World Health Organisation (East German Participation)

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th April 1972.

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Photo of Dr Shirley Summerskill Dr Shirley Summerskill , Halifax 12:00 am, 24th April 1972

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the United Kingdom Government will support the application of the German Democratic Republic for membership in the World Health Organisation to be made at the forth coming World Health Assembly.

Photo of Mr Joseph Godber Mr Joseph Godber , Grantham

No, Sir. As I told the House on 21st January, the international status of the German Democratic Republic has for long been in dispute. The question of East German participation in the World Health Organisation is a political issue which, we believe, should not be dealt with in a technical body such as the World Health Organisation but in an appropriate political organ of the United Nations, such as the General Assembly.—[Vol. 829. c. 275.]

Photo of Dr Shirley Summerskill Dr Shirley Summerskill , Halifax

Will not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the intrusion of power politics into the specialised agencies of the United Nations is regrettable and that the World Health Organisation Assembly would benefit from the equal participation of all nations, including the German Democratic Republic?

Photo of Mr Joseph Godber Mr Joseph Godber , Grantham

I agree that the intrusion of power politics into these specialised agencies is wrong. I had some experience of it myself in the past. I remember an occasion at a UNESCO meeting in Paris when I was involved in a difficult situation as a result of such intrusion. Others are seeking to make that intrusion into the WHO, and we think it wrong; we consider that matters of this kind should be settled in the political organs of the United Nations.

Photo of Mr Ivor Richard Mr Ivor Richard , Barons Court

The right hon. Gentleman is showing no sense of urgency on this matter. Is he aware that although some of us agree that this particular problem and others similar can, perhaps, not be primarily solved by individual solutions along the lines suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Dr. Summerskill), we should wish to express our strong support for the Ostpolitik now being pursued so vigorously by the West German Administration? Will he agree that it might well be that within that context there is the best chance for the future of making eventual use of the undoubted talents of the GDR?

Photo of Mr Joseph Godber Mr Joseph Godber , Grantham

I understand what the hon. and learned Gentleman says about the Ostpolitik, and we have always supported that Ostpolitik. But it is for the Bundestag itself to make the decisions in this regard, and, just as we should resent being told by it what decisions we should come to, I feel that it is wrong for us to suggest what decision it should take. As I say, we have always supported the Ostpolitik, and, if the Bundestag should ratify, we should welcome it.