HC Deb 24 September 1948 vol 456 cc1273-92

1.9 p.m.

Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)

I wish to thank the Chair for the opportunity extended to me and to other hon. Members who are anxious to return to this question of the proposed termination of the United Nations Appeal for Children. As I have already expressed myself very fully on this matter, and as a number of hon. Members on both sides of the House are anxious to express themselves on it today, I do not propose to repeat the arguments which I have already submitted to the House.

I wish to ask the Parliamentary Secretary one or two questions about this matter. This decision of the Economic and Social Council has certainly caused considerable consternation not only throughout this country, but throughout other countries as well, and I have not yet come across anyone who has been able to suggest any substantial reason why that decision should have been taken and, above all, why it should have been supported by our own Government. A few months ago when the question of a contribution from the Government to the International Children's Emergency Fund was raised, there was no question as to the feeling in this country about this great effort which was being made through the United Nations. Therefore, the Government could have been in no doubt that the people of this country generally were behind them in anything they did to assist that Fund through the continuation of the Appeal.

There is no doubt either as to the attitude of the non-governmental organisations associated with the Fund, or of a large number of the Governments. As I pointed out when I previously spoke on this matter, the decision was taken with eight votes in favour, seven against and three abstentions, and it is not at all clear that those who voted against or those who abstained knew precisely what the interpretation of the decision was going to be eventually. Therefore, it cannot be that the Government thought there was no public backing for the Appeal.

I should like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary whether the Government have found that the Appeal was ineffective. That I cannot believe; I have found no evidence of that. On the contrary, there is ample evidence that the Fund has had remarkable results which I have already described in a previous speech. Indeed, since the Motion which was put on the Order Paper by approximately 200 Members of the House—I do not know what the latest figure is—was tabled, and a letter which I myself addressed to "The Times" on the matter was printed, I have had letters from different parts of the country expressing indignation at the decision that has been taken, and even now I am receiving cheques from various people and groups of people as contributions towards the Lord Mayor's Fund which is part of the Appeal. Yesterday I received a cheque for £6 from a girls' school which I am passing on to the Fund. That is evidence of the popular interest and enthusiasm which is behind the Appeal.

If the Government reply that the Fund is going on in any case—because I understand they have supported the continuation of the Emergency Fund while opposing the continuation of the Appeal—and that the voluntary organisations in different countries will continue to make their collections for the Fund, then I say that they are omitting to recognise the important psychological value which the United Nations' Appeal has. If it is true that the Government's international policy is based upon the United Nations and the success of the United Nations, there is nothing which will contribute more to that success than a recognition by the common people of all countries that the United Nations is an effective organisation affecting the daily lives of everyone in the world, and that it is not simply a remote forum for political recriminations amongst a small group of rather remote politicians.

That kind of impression is precisely what this Appeal is calculated to destroy. It is, in fact, the only activity within the scope of the United Nations where the ordinary humble man and woman of any country, of any creed and of any politi- cal colour throughout the whole world, is able to make some personal contribution to this great world effort of co-operation and to realise in making that contribution that it is something which infinitely and intimately affects himself and something which is, therefore, vital to his own survival and the survival of world peace and world co-operation.

Therefore I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to give us some very substantial reasons why this Appeal should be terminated, and to say what advantage he expects will be gained by the termination of the Appeal before we are prepared to accept such a decision. Without saying any more, because I realise that time is short and many other Members wish to speak, I will leave the Parliamentary Secretary with these questions. I hope before the Debate is concluded that we can have an assurance that the Government, in the light of the discussions that take place here and in the light of other representations which have been made, will at least reconsider their decision before a final decision is taken at the Assembly.

1.15 p.m.

Mr. Kenneth Lindsay (Combined English Universities)

I am aware that there are other Members who wish to speak, and the value of this Debate is that speeches come from all sides of the House. Therefore, I will try not to continue further on the ground which has been well covered by the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) and the hon. Member for Luton (Mr. Warbey) in their speeches last week.

