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Disarmament And East-West Relations

Volume 491: debated on Wednesday 9 December 1987

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3.3 p.m.

rose to call attention to the progress made in disarmament negotiations and the improvement in East-West relations; and to move for Papers.

The noble Lord said: My Lords. I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. I think everyone will agree that this is a historic week in the long and tortuous annals of disarmament, and that the House is fortunate to have this opportunity to debate the implications of the INF Treaty which was signed yesterday and to consider the possibilities of further progress. We warmly support the treaty, and we also congratulate President Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev on their most significant achievement.

Before I proceed further, perhaps I may say that we much look forward to the maiden speech of my noble friend Lord Callaghan of Cardiff, and also say how glad we are to see him in this House. His great experience and knowledge of international affairs will enlighten our debates on these occasions. We are also very glad that the noble Lord, Lord Pym, and the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gwydir, both of whom also have considerable experience and knowledge of foreign affairs, are to speak in this debate, and we extend a warm welcome to them as well.

Yesterday's ceremony in Washington when the INF Treaty was signed marked the pinnacle of 20 years of negotiation—and of frustration—between the US and the USSR on nuclear arms. This frustration was shared by us, and this was manifested in several debates in the House from time to time. We remember the bilateral talks which began in 1969 and which led to SALT I and the ABM Treaty in 1972, and the subsequent talks which dragged on throughout the 1970s, ending in SALT II, which was signed in 1979 but never ratified by the United States Senate.

Then the House will recall that there was a sharp deterioration in relations between the super powers in the early years of this decade, with the deployment of SS 20s and thereafter of cruise and Pershing missiles in various areas in Europe. We remember the Soviet Union breaking off negotiations on theatre weapons, INF, in 1983. Our hopes were revived when negotiations were reopened in Geneva on the three categories—namely, INF and strategic and space weapons—and further raised by the Reagan-Gorbachev Geneva summit in November 1985, only to be dashed at Reykjavik a year later when the USSR raised the obstacle of SDI.

I hope the House will forgive me for this brief summary of recent history, but it is important that we get yesterday's achievement in the correct perspective at the start of our debate. It was in fact last February that the breakthrough came when Mr. Gorbachev put forward the double-zero option of removing all intermediate nuclear forces from Europe, a proposal which incidentally we on this side have advocated for some years now.

I believe, as do most people, that the INF is a great, indeed historic, achievement. Why is this so? There are those who are dubious—I have read their remarks in the press over the last three or four days—and there are others who are downright hostile. The sceptic seeks to remind us that only about 3 to 4 per cent. of the world's nuclear arsenals will be affected by this agreement. Let us examine this briefly. What does the agreement say? First, it will remove approximately 436 US warheads—cruise and Pershing I and II—and 1,575 Soviet warheads from Europe over a three-year period. Secondly, this three-year process will be monitored under a strict inspection regime. What the sceptic tends to overlook is the fact that this is the first treaty which actually reduces the stockpile of nuclear weapons as opposed to merely restraining their increase. That is the achievement that we must welcome today.

Furthermore, as we know from many debates in this House, the problem which has bedevilled negotiations from the start—namely, verification—has been tackled realistically in these talks, and ultimately resolved. The details have been published and discussed exhaustively in the press over the last few days and will be debated here in this House when the Arms Control and Disarmament Bill comes to us shortly. I shall not therefore dilate upon it now, but I must agree with Mr. Frank Carlucci, the United States Secretary of State for Defense, when he described these new procedures as "mind boggling". They do, without doubt, represent a unique step forward in co-operation between the United States and the Soviet Union. We hope of course for early ratification by both sides.

The question in everyone's mind is: what is the next step? Is there a real, practical possibility that the next logical, and even more important, negotiation can be brought to a successful conclusion? It is most encouraging to know that the two leaders are discussing this very point at the present time. There is also our own position in this. We were not party to the INF agreement, but in this second stage we should become more involved, for obvious reasons.

As regards the possibilities of success in the second stage, we were encouraged a few days ago by the words of the US Secretary of State, Mr. Shultz, when he said that it may be possible to agree and ratify a START treaty before the end of this administration. Ambassador Lohman took the same view, but said that SDI could be an obstacle. That attitude to SDI, including Britain's attitude, becomes of paramount importance.

In my estimation, the present position is confused for several reasons. It seems clear that in the United States the development of SDI involves a huge expenditure with uncertain technological results, as the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, has reminded us on several occasions. It is worth noting that the US Defense Department, in its report The Fiscal Year, 1987, reported that the US was ahead of the USSR in the great majority of areas of military capability and deficient in none. There is therefore no question of catching up with the United States. As has been said by a number of American experts such as Mr. McNamara, Mr. Keenan and Mr. McGeorge Bundy, an unchecked SDI programme could spur another arms race. Furthermore, Congress has put a brake on SDI expenditure and that provides a breathing space for talks. There has also been argument about the interpretation of the ABM treaty and what precisely is permissible within and without the laboratory, etc.

On 30th November Mr. Gorbachev made an interesting statement. It was as follows:

"in that degree SDI does not run counter to the ABM Treaty let it, let America act, let America indulge in research".

As we know, the Soviet Union wants a reaffirmation of the treaty for 10 years with no testing of SDI outside the laboratory. The US wants a seven-yearly affirmation, but wants testing in space. In my view, the gap is bridgeable and I hope that Her Majesty's Government will help to bridge it.

I should like to say something about Russia's stance on this subject. It has been making a great issue throughout the negotiations about the US strategic defence initiative. However, last week on American television Mr. Gorbachev admitted that Russia was working on an SDI of its own, although it had been holding that information hack. I have admiration and great hopes for Mr. Gorbachev, but

I must say that a little more glasnost on that subject over the past few months would have been appreciated. Reports on both strategic defence initiatives should have been on the table in Geneva.

We recognise that both leaders have their difficulties at home and their severe critics. I hope that the Government will sustain both of them, if they can, in an effort to make progress with START. I should say, in passing, that I am much more apprehensive of a possible successor to Mr. Gorbachev than I am of President Regan's successor in a year or so.

We are all interested in the talks which the Prime Minister had with Mr. Gorbachev on Monday. While we do not ask the noble Lord for great detail, perhaps he will tell us what is the general line of Her Majesty's Government on SDI at the present time, and what advice Mrs. Thatcher gave the Russian leader at Brize Norton. The reports say that the Prime Minister was seeking a compromise. I greatly hope that that was so, and if it is we warmly welcome her initiative. Will the noble Lord also confirm that the Government fully support a 50 per cent. reduction in strategic nuclear forces?

That brings me back to our own position and specifically to Trident. We believe that if a START treaty is agreed, the Government should make Trident a part of the negotiations further to reduce nuclear arsenals. The Prime Minister has said:

"Britain wants a long pause… once the START treaty is achieved".

She is reported as having said that to Mr. Carlucci here in London on 2nd December. However, the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary is on the record as saying that the Government would review their position on Trident if substantial—and I stress that word—reductions take place in the United States and Soviet strategic arsenals. He repeated that on Monday morning on the "Today" programme.

I should like to put a simple question to the Minister this afternoon. The 50 per cent. reduction in strategic nuclear forces, which the Prime Minister supports, must be regarded as substantial, and there can be no argument about that. Will this mean that Trident will be put into multilateral negotiations as the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary contemplated? I believe that to be an important question, and I hope that the Minister will give the House a clear reply.

The need for brevity prevents me from dealing as I would wish with other crucial issues such as chemical weapons, on which the Government have a good record, and conventional forces. Britain is in a difficult position because we all know, as those on the Government Benches will agree, that if we spend on Trident it must affect our ability to maintain our conventional forces at an appropriate level of efficiency. The MBFR talks in Vienna dragged on for 13 years without any significant success. There is now talk by Mr. Gorbachev of a new zone stretching from the Atlantic to the Urals. If that materialises, there will be new problems, with many more countries becoming involved.

Mrs. Thatcher is widely reported as having raised on Monday the question of conventional forces, among other things, with Mr. Gorbachev. Does the noble Lord agree that success with nuclear disarmament should be followed by a drive to achieve conventional disarmament? Will that be the process? Conventional forces are very expensive and Mr. Gorbachev may want to save money, although he will probably face resistance from his generals if he makes the effort. NATO will need a new policy and a new strategy in the event of success on the nuclear side. The political and military implications will be profound for the Western alliance.

That brings me to my last point; namely, East-West relations. I think that all of us—certainly the overwhelming majority—hope that the new treaty will create a new atmosphere in the world and a relaxation of tension. I heard the Soviet ambassador say on television that it could help to break through the psychological barrier.

It must be said again and again that disarmament is not enough. The causes of war must be identified and eradicated. For example, very few people believe that a war will break out in Europe. Sir Anthony Parsons argued that cogently in an article in The Times of yesterday. The possible flashpoints of war are elsewhere and it is upon these that we hope the President and Mr. Gorbachev will concentrate and are concentrating at the moment. We can also agree that the Middle East is the most dangerous of all areas where a conflict could be triggered off. I hope that Britain is prepared to support any initiative which may emerge, not excluding the possibility of some initiative through the Security Council.

I was interested to note that again Mr. Gorbachev has departed from the old Soviet line and is advocating action through the United Nations. It may appear to be a small and unimportant point; but I was interested to note that, since Mr. Gorbachev came into power, the Soviet Union is paying its budgetary dues to the United Nations and is also paying off its arrears. I think that those points should not be dismissed lightly.

I believe that Mr. Gorbachev deserves credit for this. We can all see that his task is not an easy one, but let none of us doubt for a second that he is the best hope to emerge from Russia for many a long year. As I said earlier, we are more likely to achieve peace from him than through any immediate possible successor. The Prime Minister, who has seen a good deal of Mr. Gorbachev, holds him in great respect. I noted that she described him on Monday as a "bold and courageous leader". Of course, as all of us know, there are problems which concern us deeply on all sides of the House: the problem of human rights; the problem of Soviet Jewry and the problem of Afghanistan. Our views are well known on all of these. The structure of Soviet government is deeply conservative, with a small "c"! Reforms are regarded there with unremitting suspicion by many people.

But at last there is hope: hope of real disarmament; hope of change and hope of friendly relations. I looked at the signature ceremony last night live on television and I found it deeply moving. Of course we must always be vigilant and practical in our approach, but we must also be ready to grasp the opportunities created by this new spirit of cooperation. That is the duty of all governments and of our own Government I hope they perform it. I beg to move for Papers.

3.22 p.m.

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos has secured today's debate in a historic week, and we are all grateful to him—not just for giving us another opportunity to review progress in arms control and disarmament and in East-West relations, but also for the balanced way in which he has introduced a most important subject. I was able, in answer to the Unstarred Question of the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, on 18th November to set out the Government's position on, and our hopes for, a START Treaty. We also discussed the possible relationship of such a Treaty to developments in the field of ballistic missile defence.

Given the number of speakers, to say nothing of their eminence and experience in this field, I hope your Lordships will understand if I do not cover the same ground in depth again today, but try to answer any particular points on it and of course on Trident when I come to wind up. Rather, I should like to concentrate on what I believe to be some of the neglected items on the arms control agenda, and set out our assessment of current developments and the prospects for the future.

But I must begin by referring to yesterday's momentous signature of the INF Treaty. This treaty, based on Nato's proposals for a zero option, is important not only in its own right, involving as it does the destruction of some 1,500 deployed Soviet, and 400 deployed United states warheads, but also as a triumph for hard work and NATO solidarity. The Government support the treaty just as strongly today as they have throughout the negotiations.

The INF Treaty demonstrates two things about arms control: first, that mutually beneficial disarmament agreements with the Soviet Union are possible. Secondly, and perhaps more significantly, it underlines that our prime concern must be for our security; that this sometimes means the willingness to take potentially unpopular decisions to deploy new nuclear weapons; and that only if we show that we are prepared for such decisions will the Soviet Union take us seriously as a negotiating partner.

Like the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, we unreservedly welcome the INF treaty. We, too, congratulate the President of the United States and Mr. Gorbachev upon it. We welcome also, as the noble Lord would expect, the prospect next year of a START treaty involving 50 per cent. reductions in United States and Soviet strategic nuclear systems. But NATO will continue to rely on nuclear weapons for deterrence for the foreseeable future. And that means that we cannot be in the business of sprinkling further zeros around like confetti.

Enough nuclear weapons have been removed from Europe for the time being. Whatever happens, we cannot risk the possibility that Europe might be made safe again for conventional war and we should not baulk at making adjustments to our deterrent consistent with the INF agreement to ensure that it remains credible and effective. NATO's longstanding policy of maintaining only the minimum number of nuclear weapons necessary for deterrence has already led to significant reductions in nuclear warheads in Western Europe. Even before the INF Treaty, NATO had reduced its stockpile by 2,400 since 1979. In any case, maintaining deterrence is not just a matter of more of the same. Existing systems can be made more effective if better deployed and less vulnerable.

The Soviet Union does not stint itself on developing new nuclear systems and improving old ones. It now admits this. We have not seen any unilateral reductions in its arsenal to match those made by NATO. Indeed, one thing we have learned from the data exchange which the Soviet Union has been obliged to undertake under the INF Treaty is that our figures for Soviet nuclear missiles in Europe—on occasion disputed by some members of the Benches opposite—have certainly not been exaggerated.

As the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, has hinted the agreement on the removal of INF missiles from Europe has focused the spotlight on the disparities between NATO and Warsaw Pact conventional forces—disparities that must be eliminated if lasting stability is to be achieved. So much has been written about the dangers of nuclear war that one could perhaps be forgiven for thinking that conventional war has become almost acceptable by comparison. But Britain, and Europe as a whole, has suffered more from conventional war this century than any other continent. The present concentration of NATO and Warsaw Pact conventional forces is the largest ever known in Europe in peacetime. It comprises the greatest destructive conventional potential ever assembled.

I do not suggest that we are on the brink of a conventional conflagration in Europe nor that the Warsaw Pact has any desire for war. But the conventional imbalances in Europe that so favour the East are enough to leave the situation unstable. They can only cast doubt on the peaceful protestations of the Warsaw Pact.

We are participating in the informal discussions in Vienna with a view to strengthening stability and security in Europe at a lower level of armed forces than exists at present. The aim is to agree on a mandate for conventional stability negotiations covering the whole of Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals. No amount of agreement on nuclear weapons can disguise the need to balance conventional forces.

It is with these considerations in mind that the Government, together with our partners in the North Atlantic Alliance, are working to ensure that the new negotiations are launched with the minimum of delay. Considerable divergences still remain, but some common ground has already emerged, and I am encouraged to think that both sides may be able to agree the terms of reference to allow negotations proper to begin in the course of next year.

Much work remains to be done. We shall clearly not solve overnight problems that have been with us for many decades. But we remain cautiously optimistic about the prospects for progress. We shall do everything possible to ensure that that optimism is justified.

We all welcome the encouraging progress that has been made in the chemical weapons negotiations, which is a matter to which I may return later, and in any review of progress on arms control we must also include activities in the UN. We hope that the third session will build on the improved international atmosphere after the INF agreement, and the United Kingdom can be relied on to play its full part.

The negotiation of arms control agreements is undoubtedly important to all in East and West alike. But the arms race is the result, not the cause, of East-West tensions. What are the underlying causes? In part the answer lies in the fact that the history both of Imperial Russia and of the Soviet Union has generated among its leaders—rightly or wrongly—a fear and suspicion of the outside world. The Soviet Union has built up its armed forces to such a degree that, whatever Soviet intentions, they are inevitably seen by the rest of the world as threatening. Despite recent welcome improvements, the Soviet people still do not enjoy even the basic human rights of freedom of expression and of movement. The Soviet Union's commitments under the Helsinki Final Act remain far from being fulfilled.

Mr. Gorbachev has recognised these problems, and he is trying to do something about them. His aim of course is to strengthen the Soviet Union and socialism. In doing so, he may succeed in making the Soviet Union a more co-operative and perhaps less dangerous state. He realises that military might alone will not indefinitely sustain the Soviet Union as a super power. He realises that the Soviet Union must put its own house in order. It must be more cooperative internationally and more tolerant of diversity among its allies.

Some of the Soviet Union's allies recognised long ago that a centralised economy and represssive government brought neither economic progress nor a decent quality of life for their peoples. We applaud their efforts to reform, as we do Mr. Gorbachev's policies of glasnost and perestroika, which are two words that have become fixtures in the English vocabulary. But there is still a long way to go. Fundamental differences remain between East and West. We cannot ignore them.

Her Majesty's Government have consistently sought better relations with the Soviet Union, combining firm defence of our interests with a search for dialogue. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister's historic visit to Moscow in March this year marked a turning point, not only in UK-Soviet relations but also in East-West relations. It is a mark of Mr. Gorbachev's esteem for my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, and of the Soviet estimation of the United Kingdom's major role in East-West relations, that he chose to visit Britain on Monday.

They discussed two broad themes: first, further reductions in armaments and forces on the basis of balance and mutual confidence; and, secondly, Mr. Gorbachev's policy for restructuring Soviet society. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister raised the subject of human rights, welcoming what has been done so far and asking Mr. Gorbachev to step up his efforts. She also mentioned Afghanistan, expressing the hope that there would be a Soviet withdrawal in 1988. Both those areas are important if lasting confidence is to be created between East and West. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister also hoped that action would be taken to increase Anglo-Soviet trade, and repeated her invitation to Mr. Gorbachev to return for a longer visit. My right honourable and learned friend the Foreign Secretary had similarly useful and interesting talks with Mr. Shevardnadze. Both meetings illustrated the much improved relations between Britain and the Soviet Union—relations based on mutual respect and frank speaking.

I have already overshot my time and I shall endeavour to cut down a little on what I have to say when I wind up. Following the Washington Summit, the East-West agenda will not grow lighter. One agreement has been signed, but the alliance has three more in its sights, all of them more far-reaching than the INF Treaty. Nor will arms control bear all the weight of the relationship. We shall continue to press the Soviet Union to improve its human rights performance. We shall continue to impress upon it the need to solve regional problems—in Afghanistan, the Gulf, Angola and Cambodia. In pursuit of that agenda, the Government will play a leading role in the alliance and the sort of role which persuaded Mr. Gorbachev, before his meeting with President Reagan, of the value of visiting Britain to hear our views.

3.34 p.m.

My Lords, on East-West relations the two noble Lords who have spoken seem to me to have trodden a judicious path between the extremes of wishful thinking, on the one hand, and undue scepticism, on the other. No one supposes that glasnost and perestroika are slowly transforming the Soviet Union into a liberal democracy nor that Soviet thinking is yet free from the myths of Marxism. The Russians are still waging war in Afghanistan and propping up noxious dictatorships in Ethiopia and Angola, and they are still denying to their own people human rights of a most basic kind.

Yet when one reads the emotional statements made by American opponents of the INF Treaty, one is made aware of the danger lurking in the opposite direction; namely the danger of gratuitously worsening East-West relations and of losing great opportunities through excessive suspicion and scepticism. Such critics seem to me to lack historical perspective. Certainly we agree—the noble Lord who has just spoken said so—that the reforms of Mr. Gorbachev may not be permanent. There is evidence that he is still in front of his troops at the present time, but of course the changes for the better that have taken place in the Soviet Union did not start with him. They began far earlier. In my view, they are fundamental.

Today one can read with disgust about dissidents who demonstrate in Red Square and are roughed up. However, I recall my first visit to the Soviet Union in the days of Stalin when there were millions of people—not dissidents but ordinary folk—who were falsely denounced by others or who perhaps just happened to be Baptists, Jews or Latvians. There were millions of people herded into huge slave labour camps or shot out of hand. At that time Soviet communism was united, dynamic and expanding and it presented a real and imminent threat to the West. In those days that indeed was an evil empire. However, the menace reached its peak in the late 1940s. It began to decline with the defeat of the Berlin blockade, the formation of NATO, the death of Stalin and the defection of China. By Brezhnev's time major changes and improvements had taken place in the Soviet Union in its conduct of internal and international affairs.

