HC Deb 21 January 1953 vol 510 cc205-7

The following Question stood upon the Order Paper:

43. Mr. ARTHUR HENDERSON: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the Korean situation.

Mr. Eden

I should like, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, to answer Question No. 43.

Since my last statement on Korea on the 27th November, the main developments have been the approval by an overwhelming majority in the General Assembly of the United Nations of the Indian plan for solving the prisoner-of-war question and its rejection by the Chinese and North Koreans.

The Indian plan gave all concerned the best possible chance to reach agreement on the one outstanding difficulty. Its rejection by Soviet Russia and subsequently by the Chinese People's Government and the North Koreans is therefore to be deeply deplored. As a consequence we have again to defer hopes of an early armistice.

In the face of these developments the policy of Her Majesty's Government remains unchanged. We shall continue our support of the United Nations resistance to aggression, we stand by the principles we have professed and Her Majesty's Government will also continue to seek an early armistice on honourable terms.

Mr. A. Henderson

Does the Foreign Secretary know of any discussions that have taken place between the Government of India and the Peking Government? It was suggested earlier that the Government of India might seek to make contact with the Government of Peking with a view to discussing the Indian plan. If these discussions have taken or are taking place, will the Foreign Secretary say whether there has been any progress?

Mr. Eden

I know of no such talks since the rejection of the Indian plan.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Has the attention of the Foreign Secretary been drawn to a very important statement by Mao Tsetung that he had rejected the Indian proposal because it was in violation of the Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War? Since misleading statements of that kind have been made in organs of opinion in this country, will the Foreign Secretary take steps to have some authoritative declaration of the meaning of the Geneva Convention of 1949 made plain to the world?

Mr. Eden

I will have a look at that and consider whether something of that kind might not be useful.

Mr. Alport

Has my right hon. Friend seen any report of the investigations made by the United Nations Command into the Taeju incident last October?

Mr. Eden

A report has been received by the United States Government and is on its way to us by air at the moment from Washington. I have received a summary of it and that is a11. In due course I hope to be able, perhaps in a White Paper, to give some further information to the House on that subject.

Mr. Usborne

The Foreign Secretary said in his statement that Her Majesty's Government still stood behind the objective of the United Nations in opposing aggression. When in June, 1950, we went into the Korean conflict I understood then that the United Nations had twin objectives. One was to oppose aggression and the other was to achieve the unification and independence of all Korea. May I ask whether we now stand behind the second of those objectives or whether we have now abandoned it?

Mr. Eden

We have certainly not abandoned either of the objectives which were originally put before us when the late Government, with the support of the whole House, undertook support of the United Nations action.

Mr. Usborne

Is it the objective of the British Government to continue in Korea until all Korea is united and independent?

Mr. Eden

With respect, that seems to me the same Question that the hon. Member asked before, but I can say that we are still seeking to fulfil the objective that the United Nations set before itself at the outbreak of this conflict.