The "Manchester Guardian" very wisely pointed out the other day that one of the weaknesses about international organisations is that they are not submitted to the kind of informed criticism which our Parliamentary institutions provide in this country through the invention of His Majesty's Opposition. Our delegates go off to Geneva and Lake Success with a Foreign Office brief, and unless some conscientious Member follows the course of the discussions we know nothing because the reports in the Press very rarely give us the inside story of the Debate. Often there is no response at all in the British Press, whereas it is very different in the United States of America. That is no criticism of the British Press, but in the United States there is complete discussion every day on these questions.

Some of us got wind of the impending discussions at Geneva, and last Summer before we parted a series of questions was put down which I should have thought would have made known the views of Members of this House very clearly to the Foreign Office. When the discussion came up I am informed that the Minister of State did not take part. A civil servant in the Foreign Office was the spokesman, and I take leave now to question some of the statements which were made on that occasion. The fact remains that our spokesmen both at Lake Success and Lake Geneva have failed to appreciate the volume of opinion in this House and in the country on the subject of children.

I had the good fortune to be at Lake Success last year when the hon. Member for Rushcliffe (Mrs. Paton), who I hope is going to speak, was, I think, from time to time in a difficult position. At Paris we have got the hon. Member for North-West Camberwell (Mrs. Corbet), and her declared interest in matters affecting children is well known to every hon. Member opposite. When the matter comes up before the Assembly we expect a very different attitude from the attitude at Geneva. We wish to see the vote of seven-eight reversed—a vote which we helped to manoeuvre at Geneva. Do not imagine that public opinion in the United States is all with the United States spokesman at Geneva. I have a volume of correspondence here, including extracts from the "New York Times" and elsewhere, urging the United States Government to go further with this matter. Incidentally, I do not see why we should not support the lead of Australia on this occasion. It is a matter of great joy to some of us that Dr. Evatt is now chairman, although we shall miss his voice as an advocate.

I want to restate the problem in very simple terms. In the United Nations Organisation there is an overall responsibility for children and children's welfare vested with the Economic and Social Council, but the actual administration is rather confused between a number of bodies. The hon. Member for Rushcliffe will know the bodies to which I refer. I should think there are half a dozen bodies concerned with children, not only the International Children's Emergency Fund and the United Nations Appeal for Children, but a Permanent Social Commission which is a sort of special organ of the Economic and Social Council, and also a number of international voluntary organisations. All this was known a year ago. I wrote an article on this very question. I discussed it with officials at Lake Success, and again this Summer, and the proper job now is to sort out and define responsibility.

But there has been no leadership. The departmental jealousies and personal differences of bureaucrats—we may as well be frank about this, because international bureaucracy needs an international inquiry at this moment—grew until such chaos ensued that our representatives washed their hands of the whole business. That is what has happened. I have been pleading for three years for a children's Nansen, for the appointment of one man or one woman with defined responsibilities to take hold of this whole problem with the support of all the nations. What a chance we have missed! And not for the first time. In the last three years this country has had the ball at its feet in international, social and educational affairs, and it has lost world leadership. What is wrong with the Labour Party on this? I never expected this would happen; and I believe that a large number of hon. Members on that side agree that there is something wrong. Nobody can deny the existence of the problem—nobody who has seen Europe or China. The orphaned, tubercular, undernourished, fear-ridden children of Europe are staring us in the face, and there is no iron curtain to conceal these facts. Here, more than anywhere, there was a chance to appeal over the heads of misunderstandings and ideologies to human sympathy to deal with the facts.

There are two problems. One is the short-term, immediate, urgent problem—the problem of salvage; and the other is the long-term problem of social, medical, and educational reconstruction. It is my considered belief that these two tasks are each a part of one problem which is preeminently suited to international treatment by governments in co-operation with voluntary organisations. That has been questioned, I believe, by the Canadian representative. However, I do not believe that in his heart of hearts—because he is a very distinguished expert on social and child welfare matters—he really thinks that this work can be done by voluntary organisations alone. This summer some of my friends have organised at Prague a World Council for Early Childhood. No difficulties were found over ideologies, because these people were discussing technical problems. If I were Secretary-General of U.N.O. at this moment—and we have to put ourselves in his position—or head of the Economic and Social Council, or British delegate in Paris, I should form one body here with responsible representatives from the World Health Organisation, from U.N.E.S.C.O., and from bona fide voluntary bodies working in this field, including the Save the Children Fund and others, and charge it with the responsibility for children throughout the world.