Although it is not hard to imagine Mr. Gorbachev's reforms failing, it is extremely difficult to consider putting back the clock. Surely it would be wrong for any of us now to base our attitude to disarmament or East-West relations on the belief, which is still current in the bible belt, that we are still dealing with the evil empire of Stalin's time. Instead, without assuming the permanence of Mr. Gorbachev's reforms, our attitude surely should be to acknowledge and profit from them and to respond to them in a way that will encourage their continuance. I believe that to be the basic attitude of Her Majesty's Government, and if they continue on that course they will have the support of my noble friends and myself.

It is a credit to the Government that Mr. Gorbachev chose to meet the Prime Minister before the super power talks took place. It is welcome not only because it enhances British-Soviet relations and the international standing of this country but also because once again there has been far too little European input into the super power negotiations. It is true that the European countries have been kept informed, but they have not been consulted sufficiently. Of course the SS.20s, cruise and Pershing are the possessions of the super powers, but their deployment in Europe is a matter primarily for the people of Europe. It is something to be decided first of all by European governments and their peoples.

The fact is that, despite limited improvements, the European members of NATO are still failing to get their act together. That is true not only in the NATO area but outside it. There are disturbing resemblances between the European performance in the Gulf today and in Lebanon yesterday. Once again the Americans have taken an initiative unilaterally and of doubtful wisdom. One by one the countries of Europe have been drawn in to play different roles, which are sometimes of doubtful effectiveness. It has never been more important than it is today to strengthen the European pillar and to create a better balance in decision-making between Europe and the United States.

It is true, as the noble Lord who introduced this Motion reminded us, that only a small proportion of nuclear weapons will he removed by the INF Treaty. What is more, the treaty does not save the great powers any money. Apparently it is more expensive to dispose of those weapons than to maintain them. Moreover, the treaty can be nullified by what is called, by a euphemism, compensation or modernisation, which means the replacement of the weapons which it has been agreed to remove by similar weapons with similar power.

Here I think the country should be warned. When the Government set out to "modernise" Polaris, they multiply by eight the number of Britain's independently targeted nuclear warheads. And when the Government say that they are going to modernise—the Prime Minister has said this—following the INF Treaty, I am afraid that by "modernisation" they mean escalation, which is something that we need to be worried about. All this shows the need for the disarmament process to be a continuing one, and my noble friends and I feel this strongly.

On the strategic nuclear arms treaty, Mr. Gorbachev has helpfully excluded the British deterrent from the negotiations, but it is hard to see how, if the treaty is concluded, this problem will be avoided. Will the super powers be content indefinitely to see the British Government multiplying their warheads by eight, while they lessen theirs by half? I do not think so. And as in this field we are wholly dependent on the United States, I think that if the United States wants us to reduce, reduce we will have to. As the critics of the Trident project said from the beginning, Trident is too big for Britain and is too dependent on the United States. And it is easy to foresee in due course that the number of warheads to be deployed by the British Trident fleet will become the subject of fierce national and international debate. As the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, said, if we can get this strategic weapons agreement all our minds will be concentrated on the possibilities of conventional disarmament.

I have time only to draw the Government's attention, if I may, to the report in this field of the Institute for International Security, called Common Security for Europe, which lists a number of original and constructive suggestions which I hope the Minister will assure me are being studied in the proper quarters in the Government. Meantime, we are faced with a promising and far-reaching prospect of large-scale disarmament, and on these Benches we hope that Mr. Gorbachev and Mr. Reagan will overcome the conservative opposition in the Kremlin and in the bible belt, will sign a strategic arms treaty next year and will then, with the participation of European governments, move towards major reductions in conventional forces. To the extent that they and the Government pursue this course with vigour, they will have the whole-hearted support of my noble friends and myself.

3.43 p.m.

My Lords, permit me first to express my thanks for the kindness and the courtesy shown to me by noble Lords on all sides of the House since I entered your Lordships' House. I ask that it be extended to me again for a short time this afternoon. I rise, of course, to add my very warm congratulations to those who have negotiated this treaty and to call attention to some of the possible consequences. As a welcome historical footnote, perhaps I may point out that the terms of the treaty go further than was envisaged when we met at Guadeloupe nearly nine years ago. Our objective then was to secure the withdrawal of the Soviet SS.20 missiles from Europe. Now, under this agreement, they are not only to he withdrawn but destroyed. That is a cause for additional congratulations.

The destruction of a few per cent. of the world's nuclear arsenal may not seem much; no more than a single ice-flow that has broken loose from the main pack; small compared with the total mass but significant because it shows that the ice is breaking up and is on the move. This, therefore, is a moment to stand back and re-examine our interests as an alliance especially in relation to Europe.

What are the elements? It cannot be harmful to us that Mr. Gorbachev and his colleagues have decided that domestic reconstruction and the building of a more efficient economy must take priority in the next years to an escalation in the arms race. And he will have to overcome, as has been said, substantial opposition from entrenched bureaucracies that will absorb much of his energies and time while he solves his domestic problems.

On the other side of the Atlantic, President Reagan's enthusiasm for arms control has been whetted by his present success. Both he and general-secretary Gorbachev are in a hurry for more. Thirdly, all of us, wherever we are, are faced with the heavy burden that our defence budgets impose on our economies. During the last few days, the United States Defense Secretary has imposed a 10 per cent. cut in America's proposed defence budget for 1989, and he will not be alone. Small wonder that the two leaders and their staffs are ready to begin immediate negotiations on how to cut by 50 per cent. the grossly excessive strategic arms possessed by each side. They do so with our encouragement and with our hopes for their success. But even a 50 per cent. cut will still leave an excess of strategic weapons—far more than are needed to act as a deterrent which is nowadays the only useful purpose that nuclear arms can serve. However, it would be of great value to achieve such a settlement despite the difficulties to be found on the way. Following upon the INF, it would create an additional sense of confidence and a lifting of fear around the world.

Other proposals are afoot, as has been mentioned, for we are all disarmers now. I suggest that in this fluid and fast-moving situation, NATO, together with France, should re-assess the position in Europe. Our objectives in Europe do not change. We need a defensive system sufficient to deter war—both nuclear and conventional—and we need the resources to ensure the credibility of our defences in the eyes of an aggressor. Looking back, I think we can criticise ourselves in Western Europe over recent years for being too reactive and rather negative on these defence matters. Nor have the major European nations been ready on certain occasions to speak with a united voice even when their interests have clearly been joint.

We know how difficulties arise. For example, President Mitterrand repeated to me just two days ago that France could not rejoin the NATO integrated military command—a policy that is not unique to him or to his party but is common to all parties in France. Nevertheless, I should like to say that I find a disposition in that country and a need for greater co-operation with its allies in the alliance. Here, surely, we could jointly make a fresh attack on the levels of conventional forces in Europe. The faster we reduce our reliance on nuclear weapons—even as a deterrent—the more disadvantageous becomes a disparity between the Warsaw Pact conventional forces and our own.

Such a disparity exists in favour of the Warsaw Pact at present, although in my judgment it is not so large as to lead to a basic instability. But it is on this that it will be in the interests of the European members of the alliance to focus their attention in the next round of disarmament discussions that is about to take place. The Soviets may indeed by ready for conventional reductions. If the estimate is correct, their forces have not been fully modernised and so, to be somewhat cynical, cuts might not erode essential Soviet strength. But the same may be true of one or two members of the alliance. And we should take note of General Jaruzelski's proposal of a deal involving cuts in Warsaw Pact tanks in exchange for cuts in NATO bombers.

I hazard the view that a reduction in conventional forces in the East would tell us more about how much the peace initiative really means changes in Soviet defence policy than will a 50 per cent. cut at the strategic nuclear level, and that is where I believe we should focus our attention. While President Reagan's priority is to achieve this with the support of all of us, Europe's prime interest is rather different. It lies in reviving actively negotiations in the stalemated arms reduction talks about men and conventional weapons.

I returned from my recent visit to France with the strong impression that Her Majesty's Government should take seriously the recent French/German agreement to establish a combined French/German division and a joint defence and security council. That may well prove to be a harbinger of more significant joint defence arrangements between the two countries. Nor may they be alone. In due course we may find that the military strength of Spain will be added and so a three fold enterprise could be launched. Clearly, with 67,000 British servicemen on the mainland of Europe, we have a prime interest in such an integration. I hope that our Government will respond favourably to any proposal that might be put forward for joint examination or indeed initiate such studies themselves.

The reality is that lack of adequate resources will prevent the development of future weapons in a national framework. There must be co-operation in joint research, development, production and cost sharing. I trust that the Prime Minister will banish any lingering doubts from her mind that intimate co-operation in certain fields with the countries of Europe might endanger Britain's relationship with the United States.

I speak, as is well known, as a strong advocate of the alliance and as a friend of the United States ever since I entered politics. I have no doubt that if Europe displays energy in constructing a truly European pillar of the alliance the results can only be beneficial, provided of course that we are an essential part of such arrangements.

Finally, on the West's relations with the Soviet Union, I should say that no one who meets Soviet officials can have much doubt about the change that has taken place since the advent of Mr. Gorbachev. It is as though a submerged torrent has at last burst through the ground, and the openness, the frankness, the undogmatic nature of dialogue is something that is unprecedented and very welcome. Even in the former days of détente it was not like that.

We know, for they tell us that opponents of restructuring and of openness—perestroika and glasnost —still exist while the Soviet bureaucracy is always there to defend its privileges. So even as we welcome the changes, the Soviets will understand if there still remains an element of doubt. It is not easy to manage relations with a highly centralised state whose practice is different, whose ideology is opposed and whose relationship with its citizens is at variance with ours. We can only hope that the present phase will continue indefinitely. But whether relations are good or are bad, the West needs above all a steady, consistent attitude. There has been too much swinging from one extreme to the other in recent years. We must be firm in our own interests. We must recognise their legitimate interests and accommodate them wherever possible.

In short, let us compete where we must and co-operate where we can. It seems that as the 21st century looms the problems that both sides confront and are increasingly recognising may resemble each other much more than we are now prepared to acknowledge. I hope that this week's historic agreement may be the forerunner of a long period of broader co-operation and of greater understanding.

3.45 p.m.

My Lords, to be sandwiched between two distinguished maiden speakers is a rare experience and I count it a great privilege to be the first to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Callaghan of Cardiff, on a speech to which many of us have been looking forward ever since he joined us in this House. He brings us his rich experience of four of the great offices of state, not to speak of his former responsibility for the appointment of some Members on these Benches. We thank him for his perceptive and informative speech and we hope that we shall hear him regularly in our House.

We are all very conscious today that this is a most timely debate in what could well be a historic week. Indeed, one of my younger friends told me that it could turn out to be the most significant week in his lifetime. I greatly welcome the positive wording of the Motion before the House and I am grateful for the constructive and forward looking approach in so much of what previous speakers have already said.

I presume to speak from these Benches because I know that it is not only Christians who for a very long time have been praying faithfully and constantly for what the Motion calls,
"progress… in disarmament negotiations and the improvement in East-West relations".
Some of us are bold enough to believe that what is happening today is in some measure an answer to many prayers. Therefore, we know that we cannot respond, like some leader writers, in a curmudgeonly or grudging manner.

We have realistic hopes based on innumerable small instances of improvements in East-West relations during the past year. Some of your Lordships will have read in The Times last Saturday the moving account of Sir Yehudi Menuhin's first visit to the Soviet Union since 1971. He wrote:
"I could perceive the very real progress psychologically and humanely that has already evolved in these few years. It was acceptable to criticise amicably each other's attitudes to the vast problems, to parry and thrust with humour and generosity the pros and cons of each other's impressions of what best constitutes the type of government for different countries".
There is, he continued:
"a greater openness both in communication and conversation, an honesty together with a certain humorous admission of past mistakes, all revealing an ending of that secretive tension that pervaded all exchanges in the past".
Last June my colleague John Arnold, the Dean of Rochester, preached in German unhindered and uncensored to 30,000 East German Christians in a football stadium in East Berlin. The address was carried live on television in both East and West Germany. As the vice-chairman of the Conference of European Churches he would, I know, want to echo Sir Yehudi's words:
"It was, perhaps, the extraordinary intensity of their response to music that led me through this path of analysis to recognise the courage and vision of a Gorbachev and consequently of his need from the West of intelligent help and compassion".
Such help and compassion, if it is to improve East-West relations still further, will need to be accompanied by thoughtful and courageous vigilance.

Ingrained hostility and attitudes, procedures and administrative devices that have been developed over decades will not disappear overnight. We therefore need to be vigilant that the thought forms and modes of expression of 1957 are not thoughtlessly reproduced in the different world of 1987 and that serious attempts are made to improve the links between the super powers and to provide improved crisis management, as it is called, so that misinformation and misjudgment do not lead to confrontation.

We also need to be vigilant with regard to human and civil rights in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, where by Western European standards the situation is still intolerable, as the Minister reminded us in his own speech. The Metropolitan Alexy of Leningrad, who is the chairman of the Conference of European Churches, has recently come out very bravely in the pages of a Soviet newspaper demanding a revision of the laws on religion. A proper legal basis for Christian citizenship would certainly be a splendid 1,000th birthday present to the Russian Orthodox Church when it celebrates its millennium next June.

We all welcome the three key factors of the historic document signed yesterday. There is an agreement to reduce the number of weapons; a whole category of weapons can be taken away; and agreed procedures for verification are possible. The present climate is obviously good and it needs to be taken advantage of at the beginning of what surely must be a very long process. We must all hope that the United Nations negotiations for a chemical weapons convention will be signed at an early date and that the endeavours of our own Government to eliminate that terrible form of warfare will now meet with early success.

We must look for further improvement in East-West relations and to the third world becoming more self-sufficient as a result of having to spend less on armaments. Only so will more of the world's resources be available to be shared in a creative way, by trade as well as by aid, and a higher standard of living achieved for underdeveloped and impoverished nations.

On such an occasion as this, I do not imagine that I am the only one who recalls the deeply moving speeches made by the late Lord Noel-Baker during the few short years that he sat on the Privy Counsellor's Bench opposite. He was too blind to see his notes and he had to rehearse his speeches in his bathroom. However, he had the supreme gift of being able to draw on memories going back to the beginning of the century, and he spoke with a passion which has not often been exceeded in your Lordships' House. In his nineties, he once said:
"I feel sick with apprehension when I think of the dangers that lie ahead for the year 2000, but I feel still more sick with remorse when I remember the opportunities of the past that we have lost".
I believe that he would have taken heart from the events of this week. But he would have been as insistent as ever that we must buy up the opportunity given to us.

It is fashionable to chide Church leaders for neglecting the proclamation of the Gospel for involvement in public affairs. The Praesidium of the Conference of European Churches was careful to avoid that charge in the Advent message of hope which they sent yesterday to President Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev. That message said:
"We are witnessing the birth of a great hope for peace and understanding among the nations…We hope that the dynamic of disarmament will develop further and that the resources thus reduced will be made available for the life and development of all peoples".
The message concluded by asking the Churches and Christians of Europe,
"to continue to pray for peace and justice and for the safe-;keeping of God's good creation".

4.5 p.m

My Lords, I wish to express my gratefulness for the courtesy which has been shown to me since my introduction, and to ask for it to be extended in a way traditionally accorded to maiden speakers.

This debate is being held in an atmosphere of international optimism which, however grateful we are for it and however hopeful we are because of it, will prove unjustified unless our actions are firmly based on reality and on the facts as they exist. The Agreement signed yesterday is to be welcomed from every point of view. I hope that it will be ratified quickly.

That agreement was only achieved by the steadfast resolve of NATO in deploying cruise and Pershing missiles, however many demonstrations were staged against them. The force of the arguments behind the 1979 decision was overwhelming and it proved right.

There is further good news in the prospect of the possible large reduction in strategic nuclear weapons by each super-power. If it happens, again it is to be welcomed, although one ought to add that it will not make much difference to the military balance.

Beyond that, we must hope that there will be an agreement soon on space research. It has always seemed to me quite wrong that that massive task should be undertaken by the superpowers in antagonistic competition rather than in co-operation. Those agreements, if there are more than one, must be seen in their proper perspective. Important and welcome though they are, they are only one step in the disarmament process, and they are perhaps the easiest step to take. The next steps are likely to prove much more difficult, to demand much more in the way of sacrifices from us than deployment of the INF, and test our resolve much harder.

The main danger posed by the INF agreement and the summit meetings is to create excessive expectations in the minds of western public opinion. Those will be expectations of a more peaceful world, of lower expenditure on armaments and a more relaxed attitude towards security. Those are expectations that we all want to see realised. They are indeed our purpose. But the question is: are those expectations justified today? My answer is: definitely not yet—not in the present circumstances. Much more must be achieved before those expectations and hopes can be fulfilled.

One promising sign of progress towards such an achievement is the constructive dialogue that is developing between East and West. I have always believed that such a dialogue was an indispensible prerequisite for such an agreement and the only context in which an agreement could be reached. However, we must not mistake the context for the substance. Today the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact remain in a position of dominant strength in Europe. The development, procurement and production of all categories of weapons continues unabated, and the balance of military strength continues to move against NATO. That is a fact which too many people do not want to believe.

My immediate concern is the Soviet strategy of denuclearising Europe. That strategy was made plain yesterday by Mr. Gorbachev and has been made plain on other occasions. It is a strategy which only became practical for the Soviet Union when it had achieved nuclear parity. Unless that parity is matched by parity in conventional forces, denuclearisation will neutralise our deterrent. That cannot be allowed.

Therefore, a further agreement to reduce nuclear weapons is dependent on an agreement to eliminate chemical weapons and equalise conventional forces. That would mean a large reduction on the Warsaw Pact side. I believe that we shall be put to a severe test because of the momentum of political expectations.

The zero-zero solution has been successful and popular. Having said yes once and then twice to the concept of eliminating a number of nuclear weapons, can we be robust and tough enough to say no to future proposals which will certainly be made unless and until we have our balancing agreement on conventional weapons? Can we carry the public with us on that? That is the question. This Government certainly can and will do it. But, my Lords, what about other governments?

That complex situation, rich in opportunity but also rich in danger, faces the alliance with many challenges. The first and basic challenge is to maintain an effective deterrent at all times and in all circumstances, and to provide a defence capability that is wholly commensurate with the perceived threat at any one time. We must do that until the time arrives—if it ever does—when it is genuinely no longer necessary.

After the INF agreement, our deterrent will cost us more because conventional defence is more expensive than nuclear defence. As the nuclear element declines so will the conventional element increase until we secure that agreement on chemical and conventional weapons. We shall only negotiate that agreement if the alliance is strong enough to do so. The robustness of this Government in general and our Prime Minister in particular is of crucial importance in that matter.

Secondly, we must ensure that our electorates understand the realities. We must continue to earn their support. Mr. Gorbachev has been extra-ordinarily successful in selling himself as a good-natured man of peace. He may prove to be that. But for all the euphoria of yesterday there is as yet no evidence of a real change in Soviet foreign policy objectives; no evidence of Marxist-Leninist-objectives having been renounced. Whatever we may hope for it has not happened yet. Too many people seem all too ready to accept Mr. Gorbachev at his face value and to criticise their own leaders without any justification. The enemy is complacency and taking peace for granted. We lower our guard at our peril. Again, the strong lead given to our people by this Conservative Government in contrast to some other parties, is of crucial importance.

