HC Deb 05 April 1946 vol 421 cc1513-28

Order for Second Reading read

11.6 a.m.

The Minister of State (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker)

I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."

This Bill is to enable His Majesty's Government, in case of need, to give effect to some provisions of the Charter of the United Nations It is not the only legislation which the Charter may require us in due course to introduce. Articles 104 and 105 impose on every member the obligation to grant to the United Nations legal capacity, and to give to its officials and the representatives of Member States, the privileges and immunities they need for what the Charter calls the independent exercise of their functions." We shall perhaps need legislation for that. In pursuance of a mandate contained in paragraph 3 of Article 105, the recent Assembly, in fact, drew up a convention on that question. It had not been fully completed when this Bill was introduced in another place; but, in due course, our adherence to this Convention may involve some small Amendments to the existing Diplomatic Privileges Act, and I may have to come back to the House for that.

Under Article 43 of the Charter, the Security Council is to negotiate agreements with Member States about the Armed Forces and the military facilities which each of the Member States will contribute to the United Nations for the purpose of preventing or suppressing aggression. We shall perhaps find, when the Security Council has done its work, that another Bill is needed for that purpose; but at present they are only taking the first preliminary steps.

Again, a number of existing Acts of Parliament contain Sections which apply their provisions to the territories that are now administered by His Majesty's Government under mandates from the League of Nations. When the new trusteeship agreements have been drawn up, we shall no doubt need legislation which will enable us to apply those same provisions to territories which will in future be administered by His Majesty as a trustee of the United Nations. But at the moment there is only one article in the Charter for the execution of which His Majesty's Government need new powers from Parliament at once. That is Article 41, under which the Security Council can call on members of the United Nations to take measures "not involving the use of armed force "to" give effect to its decisions." This Article is part of Chapter 7 of the Charter, which deals in general with the action which shall be taken in respect of threats to peace, breaches of the peace, acts of aggression, and so on.

Under Article 41, the Government must carry out a decision by the Security Council to take measures, not involving the use of armed force; and the Article specifies that those measures may include a partial or a complete interruption of all economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic and radio communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations. Under the Charter the Government have that obligation; but, as the law now stands, they have no powers to impose on British nationals the duty to comply with such a decision of the Security Council. Hence this Bill, and the main part of this Bill—Clause 1, Subsection (1)—provides that if the Council calls for such measures, then the Government may, by Order in Council, impose on all their nationals the obligation to carry out the measures prescribed.

It further provides, as is plainly necessary, that persons who offend against such an Order in Council, who violate the decisions of the Security Council, and fail to do what the Government demand, may be arrested, tried and punished by the courts.

Subsection (2) of Clause 1 defines the territories to which such Orders in Council may apply. Those territories do not of course include the self-governing Dominions or India, which are separate members of the United Nations. Nor do they include other territories governed by a Dominion; nor do they include Burma or Southern Rhodesia, for the reason that the Governments of those territories possess, or will possess, the necessary local legislative power to take the steps needed to carry out a decision of the Security Council when they are asked to do so by His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The territories to which the Bill does apply, and to which any Order in Council would almost certainly apply, include the rest of the British Empire for which, under the Charter, the Government of the United Kingdom are responsible. They include territories held by His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom under mandate from the League of Nations or which will be held in the future under trusteeship from the United Nations.

There are, however, some British protected States for which Parliament has no power, or only a limited power to legislate. Those include the Arab States along the Persian Gulf and Tonga. In those places, therefore, as with Burma and Southern Rhodesia, the matter must be taken up with the local governments so that they, too, may be able to answer any call by His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom for the fulfilment of Article 41. It may not, in fact, be necessary to extend the Orders in Council to all the Colonies and territories to which they are capable of extension under the Subsection, but I think in general that will be done. If, and when, some of the local governments obtain the necessary powers to deal with a matter by local legislation, it may be found preferable to let them deal with the matter by local measures rather than by extending the United Kingdom Order in Council to them.

Those are the two substantial provisions in the Bill. Subsection (3) of Clause 1 speaks for itself, so does Subsection (5). Subsection (4) provides that Orders in Council shall be forthwith laid before Parliament, but it excludes the application of a provision in the Rules Publication Act requiring publication in the "London Gazette" of notice of the proposal to make the Order in Council for 4o days before the Order is made. It is evident that that must be so, because, if we are to take action at all in pursuance of a decision by the Security Council, it must be taken with the least possible delay. Therefore, any such notice of 40 days would be really out of the question.