I would suggest—and I would not do more—to each country varying forms of organisation. There would be no question of dictatorship. I would leave them to make their own decisions. The beauty of this organisation is that we have an international organisation with a varying national appeal. Some countries might give up a whole day's earnings. That has been done in some countries. It does not appeal to America. There are different types of appeal there. I would make the children's appeal an annual effort for each of the next five years and supply the means, for money is absolutely vital. In other words, I would have a continuing appeal. This would give millions of people a chance to take a continuing interest in one most effective form of practical help and to take an interest in U.N.O. as a body.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Attercliffe has just said, this is the way to make the United Nations come alive to people, because this is a human, practical problem. Otherwise, it is a very remote organisation. As anybody knows who has been speaking on U.N.O. platforms in this country, it is extremely difficult to awaken interest if people think it is a remote organisation. The whole question of the propaganda for the United Nations, and of spreading information about it, needs consideration, as my hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Chiswick (Mr. F. Noel-Baker), who has just started an excellent magazine to help in this work, will readily appreciate. The cost to this country of support for such a body would be nearer £10,000 than £20,000. It is a mere trifle, a bagatelle, compared with the money wasted—as I could prove—on other international bodies, and compared with the money spent on defence.

Therefore, I make this suggestion to my hon. Friend who is to reply to the Debate, that he asks our delegate at Paris to consider the throwing together of all those bodies connected with children and children's welfare, the formation of one central organisation, defining its responsibility, and giving the responsibility to one man. I have reason to know that support for such a venture would be forthcoming from many countries that voted at Geneva the other day—I think in misapprehension—against the continuation of the Appeal. In the United States, it may not be generally known here, no less a person than General Eisenhower himself is interested. I heard him speak the other day in New York on this question. He is President of the Appeal as well as President of Columbia University. In Canada, I believe, similar sympathy could be expected, and I believe the same is true of Western Europe.

There is no political capital in this. I made a reference to the Labour Party just now because I thought the Labour Party would take this matter up. I want them still to do so. However, there is no political question here at all. I think the Under-Secretary of State is young enough, if I may say so, to believe in an imaginative and planned approach to this question, as the other night he was ready to believe in the empirical approach to another question. I want him not to get up at that Box today and refer to the past. Let the past bury the past. I want him to reflect on the speeches made today by the hon. Members behind him, the correspondence in the New York "Times" and the excellent letter in "The Times" of London the other day; and I want him to speak on this question today as a British Minister with a wider vision than that of a Foreign Office brief.

Let him give this definite assurance, that he will reconsider at Paris, not necessarily my suggestion, although I have made a constructive suggestion, but all these suggestions which have been made. It would be a great relief. If he did there would be a great sigh of relief that something had come of the hundreds of resolutions passed on to the Economic and Social Council, and that there had emerged British leadership. A great many people all over the world would respond to that leadership. There would then be, at any rate, one small good deed done in what looks like proving a very complicated Assembly at Paris for many months.

1.28 p.m.

Mrs. Florence Paton (Rushcliffe)

I speak now on this subject because I feel I must. Last year I was the Government delegate to the United Nations and sat on the Committee which dealt with the Children's International Emergency Fund and the United Nations Appeal for Children. I want to say that, all along, I have been very sad about this issue. I did not like the instructions given me and last year I expressed my disappointment. I felt that we, ought on this issue to be quite clear about our support for a great humanitarian effort like this. The unanimous decision of the whole Committee on this question was in great contrast to the decisions of many other Committees, in which there was a great amount of wrangling. Here was a session which was delightful to attend because complete harmony prevailed. I am really surprised at the developments recently and to find that by seven votes to eight the decision to end the United Nations Appeal for Children has been taken, because I cannot reconcile that decision with the atmosphere of unanimity and of enthusiasm which was present on the part of the whole of the 57 nations when I was at U.N.O.

