HC Deb 17 November 1969 vol 791 cc842-3
27. Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what instructions he has given to Her Majesty's representative at the United Nations regarding that organisation's failure to fulfil its responsibility for ensuring that the desires of the inhabitants of West Irian regarding the future of their country were properly ascertained during the course of the current calendar year.

Mr. Luard

Responsibility for carrying out the act of free choice in West Irian lay with the Government of Indonesia, not with the United Nations. The Secretary-General was authorised by the General Assembly to appoint a representative to carry out his responsibilities under the 1962 Agreement between Indonesia and the Netherlands to advise, assist and participate in the arrangements for the act. He has now submitted a report on the conduct of the act and the results thereof, and has thus carried out the tasks entrusted to him.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

Is it not a fact that this is the one territory in the world for which the United Nations assumed direct responsibility for ensuring, among other things, free movement, free speech and free choice in this exercise which the hon. Gentleman has just said has been carried out, but is it not evident from the Secretary-General's representative's report that none of these things has in any way been carried through? How does the hon. Gentleman, therefore, explain the Government's deafening silence in the matter, given the interest which they always express in the United Nations and the Charter?

Mr. Luard

It is not true that the United Nations was given direct responsibility for this territory or even for administering the act of choice. This matter was governed by the agreement between Indonesia and the Netherlands reached in 1962. The United Nations was given responsibility only for sending a special representative of the Secretary-General to observe the act of choice. In fact, his comments were not quite so unfavourable as the hon. Gentleman suggested, since his main conclusion was that it can be stated that, with the limitations imposed by the geographical characteristics of the territory and the general political situation in the area, an act of free choice has taken place in West Irian in accordance with Indonesian practice, in which representatives of the population have expressed their wish to remain with Indonesia.