Oral Answers to Questions — Vietnam (Commonwealth Peace Mission)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1st March 1966.

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Photo of Mr Cranley Onslow Mr Cranley Onslow , Woking 12:00 am, 1st March 1966

asked the Prime Minister what recent action he has taken to keep the Commonwealth Peace Mission to Vietnam in being.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

Because of the North Vietnamese opposition to negotiations since the Commonwealth Peace Mission was first proposed in June I have no early hopes that either the Commonwealth Mission or any other peace mission is likely to be received in Hanoi.

Photo of Mr Cranley Onslow Mr Cranley Onslow , Woking

Quite apart from the fact that this does not answer the Question, since the right hon. Gentleman is now so anxious to be frank, fair and honest with the whole House, will he now admit that this Mission was never anything more than a publicity stunt?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I am surprised that any hon. Member should suggest this. This was supported by 20 out of 21 Commonwealth Prime Ministers. Sir Robert Menzies, the Prime Ministers of New Zealand, Canada and so on, were hardly likely to go in for this as a publicity stunt. It was because we knew that we had to make an approach to Hanoi in some form if there was to be peace. I am disappointed at the result, and I am surprised that hon. Members opposite are not disappointed as well.

Photo of Mr Eric Lubbock Mr Eric Lubbock , Orpington

How does the Prime Minister think he will have any influence on the situation in Vietnam when his attitude is one of unthinking support for everything which President Johnson does?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

We have debated this on five or six occasions and, if the hon. Member had been present, he would have heard the very deep amount of thought which went into this question and the reasons we gave, at the greatest length, why we have supported the American action in Vietnam. I have given these reasons many times, but the reason that we cannot get the Peace Mission moving is that, as we found again last week, the Hanoi Government are not prepared to discuss peace except on the basis of the four Dan Pham Dong conditions.