Thirdly, arms control policy must not be out in front of security policy. It must be the other way round. Security policy must come first and above all else and then arms control policy may follow behind in support of it. Arms control has a deep appeal to everyone: of course it has. But the needs of security must never be neglected. The challenge the alliance has to face is to uphold a sound security policy and to retain public support for it everywhere. That is the only way to maintain solidarity, which is the most crucial element of deterrence. It is only in those circumstances that our leaders will be able to pursue a policy for arms control with any chance of success.

The fourth challenge is the increase in the strains within the alliance. In Europe, the trans-Atlantic strains tend to be called anti-Americanism, and we cannot afford that. On the other side of the Atlantic there is the counterpart, and we cannot afford that either. We shall only defend our freedom if we all stand together. The Soviet Union knows that, which is why it continues to try to divide us. But we shall not be divided even though the strains are likely to increase. In the years ahead we shall do well to refrain from mutual criticism and instead see that the contribution of our own country to the alliance is all that it ought to be.

The final challenge is the need for much greater rationalisation and standardisation in Europe. It is happening but too slowly. We are going to need more defence but we do not want to spend any more money. So a balance has to be struck, and the way to do it is through closer integration, which would give us more defence for the same money and better value for money. I have campaigned for this ever since the summer of 1979 and my successors have continued it, but the urgency becomes greater all the time.

These are the major challenges we face. All of them provide their own opportunities. If, and only if, we respond to them wholeheartedly we shall continue to preserve the peace.

4.13 p.m

My Lords, on behalf of the whole House I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Pym, on his maiden speech. He brings to this House exceptional experience, especially in foreign and defence affairs. We have high hopes of the contributions that he will make, and his speech today, so characteristically moderate and realistic, assures us that we shall not be disappointed.

The presence of the noble Lord and the other most distinguished maiden speakers today, will, I hope, ensure that foreign and defence affairs are more frequently debated in this House.

In the debate on the Address on June 29th I quoted a distinguished journalist who had written that in world affairs we might be standing on the threshold of a period of change and movement unlike anything in the past 40 years. I thoroughly agreed with that and I explained why. Events since June have, I believe, confirmed what was then said.

One of the factors, among others, heralding this change and movement is the policy of Mr. Gorbachev, culminating in the remarkable events of this week. It will be difficult to sound even a mildly discordant note in the present euphoric mood and somewhat extravagant rhetoric. However, there is no denying that there has been a real and significant step forward and this is a matter for real rejoicing.

I wish to make two points. First, while sincerely wishing Mr. Gorbachev every success in his policy of glasnost and perestroika, he has been notably more successful in its application internationally than in its domestic application. The hand of friendship is being more enthusiastically extended from West to East than from East to West. We would therefore be prudent to proceed with caution until we see more powerful signs of its acceptance in all its aspects by the majority of the Soviet people, including the more reactionary sectors hitherto so predictable.

The second point I wish to make is about disarmament. This has always been a complex subject even in pre-war days. Now it is immeasurably more so. The number of people who fully understand it in a world of nuclear weapons is very small indeed. The number who understand what the future could hold is smaller still. I am certainly not among them.

It will be very easy for ordinary folk to be confused and misled about disarmament proposals persuasively put forward in an excited atmosphere of detente and designed to achieve a rapid and careless stripping of nuclear arms. We should again adopt an attitude of caution. I hope that the Government and their experts will be painstaking and frank in their policy explanations to the general public.

Lastly, I was going to say something about the role of Europe but the noble Lord, Lord Callaghan, has said it all with much greater eloquence and authority than I can manage. Indeed the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, pursued the same line. We must get, as the phrase goes, "our act together" in Europe in defence and in political and economic areas. This is a matter of the greatest urgency before the Government.

The report from Copenhagen was not entirely unsatisfactory, but there is an immense amount of work to do. The ways in which it can usefully be done have been well set out by the speakers who have preceded me.

4.18 p.m

My Lords, the House will be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, for indicating the response which is required in the light of the events of the past two or three days. I am glad that he set the pattern in indicating that that response must be a co-operative effort in order to secure the fruits of what is obviously a new summer. It is a fruitful time if we know how to use the changes which have now taken place.

I add my words of congratulation to the two noble Lords who have made their maiden speeches. It is a long time since the noble Lord, Lord Callaghan, and I were together on Tower Hill, from where I have just come today. I remember those days with considerable affection and memory. There is also the experience which I was privileged to have in taking part in a debate in Great St. Mary's Cambridge, with the other noble Lord who has made his maiden speech today.

I wish to introduce some effort in the nature of a response to the chain situation that happened within the religious framework which until comparatively recently has been negative, if not hostile, in attitude towards the Church by the Russian regime and indeed in many respects by religious institutions elsewhere.

I remember that, when I went to Moscow with a number of friends of mine who were anxious to persuade the Patriarch—this was some 20 years ago—to send a delegate to the Evanston Conference of the World Council of Churches, we were more or less successful. I carried away with me certain impressions and memories that have now passed into the oblivion of changed experiences and circumstances. I remember, for instance, that the Patriarch and his colleagues sat under the chairmanship of the atheistic commissar for religious matters. That has of course completely disappeared. I remember that in the Zagorsk seminary the portrait of Lenin was considerably larger than all the icons in the other part of their sanctuary. Furthermore, the strong impression was given by the Church that the Russian regime was more or less an expression in its turn of the doctrine of Christian perfection. That has changed, and in no sense has it changed more radically than in the emergence of the magazine that I now hold. I suggest that your Lordships probably have not come across this publication. It is in English. It is the journal of the Moscow Patriarchate. It represents the official attitude of the Government of the USSR to a commission laid upon the Church to be in the vanguard, indeed, to be the head of the peace movement.

Whereas we recognise with gratitude the work for peace of the World Council of Churches, we ought to know something about the World Conference of Religion and Peace if for no other reason than that over the years there has been a vast increase in the criticism levelled by a renewed Patriachate and, indeed, in particular the Metropolitan Vilayet of Minsk—criticism that has been quite open. It is to be found in the pages of this book about which I shall not speak tediously to your Lordships now.

There has been a radical change. Despite what Keston and Keston College have to say, I believe it is vitally important, if we are to consider what are the possibilities of better relationships, that we look upon the litmus paper of religious matters as in many respects an indication of what is more likely to happen and what should give us a measure of considerable hope.

To turn to the emergence of this new situation in greater detail, I shall not weary your Lordships with a repetition of what I have said repeatedly about my own conviction that pacifism is inevitable for those who would seek to follow in the steps of Jesus Christ. It seems to me that to regard the present situation as an activity is to mistake what is in fact happening. We have now been presented with a gateway into the factory of peace.

If we go through that gateway immense possibilities lie before us. We may imagine that this is in itself a constructive programme, but in my mind there are certain inhibitions, not the least of which has been adverted to already. It is that there is now created an imbalance in many other elements that go to make up this complex of arms difficulty and that, unless we proceed upon this programme of disarmament, it will do no more than add to the difficulties, particuarly if we are still committed to the proposition, which I understand President Reagan has not rebutted or repudiated, of this evil empire. Of course I am at one with all those who are aware of the evils that belong to this Communist system. It is an abomination, and I have no use for its treatment of the many dissidents. At the same I believe that we are seeing a new preparedness in all kinds of people in this tortured country—for so it is still—in the aftermath of the 25 million people killed in the great patriotic war. What is even more difficult to recognise from our standpoint, I suppose, is the increased economic troubles that now afflict that vast empire, not only because of the inherent difficulties and problems of the Communist regime in itself, of which of course I do not approve, but because of the economic burden of the ever-increasing race in armaments production.

I therefore make two propositions. First, the occasions upon which it is possible to do things that otherwise would be dangerous and probably non-productive are not necessarily those that can be calculated in intellectual or even moral terms. I believe that there is now an opportunity for a unilateralism which can be successfully—as hitherto it probably had no chance of success—poised on the very point that, in the last week or so, a new dimension of public reaction has emerged. It is in my judgment unprecedented that there is now a preparedness to think that a new beginning in goodwill would receive a much more promising result and reaction. I am well aware that the present situation is comprised of many elements—there is particularly the Soviet repudiation of its obligations to dissidents—but to believe that we have no opportunity now of making a corporate response to that which has already taken place in the new dimension of amiability created by Gorbachev seems to me to be a failure to recognise both the problem and the opportunity.

Finally, we have so long taken the risks and the deterrents, so-called, that belong to the assumption that we are good and the other people are bad and that only by their conversion can we hope for peace, that I believe, particularly in the light of what has just been happening in Haiti, that it would be dangerous to assume that the good is all on our side and the Americans are the proponents of justice whereas the Russians are the proponents of evil.

There is a sense in which this is a non-intellectual but, I believe, a moral problem. I shall quote from something that comes from another context, the context of one of the prayers that we often utter in Church:
"This is the day which the Lord hath made. Let us rejoice and be glad of it".
If we are prepared to take the appropriate risks, I believe that that is the opportunity that confronts us.

4.29 p.m

My Lords, I am most grateful for the kindness shown to me and the welcome given to me since my introduction to the House last month. I am greatly comforted in this my maiden speech by the knowledge of your Lordships' traditional indulgence and courtesy on these occasions.

When I listened with admiration to the opening speech by the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, I remembered that 36 years have passed since he and I made our maiden speeches in the other place. It was shortly after he—spectacularly—and I—surprisingly—had won neighbouring seats in North Wales. I suspect that each of us at that time felt that he knew all the answers to the main problems of the day. I am sure that the following 36 years have increasingly impressed on us both the million complications of all major political issues, particularly in international affairs.

Nowhere are complexities and difficulties more encountered than in the field of arms control and disarmament. In the early 1960s, part of my responsibilities as Minister of State at the Foreign Office was to represent Britain at the 17-nation disarmament conference in Geneva. Its stated objective was "general and complete disarmament". Over the years that the conference had been in existence, there had been countless hours of negotiation, hundreds of speeches by delegates, but little, if any, progress on the stated objective. The real value of the conference was that it was then the only forum in which there was a continuing dialogue between the United States and the Soviet Union, and that obviously was of importance.

The partial test ban treaty in 1963 and the nuclear non-proliferation treaty in 1968 were significant achievements in East-West relations, but had no real impact on the nuclear arsenals of the superpowers, and Salt I and Salt II, which followed later, were designed only to try to slow down the rate of growth.

The INF treaty signed yesterday is therefore precisely as it has been described over and over again—a historic treaty. As the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, said, it is the first treaty which destroys nuclear missiles. It is the first treaty which eliminates an entire category of weapons. It is a treaty with unprecedented verification provisions, in particular those for on-site inspection. NATO Defence Ministers have unanimously supported it. It deserves our wholehearted backing. It would be an unthinkable tragedy if the United States Senate failed to ratify it. Failure to do so would seriously affect US-European relations.

One must not regard the treaty as a United States treaty. As Mr. Shultz has said:
"It is an Alliance Treaty and a tribute to NATO's steadfastness and cohesion".
As my noble friend Lord Pym said, the treaty demonstrates how right was the decision in 1979 to deploy cruise and Pershing missiles, and how right it was to stand firm against the organised protests against: deployment. The alliance firmness in facing the challenge of the SS20s forced Moscow to come to the negotiating table, and by this treaty that firmness has been fully vindicated.

Over the past three years, as a member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee of the other place, I have had the privilege of taking part in meetings and discussions in Moscow and London with many of the new leading personalities in the Soviet Union, including Mr. Gorbachev. It is apparent that under his leadership there is a new and welcome change of direction in Soviet foreign policy. Of course, many past and present Soviet activities justify much of the caution and scepticism which is expressed. But, as the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn said, the Prime Minister was right when she described Mr. Gorbachev as a "bold, determined and courageous" leader. I agree. In our mutual interest, he merits our closer understanding and support.

Over the years, the major restriction upon progress in disarmament and East-West relations has been mutual distrust—a genuine fear on the part of each side of the other. In 1919, Lloyd George stated that Britain's Russian objective was:
"to arrest the flow of lava … To prevent the forcible eruption of Bolshevism into Allied lands'"
That fear, of course, remains even today. But equally valid and sincere is the Soviet fear of hostile encirclement and war on its own territory. It is important that we should recognise that.

Mr. Gorbachev is on record as saying that national security is not enough, and that there can be no genuine security unless it is equal for all and comprehensive. Those are welcome words, and the INF verification procedures offer an unprecedented opportunity to test how genuine they are. If both sides co-operate wholeheartedly and openly to ensure that those verification procedures work successfully, then the mutual suspicions and mistrust may gradually be allayed. But that cannot happen quickly. We should be careful about being too enthusiastic and moving precipitately into the implementation of more substantial arms control measures. Of course we should all support and strive for what has already been mentioned in this debate—strategic arms reductions, a ban on chemical and biological weapons and rectification of the conventional force imbalance.

As to strategic arms reductions, I am sure that details of reductions can quickly be agreed. I feel sure too that a compromise on the SDI issue can be arrived at, but verification in START remains a major problem. Verification of a reduction in numbers and sublimits of different categories of weapon is infinitely more complicated and difficult than verification of a total layer of weapons as in INF.

The point I wish to make is that, if the new INF procedures are shown to work satisfactorily and lead to the promotion of greater understanding and trust, it will make it so much easier and safer to proceed with the more formidable measures of START. Arms control and disarmament are far too serious to be engaged in for any short political or economic gain.

Despite my cautionary note, I hope it will not be thought that my enthusiasm for this week's Washington summit is in any way diminished. I believe that we may well be entering the most exciting and hopeful era in the history of disarmament and East-West relations. There is much to be done. There is much to be gained. But let us not forget the lesson that the INF treaty provides: arms reductions can only be successfully negotiated through strength, and that meanwhile, and possibly for the foreseeable future, the overall structure of nuclear deterrence must remain intact.

4.39 p.m

My Lords, I am happy to begin my speech by extending on behalf of the House warm congratulations to the noble Lord who has just spoken. He comes to the House with experience in the armed forces, in the other place, and in government, especially in the Foreign Office. I am sure that his contributions will be of great value and interest to us as the years go by.

A few days ago, I received a letter from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament asking me to join that body, and for that purpose to express a commitment to the unilateral removal of all nuclear forces from British land and water. That request could not have come at a worse time.

The INF Treaty has demonstrated to us that it is an agreement that you achieve not by being unilateral but by being resolute though not aggressive. It is achieved by being prepared not to make one-sided sacrifices of your own security but through contining to argue with patience and steadiness the rightness of your own cause. That is what the West has done during this period. That is why it has been successful.

This treaty accepts the principle of verification. For years the Russians have closed their doors to that. The usual answer was that verification was merely a polite word used by the West to mean an opportunity for spying on the Soviet Union. I remember the noble Lord who used to be with us, Lord Shinwell, saying the reason that he had never believed in détente was the steady refusal of the Russian government to agree to verification. Now they have agreed to it in this instance. That is an important step forward. It is greatly to be rejoiced over and to be remembered for the future as one of the conditions of successful disarmament agreement.

Another principle that underlines this treaty is that equality cannot be considered in terms of an equal number of weapons being surrendered on both sides. This treaty means a very much greater surrender of weapons—measured in numbers—by the Russians than by ourselves. However, what is equal is that at the end of the treaty it cannot be said that the balance of security and safety has been tilted in one direction or the other. I suppose that it could be said. if you are a felicitously-worded journalist you can say almost anything. However, I do not think that it could be proved.

On the whole, this treaty has got as near as one might have hoped to making reductions without tilting the balance of security one way or the other. This, again, is something that we must look for in all future agreements. If we do that I do not think that we need to be too alarmed about any dangers there may be in the present treaty or any risks that it may carry for the future.

Perhaps the House will permit a reminiscence. One of the first events when I became Foreign Secretary was the proposal by Mr. Gromyko that the Geneva conference on disarmament should be brought to life again. This was unexpected, and welcome; and it was done. The conference plodded on for years without much progress at first. But one achievement was the growth of negotiations to produce the non-proliferation treaty to which the noble Lord who has just spoken referred. It was a very modest achievement. It required a certain number of nations giving an undertaking, since they did not have them, not to acquire nuclear weapons. A good many made that undertaking and kept it. Some made that undertaking and broke it; some would not make it at all. On the other side, those of us who were already nuclear powers gave an undertaking to make every effort to reduce the amount of nuclear weapons we had.

We achieved nothing for years. But the treaty was valuable in that we were repeatedly subject to the reproaches of the other signatories to the treaty because we had not succeeded in reducing the number of nuclear armaments. It was a constant reminder to us that we were under an obligation to do so. We are now at last beginning to fulfil that obligation.

The total amount of weapons in this treaty is very small, measured as a proportion of all the nuclear arsenals of the world. But, for the reasons that I have mentioned, it is something new. It shows a much greater determination on both sides to work out practical disarmament agreements. Consequently, the treaty will increase the amount of trust between nations and enable us to progress to what is in the end more important than disarmament: to try to create a world in which neither side will want to go to war.

Here I join with my noble friend the Leader of the Opposition in commending to your Lordships the admirable article by Sir Anthony Parsons who draws attention to the fact that the Soviet Union is again becoming much more interested in the United Nations. It is even proposing to pay some of its defaulted subscriptions.

Perhaps noble Lords will forgive one more reminiscence. The first small problem on my plate when I became Foreign Secretary was that the Soviet Union would not pay its subscriptions for—I think it was—the United Nations' expedition to the Congo. The United Nations was therefore in danger of being seriously out of pocket. The question was this. Ought Britain to help make up for the Russian deficiency? I seem to remember that I decided that we should, and this met with a good deal of hostile criticism in various parts of the House. Whether one can claim that the present Russian attitude towards its arrears is a result of our generosity on that occasion I do not know. I rejoice, however, in the fact that this modest gesture has been made. Perhaps it is only a gesture, but it is at least in the right direction.

We have hanging over us in the world so many danger spots—the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and central America—that it becomes more and more important to try to get the machinery of the United Nations working again as it was intended to work. If anyone says that that is impossible I would ask him to look back, say, to the time of Reykjavik, and to ask this question: did we at that time think that the agreement that we are now celebrating was going to be possible? I do not think that we did. This shows that if you are patient. it is worthwhile being optimistic as well.

4.47 p.m

My Lords, all speakers so far, and no doubt to come, will agree that between yesterday and today the world has changed. It is at last clear that it is not impossible for weapons reductions to be agreed—even reductions in nuclear weapons.

There seems to be little disagreement about a 50 per cent. reduction in strategic weapons coming next. If this is agreed in principle now it is because some sense has burst through on the subject of SDI. It is a mistake to say that Mr. Gorbachev has confessed to having his own SDI at last. For years we have known that the Soviet Union had ABM deployed around Moscow. Our warheads for Chevaline are designed to deal with just that.

We also know that the Russians have been working on anti-satellite systems. That is why there were negotiations on ASAT which were broken off in the dark days. We also knew that they were researching new kinds of ABM. How should they not? There was an arms race on. And since the arrival of Mr. Gorbachev and his men they have made no bones about Soviet ABM work. No informed adversary of SDI in the West has ever claimed that the Soviet Union was not working on strategic, and probably tactical, ABMs. What the Soviet Union has not been accused of doing, and has not admitted doing, is to push a continuing but moderate research expenditure up to an urgent and overriding national crusade with priorities and promises of funding so grandiose that they have turned out quite unrealisable.

We can now see that the research work achieved since President Reagan's March 1983 speech is probably not much more than would have been achieved anyhow in America without the great ballyhoo. The result of the ballyhoo has been the Soviet promise of an altogether cheaper but effective response to SDI. Perhaps the little manoeuvrable space-plane that Aviation Week has just revealed that the Soviets have been testing is this effective response. Meanwhile, the SDI organisation in the US is thinking of clamping several kinds of old boosters together in order to get anything up into space at all. These days it is not the United States which is the dab hand in space, and this in itself may help the Americans better to understand the dangers of an SDI which worked, and which worked before the other side's.

