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Korea

Volume 477: debated on Monday 17 July 1950

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Security Council (Appeal)

50.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what member States of the United Nations organisation have not responded to the appeal of the Security Council for aid against North Korea; and which States have replied to the Council by supplying, or agreed to supply, military aid or finance.

As the answer is somewhat long, I will, with permission, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a list of countries which will give my hon. Friend the information which he requires.

Would the hon. Gentleman give a short list of those who have responded?

Following is the list:

We have no information whether any of the following member States of the United Nations have replied to the appeal of the Security Council for aid against North Korea: Byelorussia; Liberia; Ukraine.

According to the information at present available, the following member States have rejected the appeal: Czechoslovakia; Poland; Soviet Union.

The following member States have. however, on information available, agreed to provide military assistance or financial or other aid: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Chinese (Nationalist) Government, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Greece, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Thailand, United Kingdom, U.S.A., Uruguay.

British Minister, Seoul

51.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs when last the British Minister in Seoul communicated with him; and what news he has about his present safety and whereabouts.

The last communication received from Mr. Holt was a telegram dated 26th June. His Majesty's Ambassador in Moscow wrote personally to Mr. Gromyko on 4th July requesting him to secure any available information about Mr. Holt and the few members of the British community in Seoul. Mr. Gromyko has now informed the Ambassador that Mr. Holt is at present in Pyongyang.

Can the Under-Secretary confirm that Captain Holt stayed at his post in Seoul in exercise of a discretion entrusted to him by the Secretary of State? Can he also say if any attempt is being made to give any help to him which he wants?

I can give the assurance which the hon. Gentleman asks for in regard to the first part of his supplementary question. With regard to the second part, we are giving urgent consideration as to what steps it may be possible to take to facilitate Mr. Holt's departure and that of his companions.

May I ask my hon. Friend if he has any information about the Bishop of Korea; and, if Mr. Holt is in the town on which 400 tons of bombs were dropped last week, what steps are being taken to secure his safety?

We have no definite statement about the Bishop of Korea, but we hope that he is one of the other persons known to be safe in Seoul.

Bombing Operations

52.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will give instructions to our representatives on the Security Council to ensure that precautions are taken to prevent the bombing of innocent non-combatants during bombing operations undertaken by the international police force.

By resolution of the Security Council Forces provided by member States have been placed under a unified command and General MacArthur has been nominated as Commander. The conduct of the operations in Korea is, therefore, in his hands, and I am confident that he will take every possible precaution to prevent the bombing of non-combatants.

Is the Minister aware that Mr. Trygve Lie has communicated to both sides a request to stop atrocities, and is not the dropping of 500 tons of bombs an atrocity?

In modern war the bombing of strategic objectives is one of the weapons which is used. The request of Mr. Trygve Lie, applied, of course, to the application of the International Red Cross Convention to co-operate in fulfilling the terms.

If it is one of the strategic purposes of war to drop bombs on towns, why does my hon. Friend tell the House that the Commander-in-Chief has received instructions to avoid the indiscriminate bombing of civilians?

Is it not a fact that the Air Forces of democratic countries do not bomb civilian populations, but are entitled to bomb military objectives, which is what they are doing?

That, of course, was the purport of my answer to the supplementary question of my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes). Obviously, the Commander-in-Chief is using his Air Force for military purposes, and military purposes only.

Are the forces in the unified command limited to the purpose of the resolution adopted by the Security Council?

Uk—Soviet Discussions

55.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what was the content of the recent oral communications made by the British Government to the Soviet Government through the British Ambassador in Moscow; and what communication has been received from the Soviet Government in respect thereof.

53.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the recent discussions that have ensued between the British Ambassador in Moscow and the Soviet Foreign Minister, regarding Korea.

On 29th June, His Majesty's Ambassador in Moscow, acting on instructions, conveyed a request that the Soviet Government should co-operate in effecting a peaceful settlement of the Korean conflict. Sir David Kelly on that occasion saw Mr. Pavlov, who undertook to see Mr. Gromyko. On 6th July, Sir David Kelly was requested to call on Mr. Gromyko, and a short discussion ensued between them, which was related to the earlier approach by His Majesty's Government. Sir David Kelly had a further talk with Mr. Gromyko on the subject of Korea on 11th July.

