HC Deb 20 June 2000 vol 352 c145
6. Mr. Gordon Prentice (Pendle)

What estimate he has made of the time scale for the permanent membership of the UN Security Council to be changed to include a country from south Asia. [125209]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Peter Hain)

Britain continues to press actively for early enlargement of the UN Security Council to include permanent seats for countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, as well as for Germany and Japan.

Mr. Prentice

That is good news; the UN should be reconfigured to reflect the realities of the modern world. There are those who believe that India is a strong contender for permanent membership of the Security Council. Will my hon. Friend make it clear that there can be no question of countries joining the Security Council as permanent members when they are in default, if that is the word, of UN resolutions? They must come into full compliance before they can even begin to be considered.

Mr. Hain

My hon. Friend is right. As the second largest nation in Asia, India is a strong contender for any enlarged Security Council. It is ultimately a decision for the Asian group, and not one in which Britain will have the final say. Many matters will be taken into account when the decision is made, including those to which my hon. Friend referred. Other countries in Asia, including Indonesia and Pakistan, for example, will also put their names forward and make strong claims, and India's claim is undoubtedly strong.

Sir Sydney Chapman (Chipping Barnet)

What is the Government's criterion for qualifying for permanent membership of the UN Security Council? Is it a country's population, its geographical position or its compliance with UN resolutions? Surely the Government must have some view about their role in putting forward the case for new countries becoming permanent members of the Security Council.

Mr. Hain

We have a very clear view, and we are leading the discussion in New York on enlargement of the Security Council. The present Security Council reflects a world that is long gone. It needs to be modernised and updated, and that is a policy that we are pursuing.

Our policy is to have five new permanent members—Japan, Germany, one from Asia, one from Latin America and one from Africa. There will also be four new non-permanent members, one from Latin America, one from Asia, one from Africa and one from eastern Europe. That is a clear policy, which would result in a Security Council that reflected the realities of the modern world.

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