These dangers are still a long way off but this does not mean that they are to be regarded with equanimity or that the ballyhoo itself has not done great harm to relations between East and West, and indeed within the West, in the past four and a half years. We could have been where we are now two years ago if it had not been for SDI

But sense on SDI is not the only prerequisite for 50 per cent. strategic reductions. The other big condition, as several noble Lords and in particular the noble Lord, Lord Pym, in an outstanding maiden speech (not unnaturally) have emphasised, is that these reductions are most unlikely to be obtained without or before other reductions. They can only make sense for us in Europe along with across the board reductions in Europe. On the Left, we hear calls for a nuclear-free Europe; on the Right, the Prime Minister says that nuclear disarmament in Europe has gone far enough and the next negotiations in Europe must be about conventional weapons only. Of both, Left and Right, I ask this question. Do you really think reductions in Europe can be secured that do not cover all kinds of weapons, including the by now very many dual capable weapon systems?

What 10 years ago needed a nuclear weapon to do inaccurately, a non-nuclear weapon will now do accurately. A non-nuclear weapon will blow open a nuclear power station, with an effect equal to the dropping of a nuclear weapon. This has been correctly expressed in the slogan "You don't have to take the bang with you any more". Conventional missiles can also blow open a chemical factory with an effect equal to a chemical weapons attack. They can destroy the communications of the second echelon of advancing Soviet forces or the brain centres of the unloading equipment at all our Atlantic ports. This is the kind of threat that all those plans called FOFA and AirLand Battle, and so on, and their Soviet equivalents now pose to Europe. Our next negotiations and our next reductions must be designed to preclude anything that either can fear is the capacity for a "conventional" blitzkreig or first strike.

It is not enough for either side to harp on its lack of aggressive intention, as our Government so often do. Capability is the only thing that matters in this context. These considerations mean, as many noble Lords have already pointed out, that for the next round of negotiations, we, the European countries, have to be right in there with the Americans negotiating on equal terms. That may be thought inconvenient, but perhaps the Secretary General of NATO would be the right person to carry an agreed negotiating brief to talk about with the Russians.

Any idea of compensation for the INF agreement, or for any later one, or for its polite circumlocution "buttressing", a term that has come into use in the past few days, has to be ruled out. This has been well put by the new director of the Institute of Strategic Studies in London, Mr. Francois Heisbourg. He says that if the agreement is a good one, you do not need compensating; and if it is not a good one, it should not be made.

Around and among all these issues looms the vast and expanding danger of the uncontrolled world-wide arms industries. The more the superpowers disarm, the more the superpowers' arms industries will be seeking foreign markets to keep their production going and the more they will fuel wars and the risk of wars around the world. What applies to them applies to us in smaller measure. In the House and elsewhere we have often pressed the Government to let us know something about arms exports and our share of the world arms trade. The stockbrokers Kleinwort Grieveson have recently published a list of what we do. As advised by a former Ministry of Defence official who knows a great deal about it, I believe that this list could be taken as being true and I intend to take it as true until the Government tell me it is not.

I shall give the House an idea of the scale of the matter. Our biggest single receiving country of arms exports is Saudi Arabia. It received £1.4 billion in a five-year period. We provide Saudi Arabia with 10 per cent. of its arms imports. The United States provides 43 per cent. The second biggest is Jordan. It received from us £1.2 billion in arms over the same period, which constituted 32 per cent. of its imports. The list contains a total of 60 countries and gives figures which shook me by their size. After all these years I am not readily shaken by any phenomenon to do with arms. These arms manufacturing pressures around the world will become more powerful as disarmament proceeds. International agreements will have to be made in that field to supplement the others if we are to make sense of the new shaped world into which we are now moving.

We saw yesterday the first serious move by mankind to come to terms with the nuclear age. We see a species, the human one, which had learnt how to threaten itself with its own extinction. We now see it learning how to remove the threat and survive. The way is not for one side or one nation to keep ahead, nor yet to keep level at the same level. It is above all not for one large nation to learn how to defend itself against presumed or imagined attempts by another large nation to extinguish it. It is for us all to remove the threat of general extinction. And the route to that lies through keeping level at a lower level.

In conclusion, I commend to your Lordships and to everybody a formulation of where we stand now which has recently been agreed by the Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church at a meeting in Venice. It goes as follows:
"The use of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction is definitely contrary to the principles of Christian morality. Nuclear deterrence must be considered a temporary solution entailing the duty gradually to reduce nuclear weapon stocks and eventually eliminate them altogether".
I have never heard it better put. I hope the Church of England may be in a position shortly to associate itself with that form of words. I hope that they may also commend themselves to the Prime Minister and that the Government will no longer find it necessary to say that nuclear weapons as such must continue to exist in the world for the foreseeable future. We should now foresee that future.

4.57 p.m

My Lords, when the time for debate is rationed, there is little scope for the customary courtesies; but I must compliment the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, on his immaculate sense of timing. He has chosen the only day since the last war on which this House has been able to congratulate the two great powers on an agreement on physical reduction of nuclear arms.

I should like to express my pleasure at hearing the noble Lord, Lord Callaghan, giving us proof that he has not left behind in another place his clear and robust attitude to foreign affairs and matters of security. We look forward to hearing him very often and profiting from his wisdom and experience. My two noble friends Lord Pym and Lord Thomas of Gwydir have shown us the benefit of experience in these matters. Perhaps I may say of my noble friend Lord Thomas that I saw him for years operating in the business of disarmament. There are few if any people in this House who know more about it than he does. Over the months ahead his advice will be extremely valuable.

I shall allow myself three short comments on the agreement signed yesterday by the United States and by Mr. Gorbachev representing the Soviet Union. Anyone who is associated with the Final Act of Helsinki inevitably has some mental reservations. The noble Lord, Lord Callaghan, will agree that that was the finest opportunity for detente across the board since the last war, and the Russians threw it away quite deliberately.

Today the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, has been able to mark that there are differences that may well be decisive between that time and now. The Russians have now pledged themselves to verification which, as the noble Lord, Lord Stewart, reminded us, is something that previously they rigorously rejected. All the time that he and I were negotiating with the Soviet Union on disarmament it would never have anything to do with verification. Now it has changed its mind and that might very well be the decisive point in negotiating towards a peaceful solution to the problems between us. In addition, as the noble Lord, Lord Stewart, also recorded, it has accepted in this agreement that balanced disarmament need not be interpreted as parity in personnel and weaponry. That, I think, could equally be of great importance as we look forward to further methods of disarmament.

On the technical merits of this agreement in terms of weaponry, it is extremely difficult—and the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, touched on this point—unless one lives with this nuclear weaponry day in and day out to be sure of the impact of abolition of one such class of nuclear weapons on the prospects for balanced disarmament. It is an immensely complicated matter.

I confess that when I first heard of this agreement I was anxious lest it might affect adversely NATO's policy of flexible response to an agression. There I have been reassured first by Lord Carrington's positive conviction that it will not adversely affect that policy (and he is possibly in the best position of anybody to judge these matters at this time) and secondly the statement of Mr. Shultz, the American Secretary of State, that America has no intention of withdrawing the nuclear cover from Europe, nor do they intend to press Britain or France to abandon their independent deterrence. Therefore I agree with the noble Lord. Lord Cledwyn, that provided verification is scrupulously applied—and that is essential—then this start on disarmament is worthy of support and encouragement from our Government.

My final point looks forward. I hope that as the European governments come nearer to the negotiating table they will insist that the need for balance in conventional forces is brought to the top of the disarmament agenda. That seems to me to be quite essential. It was the marked disparity between the strength of the Warsaw Pact and the strength of the western democracies that brought the NATO alliance into being. It is still that massive one-sided strength which is basically responsible for the lack of confidence in the future throughout the rest of Europe. It is that strength and of course the doctrine which communist Russia has pursued for many years that force may properly be used to obtain a political end.

We hope profoundly that Mr. Gorbachev is going to change all that; but it is important that the agreement on nuclear arms—which at best will reduce nuclear strength by 50 per cent. if the second agreement is brought about—should be supplemented by a reduction in conventional forces across the board.

The reaction of some people to the numerical superiority of the Warsaw Pact is that NATO should embark on a massive programme of conventional armaments. Doubtless we shall have to increase the European contribution to the conventional forces because I suspect that America will make some reductions, and that is almost inevitable. But, on the proposition of trying to match the strength of the Soviet Union, I am bound to say that I have never been very happy.

We are today essentially in the business of the prevention and the deterrence of war, a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Callaghan. Historically no accumulation of conventional forces has ever deterred a war, for the reason that the leaders of one country or another, playing the numbers game, have always calculated that the side with the greatest numbers could win. Napoleon so calculated, the Kaiser so calculated, and Hitler so calculated. Therefore in my view the safest way ahead is not to add to weaponry but to seek to reduce armaments in the East and in the West to a point where self-defence is the accepted measure of the armaments needed, and therefore the temptation to plan for aggression is removed.

That is optimistic. It will take a long time to achieve that kind of objective; but, nevertheless, a start has been made, and so I think without being over-optimistic we can at least be happy that this has happened and wish that further agreements will soon be made.

5.6 p.m

My Lords, I wish to focus on only two issues in this debate. Both of them also concern realities, although I must confess of a more specific kind than the general ones to which the noble Lord, Lord Pym, referred in his brilliant maiden speech.

There are already people who are saying that it is disastrous that the West has signed the INF Treaty and that a whole category of nuclear weapons is now going to be removed—weapons which they presumably believe are essential to the maintenance of the state of nuclear deterrence and also to the conduct of hostilities were hostilities ever to break out. They believe that compensating adjustments now have to be made in NATO's nuclear armoury to make up for what we have lost.

I believe that this is a totally misguided view. This past week something almost as momentous as the signing of the INF Treaty took place. Many military commanders on both sides have said, usually after retirement, that they do not know how to fight a war with nuclear weapons. Two ex-Chiefs of the Defence Staff have said it in your Lordships' House. Well, at last the Supreme Allied Commander has had the guts to say it in his first month of taking up his appointment. General John Galvin, the new SACEUR, totally rejects the view of his predecessor, General Rogers, that NATO's INF armoury was essential to Western security. He did so in an interview on Channel 4 to which I listened in amazement, expecting to see commentaries filling the newspapers the next day. I saw nothing.

I therefore got hold of the transcript, and I think it is worth quoting his actual words. He was asked whether there would be a military need for new nuclear missiles to replace those that an INF agreement would eliminate. The general replied:
"In terms of trying to do something that takes the effect of what was taken out in the Treaty and put something else back in—no."
He was then asked:
"Militarily you don't need that?"
The general:
"No. I can do my mission. I can carry out my mission of deterrence and defence with the nuclear capability and the conventional capability that is left in Europe under NATO after the Treaty is ratified."
The questioner:
"Are you therefore laying to rest any idea that there should be so-called compensatory adjustments after the INF Treaty? In other words, new weapons systems?"
The general:
"I would like to lay that to rest."
In the light of this authoritative statement one has to ask what it is that some fear may have been lost, from the point of view of our security, by the signing of the INF Treaty. These, I submit, are the realities. First, if cruise missiles, Pershing Its and SS. 20s were essential to the maintenance of mutual deterrence, the implication has to be that in certain circumstances they might have been used. Otherwise, if we were merely bluffing, they could deter nobody. Secondly, these and shorter-range weapons, with ranges between 300 and 3,400 miles, are not designed to attack targets of opportunity. They are earmarked for predetermined targets. Thirdly, had they ever been used, the consequence would have been a nuclear exchange in which cities and towns on either side of the Iron Curtain would have been destroyed in a flash.

We dare not forget that once either side resorts to the use of nuclear weapons, the initiative passes to the other and that, in the face of nuclear devastation, nuclear retaliation would be expected. Fourthly we must realise that INF weapons are essentially designed for ground strike. That means that were they ever used, the areas which were once towns would become, in effect, quasi-permanent radioactive deserts.

Nuclear weapons differ from conventional weapons by far more than the fact that on a weight for weight basis they are far more destructive. A kiloton, a relatively small weapon in these days, is a thousand times more destructive than a ton of conventional explosive. A megaton is a million times more destructive. The biggest bombs that were used in the Second World War—those which we called "grand slam"—weighed no more than 10 tons. The blockbuster, which some noble Lords may remember, weighed two tons and the V2 warheads carried no more than one ton.

We must also bear in mind the quasi-permanency of the radioactive contamination that would result from ground burst missiles. This applies as much to battlefield weapons as to intermediate-range or ICBMs. When we refer to battlefield weapons, what are we talking about? We are talking about weapons which are in the kiloton range, or the sub-kiloton range. Let us suppose that the weapon is one-tenth of a kiloton; that is, 100 tons of explosive. I cannot imagine artillery commanders handling their field pieces with weapons with that destructive power knowing and realising the consequences.

Reference has been made to the need to maintain a balance between our conventional and nuclear forces. I do not know by what standard any such balance could be measured. There was a time—and in the United States this is no secret—when NATO's tactical armoury contained a few warheads with a yield of over 20 megatons. One of those would be sufficient to take out permanently one of the smaller members of the NATO alliance.

While nuclear weapons can deter war in Europe they cannot defend it. Their significance as stated by the noble Lord, Lord Callaghan, in his brilliant maiden speech, is to deter. Their use could only destroy Europe. Mutual suicide is neither a means of defending liberty and democracy on our side nor of preserving the communist way of life on the other side of the Iron Curtain.

I should like to turn to the second point upon which I wish to focus. It relates to the hope that the INF agreement will be followed by cuts in strategic armouries of both sides. The point has already been made that the Russians regard President Reagan's SDI as a critical obstacle to any such agreement. The logic is entirely on their side.

There was nothing new in Mr. Gorbachev's statement made on American television that the USSR was also conducting research into space-based defences. When at Glasborough in 1968 or 1969 President Johnson convinced Mr. Kosygin that the attempt to develop anti-ballistic missile defences was destabilising, leading to the conclusion of the 1972 ABM Treaty, one of the conditions upon which the Russians insisted was that they could continue with research that affected their ABM system deployed around Moscow. The Americans agreed. America also had an ABM system and at first two systems were agreed by both sides. They were reduced to one, the Americans demolishing theirs, and we heard no more about American ABM systems, until SDI came up a few years ago.

The Russians are now objecting to suggestions that the USA will carry out tests in space and that they might proceed to deployment of a space-based ABM system. The first is definitely precluded in any realistic interpretation of the 1972 treaty.

From the point of view of arms control and the nuclear arms race I cannot conceive of any move that would be more disastrous than the Americans proceeding to testing in space or to deploying a space-based defensive system, however primitive. Quite apart from any questions as to its possible effectiveness or the vast cost, the possibility that one side might pursue such a path would force the other to follow suit. The fear that one side—it does not matter which—was trying to make its opponent's nuclear weapons obsolete and impotent, by means of a defensive system, would not only impel the other along the same path but also encourage it to increase, and not reduce, the size of its nuclear armoury. SDI is designed to deal with Russian ICBMs, not American. If President Reagan had wished to make his own weapons impotent and obsolete there were cheaper ways of achieving that.

Because of this elemental logic I doubt whether the USSR will agree to proceed to realistic discussions about major cuts in ICBMs unless—and I emphasise this point—it and the USA first mutually agree to absolute limitations on ABM research and deployment. Before there are any cuts in any strategic forces both sides will have to agree to what has been called the strict or narrow interpretation of the 1972 treaty.

I agree with what has been said in the debate so far—that there has already been a change in attitude between the Russians and the West. I think that there has been a reduction in the level of suspicion that has prevailed since the end of the Second World War; indeed since before the end of the Second World War. In my view, it would be illogical for either side to abandon its nuclear weapons. I do not see that as a realistic possibility. However, they can be reduced in number to the minimum level necessary to assure deterrence. As the noble Lord, Lord Home, has said, NATO does not exist to fight wars; NATO exists to help deter the outbreak of hostilities—

My Lords, I hope that the noble Lord will forgive my interruption, but we are time-limited. Noble Lords were given nine minutes, but now 13 minutes have passed.

My Lords, I should like to conclude by saying that I sincerely hope there will be further steps in the process of arms control, initiated by the signing of the treaty yesterday.

5.20 p.m.

My Lords, if any noble Lord ought to be forgiven for exceeding his time it is the noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman. However, the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, is entirely right and none of us must exceed our time, however eminent and distinguished we may be. I shall endeavour not to exceed my time.

I have always listened with pleasure to the noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman, and tonight I have listened with almost 100 per cent. agreement. What he said has followed on and filled in the general pattern begun by my noble friend the Leader of the Opposition in initiating the debate. It has been an enormous pleasure to sit here and listen to one noble Lord after another moving over to the position that I have held for so long. I have been somewhat lonely at times in the past; but now everyone is welcome. I do not expect to hear the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, who is to follow, ask me for an application form to join the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. That would perhaps be too much to expect just yet.

However, it is important that we should recognise that a very great change has taken place. I must begin, even though there is a shortage of time, with an apology. My attendance at the debate has not emulated the regular attendance seen on the Front Benches on both sides and emulated by most of your Lordships. I even missed two maiden speakers. They have done proper justice—both of them—by disappearing just now. I shall read both those maiden speeches with considerable pleasure tomorrow. I did, however, catch the maiden speech of my noble friend the late Prime Minister.

No, my Lords, not the late, but the former, indeed the last Prime Minister—but not the last in that sense of the word, I trust. We must be careful with our words at this time. The INF proposal is now being brought, we hope, to a successful conclusion, though that is still not absolutely certain because it has to be endorsed by the American Congress. I should not entirely exclude the possibility that there may be a last minute attempt in Congress to negate what has occurred. That would be a tragedy and a disaster and I hope that there will be no such development.

I remember the Medvedev brothers saying to me—and they are not apologists for the Soviet position, because one of them lives in this country and the other in Leningrad—that there was one thing to be said for the Soviet system: it spoke with a single voice. One knew what was going to happen. The Medvedev brothers said in a book they wrote that one never knew what the devil was happening in the United States and that one still did not. In fact the situation has got worse. Not only does the United States speak with several voices; it does different things. Arms of the Government which ought to be within governmental control take on activities which the President subsequently tells us he knew nothing about. There is an uncertainty in the general political scene which is contributed to by the fact that the American democracy seems to be under no effective control at the point of decision.

Democracy demands a wide variety of opinion. The Soviet Union is just beginning to move in that direction, but in the United States that width of opinion is translated into a wide difference of effective control over action. That must be disconcerting in the dangerous world in which we live today in which nuclear weapons are so widespread. We must hope that this measure—the noble Lord, Lord Home, made the same point—moves further and is not the end but the beginning of a process under which nuclear weapons can be, I hope, totally eliminated, or as most noble Lords have said, if not eliminated, perhaps very drastically reduced. I should be happy to see a drastic reduction all round as a good start; then we could possibly move towards elimination if and when the political scene is different to that of today.

The Labour Party first called for a zero option of no cruise, no Pershing and no SS.20s in 1981. Michael Foot, Denis Healey and Denzil Davies made the proposal during their visit to Moscow in that year. President Reagan then made his zero-option proposal in November that year. Since Mr. Gobachev came to power in 1985, the Soviet Union has radically changed its previous attitude. It will be giving up almost four times as many nuclear warheads as the United States of America under this agreement. We might ask ourselves, if the situation were reversed, whether it would be possible for the West, even under a measure of this sort, to reduce its own nuclear armaments where it has an ascendancy to the level at present deployed by the Soviet Union. I hope it will become possible because I think it desirable that if we are to move down we must first move to a position of parity. The Soviet Union has shown a remarkable example in this respect on intermediate range weapons.