It was this feeling of the realisation of all the delegates assembled at the United Nations of the universality of this appeal, and of its effect upon the nations of the world in bringing men and women to a realisation of what the United Nations stood for on the healing and constructive side—it was because of that, I feel sure, that unanimity was present. The discussions on it made one realise that every delegate there understood the enormous universal need of the continuance of the U.N.A.C. It was a most impressive event, which moved one very deeply indeed.

I am certain that, as a whole, the nations of the world want this Appeal to go on. It is a unifying agency. Here, this week, we have been talking about the sad developments which have taken place with regard to the international situation. We have talked about the wrangling and quarrelling on political matters. We know that in the political sphere there is no agreement; but here is a sphere where there is universal agreement—where there is a bridge by which the nations of the world can still meet and co-operate on behalf of the world's children.

I feel that for the Appeal to be discontinued would be a sad blow to millions of people in the world who have come together for the special purpose of realising how great is their work in connection with the healing among children which we want to take place. We have reached a stage in which there are many children in the world who want immediate help, apart from the long-term help to which the hon. Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. K. Lindsay) referred. I believe that Mr. Chester Bowles, who came back from a tour some months ago, said that there were 300,000,000 children in need of immediate help, if they were not to grow into stunted adults, whose life would be injured or harmed permanently without it. In Europe alone, it is estimated that there are 10,000,000 children in need of help immediately and, of course, for long periods.

This work, in my view, cannot be done purely through voluntary agencies, because these agencies need the backing of their Governments, their encouragement, information and knowledge, and all the other help which they can give in a hundred and one ways if the Appeal is to be continued and the work carried on. That is not to say that I think that the voluntary agencies should go out. On the contrary, I am convinced that the work of the U.N.A.C., done by voluntary agents with Government help, is one of the means by which we can make the United Nations a really live organisation and a really live issue in the minds of the ordinary men and women in the street.

I have been to meetings where one can talk about international affairs and the work of the United Nations, and the thing which strikes me most is that many people have so little background on these issues that they find the whole thing very puzzling, and it becomes a great trouble for them to understand it. If we bring it down to practical things, and say, "Here is a constructive job in which all the nations of the world are united to make the future of the children of the world better than in the past, to heal these children and bring them up to healthy citizenship and healthy adult life," there is something which catches the imagination. There is something for the ordinary persons who go to meetings and want to understand which attracts them as by a magnet into this great United Nations organisation, so that they can take part themselves in this great constructive job.

Now we are told that this Appeal, which has done a magnificent job already after only one year of effort, is to end and that our Government are supporting the ending of the U.N.A.C. I wish to make a special appeal to the Government. I feel that they are making a mistake. I feel that it is a matter of our prestige, and that there are people who cannot understand and will not be able to understand why it is that a great humanitarian British Government, such as this Government is, and a great humanitarian British people, such as this people is, can give support to closing down the work of a great organisation like this. I make this appeal because I know it is widely felt that we ought not to do it. I cannot understand the difficulty, and why the Government cannot go on with their support. I appeal to the Under-Secretary to tell us why they cannot.

I agree with the hon. Member for the Combined English Universities that other agencies dealing with children are not the same. I agree with his point that it would be a grand thing if we could get one great organisation, with some great figure at the head, which could deal with children alone. This is one great problem by itself which cannot be linked up with, and be part of, other problems. It is so big and immense, and its possibilties for good are so great, that there ought to be one unifying organisation of all the agencies for children working as a world unity with its branches in all countries.