This is a very short Bill and I have explained it as shortly as I can. But it is not an unimportant Bill. The Bill will enable the United Kingdom to play its part in the vitally important measures provided in Article 41 for keeping the peace. Happily, we have no reason at present less this morning, perhaps, even than we might have thought a little while ago for thinking that measures of this kind will be required in any early future. But it is the case that after the last war there were, in the first five years, a number of clashes between Governments, a number of incipient wars which might have become wars but for action taken by the League of Nations then. It is plain that such clashes may again occur, and they may be more serious than they were after the last war. Therefore, we must be ready to play our part. This Bill will make us ready. It deals with economic and diplomatic measures, with the rupture of economic relations and of all means of communication; but such methods may in many situations be quite decisive for keeping the peace and, as we advance with the preparation of the plans required under Article 26 for the regulation of armaments, so I believe will the importance of such economic and diplomatic measures continually increase. It is for those reasons that I commend this Bill to the unanimous acceptance of the House.

11.15 a.m.

Mr. W. S. Morrison (Cirencester and Tewkesbury)

On behalf of my hon. Friends on this side of the House I cordially welcome this Bill. Its purpose, as the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of State has explained to us so clearly, is to enable His Majesty to give effect by Orders in Council to decisions reached by the Security Council of the United Nations. It is limited to Article 41 of the Charter of the United Nations, that is, to what may be called non-military sanctions. The reason for that limitation, as I understand it, is that, so far as can now be foreseen with accuracy, this is the only domestic legislation which is now necessary in order to enable this country to fulfil all its obligations under the Charter. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that as matters develop it may be necessary for the Government to come to the House at a later stage with other legislative proposals in order to complete the structure. In so far as legislation of that sort may be necessary, the right hon. Gentleman can rely on the cooperation of hon. Members on this side of the House. In the meantime, as we are now limited to this question of non-military sanctions, I think there will be no division of opinion in this House as to the necessity for this Bill. It is a little interesting to reflect that though the United Nations is a new organisation, there does exist in our ancient and flexible Constitution a ready and effective means for giving effect to these novel obligations. The procedure by way of Order in Council under this Bill when it becomes an Act possesses the necessary combination of speed and authority to enable instant effect to be given to these international obligations to which we are pledged.

I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman only one question about this Bill, as a matter of interest. How many other States of the United Nations have passed or are passing legislation similar to this Bill? I should not be dismayed, nor would my attitude towards this Bill be affected, if I were told that the answer was "None." I think we have some right to claim the proud title of pioneers in this domain of human affairs. The British people have, as a matter of fact and not only of theory, devised a polity in the British Commonwealth of Nations wherein the nations can live at peace with each other, and render each other powerful and effective aid for a common purpose. Indeed, I rather hope that we in the United Kingdom are the first of the United Nations to pass a Bill of this scope. Such a priority would, in my judgment, he in accordance with our traditions.

11.18 a.m.

Mr. Anthony Nutting (Melton)

I should also like to offer support to this Bill, because it gives effect to the principle of collective action for maintaining the peace, which is laid down throughout the United Nations Charter. Now, the history of economic sanctions in the League of Nations is not altogether a happy one, but that is not to say that economic sanctions themselves are at fault. The reason is, surely, to be found in the lack of power of the League of Nations, as compared with what we hope will be the power of the United Nations. The whole question depends on the strength of the organisation behind the sanctions, and if the United Nations organisation can produce the strength and the collective action that the League failed to produce, I believe economic sanctions can play a very considerable part in maintaining the peace.

During the war we saw a demonstration of both the strength and the weakness of the economic weapon in diplomacy, and I think that that demonstration should be an object lesson to all of us today. In the early part of the war, while Germany was in a position to send supplies—of coal, for instance—to the neutrals, or alternatively, to take strong measures against them by other means, economic threats and sanctions from this country were of little avail in altering the policy of the neutral countries; but as Germany's power to supply those neutrals waned and deteriorated as a result of our operations, the neutrals became far more susceptible to our economic pressure. This, I think, shows the very considerable, indeed, the vital importance of economic sanctions being universally applied. There should be no back door through which a would be aggressor can obtain the supplies which we, the United Nations, are seeking to deny him through the front door. It is for that reason that I hope, most sincerely, we shall have a satisfactory answer to the question raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester (Mr. W. S. Morrison) about what other nations are passing legislation of this kind.

