HC Deb 27 January 1964 vol 688 cc27-8
38. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will state the policy of Her Majesty's Government with regard to the proposed increase in the size of the United Nations Security Council.

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. R. A. Butler)

Her Majesty's Government have consistently made it clear that in their view the Security Council should be expanded. But there remains a variety of views on what should be the exact form and extent of such an expansion. In these circumstances, we consider that our responsibility as a permanent member of the Security Council requires us to adopt a position of reserve until the issues are clearer than they are at present. The United Kingdom Delegate therefore abstained in the vote on the resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 17th December on this subject. This abstention did not indicate any lack of support for the principle of expansion.

Mr. Henderson

With reference to the Prime Minister's message yesterday to Mr. Khrushchev stressing the importance of strengthening the United Nations peace-keeping machinery, may I ask the Foreign Secretary whether Her Majesty's Government are taking any initiative to bring about discussions with other Governments with a view to securing the holding of a Charter revision conference?

Mr. Butler

Our reply has just been made public. As the right hon. and learned Gentleman knows, Mr. Khrushchev's message was sent to the heads of all Governments, and, therefore, we are very ready to hear the views of other Governments. But no initiative on the lines suggested has yet been undertaken.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Does the Foreign Secretary recall that when the Council of the League of Nations had 15 members and the father of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) was Foreign Secretary and British delegate, it worked at its best? Will not the Government take a positive line in pressing for an early expansion to at least 15 members in view of the large increase in the total membership of the United Nations?

Mr. Butler

That is precisely why we have not taken a line up to date. We have been cautious about the ultimate outcome. If the right hon. Gentleman wishes to put any points before me, I shall be only too glad.

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