HC Deb 19 February 1958 vol 582 cc1185-7
10. Mr. Wall

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, at the forthcoming United Nations Conference, the British delegation will be instructed to press for the retention of the three-mile limit for territorial waters and for fishing.

30. Mr. Reeves

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is his policy in relation to the Canadian proposal to press for the extension of territorial waters to twelve miles at the forthcoming Geneva Conference on the Law of the Sea, and to the Russian support to the Indonesian claim to twelve miles plus the waters of whatever width between the islands.

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

The United Kingdom delegation to the Conference has been instructed to support strongly the retention of the three-mile limit for territorial waters for fishing and all other purposes. The Canadian proposal, which is for the retention of a three-mile limit, with an additional zone of nine miles in which coastal states would exercise exclusive fishery rights, does not have the support of Her Majesty's Government.

The Indonesian Government have been informed that Her Majesty's Government do not accept their claim to territorial waters extending to twelve miles and, in addition, to the waters, of whatever width, between the islands of the so-called Indonesian archipelago. Her Majesty's Government's attitude is not affected by the Soviet Government's attitude towards the Indonesian claim.

Mr. Wall

Does my right hon. Friend fully appreciate the importance of this matter to the distant-water section of the British fishing industry, and does he realise that if these limits are pushed up to 12 miles vast areas of traditional British fishing grounds will be closed to our trawlers?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

I fully understand its importance; that is why the United Kingdom delegation has been instructed to retain the three-mile limit if it possibly can.

17. Mr. Moss

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs who is representing the United Kingdom at the Conference of plenipotentiaries on the Law of the Sea, which opens in Geneva on 25th February under the auspices of the United Nations; and what are their qualifications.

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

The delegation will be led by my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General, and in his absence by my right hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General. I will, with permission, circulate a detailed list of delegates and advisers, with qualifications, in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Moss

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that concern has been expressed in scientific circles about the draft Articles on the Continental Shelf as prepared by the International Law Commission? Will he say whether the Commission's point of view will he advocated at the Conference?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

I could not say what precise views will be put forward at this Conference, which will take nine weeks to deliberate on this matter. When the hon. Member reads the list of delegates, he will see that there are advisers from every kind of organisation, including shipping interests, technical interests, trade union interests and so on.

Mr. S. Silverman

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the agenda of the Conference will contain any item referring to the difficult and controversial matter of the use of the high seas for nuclear explosions?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

No, not without notice.

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