United Nations Anniversary

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 2:16 pm on 7th June 1995.

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Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Health) 2:16 pm, 7th June 1995

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans Her Majesty's Government have to commemorate and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. [25450]

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

There will be a major national commemoration ceremony in Westminster Hall on 26 June in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen to mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations charter.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Health)

I thank the Minister for his answer. Given the huge advantage to international peace and mediation in the last 50 years achieved by the UN, which was founded here, will the Minister give an assurance that not only will the Government continue to be absolutely unqualified supporters of the United Nations but that they will also take the lead in ensuring that the UN is equipped to deal with the objectives of the next half century? In particular, that may mean retargeting some of its efforts and ensuring that some of our allies and friends play as full a part—including contributing fully, as we have done—in ensuring that it is an even more effective organisation in the years ahead.

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

I believe that we have been taking the lead—for instance, on proposals that we have made in the context of conflict prevention and more specifically on the action that the United Kingdom Government have taken in support of the United Nations in Bosnia.

Photo of Mr Michael Jopling Mr Michael Jopling , Westmorland and Lonsdale

Will the Minister use every opportunity during this year to express the grave reservations of the Government and the House about moves in the United States Congress to reduce subscriptions to the vital work of the United Nations? Will he make it clear to the members of Congress whom he meets that that is exactly what the world does not need at this time?

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

I agree entirely with my right hon. Friend. I regard the legislation that was passed in the Congress as extremely damaging and I regret that it happened. I shall certainly take every opportunity to make that point to American Congressmen and Senators and to stress the importance of making a full contribution to the United Nations. Indeed, I shall make the further point that that is required by their international obligations.

Photo of Paul Murphy Paul Murphy Shadow Spokesperson (Northern Ireland)

Will the Minister give an assurance to the House that, in the year when the United Nations is celebrating its 50th anniversary, there are no proposals for Britain to withdraw from the oldest of those agencies, the International Labour Organisation?

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

As it happens, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment answered questions yesterday tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Melton (Mr. Duncan) on precisely that matter. I commend to the hon. Gentleman those replies, which make the position and the commitment of the United Kingdom Government quite clear.

Photo of Mr Michael Marshall Mr Michael Marshall , Arundel

Will my right hon. and learned Friend accept the appreciation of the Inter-Parliamentary Union for the considerable assistance rendered by our ambassador and mission in New York for the IPU conference in August and September on the occasion of its 50th anniversary? Following what he has just said, will he use his good offices to persuade the US Congress to support that opportunity to assess the needs and requirements of the United Nations for the next 50 years?

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his kind remarks about the British ambassador to the United Nations. On the second part of his question, the answer is yes.