House of Lords

Question for Short Debate: Defence Review

18th January 2018 – Contribution by Lord Waverley 

My Lords, we must now determine our future contribution and place in the world, while balancing the protection of our national interests and achievement of our foreign policy goals. Developing conventional capability partnerships for comparative advantage, disregarding vanity projects and matching critical requirements to budgetary constraints are fundamental. I would hope to hear today of much-needed tightened departmental guidelines on contract awards, spending procedures and budgetary control, as well as enhanced in-house scrutiny and delivery capabilities.

Political masters have an unenviable challenge to fund and deliver the effective tools and processes for each of the four strategic needs: ground, sea, air, and cyber. The fourth, the new threat of cyber, represents the biggest challenge. Is the Minister satisfied the United Kingdom has the resources and capabilities to counter current and future cyber threats? In order to ensure maximum necessary capability in our cybersecurity arsenal, we must know the extent of future co-operation on software vulnerability with ENISA, the EU cyber- security agency. I understand that a proposal to set up a certification framework, with ENISA as the hub, is in the offing, so from that point we can calculate our needs and costs. Are the Government addressing this with ENISA, or is this subject to the ongoing Brexit negotiations?

Her Majesty’s Government might wish to consider hosting a state-level global conference to map out political, security and cyber dialogues and responsibilities and to co-ordinate necessary scrutiny and enforcement mechanisms.

Link to full contribution: http://bit.ly/2MBChHJ

Question for Short Debate: Russia

29th January 2018 – Contribution by Lord Waverley 

My Lords, with the leave of the House, the noble Earl, Lord Cork, has kindly agreed to finish up if the ails of the season intervene during my remarks.

At a time of escalating rhetoric, some of it ill-informed, misinformation and polarisation, relations with Russia must command our attention. The perspective of the United Kingdom, and that of the West more generally, in addition to that of Russia require consideration. Time constraints do not permit me other than to commend to the Minister to take note of Russia’s enhanced relations with China and Turkey, nor will I comment on the internal affairs of Russia given the proximity of the upcoming presidential election.

The UK’s current disagreements include: Russia’s actions in sovereign countries—Ukraine, with eastern Ukraine and Crimea, and Syria; serious contentions of election interference and the cyber sphere; and the death of Mr Litvinenko. The UK therefore supports the strict EU and US sanctions regimes. We have a long-held view also that attempts to undermine a rules-based order—universal human rights, rule of law and democracy—are unacceptable and must be challenged.

The visit to Moscow by the Foreign Secretary in December might suggest a degree of bilateral progress, despite differing views. The bilateral relationship hitherto remained deadlocked, with co-operation and dialogue held hostage, all official contact blocked, zero intelligence co-operation and the intergovernmental steering committee on trade and investment on hold since 2014, with inevitable consequences. This is not helpful in these turbulent times.

As things stand, with our current policies and approach, Moscow is dismissive of the UK. It insists on respect and to be engaged with as a player on the world stage. Russia views the current international order as detrimental to its interests. Western concern is that Russia could up-end the existing balance of the world if allowed to act in an unfettered manner, free of constraints.

Russia believes it would be better served by a system of spheres of influence, in which major powers are pre-eminent in their respective regions. This pre-eminence would be determined by those able to be responsible for their foreign policy—the US, China and Russia—with each to have an equal say on matters of importance and with the Security Council being the venue for managing world affairs.
Russia perceives itself as disadvantaged by the current security order in Europe and is strongly opposed to continued NATO expansion, which it sees as a threat. Not consequentially, Moscow has made modernising its nuclear arsenal central to its strategy.

Russia was of the view that US diplomacy in Syria was marginalising its interests and took an opportunity to step in with military intervention when it perceived western democracy was failing. It appears satisfied that its regional geopolitics has been enhanced. Nevertheless, it remains concerned with the security situation in the Middle East region, particularly with its border areas currently destabilised by returning extremist jihadists.

A commitment to early negotiations between Ukraine and Russia would be a useful development, with continuing support for the Normandy peace process. Beyond that, a more proactive role and trust for the OSCE by Russia would be viewed positively, while commitment and reconsideration of financial contributions to the Council of Europe and a resolution to the impasse regarding the presentation of credentials to the Parliamentary Assembly would be welcomed.

Current economic sanctions are designed to both punish Russia for aggressive actions and deter it from future coercion. It considers that the US sanctions law means that resolution of the Ukraine crisis will not result in the lifting of US sanctions and therefore questions whether the EU will lift sanctions if the US does not. There are indicators of future dilution of the EU sanctions regime, possibly led by Germany when it confronts its national priority to secure gas. This is in addition to recent reported violations of sanctions in the Far East.

