HC Deb 09 March 1959 vol 601 cc860-2
9. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what action is being taken by Her Majesty's Government to further consideration at the United Nations of proposals for the establishment of a United Nations permanent force.

30. Sir F. Medlicott

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what action he proposes to take with regard to the report of the Secretary-General of the United Nations on the experience derived from the operation of the United Nations International Emergency Force; and whether he will make a statement.

3. Mr. Tilney

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what steps have been taken since its publication last October to implement the Secretary-General's report on the experiences derived from the operation of the United Nations Emergency Force; and what views have been expressed by Her Majesty's Government in response to the Secretary-General's soundings.

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

As my right hon. and learned Friend said on 19th November last in reply to the hon. Member for Normanton (Mr. A. Roberts), the Secretary-General is aware that Her Majesty's Government support the views he set out in his report. He has therefore not needed to make any approach to Her Majesty's Government. I hope, however, that, in obtaining the views of other members of the United Nations, Mr. Hammarskjoeld will receive further encouragement to develop his ideas.

Mr. Henderson

Can we take it from that reply that Her Majesty's Government are still in favour of the establishment of a United Nations permanent force? If that is so, are any discussions taking place with other Governments, especially Commonwealth Governments, with a view to concrete proposals being put before the General Assembly at its next meeting?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

Commonwealth Governments have been informed that Her Majesty's Government favour the idea of a standby force of the kind suggested by the Secretary-General.

Sir F. Medlicott

Will the Government consider encouraging the idea of a permanent United Nations force by offering to place at the disposal of the United Nations some suitable territory as a base? Will the Government show not only approval but some enthusiasm for this principle, because it is, after all, one of the few good things that came out of Suez?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

The suggestion of the Secretary-General is to set up a standby force. It would be unwise to try to go faster than the Secretary-General thinks is possible.

Mr. Beswick

Is the Minister of State aware that there are many hon. Members on both sides of the House who feel that the Government could do much more in this matter, particularly in relation to the Commonwealth, in view of the special interest of Canada and the fact that India has also been specially interested, although she is, I think mistakenly, against it? Could the right hon. Gentleman do more than simply inform the Commonwealth countries? Could he get them together to thrash out this idea with a view to putting it again before the United Nations?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

I do not know that we can do very much more than explain to other members of the Commonwealth that we are in favour of the Secretary-General's report.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, as the United Nations is now organised, the establishment of this permanent force is likely to be inimical to British interests all over the world?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

There is some misunderstanding. We are discussing the possibility of a standby force as referred to in the Secretary-General's report. This is not quite the same thing as a permanent force, which some people, I know, wish to see established.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

If I understand the report aright, the standby force consists of national contingents established for United Nations use. Will the Government initiate a study of the problems of a permanent force recruited directly for the United Nations and the problems of finance which that would involve? Would not every British interest be served if such a force were created?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

I have previously said that I think it would be unwise to go faster in this matter than the Secretary-General himself thinks wise. It would be very much better to back up the Secretary-General in trying to bring about what he thinks is possible in present circumstances.