HL Deb 16 February 1960 vol 221 cc22-3

3.30 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move the first humble Address standing in my name on the Order Paper. As a result of the Brussels Treaty of 1954, the Agency for the Control of Armaments of the Western European Union was established. This Agency is responsible for controlling the levels of stocks of offensive weapons held on the Continent of Europe, excluding the United Kingdom, by the member States of the Western European Union, and for ensuring that the West Germans abide by their undertaking not to manufacture certain weapons listed in the Brussels Treaty and, in particular, atomic weapons.

The Agency was given powers under the revised Brussels Treaty to inspect arms factories and examine the commercial documents of any arms companies which were being inspected. In the course of carrying out their inspections, the investigators have access to secret commercial information. Arms companies which thought that some of their confidential information might be misused by members of the Arms control Agency were unable to sue the Agency on the grounds that it was an international organ and therefore immune from legal process. In December, 1957, the member Governments of the Western European Union signed a convention establishing a Tribunal to which private individuals or companies could appeal in the event of damage to their interests as a result of the Agency abusing its powers. Until the Tribunal has been set up—which requires the ratification of the Convention—the Agency, as at present, is obliged to inspect arms companies only with their agreement, and individuals and companies have no means of redress against the Agency. In short, ratification of the Convention is vital if the Agency is to exercise complete control over arms stocks on the mainland of Europe.

This Order revokes the earlier Order of 1955 and re-enacts it to include the three judges and the Clerk of the Tribunal, while at the same time it confers no additional advantages to the existing officers of the organisation. I beg to move.

Moved, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty praying that the Western European Union (Immunities and Privileges) Order, 1959, be made in the form of the Draft laid before this House on December 1 last.—(The Marquess of Lansdowne.)


My Lords, may I ask the noble Marquess whether he can tell us how many persons are likely to benefit from these immunities and privileges? I understand that only four additional cases are mentioned in the Order. Can the noble Marquess tell us how many, in all, will have these benefits?


My Lords, the number is 74 officers.

On Question, Motion agreed to: the said Address to be presented to Her Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.