The current level of co-operation on cybersecurity is reflective of the overall relationship, and mechanisms are urgently required to define the rules of the game. There appears to be broad western consensus of comprehensive orchestrated interference. One challenge is that the West and the Russians have very different views as to what constitutes hacking. There is potential, nevertheless, for all sides to work together to combat cybercrime and the use of the internet by terrorists. I have called on HMG to consider taking a lead internationally by devising and promoting a new global treaty to nail this issue. A mutual cyber non-interference pact would be helpful. I understand that Russia would welcome the opportunity to participate.

As things stand, with current policies and approaches, we in the UK would be deluding ourselves if we believed that we are a priority for Russia. However, the UK now has a real opportunity globally, in a new-look UK post Brexit, to play to our strengths; to carve out a valuable future acting as an honest broker on the world stage. We are respected the world over for our natural sense of fairness and world-class diplomacy. The world’s problems, including climate change, global terrorism, the rising gap between the rich and the poor and cybersecurity all need co-operation between the world’s players, which should include the UK and Russia. We should focus more on areas of common interest, and not just on what divides us. There is scope for a summit meeting to define these areas. A new era of mutual respect would serve both sides well.
So what might lie ahead for UK-Russia relations? Engagement is naturally preferable, although conundrums exist over the present UK official mindset. HMG could become more positive, bold and innovative and might wish to develop a more constructive, clearly defined engagement by advancing along four tracks: track 1 would be Government to Government; track 2 would be security co-operation and military dialogue; track 3 would be trade, scientific research, climate change, health, the international drugs problem, culture, sports and the all-important civil society co-operation including educational exchanges; and track 4 would be parliamentary interaction.

Economic co-operation can reshape the course of any relationship. I am reminded of the recent MOU and road map between Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development and France’s Ministry for the Economy and Finance on innovative clusters development, with Germany having more than 10 times the number of active joint ventures or entities registered with or in Russia that we do. Engaging with the Patriarch and the Russian Orthodox Church and co-operation in the Arctic would be equally useful. The strength of a relationship is determined by how broad it is, and by it not being an exclusive preserve of government.

I draw towards a conclusion. Noble Lords might possibly have read the lead article in Friday’s Daily Telegraph with the strap-line:

“Russia is ready to kill us by the thousands”.

I feel compelled to comment briefly in light of this evening’s debate. While I certainly do not advocate that the UK throws caution to the winds, the suggestion of impending apocalypse is excessive. The Russian ambassador has reacted vehemently to the article on his embassy’s website. If, however, the Defence Secretary’s assertion was indeed correct, we have to ask ourselves why. It could be the result of a bilateral relationship that has been in the freezer for many a year. In that case, what is going to be done about it?

Much could be gained by conducting patient and persistent diplomacy; a broad bilateral engagement and an atmosphere of good relations would be a preferable route. HMG might wish to recall Henry Kissinger’s advice,

“to be wary of those who encourage anti-Russian sentiment when it is not in the long-term strategic interests of the West”.

It might serve us well also not to forget that Russia, as the Soviet Union, came to our aid in the Great Patriotic War, known to us as the Second World War. Their losses were immense. Without them, we would not be here today. I have in my library Memoirs of a Soviet Ambassador 1939-1943. One of Ivan Maisky’s observations was that his recollection of official meetings he attended in London differed from the official records of the day. Therein might lie a clue to the United Kingdom’s engagement with Russia: bridge that gap and build the trust vital to underpin a productive future relationship. I look forward to a robust debate on these issues.

Link to full contribution: http://bit.ly/2Ol38Vb

Foreign Policy: Parliamentary Participation

19th March 2018 – Contribution by Lord Waverley 

I thank the Minister for that response. With many more issues and challenges on the global stage than current mechanisms can properly undertake, would the Government, including a diminished Foreign Office, keep an open mind and encourage the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and the International Relations Committee to jointly consider revamping foreign policy decision-making processes, with necessary discretions factored in, knowing that the combined wisdom and shared responsibilities of Parliament as a whole should be made better use of by assisting in the creation of visionary policies and addressing the multiple challenges, including our country’s position in and future contribution to tomorrow’s world?

Link to full contribution: http://bit.ly/2PCQ7ay 

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2018

22nd March 2018 – Contribution by Lord Waverley 

My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Geidt, on his maiden speech; I was delighted to have the commitment to the Commonwealth of his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales reaffirmed.

I was particularly struck by the remark of the noble Lord, Lord Howell, on the harnessing of civil society. What occurs to me is that, while heads and Ministers are important, it is the people’s Commonwealth on which we should be focusing. How appropriate it is that the emphasis on civil society should be at the CHOGM hosted here in London.

