy with his Romanian counterpart in New York on 2 October.

Despite 40 years of paranoid tyranny and the many betrayed hopes of the past nine months, will the Government now respond to the genuine encouraging trends in Romania with the first prosecutions of the miners who participated in the June repression and the fact that recent opposition demonstrations have not been harassed? Is not there a grave danger, however, that unless we take action now and acknowledge in a practical way the advances that have been made to the flawed but genuine democracy of Romania, we shall give encouragement to those sinister forces seeking to recreate the country's previous isolation?

I certainly agree that we must reward the steps forward, but we must not ignore those things that are still going wrong. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will agree that we and our European colleagues were right to sign a trade agreement with Romania. However, we are holding back from further steps because there is evidence of further secret police activity of the old style and of the harassment of dissidents. I spoke to Doina Cornea about that when we met recently. It is a policy of carrots and sticks and both, I am afraid, are still necessary.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that whole-hearted political and economic co-operation with the Government of Romania will be difficult as long as that Government appear to have a less than healthy commitment to human rights and freedoms? Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is still a great deal of fear among the ordinary people of Romania that the secret police, the Securitate, are still up to their old tricks? Have we made it clear enough to President Iliescu and his Government that we want to see further progress towards a truly free society before there is real co-operation?

I believe that we have made that pretty clear. The Romanians are anxious to present the progress that they have made in as clear a manner as possible. As I said to the hon. Member for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn), we must not forget that other things still need a great deal of improvement. The meetings that we were able to have in Bournemouth with a number of principal dissidents under Ceausescu warned us that, as yet, all is far from being in order.



To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent conferences on the international aspects of AIDS have been attended by Ministers or officials; and if he will make a statement.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
(Mr. Mark Lennox-Boyd)

Officials have attended eight conferences on AIDS issues this year. AIDS is a global threat, and international co-operation is required to control its spread. Our strategy is highly regarded internationally, and we play a leading role in international meetings on the subject.

It is reassuring to hear that officials are being sent to attend those important international gatherings, but does the Minister accept that ministerial involvement is also important? He should pay particular attention to the worrying increase in the number of AIDS cases in the heterosexual community, particularly those cases that have been contracted as a result of foreign travel. What will Ministers do in future to ensure that business men and holiday makers are given the proper information that they need to protect themselves?

This is a very important matter, and ministerial involvement is constant. With regard to the spread of AIDS through heterosexual contacts by travellers abroad, the World Health Organisation runs co-ordinated national AIDS programmes in almost every country and has published a booklet, "AIDS Information For Travellers", which is widely available.

I support what the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood) said. I have just come from a meeting of the all-party group on AIDS and the key message that we must get across is the danger faced by the heterosexual community. Given the worrying figures already mentioned, will my hon. Friend undertake to consider ways in which to increase awareness of the dangers in that community?

Of course. We are very much aware of the increase in AIDS in the heterosexual community. I shall certainly undertake to reconsider these matters to see whether there are any further initiatives that we can take.

AIDS is a terrifying problem which has serious implications—the likely death of millions of people throughout the world. What support has been given to WHO so that the spread of AIDS in other countries can at least be combated by publicity and that research done in Britain and the United States can be shared with the poorer countries, which are suffering just as badly, if not worse than ourselves, from the problem of AIDS?

The World Health Organisation is leading the action against AIDS. The United Kingdom is the third largest donor and we have pledged £16·83 million so far.

German Unification


To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions are taking place within the European Community regarding the implications of German unification for weighted majority voting in the Council of Ministers and for the size of the European Parliament.

None, Sir.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who will be aware that weighted majority voting in the Council of Europe bears little relationship to the populations of the countries involved. However, we now hear that following unification, both the Chancellor and the Foreign Minister in Germany have said that they do not require any increased representation "for the time being." May I take it from my hon. Friend that his reply "none" is 100 times more encouraging than "none for the time being"?

The German Government undertook not to request EC treaty amendments to accommodate German unification. They have made no proposals to amend qualified majority vote weighting or the number of Members of the European Parliament, both of which would require treaty amendment. But, as my hon. Friend says, it is clear that a number of small member countries, with Luxembourg a prime example, have made a not able contribution to the Community despite their size.

Although we must welcome the extension of the Community by the inclusion of what was, before this October, a separate country, is not it inappropriate that the other countries of central Europe that experienced similar democratic revolutions and are at a similar economic stage—Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland—should be kept out of the Community while the former German Democratic Republic is allowed in?

