HC Deb 29 April 1963 vol 676 cc704-7
23. Mr. E. L. Mallalieu

asked the Lord Privy Seal what proposals he is making to the General Assembly of the United Nations on 14th May for the special session on United Nations financing.

12. Mr. F. Noel-Baker

asked the Lord Privy Seal which Ministers will represent Her Majesty's Government at the forthcoming special session of the United Nations Assembly which will discuss United Nations finances; and whether he will include a Minister from the Treasury in the British delegation.

25. Mr. Prentice

asked the Lord Privy Seal which Ministers will represent Her Majesty's Government at the special meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in May to discuss the financial position of the United Nations; and what proposals will be made by the delegation to improve this position.

Mr. Godber

This special session has been called for a strictly limited purpose. Sir Patrick Dean, the United Kingdom Permanent Representative at the United Nations, in whom I have the fullest confidence, is fully conversant with the whole problem of United Nations finances and will be supported by a senior Treasury official. It would not appear necessary for a Minister to lead our delegation, though I do not exclude the possibility of ministerial attendance if the circumstances justified it.

Her Majesty's Government put forward two main proposals in the Working Group of Twenty-One. These are set out at length in the Group's report, a copy of which is available in the Library of the House; and they will form the basis of Her Majesty's Government's approach to the problem at the forthcoming special session.

Mr. Mallalieu

Would the hon. Gentleman not agree that it is a bad thing that the United Nations should have to go cap in hand to Governments whenever it wants money for particular enterprises? Would he also not agree that it is a bad thing that some Governments should be able to escape from their share of the burden of those enterprises? Would it not be very much better, therefore, if the United Nations had a system of finance organised for it independent of Governments?

Mr. Godber

A system independent of Governments would have certain attractions, but it would be difficult to establish. I am perfectly willing to look at such ideas, but at the moment the United Nations must look to Govern- ments. What we have to establish is the responsibilities of Governments and a greater sense of responsibility on the part of Governments to participate in their share of maintaining the United Nations.

Mr. Prentice

Although the purpose of the forthcoming conference may be limited, would the hon. Gentleman agree that it is of crucial importance to the future of the United Nations and that it might lay emphasis on this importance if a Minister were to attend from the beginning? Will the hon. Gentleman reconsider the current level of the United Kingdom's participation in the purchase of United Nations bonds, and will he support the efforts now being made by Mr. Eugene Bloch on behalf of the Secretary-General to raise the level of the total purchase of the bonds to the objective of 200 million dollars?

Mr. Godber

It is, as I said, the more technical aspect with which we are now dealing; the highly complicated suggestions put forward from a number of sides as in the Report of the Working Group. I have indicated that in certain circumstances I do not exclude the possibility of a Minister attending, but I think that we should see how it goes on. As to the bond issue, the attitude of Her Majesty's Government has always been that this was a once-and-for-all attempt to get the United Nations out of difficulties. We now have to get something of more lasting value in which all countries face up to their responsibilities. As to further subscriptions to the bond issue, I have explained that we regard the bond issue as only a palliative.

Mr. Wall

Is it not very important to get the comparatively large number of countries which have still not paid to pay up before any further assessments are made?

Mr. Godber

That is one aspect of the Report to which I have referred.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

While everyone will agree with the hon. Gentleman that it is desirable that there should be a new sense of responsibility in the approach to the subject of finance by all members of the United Nations, is it not also desirable that in this considerable crisis in the United Nations we could support that organisation a little better by buying some more of these bonds?

Mr. Godber

No, Sir. I have quite clearly indicated Her Majesty's attitude, namely, that we believe that it is the long-term issues that have to be faced, and it is no use rushing them.

24. Mr. E. L. Mallalieu

asked the Lord Privy Seal what are the general principles on which there was agreement in the Report of the Working Group of Twenty-One established by the United Nations to consider its finances in the light of the opinion of the International Court of Justice.

Mr. Godber

The principles in question, on which there was broad but not complete agreement, are set out in paragraph 10 of the Working Group's Report, a copy of which is in the Library of the House.