I believe I have time to quote a release by the Novosti Press Agency concerning the Gorbachev-Thatcher interview just before Mr. Gorbachev left for the United States. It reads:
"The two leaders continued an 'old dispute', as Gorbachev described it, on the concept of nuclear deterrence. 'You would surely agree', he said, 'that it is better to be sitting in a cosy armchair than on a powder keg. When nuclear arms arc banked on as a means of ensuring security, this is unacceptable in both philosophical and practical terms. There are certainly realities and we face them. But now that the process of nuclear arms reduction is about to be started, I invite you, Mrs. Prime Minister, to consider that concept of yours again.".
There have been a number of reconsiderations of concepts here this afternoon. It is my hope that this will continue. Until it does and until we get rid of the threat of nuclear weapons, we shall remain in peril. We must remember at this time not to be too euphoric. It is a time in which we are beginning to move into a much better position than has existed for years between East and West. At the same time, in the Middle East, in Iran, in Iraq and in Israel, a considerable amount of black market plutonium of weapons grade is collecting. This possibility of the spread of nuclear weapons is one that must concern us all. As soon as we achieve peace, or something approaching peace, between the two super powers—or perhaps I should say when we can achieve greater trust between the super powers—the world as a whole must address itself to the spread of plutonium and make sure that we do not end by having a dreadful nuclear accident. That is a possibility to which we must turn our attention after this INF debate is over.

I revert to quoting the Novosti Press Agency.
"In view of the forthcoming signature of a treaty on intermediate-range and short-range missiles, Mrs. Thatcher spoke about the importance of making sure that U.S. Congress would ratify it in a linkage with the issues of 'human rights in the Soviet Union.' A little polemic ensued, in the course of which Gorbachev reminded the Prime Minister about the understanding they had reached in December 1984".
I shall not continue with the rest; I shall be in danger of exceeding my time. I shall therefore sit down and listen with great interest to what the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, has to say.

5.30 p.m.

My Lords, I shall not disappoint the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, by doing other than agree with him on one point which he made toward the end of his interesting speech; namely, that this is no time for euphoria. However, I agree with that statement for a rather different reason. I do not deny that in other parts of the world there are serious and grave problems which could lead to conflict, but my worry relates to the Soviet Union itself. I am concerned not, as will no doubt be argued by some hardline members of the Senate, because I mistrust Mr. Gorbachev or doubt his sincerity and his wish to achieve further measures of disarmament, but precisely because I believe that he is making a genuine effort to reconstruct—I suppose that is the best translation of perestroika—the Soviet Union and the Soviet world.

It seems to me that far from entering what some people appear to believe is a period when our problems will be rather easier to solve than they have been, we may be entering a period in which our problems will be more difficult of resolution. In the remarkable article to which the right reverend Prelate referred, Sir Yehudi Menuhin used a familiar metaphor in terms of our dealings with Russia—the metaphor of ice and a thaw. However, I should like to remind your Lordships that when a river is hard frozen it is possible to skate upon it with safety. Indeed, there have been periods in this country when it has been possible to roast an ox upon the Thames. The danger arises with the thought that ice floes released by a thaw can crash and grind against each other.

That is simply another way of saying that the process of reform launched by Mr. Gorbachev, which as we know is already running into opposition—and this point has been referred to by various noble Lords—cannot be relied upon to have a smooth path towards an outcome that we should all welcome; namely, the restoration of Russia's economic progress and the incorporation of Russia and Eastern Europe into the general currents of world trade and world intellectual commerce.

Enshrined in the existing system there are two very serious difficulties. One of them has already been referred to and indeed we have current evidence of it: the resistance of classes, groups and organisations in the Soviet Union to whom progress in that direction means a diminution of their own authority and privileges. No privileged caste has ever given up power without a struggle.

There is also the fact that the position on which Mr. Gorbachev rests is that of the Russian people—the largest group numerically in the Soviet Union yet not forming a majority of the population—who occupy and have always occupied most of the positions of power and influence. Already we are beginning to receive evidence of a revival of national feelings and an expression of national aspirations from the Baltic States, the Ukraine, Soviet Central Asia and the Caucasus. There is no reason to believe that that is likely to diminish, because reconstruction, which must involve decentralisation of the economy and more local decision-making, is bound to create a demand that decisions should represent not a Russian view nor Moscow's view but the view of the majority peoples in the particular republics concerned.

Furthermore, it cannot be that a major reconstruction in the form and character of Soviet society should take place without any impact being felt by the countries in Eastern Europe which the Soviet Union has ruled or dominated for the past 40 years. Again, we already have evidence that this is happening, and notably most recently in the Polish referendum. In one state after another we can see certainly not rebellion or revolt but clear evidence of discontent, which is hardly surprising when one considers that a country such as Rumania which was once the granary of Eastern Europe is now suffering from shortages of food.

How will the Russians react to such manifestations of nationalism in the so-called satellite countries of Eastern Europe, particularly when and if such actions take the form of reaching out for greater contact with the West, as is beginning to be evident in East Germany and as has been evident for some time in Hungary? Such things are likely to disturb the Soviet Union. Most of your Lordships' attention in this debate has rightly and perhaps naturally been concentrated upon disarmament and particularly the possibility of conventional disarmament. However, we must remember that the size of the Soviet forces in Eastern Europe is not governed exclusively by a balance with NATO or by the belief, which I think by now Mr. Gorbachev regards as imaginary, that the Soviet Union is in danger of invasion from the West. It is partly governed by the fact that it is that military power which sanctions the Soviet position in Eastern Europe as well as acting as a possible persuasive force on countries in Western Europe in certain circumstances.

Also to be considered is the position of countries outside Eastern Europe—and no doubt this has been discussed in Washington—particularly perhaps Afghanistan, from which I am quite sure in my own mind—because it would be illogical if it were not so—Mr. Gorbachev would like to withdraw his troops. He cannot do it and be certain that a communist regime would survive. In fact, the very opposite is likely, and his ability to persuade his colleagues that the sacrifice of a communist regime—that is to say, the reversal of the Brezhnev doctrine—is part of the price to be paid for perestroika may be very heavily taxed.

I believe that we shall have to watch such things because developments in the Soviet bloc, whether inside or outside Europe, will demand a response from the West and, above all in the current state of the American polity, a response from Europe. That is why I was so happy to hear the noble Lord, Lord Callaghan of Cardiff, in his maiden speech take us back to the need for co-operation between European governments. I believe that there are very stormy times ahead in which that co-operation will be essential in order to keep the peace.

5.38 p.m.

My Lords, you will notice that I am not my noble friend Lord Gladwyn. The reason that I am on my feet is that the noble Lord very kindly agreed to change places with me on the Speakers' List because I want to address myself to a rather narrow point in this wide-ranging debate which has been so interesting and so informative. I hope that noble Lords will forgive me if I omit some of those tributes to earlier speeches by noble Lords which courtesy prompts, which eloquence deserves but which time forbids.

I follow the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, on this occasion very happily because the rather narrow area to which I want to address myself concerns the position in Eastern Europe as a result of perestroika and glasnost, which in my view will lead to an instability in that part of the world which we shall not he able to afford to neglect. I also wholly agree with him in his description of the difficulties which we must assume that Mr. Gorbachev is facing on the domestic front.

When I was in Warsaw last October to arrange for the next meeting of the Anglo-Polish Round Table Conference, I discussed this matter with some Polish friends who are well acquainted with the Russian scene. The Poles are very acute and experienced Russia-watchers. I asked what kind of opposition Mr. Gorbachev was facing. My friend said that one can assume there are 23 million people in Russia who are unanimously against it—they are the members of the Communist Party. One can also assume that there is a large number of fringe groups, such as the teachers in scientific Marxism, of whom there are between 100,000 and 400,000, who will probably also be against it because their jobs may be at risk.

He said that as far as the Asian element in the Soviet population is concerned perestroika is something very different from what is understood by the Russian element, as the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, has indicated in his speech. They will not be particularly interested in it except in so far as their national consciousness has been stimulated by the Afghanistan conflict and this will provide an opportunity for further sharpening of that consciousness.

My friend said that there are two other things to remember. Mr. Gorbachev and his advisers are very like many 19th century Russian radicals who again and again produced admirable schemes for the reform of Imperial Russia. Each of these ran into the sand created by the immense inertia of the Tsarist system and the Russian temperament. Granted that this is a Polish view and can hardly be said to be an objective one, but it is one which I think we have to take into account if we are to depend entirely on perestroika for the future of peace in this world.

If this week has been, as far as the world is concerned, a Gorbachev-Reagan week, in this country it has actually been a Polish week. I should like to say how greatly I welcome the return of contacts between this country and Poland, which is represented by the visit of their Foreign Minister, Mr. Orzechowski, the first Foreign Minister to visit this country since Mr. Cyrek in 1981. Some people seem to think that since martial law was introduced Poland has reverted completely to what it was in its worst days. In point of fact it is interesting that a number of the gains won by Solidarity have been retained and Poland remains by far the freest country in Eastern Europe and the one which approached nearest to a pluralistic situation because of the existence and the power of the Church and the history of the people.

What exists in Poland at the moment is a kind of mutual paralysis whereby the Government can stop Solidarity mounting huge demonstrations and strikes and Solidarity can stop the Government doing anything it wants to do. There is stalemate. The referendum was an attempt to break that stalemate and, although it failed, it was an attempt to consult the people, it was fairly conducted, and it was an event which, as far as I know, was unique in Eastern Europe in recent years. Perestroika, which, as the Polish Foreign Secretary said at Chatham House today, lay behind the referendum and the attempt to involve the Polish people, has already had consequences for the whole situation in Central Europe.

The idea of Central Europe, which appeared to have been abolished at the time of Yalta, has now been resuscitated. Mr. Gorbachev has studiously refused to face the consequences of that fact! In his book he writes:
"Relations between socialist states are based on absolute independence".
One rubs one's eyes at that comment and one thinks of recent history.

He does not address the question of what will happen when the restraints which have been imposed on these Eastern European countries are loosened. It is very difficult to foresee how the Russian Government will deal with this problem. They cannot loosen the reins too quickly, if only because of apprehension at the possibility of German reunification. This apprehension is one thing on which Poles and Russians agree. How long, they are saying to themselves, will the formula One Nation/Two States remain? How long can the forces pressing for reunification, which is after all part of the constitution of the FDR, be kept in check?

As the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill said, we are entering a new era in diplomacy. We are moving from diplomatic trench warfare into an era of the diplomacy of manoeuvre. It is much more interesting, much more exciting, but it has its own dangers. The great danger is that of instability. It is a time therefore in which some of the optimism which has been expressed in this debate seems wholly justified but it is also a time, as has also been expressed in this debate, when that optimism has to be tempered by vigilance. This is partly because of the battles which Mr. Gorbachev is fighting at home, and which he may or may not win, and partly because there is a long way to go from this small beginning before the world can be said to be made even reasonably safe.

In the debate on the economy I argued that we have moved into a world of three centres of economic power—the United States, Europe and Japan. I argued that Europe had to adopt its own position in facing and helping to solve the economic crisis. I believe that the same applies in the political world. The United States' dominance is not so great as it was, partly because of the financial position and partly because of this diplomacy of manoeuvre. Mr. Kissinger said in the Herald Tribunal that Europe must organise itself rapidly for a dialogue with the United States on trans-Atlantic defence and the contents of the next stages of arms control.

I therefore join with several other noble Lords, including the noble Lords, Lord Callaghan and Lord Greenhill, in the view that the crucial element in the next few years is for Europe to pull itself together to develop a defence policy. When the talks on strategic arms control and further forms of disarmament take place Europe will then be able to be represented with one voice, to take part in those negotiations, and to see that her interests are properly defended.

5.49 p.m.

My Lords, this INF agreement could herald a new dawn of progress towards a peaceful reconciliation between the two super powers of the world, between the nations of East and West Europe, and between the military blocs of NATO and the Warsaw Pact. Just as important, it may build a deeper mutual trust between the peoples of the continents melting the iciness of attitudes which have prevailed for so many unfortunate years of disturbing episodes which have caused alarm and aroused the fear of war. That is my hope, but this agreement and the aura of glasnost have to be examined in greater detail. Has Russia really changed? Are we satisfied that it is on a course of permanent change? We are dealing with the Russians and not just Mr. Gorbachev.

We have to keep in mind many of the post-war Russian activities—the Berlin blockade in 1948 which necessitated the Berlin airlift to rescue Berlin and keep it alive; the Soviet suppression of the East German uprising in 1953; the Hungarian bloodbath by Soviet occupying forces that took place in 1956; the building of the East-West Berlin Wall in 1961, closing the floodgates against thousands fleeing from a Soviet-style dictatorship to democracy in the West.

Then there was the move into Czechoslovakia by Soviet troops in 1968, occupying Prague and other cities, to suppress the Czechoslovakian people's request for reform; and in 1979 the appalling act of invasion of a non-aligned nation, Afghanistan, which is now occupied by Soviet forces—116,000 of them—having killed 1 million Afghan people by conventional weapons—no atom bombs; and it is still going on. Then in the early 1980s in Poland martial law was imposed, because of waves of labour unrest, Soviet pressure being applied on the Polish authorities, with the suspension of trade union activity and the imprisonment of leaders of the Solidarity unions.

So time after time the Russians have been suppressing the freedoms that people within the Eastern European bloc have yearned for since 1945. So there is no glasnost for them. Only as recently as 1983 a Korean airliner, KAL 007—a 747 civil airliner with 269 civilian passengers and crew—was shot down in Russian airspace. There is no telling whether that aircraft was off course by accident or design, but the Soviets had no compunction about shooting it down. Those are just a few examples of post-war Russia.

The Russian Bear long-range military aircraft regularly fly down our North Sea coastline, persistently puncturing and invading our airspace triggering off our reflexes. We scramble our fighters and intercept by recognition. We have never shot one down. But it still necessitates a 24-hour defensive watch on the Russian spies in the air.

Then on human rights and particularly their treatment of the refuseniks—that is, those Jews in Russia who have applied to leave and been refused—the Soviets have an appalling record. In 1985, the year Mr. Gorbachev assumed the reins of power, 383,000 Jews were still waiting for permission to leave. In Gorbachev's first year, 1985, 1,100 were allowed to leave. Last year, 1986, 900 were allowed to leave. The doors were nearly closed. This year so far the figure is 7,000. That seems a lot but, by contrast, 50,000 exit visas were issued in 1979. The refusenik is used by Russia as a political pawn on the international chess-board of politics, figures of emigration tending to rise only when international talks are pending.

The Soviets have never honoured their signature on the Declaration of Human Rights. Article 13(2) states:
"Everyone has the right to leave any country including his own and return to his country"—
not so in Russia. The plight of the Jews in Russia is a prime example of the Soviet's appalling disregard for human rights. On this they must be judged by their performance, not by their promises or a few special cases highlighted by their propaganda.

On the INF agreement, I think that after years of dangerous stagnation this year has certainly seen tremendous progress in the field of nuclear disarmament—we all rejoice in that—with not just the elimination of one category of nuclear weapons, the intermediate nuclear missiles, but a verification system with a welcome degree of openness into the East and the West for inspection purposes. Now we have the possibility of serious negotations in the near future, of cuts in conventional arms, short-range nuclear weapons, the abolition of chemical weapons and, above all, the major goal of a 50 per cent. cut in strategic missiles.

I remind the House that all this was on offer at Reykjavik when Mr. Gorbachev demanded that America should abandon SDI, the strategic defence initiative—the star wars research and development programme—but President Reagan would not give way and that was most fortunate and quite right. Why did Mr. Gorbachev oppose SDI, when he knew then and has admitted since that the Soviets have embarked on a star wars system? Was not that deception then and also, for propaganda purposes, later on? Indeed, the Soviets have already launched an anti-satellite satellite. To date the Soviet Union is the only nation with an operational anti-satellite system deployed. So the militarising of space has already begun by Russia and therefore America must carry on with its SDI research programme.

Mr. Gorbachev cleverly succeeded throughout the negotiations in portraying the Soviets as the champion of peace, capturing the imagination of the third world and sowing seeds of doubt about the West's intentions. Gorbachev is seen as the demandeur and the West is seen to be on the defensive. The Soviets have exploited every doubt and split in NATO's ranks. Their propaganda machine has never been so lubricated and so professional world-wide. They have no democratic challenges within Russia or their Warsaw Pact allies, as has the USA. They are totally free to promote their so-called peace campaign with waves of euphoria, promising a nuclear-free world which is not within their compass.

I believe that the military minds of NATO will be more disturbed at the INF deal than the Warsaw Pact. We lose an intermediate nuclear weapon of up to 3,000 miles range. To the Soviets with their vast array of weaponry, it is a cut of insignificant proportions, but to the West it is a worrying diminution in the policy of flexible response. Therefore, I believe that the possibility of cuts in conventional arms, and the elimination of short-range nuclear battlefield weapons, will be hard to come by. But that will be the Soviet's goal—to denuclearise Europe.

I believe that the Soviets have laid out their strategy within the broad framework of deals towards the prize of a reduction of 50 per cent. in strategic nuclear missiles. They will offer noticeable reductions in conventional forces in Eastern Europe. This will appeal to the natural neutralists in America and those Americans who demand cuts in their defence budget. Clamours for cuts in American forces stationed in Europe will follow. The conventional gaps created will not be filled by the NATO allies and decoupling of America's troops from Western Europe would then be achieved, leaving a weakened NATO.

Denuclearisation and decoupling in Western Europe is what Russia really wants, for two reasons —and I conclude on these. First, they will feel much safer and secure, the frontier threat having been weakened. Their major concern since 1945, having lost 20 million of their people and their land almost conquered, has been to maintain the buffer states for their own safety and be in a position if they so wish to enlarge that area, so ensuring their safety that much more.

Secondly, with no American forces in Western Europe they need not fear the USA as before, or indeed an American nuclear strike if they invade Western Europe. America will not be directly threatened and the Russians may then reckon, as in 1914 and 1939, that they are likely to remain neutral. I am sure that that scenario and possible Soviet strategy is seen and understood. We shall now have to wait and see how it gradually unfolds.

6.1 p.m.

My Lords, I should also like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, for this afternoon's timely debate. I also wish to say that we have heard three magnificent maiden speeches.

Mr. Gorbachev's enthusiasm for arms reduction appears to be based on the idea that a diminution of weapons will inevitably increase stability for peace. Fewer weapons mean fewer threats. There is much plausibility to the idea that fewer weapons make a safer world; but that is only true if weapons are the source of conflict. That notion cannot be maintained logically or historically. A sword, for instance, is of no particular interest and only becomes a means of force in the hands of a person who intends to advance or defend a specific cause.

Weapons do not give rise to threats but rather are mere expressions of them. People with no weapons have done incalculable damage. Recent slaughters in Cambodia were carried out by fanatics with crude wooden clubs. Yet no one would suggest that clubs or the trees from which they are made cause war.

However, nuclear weapons produce an inversion between weapons and courses of conflict. It happened before World War II when it was thought that aerial bombardment would be the annihilation of the human race. Today it most surely would be nuclear power and chemical warfare. In each case the weapons themselves are the sole source of danger. In the past the danger was supposedly neutralised by arms control treaties which were heralded as harbingers of peace, but war followed because underlying political and moral realities were ignored which would have preceded the possible use of these weapons.

By contrast, one of the rare examples of successful arms control was the Rush-Bagot Convention of 1817 between the United States and Great Britain which demilitarised the Great Lakes. It was successful simply because it reflected the political realities which preceded it and it was not itself used as the means to achieve an otherwise unobtainable peace. Even without the treaty, the warships would have disappeared as the underlying conflict for which they were an expression had been resolved. Similarly, the political realities of today are not shaped by the nuclear bomb, but the nuclear bomb by political realities.

The fact that France and Great Britain could destroy every American city with a population of over 50,000 does not leave us in fear and trepidation because our relationship with the United States makes it completely impossible for it to use its nuclear arsenal against us. Our worry about the bomb is because the Soviet Union has it and specifically because of the moral climate of the Soviet regime. These political and moral realities give nuclear and chemical weapons their relevance and not vice versa.

