Oral Answers to Questions — Vietnam

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 2nd August 1965.

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Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Govan 12:00 am, 2nd August 1965

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in view of the fact that the official policy of the South Vietnam Government is now known to be based on fascism, if he will withdraw British recognition from it; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Frank Allaun Mr Frank Allaun , Salford East

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will break off diplomatic relations with the Government of South Vietnam whose Prime Minister has declared the policy of following Hitlerian principles.

Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Fulham

No, Sir. I do not think either of these Questions accurately represents the views of the Vietnamese Prime Minister or his Government.

Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Govan

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that it was widely accepted that in his original statement the Prime Minister of the South Vietnamese Government, declared himself strongly in support of the doctrine of the late Herr Hitler? Does not my right hon. Friend also accept that in his later qualification Air Marshal Ky did not basically alter the attitude which he first expressed? Would my right hon. Friend also agree that if it were not for external support Air Marshal Ky would not remain Prime Minister of South Vietnam for a single week?

Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Fulham

In an interview with journalists at a date before he became Prime Minister Air Marshal Ky referred to Hitler when talking of his own country's need for leadership in facing aggression. He has since told Her Majesty's Ambassador in Saigon that he did not intend to praise Hitler, and added the words: Nobody can forget the inhuman methods Hitler used during the Second World War and which the Communists are using right now in our land. My hon. Friend asks me whether we will withdraw recognition from the South Vietnam Government. That would create possibly a number of precedents and awkward examples. We did not withdraw recognition from the Soviet Government after the Nazi-Soviet pact was signed.

Photo of Mr Eldon Griffiths Mr Eldon Griffiths , Bury St Edmunds

While thanking the Foreign Secretary for the comforting words which he has quoted from Air Marshal Ky, may I ask him whether he would accept that there could be no gain in South Vietnam if the Prime Minister, however foolish such remarks, were to be replaced by another totalitarian régime—namely, a Communist one?

Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Fulham

The immediate issue with which we are concerned in South Vietnam is that at the moment it is the victim of attack from outside. Our concern is that these attacks shall be stopped so that the country shall be able to repair the ravages of war and get a Government fully in accord with the wishes of its people.

Photo of Mr Frank Allaun Mr Frank Allaun , Salford East

Could the Foreign Secretary, as an alternative, consider recognition of North Vietnam, particularly as this would have helped negotiations and possibly would help future negotiations with that Government?

Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Fulham

We have really no ground for supposing that it would help negotiations. At present our obligations under the 1954 Agreements require that we should not recognise two Governments in Vietnam.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

Does my right hon. Friend recall that several years ago several Tory Ministers praised Hitler and we recognised them?

Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Fulham

Yes, Sir. As my right hon. Friend will agree, if one began to say that one would not talk to anybody who had ever made an unguarded remark about Hitler, conversation would be restricted in many directions.

Photo of Sir Knox Cunningham Sir Knox Cunningham , South Antrim

Would the right hon. Gentleman agree that this, in the Prime Minister's own words, is an example of the "constructive, forward looking and united" nature of the Government's supporters?

Photo of Mr David Ennals Mr David Ennals , Dover

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what discussions have taken place with U Thant, the United Nations Secretary General, concerning a settlement of the crisis in Vietnam.

Photo of Mr Arthur Henderson Mr Arthur Henderson , Rowley Regis and Tipton

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will discuss with the United Nations Secretary General possible action by the United Nations to end the conflict in Vietnam.

Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Fulham

We have frequent contacts with the Secretary-General of the United Nations through our Permanent Representatives to the United Nations and, as the House knows, U Thant visited London at the beginning of July when Vietnam and the Commonwealth Peace Mission were amongst the main subjects discussed.

We will continue to discuss the situation with the Secretary-General in the light of Ambassador Goldberg's letter of 30th July to the President of the Security Council.

Photo of Mr David Ennals Mr David Ennals , Dover

In view of the letter to which my right hon. Friend has referred, calling on the United Nations to assist in bringing about a settlement, will he therefore support either a new initiative by U Thant or perhaps the reference of the question to the Security Council in order that the United Nations may be constantly involved in attempting to solve the problem?

Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Fulham

As the House knows, one of the difficulties about getting the United Nations to play a rôle in this question so far has been the view of the Governments of North Vietnam and China that the United Nations had no jurisdiction here. None the less, and particularly in the light of Ambassador Goldberg's letter, I think we now should see if we can find, through this medium, a way of solving the problem.

Photo of Mr Arthur Henderson Mr Arthur Henderson , Rowley Regis and Tipton

Is my right hon. Friend aware that some of us who do not wish Her Majesty's Government to dissociate themselves from the United States Government consider that the United States Government should susspend all bombing operations in North Vietnam as a prelude to a cease-fire and the reconvening of the Geneva Conference? Will the Government support the Secretary-General of the United Nations in any peace formula that he proposes along these lines?

Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Fulham

My right hon. and learned Friend will remember that, in the guide lines for the Commonwealth Peace Mission, there was an expression of the view that both the American bombing of North Vietnam and the hostilities conducted by the other side should stop. This seems to me to be the right formula in this matter.

Photo of Sir Arthur Harvey Sir Arthur Harvey , Macclesfield

In looking for a new initiative, will the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Prime Minister will consider giving up the chairmanship of the Commonwealth Peace Mission, allowing a more neutral Prime Minister perhaps to undertake this task, as the other efforts have failed?

Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Fulham

That was not the view of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers and I do not think that it is a useful suggestion.

Photo of Mr Peter Blaker Mr Peter Blaker , Blackpool South

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the present situation as regards Vietnam.

Photo of Mr Emrys Hughes Mr Emrys Hughes , South Ayrshire

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on latest developments in Vietnam.

Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Fulham

I would refer the hon. Members to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's statement in the foreign affairs debate on 19th July and my own on 20th July on the visit of my hon. Friend the Member for Leek (Mr. Harold Davies) to Hanoi and the whole question of Vietnam. I have nothing more to add at this stage.

Photo of Mr Gordon Campbell Mr Gordon Campbell , Moray and Nairnshire

Are the Government contemplating making some more hopeful initiative? If so, is the ground being thoroughly and carefully prepared beforehand?

Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Fulham

All the steps which we have taken so far have been carefully considered and have been welcome to our friends and allies and to the friends of peace. We have now to consider by what means further progress can be made and we are doing so. As I said in answer to an earlier Question, Ambassador Goldberg's letter raises a further possibility.

Photo of Mr Peter Blaker Mr Peter Blaker , Blackpool South

Reverting to the supplementary question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Sir A. V. Harvey) on Question No. 14, has it been intimated to the British Government that the Chinese Government would be prepared to receive the Commonwealth Mission if it were not led by a British Prime Minister, as recent reports have said? If so, what is the Government's attitude?

Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Fulham

No, Sir. There is no support for that suggestion.

Photo of Mr John Binns Mr John Binns , Keighley

In view of the criticism by hon. Members opposite of this initiative, have they yet accepted the challenge of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to tell us how they would have made approaches to Vietnam without diplomatic relationships?

Hon. Members:

Send Warbey.

Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Fulham

That challenge has not been accepted. Neither has the party opposite been able to find anyone outside its own circles to share its hostile views of this Mission. In view of the allegations from hon. Members opposite when this matter was last discussed, when they said that the Mission did not have the support of the United States, I think that I should refer the House to President Johnson's statement of 28th July when he made clear his support of the Mission.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

Has the Foreign Office received any request from the Patronage Secretary to send the hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Warbey) to Vietnam with a single ticket?