I know that the Under-Secretary is personally sympathetic, and I appeal to him to try to persuade the Foreign Secretary or whoever has taken this decision on the part of our Government, that it is a mistake, a going back, and that it will not cost us so much that we cannot find a way out and be able to continue this work in the future. I ask him to make this request known. I know that the delegates of the United Nations want this Fund to go on. There has been a terrible change since last year if that is not so. It has been expressed to me that people were surprised that the Government did not give it the backing last year which we wanted them to give. I feel that there will be enormously tragic consequences, which will be far greater than we realise, if our country does not give its support to the continuation of the United Nations Appeal for Children.

1.38 p.m.

Mr. A. R. W. Low (Blackpool, North)

I have been glad to listen to the hon. Member for Rushcliffe (Mrs. Paton) and others who have spoken as experts on this great humanitarian work for the children of the world. I am no expert. I am the sort of individual whose imagination is caught in the way which the hon. Lady described. I am absolutely certain that my reaction is the same as the ordinary individual's reaction, and that is one of interest and recognition of the importance of the work which she has described, and, above all, of the importance of the United Nations taking part in this work.

I do not want to speak at any length or to put any small technical points about what the hon. Lady was saying, but she confused me a little because she kept referring to the Fund, and not to the United Nations Appeal for Children. As I understand it, the International Children's Emergency Fund is continuing and has the support of the majority of nations on the Economic and Social Council. It is the United Nations Appeal for Children which we are discussing here. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not try to ride off in his reply to the Debate, on that point.

I am certain that everybody in the House must have been touched by the success, large in some places but small in others of the United Nations Appeal for Children during this year. I hope the Government will tell us that it is not as the result of the experience of one year of that appeal that they have turned against it. I can tell the hon. Gentleman, from knowledge of my own constituency that there was far too little time for people to understand what the appeal was about, or why it was that they were asked to provide money out of their own pockets for children of the world when they thought it was a Government job.

I have always looked to this appeal for children mainly because it brings into each house and to each family the importance of the work which the United Nations can do. But although I have placed emphasis on the value of that point that aspect of the matter did not reach enough people in the country. That it had an effect can be seen from reports from small villages one of which, in Derbyshire, I believe, contributed over £1 per head. But in other places, such as in my constituency, for instance, only comparatively small sums were collected. am certain that, given time, that appeal would catch the imagination of everyone. I cannot understand why His Majesty's Government, who supported the Appeal and let the Foreign Secretary broadcast a full, enthusiastic and most humane appeal on its behalf, should allow their representative to vote against it at Geneva.

The hon. Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. K. Lindsay) made a grave charge when he said that the vote which was given against this Appeal was manoeuvred by us. Is that really what goes on when the Economic and Social Council are considering matters of world humanitarian values such as this? If so, it is a shocking thing. I hear from friends of mine that things like that happen, and I hope the Under-Secretary will tell us that that sort of thing will never happen again. The object of this Debate, however, is to get from the hon. Gentleman a statement that all that is forgotten, and that when this matter is raised in the General Assembly, as we understand it will be, the spokesman for His Majesty's Government will support the continuance of this appeal for at least another year and, we hope, for five years.

1.43 p.m.

Mr. Francis Noel-Baker (Brentford and Chiswick)

I am sure that every one of the 174 Members of the House who put their names to a Motion which we are not able to discuss now will be grateful to you, Sir, for giving time to Members on all sides to raise this question today. I want to appeal straight away to the Under-Secretary and to the hon. Member for Faversham (Mr. P. Wells) to report, when they next see the Foreign Secretary, on the very strong feeling there is in all parts of the House about the disastrous decision of the Economic and Social Council to terminate the United Nations Appeal for Children.

The hon. Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. K. Lindsay) and the hon. Member for North Blackpool (Mr. Low) went a little further than the immediate issue about which we want an answer today. I have great sympathy with the views of the hon. Member for the Combined English Universities, but we are now concentrating on one point only: whether the British delegation in Paris will be instructed, when this subject comes before the General Assembly, to press for a reversal of the decision taken at the Seventh Session of the Economic and Social Council. The wider aspects of the United Nations work for children, or the success of the appeal in this country, can be discussed, but those are matters which are wider than the one we are now bringing to the attention of the Government.

