HC Deb 23 November 1949 vol 470 cc349-50
26. Mr. Keeling

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will give particulars of the convention which made it necessary for the United Kingdom to vote for the election of Czechoslovakia to the Security Council.

Mr. Mayhew

The convention is in the nature of a working arrangement which has developed from the practice of the General Assembly of the United Nations. Under this arrangement one of the six non-permanent seats on the Security Council has always gone to the British Commonwealth, one to Western Europe, two to Latin America, one to the Middle East and one to Eastern Europe. It has also come to be generally accepted that the candidate supported by these groups of nations should receive general support.

Mr. Keeling

As I understand that this convention was made several years ago under very different conditions, would the Government consider terminating or amending it?

Mr. Mayhew

There was no specific time limit to the convention when it was made. It is a working arrangement which has grown up. In answer to the last part of the supplementary question, I think there are some advantages in this working arrangement by which a member of the Commonwealth has always been a non-permanent member of the Security Council. It has advantages. It prevents bitterness and deadlocks sometimes in these elections.

Mr. Ronald Chamberlain

Is my hon. Friend aware that the attitude of the Foreign Secretary in this matter was obviously fair and just and would be opposed only by those whose minds were clouded with hate and suspicion?

Mr. Mayhew

My right hon. Friend will be glad of such a tribute from such a source.

Mr. Eden

I do not think he will.

Mr. W. J. Brown

Is the Under-Secretary of State aware that the action of the British Government in this regard exercised a most depressing effect upon the people of Czechoslovakia, and that what the British Government did was inevitably taken as endorsing the Soviet ridden régime in Czechoslovakia?

Mr. Mayhew

There was no new departure whatever in this action of ours. The Czechoslovak people have certainly misunderstood our attitude if that is the deduction they have drawn.

Mr. Gallacher

Is it not the case that the ganging up against Czechoslovakia at the United Nations was similar to the unscrupulous ganging up at Strasbourg against the Patronage Secretary?

Mr. H. Strauss

Does the Under-Secretary of State recall that at the time of the coup d'état in Czechoslovakia the National Council of Labour said that anybody who attempted to condone that crime showed himself entirely false to all ideas of democracy?"

Mr. Mayhew

If the hon. and learned Gentleman thinks we are condoning the Czechoslovak régime by the action we have taken he is wilfully misunderstanding our position.