HC Deb 30 October 1952 vol 505 cc2086-8
18. Mrs. White

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what further instructions have been given to the United Kingdom delegate to the United Nations Assembly on the subject of racial discrimination in South Africa, which has now been placed on the agenda.

Mr. J. Foster

As I stated in reply to the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) on 23rd October, the view of the United Kingdom Government is that the subject matter falls outside the competence of the United Nations and the instructions to the United Kingdom delegate make it clear that the United Kingdom Government therefore regard any debate on the substance of the matter as entirely irregular.

Mrs. White

Can we take it from that reply that the United Kingdom delegate will take no part whatever in any debate upon this subject? Further, if our delegate should take any part can the Minister give us an assurance that he will neither say anything nor vote in such a way as to imply that Her Majesty's Government approves of policies which are abhorrent to the majority of our fellow citizens in the Commonwealth?

Mr. Foster

That is mostly another question, but I can say that Her Majesty's Government will regard any debate on the merits as entirely irregular, and will not accept it as a precedent for the interpretation of Article 2, paragraph 7 of the Charter.

Mr. J. Griffiths

In view of the constitutional position, which, I understand, the Government are taking up, does the Minister not think that that makes it all the more imperative that we should say that we will not ourselves favour any such policy or practice in the Colonies or territories for which we are responsible?

Mr. Foster

No. The question with which we are concerned at the moment is one of competence.

Mr. Braine

Is this not rather important? Having regard to the nature of the Commonwealth, is not the only way of dealing with a matter of this kind to ensure that we set a good example in the territories under our own control?

Mr. Griffiths

Will the Minister not reaffirm the policy of the previous Administration, that his Government's policy is that we will not ourselves conduct any such policy in any of the territories for which we are responsible?

Mr. Foster

That is another question. We are discussing here the question of competence and I have answered it.