HC Deb 07 November 1966 vol 735 cc968-9
32. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that subscriptions to the United Nations are now £65 million in arrears, thus threatening the future of the organisation; and what action he proposes to take at the United Nations to encourage prompt payment.

Mrs. White

Well over half of the arrears arise from the refusal of certain countries to pay their assessments for peace-keeping operations. The General Assembly decided in 1965 not to apply the sanction in the Charter to Member States which had incurred these debts but to solve the problem by voluntary contributions. Her Majesty's Government are among those who have contributed generously and who now look to others to play their part.

Mr. Digby

Is not this a very important problem for the future of the United Nations that has to be faced squarely? Will the Government support any measures to secure more prompt payment?

Mrs. White

We would hope to do so. We also support the proposals for economy and for streamlining the Organisation adopted last week following the report of the Committee of 14.

Mr. Longden

In view of the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice which was accepted by a two-thirds majority of the General Assembly, was it not a grave error of judgment not to enforce Article 19 and make those who are two years in arrears forfeit their vote in the General Assembly?

Mrs. White

That is a matter of opinion, but, for the time being, we are bound by the decision of the General Assembly.