HC Deb 13 April 1964 vol 693 cc9-11
9. Mr. Mayhew

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what action he is now taking to help secure payment of their dues by defaulting members of the United Nations.

27. Mr. Prentice

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the position at the United Nations of those member nations who have failed to pay their contributions to the major peace-keeping operations; and what policy is being pursued by Her Majesty's Government on this issue.

Mr. P. Thomas

In Her Majesty's Government's view, any member State which, by declining to pay its due share of the expenses of the United Nations, falls two years in arrears will, under Article 19 of the Charter, forfeit its voting rights in the General Assembly.

The present problem stems from the failure of the Soviet Union and certain other countries to contribute to United Nations peace-keeping operations in the Congo and the Middle East. The British and United States Permanent Representatives to the United Nations represented to their Soviet colleague in New York last month the importance to the United Nations as a whole of supporting the full application of Article 19 and the consequent need for Soviet peace-keeping arrears to be met. They put to their Soviet colleague certain proposals which might facilitate the financing of future peace-keeping operations.

Mr. Mayhew

What were these proposals and why were they made public? Was it wise to make these proposals formally before getting any indication that the Russians would respond favourably?

Mr. Thomas

The hon. Gentleman asks whether it is wise to make these proposals public. They were referred to in certain newspapers, and I can assure him that they were not made public by Her Majesty's Government. I agree with him that full details of these proposals, which in any event were tentative, should remain confidential pending a reply from the Soviet Union to the Anglo-American approach.

Mr. Prentice

Would the Minister confirm that, under Article 19, if countries are more than two years in arrears the Chairman of the General Assembly would be in order to refuse them voting rights without any Motion being necessary? Would the Government support that? Would the Minister also make it clear that that attitude applies to all countries; in their words, that we take the same view of the French arrears as we do of the Soviet arrears? This is not a cold war question. It is a question of our wanting to uphold the Charter and the rule of the International Court in these matters.

Mr. Thomas

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that it is not intended that this should be a cold war matter, and I know that it would be the wish of everyone to try, if possible, to reach a solution of this matter. In our view, Article 19 applies equally to all countries which might be in arrear for two years with their payments.

Mr. Mayhew

Is the Minister aware that we are sympathetic to the intention of the Government, but certain proposals were made to the Soviet Union which have now been published? They are important. Will he put them in the OFFICIAL REPORT? Do they not involve some form of strengthening the Security Council against the General Assembly?

Mr. Thomas

I do not think that it would be appropriate to put these proposals in full in the OFFICIAL REPORT. Perhaps I can say that, in general, the proposals would involve the General Assembly initiating a peace-keeping operation only after it had been discussed in the Security Council and the latter had been unable to act on it. Financial assessments for the peace-keeping operation, perhaps according to some special scale, would be recommended to the General Assembly by a peace-keeping finance committee on which the larger financial contributors would be adequately represented.