HC Deb 05 December 1951 vol 494 cc2362-4
11 and 12. Mr. Leslie Hale

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) how the views of His Majesty's Government are transmitted to the Armistice Negotiating Committee in Korea; through what channels of communication it is necessary for messages to pass; and what is the average length of time taken;

(2) what is the nature of the existing channel of communication between His Majesty's Government and the commander of the United Nations' Forces in Korea.

Mr. Eden

The views of His Majesty's Government can be made known to the United Nations Commander and the United Nations Armistice Delegation in Korea by the British Joint Services Mission and by His Majesty's Embassy in Washington, through the United States Defence and State Departments respectively, and by the personal representative of the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff at General Ridgway's Headquarters in Tokyo. In addition, His Majesty's Embassy in Washington can make proposals at the bi-weekly meetings which are attended by representatives of those members of the United Nations with Forces in Korea. Our views always receive due consideration. It is not possible to estimate the average time taken in transmission.

Mr. Hale

Is it then really the position that on this exceedingly vital matter no direct communication is possible with the negotiating authority on the spot and that every representation we make is in fact made via America? May I ask whether representations are constantly being made or whether the whole policy is being left as merely a matter of occasional casual observation?

Mr. Eden

I can only say what my personal experience has been. We have sent communications to the headquarters in Tokyo. They go direct, if we so desire, through the headquarters in Tokyo to General Ridgway. We have sent from time to time suggestions which we think useful and they have been received in that spirit, but the main responsibility must be with the Commander-in-Chief acting on behalf of the United Nations themselves.

Mrs. Barbara Castle

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the United Nations Association in this country has expressed the view that the United Nations military commander ought to be responsible to a committee of control appointed by the General Assembly, and that this is really the only way to give United Nations the status in this conflict which I am sure the right hon. Gentleman wants it to have?

Mr. Eden

The position is that there are these meetings in Washington of all the countries who have Forces in Korea, and that seems to me a reasonable basis on which to found the arrangements, because countries who have the Forces are, reasonably enough, entitled to the major share in the discussions.

Mr. Sydney Silverman

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that if these people only meet from time to time in Washington they are thereby deprived of having any direct influence upon negotiations which have now gone on for four-and-a-half months and have long ceased to be purely military and which have most important political effects?

Mr. Eden

The meetings in Washington are held twice a week, but that is not the only means by which we express our views. We do so through the State Department direct to Tokyo, and I am satisfied these views are given fair and proper weight.