HC Deb 14 March 1962 vol 655 cc1317-20
41. Mr. Warbey

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether, in view of the fact that United States pilots are engaged in bombing operations in South Vietnam he will now raise the matter in the Security Council of the United Nations

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Peter Thomas)

No, Sir.

Mr. Warbey

Does the hon. Gentleman deny that United States pilots are piloting bombing planes which drop bombs on South Vietnamese? Is this not an act of military intervention on one side in a civil war which the Americans themselves have provoked by their sabotage of the Geneva Agreement? Is this not likely to lead to an extremely dangerous and inflammatory situation in South-East Asia? What do Her Majesty's Government intend to do about it?

Mr. Thomas

I am not in a position to confirm or deny any reports that have been received. The United States Government have stated that, in training and advising the South Vietnamese Air Force, United States pilots are working with the South Vietnamese, the object being the training of South Vietnamese pilots and other Air Force personnel.

I entirely disagree with the hon. Gentleman when he talks about United States "provocation". The threat to peace in Vietnam does not arise from United States action but from the policies of the North Vietnam Government, who are encouraging, directing, and, in part, supplying an insurrectionary movement in South Vietnam, the object of which is to overthrow the Government of the Republic and reunite the country by force.

Mr. H. Wilson

But does not the hon. Gentleman agree that a very grave situation has arisen in South Vietnam? In view of our special responsibility jointly with the Russians, as Co-Chairmen of the Geneva Conference, does not he agree that it would be a good thing now if we could join the Russians in convening a conference of all the interested parties to try to get the situation stabilised? Would not the hon. Gentleman further agree that this situation would perhaps have been eased if all of us had carried out our commitments with regard to the holding of free elections in Vietnam?

Mr. Thomas

Yes, Sir. I would agree with the last part of the right hon. Gentleman's supplementary question. I also agree that a grave situation has occurred in South Vietnam. But as far as the recalling of the conference is concerned, as I pointed out in an Adjournment debate on 19th February, terrorism must be stopped before there can be any chance of arriving at an equitable settlement of the problem of Vietnam.

Mr. Harold Davies

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there have been eleven reports from the Supervisory Commission about the situation in Vietnam? Is he aware that the British Government have tossed these reports aside, and have not given them or the protests of the Indian Government, who have a special knowledge of the position, the attention they deserve? Is he also aware that it is not absolutely true to say that the North Vietnamese have interfered? Previous to this latest situation, there were rebellious movements to try to remove the nepotic Government of South Vietnam.

Mr. Thomas

We are aware of the Commission's reports. I dealt with them in the Adjournment debate.

Mr. H. Wilson

Is the hon. Gentleman seriously saying that there can be no question of action by means of the Geneva Conference or in any other way, to end this very grave situation, which he admits exists, unless the fighting stops? Would it not be the right course to recall the conference first, so that, if we cannot bring the fighting to an end, by putting pressure on all concerned we could see that we returned to the Agreement made at Geneva seven years ago?

Mr. Thomas

I am not saying that. I say that there is international machinery which was set up as a result of the Geneva Conference in 1954. That machinery still exists, and we do not consider it appropriate to take any further step until all the possibilites of using it have been exhausted.