Oral Answers to Questions — Indonesia

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15th March 1973.

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Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , West Lothian 12:00 am, 15th March 1973

asked the Prime Minister if he will seek to pay an official visit to Indonesia.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

My right hon. and noble Friend the Secretary of State for Defence visited Indonesia last month: I have at present no plans for such a visit.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , West Lothian

Are the Defence Secretary and the British Government sensitive to Indonesia's legitimate concern about French nuclear testing in the Pacific? Since we supported the United Nations resolution on 29th November expressing serious concern about this testing, may I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman will at least talk seriously to President Pompidou about it?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

As the nearest part of Indonesia to the atoll where the tests take place is more than 6,000 miles away, and as the tests are conducted by the French in such a way that the prevailing winds carry any debris in the opposite direction, the hon. Gentleman's question would not appear to be very relevant.

Photo of Miss Joan Hall Miss Joan Hall , Keighley

Is my right hon. Friend aware that one the greatest desires of the people in Indonesia is to learn the English language? Although the British Council and VSO do a very good job, it is not enough. Will he take a leaf out of the book of the French Government, who are very enthusiastic about pushing the French language, and be more enthusiastic about making sure that the English language can be learned by people in Indonesia?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

I agree with my hon. Friend. When I was in Indonesia I found a deep desire by people to have the facilities for learning English extended, and we have tried to help. If my memory serves me correctly, Indonesia receives more aid from us than any other country outside the Commonwealth.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

Agreeing with the right hon. Gentleman—in answer to similar questions—that both the previous and present Governments were desperately anxious that France should join the test ban agreement, as they show no signs of doing so is the right hon Gentleman against their carrying out these tests in the Pacific?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

The French Government are well aware of our views on this matter. We would much prefer them to adhere to the agreement and not carry out the tests. They are well aware of our views—and they were well aware of the Labour Government's views. Our responsibility, so long as tests continue, is to carry out the monitoring so that we can look after the interests of British citizens.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

That is understood. As I have already said, we both take this view—indeed the whole House takes this view—about the French joining the agreement. As they are not joining the agreement, may I ask whether the Prime Minister has represented to the French Government that in present and all future circumstances they should not go ahead with the tests, or has he not made any such representation?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

As I have said, the French Government are well aware of our views on the matter. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] I am not going to enable the right hon. Gentleman to cause trouble between ourselves and France, however much he may be trying to do so in his present irresponsible mood. They are well aware of our preference that they should sign the treaty and should therefore not carry out the tests.