HC Deb 31 January 1955 vol 536 cc683-5
33. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what further statement he has to make in respect of the situation on the South-East China coast; and what progress has been made towards securing a suspension of hostilities in that area.

22. Mr. Bence

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the official talks in progress between Britain, New Zealand, and the United States of America on the situation existing between the Chinese Government and Chiang Kai-shek.

Sir A. Eden

The question of the fighting in the Formosa Straits is to be considered by the Security Council today, and it would not be right that I should comment further on the situation, beyond recalling that the first concern of Her Majesty's Government is to find a way to stop the fighting. This was also the purpose of the New Zealand Government in bringing the matter to the attention of the Security Council. Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom supported that initiative and, with the agreement of the New Zealand Government, informed the Soviet and Chinese Governments in advance of its purpose and urged them to co-operate. The Soviet Government have now brought before the Security Council a separate proposal of their own.

Her Majesty's Government remain convinced that a solution will not be found through attempts to apportion blame or to oblige one side or the other to give up what they regard as their rights or essential interests. They will, however, do everything in their power to promote agreement so that the fighting is stopped in this inflammable situation.

Mr. Sorensen

While thoroughly appreciating the delicate nature of the negotiations at the moment, could not the right hon. Gentleman at least say whether it is true or untrue that the Chinese Government have indicated that they refuse to consider the question of a cessation of hostilities?

Sir A. Eden

I would rather not put it like that. What is happening at the moment is that the Security Council is meeting this afternoon. It is my hope that it will issue an invitation to the Chinese Government. That is our hope, and that is what we trust will happen. I think that it might be much wiser to leave it at that at the present time.

Mr. Shinwell

In order to remove what I think is undoubtedly some confusion in the minds of many people about the legalistic aspects of the position, for instance, the distinction between the offshore islands and the Pescadores and the position of the Cairo Agreement, and the like, would the Foreign Secretary consider including in the OFFICIAL REPORT a factual statement of the position?

Sir A. Eden

I should certainly be glad to consider that if the right hon. Gentleman would be good enough to put down a question. I should like to set out the legal position, as it appears to us, but, of course, the right hon. Gentleman will know that that is not the only consideration. However, it would be good if it were set out.

Mr. Shinwell

The right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that even across the Atlantic, in the United States, there seems to be a good deal of confusion about the legalistic aspects.

Sir A. Eden

I agree.

35. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in view of the threat to peace resulting from the dispute over Formosa, if he will propose at the United Nations that the future of the island shall be decided by free elections.

Mr. Nutting

As my right hon. Friend said on 26th January, our first concern is to secure a cessation of hostilities in this area. Once this has been achieved, it will be possible to consider other issues.

Mr. Hughes

Can the Minister assure us that his right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is as enthusiastic about free elections in Formosa as in Eastern Germany, and has he any idea what would happen to Chiang Kai-shek if there were such free elections in Formosa?

Mr. Nutting

I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman's supplementary is too speculative for me to follow it.

Mr. Noel-Baker

In view of the great importance of the Formosa question, will Her Majesty's Government work for its solution through the United Nations?

Mr. Nutting

That is precisely where we have negotiated the first steps towards what we hope will be a solution.

Mr. Paget

Is there the slightest chance of the Chinese Communist Government accepting the verdict of free elections in Formosa?