There is no intention on behalf of the Government or the Community to keep anyone out of the Community. The Prime Minister has made it clear that we would welcome the day when those new, emerging democracies in the east are in a position, because of their internal politics and their economies, to apply to join the Community.

I warmly welcome my hon. Friend to his new position. Is it likely that such matters will be discussed at the intergovernmental conference and what position will Her Majesty's Government take?

There is no reason why those matters should arise in the intergovernmental conference. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his warm welcome.

Was the Minister of State in favour of weighted voting when he was Deputy Chief Whip?

As the hon. Member will know, in those days I was in favour of hon. Members supporting their party—a lesson that he might take.

Eastern Europe


To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he has any plans to meet the European Community Foreign Affairs Ministers to discuss aid to eastern Europe.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State regularly meets his European Community colleagues to discuss the Community's relations with the countries of central and eastern Europe. We strongly support the Community's policy of making aid to those countries conditional on progress towards political and economic reform.

Although I recognise the vital importance of aid, in terms of trade credits and direct aid, to eastern European countries and the importance of exchanges of personnel through seminars and courses, is not it equally important to set up educational institutions, such as business schools, in eastern European countries so that people there can learn the sort of commercial skills that they will need in a newly competitive world? Will he ensure that the know-how fund is used to that end?

There have been some such projects under the know-how fund. In general, it is better to try to develop institutions in the countries involved rather than bring them here, which is what they ask for on the whole.

Will the Minister acknowledge that it would be daft for Britain to provide aid to eastern Europe if that would result in the displacement of British jobs, particularly in the textile and clothing industry? Therefore, will he take this opportunity to acknowledge, on behalf of the Government, that they do not regard the British textile and clothing industry as expendable and that there is absolutely no question of the multi-fibre arrangement being abandoned or phased out too quickly unless proper and adequate safeguards are put in place to protect the best interests of the textile and clothing industry and the British workers whose livelihoods depend on it?

Similar arguments can be made in relation to every sector of the economy where we are trying to liberalise trade with the rest of the world—for example, agriculture. There must be some respect in which, if we are serious about opening our markets to poorer countries, we are willing to stand against our sectoral interests sometimes.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that last week I had the opportunity of visiting the headquarters of the Stasi in east Berlin? Is not it perfectly clear that the Stasi hopes to return to power by establishing massive slush funds at home and abroad? Will my right hon. Friend ensure that when he talks to Community Ministers he discusses the recycling of looted Stasi funds into aid to eastern Europe?

However much money was deployed by former members of the Stasi, I do not think that they would return to power in a democratic society.

Does not Britain set a particularly bad example on this in the EC? The Prime Minister and other Ministers perambulate around Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland promising all sorts of help, but is not the sad reality that the total amount of know-how help for central and eastern Europe in this financial year adds up to £15 million, that all of it is already committed and that, despite the growing demand, desire and need for it, no new projects can possibly be sanctioned before April next year? Does not that show up Tory concern for the new democracies as the sanctimonious propaganda that we all know it to be?

The answer is no. There is still no parallel among other European countries for the know-how fund and I welcome the fact that the rapid spread of democratic and free enterprise societies in eastern Europe has meant that we can move much quicker than expected this year, and negotiations are already under way for next year. Such help has been far more effective than the huge generalised soft loans, many of which have not been taken up, which hit the headlines but do little good.

Will my right hon. Friend reassure the House that contributions of know-how and other non-financial kinds are being co-ordinated in the same way as financial contributions within the EC?

Yes, we try to do that, but I am sure that there is always room for co-ordination to be improved. Our view has always been that if we have a good project we should back it first and try to co-ordinate later, rather than be too bureaucratic.



To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a further statement about the peace process in Ethiopia.

As a result of recent contacts in the United States, there is a prospect that the negotiations between the Ethiopian Government and the Eritrean People's Liberation Front may resume.

Given all the talk about a new world order, does the Minister agree that that new world order should try to inject some urgency into peace negotiations within Ethiopia, because until peace is established within Ethiopia there is little hope of effective aid reaching the large numbers of people now starving in Government-held areas and in areas held by the various liberation fronts? Will the Government use all their offices to get some action, rather than simply talking about talks?

I agree with the link that the hon. Gentleman makes between the establishment of peace and effective aid. Until there is peace, there will never be an end to the hunger crisis in that country. The principal responsibility must lie with the warring factions, who too often in recent years have seen the mirage of a military victory and therefore broken off negotiations again, but it is somewhat more encouraging that they are talking again.

