HC Deb 25 May 1954 vol 528 cc208-10
45. Mr. Wyatt

asked the Prime Minister to make a further statement on the Geneva Conference and the progress towards a South-East Asian Pact.

46 and 47. Mr. Donnelly

asked the Prime Minister (1) whether he is yet in a position to make a fuller statement on the proposed South-East Asian military alliance;

(2) whether he is in a position to make a further statement regarding the Geneva Conference.

The Prime Minister (Sir Winston Churchill)

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary came back from Geneva over the week-end. On Monday he gave me and his colleagues in the Cabinet a full account of the progress of the Conference. The House will not expect me to say any more today than that the policy of Her Majesty's Government remains unchanged and as frequently stated.

As I made clear in my replies to Questions on 17th May, the Five-Power Staff Agency discussions are directed to immediate, practical issues and are quite distinct from the question of collective defence organisation for South-East Asia, which would in any case take a considerable time to bring into effective working order. These Staff discussions involve no specific commitment on the part of those concerned.

Our main objective at the Conference is to bring about a helpful and fruitful result; to establish comprehending and friendly contacts with the members of the Conference, to work in the closest possible accord with the Commonwealth countries—which we are doing—to work with our allies, and, of course, with the United States with whom we have so many precious ties.

Mr. Wyatt

Will the Prime Minister bear in mind that before proceeding to any South-East Asia defence pact it is important either to have a settlement in Indo-China, one of the functions of such a pact being the guarantee of that settlement, or to wait long enough for the world to be able to see that the Communists desire to go on fighting rather than to negotiate at Geneva to obtain their objective, which is rather indicated by their claim for Laos and Cambodia, which has nothing to do with the original Indo-China dispute? Until one or other of those conditions is fulfilled, would the Prime Minister not agree that it would be impossible for a South-East Asia pact to have effective support in South-East Asia?

The Prime Minister

I have no doubt that the Foreign Secretary will acquaint himself with what takes place in the House on these topics. Therefore, it seems to me highly probable that the arguments which the hon. Member was developing will very likely be brought to his attention.

Mr. Donnelly

In view of the delicate position at Geneva just now—because no one naturally wants any unnecessary misunderstanding—could I draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the statement made last Wednesday by the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs about the recognition of China? Would the right hon. Gentleman make it clear that there has been no change in the policy of Her Majesty's Government regarding the recognition of China, and that if the Chinese People's Government were by chance to propose sending a diplomatic mission to London now it would naturally be acceptable to Her Majesty's Government?

The Prime Minister

I did not look up that Question before coming here. Before answering, I should like to refresh my mind on the subject.