HC Deb 29 May 1963 vol 678 cc1292-4
7. Mr. Prentice

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the special session of the United Nations General Assembly dealing with the financial situation of the United Nations.

17. Mr. P. Noel-Baker

asked the Lord Privy Seal what proposals Her Majesty's delegate has laid before the General Assembly of the United Nations concerning the budget of the organisation; and whether he will make a statement.

19. Mr. Grimond

asked the Lord Privy Seal what instructions have been given to the United Kingdom representative at the United Nations in relation to the refusal of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to pay her contribution to the United Nations; and if he will make a statement.

28. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will state the policy of Her Majesty's Government with the object of maintaining the solvency of the United Nations Organisation, in view of the continued refusal of a large number of the members of the United Nations Organisation to pay their dues in accordance with the provisions of the Charter.

Mr. P. Thomas

The United Kingdom has not yet formally tabled any proposals at the General Assembly. Our views, however, are well known from the public proposals we put forward in the Working Group of Twenty-One. We are at present engaged in informal discussions with other delegations on the immediate problems of solving the financing of the United Nations Emergency Force and the Organisation des Nations tinier au Congo for the remainder of 1963 and of the collection of arrears from defaulting members. The Russian refusal to contribute to the United Nations Emergency Fund and the Organisation des Nations Unies au Congo accounts is one aspect of this problem.

Mr. Prentice

While supporting the views expressed by the hon. Gentleman about the position of the Russians and others, may I ask whether the Government would give further consideration to the proposals put forward by India and certain other countries for voluntary peace-keeping funds? Although this may be an unsatisfactory expedient, less satisfactory than a permanent solution, is it not better to have something like that rather than see the organisation drift into a position in which it can no longer undertake these peace-keeping operations?

Mr. Thomas

We will consider this and other proposals, but our main objective is to see that there is collective financial responsibility.

Mr. Grimond

Is it not the case that the Russians have said that they will contribute only to purposes of which they approve? If that is so, would the Government consider pointing out to them that this will make a complete farce of everything for which the United Nations stands and is simply old imperialism in modern dress?

Mr. Thomas

Yes, Sir. I have seen a report to the effect of what the right hon. Gentleman says about the Russian attitude. It certainly indicates a hardening of the Russian attitude, but at the moment this should not divert us from our main objective, which is to reach agreement with the great majority of the members of the United Nations who sincerely wish to see a solution to the organisation's financial problems.

Mr. Henderson

Has not this parlous financial position of the United Nations become a major political problem? May we have an assurance from the hon. Gentleman that Her Majesty's Government will not participate in any drastic action until after high-level talks have taken place among the four permanent members of the Council, including the Soviet Union?

Mr. Thomas

I agree that this is a major political problem. At the moment we are trying to reach agreement with the majority of the members of the Assembly in this special session, but we will consider the matter raised by the right hon. and learned Gentleman.

Sir J. Duncan

Would it not be a good idea if we suggested that those members of the United Nations which had not paid up could not vote?

Mr. Thomas

That is the effect of the advisory opinion of the International Court in relation to Article 19. Perhaps I should say that, although there are 69 members in arrears, only one member is liable to be penalised under Article 19, and I am informed that that member has given notice that it intends to make payment, so that it will not be penalised; so that this matter does not arise at the moment.

Mr Warbey

Would not the hon. Gentleman tell the House the whole truth, which is that no fewer than 47 members of the United Nations, including members of both the Eastern and Western blocs and of the non-aligned countries, have so far not paid a single penny towards the Congo operations? In view of this situation, is it not absolutely essential that some supplementary means should be found of raising funds for peace-keeping operations? Will not the Government adopt a more sympathetic attitude towards the proposals for a voluntary fund put forward by a number of non-aligned nations?

Mr. Thomas

Yes, Sir. It is true that many countries are in arrears, countries both of West and East, but there are many countries in arrears because of financial difficulties, and I do not think that that obtains in the case of the Communist bloc.