HC Deb 14 December 1964 vol 704 cc22-4
29. Mr. Ridsdale

asked the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the progress made towards reaching a peaceful settlement of the Indonesian dispute.

49. Mr. Heffer

asked the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement about the Government's policy towards an easing of the situation between Indonesia and Malaysia.

Mr. George Thomson

The Indonesian Government have stepped up their attacks on Eastern Malaysia, and have sent forces to make landings on the Malayan mainland. Her Majesty's Government deplore the situation created by these attacks on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a member of the Commonwealth to whom this country has specific defence obligations. We shall continue to honour these obligations to the full. We should welcome a peaceful solution of the conflict between Indonesia and Malaysia, but the resumption of negotiations is principally a matter for the two countries concerned. At the moment, an atmosphere conducive to negotiation unhappily does not exist.

Mr. Ridsdale

As there is little prospect at present for a peaceful settlement, is the hon. Gentleman satisfied with the common policy being carried out by the free world Powers who have interests in South-East Asia? Is he satisfied with the support which the free world Powers are giving each other in South-East Asia, particularly in Indonesia, especially in view of the reported threat of a take-over by the Communists in Djarkarta and the action of the frigate "Ajax" in the Malacca Straits?

Mr. Thomson

As the hon. Gentleman knows, Australia and New Zealand are providing substantial financial assistance for Malaysia's defence, and their troops have been in action against Indonesian infiltrators. The United States and Canada have both recently sent military missions to consider what aid they could furnish. Other Commonwealth countries have given diplomatic support.

Mr. Heffer

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. I should like to ask him whether he knows of the report in The Times on 1st December in which its representatives in Kuala Lumpur indicated that there were certain diplomats in Kuala Lumpur who felt that there was a great noise going on and a further military operation was expected, but that there was a feeling that there could be a peaceful solution if certain initiatives were taken?

Mr. Thomson

There is more than a noise going on. There have been landings on the territory of Malaysia. As I have said, we are always anxious for the opportunity for peaceful negotiation to take place.

Mr. A. Henderson

Can my hon. Friend say why this situation is being allowed to drift into a state of near-war if not actual war? In view of these acts of aggression, why is not the matter taken before the Security Council of the United Nations with a view to action being taken to secure a peaceful settlement? Meanwhile, would it not be possible to send a force of United Nations observers, who could report on the facts without fear or favour?

Mr. Thomson

I do not accept that the situation is drifting. In September, Malaysia requested a Security Council debate, in which all members of the Council other than the two Soviet bloc representatives supported her complaint. The Security Council remains formally seized of the problem. To reopen the question with the United Nations is primarily a matter for Malaysia to decide. Since the September debate, the Malaysian Government have sent four letters to the Council drawing attention to further Indonesian attacks.

Mr. Ogden

Can my hon. Friend assure the House that units of the Royal Navy in those waters have sufficient freedom of action to defend not only the State of Malaysia but their own ships and men?

Mr. Thomson

That is a question for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence.

Mr. Philip Noel-Baker

Since British troops are involved in this dangerous and unhappy situation, will not the Government urge upon the United Nations, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) has suggested, that observers should be sent?

Mr. Thomson

We will certainly consult our allies and the Government of Malaysia about the suggestion made by my right hon. and learned Friend.