This year’s theme of a common future and role for the Commonwealth in a more prosperous, sustainable, secure and fair future is also integral to Britain’s outlook of reshaping relations in the changing international environment by strengthening diplomatic, trade, defence and security ties. We have heard from the Minister that the final communiqué will reflect the continuing promotion of a more prosperous, sustainable, secure and fair future—a common future, a vibrant future, shaping the Commonwealth’s purpose into the 21st century. Promotion of economic and social development, a broad ability to assist in building capacity for democracy and human rights, economic development and governance by focusing on strengthening national capabilities are central.

Commonwealth membership also remains attractive because the community provides an important trade network. Although not a formal trading bloc, the network provides access to established economies such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand, but also emerging markets such as India and Malaysia. The Commonwealth also reaches into international organisations such as ASEAN, the African Union, the Caribbean Community and the Pacific Islands Forum. I take on board fully the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, about the regions of the Commonwealth not necessarily being able to be relied on as a replacement for the European Union. Appropriate care should be taken in that regard.

The overnight news that 44 countries in Africa have agreed a deal for a continental free trade area is welcome. However, I can see this presenting challenges and opportunities for the future. I was delighted that the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, made mention of my friend and mentor, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, a past, effective Secretary-General of the Commonwealth. I have a sneaking regard for the just-announced initiative in respect of Africa beyond the strengthening of internal continental trade. Trade relies on good transport links, so I hope that there will be progress in the development of east/west links rather than the current north/south Paris-London necessities.

Trade between Commonwealth states is estimated at more than $680 billion, and intra-Commonwealth trade is projected to surpass $1 trillion by 2020. According to the Commonwealth Secretariat, when both partners are Commonwealth members, they trade 20% more, pay 19% less and generate 10% more foreign direct investment inflows. This “Commonwealth effect” shows that membership contributes positively to increased trade, investment and labour flows.

Commonwealth members’ trade relationship with the UK has for decades been governed through EU policies. Brexit means that Commonwealth members’ trade relations with the UK are at a crossroads. There is huge potential to capitalise on new trade and investment opportunities with Commonwealth nations. There needs to be a focus on achieving improved trade logistics, simplifying tariffs and other barriers to trade, and developing regional supply chains where Commonwealth countries have existing advantages. There is huge scope to improve this and it should be a prime focus.

However, we need to encourage new sets of players to take an active role. Yesterday, for example, I had the opportunity to call into the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce’s offices here in London to discuss a wide range of issues beyond just that of the Commonwealth. We determined that it had never been more important to stand together than in these challenging political times to create a conducive business environment that facilitates trade, job growth and prosperity. SMEs in particular depend on this to be able to grow. Such an environment will be dependent on harmonising regulations, reducing non-tariff barriers and improving access to the digital economy. Digital trade enables more entrepreneurs and businesses to trade, particularly SMEs, in emerging markets. It helps remove unnecessary red tape, increase financial inclusion, tackle corruption, connect rural communities to global consumers and increase the number of women in business. I can envisage a clear central role for the International Chamber of Commerce in bridging the gap between the private sectors and global policymakers.

We can also look forward to the Commonwealth Business Forum. All in all, much will come from these initiatives. While it is for the private sector to come together, too much is sometimes expected from government. However, its role is to underpin opportunity by providing export finance facilities and the like.

For my own part, and it is appropriately declared, my humble contribution is that of creating SupplyFinder.com, a platform to promote, connect and facilitate global trade. However, in recognition of this upcoming CHOGM, I am launching TradeCommonwealth.co.uk, which will coincide with identifying opportunity and connecting particularly SMEs around the Commonwealth.

Although we can hold our head high and be proud of the shared association with countries around the world, it places a burden of responsibility on us. We do pull our weight; much of our contribution is unsung, but we—the family—face common modern-day challenges: climate change, new cross-border security threats and threats to our shared values. The Commonwealth should ensure that the organisation remains responsive to these to retain relevance, vibrancy and effectiveness. Our country’s mantra should be: what is good for our friends is what is good for us.

Mr Arnold Smith, the first Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, possibly had in mind our common values, friendship and understanding when he remarked:

“100 years from now, I suggest, historians will consider the Commonwealth the greatest of all Britain’s contributions to man’s social and political history”.

It was Her Majesty the Queen, however, who stirred the imaginations of us all when she noted that,

“what we share through being members of the Commonwealth is more important and worthy of protection than perhaps at any other time in the Commonwealth’s existence. We are guardians of a precious flame, and it is our duty not only to keep it burning brightly but to keep it replenished for the decades ahead”.

These words should be remembered this time forth.

Link to full contribution: http://bit.ly/2wahaSs

European Union (Definition of Treaties) (Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement) (Cuba) Order 2018

18 July 2018 – Contribution by Lord Waverley 

My Lords, I sat in the other place last Wednesday and followed the same procedure that it adopted when considering the ratification of all the agreements before your Lordships’ House. As much as anything, I have some remarks for the record as well, since the opportunity presents itself. The Minister has kindly taken us through the Government’s thinking and I thank her for that, but perhaps I might explore this further.

