HC Deb 12 November 1962 vol 667 cc17-9
8. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will make a statement on the present situation with regard to Cuba.

Mr. Heath

The Soviet missiles are in the process of being withdrawn from Cuba and the United States Navy has been able to carry out visual checks on the deck cargoes of the Soviet ships concerned. The Soviet First Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Mikoyan, is still in Cuba. No agreement has yet emerged on the question of international verification in Cuban territory. Meanwhile the International Red Cross is considering a proposal by the Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations that it should undertake inspection of ships en route for Cuba as a safeguard against the possible introduction of further offensive weapons.

Mr. Henderson

May I ask whether, as a possible solution of this problem, Her Majesty's Government support the proposal that has been made by the Government of Brazil for the establishment of a nuclear-free zone for the whole of Latin America together with the exclusion of all rockets and bomber weapons? Is that a policy of the Government?

Mr. Heath

Our policy was explained at the United Nations where we endorsed a nuclear-free zone of this kind freely arrived at among the countries concerned.

Mr. S. Silverman

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what initiative will be taken, or is being taken, on the part of Her Majesty's Government to extend this principle so as to make it impossible for the transport across the seas of offensive weapons from anywhere to anywhere?

Mr. Heath

That is not included in our proposals.

14. Mr. Zilliacus

asked the Lord Privy Seal (1) whether he will propose in the United Nations that the Security Council should assist Cuba and the United States to conclude an agreement, open to all Caribbean states, pledging them strictly to observe in their mutual relations the obligations of the Charter enjoining the peaceful settlement of all their differences and prohibiting interference in the internal affairs of states or resort to force except in defence against an armed attack;

(2) whether he will now propose in the Security Council that a situation consistent with the obligations of the United Nations Charter should be restored by the lifting of the United States blockade and cessation of United States flights over Cuban territory.

Mr. Heath

The best course at the moment is to leave matters in the hands of the Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations, who is in negotiation with all the parties concerned.

Mr. Zilliacus

But is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Secretary-General is merely a servant of the Security Council, that at the present moment there is a resort to force in violation of the Charter through the United States blockade, and that unless the Government, as a permanent member of the Security Council, use their influence and do their duty to uphold the Charter, we may be in for another attempt to strangle the Cuban régime by the United States?

Mr. Heath

No, Sir. This matter is one for negotiation at the moment between the United States Government and the Soviet Government, and in the negotiations the Acting Secretary-General is playing a most important part. It should be left there.

17. Mr. Rankin

asked the Lord Privy Seal under what powers the United Nations have proposed an inspection of Cuba's defences.

Mr. Heath

The United Nations has not proposed an inspection of Cuba's defences. United Nations verification of the dismantling of Soviet missile bases in Cuba was first suggested in a United States draft resolution tabled in the Security Council on 22nd October. In his message of 28th October to President Kennedy, Mr. Khrushchev agreed to such verification.

Mr. Rankin

Is the right hon. Gentleman's answer not just a little bit of camouflage to get round the fact that the real purpose of this inspection was not primarily concerned with the missiles—although that was part of it, and I agree with that—but was also concerned with finding out about Cuba's defences? Did our United Nations representative vote for that? Would it not have been better if we had followed the policy which the Government accepted at Suez, when the United Nations sought agreement from this country and Egypt?

Mr. Heath

As far as I recall, this resolution was never put to the vote at the United Nations. None of the resolutions on Cuba was put to the vote. But if Mr. Khrushchev accepted the removal of the missiles under inspection by the United Nations, it does not appear that he thought that it was for the purpose of espionage.

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