If we look at the philosophical assumptions of man's nature we find two ancient views diametrically opposed; one that man is secular and a materialist and the other that man is untainted by any fundamental disorder within himself and is therefore capable but not always willing to achieve self-perfection. In actual fact, both are wrong; but if we could only rearrange things slightly, we should in theory be able to guarantee world peace. But alas this is not the case. Every day newspapers are full of crimes, regional wars, terrorism and other such things. Therefore something is profoundly wrong; for if man is good, why are we in this situation?

Whether strife is domestic or foreign, these problems stem from external factors which require an external solution. Peace is a management problem which requires certain social engineering skills. Peace institutions spring up all over the place and the top of their agenda is always marked "arms control". But the more we refuse to acknowledge that the source of our disorders is internal to man, the more blindly we shall believe in and insist upon an external resolution to the conflict.

There are those therefore who see the solution only as a complete cleansing of the earth and the dawn of a new age. No titivating of our existing institutions will suffice. They are the sources of the problem. A solution can only be found by the complete destruction of our existing system. Sometimes today it is called liberation theology. It used to be known as Marxism. Marxism decrees today that man is not good enough; therefore he must be changed. It is not arms control that will change the world; it is man control. To change man total command must be obtained and the way for that is total power. Peace for the marxist is not the absence of conflict but the extinction of all opposing forces. Arms control is just another tool which he uses for that purpose.

Totalitarian ideology is the very philosophy of force. Injustice therefore reigns not by tyranny from a single person but by principle and the institutions that embody that principle. Who rules the Soviet Union is largely irrelevant to any fundamental reform. If the Soviet Union's principles remain unchanged glasnost can only be a change in the window-dressing. Mr. Gorbachev may be willing to give up his SS.20s, but he is unremitting in his call for:
"a determined and unbending struggle against religious tendencies together with a necessary reinforcement of atheistic propaganda".
That appeared in Pravda on 4th March 1987. How many of the British public know or have heard that comment? It is as my noble friend Lord Pym said, we have to educate many of our electorate because the Russians are very clever at pulling the wool over our eyes.

Before 1917 Russia had 78,000 Russian Orthodox churches and 113,000 clergy. Today there are only 6,500 churches and 6,000 priests in the whole of Russia. There used to be 2,500 mosques in the Caucasus and Central Asia but now there are only 450. That diminution was not brought about by popular request but by the totalitarian state. So if we wish to measure glasnost as a fundamental change then we must keep count of the churches. Should the Soviet Union ever succeed in its proclaimed goal of global hegemony, a goal which some say is far closer today than ever before, it will do so on the basis of a series of inversions, all of which are intimately related; the inversion within man's own soul in which he prefers himself to God.

I have not argued against real arms reductions but only against those who say peace when there is no peace without freedom and who by doing so wittingly or unwittingly perpetuate the underlying injustice which makes true peace impossible. President Reagan has consistently insisted on telling the truth about the nature of the Soviet Union despite the trouble his "evil empire" remarks caused. We only have to think in this connection of the innocent demonstrators of two days ago in Red Square and the reaction of the KGB. The President has repeatedly said to Mr. Gorbachev, as has my right honourable friend the Prime Minister:
"we have distrust between us, not because of arms; we have arms because there is distrust".
In other words, if Mr. Gorbachev (whom I believe to be sincere) will give up his ideology we shall give up our arms. But can we be sure that Mr. Gorbachev can control the Politburo and the KGB? Short of that, we must proceed extremely carefully in our arms negotiations on the basis of the mistrust caused by that ideology. Justice requires nothing less.

6.7 p.m.

My Lords, what has been particularly encouraging to me in listening to this debate today is that the majority of speakers have agreed that what we have been witnessing in the past week and what we have seen on our television screens and read in our newspapers apropos this whole issue has been the most amazing development in international relations probably since the end of the Second World War.

There have been, quite rightly, articles and there have been some speeches today which also quite wisely and rightly advocated caution. But what has distressed and disturbed me is that when one understands that senior politicians in the United States have found that they have had to resign because of Mr. Gorbachev and when I read some of the statements made by politicians and by journalists in Britain, France and Western Germany I find that they are all frustrated and all annoyed because their theories have all been smashed by Mr. Gorbachev.

This afternoon there have been one or two speeches which have also indicated that. What those speakers were really saying was, "Come back Stalin and Brezhnev; all is forgiven". I believe that is a most appalling attitude to adopt. It is so easy to condemn and refute every mortal thing that Mr. Gorbachev has submitted and to which President Reagan has agreed. I believe we have to realise that this may be the little olive branch that encouraged Noah and which should now encourage all mankind.

The INF agreement is most welcome. However, the real danger, in my judgment, is that the remaining 92 per cent. of the nuclear arsenal is still extant. Verification is one of the most important issues that has come out of the agreement. I have constantly advocated in your Lordships' House that we should not agree to anything unless we are totally and absolutely satisfied that verification procedures are complete. Both we and the Russians should be able to inspect everything that we and they desire to inspect. That is the only way to instil confidence from our point of view. I believe that that would also give the USSR confidence.

We have begun something which, on that basis of compromise, could be a breakthrough on all space weapons. One of the most important elements of the agreement is the issue of verification. We must now maintain a logical programme of arms control with verification for all forms of weaponry. We have started with verification; let us hope that we can proceed with it. But verification must be the central theme of all our endeavours henceforth. That matter should also be examined by the Warsaw Pact countries, and I also hope that NATO's nuclear planning group, which meets next spring, will do the same thing. We should also see to it that that verification includes the total removal of all forms of nuclear weapons.

East-West relations are now finding unity in dealing with a small aspect of discussion and examination. However, there is still a lot of tension which may break the agreement which we in NATO have reached with Mr. Gorbachev on behalf of the USSR. The agreement could be ruined if, in some of the parts of the world in which there is now intense tension, that tension is not reduced and ultimately abolished. I think that that particularly applies to the Arab-Israeli dispute. It also applies to Iran and the Gulf; that is a danger area. We have had an indication on that matter from Mr. Gorbachev. He is not so unbending as Stalin. But he did say that the Russians were prepared to make a contribution towards keeping the Gulf free from danger. I believe that that is something which we should acknowledge.

Another thing which has been mentioned about Mr. Gorbachev—it has not been mentioned today but I think it is worth mentioning—is his great concern about starvation in Africa and the sub-continent. We in the West have kept that matter constantly on our agenda and have done a great deal to alleviate the suffering. I hope the Russians will follow our example.

Perhaps one of the greatest threats to mankind through all history has been the territorial dimension. I believe that that has always been the cause of war. We went to war in 1939 because Hitler stole Poland. We were very fortunate later on as regards which side the Russians came in on. Those of us who can remember the assaults from Normandy onwards and the news coming through, crackling on our radios, will remember that when the lads were saying, "Where are they now?", they did not mean the 8th army, the British army or the American army. They meant, "Where are the Russians now?", The Russians were sucking and drawing almost 15 divisions away from the allies in that assault. We have to realise that all that was started by the invasion of the third dimension—somebody else's land being taken by someone who had no right to do it.

That principle still applies to Afghanistan. I get a little irritated that the examples always stop at Afghanistan. What about the West Bank? Was that not stolen and is it not still stolen? If you stole something 10 million years ago and did not give it back, you are still a thief and an invader. What about the West Bank, the Golan Heights and the invasion of Lebanon, which is something we still cheer? What about the plight of the Palestinian refugees? All those matters have to be put on the agenda to remove tension, if we have the courage and honesty to do so.

I have always found that one difficulty of international intercourse is that it is impossible to express critical views about the policy of another nation to which you do not belong without exposing yourself to the charge of being anti that nation. The implication is that you should agree with everything it does. The late Lord Attlee, when he was Prime Minister, gave a warning in this Chamber when it was the House of Commons. He said:
"Always he suspicious of the man who agrees with every little thing you say".
I believe we have to take that into account today.

Russia has been pursuing its leading nation psychology, which is another name for imperialism. It has been as imperialist as any bombastic nation in mankind's history. Its cruelty from the revolution onwards has been equally appalling. However, the Tsarists that the Russians had to get rid of were equally appalling and cruel people. Therefore, we have seen that leading nation psychology crush so many nations in Eastern Europe. To a much smaller degree, we have seen that attitude taken up by the United States of America when it glances down to South America and in the dreadful story of the involvement of our great ally in the fearful and corrupt business of Nicaragua and the Contras.

I believe that no real freedom will ever exist if we have the sort of society that Russia espouses. Mr. Gorbachev must he taught that. Neither do we want altogether the sort of society that the United States espouses. However, in so far as we were all allies in war, we have acknowledged in this country the massive suffering of the Russian people. The Russian people, together with Britain and the United States, secured victory. I believe that we should now start to work together to save humanity. We should never at any time negotiate from fear, but we must never be afraid to negotiate.

In conclusion, I believe that we have a duty to acknowledge that the issue of nuclear disarmament and the possibility of a world nuclear war is not solely the concern of NATO or the Warsaw Pact countries. It involves the future of all mankind. We must keep that in the forefront of our minds and it must be our holy grail. I believe that that will give encouragement and hope to millions of Russians, Poles. East Germans, Americans, South Americans and all the peoples of the world. I believe that this country can give that sort of lead. We have the background and experience; we still have and shall always have the right to give that lead from this mother of parliaments.

6.19 p.m.

My Lords, I do not share the prevailing mood of joy and euphoria. I do not wish to rehearse again today doubts which I have previously voiced about some of the implications of the INF treaty, save only to say that there is a contradiction between the official European welcome for the treaty and the anxiety felt and expressed in the same quarters about what are, in effect, two of its main consequences; namely, the removal of certain links in the chain which binds the United States to Europe and a step in the direction of Europe's de-nuclearisation. The destruction of a whole category of nuclear weapons will be a hollow source of satisfaction if it amounts to a step which leads in the wrong direction.

Moreover, it is a sobering reflection that all the immense political investment which was necessary to secure the installation of cruise and Pershing in the first place, and which is now being used as it were to pay for the achievement of the INF treaty, is an effort which can never be repeated. To that extent Europe now stands markedly more alone and more lightly armed than she did before. A great deal depends on the optimism which the INF treaty has aroused and on that optimism being justified.

The history of the treaty has been facilitated, and its achievement facilitated; but its dangerous implications have been obscured by the glittering effect of the personality and of the policies of General Secretary Gorbachev. Personally, in his domestic context, I accept Mr. Gorbachev at face value. I do not say this to take issue with the noble Lord, Lord Pym, whose brilliant and authoritative speech I agree with on virtually every word. I see Mr. Gorbachev as a patriotic man, one of immense energy and daring, who will try everything in his power to combat the forces of inertia and decline which are inherent in Soviet society. As a means to this end he seems to be opening up Russia to the world. He seems to be using foreign policy, with the international prestige and the diplomatic triumphs which it can and is already bringing him, in order to neutralise opposition at home.

As other noble Lords have said, what opposition there must be! The Soviet bureaucracy which controls and stifles Soviet society is a vested interest so vast and privileged that one must surely doubt whether the leadership can summon up forces sufficient to confront and transform it.

Mr. Gorbachev appears to promise a closing of the gap in the character of our respective societies and in a way which is acceptable to us; namely, by a levelling-up rather than by a levelling-down. That is a promise which may prove illusory, and perhaps is likely to prove illusory. Yet any increase in the gap in living standards between East and West is undesirable. It is already a provocation; and if the West's dazzling display of liberties, of cultural opportunities and of material plenty is, on top of that, inadequately defended, then that is a double provocation. We should do nothing to impede the chances of Mr. Gorbachev's attempts at domestic reform from succeeding. But our connivance with Mr. Gorbachev should not include the weakening of our defence.

I believe that the Government have been right to emphasise the need for this country to retain and modernise our nuclear deterrent. It must be completely excluded from the coming negotiations on strategic nuclear weapons. Like De Gaulle for France, it has been Mrs. Thatcher's great achievement to restore this country's national pride and with it the political will and the economic capacity to sustain a credible nuclear deterrent.

Over-rationalistic critics have sought to undermine the theory of nuclear deterrence and so have the wishful thinkers. As Europe becomes set for partial de-nuclearisation, I do not think that the vision which is revealed before us—namely, that of an unredressed conventional imbalance—is an improvement.

It is not just that I think the conventional and chemical imbalance will be exceptionally difficult to redress really and permanently through negotiations, but also because, among other things, the Soviet Union has advantages in geography which facilitates deployment, and secrecy which impedes verification. Mainly, I feel that war is more tempting in a non-nuclear environment.

There are possibilities of mass involvement; there are visions of glory and territorial conquest. Above all in this context, it can be a means to restore movement to a stagnant society or to re-integrate a disintegrating one. The one thing that we must not do in preparing for the possible failure of Mr. Gorbachev's reforms is to re-introduce the option of war. We must not, as my noble friend Lord Glenarthur said, make Europe safe for conventional war.

Like everyone else here I hope for the best from today's historic evolvements, but we have our own contribution to make which should be based upon principles of ordinary prudence. We should seek to get Europe to speak with one voice; and where that proves impossible, we should articulate Europe's interests to the Americans as we perceive them. We must not again let the Americans be misled over our defence interests as they proved to have been before the Reykjavik summit. At all times we should measure the adequacy of our defences against the magnitude of the forces which are arraigned against us. Above all, we should not over-indulge in the fleeting emotions of the hour.

6.26 p.m.

My Lords, we have heard that we live in historic times, that this is an historic week and that this is an historic treaty. All times are "historic" to those who come after, but I suppose that there are some that are more historic than others and that this week is one of them.

The INF treaty has been signed by President Gorbachev and President Reagan. It has yet to be ratified by Congress but I suppose that it will be. However, even on Tuesday after the Prime Minister met Mr. Gorbachev, public opinion and the press were floating on waves of euphoria—"Our hopes for peace" and "the week that could change the world" said the Daily Express; "Comrades" trumpeted Today and the Daily Mail; "Peace on Earth" prophesied the Daily Mirror and just this morning the Daily Mail headlined: "A milestone for mankind"' I have a horrible sense of déjá vu or perhaps it should be déjá lu. It is too like 1938 and "Peace in our time". It is tempting fate and it frightens me.

I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Home, the noble Earl, Lord Kimberley, the noble Lords, Lord Beloff and Lord Mason of Barnsley, and the noble Lord, Lord Reay, for their contributions. They have said much which I should have wished to say. Above all I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Pym, who made a superb maiden speech on which I really must congratulate him and with which I agree in every word. The noble Lord made the most important point that I wanted to make, that the arms reduction priority must be conventional, chemical and biological first and nuclear only after that.

I was very glad to be reassured by the noble Lord, Lord Home, that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, was happy about the INF treaty and also that Mr. Shultz did not envisage the USA ever pulling out of Europe. But of course he cannot bind his successors.

I wonder very much what are the prospects of any considerable reduction in the Soviet conventional forces and chemical and biological arsenals. One must remember that the USSR is a vast area, having Japan on her eastern seaboard, an immensely long frontier with China, Mongolia to the south and south-east, and Iran to the south, all of whom she regards as potential aggressors. In addition to that she has problems with Moslem and non-European minorities within the Soviet Union.

The noble Lord, Lord Kagan, spoke about exactly that situation in this House on 23rd April 1985 in a Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Home, on relations between the West and the Soviet Union (Hansard cols. 1093 to 1096). I recommend his speech to your Lordships because it is as relevant today as it was then. I very much hope that he will say something more about this later.

I cannot help wondering whether Russia will ever seriously reduce her conventional forces, and who can blame her? Nor do I believe that she has any genuine wish totally to abandon the nuclear deterrent for very much the same reason. As I understand it, China, India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Israel, South Africa and Argentina are all working on a development of nuclear arms and may already be in a position to make nuclear weapons, so Russia must feel the necessity to keep a deterrent against possible nuclear aggression from at least five of those countries, as indeed must the NATO alliance from some of them.

I was relieved therefore to read that the Prime Minister rejects the idea of total disarmament, mooted by Mr. Gorbachev, and of a nuclear-free world. Paradoxically, I believe that, just precisely because the results of their use are so terrible, nuclear arms make a greater contribution to world peace than any other form of defence. I am not at all sure that I should not prefer to see a conventional arms-free world rather than a nuclear arms-free world. Furthermore, the Prime Minister has said that nuclear weapons could never be "dis-invented". No invention can ever be "dis-invented", nor can knowledge become "un-known" unless civilisation as we know it is destroyed. I am afraid that that applies to chemical weapons. One can only try to control and keep a balance as a deterrent. I fear that, in the nature of things, abolition may not be possible. In any case, let us not forget that the Germans did not use gas in the Second World War because they knew that we had better gas

As other noble Lords have said, Mr. Gorbachev cannot bind his successors even if his own intentions are as honourable as they appear to be superficially, and nothing he has done so far persuades me that the Russian bear has suddenly been transformed into a harmless cuddly bear and has no ambitions to extend her empire by an open and sudden conquest of Western Europe or, possibly far more likely, her sphere of influence by its gradual Finlandisation. The noble Lord, Lord Mason of Barnsley, has touched on this. I am grateful to him and agree with all that he says.

Western Europe must therefore keep her strategic and short-range nuclear weapons and even her chemical weapons, for the absence of such a deterrent is an invitation to such a move. To expect the United States, hesitant to enter the Second World War with conventional forces until the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour, to enter a third one with nuclear forces unless her own territory were threatened is lunacy, and I hope that we never do that.

6.33 p.m.

My Lords, I ask the indulgence of the House in opening my speech. I pay a personal and warm tribute to my noble friend, Lord Callaghan of Cardiff, first, because I owe a great deal to him. He it was who invited me to come into this House. That may not make him universally popular in the House; but it certainly makes him very popular with me. Far beyond that, 30 years ago my noble friend Lord Callaghan and I were working in close harmony. It was a great experience for me to work with him on colonial issues in the late 1950s.

The noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, suggested that the INF Treaty was largely due to the deployment of nuclear weapons. That is one theory; it is one that I do not share. When I saw the agreement being signed yesterday, my mind turned back to the days in Great Turnstile of Kingsley Martin, Bertrand Russell, Jimmy Cameron and Michael Foot and the foundation of the CND. I do not make any exaggerated claims on behalf of the peace movement, but I believe that it has played an important part in preparing the way for the INF agreement. I am not alone' The Soviet professor, Tair Tairov, in the New Times said that many elements of new Soviet thinking on nuclear strategy "originated in the ranks of the peace movement". I believe that the main achievement of the peace movement has been in the destabilisation of the theory of nuclear deterrence.

I give an unreserved welcome to the new treaty but, without being a Jeremiah, I underline what many noble Lords have already said. This is not yet a fait accompli. There are enemies of the agreement —enemies on the Right wing in America and enemies among the Stalinists in the Soviet Union. We have heard today—I point particularly to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Reay—that there are those doubters, questioners and maybe opponents within conservative ranks in the countries of the agreement between East and West. The agreement is being hailed as turning swords into ploughshares; one hopes that it is. We must work to make sure that it is. But let us not believe that it has been achieved by yesterday's agreement. It could be that the agreement will lead to an increase in the world-wide nuclear arms race

I was concerned to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, that the British Government believe that we shall rely on nuclear weapons for the foreseeable future. That sounds to me very much as though he is speaking on the substitution of Trident for the Pershing IIs that are to be destroyed. It sounds very much like the words that have been bandied around the world in the last 10 days, particularly in Western Europe, to the effect that there must be adjustments, modernisation or compensation for the destruction of the 3 to 4 per cent. of nuclear arms included in the agreement. What kind of adjustments?