I have one further point. Article 41 of the Charter envisages, amongst other things, diplomatic action—the severance of diplomatic relations. I really hope that the House of Commons is not to be asked to spend an awful lot of time or money on this policy of "bark and no bite." I am no great believer in the severing of diplomatic relations as a weapon of offence, or defence. We have seen all too clearly the appallingly putrid results of the policy of the Government of the United States of America in the Argentine. What have they achieved by severing diplomatic relations? What, for that matter, have the Russians achieved by severing diplomatic relations with Spain? I believe that it is true of nations, as is often said of men, that the way to their hearts is through their stomachs; and I think that if we can apply and maintain effective economic sanctions against any would-be aggressors, we shall deny them the means with which to wage war. This Bill seems to me to offer the means partly, at any rate, of ensuring the denial of the potential of aggression, and it is for this reason that I hope it will receive a Second Reading.

11.24 a.m.

Viscount Hincliingbrooke (Dorset, Southern)

The Minister of State said this was an important Bill. It certainly is important, and I hope the House fully appreciates the degree of its importance. We are, in fact, sacrificing a portion of the machinery of our sovereignty in passing this Bill. I should like to direct the attention of the House to the words in Clause 1 (1): His Majesty may by Order in Council make such provision as appears to Him necessary or expedient for enabling those measures to be effectively applied … The word "may" in a Bill is a mandatory word and not a permissive word. We shall be compelled, on passing this Bill, to acquiesce in the decisions of the Security Council. I join with my right hon. Friend, the Member for Cirencester (Mr. W. S. Morrison), in asking the Minister of State what other countries are now contemplating the passage of a Bill of this nature. We took many steps before the war to play a vital part in the working of the League of Nations which were not taken by other countries and though I do think, as my right hon. Friend said, that we should not eschew the pioneering spirit today, we want to feel that we are followed, and followed closely by other members of the United Nations in any sacrifice of sovereign rights. There now only remains the veto in the Security Council to defend the sovereign rights of this country in what it may be called upon to do in regard to the making of war, the preparation for war, or, as in Article 41 of the Charter, with which we are here concerned, the imposition of diplomatic and economic sanctions. It is very important that the House should appreciate to the full that we are gearing ourselves fully to the United Nations Security Council in advance of any other country in the world, and that there is left only that single right of the veto, provided for in the Security Council, before our sovereignty and absolute rights of saying what action, diplomatic, economic or military, we shall take are transcended altogether.

I would like to ask the Minister a question about Subsection (3), in which it will be seen that Burma is mentioned among those countries which are excluded from the provisions of the Bill. Has Burma already achieved that degree of independence in which we can be justified in excluding her from the provisions of this Bill? It seems a little unfair to some of our major Colonies who have fought with us during the war. Although such Colonies do not possess the type of constitution which enables them to claim sovereignty of their own, they at any rate survived against the enemy, whereas Burma has been over run. A new administrative machine has only recently been introduced into Burma. It would seem to be derogatory to the status of our older Colonies to put Burma in advance of them in deciding for herself what she is to do.

I should also like the Minister to say a word on Subsection (4), where provision is made to place before Parliament every Order in Council made under this Clause. What does that mean? Has Parliament the right to amend or abolish an Order in Council made in response to a request of the Security Council? Surely, in all matters affecting the prosecution of war or the declaration of peace, Parliament is not concerned. There seems to be some interference here with the prerogative of His Majesty. Is it possible to move an Amendment or to address a Prayer or is this merely a formality? I do not understand the position, and I should be grateful if the Minister of State would tell us. In conclusion, I would say that I do not differ from the judgment of the House in this matter, but I think that we have to realise the degree to which we are forgoing our sovereignty. On the other hand, we have moved a long way since that period before the war when we were, as was almost every other nation of the world, too conscious of sovereignty and rights. The spirit and intention of this Bill is compatible with the general sentiments of the country at the present time, and, therefore, I give it my wholehearted support.

11.30 a.m.

