HC Deb 04 February 1965 vol 705 cc1277-8
Q6. Sir J. Langford-Holt

asked the Prime Minister whether Her Majesty's Government will now adhere to the United Nations Charter of Human Rights.

Q19. Mr. James Johnson

asked the Prime Minister whether he will state the policy of Her Majesty's Government regarding the Charter of Human Rights of the United Nations.

The Prime Minister

I think hon. Members have in mind the Universial Declaration of Human Rights which was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on the 10th December, 1948. The United Kingdom voted for this Declaration, which was proclaimed in the form of a Resolution of the General Assembly and which was not intended to constitute a binding legal obligation. The Declaration does not have the status of a treaty or convention and it is not therefore legally possible for any State to adhere or become a party to it. But the Declaration does of course have great moral authority which Her Majesty's Government, for their part, will do all in their power to support.

Sir J. Langford-Holt

Is the Prime Minister not aware that the powers which his right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary retains unto himself contravene this Declaration?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Member has had this Question on the Order Paper many weeks running and I am glad that he has finally put it. I have been waiting to say that if he will let me have evidence of any particular contravention of the Declaration, I will be very glad to look at it. As the hon. Member knows, it is not a question of adhering or not adhering to the Declaration. The only instrument to which internationally we can do that is the European Convention on Human Rights, to which the United Kingdom became a party on 8th March, 1951.

Mr. Paget

Is my right hon. Friend aware that our law affecting aliens is in somewhat flagrant breach of the Declaration? Will he urge his right hon. and learned Friend who is at present considering the matter to appoint a Select Committee to see whether he can suggest means whereby we can put our aliens law in order in this respect?

The Prime Minister

I have heard some eloquent speeches by my hon. and learned Friend year after year in debates on the Expiring Laws Continuance Bills on this point, and now that this one area has been identified by my hon. and learned Friend I will, of course, look into it.

Mr. Stratton Mills

Can the Prime Minister say whether the War Damage Bill is within the Declaration?

The Prime Minister

I certainly do not think that it is in any way in contravention of it. I thought, however, that there was a lot of difficulty between hon. Members on the Front Bench and those on the back benches among the party opposite. Had not they better sort that out before they put questions?