HC Deb 15 April 1959 vol 603 cc1024-5
30. Mr. Younger

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is now in a position to make a statement about refugees attempting to leave Tibet, in the light of official information available to him from first-hand witnesses.

33. Mr. Philips Price

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what official information is now available to him from first-hand witnesses of recent events in Tibet; and whether, in view of the fact that under the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907 Chinese suzerainty over Tibet was recognised on condition that China respected Tibetan autonomy, he will now reconsider the whole matter and the question whether Chinese suzerainty in future should be recognised there at all.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

I am not in a position to make a statement about refugees. As hon. Members know, communications are extremely difficult in the part of India where the Dalai Lama and his party are. I share the general feeling of deep concern with regard to what has been happening in Tibet, and about Tibetan autonomy. I am sure that the whole House sympathises with the Tibetan people in their present troubles. With regard to the juridical point, I have nothing to add.

Mr. Younger

While I appreciate the great difficulty of getting exact information, may I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman whether he would agree that it is almost certain that there will be some refugees, possibly not large numbers? Is he contemplating any discussions to ensure that these refugees will be received and that possibly, and if necessary, they will become an international responsibility?

Mr. Lloyd

We have been in touch with the Indian Government on this matter. I prefer to add nothing to my reply.

Mr. Philips Price

Would not our non-recognition of Chinese sovereignty over Tibet be of some assistance to a future Tibetan Government?

Mr. Lloyd

That may be so.

Sir H. Studholme

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware how glad the people of this country will be that he has expressed the concern which is felt at the brutal act of aggression by the Chinese on a small and peace-loving State? Would it not be a very good thing for the world to realise how fortunate the world was during the time of the Pax Britannica, when Britain acted as the policeman of the world— [HON. MEMBERS: "Suez."] —and was in a position to prevent such acts of aggression from happening?

Mr. Lloyd

There is a great deal in what my hon. Friend says.

Mr. Bevan

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that in the very perplexing and difficult situation that exists in that part of the world, where precise information is difficult to obtain, we, on this side of the House, feel that we can tentatively support the position taken up by the Indian Government who have much more knowledge of the situation than we have?

Mr. Lloyd

It bears a marked similarity to our own.