Mr. A. Edward Davies (Burslem)

It must be evident to all Members, and to the country generally, that, in these adventurous days, if this new experiment of the United Nations organisation is to proceed, it will call for some monetary obligation from this country. I take it that this morning we are endorsing that policy, and are expressing our willingness to pay out. I recognise, with the noble Lord the Member for South Dorset (Viscount Hinchingbrooke), that we are giving up some of our sovereignty, but that is inevitable in the world situation, and in the new experience with which we are confronted.

There is no simple explanation for the causes of war. We on these Benches have long believed that much of the trouble in the world has arisen through economic causes, and through the conditions of starvation, distress and inadequacy of the means of life, and it is because of this that we pay so much attention to economic aspects. That, of course, is not the whole story in explaining the causes of war, but, if it is true, the importance of this Bill becomes evident. We on these Benches believe not so much upon the negative aspects envisaged in the provisions of this Bill, but pin our faith on positive aspects. Any Measure which will obviate the physical violence of war commends itself to men of good sense and good faith, but we believe, in avoiding distress, misunderstanding and the physical violence which leads to so much maladjustment in the world, that we should look more to the positive side. In my view, I put greater faith in the setting up of the International World Conference which will deal with economic problems and take account of transport, communications of all kinds, and currency problems. I hope, in passing this Bill, that we shall not overlook the fact that it is the positive aspects we must develop. It will be a most difficult matter for this country to undertake, and it will mean giving up some small measure of sovereignty. I am convinced, if the peace of the world is to be conserved, that great risks have to be taken. We have to chance our hand, otherwise all civilised values may be lost for all time. Therefore, on these grounds, and with these qualifications, I welcome the Bill.

11.34 a.m.

Mr. William Wells (Walsall)

In adding my welcome to this Bill, I should like to comment very briefly on some of the remarks which have been made about sovereignty by the Noble Lord the Member for South Dorset (Viscount Hinchingbrooke). Speaking with all diffidence, I suggest that it is not accurate to say that by passing this Bill we are forgoing any part of our sovereignty, because what this House has passed can be repealed. All we are doing is to say that in certain circumstances we are undertaking to apply certain measures, but if other countries do not follow our example, it is open to us this week, next year or at any time to repeal the Measure. But apart from that rather narrow juridical point, I think it would be most unfortunate if this Bill were passed through this House without some remarks being made on the Noble Lord's comments about the veto. It seems to me that if we say that we will pass this Bill and accept its policy, but we only do so on the understanding that we can apply the veto, we should prevent the whole policy from coming into effect. We are, in fact, inviting the great majority of the members of the United Nations organisation who have no power of applying the veto to hesitate to apply to their own countries such legislation as we are today putting into force here.

I believe, and I think that most hon. Members on these benches believe, that some measure of sovereignty will have to be forgone, in order to make the United Nations organisation effective, and speaking for myself I shall welcome any measure of abnegation of sovereignty that is necessary for that purpose. I only wish to say this morning I do not believe we are forgoing any sovereignty by passing this Bill, and I hope that we are passing it without any reservation that we are only doing so because, as one of the five Great Powers, we have the power of veto.

11.36 a.m.

Mr. John McKay (Wallsend)

I am glad to have the opportunity of intervening in this Debate not because I have much knowledge of the subject—though in my experience that is not a necessity when discussing matters in this House—but because I wish to offer some remarks on the subject of national sovereignty. National sovereignty is a principle we have upheld in the past; but if we are to build up the machinery of the United Nations, then our position in relation to sovereignty must change. If we want to live in harmony with other nations and if we believe that that harmony cannot exist unless we come to some international understanding then, of necessity, to be logical, we must be prepared to mitigate or reduce our sovereignty. If we are now attempting, not to build up national sovereignty, if the new idea is to build up international sovereignty—an international power which we are prepared to recognise—then, of necessity, we must pass this small Bill. We cannot obtain the bigger object unless we are prepared to accept the smaller one, which is to deal with the question of economic sanctions and other methods at our disposal, as part of an international body, to prevent friction between nations in the future and, in case of necessity, to consider whether we can, by educational means, prevent friction from arising. This Bill deals with the question of peaceful means but, at the same time, there may have to be very powerful methods to obtain the object at which we are aiming. It may be true that you can get to men's hearts and to nations' hearts through their stomachs, and it maybe necessary to quell the aspirations of a nation by economic sanctions which hurt their stomachs, until you can, by some influence, turn their minds towards ways and means of obtaining their national hopes by other means than friction. To do that you have to use the educational machinery as much as possible. Therefore, I have pleasure in associating myself, as we all do, I think, in this country and in this House, with the idea of passing this preliminary Measure in order to get on with the job of establishing, not national sovereignty but a sovereignty which will hold good throughout the world. Unless we can establish that there is no possibility of obtaining the peace about which we are all so anxious.

