HC Deb 15 July 1953 vol 517 cc2054-7
46. Mr. Donnelly

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a further statement on the Korean truce talks.

Mr. R. A. Butler

The House will have seen the communiqué issued at the conclusion of the Three-Power talks in Washington. The Foreign Ministers of the United Kingdom, the United States, and France reaffirmed their strong support of the efforts of the United Nations Command to conclude an early Armistice consistent with the United Nations' aims and the determination of their Governments to continue to work toward that end. The United Nations Command have now made it clear at Panmunjom that they can go forward and conclude an Armistice if the other side is willing. Meetings of the Armistice delegations have been continuing daily in closed session.

Mr. Donnelly

Is it not a fact that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition asked on Monday about statements which had appeared in the Press that Mr. Synghman Rhee is supposed to have contradicted the arrangement which he made with Mr. Robertson, and that the Chancellor promised that he would make inquiries about that? Has he anything further to say?

Mr. Butler

I did make inquiries. I understand that it is confirmed that certain reports which appeared in the Press coming from authoritative South Korean circles that the Republic of Korea will abide by the Armistice terms which will be developed and signed at Panmunjom by the United Nations Command and the Communists are correct.

Mr. Wade

While I appreciate the practical difficulties, does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that recent events in South Korea have shown the need for a truly international police force to deal with acts of aggression, and the dangers inherent in a policy of building up the military strength of one particular nation which happens to be the victim of aggression?

Mr. Butler

All these questions raise very broad matters of collective security, and the best answer to the hon. Gentleman is that the more collective and good the security is, the happier we shall be to complete it.

Mr. Attlee

Would the right hon. Gentleman make it clear that in that statement there was no implication that we agreed to a blockade of China and that although at the present time we apply certain restrictions in accordance with the decisions of the United Nations we have never agreed to a general blockade of China?

Mr. Butler

That raises rather broader questions which ought to be handled as a separate issue, but in general nobody would dissent from the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. S. Silverman

How far would this country regard itself as bound by any political agreement reached between Mr. Robertson and President Syngman Rhee?

Mr. Butler

All that we have is the account in the published communiqué arising out of the discussions between Mr. Robertson and Mr. Rhee. The important thing about that is that we should proceed towards an armistice, and when it comes to the negotiations there, it is important not only that we should be represented but that the point of view that we hold should be put.

47. Mr. Wyatt

asked the Prime Minister what arrangements will be made for British representation at the Peace Conference, following the signing of an armistice in Korea.

Mr. R. A. Butler

The first step is to get an armistice signed. Thereafter the composition of the political conference will have to be decided by agreement between the two sides and the other nations concerned. Her Majesty's Government expect to be represented.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Will not the composition of the political conference and its terms of reference be decided by the United Nations Assembly?

Mr. Butler

As far as a certain proportion of participants is concerned. The important thing in the answer to this Question is that Her Majesty's Government expect to be represented.

Sir H. Williams

As, according to the doctrine of the Foreign Office, we are not at war with anybody in Korea, either with North Korea or China, who will be at the peace conference?

Mr. Butler

The best answer to my hon. Friend is that we had better get an armistice signed first. Then we can enter into these abstractions.

Mr. Wyatt

What does the acting Prime Minister mean by "expect to be represented"? Is he not determined to be represented?

Mr. Butler

I mean it in the sense that England expects to do her duty.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Cannot the Chancellor tell us that, at this frightfully important meeting, the Government will be represented by a Minister?

Mr. Butler

We had better deal with that when the time comes. I agree that the representation must be of an important character, but whether it will be a Minister or not, I do not know.