HC Deb 07 November 1966 vol 735 cc948-50
4. Mr. Winnick

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the United States Government have been informed of the concern felt in Great Britain at a possible United States invasion of North Vietnam.

14. Mr. Heifer

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what response he has received from the United States of America and the Soviet Union to his proposal for a peaceful settlement in Vietnam; and if he will make a statement.

34. Mr. Eldon Griffiths

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on his recent official discussions with President Johnson and Mr. Gromyko about war and peace in Vietnam.

56. Mr. Hugh Jenkins

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what reply he has received from the United States Government to his proposal that there should be free elections in North and South Vietnam within a period of two years.

Mr. George Brown

As the House knows, many of these Questions were the subject of discussions which I recently held in the United States with President Johnson, Mr. Rusk, Mr. Gromyko and others and also with Mr. Pearson and Mr. Martin in Ottawa.

As the House has now heard, I shall very soon be visiting Moscow to see Mr. Gromyko again. In all this, my main concern is to see what I can do to help bring about in the first place an end to the bloodshed and then help promote a solution in Vietnam. I am sure that the House will understand if I ask permission to avoid further comment at this stage, since to do so might well prejudice the interests we all have in mind.

Mr. Winnick

While thanking my right hon. Friend for the tone of that reply, may I ask whether he would not agree that the Americans seem hell-bent on escalating the war in Vietnam? Can the Foreign Secretary say that in his negotiations about this matter he will not fall over backwards to take one particular side in the civil war now taking place in that country?

Mr. Brown

I certainly have no intention of imitating my hon. Friend in doing exactly what he has just described. I do not agree with the opening part of his question but it was exactly that kind of comment which I thought it would be unwise to make before I go to Moscow.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

I respect the wish of the Foreign Secretary not to comment on matters that he will be negotiating or discussing in Moscow, but would he not agree that comments of the kind that we have just heard—unfair and one-sided—attacking the United States coming from the British House of Commons can do nothing but harm?

Mr. Rankin

Is it not the case that the United States has already invaded the southern part of Vietnam and is it not therefore within the range of possibility that she might invade the northern part? Would my right hon. Friend keep that in mind? Can he say if he has made any representations to the United States about this possibility?

Mr. Brown

May I invite my hon. Friends to bear in mind that what is most needed here is not words that seem agreeable to us, whether they are right or wrong, but getting an end to the bloodshed in Vietnam?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

While congratulating the Foreign Secretary on his peace initiative, may I ask whether he thinks that it would now be useful for him to send a British mission to Hanoi, to see if he can secure co-operation there with his aims?

Mr. Brown

I think that I had better be allowed to have my visit to Moscow first.

Mr. Orme

My right hon. Friend cannot stop criticism in relation to this matter, because it concerns the world. [HON. MEMBERS: "Question."] I am asking a question. Would he not agree that while we are associated with American action, in the way we are at present, his chances of success are not very great?

Mr. Brown

I do not agree. I do not think that my hon. Friend could be very much more wrong.

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