What is the central American instrument expected to achieve in both purpose and benefit, given the slide towards an unsettled region? I recognise that central America is 50 million people strong and might be considered a key future partner for the UK. It should also be remembered that countries at peace with themselves form a part of the region at large. One could imagine Belize and Costa Rica being in that bracket, though I recognise that they may not form part of the exact agreement itself. Nevertheless, I place on record my disquiet as to the goings on in the region. El Salvador is having its challenges. Events in Nicaragua are troubling. There are ominous signals from Panama and Honduras. Venezuela is not before us, but, with all its well-documented instability, it is making active overtures to Cuba, which is.

Cuba is a Caribbean island extending into a peaceful region with which the UK has a more direct association. Anglophone neighbours have long expressed anxiety as to the effect that that country will have on the economies of the islands when it enters fully the mainstream economic affairs of the region. There is nothing wrong with that in principle, but it should start to be a concern when we factor in Venezuela’s ever-closer ties with Iran and so, potentially, with Cuba. This week’s Economist has surmised:

“Although it has … far less attention, Nicaragua is following”,

the lead,

“of Venezuela, in which an elected dictator clings to power through repression and at the cost of economic destruction”.

I trust that this ominous assessment proves to be wide of the mark and not the manner of things to come in the region. Those of us of a certain age will remember the Iran Contra hearings of 1987, addressing covert arms transactions with Iran. We should now add to that the current United States policy of expelling immigrants back to El Salvador, which has the possibility of giving the US nightmare scenarios on its border regions and of further flaming regional discontent.

While distress signals are on the horizon, nevertheless, not ratifying will have a negative effect on the countries in that region and on the UK. I therefore offer support, somewhat guardedly, to these instruments, but I respectfully request of the Government, as we move on from this being an EU instrument to a post-Brexit bilateral circumstance, that we make this ratification process work to the benefit of the region and of the UK—and, of course, the EU. At the very least, it fulfils my core belief in the principle of engagement.

It may be remembered that President Obama underlined in a now famous speech delivered in Cairo that if a policy has not worked for 50 years it is perhaps time to think again. Cuba, a part of the region to which I have referred, is testament to that. Let us hope that those aspirations come into being in central America and become a lesson for all of us in other geopolitical arenas. My negative remarks should not distract from the importance of this agreement.

Link to full contribution: http://bit.ly/2zNgLti 

 

Lord Waverley on European Union (Definition of Treaties) (Partnership and Cooperation Agreement) (Turkmenistan) Order 2017

18 July 2018 – Contribution by Lord Waverley 

My Lords, the Minister spoke about the need for positive relations. I totally concur. I will make some remarks, particularly in relation to Kazakhstan. The Minister commented on the road map for foreign policy. I have no doubt that, as we move to a post-Brexit global world, the United Kingdom will be working hard on its relationships, instilling a sense of urgency and looking to up our strategic play in an opportunistic manner.

Remarks during consideration of these instruments in the other place last week, beyond Sir Alan’s ministerial introduction and response, were reserved mostly for Armenia. I wish to turn attention to what should be seen as a key component of the UK’s future—our relationship with Kazakhstan—and take this opportunity to expand on the strategic and beneficial nature of that relationship.

As we have heard, the EU instrument before us could serve as a framework to move seamlessly into part of a future bilateral instrument. We have built the relationship with Kazakhstan into one of comparative advantage. Over the past 26 years, our two nations have co-operated closely on a wide range of issues, making Kazakhstan a key regional partner.

Among many priorities is a determination to focus on what more can be done to counter the global threat of terrorism and extremism. This includes increased efforts from both regional neighbours and the wider international community to help stabilise Afghanistan. Both these goals are, I understand, supported strongly by the UK.

Link to contribution in context: http://bit.ly/2NpOxHc 

Lord Ahmed on Parliamentary Participation in Foreign Policy

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what consideration they have given to Parliament being offered a more meaningful participation in foreign policy, including by restricting the extent of the royal prerogative.

Question asked by Lord Waverley on 19th March 2o18

Response by Lord Ahmed of Wimbledon:

My Lords, the FCO attaches great importance to engaging with Parliament on foreign policy issues through Statements, Questions, debates, evidence to Select Committees and, indeed, informal discussion. The Government observe the convention that there is a debate in Parliament before UK military action is taken except where there is an emergency and such action would not be appropriate. ​In relation to treaty-making, the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 requires treaties to be laid before Parliament before ratification.

View the full debate and Lord Waverley’s response on Hansard.

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