HC Deb 27 June 1950 vol 476 cc2159-61

6.25 p.m.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)

May I, Mr. Speaker, with your leave and the leave of the House, interrupt Business in order to make a statement? [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] This morning His Majesty's Government were informed by the United States Government of the terms of a statement which the United States Government intended to make later in the day on the situation in Korea. This statement has in fact just been released for publication in the U.S.A. It reads as follows: In Korea the Government forces, which were armed to prevent border raids and to preserve internal security, were attacked by invading forces from North Korea. The Security Council of the United Nations called upon the invading troops to cease hostilities and to withdraw to the 38th parallel. This they have not done, but on the contrary have pressed the attack. The Security Council called upon all Members of the United Nations to render every assistance to the United Nations in the execution of this resolution. In these circumstances I have ordered United States air and sea forces to give the Korean Government troops cover and support. The attack upon Korea makes it plain beyond all doubt that Communism has passed beyond the use of subversion to conquer independent nations and will now use armed invasion and war. It has defied the orders of the Security Council of the United Nations issued to preserve international peace and security. In these circumstances the occupation of Formosa by Communist forces would be a direct threat to the security of the Pacific area and to United States forces performing their lawful and necessary functions in that area. Accordingly I have ordered the Seventh Fleet to prevent any attack on Formosa. As a corollary of this action. I am calling upon the Chinese Government on Formosa to cease all air and sea operations against the mainland. The Seventh Fleet will see that this is done. The determination of the future status of Formosa must await the restoration of security in the Pacific, a peace settlement with Japan, or consideration by the United Nations. I have also directed that United States Forces in the Philippines be strengthened and that military assistance to the Philippine Government be accelerated. I have similarly directed acceleration in the furnishing of military assistance to the Forces of France and the associated States in Indo-China and the despatch of a military mission to provide close working relations with those Forces. I know that all Members of the United Nations will consider carefully the consequences of this latest aggression in Korea in defiance of the Charter of the United Nations. A return to the rule of force in international affairs would have far-reaching effects. The United States will continue to uphold the rule of law. I have instructed Ambassador Austin, as the representative of the United States to the Security Council, to report these steps to the Council. I should add that the United Kingdom representative on the Security Council has been authorised to support, at today's meeting of the Security Council, a resolution which I understand is being introduced by the United States representative and which recommends that the Members of the United Nations furnish such assistance to the Republic of Korea as may be necessary to repel the armed attack.

The situation is of undoubted gravity, but I am certain that there will be no disagreement, after our bitter experiences in the past 35 years, that the salvation of all is dependent on prompt and effective measures to arrest aggression wherever it may occur, using for this purpose the international machinery which the peace-loving nations have set up for this very purpose. The fact is that the authorities in Northern Korea have invaded the territory of the Government of the Republic of Korea. This is naked aggression and it must be checked. We can only hope that all concerned will recognise this simple fact. If they do, there is hope for the future.

In view of the situation Sir Gladwyn Jebb is flying out immediately to New York to take up his post as permanent representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations.

I felt that the House should have that information at the earliest possible moment.

Mr. Churchill

Naturally, I only intervene for the purpose of expressing our thanks to the Prime Minister for making us acquainted with these grave matters and the sense of unity which dominates the whole House when questions of this gravity seem to touch the principles of freedom and law for which we stand.

Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)

Mr. Speaker, will you allow—?

Mr. Speaker

We cannot have questions at the moment because, after all, we are in the middle of a Debate.

Mr. Davies

I only wanted to re-echo what had been said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) and to say that the whole House is behind the Prime Minister.

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