HC Deb 13 July 1953 vol 517 cc1713-5
45. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a further statement on the progress of the negotiations and discussions with President Rhee.

46. Mr. Morley

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a further statement on the progress of the armistice negotiations in Korea.

50. Mr. Wyatt

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement on the renewed truce negotiations in Korea.

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

The full armistice delegations resumed their meetings at Panmunjom on 10th July and have since continued to meet each day in closed session. Mr. Walter Robertson's discussions with President Syngman Rhee have ended. On 12th July a joint statement, which the House will have seen reported in the Press, announced that the exchanges of views which had taken place had gone far towards achieving mutual understanding. Mr. Robertson is now on his way back to the United States. Her Majesty's Government are expecting a further report from the United States Government.

Mr. Henderson

Have the Government any information about whether or not President Syngman Rhee has now withdrawn his objections to the Government of India being a member of the Supervisory Commission for the control of prisoners of war?

Mr. Butler

We did see a report that what are known as South Korean sources are reported to have said that Mr. Robertson agreed to ask the Communists to exclude India, Poland and Czechoslovakia from the Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission to supervise prisoners. We have since ascertained that that is denied by the State Department.

Mr. Attlee

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen a statement in the Press, which appears to have annoyed Mr. Robertson, that Mr. Rhee was going back on what he agreed?

Mr. Butler

Yes, I have, and we made an attempt before this Question time to get a further statement from the United States Government about their views, but that has not yet come in. That is the report to which I referred.

Mr. Morley

Should the signing of an armistice be prevented by the action of President Syngman Rhee, can the acting Prime Minister give an assurance that the whole matter of future action in Korea will be referred to the United Nations?

Mr. Butler

I gave a previous answer on this subject and said there was at present contact between all the Governments involved about the possibility of the matter being brought there. I cannot add anything further to that statement.

Mr. Wyatt

Can the right hon. Gentleman give any indication of any sanction we have in mind to apply to President Syngman Rhee should he either break his personal relations with the United States or any armistice that is signed? That is the most important feature.

Mr. Butler

I fully understand the apprehension of the hon. Member and of the House in this very important matter. I think we had better register today that agreement was reached between Mr. Robertson and Mr. Rhee and that we have ascertained that two of the rumours in the Press are not true. That information we have received from the State Department. The point raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition has not yet been answered, but I think we can hope the situation looks better than some reports make out.

Miss Lee

Is the Minister aware that for information to reach this country through Mr. Robertson seems a roundabout and a delayed procedure? There is a good deal of anxiety and suspicion, which should be allayed, about who is in fact supporting Syngman Rhee. Can we have more direct information?

Mr. Butler

That matter has been raised before and answers have been given indicating we are very closely in touch. But in view of the anxiety which I knew would be felt in the House, we have asked for a further report, and as soon as we get the information it will be given to the House.