HC Deb 23 April 1951 vol 487 cc23-5
52. Mr. Maclean

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if, in view of his failure to get a settlement through the International Court, he will say what further steps he proposes to take in order to secure the withdrawal from British territory of the Argentine personnel at present stationed on Deception Island.

Mr. Younger

His Majesty's Government still consider that this, like all other international disputes, ought to be settled by peaceful negotiation and hold to their view that the best method is reference to the International Court.

Mr. Maclean

Is the Minister aware that the supine attitude of the Government in this matter simply encourages foreign governments to set themselves up on British territory whenever they feel like it, and that that is doing very grave harm to British prestige? Will he not take more effective measures than that of referring the matter to the International Court, which he took two years ago and which did not serve any useful purpose at all?

Mr. Younger

I can assure the House that I am well aware that this is a most unsatisfactory situation. I cannot agree that the Government have adopted a supine attitude. We consider that international disputes should be settled in a peaceful manner by negotiation, perhaps especially disputes involving disputed jurisdiction. It is difficult to see at present what more drastic measures the hon. Gentleman has in mind.

Mr. Henry Strauss

Have His Majesty's Government not considered the possibility of placing the Minister of Food in temporary charge of the food supplies of the area concerned?

Mr. Paton

Will my hon. Friend continue his efforts to persuade the Opposition that Lord Palmerston has been a long time dead?

Colonel Ropner

Can the Minister say whether the Argentine Government hold the same view as the British Government and whether they, too, are prepared to submit this question to the International Court?

Mr. Younger

Unfortunately, it is the case that we have not been able to persuade them to accept the jurisdiction of the Court in this respect.

Major Legge-Bourke

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind, when recommending that the matter should be put before the International Court, the very long time which the Court has so far taken to deal with such complaints as that against Albania, for instance? Will he consider whether there is not a better and quicker machinery than the International Court to deal with matters such as this?

Mr. Younger

The best way would be to reach agreement without going to court. If we have to go to some international authority or tribunal, I know of nothing which would be much more expeditious.

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