We have often heard from the Foreign Secretary about disappointments and setbacks on the political level in U.N.O., but also of the many successes which have been achieved by its specialised agencies. Indeed, my right hon. Friend restressed that point only a few days ago. We remember that when he and the Under-Secretary were defending the totally inadequate contribution which the British Government were making to the Children's Fund he put it forward as a justification that the money ought to be raised by voluntary effort in this country and elsewhere. That is precisely what the United Nations Appeal for Children is designed to do. Even if the results have not been spectacular they have been heartening.

In many parts of the world no appeal has yet been put forward, but the results so far show that 52 countries and 30 dependent territories have joined the appeal. Final results from seven campaigns have gone to the Appeal office at Lake Success; another 17 national cam- paigns have sent in intermediate reports; 26 campaigns are still going on, and 18 are expected to take place in the autumn. The effect of the resolution passed at Geneva by the Council will be to destroy the international machinery which exists for co-ordinating the unofficial voluntary appeals which are being launched in different countries. Voluntary efforts, organised on an international scale, will not be able to proceed if this organisation is scrapped.

I cannot understand what the motives of the British delegates at the Council were, or whether they understood what they were voting about when the matter was being discussed. When the vote was taken it was carried by eight votes to seven with three abstentions, and immediately afterwards there was a long scrap' during which the chairman gave a ruling. His interpretation of the resolution did' not accord with the views of a great number of the delegates, who said that if they had understood what they had been voting about, they would have voted the other way.

I want to ask a series of specific questions. Is the Under-Secretary satisfied with the line the British delegates took at Geneva, and with the procedure when this question was discussed? If so, why was that delegation given instructions to vote against a continuation of this Appeal? If it was for reasons of economy, is he aware that the total cost of the appeal, which is being paid not out of the money raised by the various national appeals, but out of the United Nations budget, is only I per cent. of that budget? What is to be the attitude of the British delegation at Paris when this question is raised again?

The most disturbing feature of this whole question, however, is that while, in some countries, the Appeal is going ahead, in a great many parts of the world it has not yet got going. If the resolution of the Council is endorsed in Paris it will scrap the machinery which exists for coordinating various national appeals; it will abolish the international headquarters of the Appeal, and prevent the Appeal: from going ahead in a great many countries. I want my hon. Friend to assure the House that he will give the instructions which the majority of people in this country desire he should give. I hone no political differences or ideological quarrels will stop this great and inspiring humanitarian work, which started with such success when the Appeal was first launched.

1.50 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Mayhew)

I was very sorry that it was not possible for a Foreign Office spokesman to be here to reply to the speeches made on 14th September on this subject by my hon. Friends the Members for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) and Luton (Mr. Warbey). I am glad to have this opportunity of making clear the Government's attitude on this subject of U.N.A.C. It would be useful for me, not as a means of riding off on the question, but for the enlightenment of Members of the House who are not here now, and of public opinion outside the House, if I made clear the distinction between the fund on the one hand and the appeal on the other.

The International Children's Emergency Fund was set up by the General Assembly on 11th December, 1946, with the support of the United Kingdom. Its purpose was to supply supplementary meals to children in need and to buy for them clothes and medical supplies. The United Nations has done that with success. It has helped a large number of children in the most effective way. The United Nations Appeal for Children was set up on the initiative of the United Nations Secretariat, following a personal proposal by the Norwegian Delegate Dr. Ording, who has given to this work the most devoted and effective service. He started off the one-day's-pay scheme under the United Nations Appeal for Children.

The appeal, of course, is distinct from the Fund. The Appeal's job is to do publicity, to co-ordinate appeals run in different countries and to canalise as well as possible the funds raised. There is a most important distinction to be drawn between the fund and the appeal. Even the hon. Member for North Blackpool (Mr. Low) slipped when he suggested that my right hon. Friend had broadcast for the Appeal. In point of fact, the broadcast he made was for the Fund and not for the Appeal. It is not inconsistent to support the Fund and to suggest that the Appeal should be wound up.

