HC Deb 18 March 1965 vol 708 cc1467-9
Ql. Mr. Ridley

asked the Prime Minister what steps have been taken to draw the attention of all Government Departments and agencies to the provisions of the Declaration of Human Rights, in view of the declared support which is given to its principles by Her Majesty's Government.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)

In December 1963, copies of a Central Office of Information pamphlet on Human Rights in the United Kingdom were distributed to all Government Departments concerned.

Mr. Ridley

Is the Prime Minister aware that one of the Articles of the Declaration says that no one may be compelled to join an association? Is he further aware that he is now proposing to give to trade unions the right to force a man out of employment if he does not join such an association? How does the Prime Minister reconcile such a contradiction?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman may have seen the statement made by my noble Friend, Lord Lindgren, in another place on 23rd February, in which he said that the Government accept the principle laid down in Article 20 of the Universal Declaration, to which the hon. Gentleman has referred; but he will understand that this will have to go very wide indeed. That covers most of the professional bodies.

Mr. Godber

Of course, we saw what Lord Lindgren said on this matter. However, is not the Prime Minister aware—he must be aware—that he himself is putting legislation through the House at the present time which will take away from the individual rights which he at present has?

Mr. Speaker

Unless I am wrong, there is a difficulty about this. Is not that Bill in Standing Committee at the moment? If so, I think that we must keep away from it.

Mr. Ian Gilmour

Have the difficulties the Government have encountered in ratifying the optional Clauses of the European Convention of Human Rights been overcome yet? When will ratification take place?

The Prime Minister

No, I cannot make a further statement on that. I have dealt with it at Question Time very recently. I am not in a position to say anything about it today.