Ascension Island

Oral Answers to Questions — United Nations – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th December 1964.

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Photo of Mr Edward Mallalieu Mr Edward Mallalieu , Brigg 12:00 am, 14th December 1964

asked the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs what steps were taken by Her Majesty's Government to keep the United Nations informed about the use of Ascension Island in the recent operation before it was undertaken.

Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Govan

asked the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs what prior consultations the United Kingdom delegate at the United Nations had with the Secretary-General of the United Nations Organisation before Her Majesty's Government agreed to the use of Ascension Island by Belgian and American troops.

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

None, Sir. There was no obligation to inform or consult the United Nations beforehand. We acted in accordance with inter national law, which gives nations the right to go to the assistance of their nationals when there is a serious threat to their safety in foreign territory. Secrecy is necessary for the success of such an operation, and to have informed the United Nations beforehand would have endangered the lives of those being rescued. As soon as the expedition had taken place, however, we fully informed the Secretary-General of what we had done and of the reasons for the rescue operation.

Photo of Mr Edward Mallalieu Mr Edward Mallalieu , Brigg

Does my hon. Friend realise that what he has said in the latter part of his Answer will give great satisfaction to those many people, in the House and in the country, who wish to see the Government using the United Nations on all possible useful occasions?

Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Govan

I accept what my hon. Friend has said. However, will he be careful about any future involvement in the Congo, as Mr. Tshombe obviously has very little African support and speaks not so much for the people of the Congo as for those who control its resources?

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

There are later Question on the Order Paper about the Congo.