Mr. Low

I think that statement is mistaken. I thought it was on the last day of the Appeal that the Foreign Secretary went to the microphone?

Mr. Mayhew

Perhaps—without notice I will not press this matter—but I certainly wish to stress the clear distinction between the Fund and the Appeal.

What is to happen under this resolution of the Economic and Social Council? The effect of the resolution will not be to wind up the fund in any sense or in any sense whatever to discourage national appeals. The effect will be to wind up an administrative side of the United Nations Secretariat concerned with the Appeal.

Mr. Warbey (Luton)


Mr. Mayhew

Perhaps I might quote a Section of the resolution of the Economic and Social Council in which it is stated: The Economic and Social Council invites the co-operation of Governments in giving every possible assistance to national committees which are continuing to engage in activities concerning the Appeal, and draws to the attention of Governments and of national committees the desirability of continuing the policy contained in General Assembly and Council's decisions of recognising the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund as the main recipient of the proceeds of the national appeals. In those words the policy outlined by the Economic and Social Council is made clear. It wants the Fund and the national appeals to continue but it has, in effect, wound up the work of the Secretariat of the United Nations on the Appeal.

Mr. Warbey


Mr. Mayhew

Let me point out that this is not a sudden decision of the Council. In February the Economic and Social Council asked the Secretary-General to bear in mind the necessity of reducing the administrative cost of headquarters and regional activities by progressive steps as expeditiously as was practicable. In July of this year it set up a special Committee which informed the Director-General of the United Nations Appeal for Children that he should cease—I will come to the reasons later—trying to form additional national committees to take part in the appeal, and gave its opinion that this was not likely to deprive the appeal of substantial benefits.

I should here like to point out in reply to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Chiswick (Mr. F. Noel-Baker), that a long time had ensued without certain countries setting up national appeals and that great encouragement had been given in vain to those countries to set up appeals. The Committee concluded that the promotion work could not be carried on by the Director-General of the United Nations Appeal. Dr. Rajchman, who is Chairman of the Executive Committee of the International Children's Fund, told a Committee last month about the misunderstanding about the promotion of the Appeal for children, and explained that the Appeal could continue in effect under the different administrative arrangements. Several countries had already announced their intention of continuing their national appeals.

We were greatly influenced at the Economic and Social Council by the attitude of the Secretary-General himself and by the report of the Director-General, Commander Jackson—

Mr. K. Lindsay

Who is no longer there.

Mr. Mayhew

—He was speaking on behalf of the Secretary-General. There was no reason to suppose that he was not putting forward the views of the Secretary-General.

Mr. J. Hynd

What about our views?

Mr. F. Noel-Baker

This is a point of fact. Commander Jackson was not in fact speaking for the Secretary-General. He was speaking for the specialised agencies who afterwards protested that he did not adequately represent their point of view.

Mr. Mayhew

If the Committee will allow me a moment I shall have to look up the particular reference. In document E/SR. 197 Commander Jackson is reported as saying: Naturally the Secretary-General and all his staff would support and do everything in their power to assist any endeavour to raise funds for children. The Secretary-General did not wish to influence the decision of the Council on the future of the appeal in any way, but he did ask the Council to take into consideration his previous statement, that the administration of the appeal by one organisation within the United Nations, and not by two, would be welcomed by him, especially at a time when the Secretariat was under serious strain of the assumption of more and more operational functions, as in Palestine. It was the Secretary-General's hope that the appeal would continue with full success. But anything done by way of greater decentralization on to the national level would be welcomed as lightening his heavy administrative burdens. That was Commander Jackson speaking for the Secretary-General.

Mr. F. Noel-Baker

I hesitate to interrupt again, but whatever Commander Jackson may have said in the speech the fact is that the specialised agencies expressed a wish to speak, and finally accepted the suggestion from Commander Jackson that he should speak for them. When he had done so, they protested and said that he had not adequately represented their views.