I wish to ask the Minister three questions, of which I have given him prior notice. I apologise for not giving notice of a fourth, but maybe he can answer it anyway. First, is it true that new short range air launched cruise missiles are being developed and that a nuclear warhead is being developed to be added to them? Secondly, is it true that there is now development of a so-called fire-and-forget nuclear missile known as a stand-off missile? Is it the case that the Royal Air Force would like—and intends—to buy it to place on its Tornado bombers? Thirdly, is it the case that the United States is being asked to assign sea-launched cruise missiles to NATO?

As to the fourth question, of which I did not give the Minister notice, why is it that a neutron capable artillery shell funded by Congress was deployed in Germany two years ago without any information being given to European parliaments? I regret that only one woman has spoken in the debate. I do not for one moment suggest that the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, represents the views of anything like the majority of women in this country. Last year, the International Assembly of Women, which represents women in parliament all over the world, met to discuss disarmament. The group visited NATO in June last year, and only last Friday it was putting questions to Congress in Washington. Of course women have a special interest in, concern for, and emotion about the issue. They are concerned about the world in which their children and their grandchildren live.

My Lords, that special concern was better represented by the International Assembly of Women than by the speech of the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun.

In the Soviet Union and in the Western world, and far beyond it, there is another great constituency of concern beyond women. The resources being devoted to armaments is obscene when 17 million children die from malnutrition every year. It is time that we turned swords into ploughshares and applied them to the half of the world that we discussed a week ago; the half that is outside the world economy.

Britain has a special opportunity. The treaty has opened a door. That door can lead to genuine disarmament in all forms of armaments; it can lead to a bridge being thrown across the cold war so that it disappears. It can lead—I ask the Government to comment on this—to the opening of new channels of communication between NATO and the Warsaw Pact where there is none at the moment. They cannot talk to each other. It can lead to a genuine test ban treaty following the example set by the Soviet Union over an 18-month period; or it can lead to an intensified arms race and the proliferation that has been mentioned this afternoon, with Brazil, Pakistan, Israel and South Africa all having nuclear weapons and making the world a much more menacing place in which to live. I have no doubt about which of those alternatives the British people and the people of the world would choose.

6.43 p.m.

My Lords, I shall not repeat what other speakers have said so much better, but I should like to draw your Lordships' attention to one point. The most difficult part of the road towards arms reduction will be that of a reduction in conventional weapons and personnel. To assume that the Soviet Union has the same needs as the United States of America or Western countries is wrong. It requires a massive army for internal purposes. We talk about the Soviet Union as if it were a single nation. It is an empire. The Russian people are already in a minority and by the year 2000 it is expected that they will be in a minority of two to one.

A soldier in uniform is an easy person to control. What is more, he helps to control others. Are we suggesting that Mr. Gorbachev should dismantle the Polish army, the Hungarian army and the Romanian army? When we ask for a reduction in the numbers of tanks, we should remember Hungary. Tanks are a crowd-control weapon. If one approached Mr. Gorbachev with a view to his agreeing to abolish chemical warfare, I think that he would be receptive, because he is not naive. He knows that there is no real external threat to the Soviet Union from the West. There are not hundreds of thousands of people in America clamouring for visas to live in the Soviet Union. His difficulty is holding an empire together in a post-empire era.

Mr. Gorbachev is in the same position as the British Government were in at the end of the war when they had to decide that it was untenable to hold the empire together. But Mr. Gorbachev cannot decide that. He would not receive the backing of the Politburo or the army. In the perestroika he has confronted head-on not only a few people in the Politburo but the mass of the Soviet population by doubling the price of vodka, lengthening queues, and reducing the time when one can obtain it. That is just about enough to antagonise the whole of the peasantry and the workforce. The bureaucracy is deeply entrenched in habits and privileges.

With a minority Russian population, and ethnic minorities of 150 million people, involuntary inhabitants, to ask Mr. Gorbachev to reduce manpower and conventional weapons is like us asking the commissioner of police to dismantle the police force. It is a difficult subject upon which to negotiate because one cannot come out into the open and say what is in the background. On all other matters, out of pure self-interest Mr. Gorbachev will meet the West half-way or even more than half-way, but in present circumstances a reduction in conventional weapons and manpower is an unacceptable condition.

The noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gwydir, mentioned Lloyd George talking about the lava of Bolshevism not spilling over from the Soviet Union. At the moment, the lava of freedom is spilling into Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. It is a reverse stream.

In the age of modern media the average Soviet citizen is well informed as to how the West lives. Stalin's isolation of the Soviet Union has gone. In 1945, I was in the Soviet union. A joke circulated at the time. Stalin had made two mistakes when he went into East Germany. His first mistake was that he showed Western Europe to his Russian soldiers. His second mistake was that he showed his citizens to Western Europe. That is the Soviet dilemma.

I cannot say whether Mr. Gorbachev has a colossal task, as the Prime Minister said, or a mission impossible. What he has done will survive. We can only pray and hope that he will survive it. It is possible that he is already moving too fast. We should be careful not to push him too hard, because if he catches cold we will sit at home and sneeze.

The noble Lord, Lord Callaghan, spoke of the European act getting together. The European act is already getting together. The French and the Germans are slowly, steadily, with great conviction, moving together. We either join them in time or, as with the entry into Europe, we shall be knocking on the door, the last member to be allowed in. That is an issue to be borne in mind.

6.50 p.m.

My Lords, I also should like to praise the remarkable speeches of the three maiden speakers this afternoon, if it does not seem too patronising to say so, in particular that of my noble friend Lord Thomas of Gwydir, my near namesake. My noble friend and I know that the Thomas family is one of the largest international companies, very well established throughout the European Community in all the countries, and on both sides of the Atlantic. If we got our act together we should make a major contribution to the alliance.

When historians such as myself hear politicians or statesmen use the word "historic" about an occasion, they usually reach for their passports. On the other hand, there is no doubt that the treaty signed yesterday has several remarkable and unprecedented contributions. First, there is the fact that the Soviet Union has agreed to make cuts of an unequal nature in relation to the United States; that is to say, it is cutting more weapons than the United States. Secondly, these cuts, as many noble Lords have pointed out, are actual acts of destruction of weapons and not limitations. Thirdly, there is this mind-boggling event, as the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, remarked, of the introduction of verification on the scale that is envisaged. There is no doubt whatever that this makes the treaty of yesterday remarkable.

Taking these factors together, the treaty offers the promise for further measures of disarmament or arms control. These surely would be to our benefit if they are arranged with the orders of priority of which my right honourable friend the Prime Minister has spoken, and which other noble Lords have stressed in their speeches. Each of these unprecedented events have, however, certain caveats. For example, on the destruction of the weapons concerned, shall we be told whether the Soviet Union is regularly carrying out its acts of destruction? Some noble Lords may well feel that it is appropriate to put down a Question for Written Answer asking for a regular statement that the SS.20s have been cut in the way that the Soviet Union has agreed to cut them. Some noble Lords will feel that the destruction of SS.20s by firing them into the atmosphere is an ecological offence.

Some of us may feel that the verification procedure may require further attention. Who are these verifiers to be? Are we certain that after five years they will not get a little bored? This has happened in relation to UN forces. We know that these will not be UN inspection teams; they will be Soviet and US teams, loyal to their countries and not to the international community. Are we certain that that is the right way verification should be practised in future disarmament agreements?

There is then the question of "promise". My noble friend Lord Pym, in a remarkable maiden speech with which I, like other noble Lords, agreed substantially, pointed out that the question was this. Would we, the West as a whole—he had no doubts about the present British Government—be robust enough to resist apparently popular but dangerous further measures of disarmament which are put forward by Mr. Gorbachev?

There is another more substantial caveat affecting the entire series of arrangements that have been agreed. These arrangements affect one area of the world—namely, Western Europe—which until recently has been stable. As I understand it, the stability derives from the fact that there is a balance of armaments in Europe. Very often, I believe—unlike the noble Lord, Lord Hatch—that a balance of armaments preserves peace more effectively than a lack of armaments. I agree that there is a case for thinking that the 1914 war was caused because of an excessive number of arms. But there is also a case for thinking that in 1939 a lack of armaments tempted the Germans into an unnecessary war. At all events the question is arguable and it certainly seems that the stability that has been achieved in Western Europe derives from the balance of armaments obtained.

This agreement, because of the way it was achieved—and I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, when he said that this has perhaps been achieved without adequate consultation with the European governments—may risk the stability of an area of the world which has been stable for some time.

Let us consider these weapons. Whatever happens, the European countries will have to rethink their strategy, as I understand it. These are not first-strike weapons. They play an invaluable deterrent role. Pershings and cruises could be used against a Soviet conventional attack without necessarily risking the international nuclear exchange which the ICBMs would obviously cause. Surely therefore this could be a destabilising influence. At the very least it will force Europeans, as I see it, to rethink their strategy.

This brings me to a point which has been mentioned by many noble Lords during the course of today's debate, beginning with the noble Lord, Lord Callaghan, in a remarkable plea for European defence. That was followed by an astonishing number of other noble Lords from all sides of the House. I hope very much that the Minister will feel able to represent to his noble friend the Secetary of State for Foreign Affairs that this degree of unity on this important subject was expressed so widely during the course of our discussion.

Noble Lords may be aware that in his book, Perestroika, Mr. Gorbachev devoted particular attention to Europe. We should perhaps be particularly aware of the importance of the European issue in his mind. He speaks of the Russians as fellow participants in our common European house. "We are all Europeans", he says, at another point. In a sense, that is true about Russia. We all know that Russian literature is part of our heritage. I speak as a literary man. However, there is a great deal more to European civilisation than literature. Law plays a more important part.

I have a final comment to make. I hope noble Lords will not think it is too churlish. The President who signed this treaty in Washington is the same President who, two or three years ago, spoke of the Soviet Union as an evil empire. Although there have been changes in the way that the Soviet leaders have presented themselves, they are infinitely more agile, more alert, more propaganda conscious, more sympathetic and open than they seemed to be in the 1970s. Nevertheless, as Mr. Gorbachev has himself made clear, they believe in the same Marxist-Leninist philosophy with all that that implies.

The noble Lord, Lord Mason, explained in moving detail what this has implied over the last 30 or 40 years. Mr. Gorbachev has made it perfectly evident that he is pursuing international normality—those are his words—in order to achieve internal progress. That is a different point in this book. He has explained that as making Russia richer and stronger. This does not seem to be necessarily a great change from the Soviet Union about which Mr. Reagan, perhaps in extravagent terms, talked a few years ago. President Reagan's volte face in these circumstances seems to suggest a lack of gravity, in both senses of the word, from the president of a great nation and the realisation of that against the background of the present mood of so-called "Gorbo mania" shows that those of us who have been urging the European initiative have been speaking extremely sound sense.

7 p.m.

My Lords, I begin by saying that we must all congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, on his extreme prescience in selecting this day for his debate. I cannot think how he did it. In view of the limitations on time, I shall not repeat what has already been said by many noble Lords—and notably by the three excellent maiden speakers—about the extreme significance of the treaty signed yesterday and the hopes it holds out for further nuclear disarmament.

However, like my noble kinsman Lord Thomas of Swynnerton, I should like just to say a word about verification. Even a few years ago the present agreement would have been regarded as inconceivable; and, more especially, the fact that the ultra-suspicious Russians should have opened up their country in this way is surely as welcome as it is astonishing. There is now real confidence that any violation of the treaty will be impossible. On this point I think I am rather more optimistic than my noble kinsman.

A number of people have said that the treaty endangers the security of Western Europe. Theoretically they may have a point. The SS.20s and the other intermediate weapons will disappear but so will the Europe based cruise missiles and the Pershing IIs which they were supposed to counter. Unless these are in some way to be effectively replaced by other weapons, as has been mentioned by one or two speakers this afternoon, which would at least be a violation of the spirit of the treaty, the Russians might, it is alleged, with comparative impunity threaten the elimination of certain European—notably German—towns by a good number of the shorter-range nuclear weapons at present at their disposal.

The American (and indeed the British and the French) nuclear strategic weapons would always be in the background; but again the critics would say that these might never be employed in view of the destruction that would be caused by retaliation on their homelands. So runs the argument. If—God forbid!—in the absence of universal disarmament, the Americans were to withdraw their troops from Europe, there might be something in these fears. Otherwise, I suggest that they are quite unjustified.

There is no reason to suppose that, unless assured of a walkover (impossible if only we Europeans could now get together and stiffen our conventional defence as I hope we shall; and here I agree entirely with what the noble Lord, Lord Callaghan, said) the Russians would want to invade Western Europe if war with America would inevitably result. It would not be in their interest to do so.

So we come to what I believe is almost certainly the main issue. Is it likely or even possible that the present agreement will herald the beginning of some new and more healthy relationship between the superpowers? Is that possible? As we know, the complete elimination of the nuclear bomb is a prospect that has been held out by both the Western and the Eastern leaders. For his part, President Reagan seems to think that one day a perfected SDI will achieve this end—that is what he said—at least for the Western world. Mr. Gorbachev on his side constantly declares that complete abolition of nuclear weapons everywhere is what he is out to accomplish if he can.

The President may perhaps believe that his star wars project might be fully operable by the year 2010 or 2020—though very few experts would now agree—and insistence on still spending billions of dollars on it coupled with a virtual repudiation of the 1972 treaty is certainly not the best way to pursue his final end. Here I agree entirely with my noble friend Lord Zuckerman. For his part, Mr. Gorbachev, however sincere in his detestation of nuclear weapons, must presumably appreciate the fact that their total abolition—in default of complete and absolute universal disarmament—would be very much in the interests of the Soviet Union, given its continuing conventional strength. He must recognise that that is one of the results of total abolition.

The sad fact is that however desirable in theory that might be—and of course it is—the nuclear genie cannot now, and probably cannot for a good many years, be put back in the bottle. Can the genie be, as it were, tamed and put to some constructive use, each side retaining a small but still credible nuclear force for possible employment on a second strike? If any other nation should get the nuclear bomb in the next few years—and that is possible—it would find itself up against the same obligation. If it wanted to avoid annihilation it would not be able to use it except on a second strike. Would all of this be consonant with a kind of enduring peaceful association between the superpowers over the coming years?

I have always thought that it was possible, if not (up to now at any rate) particularly likely. What is certain is that unless Russia is prepared to evacuate not only Afghanistan but also Eastern Europe (which I fear for various reasons is not likely) and to stop supporting communist governments in various parts of the world by military means, to say nothing of abandoning her apparent intention to dominate the Western Pacific from bases at Vladivostok and Camranh Bay, she will continue to be a kind of rival to the United States. I heard what my noble friend Lord Bonham-Carter said about eastern Europe. We must all hope that coming events will increase the independence of the satellites of the Soviet Union. But the Russians will undoubtedly do their best at any rate to maintain a kind of predominance in what up to now they have called their empire; and I doubt (although I should like it in principle) that the total evacuation of these countries is likely to happen in the next few years. We must therefore expect some kind of tension to persist between the East and the West even if relations are notably improved and actual war becomes unthinkable.

I suggest that some continuing rivalry—that is what it will be—may, with luck, be consonant with a kind of co-existence—that is, closer economic relations plus virtual tacit agreement not to encroach physically on what might be regarded as one another's preserves. I shall not elaborate on that point because the House will understand what I mean. If there is to be any further advance in this direction after the signature and ratification of the present treaty it can only be by further concessions by each side to the other's point of view. To be specific, it is surely quite right for Mr. Gorbachev to insist, if not so much now on the development and possible deployment of SDI (which may well not continue to any notable extent after the next election) at least on the end of preparations by both sides for war in space and notably for a truce on anti-satellite activity which could presumably be easily verifiable. You send things up in the atmosphere and people notice whether they are there.

What is the point, after all, of each side going all out to shoot down the other's satellites? Nothing is more likely to create dangerous tension than the prospect of one side or the other gaining the mastery of what is usually described by the experts as the "higher ground". Similarly of course the Americans might at least expect the withdrawal of some Soviet divisions from Europe, and eventually, and fairly soon we should hope, from Afghanistan.

If we are to be at all optimistic, may it not even be—and I fear I have no time to expand on this fascinating subject—that, perhaps as a result of ancestral memories of the Golden Horde, it is now dawning on the consciousness of the Russian people that they might find themselves one day between two hostile power blocs, one in the West and the other in the East? No one would suppose, for instance, that they would welcome what some are now predicting—namely, the passing of what is called "empire" from the United States to Japan.

It is thus at least arguable that they are now seeking to demonstrate—unconsciously perhaps—that they, if not of course their Asian subjects, are in any case members of the Caucasian race, and if not, by tradition, actual members of what is called Western civilisation, at least over the centuries closely associated with it, quite often in a rather heretical way, though admittedly under Stalin for many years reverting to a horrible form of oriental despotism, thereby, as it were, for some time actually repudiating their heritage, possibly partly as the result of two atrocious wars.

Is it not conceivable that such an instinctive feeling may largely account for the apparent recent decision of Mr. Gorbachev to reverse what has been Soviet policy ever since—as I know only too well—1946, and to try to play a constructive part in the United Nations, and notably of course in the Security Council? May it not also account for its obvious (if, I fear, rather frustrated) desire to be associated with the United States of America in some Middle-Eastern settlement, and notably in action in the Persian Gulf?

Of course we have no guarantee that such sentiments will persist on the part of Russia. If the present treaty is repudiated by the Senate, we may well see in a year or two's time Mr. and Mrs. Gorbachev presiding over, so to speak, a house for retired steelworkers in Semipalatinsk. If he cannot overcome the resistance of the bureaucrats, the Army, and the KGB, that may well be his fate anyhow.

In one of his more majestic moments General de Gaulle spoke of "Europe and her daughter, America"—L'Europe et sa fille, l'Amérique. If America is indeed the daughter, might it not be thought that Russia is, so to speak, the cousin of Europe? Can it therefore be that the moment is approaching when, if the formidable cousin cannot, for obvious reasons, be admitted to the family, at least he might perhaps be admitted as a member of polite society?

Certainly America and Europe, who are full members of that family, must stand together since the danger of a real split in this family would be too terrible to contemplate. But if they managed to do so by still organising—I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Callaghan—a "credible" common defence, I suggest that the cousin may no longer be able to cause them very much trouble, always supposing that this is what the cousin really wants to do!

7.14 p.m.

My Lords, this has been a remarkable debate. It has demonstrated the value of this House, which today has given the opportunity for a number of our most senior and experienced public figures to contribute to this debate their experience at a moment when we celebrate a happening which is of the most significant importance. There were two ex-Prime Ministers and three ex-Foreign Secretaries. It has allowed three noble Lords to make their maiden speeches.

My noble friend Lord Callaghan made a typically robust and perceptive speech. The noble Lords, Lord Pym and Lord Thomas, made very effective contributions to the debate, and we hope to hear from them regularly. I should also like to congratulate my noble friend Lord Cledwyn on giving us the opportunity to have this debate, and for the excellent way in which he opened the debate itself.

I said in a debate on 5th December last year that Reykjavik forced all of us to decide whether we were in favour of nuclear disarmament and on what terms. Mrs. Thatcher, who at first reacted sharply against Reykjavik, has now supported the INF treaty, and we welcome that. I also welcome the support she has given and the letter she wrote to President Reagan urging him to soften his uncompromising position on SDI so as not to hinder further progress in the future, and in order to make further treaties possible.

The question is, what are the possibilities? What I find less attractive about the Prime Minister's policies is her determination to develop an independent nuclear British deterrent. At a moment when Mr. Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev are ridding themselves of nuclear weapons the Government wish to increase our capacity and our nuclear power. We believe that Trident can only be developed at the expense of conventional forces. The idea of an independent nuclear deterrent is an expensive illusion.

