HC Deb 18 March 1998 vol 308 cc1280-1
Q 1.[33406] Mr. Godman

When he last met President Clinton to discuss matters relating to the reform of the Security Council of the United Nations.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Tony Blair)

I did not discuss that particular issue in relation to the Security Council of the United Nations during my Washington visit last month, but we do consult closely with the United States on matters relating to the reform of the Security Council.

Mr. Godman

Judging by what I heard in Washington last week, it appears that Kofi Annan' s intervention in the Iraqi crisis has upset and angered many gung-ho Republican Congressmen. It therefore seems unlikely that Congress will sanction the payment of the $1.5 billion that is owed to the United Nations. Would it not make sense to alter, or modify, article 27 of the Charter of the United Nations and Statute of the International Court of Justice to allow for the removal of the voting rights of Security Council member states that are in arrears with their subscriptions? The idea might cause apoplexy on Capitol hill, but it is worth considering, is it not?

The Prime Minister

I think that it could cause quite a few tremors in many places, but I understand the point that my hon. Friend is making. We very much hope that Congress will approve the proposal that is currently before it, so that the arrears can be paid. I strongly support Amnesty International's "Get up, sign up" campaign to mark the 50th anniversary of the universal declaration on human rights, and we were delighted to sign up on 3 February.

Dr. Julian Lewis

Does the Prime Minister intend to involve the Foreign Secretary in any future discussions on the reform of the Security Council, or does he intend—following the diplomatic disasters involved in the Foreign Secretary's trips to India and Israel—to send him on a third and final trip in the course of his up-coming Cabinet reshuffle?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman knows the answer to the last part of his question.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Conservative Members were urging us to be more active in ensuring that Israel lived up to its obligations under agreements that had been signed. It is rather unfortunate that the hon. Gentleman should make such a criticism of the Foreign Secretary now.

Mr. Dalyell

In view of this morning's Adjournment debate on relations with Iran, and the thoughtful and constructive response of the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett), will the Prime Minister reflect on how we can improve relations with a country containing 60 million people—a country, incidentally, whose pollution problems, along with those of its neighbours in Iraq, are appalling in terms of the release of carbon into the atmosphere?

Madam Speaker

Order. I do not require the Prime Minister to answer that question if he does not wish to. The main question relates to the Security Council of the United Nations, but I did not hear the hon. Gentleman utter a word about that. Does the Prime Minister wish to respond? If not, he does not have to.

I believe that questions should be in order. The hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) knows full well what the question says, and what our procedures are. I think that he tried to put one over on me, and I am not having that.

Forward to