While entirely accepting the view that it is desirable to have the door left open, may I ask if my hon. Friend will bear in mind that there is great public anxiety about this matter, and that as soon as possible information should be given to the people of this country about the content of extremely important interviews of this character? Is he aware that we in the Labour Party, on the whole, prefer the method of open diplomacy to that of secret diplomacy?

His Majesty's Government would, of course, desire to take the House into its confidence when we consider that it is right and proper to do so, but I know that my hon. Friend will realise that it is not always possible to disclose the details of such conversations, especially when grave issues of war and peace are at stake.

Can we not be told what passed between Sir David Kelly and Mr. Gromyko as it is quite unusual to say, first, that a message was delivered to a junior Soviet official, and, then, that a conversation took place between our Ambassador and a representative of the Soviet Foreign Office—not the Foreign Secretary but a representative? Cannot we be told what it was all about?

We have considered this extremely carefully, as I know the right hon. Gentleman will appreciate, and we have decided that, at this stage, it would be in the interest of resolving the present situation not to make any further statement.

I do not want to embarrass the hon. Gentleman or the Prime Minister, but is it not a little unusual, in a situation like this, that we should have no idea of what communication has passed between our Ambassador and the representative of the Soviet Foreign Office? If it is of no importance, no one wants to press or worry the hon. Gentleman, but if it has to do with higher politics should we not be told, at least perhaps tomorrow or the day after, so that the House of Commons may be kept informed? If there is no mystery let us be told so; but if there is a mystery it ought to be cleared up.

I can give this assurance to the right hon. Gentleman, that we will endeavour to make a statement as soon as possible and that I will communicate his views to my right hon. Friend.

British Minister, Paris (Speech)

54.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the speech of the British Minister at Paris, indicating the possibility of a reduction in British social services, was made with his permission; and what steps he is taking to ensure that pronouncements concerning policy which should be made by Ministers responsible to this House are not made by his permanent civil servants.

In speaking about the international situation at an informal luncheon His Majesty's Minister referred to the defence of the West and denied that the Western Powers could not afford to defend themselves. He stated that once a decision was taken on total expenditure on items other than defence, it then had to be determined what items were essential and what were not. Personal expenditure, capital investment and even social services had to be examined in this context. Mr. Hayter did not indicate that British social services would have to be reduced. Mr. Hayter did not ask my right hon. Friend's permission to make this speech, nor was there any need for him to do so.

Will my hon. Friend make available in the Library a copy of this man's speech, according to which, as the British Press indicates, he suggested that the choice before us is "guns or butter"? Can we know what he did say?

I have made inquiries of Mr. Hayter concerning this speech. He made the speech at very short notice and had only very rough notes, and, therefore, it is not possible to obtain a verbatim report. As to the latter part of the supplementary question, we have made inquiries of Mr. Hayter, and I would much prefer to take the word of a member of His Majesty's Foreign Service to that of the Beaverbrook Press.

Are members of His Majesty's Foreign Service to be subjected to this kind of carping misrepresentation by hon. Members every time they make plain, in an international gathering, the determination of their country to defend itself and Western Europe?

Formosa

56.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will issue instructions to British military forces in the Far East to give all possible support to the United States of America in their determination to ensure that the future of Formosa is not arbitrarily settled by force.

I have nothing to add to the replies which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Aston (Mr. Wyatt) on 10th July.

Is the Under-Secretary aware that that reply caused great consternation in the United States? May I ask whether it is the view of His Majesty's Government that Formosa is, in international law, part of Japanese territory—

On a point of order. As this Question was answered last Monday, is it in order for it to appear again on the Order Paper today?

I have no idea whether it was answered on Monday, but if it had been answered it would still have been on the Order Paper today.

As I was saying, is it the Government's view that Formosa is, in international law, part of Japanese territory, and that its future must, therefore, depend on a peace treaty with Japan?

Is my hon. Friend aware that, whatever consternation may be caused anywhere else in the world, it would cause the greatest consternation in this country if His Majesty's Forces were to be used in any other way than in accordance with the resolution of the Security Council of the United Nations?

That was the purport of the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Aston last Monday.