With the "rent-a-rocket" arrangement, which means we could not receive or operate it without the co-operation of the United States, I do not believe that the Americans would have allowed us to have Trident missiles if they had concluded a major agreement with the Soviet Union on strategic nuclear weapons (which they hope to do), as they would regard this as destabilising the world situation and the balance achieved between the superpowers. I am sure that when the superpowers begin to discuss the abolition or the reduction of strategic nuclear weapons the British deterrent will be a hindrance to progress on that front.

Much of the discussion about disarmament has been against the background of the changes taking place in Russia, and attitudes to disarmament have been conditioned by the view people have taken about the permanence and effectiveness of these changes. As far as Russia is concerned, there are many who believe that the leopard cannot change it spots—I suspect that my noble friend Lord Mason comes into that category. However, that is clearly incongruous when you hear in the discusssion on the negotiations and the discussions surrounding them people using cold war rhetoric and talking of Russia as an evil empire, and expecting the recipients of such language to behave in a reasonable fashion.

Leaving aside whether the changes in Russia are for real, what has been offered is considerable: disarmament proposals of January 1986 for abolition of all nuclear weapons in the world in a three-stage process to be completed by 2000; unilateral initiatives, such as lengthy moratoria on nuclear tests; concessions on INF and SDI; recognition of conventional asymmetries; adoption of the concept of "common security"; recognition of the necessity for asymmetrical reductions in conventional forces of the Warsaw Pact and the NATO powers in Europe; independent initiatives towards Asia and Western Europe and the resolution of regional conflicts in Asia; initiatives on the military presence in Mongolia, and serious efforts at a political settlement in Afghanistan; efforts to improve relations with Japan; rapprochement with China, including the resolution of border disputes in Western Europe; improved relations with Western Europe; the establishment of a European institute; talk of a common "European House"; recognition of the European Community by the Supreme Soviet and Comecon; a more positive attitude to the United States over the Gulf War, and agreement to pay back contributions for the peacekeeping force.

Whatever anyone can say about the motives, these are massive changes which have been offered, and they would have been unthinkable only two years ago. If all these intentions could be realised, we would have a complete transformation in our relations with Russia and a much less stressful world. I believe that we have to do everything in our power to enable those things to come to pass.

For those who believe that change will only be believable when all human rights are restored and Russia is a political democracy like the West, with Russia withdrawing from Eastern Europe, there is certainly a long way to go. We should do everything to encourage those things to happen, especially Jewish emigration.

We ought not to fall into the trap of assuming that we in the West are, or always have been, without fault. It was Mahatma Gandhi who, when asked his opinion of Western civilisation, said that he thought it could be good and when were the West going to try it?

I do not know whether we are at a real turning point in history; only history will tell us. However, I believe that anyone who impedes the chance of successful change because of prejudice or complete inflexibility will be doing the world a disservice. I believe that there is more ground for hope than at any time since the last world war.

While it is true that many changes are still needed, there can be no doubt that there are those in the Soviet machine who would prefer no change. It is clear, therefore, that whatever Mr. Gorbachev's motivation, success with his own people depends on a measure of success with the West. The vital question for our foreign policy is how we give this encouragement without putting ourselves at risk. Mr. Reagan suggests a mixture of trust and verification. The view of his negotiator, Mr. Kenneth Edelman, is more forthright. He said:
"I don't trust the Russians, therefore verification procedures must be effective enough to give us early warning if they cheat".
One can take one's choice between those two positions. But, in my view, there ought to be a place for all men and women of goodwill between one point and the other.

A new and encouraging feature is the improvement in verification procedures and the willingness of the Russians to permit on-site verification. This, together with the acceptance of the concept of force asymetries, has transformed negotiations both now and for the future.

One issue that disturbs me, however, is that, in spite of the fact that Russia has undertaken to give up more warheads than the West, there has been something of a stampede to suggest that we make good the losses in our nuclear armoury which would he caused by the elimination of intermediate nuclear weapons; what has been described as "compensatory adjustments". As the Russians are giving up three times as much power as the West, these people should he asked: are the Warsaw Pact powers entitled to have three times as many compensatory adjustments? Above all, is this the way to ensure trust?

The noble Lord, Lord Pym, expressed anxieties as regards the conventional balance in Europe. There is no doubt that the Russsians have a preponderance of tanks, troops and other weapons. However, even the Pentagon now concedes that many of the tanks are old, that many of the Russian troops are poorly trained and have a lower level of technical competence, and that the balance is not weighted against us. In its last four reports the Institute of Strategic Studies stated:
"Our conclusion remains that a conventional military balance is still such as to make military aggression a highly risky business on both sides".
Where there are deficiencies we should move to make them good.

The noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman, spoke of small nuclear weapons upon which we are still far too dependent. The weapons that remain after the INF Treaty is signed and implemented are powerful indeed. Weapons such as Mantebella, located in the Federal Republic of Germany, could destroy 55,000 British troops. If they were used, the troops would be killed not by the Russian troops but by our own weapons.

This is possible because the doctrine of flexible response requires that we fire nuclear shells with a range of 25 kilometres in the very part of Germany which we are seeking to defend. It is not surprising that the Germans would like to get rid of them and we should urge the super powers to give early attention to eliminating these weapons. In the meantime, we should reduce our dependence on them by maintaining and increasing our level of commitment to NATO in respect of conventional forces. According to the White Paper, there is to be a cut in defence expenditure of 5 per cent. between 1984–85 and 1989–90. If Trident is taken out, in terms of equipment that 5 per cent. becomes approximately 25 per cent. In a debate in another place, the Secretary of State dismissed the shortfall rather euphemistically as "slippage".

The department has recently been severely criticised for its failure to plan ahead. In two articles in The Times in October, Sir John Nott, former Secretary of State, spoke of the inability of' this country,
"to organise its defence on rational lines, with clear and appropriate priorities".
Sir Frank Cooper, former Permanent Secretary to the department, has declared that policies of expediency run the Ministry of Defence. They are two people who, in recent years, have occupied the highest position in the state in this area. Sir John adds that no British Minister since the 1960s has thought sufficiently about Britain's international role when dealing with long-term planning. These are powerful criticisms.

While we are preparing and hoping for further progress, we should undertake a review of our role. The United Kingdom is the only European member of NATO contributing to all three NATO commands; Europe, the Atlantic and the Channel. It is the Opposition's contention that we cannot sustain such a broad sweep and have Trident as well. Something will have to give. It is better to plan than to allow an unplanned erosion of our level of commitment to NATO as at present.

We could be entering an entirely new era in international relations. We need to have a role which is not only relevant to this need but one which we can sustain. As the level of confrontation becomes lower, we shall need new structures in which we can carry on a dialogue with other countries. In view of renewed Russian interest in the United Nations, it is conceivable that the UN could be developed to fulfil such a role and the Security Council could be a tool not just for talk but for action. That would not in any way supersede NATO but would be a forum for consultation and action on a number of problems which will still stand to be discussed in a less tense world—regional conflicts and the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Handled effectively, we could be in for a period of constructive co-operation which the world desperately needs. The large sums of money spent on defence in all countries since the war could be directed to more enduring activities which could increase the sum total of human happiness for men and women everywhere.

7.26 p.m.

My Lords, we have had a thorough and wide-ranging debate on both arms control and East-West relations. The number of eminent speakers—not least the excellent interventions by three maiden speakers who deserve our tributes not only for what they said today but for the important contributions that they have each made to the subject in the past—bears testimony to its importance.

The most obvious point of agreement has been that support for the INF agreement has been voiced on all sides. For once I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, in that we all hope that the United States Senate will note this and ratify the agreement speedily. Our future agenda will involve much hard negotiating, but the lesson of the INF treaty—that resolve and unity pay off—is bound to stand us in good stead as we pursue the alliance's other arms control goals. I was grateful to my noble friend Lord Home who, in a characteristically thoughtful speech, reminded us of the United States' commitment to Europe, which was recently reaffirmed by Mr. Shultz.

The noble Lord, Lord Hatch, advocated the suggestion that the peace movement and CND had largely been responsible for achieving the INF agreement. If NATO had followed the advice of the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, and the so-called peace movement, we should have no INF treaty today. The Soviet Union would have retained its monoply in this class of nuclear weapons. Mr. Andropov said:
"We are not naive people. Do not expect unilateral disarmament from us".
I wonder why CND persists in its insane commitment to unilateralism just when multilateralism is bearing fruit. Surely the lesson of INF is that we need to negotiate from strength, as we have done.

My noble friends Lord Thomas of Gwydir and Lord Home rightly stress the importance of verification. The regime agreed for INF is a tangible piece of glasnost. There are few more direct examples of openness than Soviet agreement to let United States inspectors into SS.20 bases. Arms control inspections will show in microcosm what East-West relations could become if the common interest that has been shown in INF can be built on and trust can develop.

I should perhaps tell my noble friends Lord Thomas of Gwydir and Lord Thomas of Swynnerton that the verification arrangements agreed are of unprecedented stringency and intrusiveness. The United Kingdom will play a full part in their implementation. Verification will involve Soviet inspectors at INF missile deployment sites in the United Kingdom, and the United States will be responsible to the Soviet Union for obligations in the treaty. However, the sovereignty and security of the United Kingdom will be fully respected through agreements with the United States and the Soviet Union.

The noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, asked whether my right honourable friend the Prime Minister was seeking compromise on the space defence initiative. It would be more productive to speak in terms of a search for agreement, but, as my right honourable friend said in her press conference on 7th December, the way to resolve differences would be a commitment both by the United States and by the USSR not to withdraw from the ABM Treaty for a number of years, together with exchanges of information over both sides' research programmes. This would serve to build the confidence between the United States and the Soviet Union necessary to secure a meeting of minds in this important area. That is a prospect to which my noble friend Lord Pym also referred.

I hope that this meets to some extent the concerns expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman. The noble Lord, Lord Kennet, mentioned what he said was the damage done by SDI, if I remember his words correctly. He accepted that the Russians have for years been engaged in similar research. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Mason of Barnsley. How can all this so-called damage be attributed to SDI alone? SDI is a research project. No decision has yet been taken on its deployment and it is within the United States and Soviet treaty obligations. I hope that the Soviet Union will not obstruct the prospect of concrete reductions in strategic weapons on the grounds of its own perceptions of a research project whose realisation has not yet proved feasible.

The noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, asked whether we will review the position on Trident following substantial United States and Soviet reductions. We have never said "never" to associating the United Kingdom deterrent with the arms control process, but we should first want to see substantial cuts in the strategic offensive arsenals of the superpowers and of course no change in Soviet defensive capabilities. But, as I have said before, it is worth noting that even after 50 per cent. cuts in the strategic arsenals of the superpowers, Trident will still represent a lower percentage of the Soviet arsenal than Polaris did in 1970. I was pleased to note that the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, recognised that conventional deterrents would not be sufficient and that therefore we need to maintain the minimum effective nuclear deterrent, which is the policy of Her Majesty's Government and of NATO.

If I understood the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, correctly, he suggested that the introduction of Trident would represent an eightfold increase in warheads over Polaris, and this at a time of possible 50 per cent. superpower strategic cuts. With respect, the figures he quoted seem to me incorrect. The ones that matter are that Trident will represent some 8 per cent. of a total of 6,000 Soviet warheads when introduced in 1995. Polaris represented some 10 per cent. of the number of Soviet warheads in 1970, so the percentage has dropped and the numerical increase of Trident over Polaris is by two and a half times and not eight times, carried by the same number of submarines at a time when Soviet ballistic missile defences are being significantly improved and the Soviet offensive capability is more accurate and carries a more destructive payload.

My Lords, there is of course a difference between us in that I am referring to independently targeted warheads. That is the thing that matters.

My Lords, I do not have time to go further into the mathematics of the subject. I do not think that the noble Lord and I will agree on this. It is a subject that has been debated on several occasions previously in your Lordships' House.

I listened with great interest to the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Callaghan, about co-operation on the lines of the Franco-German division. As members of the integrated military structure we already cooperate closely with our allies in joint deployment. France, as the noble Lord said, is outside the military structure and the Federal Republic of Germany has repeatedly made clear that the Franco-German brigade provides a means of forging closer links between France and NATO.

The noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, raised the important matter of chemical weapons in a wide-ranging speech. I was unable to cover chemical weapons earlier this afternoon, but I believe there is support from all parts of the House for that important other matter of arms control priorities, a global ban on chemical weapons. We face a Soviet chemical warfare capability of sophistication and size out of all proportion to any defensive requirements. The Gulf conflict, which was referred to by at least one noble Lord, has vividly demonstrated the hideous nature of chemical warfare. There are increasing reports that Iraq's production of its own chemical weapons is encouraging other countries to follow its example. As I have said, we have been at the forefront of efforts to conclude an effectively verifiable convention to get rid of these terrible weapons entirely.

We all welcome the encouraging progress made in the negotiations, but equally the complexity of the remaining detail must not be underestimated. There must also be confidence that governments are sincere in seeking agreement. The chemical weapons convention will be the most ambitious multilateral arms control agreement ever. If it is to bear the weight that will he put upon it, we must be certain that its structure is sound.

The noble Lord, Lord Hatch, asked me four questions. I cannot rehearse them in full, but in answer to the first, which was about a new short-range air-launched cruise missile, for which a nuclear warhead is now under development in the United States, I cannot comment on the United States defence plans. As for his second question about a fire-and-forget missile, of course the nuclear capability of Tornado and other aircraft is kept under constant review and no decisions have been taken on any modernisation of the free-fall bomb.

His third question referred to the United States assigning some of its sea-launch cruise missiles to NATO. Any adjustments to NATO's nuclear capacity are a matter for NATO as a whole and no decision has been taken. His last question was about the nuclear artillery shell. The noble Lord claimed that no information had been given to European parliaments. I cannot speak for other European parliaments, but this Parliament will be fully informed, as has always been the case, of any change in the destructive nature of nuclear weapons assigned to Her Majesty's forces. This applies both to United Kingdom and US-owned warheads.

A number of interesting and stimulating speeches are testament to the intriguing nature of changes taking place within Soviet society. My noble friend Lord Kimberley raised, in a deeply philosophical and original series of remarks, the question of the moral climate in the Soviet Union and atheism. I shall have to study his remarks tomorrow, and I promise I shall do so with great interest. For years we have been accustomed to dealing with the Soviet Union as a dogmatic adversary, hidebound by its inflexible ideology. But in the last two years Soviet thinking has become less rigid and more inquiring. We are presented with new challenges, new questions, new decisions. How should we respond?

Here I cannot do better than elaborate on the three watchwords of my right honourable and learned friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary. In a major speech on East-West relations at Chatham House in May, he spoke of the need for realism, vigilance and an open mind in dealing with the Soviet Union. I was glad to note the support for this balanced and constructive approach given by the noble Lord, Lord Callaghan, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester, and one or two other noble Lords.

We must respond with realism in setting expectations for the improvement of our relations with the Soviet Union. I entirely agree with my noble friend Lord Pym that we must not set our hopes so high as to breed the excessive optimism which inevitably precipitates disappointment. We must remember that the search for arms reductions, for the settlement of regional conflicts and for greater respect of human rights—including the important issue of religious freedom, to which the noble Lord, Lord Soper, addressed his remarks—is long and difficult. We must be prepared for setbacks. We must be measured and consistent in our approach, keeping an eye on the long-term objective of more stable and constructive East-West relations.

History has shown that the Soviet Union respects firm and consistent policies and will do business with strong governments. The noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, like the noble Lord, Lord Callaghan, rightly referred to the importance of strength through unity. As the noble Lords stressed, that must include a strong and united European pillar of the Atlantic Alliance.

I cannot however agree with Lord Thomas of Swynnerton's view that the European allies were inadequately consulted on the INF agreement. Successive meetings of NATO Ministers have endorsed the dual-track decisions since 1979. My noble friend will need no reminding of my right honourable friend the Prime Minister's meeting with President Reagan at Camp David in November 1986.

We must also be realistic in our assessment of the Soviet Union. I greatly admired the penetrating and wide-ranging analysis of my noble friend Lord Beloff, and indeed the noble Lord, Lord Bonham-Carter. Our judgment must be objective and unclouded by sentiment or wishful thinking. There are perhaps two traps to avoid: the belief that the Soviet Union has suddenly been transformed and no longer poses any threat to us, and the belief that nothing can change in the Soviet Union. There are real changes under way but we in the West must still proceed from a hardheaded assessment of our own interests.

The noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, spoke effectively on those lines, and I am grateful for the support that he expressed. I cannot, however, agree with his declaration that modernisation is escalation. We are not escalating nor circumventing the INF agreement. We shall stick to our policy of maintaining the minimum force necessary to ensure deterrence. That deterrent can surely only remain effective through modernisation.

The noble Lord, Lord Bonham-Carter addressed the matter of Eastern Europe. As he said, the process of perestroika and glasnost in the Soviet Union are bound to have consequences for the countries of central and eastern Europe. I am glad to note that some of those countries are now making a determined effort to reform their economies. However, economic reform is unlikely to succeed without political liberalisation and popular participation. The people must see benefits for themselves if they are to be willing to co-operate in harsh austerity measures. The result of the referendum in Poland demonstrates the difficulty of getting popular support for painful economic reforms.

The visit of the Polish Foreign Minister to London this week followed visits by his colleagues from Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Romania this year and the German Democratic Republic last year. My right honourable and learned friend the Foreign Secretary has of course visited all the countries of central and Eastern Europe, the first British Foreign Secretary to do so. We are well aware of the need to maintain a dialogue with the countries of Eastern Europe as well as with the Soviet Union.

I turn to my second watchword: vigilance. Vigilance in maintaining adequate defences against the threat of military force, espionage and subversion. There has been no reduction yet in the massive level of Soviet military forces, about whose role the noble Lord, Lord Kagan spoke so interestingly. Nor have the KGB reduced their activities. Her Majesty's Government have shown, through a firm and consistent policy, that their aim of better relations with the Soviet Union and the countries of eastern Europe will not be bought at the cost of our national security.

As the noble Lord, Lord Mason of Barnsley, indicated, we must have an eye to history. Experience has shown that our firm actions have not prevented the development of good working relations between the United Kingdom and those countries.

Vigilance is needed too in distinguishing between Soviet words and deeds. Mr. Gorbachev says he wants to withdraw Soviet forces from Afghanistan; to see a negotiated end to the Iran—Iraq conflict; to promote human rights. All this is welcome. Let us test him to turn those words into deeds.

Finally, we must keep an open mind. Doubtless some of your Lordships will remain convinced that East is East and West is West and ne'er the twain shall meet. You may think that competition and rivalry are inevitable between societies with different geo-political interests and a very different idea of the freedom of the individual. But competition need not mean confrontation; rivalry need not mean enmity. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham's remarks on the importance of making the United Nations machinery work better.

There is already a greater flow of East-West visits, more flexibility and pragmatism in Soviet diplomacy. There have been three superpower summits in as many years, the current one witnessing the signature of the first agreement ever to reduce nuclear weapons. A Soviet leader has visited Britain for the first time in 31 years, which shows the respect now accorded to British views and underlines the role which Her Majesty's Government is playing in promoting East-West relations. Much remains to be done. We must not lose sight of this; but the omens are encouraging.

7.47 p.m.

My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down—I did not want to interrupt his rhetoric—may I say this? In answer to my fourth question as to whether the new artillery shell which is neutron capable was reported to the European Parliament, he stated that the British Parliament had been informed. Can he tell the House when?

My Lords, I never said that. What I said was that this Parliament will be fully informed, as has always been the case in any change in the destructive power, etc.

My Lords, we have had an excellent debate on an historic occasion. I am extremely grateful to noble Lords on all sides of the House for their speeches. I am particularly obliged to the three maiden speakers whose speeches were appreciated very much. I am also very grateful to the Minister for demonstrating his stamina by explaining government policy in two speeches. I shall say no more save that this is an on-going subject and that the House will wish to return to it again very soon. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion for Papers.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.