11.38 a.m.

Mr. Noel-Baker

I am sure that the House and the country will be gratified with the reception which this Bill has had this morning. I could speak at length on the fundamental questions raised by some hon. Members, but I shall endeavour to answer their points as briefly as I can, as I know the House is anxoius to proceed to other Business which is, perhaps, more controversial.

I was asked by the Noble Lord the Member for South Dorset (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) about Clause 1 (4) concerning Orders in Council. I understand that the Orders must be laid. That does not mean that Parliament has the power to revoke or amend the Orders, but it does mean that it can see in detail what are the Measures proposed, and hon. Members can ask questions and have a discussion on the matter, and make certain that the order really carries out what is intended. The purpose of Subsection (4) is to avoid the necessity of giving 40 days' notice which, but for that, would be required under the Rules and Publications Act, 1893. With regard to Burma, the obligations of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom extend to Burma. We are responsible to the United Nations for carrying out Article 41 in respect of Burma, but that does not necessarily mean that we must legislate. On the contrary, it is open to us to leave the legislation to the Government of Burma. In fact at the moment the Government of Burma already have the power to carry through the legislation required to fulfil Article 41; therefore, it was thought better to leave it to them to do so.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Can we secure that that legislation is enacted by Burma?

Mr. Noel-Baker

That is the best arrangement that can be made and the most satisfactory to all concerned, and I hope that it will be effective. I think that it was the Noble Lord, and also my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall (Mr. Wells), who raised the question of the sacrifice of sovereignty. It is the Charter which imposed on us the sacrifice of sovereignty, if such it can be called. I would like to assure the hon. Member for Wallsend (Mr. McKay), who also spoke on this subject, that the whole purpose of the Charter and of the implications which the Charter sets up is to ensure a progressive merging of sovereignty. We want to merge sovereignty and it is as we get international authorities, with greater power and greater prestige and greater certainty to ensure the collective decisions taken by mankind that we shall establish a mechanism for lasting peace such as we all recognise to be absolutely essential. I was asked by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cirencester (Mr. W. S. Morrison) whether we were the only people so far who have passed such a Bill as this. I think that it may be proved that technically the answer is "Yes." That does not mean that we are the only people who are hound. In a number of countries the parliamentary ratification of the Charter gives the Government of that country the power to carry out the provisions of the Charter and no legislation is required. I think there are nearly fifty countries which have ratified, so we may assume that a good many countries are, in fact, already able to take the action required. I cannot speak with any great certainty about the United States. They have passed a Bill to implement their obligations under the Charter and I rather think it includes Article 41, but I would not like to dogmatise because the American Constitution is one of such complexity. Nevertheless I have not the slightest doubt that they will take such measures, if they have not taken them already, to make effective their obligations under the Charter. I agree with the right hon. Member for Cirencester that we should not be dismayed if, in fact, no other nation had taken such action as we are taking. We want to be pioneers; I hope we are and shall remain leaders in all affairs connected with the United Nations.

The hon. Member for Melton (Mr. Nutting) spoke of the sad history of economic sanctions under the League. In some ways, like much else in the history of the League, and certainly like the history of military sanctions, a great deal that happened was truly sad. But we can exaggerate the failure of its economic sanctions. In fact they were only used or threatened twice. In 1922, when Yugoslavia committed an aggression against its tiny neighbour, Albania, and its armies had almost reached the sea, the Prime Minister of this country, Mr. Lloyd George, summoned the Council of the League of Nations to consider the matter and sent a telegram to the Secretary General implying that economic sanctions would be imposed if Yugoslavia did not desist. I happened to be in Belgrade when that telegram was published, and I do not forget the effect it produced. The dinar fell by 5o points in half an hour, and 5o points was quite a lot. Its downward career continued until the matter was satisfactorily settled by the withdrawal of the Yugoslav armies from Albanian territory under the supervision of a Commission of the League of Nations. It was a hundred per cent. success.