Does not my right hon. Friend consider the disastrous situation in Ethiopia to be yet another example, in economic and human terms, of Marxism in action?

Certainly the Ethiopian Government have had a terrible record in the past both on human rights and in the competence of their economic and social doctrines. They are now jettisoning those doctrines very fast, which gives some hope for progress.

Ec Intergovernmental Conference


To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress he is making in preparation for the intergovernmental conference in December, with particular reference to the issue of political union.

I attended the Foreign Affairs Council on 22 October, which discussed preparations for the intergovernmental conference on political union. The Italian presidency will report on progress to the special European Council—the summit—on 27 and 28 October. Our aim continues to be a more efficient, effective and democratically accountable Community.

Has the Secretary of State read reports of the rather bad-tempered presentation at the European Parliament yesterday of the Commission's document on political union, which will ultimately go before the intergovernmental conference? Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the document confirms that, as the Community was established by international treaties agreed by sovereign states, it is perfectly possible to deepen and widen its integration and to create greater cohesion without crucially altering its legal basis? Does not the Commission's document point to the model for the future being not federalist but confederalist?

I have not read the Commission document, but Mr. Delors outlined it at the Foreign Affairs Council meeting on Monday. Having heard that outline, and subject to my studying the document, I do not believe that it offers a way forward that my Government would want to follow. In all the discussions in the intergovernmental conferences beginning in December on economic and monetary union and political union, we shall be arguing—for example, in the GATT round—about many of the issues confronting the Community. We shall argue not from an un-European or anti-European stance, but for a Europe that is liberal and open. There will be considerable discussion of those points.

What specific gains does my right hon. Friend think will emerge from the intergovernmental discussions? Would not it be helpful to Britain if they could be clearly explained ahead of the meeting, rather than merely expressing a generalised commitment to a better Community?

I tried to offer such an explanation when the House debated that subject in the summer. The gains can be easily summarised. We want to improve co-ordination between the Twelve on foreign policy and the role of national parliaments—including that of working together in controlling and monitoring the Council's activities. We want to improve also the work of the European Parliament, not by extending its legislative powers but by encouraging it to be more effective in monitoring and invigilating the Commission's work and expenditure. We should like to find a sensible definition of subsidiarity which would establish clearly where Community action is necessary, and what action should best be left to national Governments—particularly as it is national Governments who decide among themselves what the role of the Community should be, and not the Community which decides the role of national Governments.

Will the right hon. Gentleman make it clear at the intergovernmental conference that it is no part of the Government's policy to countenance a two-speed Europe, with Britain on the outside track, which would be a disaster for our country?

It would be a disaster not only for this country but for Greece, where I discussed the matter last week, for Portugal, for Spain, and for many other countries. I hope very much that those in charge of the discussions on economic and monetary union in particular will bear that point in mind. It is most important that we travel at a speed and in a direction which commands consensus.

Can my right hon. Friend say yet what the Government's attitude will be if the 11 other members of the Community accept the Delors proposals?

The Delors proposals deal with economic and monetary union, which is beyond the scope of the question. As to the intergovernmental conference on political union, there can be no change to the treaty unless all 12 member states agree.

Csce Summit


To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the forthcoming CSCE summit in Paris.

My right hon. Friend will attend the CSCE summit in Paris. We envisage that a conventional forces in Europe agreement will be signed. The conference should consolidate the recent progress in Europe by strengthening democratic and economic reforms. We believe that the rights won in the reforms should be enshrined in a magna carta for Europe.

Given that all but three of the European CSCE participating states now send parliamentary delegations to the Council of Europe and that the remaining three—Romania, Bulgaria and Albania—expect to do so shortly, does my right hon. Friend agree that next month's summit need look no further for its proposed assembly of Europe, as suggested by the NATO summit in July, than to the existing Council of Europe? Will he ensure that the Government put that proposal forward at next month's summit?

The problem is that the United Stales and Canada are participants. I go this far with my hon. Friend—the infrastructure of the Council of Europe may well provide the basis on which a new assembly could meet, but we must pay attention to the importance of maintaining American participation in these meetings.

Is it not the proposal of the chairman of CSCE that the European assembly from the Atlantic to the Urals should be a completely separate assembly? What efforts will the Government make at the next summit to ensure that there is a coming together, which I believe that the people of this country and of Europe will see as a positive step towards the unification of Europe in ways other than the old-fashioned ideas of the EEC?

