HC Deb 29 May 1963 vol 678 cc1287-8
3. Mr. Brockway

asked the Lord Privy Seal what response was made by the British representative on the General Assembly's special committee on colonialism to the proposal that a United Nations visiting mission should be sent to Aden to investigate how far the Federation of South Arabia represents the wishes of the peoples.

Mr. Heath

The Committee of Twenty-Four was informed that Her Majesty's Government were unable to agree to this proposal.

Mr. Brockway

Is not the right hon. Gentleman prepared to reconsider this whole issue? Is it not clear that the majority of the members of the United Nations take the view that when peoples do not have the right of self-government, there should be some intervention by the United Nations in these cases? Are we not now living in a world when the United Nations will function in this respect?

Mr. Heath

We have co-operated very fully with the Committee of Twenty-Four by taking part in these discussions and by giving it full information, but the ultimate responsibility rests with Her Majesty's Government, and I cannot therefore accept the hon. Member's suggestion.

Sir G. Nicholson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the people who suffer most from this sort of thing are the United Nations and that when missions sent to colonial territories are composed of representatives of nations which do not know the first thing about democracy or have trade union leaders, that can only be interpreted as grossly insulting to this country?

Mr. Heath

Our purpose is to give all the information we can to the Committee and to explain to it the democratic processes which we ourselves follow.

Mr. Mayhew

Should we not consider the practical consequences of our refusal, for we still get the United Nations inquiry and the debates at the United Nations? What do we gain by refusing access, except a more tendentious and one-sided inquiry? Do we not just give the impression of having something to hide and having a hostility to the United Nations which we should not show?

Mr. Heath

What we gain is that the process of government of these territories is not affected by a visit. In this case, the petitioner Mr. Farid, from the Federation itself, fully explained the situation there, in addition to the British representative's explanation, and the Federation has no desire that this Committee should visit the Federation at all.