HC Deb 18 June 1956 vol 554 cc64-5W
Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the Government's policy relating to the special interest of coastal States in the zone of the high seas contiguous to each of their respective territorial seas; to the question as to how deep each such zone should be; to the right of each coastal State to regulate and enforce unilateral measures for the conservation of fisheries; and what steps the British representative on the International Law Commission at Geneva is taking to present and carry out that policy.

Lord John Hope

The full answer to this Question is contained in the comments of Her Majesty's Government on the draft Articles prepared by the International Law Commission. I have made copies of the relevant documents available in the Library.

Briefly, Her Majesty's Government are prepared to recognise jurisdiction for Customs, fiscal and sanitary purposes only, in a contiguous zone bounded by a line not more than twelve miles from the coast, in association with territorial waters of not more than three miles' breadth.

The Commission has recommended that coastal States should have the right, subject to certain safeguards, to enforce fishery conservation measures in areas of the high seas in which they have a special interest. This proposal should not, in our opinion, be adopted without further study, since it introduces fundamentally new principles such as the unilateral application of sanctions in areas of the high seas.

Member of the International Law Commission are elected by the General Assembly of the United Nations in their personal capacity and not as national representatives. The Commission's Report is due to be considered by the Assembly this autumn.