HC Deb 11 May 1951 vol 487 cc2301-3
The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Herbert Morrison)

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House, I desire to make the following statement.

In the course of the debate in the House on 14th December last the Prime Minister said that the question of Formosa was one of the most difficult in the Far East. That is still the position. At the Cairo Conference in 1943 the United States, the United Kingdom and China agreed that Formosa should after the war be returned to the Republic of China. The Cairo Declaration also proclaimed the intention that Korea should in due course become free and independent. It also expressed acceptance of two principles: non-aggression and no territorial ambitions.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, therefore, went on to remark in the course of the same debate that until China shows by her action that she is not obstructing fulfilment of the Cairo Declaration in respect of Korea and accepts the basic principle of that Declaration, it will be difficult to reach a satisfactory solution of this problem. His Majesty's Government are of the opinion that the objectives of the Declaration can be achieved only in the context of a genuine and satisfactory Far Eastern settlement, the first step towards which must be a settlement in Korea.

In fact, the problem of Formosa has now become an international problem in which a number of nations apart from those signatory to the Cairo and Potsdam Declarations are closely concerned. In the view of His Majesty's Government this is a question which could usefully be considered by the United Nations at the appropriate time. It is not however the urgent problem. The most pressing of the problems facing us in the Far East is that of Korea and in our view it would be premature to discuss the future of Formosa so long as the operations continue in Korea.

The question of Formosa will, however, come up in the context of the Japanese Peace Treaty. Our aim here is to secure an early Peace Treaty without allowing the difficult issue of Formosa to delay its negotiation and without attempting in the Treaty to find a final solution to an issue which must be given careful consideration later in the general context of the Far Eastern situation.

Mr. Harry Wallace

Can my right hon. Friend say whether the wishes of the people of Formosa will be taken into account?

Mr. Morrison

Yes, Sir. I think it is clearly desirable that the wishes of the inhabitants of Formosa should be taken into account.

Mr. Peter Smithers

Can the right hon. Gentleman enlighten us on the position with regard to the United States Government in this matter? Does this statement mean that His Majesty's Government have, in fact, failed to agree a policy with the United States or has agreement been arrived at as a result of prior discussion?

Mr. Morrison

I think the House is fully familiar with the views of the United States Government and those of His Majesty's Government which have previously been stated. I do not think there is need for anybody to apprehend acute friction at this stage.

Mr. George Thomas

Would my right hon. Friend make it quite clear that there is no change at all in the policy of the Government with regard to Formosa but merely that they will probably bring it before the United Nations?

Mr. Morrison

I think the statement I have made makes it clear that there is no change in policy from the time when the Prime Minister made the statement to the House to which I have referred.

Mr. Thomas

I am obliged.