HC Deb 24 January 1972 vol 829 cc960-1
24. Mr. Peter Archer

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he intends to ratify the International Covenant on Economic Social and Culural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Mr. Kershaw

The obligations to be undertaken under these covenants are wide-ranging and would apply not only to the United Kingdom but also in the dependent territories. Because they are expressed in vague terms the obligations require careful study and I can hold out no prospect of early ratification.

Mr. Archer

In view of the Government's enthusiasm for signing international conventions, as demonstrated in the answer to Question No. 20, why are they so hesitant to ratify those which they have signed? Would the hon. Gentleman indicate the subjects in respect of which the Government are hesitant to submit their actions to international discussion?

Mr. Kershaw

We have to make sure that these covenants are applicable to all our territories and, because they are expressed in vague terms, they are difficult to define. For instance, there is mention of arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy. The Younger Commission is now sitting to decide what privacy is. Surely it would be a good idea to have that matter decided before we sign a convention about it.