HC Deb 17 June 1963 vol 679 cc27-9
39. Mr. John Hall

asked the Lord Privy Seal what representations Her Majesty's Government have made to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation about the exclusion of non-member nations from the World Food Congress, particularly the exclusion of China whose rapidly increasing population is a major factor in assessing the world food problem.

Mr. Heath

None, Sir. The Director General was authorised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation Council in 1962 to issue invitations to Members of the United Nations and Specialised Agencies, which include the Nationalist Chinese authorities in Formosa but not the People's Republic of China.

Mr. Hall

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that to some extent the value of the World Food Congress must be diminished if it leaves out of its counsels the country with the largest population in the world, where the population is likely to rise to about 1,000 million in the next 30 or 40 years? Is not that very unwise?

Mr. Heath

I well appreciate the importance of the point raised by my hon. Friend, and, indeed, I agree with him. As, however, the invitations extend to the existing members of the United Nations, that is why the Republic of China has not been invited.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Are there not many precedents for inviting non-member countries to come to such a conference as this? Would it not be very much in the interests of the Commonwealth, and particularly of Canada, Australia and New Zealand, that China should be represented there?

Mr. Heath

There are certainly precedents for inviting non-members to such conferences, but the United Nations itself decided that membership should be limited to the existing members of the United Nations and the Specialised Agencies. The right hon. Gentleman knows that our own arrangements are that we express our views on the election of membership to the United Nations concerning the Republic of China but that once that decision is taken, we abide by it for other conferences and organisations.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Would it not be open to the Government, relying on previous precedents, now to propose that China should be invited?

Mr. Heath

The United Nations having taken this decision, we must abide by it.

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