HC Deb 21 March 1955 vol 538 c1728
27. Mr. H. Fraser

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is satisfied that the movement, guaranteed under the Geneva Agreement, of refugees, including Catholics, Buddhists, and other religious denominations from Viet-Minh to Viet-Nam, is proceeding satisfactorily.

Mr. Nutting

Since the cessation of hostilities in Viet-Nam over half a million refugees have left the Viet-Minh zone in the north for the south. Many others would probably like to follow their example and Her Majesty's Government are not satisfied that the Viet-Minh authorities are adequately fulfilling their obligations under the Geneva Agreement to permit and assist and movement of would-be refugees. The International Supervisory Commission for Viet-Nam are, however, doing their best to remedy this situation. Their Chairman recently told the Press that the Commission were determined to ensure that all those wishing to leave North Viet-Nam would be able to exercise their right of option.

Mr. Fraser

As my right hon. Friend is doubtless aware, is it not a fact that the period during which these persons can be moved ends within a month from now? In view of the failure of the Viet-Minh to work in accordance with the agreement, is it not possible to extend the period during which these persons can be transferred?

Mr. Nutting

I will certainly consider that, but, of course, it is laid down in the Geneva Agreements that the time limit for the transfer of refugees expires on 18th May this year. However, I will consider my hon. Friend's suggestion.