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North Atlantic Treaty

Volume 464: debated on Wednesday 4 May 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the terms of paragraph 2 of the preamble and of Article 2 of the North Atlantic Treaty, and the Anglo-American policy of encouraging the formation of an Atlantic community of democracies with equal rights, he will propose to the United States Government that the United Kingdom and the United States of America should apply the principles of reciprocity by allowing members of the national legislatures of both countries equal freedom to enter each others territories and to accept invitations from reputable citizens of the country visited to travel, speak, broadcast and write.

My right hon. Friend does not consider that any special agreement on these lines is required. It is the right of every Government to decide to whom it should allow entry to its country. This is in no way inconsistent with the principles of the North Atlantic Treaty to which the hon. Member refers.

Does my hon. Friend's reply mean that His Majesty's Government are content to accept a status of inferiority and inequality for hon. Members of this House as compared with members of the United States Congress?

As people far more sinister and far less romantic than the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus) are able to get into the United States quite easily, does not my hon. Friend think that it is something of an affront to the dignity of this House that a Member of the House should be banned from entering that country?

Will my hon. Friend at least make clear that whatever the legal position may be, it is regarded as an insult to the Mother of Parliaments—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—that Members of this House should be debarred from entering the United States, and that it is incompatible with the friendship which exists between our two countries?

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I have been trying for three and a half years to enter the Soviet Union, and can he ask his hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus) whether he can persuade the authorities in the Kremlin to allow me to go to that country and thus take advantage of the democratic principles which his hon. Friend apparently supports?

For the purposes of the record, could we have it quite clear whether the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Skeffington-Lodge) said "romantic" or "rheumatic"?


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the terms of Article 7 of the North Atlantic Treaty and of Article 103 of the United Nations Charter, he will give an undertaking that His Majesty's Government, when deciding upon the action necessary under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, will always observe the obligation in Article 53 of the Charter not to take enforcement action against aggression without the authorisation of the Security Council and the obligation in Article 51 of the Charter to exercise the right of self-defence in such a way as not to affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council as the guardian of peace.

As a member of the United Nations, His Majesty's Government will naturally observe the obligations of the Charter under Article 51 and under Article 53. I should, however, point out to my hon. Friend that Article 53 of the Charter has no bearing on Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty. Article 5 of the Treaty is based on Article 51 of the Charter, and provides for collective self-defence in circumstances where an attack has occurred but where the Security Council has not yet taken the measures necessary to maintain peace and security; whereas Article 53 of the Charter relates to enforcement action, a term which means action following a decision of the Security Council authorising it and in this context, taken under regional arrangements or agencies.

While I thank my hon. Friend for his reply, may I ask am I to understand from it that His Majesty's Government will always observe the obligation under Article 51 of the Charter, which declares that measures taken in the exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence shall not affect in any way the authority and responsibility of the Security Council?

Yes, Sir, and I think that is specifically written into the Atlantic Treaty.

Is my hon. Friend aware that, whereas under Article 51 of the Charter, the decision where action by the Treaty Powers ends and action by the Security Council begins is in the hands of the Security Council itself, under Article 5 of the Treaty, by a subtle change of wording, that decision is left in the hands of the Atlantic Powers, which is an important difference?

Is my hon. Friend aware that, by stating that action under Article 51 shall not in any way affect the authority of the Security Council, that action is strictly limited to minor measures, and means that for all practical purposes Article 5 of the Atlantic Treaty becomes a dead letter?

Will the Minister ask anyone living in Eastern Europe, Greece or the Arab countries to what extent they look upon the Security Council, gagged as it is by the Russian use of the veto. as the guardian of peace?

Does the Minister agree that the Charter of the United Nations provides no remedy whatever against aggression by a major Power, since that major Power has the right of veto?