I think that the hon. Gentleman is right that we should not proliferate entirely new assemblies, and if we can build on what already exists in a way that is acceptable to the north Atlantic partners, that is very sensible.

Palestinian Refugees


To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made during the past three months about Palestinian refugees to the Government of Israel.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State discussed the situation in the occupied territories, including conditions in the Palestinian refugee camps there, with members of the Israeli Government during his recent visit to the middle east.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. He will be aware of the great concern in all parts of the House about recent events in occupied Palestine. The intifada goes on; the violence continues. Does not he therefore believe that it is now time for a major international conference to be convened, possibly under the auspices of the United Nations, to discuss the occupied territories and the refugee problem?

We have always made it clear that at the right time an international conference will probably be necessary to help to produce the comprehensive settlement that my right hon. Friend spoke of earlier. I do not think that the time is yet right for that, unfortunately, and we continue to urge that contacts be built up between the Palestinians and the Israeli Government in the way they appeared to be about to begin to do before the present crisis in the Gulf.

Will the Secretary of State take this opportunity to confirm to the Israeli Government that the United Kingdom Government's position is that east Jerusalem is occupied territory, and therefore that the provisions of the fourth Geneva convention on the protection of civilian persons in time of war apply absolutely and without exception? Will he also confirm that Israel's purported annexation of east Jerusalem is illegal and as such has no effect on the status of east Jerusalem as occupied territory; and that any measures that Israel purports to take to change the status of east Jerusalem are null and void?

Is not it strange that Israel's oil-rich Arab neighbours have never thought it right to improve the standard of living of their Arab brothers in the refugee camps?

That is rather unfair. One of the many legitimate accusations against Saddam Hussein is that his invasion of Kuwait has destroyed a country which was generous in its support of the Palestinian people. The consequences of that, and of the loss of remittances from Palestinian workers in Kuwait and elsewhere, are now causing even more problems for already hard-pressed people in the occupied territories.

In view of the news this morning that the occupied territories have once again been completely closed off by the Israeli Government, and given what we know that the Israeli Government are prepared to do when they are in public view, will the Minister take this opportunity to call the Israeli ambassador to the Foreign Office and insist that the occupied territories be open at the very least to the United Nations observers, who are not even allowed to go in and see the way in which people in the refugee camps are treated?

We have made it clear that the Secretary-General's mission, which the United Nations has been attempting to send, should be received in Israel. We deplore the continuing cycle of violence described by the hon. Lady. It is our belief—a belief that I believe is held on both sides of the House—that no amount of military action against the Palestinians will suppress their desire for self-determination. The sooner the Israelis accept that, the more chance that there is of the two peoples living together in peace.

Is my hon. Friend aware of some of the excellent work to help physically and mentally handicapped children that is going on in some of the Palestinian refugee camps? If he is not, will he take the opportunity to find out about it to see whether we can do more to help that work?

I am aware of the work, and my right hon. Friend is up to date on it as he visited one of those projects. I saw other work of this kind when I was in Gaza. Like the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East and other countries, we support this valuable work. I particularly mention the work at St. John's eye hospital, which has become excellent in dealing with the kind of injuries suffered in such situations.

Europe-Usa Relations


To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next plans to meet the United States Secretary of State to discuss European-American relations.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State expects to meet Secretary Baker in November when they are due to sign a declaration on EC-United States relations at the CSCE summit in Paris.

When the Foreign Secretary meets representatives of the American Government, will he discuss the question of burden sharing—something on which the Americans are quite keen—in the context of the Gulf crisis? Having discussed it with the Americans, will he then dicuss the same issue with his Cabinet colleagues and get from them some intervention in those parts of the country, particularly my constituency, where substantial contracts with Iraq have been lost as a result of sanctions and major redundancy rounds have ensued? This is a problem that affects the north-east and Scotland, but so far there has been no response about domestic burden-sharing from the British Government. When can we expect one?

The hon. Gentleman is right in one sense—the contribution that the United Kingdom has made to the international peace-keeping force in the Gulf is second only to that of the United States. We lose no opportunity to invite other like-minded Governments to make a contribution. The matter of what happens within the United Kingdom is not for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Will the Government continue to remind the United States not only of the need for self-determination for the Palestinian people but of their right to have their own state?

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has already answered that question, and it would not be wise for me to add anything to what he has said.