Mr. Mayhew

I can only quote from the Official Report of the Council. I do not think the House wants me to go further into the details of this matter, but, before Commander Jackson made his statement, the Chairman extended a welcome to Commander Jackson on his first appearance at a plenary session of the council as the new Assistant Secretary-General. Then Commander Jackson, speaking as Assistant Secretary-General, expressed on behalf of the Secretary-General his appreciation, and so on. I rather think the House should take notice of 'that statement from the Official Report. We were influenced by the statement of Commander Jackson on behalf of the Secretary-General on this point and also by the arguments put forward by the New Zealand Delegation. We were asked to follow the Australian lead, but the New Zealand Delegation expressed a view with which we have sympathy—[HON. MEMBERS; "Why?"]—I am explaining that we wished to support the Secretariat. We have been attacked by hon. Members on the ground that we are not in the picture, so far as the Secretariat is concerned. It was said that our representatives went to Lake Success without taking a sufficiently close and active interest in the work of the Secretariat and its co-ordination and that money was being wasted at the United Nations in this connection; but we had, in fact, taken an extremely keen interest in the work of the Secretariat and in trying to get efficient administration there. When the Secretary-General asks for support we feel that it is fair to give it.

Mr. K. Lindsayrose

Mr. Mayhew

I have already given way several times.

Mr. Lindsay

The Minister has to speak for the Government and not to take the views of the Secretariat.

Mr. Mayhew

It is important to look after the efficient functioning of the United Nations Secretariat. We have played a great part also in the second point to which the hon. Member referred, the co-ordination between the specialised agencies. I would like to give further consideration to the plans he has put forward, but already, thanks a great deal to British initiative, there is a coordinating committee which brings together the directors-general of the specialised agencies for the purpose of co-ordinating the work of the specialised agencies.

Mr. Lindsay

A meeting was held. I have seen the report. Mr. Trygve Lie called together the heads. If the hon. Gentleman cannot say any more and the decision is not going to be reversed, we are getting nothing from the Debate.

Mr. Mayhew

Then I will not pursue the plans the hon. Member put forward for co-ordinating the work of the specialised agencies because that lies a little outside our field. I was going to suggest that this co-ordinating committee might be the basis of some such idea as he suggested, but I would like to look into it further. A further reason put forward was that the greater part of the work of the Appeal was of an informational kind and a great deal of the appeal has been launched. The I.C.E.F. has been put on the map and a great deal of the United Nations initial promotional work has been done. This year it cost 550,000 dollars and in future years on the same basis the cost will be 239,000 dollars.

The view of the majority on the Economic and Social Council was that we should consider the financial results of the Appeal—all the contributions are not yet in and collated—before further action is decided. However, I know that my right hon. Friend appreciates the depth of feeling in the House on this issue and I undertake to represent to him the views of the House. There will be further talk in the Assembly. I give no undertaking that we shall find it possible to change our mind on the point. All I say is that I will be glad to represent the views of the House to my right hon. Friend when I see him in Paris next week.

Mr. Low

is the hon. Gentleman aware that the official report on what Commander Jackson said, quite apart from the fact that Commander Jackson is now no longer a member of the Secretariat, does not support the point of view that he was putting out? There is nothing in Commander Jackson's statement to say that in the Secretary-General's view he should get rid of the United Nations co-ordination of all national appeals. It was only a plea for lightening the load slightly and not a plea for throwing the whole thing over. There was nothing to suggest that the co-ordination, which is the important part, should cease.

Mr. J. Hynd

Before my hon. Friend answers that, may I ask him one thing after the rather astounding speech and explanation which he has given? When our delegates go to the United Nations on this and other matters, will they go with a policy from this Government and not with instructions to follow anything which the Secretariat recommends?

Mr. Mayhew

Of course we make up our own minds and go with our own policy but this is an administrative matter and we are bound to take into consideration the views of the United Nations Secretariat.

Mr. F. Noel-Baker

Before my hon. Friend sits down, I would like on behalf of a number of my hon. Friends to express our great disappointment. We have found his statement entirely inadequate and profoundly disappointing, and we very much hope that he will think again.