HC Deb 05 April 1962 vol 657 cc632-3
Q2. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Prime Minister whether, during his forthcoming meeting with President Kennedy, he will propose issuing a joint declaration of their continued faith in, and active support of, the Charter of the United Nations and the United Nations Organisation.

The Prime Minister

Both President Kennedy and I have frequently made our attitude to the United Nations clear. We are supporting the Organisation in a great variety of ways. As the right hon. and learned Gentleman no doubt understands, I would prefer not to commit myself to the text of any communiqué in advance of my meeting with President Kennedy later this month.

Mr. Henderson

Will the Prime Minister bear in mind that, having regard to criticisms of the United Nations in both countries during recent months, it would be an important corrective if a joint declaration could be issued by the Prime Minister and the President of their continued intention to stand firm behind the United Nations in carrying out its Charter responsibilities?

The Prime Minister

I will bear that in mind, but the right hon. and learned Gentleman must agree that constructive criticism does not imply a lack of faith.

Mr. Smithers

Have not Her Majesty's Government an exceptionally good record in upholding the Charter—[HON. MEMBERS: "Suez."]—and is not the difficulty that far too many delegations at the United Nations seek to place upon the Charter interpretations which it cannot possibly bear?

The Prime Minister

I think that that is a problem. We debated this at some length recently.

Mr. Gaitskell

Does not the Prime Minister agree that supplementary questions of the kind asked by his hon. Friend the Member for Winchester (Mr. Smithers) show the need for a firm declaration in support of the United Nations Charter?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend has done very good service himself at the United Nations and, as I remember, in the debate he made a speech which was generally regarded in all parts of the House as useful and constructive.

Mr. Shinwell

When the right hon. Gentleman meets President Kennedy, will he remind him that it is more consistent with the principles of the United Nations to remove the restrictions on British shipping?

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Gentleman has assisted me at least in ventilating this problem.