When the Foreign Secretary meets the United States Secretary, will he take the opportunity to discuss the recent Dublin Supreme Court decision and the constitutional imperative under which Irish Governments are required to work for a united Ireland? Will he seek the support of the United States Secretary in asking the Irish Government to remove this territorial claim and thus enable compliance with the Helsinki agreement, thereby denying the IRA and terrorists any right to exist and operate?

The British Government lose no opportunity to make clear to the United States the seriousness that we attach to IRA terrorism. As to the constitutional matter that the hon. Gentleman raised in connection with the Helsinki agreement, it would not be right for the United States to intervene in the constitution of a foreign state.

Does my hon. Friend recall Winston Churchill's statement that the supreme fact of the 20th century is that Britain and America have marched together upon the basis of shared values" Does he further recall that at the time of the Gulf crisis on 2 August and in the following weeks it was Britain and America who stood together to prevent Saddam Hussein from taking up the position that he would undoubtedly hold at the moment, had he been allowed to do so—that is to be in Saudi Arabia? Does he further agree that the most important action that we have to take is to encourage our European partners to play a full part in making sure that we maintain peace in the middle east?

I agree with my hon. Friend that our alliance with the United States, through NATO, must remain the mainstay of our position. That does not run counter to our wish for a closer co-ordination of security and foreign policy within the Community. My hon. Friend, however, is absolutely right, that our relationship with the United States is crucial to the United Kingdom in terms of both defence and other matters.

South Africa


To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions, and with whom, he has had about policy towards South Africa; and if he will make a statement.

I visited South Africa from 19 to 21 September and met a wide range of political figures, including both President de Klerk and Mr. Nelson Mandela. I was encouraged by the commitment I found on all sides to move speedily towards negotiations aimed at ending apartheid.

Will the Minister support Nelson Mandela who warned the South African Government earlier today that unless the new South African constitution guarantees the right to vote for all black people in South Africa, the probability is that violence will continue and escalate? Will the Minister also support the efforts that are being made to arrange a meeting between Nelson Mandela and Chief Buthelezi, with a view to bringing an end to the continuing violence in the townships, where more than 700 people have been killed since the beginning of August?

On the first point, I found no one among the main-line politicians in South Africa who had any doubt whatever but that the constitution must be based on one man, one vote. The hon. Gentleman need have no fears on that score. On the hon. Gentleman's second point, I strongly agree with him. When I was in South Africa I met the secretary-general of Inkatha and urged that such a meeting should take place. I hope that it takes place soon and that it leads to an end to the violence in the townships. We all want to see that.

When my right hon. Friend holds discussions with representatives of other African front-line states will he emphasise to them that a great deal of the fighting in the townships is on a tribal basis between two groups who in the long term are seeking to have power in a future democratic South Africa? Will he urge those representatives to look in depth at the problem and see what they can do to bring the two sides together to end the fighting in the townships and hasten the march towards a free democratic South Africa?

There is something in what my hon. Friend says, but it is a little more complex than that. A great deal of fighting is taking place between Zulus who are ANC members and Zulus who are Inkatha members. It is not, therefore, simply a tribal matter, although there is a tribal element to the fighting. Clearly, ruthless jockeying for political position is taking place.

Is the Minister aware that a South African delegation that recently saw Foreign Office officials was peddled the dangerous and disastrous line that there is no role now to be played in South Africa by external forces and that it is all down to the people inside the country? Will the Minister deny that that is the Government's position? Does he accept that there is a strong role to be played by Governments outside South Africa and that pressure must be maintained on President de Klerk to move faster towards the negotiating table rather than delaying that move, as he appears to be doing now?

I profoundly disagree with the hon. Gentleman. I think that it is the ANC which is having difficulty in keeping up with the pace of movement towards negotiation. As a result of meeting external organisation representatives who over the years have honourably put a great deal of hard work into supporting the abolition of apartheid, I have the very strong feeling that they are increasingly being left behind. They often come to see me urging points of view which they believe are held by the ANC but which have already been abandoned by the ANC. I must urge that the lead being taken by major politicians in South Africa, both black and white, should continue. It is the most optimistic thing of all about South Africa at present and represents the best hope for the future.

As my right hon. Friend once again expressed his disapproval of economic sanctions while he was in South Africa, will he now express the same disapproval of sports sanctions and boycotts? It is nonsense that although, with the full support of this side of the House, we rightly advocate the abandonment of economic sanctions, we still retain the sports boycott. When are we going to come out of the ridiculous Gleneagles agreement?

