HC Deb 27 April 1955 vol 540 cc911-3
9. Mr. D. Healcy

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what new commitments Her Majesty's Government have accepted concerning the defence of Formosa.

Mr. H. Macmillan

Her Majesty's Government have no commitment, other than such general obligation as might arise from their membership of the United Nations. Meanwhile the House will be aware that our policy has always been to try to get a cease-fire and to see the problems of Formosa and of the offshore islands settled by negotiation. We have been in continuous communication with the parties concerned in order to obtain these objectives. If we may judge from recent events, our efforts have not been without success. Her Majesty's Charge d'Affaires at Peking has been instructed to discuss the situation with Mr. Chou En-Lai and to ask him to elaborate still further the ideas which prompted his statement in Bandung. I am not without hopes that the whole situation in the Far East may begin to develop along more favourable lines.

Mr. Healey

While sharing the Foreign Secretary's hope, in view of the overwhelming opposition among British people to any support for the Kuomintang authorities on Formosa, can he confirm or deny unanimous reports in the American Press that the Government are considering in certain circumstances joining America in the defence of Formosa but are frightened to say so now during the election campaign?

Mr. Macmillan

That statement is rather unworthy of the hon. Gentleman. We have made no such commitment, and I have answered the question exactly as it was put to me. We are, however, using our endeavours—and I thought that it was the wish of all Members of the House—to try to bring about a conciliatory solution of this problem.

Mr. Shinwell

Did not the right hon. Gentleman say the other day, in reply to a supplementary question I put to him about the offer of the Chinese Foreign Minister to negotiate with the Americans about Formosa and the Far East generally, that the Chinese Nationalist Government must be brought in? Is that not what he said? In view of Mr. Dulles's reversal of policy in this respect, what is now the policy of Her Majesty's Government?

Mr. Macmillan

It is difficult to imagine a solution—I have my words here: …Without all the parties concerned having some part in it and their interests taken care of."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th April, 1955: Vol. 540, c. 617.]

Mr. Shinwell

That is perfectly true. The right hon. Gentleman quotes correctly from the OFFICIAL REPORT.

However, the position seems to have changed because of Mr. Dulles's declaration. What is now the view of the Government?

Mr. Macmillan

The most important thing the Government can do is to continue, as we have been doing, to keep in touch with both sides and to bring to bear what influence we can so that this matter can be settled without recourse to force by negotiations and good will.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there can scarcely have been any time in the last 30 years when the influence of Her Majesty's Government was more supreme in the councils of the world than now?