HC Deb 08 July 1968 vol 768 cc9-10
32. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if Her Majesty's Government will support the proposal of the Government of Malta at the next United Nations General Assembly for a declaration on national rights over, and exploitation of, the marine environment for the benefit of mankind.

Mr. Goronwy Roberts

The Maltese proposal related to the sea bed only. Her Majesty's Government are actively considering their policy towards this most interesting subject in the light of the ad hoc committee at the United Nations set up to study this whole question.

Mr. Dalyell

Is my hon. Friend aware that if there is to be an adequate flow of capital and investment certain urgent problems of international law, especially patent law, must be solved?

Mr. Roberts

I agree. A large number of complex and difficult questions—some technical and others legal—will have to be very carefully studied both in the ad hoc committee of which we are a member—having been the co-sponsor of the Resolution setting it up—and also in the several States.

Mr. Hugh Fraser

Would it not strengthen the Government's hand enormously at the United Nations if they had their own proper study of marine technology, like every other major maritime Power? In spite of the fact that the Government have been pressed by hon. Members on both sides, we have had nothing except the vapourings of the Minister of Technology.

Mr. Roberts

I do not accept the hon. Member's implication. I am aware of his keen interest in the matter. I suggest that through the existing Departments and the special bodies that the Government have set up this matter is adequately taken care of.