HL Deb 03 April 1962 vol 239 cc95-7

2.50 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the number of member countries of the United Nations in arrears in respect of: —

  1. (a) basic contributions;
  2. (b) contributions to Special Funds;
also what is the number of countries who are in arrears in (a) and (b) above; and whether the arrears in (b) attract sanctions similar to those under (a); also what representations, if any, have been made by the United Kingdom representative with a view to accelerating the payment of these arrears and thereby reducing the probability of further special recourse to those countries prepared to give supplementary assistance.]


My Lords, the answers to the first three parts of the noble Lord's Question are as follows. At the end of February, 45 members were in arrears with their contributions to the Regular Budget for 1961 or earlier years, 62 with their contributions to the account for the Middle East Operation and 77 with their contributions to the account for the Congo operation. Of the 45 defaulters to the Regular Budget, 43 were defaulters also to one of the Special Accounts, 40 to both. These figures are drawn from United Nations document ST/ADM./ SER. B/156, which is available in the Library of your Lordships' House.

How far, if at all, Article 19 of the United Nations Charter (which provides for loss of vote in the General Assembly when arrears equal or exceed two years' subscriptions) can be held to apply to the Middle East Operation and the operation in the Congo is the subject of an inquiry by the International Court of Justice, which has been asked by the General Assembly for an advisory opinion on whether these costs are "expenses of the Organisation". In Her Majesty's Government's view, the question put to the Court should be answered in the affirmative.

The answer to the last part of the noble Lord's Question is that we have made representations about the payment of arrears in the General Assembly several times; a recent occasion was in the statement by the United Kingdom Delegate to the Fifth Committee on October 11, 1961. Your Lordships will also remember that we co-sponsored last December the General Assembly Resolution referring the question to the International Court; and we have submitted a written statement of our views to the Court. Copies of this statement are available in the Printed Paper Office of your Lordships' House.


My Lords, while thanking the Foreign Secretary for so full a reply, which he will appreciate it is not possible to take in all at once, may I ask whether it would be right to understand that the penalty for nonpayment under head (b) in the Question attracts the inability to vote on questions? That is the first point. The second point is, would he be in a position to state the total amount of the arrears under both categories outstanding at the present moment, or would he prefer that I should put that down as a separate Question?


My Lords, the noble Lord will have to do some mathematics, because I think I have to express this in dollars. The latest information, as at the end of February this year, shows that the arrears contributions for the year 1961 and earlier amount to 88,141,995 dollars. I will not divide it up, but will circulate it if necessary in the OFFICIAL REPORT. Further figures are available of the noble Lord requires Them. As for the rule on disqualification, if a member country is two years in arrears then it is liable for disqualification, but I think the final decision would be taken by the Assembly.


My Lords, might I ask whether any country is now two years in arrears, not bringing in the special contributions?


Yes, I think there are two countries which are two years in arrears. Those two countries are Bolivia and Haiti, but both, I gather, have promised to pay up.


My Lords, might I ask the noble Earl whether there is any case on record of any member of the club having lost his vote through failure to pay his subscription?


My Lords, there is no such case on record yet.