With respect my hon. Friend is perhaps making the mirror image of the mistake made by the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) as there are now senior ANC spokesmen saying that the abolition of the sporting boycott is coming near. It is better to leave the joint leadership being developed between the South African Government, Inkatha, the ANC, Azapo and others to tell us about the timing on some of these things. The ANC is moving well ahead of some of its alleged external supporters on this.



To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last met representatives of the Government of China to discuss the future of Cambodia.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs discussed Cambodia with his Chinese colleague, Mr. Qian Qichen, at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on 28 September.

Will the Minister comment on continuing reports that the SAS is involved in training the Khmer Rouge to lay land mines in Cambodia? In view of the excellent reputation of John Pilger, the journalist who is making these reports, and the way he has spoken the truth about Cambodia for years, does the Minister realise that the public are horrified by the prospect that the British Government are supporting militarily the return of the Khmer Rouge?

The British Government have never given support or help of any kind to the Khmer Rouge.

Will my hon. Friend accept that it is time that the free civilised world entered into meaningful discussions directly with the Administration in Cambodia and stopped playing around with Prince Sihanouk and the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot? That man is a tyrant and must never be allowed to set foot in the capital of Cambodia again to do what he did to the people of that wonderful country.

That man was a cruel tyrant and we condemn him. I urge my hon. Friend to recognise the work of the five permanent members of the Security Council in their new initiatives and the formation of the supreme national council which has membership from all the different leading figures in Cambodia.

Further to the question of the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton), will the Government make it clear to the Chinese Government and to the House that they will oppose the continued illegal representation of Pol Pot at the United Nations and any representative of any coalition which includes Pol Pot? Will they make it clear that in the foreign policy of the United Kingdom the genocide of the killing fields will never be forgotten?

Most certainly, the genocide of the killing fields will never be forgotten. The Cambodian seat at the United Nations is not at present occupied. The supreme national council is supported by the five permanent members of the Security Council and all the factions in Cambodia. That is the new initiative and it will be up to the supreme national council to appoint an ambassador to the United Nations.

Does my hon. Friend agree that the interests of the people of Cambodia are not best served by exaggerations and distortions which can appear in television programmes, and nor will they be served by the return of anything which included Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge? Does my hon. Friend agree also that the only part of Cambodia that has any sort of normal life now is that under the control of the Phnom Penh Government? Will he do what he can to ensure that the world community recognises that and pours into that part of the country the aid and investment that is so necessary?

Britain has committed up to £2 million worth of humanitarian aid to Cambodia. The new development quite different from what prevailed in earlier months of this year is the resolution of the United Nations permanent five—supported by the United Nations General Assembly, the Hun Sen Government and all the factions in Cambodia—to make progress in discussions to form the supreme national council. We should all be pushing for that because we all wish to see an end to the suffering in that country and for those wretched people to be able to live life in peace and determine their future.



To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent meetings he has had with other Foreign Ministers regarding German reunification; and if he will make a statement.

On 12 September in Moscow, with his German, French, American and Russian colleagues, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs signed the treaty on the final settlement with respect to Germany. On 1 October in New York, they signed a declaration suspending four-power rights and responsibilities with effect from German unification on 3 October.

We welcome the unification of Germany in peace and freedom. We will be working with the united Germany as a friend, ally and partner for the peace and prosperity of Europe and the wider world.

Is the Minister aware that it will not be lost on the British people, who are suffering from high interest rates, rocketing unemployment and a massive trade deficit, that in the next two years, in order to carry out the German takeover, not reunification, this lousy Tory Government are to hand out £32 million of taxpayers' money to bail out shipyards in East Germany while shutting down shipyards in Sunderland and Birkenhead? The whole thing stinks to high heaven.

I am delighted that the hon. Gentleman's question was reached this afternoon as it enables me to offer him an apology for suggesting that his voting record in support of his party was not what it might be. Not only did he vote against the last Labour Government more than anyone else—he also had one of the highest voting records in their favour because of his consistent attendance in the House.

As I explained to the hon. Gentleman on Friday, the cost of German unification to the United Kingdom this year will be nil, and next year it will be £32 million. That is considerably less than the British taxpayer has spent subsidising the coal industry over many years. I realise that he and many of his hon. Friends are unable to give unification the welcome that we can because they still aspire to a Trabant-owning autocracy.