HL Deb 25 March 1947 vol 146 cc682-4

2.38 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask the question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

[The question was as follows:

To ask His Majesty's Government whether in the future they will arrange for the insertion in any bilateral treaty or agreement which they may conclude, of a clause to the effect that in case of a violation or of an allegation by one of the parties of a violation of the terms of such treaty or agreement the matter will be referred to the United Nations; and whether they will endeavour to secure the insertion of an analogous clause in any multilateral treaty or agreement to which they may become a party.]


My Lords, His Majesty's Government have in the past endeavoured, and will continue in the future to endeavour, to insert in both bilateral and multilateral treaties and conventions to which they are parties a provision to the effect that disputes arising out of the interpretation or application of the instrument in question shall be referred to the International Court of justice. Such a provision seems particularly suitable in view of the fact that the Charter states, in Article 36, that legal disputes should, as a general rule, be referred to the International Court, and that Article 36 of the Statute of the Court describes legal disputes as, inter alia, those concerning the interpretation of a treaty and the existence of any fact which, if established, would constitute the breach of an international obligation.


My Lords, arising out of the answer, for which I thank the noble Viscount, may I ask him whether he considers this is a reply to the question on the Order Paper? I asked whether in the case of an allegation by one of the parties of the violation of the terms of such treaty or agreement the matter will be referred to the United Nations. The noble Viscount refers to the Court of International Justice. I hope, therefore, that he will reconsider the point I have raised, because I believe it would be of great help in carrying out the policy of all-round good faith which His Majesty's Government so strongly support.


My Lords, before the noble Viscount replies to that question, may I ask him another one? Is the reply which we have just received a mere statement of principle, or does it foreshadow that that state of things will, in fact, be embodied in any future treaty? If it is merely a statement of principle, I do not think it answers the purpose for which I imagine the question was asked. What I would really like to see included in any treaty—bilateral or multilateral—concluded in future would be a clause covering the points proposed by the noble Earl. I cannot tell whether or not the answer that we have received foreshadows that as a prospect. Will there be included in any treaty a clause drawn in the terms of the noble Lord's reply? Even if there is I do not think it will be quite satisfactory, but without it will be wholly unsatisfactory.


I am advised that Article 36 of the Charter does provide for what the noble Earl has asked. That is the advice I have received, but I will certainly look at Article 36 and ask my right honourable friend who deals with this matter to take into consideration the points which have been put.


May I ask, on a point of order, for the sake of establishing precedent, whether it is in order for any noble Lord other than the one who has put the starred question to ask any supplementaries?


In so far as it is for me to reply, though I have no more authority than any of your Lordships, I understand the Rules of Order to say that it is not in order.