HC Deb 23 November 1960 vol 630 cc1109-11
19. Mr. C. Johnson

asked the Lord Privy Seal why Her Majesty's Government abstained in the vote in the Trusteeship Committee of the United Nations on 14th November on the question whether South-West Africa should be discussed by the Committee; and whether Her Majesty's Government accept the opinion of the International Court of Justice in 1956 that the supervisory functions in relation to the mandate previously exercised by the Council of the League of Nations are now to be exercised by the United Nations.

Mr. Heath

The motion was that the debate on South-West Africa be adjourned on the grounds that the matter was sub judice.

The United Kingdom Representative abstained on the motion. He explained our belief that the Committee should do nothing which might in any way impair the standing of the International Court of Justice. The text of this statement is being placed in the Library of the House.

The finding of the International Court of Justice to which the hon. Gentleman refers is contained in the Advisory Opinion given in 1950, which Her Majesty's Government have accepted as a whole.

Mr. Johnson

On the first part of the right hon. Gentleman's reply, he does not add anything to what was said by the delegate at the Committee meeting. Will he say "Yes" or "No" whether he accepts the contention of South Africa that the matter is in fact sub judice? On the second part of his reply, in view of the adamant refusal of the South African Government to implement the Advisory Opinion of the International Court, which Her Majesty's Government now accept, will he consider recommending that the International Court be asked for its opinion on whether this wilful refusal of South Africa to accept supervision has changed unilaterally the status of the territory?

Mr. Heath

With regard to the first part of the supplementary question, the view taken by Her Majesty's Government and the British delegation was that this matter was sub judice, but that in itself did not exclude all consideration by the Committee. On the second part of the supplementary question, I think we had better await the result of the present reference to the International Court.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that some British votes in the past have done great harm in South Africa? Is it not now desirable that Her Majesty's Government and their delegation in New York should do everything in their power to persuade the South African Government that they must accept the Advisory Opinion of 1956?

Mr. Heath

That is a very much wider question.

Back to