HC Deb 06 July 1953 vol 517 cc857-9
45. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Prime Minister if he is now in a position to make a statement on the negotiations and discussions at present taking place with President Rhee.

49. Mr. Wyatt

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a further statement on the situation in Korea.

50. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Prime Minister the latest information he has received about the policy of Mr. Syngman Rhee towards the proposed armistice in Korea.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. R. A. Butler)

Consultations between the United Nations Command, Mr. Walter Robertson and President Syngman Rhee are still continuing. Among the questions being discussed are the implementation of the Agreement reached at Panmunjom on 8th June for the exchange of prisoners of war and also the steps to be taken for a settlement of the Korean question after the conclusion of an armistice.

Her Majesty's Government earnestly hope that these negotiations will lead to a solution of the present grave difficulties. For the time being, therefore, it would be premature to reconvene the General Assembly of the United Nations. If, however, no progress can be made by direct negotiations, then, clearly, that course will have to be taken. Her Majesty's Government are keeping in close touch with other member Governments of the United Nations about this matter.

Mr. Hughes

Could the Chancellor tell us how long it will be now before we shall be going to the United Nations and calling upon them to brand Mr. Syngman Rhee as an aggressor and upon the Chinese to restrain him?

Mr. Butler

I think we should await the results of the consultations which are taking place as I have described, and we should also have in mind the negotiations we are having with other member Governments.

Mr. Wyatt

Could the Chancellor assure us that the Government, with the Government of the United States, are making adequate plans to make sure that if an armistice is signed it cannot be sabotaged by President Syngman Rhee?

Mr. Butler

That is also covered by the consultations taking place. The hon. Gentleman can be quite sure that that is in the mind not only of the Government but of other Governments concerned.

Mr. Strachey

Will not the Chancellor agree that unless some early, effective steps are taken between the Governments concerned and President Syngman Rhee we shall be in growing danger of British troops in Korea finding themselves in an impossible position politically and militarily?

Mr. Butler

That is very much in mind and that is why we hope that these consultations will have the desired effect. If not, as I indicated in my answer, there are further steps which may be taken.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that it is now nearly two months since a settlement has been held up by difficulties caused by President Syngman Rhee, and that there is a danger in leaving the summoning of the Assembly too late, in that that may leave great power with President Syngman Rhee?

Mr. Butler

Yes, but the summoning of the Assembly is not a matter for one Government but for the other Governments concerned, too. I can honestly say that this is urgently in the minds of other Governments besides our own.

Mr. Shinwell

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether we are taking part in these discussions? Are the discussions being confined to the United States, although reference is made to the United Nations Command?

Mr. Butler

In so far as we are associated with the United Nations we are taking part in the discussions, and Mr. Walter Robertson is taking part as the envoy of President Eisenhower. The right hon. Gentleman may be quite certain that we are well aware of what is going on.

Mr. Shinwell

We may be informed of what is going on, but we are not actually participating in the discussions directly. Is that not so? Why is the right hon. Gentleman not honest about it?

Mr. Butler

I have indicated that we are to the extent I have described, and if it is any consolation to the right hon. Gentleman our views have also been made perfectly clear to President Syngman Rhee.