The only other time that economic sanctions were attempted was against Italy in respect of the invasion of Abyssinia in 1935. It would be a bold man who would say that the economic measures which were taken then had wholly failed. They were kept on for only nine months but during that time they produced a marked pressure on the Italian Government. Of course, they were far from being complete. By decision of the Assembly—a decision which I think should have been bolder and more comprehensive—they included only certain measures of economic pressure, but in the end the Fascist Government was undoubtedly feeling very greatly the strain which those limited sanctions had imposed.

Mr. Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)

Would it not be risking the whole cause we have at heart, to claim that it had any measure of success other than that of strengthening the Fascist Government in office?

Mr. Noel-Baker

I studied the matter very carefully at the time and since, and it is all on record in the publications of the Institute of International Affairs. I venture to think my interpretation is right, and I regret, as I think the hon. Member will regret, that economic sanctions were taken off in July, 1936. Of course, I do not want to say that they produced all the effect that we desired. Of course they did not prevent the conquest of Abyssinia. I think we all agree that much stronger action should have been taken, and if it had been we might not have had the recent war. But within the limits of what was done a certain pressure was produced, and I, therefore, think—with the hon. Member for Melton—that economic sanctions can be effective, provided they are widely continued and universally applied. We must have no back doors for escape; and in the United Nations I hope and I trust there will be none. I think the spirit of the United Nations, as so far shown, is plainly in favour of making this new machine far more effective than that of the League of Nations, and certainly His Majesty's Government will spare no effort to ensure that that is so.

I would not agree that we have always in the past gone forward and have not been followed by other peoples, but I will not go over that subject again. The hon. Member for Melton spoke of the inefficacy of the severance of diplomatic relations. If he meant by that, the severance by one or two or a few Governments for purposes of bringing pressure on another Government, I agree that, usually, that has been a total failure, and sometimes worse. But I think that is very different from the collective severance which is envisaged by Article 41. I think that if the United Nations were considering a dispute, and one of the parties proceeded to take measures which looked like aggression, and then all the other Members simultaneously withdrew their missions from its capital, that would be a very solemn warning indeed. Some people think it might have produced a great effect in Tokyo in 1931. That view was commonly advanced at the time, and Lord Lytton, who was head of the Commission that went there, used to say that it might in itself have sufficed to warn the Japanese that they should stop. But I certainly would never say that the severance of diplomatic relations was a good or satisfactory measure, or one that it was worth while to take, unless the Governments also intended to do more if more was needed. Of course that must be so, and I hope that we shall, all of us, agree to pass this Bill, including the provision for the severance of diplomatic relations, with the determination that, if the preliminary warnings of the United Nations are not heeded, then we shall not shirk the issue that is so presented, but that on the contrary we shall carry through whatever collective action is needed to bring the aggression to an end.

One word about what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Burslem (Mr. Davies). The Government, and in particular my right hon. Friend, agree with him that the constructive side of the work of the United Nations is a vital part of the plans for preventing war. We agree that everything which can be done to build up international cooperation in respect of transport, economic relations, currency problems, public health and many other matters, will help to create an inter-governmental machine by which the nations will be persuaded that the policy of seeking lasting peace is possible and worth while. We shall certainly press on with that. I think the United Nations have made a pretty good beginning in the short time in which the organism has been in existence. But I feel —and I think my hon. Friends will agree —that the positive side, by itself, is not enough. We must also have effective machinery to stop aggression, and this Bill is the first modest step towards that end.

Mr. Nutting

With regard to my right hon. Friend's question about other nations carrying legislation into effect, the right hon. Gentleman said that he was not aware of what other nations were doing. Will he give an undertaking to the House that he will keep a very close watch on that particular matter?

Mr. Noel-Baker

I certainly will, and if the hon. Member puts down a Question I will try to tell him how many countries have already made their ratification. I shall certainly watch legislation by other countries, and if it does not go sufficiently rapidly it will be open to His Majesty's Government to raise the matter at the next Assembly. I think I can give an undertaking that that will be done.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House for Wednesday next.—[Captain Michael Stewart.]