HC Deb 03 February 1944 vol 396 cc1408-10
75. Mr. Shinwell

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that the I.L.O. have invited representatives from Finland to attend the convention in the U.S.A.; and whether His Majesty's Government intend to take any action in the matter.

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Eden)

I understand that the International Labour Office have notified the Government of Finland, which is still a member of the International Labour Organisation, of the convocation of the forthcoming session of the International Labour Conference. His Majesty's Government are considering what action is necessary.

Mr. Shinwell

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the International Labour Office is strongly supported, financially and otherwise, by the Allied nations, that this action has given considerable offence to one of the Allied nations and that in all the circumstances it might be desirable to exclude Finland from the deliberations of the International Labour Conference?

Mr. Eden

I have said that I am considering what action is necessary. I should not like to go beyond that.

Earl Winterton

Will my right hon. Friend consider making a general announcement that His Majesty's Government will take part in no international functions at which any enemy belligerent Power is represented?

Mr. Eden

As I have said, there are rather exceptional circumstances because Finland is, as a matter of fact, the only country with which we are at war which is in a position to attend. I realise that from our own point of view it would be difficult, if not impossible, for us to attend any conference at which an enemy belligerent was represented but we are not the only people concerned in this business.

Mr. Thorne

Is it not a fact that if Russians and Finns get together in one meeting there will be hell?

Sir H. Williams

Is it not the case that the relation of Finland to the United States is the same as that of Japan to Russia—they are neutral one to the other?

Mr. Eden

It is a fact and that is exactly what I had in mind. But we are examining the situation. I have no doubt that the matter will be arranged but we cannot help it by discussion here.

Mr. Shinwell

I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will do his best in the matter but will he bear in mind that the International Labour Office is not an American but an international institution which we support?

Mr. Eden

That is exactly why I say I am considering the position. If it were an American institution it would not be for me to say anything, but as it is international it is a different matter.

Mr. Gallacher

What would the attitude of hon. Members be if an organisation in Moscow invited American delegates to sit at the same table with Japs?