HL Deb 08 May 1980 vol 408 cc1764-5

3.17 p.m.


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

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what action has been taken by their representative to the United Nations, since the undiplomatic action by Iran, to achieve United Nations' action to fulfil their role of avoidance of international disturbance of the peace.


My Lords, we joined in the Security Council resolution adopted unanimously on 4th December, which condemned the seizure of the hostages. We voted for the later sanctions resolution on Iran of 10th January which was vetoed by the Soviet Union. We fully supported the last United Nations initiative: namely, the five-man commission of lawyers which visited Tehran from 23rd February to 10th March, but whose efforts to find a solution were sadly thwarted. At the European Council meeting in Luxembourg on 28th April, which my noble friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary attended with the Prime Minister, we assured the Secretary-General of the United Nations of our full support for his continuing efforts to find a political solution.


My Lords, arising out of that reply indicating the activities of the United Nations, for which I am grateful to the Minister, would it not seem, in matters such as the mischievous resolutions based on ideological grounds, and the support of the fictional status of an organisation such as the Palestinian organisation, that it would help members of the United Nations if there was a better lead by the representative of the United Kingdom towards achieving more in the way of preventing, if possible, the disturbances of the peace in dispersed places in the world?


My Lords, of course we do not support mischievous resolutions, as my noble friend described them, that come before the United Nations. I think that we exercise an influence which is considerably more powerful than our mere size in the world would otherwise justify. As for the situation in Iran, which is the subject of my noble friend's Question, certainly the Secretary-General is considering what steps to take next and we are in close touch with him.


My Lords, can the Minister say what was the attitude of the British delegation on the motion vetoed by the Soviet Union which demanded economic and military action?


My Lords, I think that we want to be very careful before embarking upon further military exercises or adventures. The situation is now quite difficult but we think that progress is possible—for the time being, anyway—through quiet diplomacy behind the scenes. Having said that, may I add that my noble friend the Leader of the House will shortly be making an announcement about legislation.


My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that his reference to the need for quiet diplomacy, especially at this stage, in the wake of the very successful and creditable action taken in London over the restraint and apprehension of terrorists, will be welcomed in all quarters of the House, and in other countries as well? Can he confirm—I am sure he can—that, in addition to our consistent support in the United Nations for joint action to tackle terrorism and other enormities internationally, this country will press forward judiciously and effectively on the diplomatic front, both here and in Tehran through Sir John Graham, in order to make the best of the excellent situation that our action in London has created?


My Lords, we shall certainly be doing that. That is why Sir John Graham has recently returned to Tehran.