HC Deb 02 May 1967 vol 746 cc286-7
7. Mr. Marten

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs what is Her Majesty's Government's present policy on offering aid to Australia and New Zealand in connection with the Vietnam war; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Bowden

We have made no offer of aid to Australia or New Zealand in connection with the Vietnam war, nor have they requested any.

Mr. Marten

Does not the Minister recall that both New Zealand and Australia came to our aid in the defence of our country twice in this century? In view of the fact that the Russians are helping the North Vietnamese, could not the Government possibly change their policy, and, even if they are not asked, offer the Australians and New Zealanders such help as we can give?

Mr. Bowden

The Government's position in relation to this problem of participation by Australia and New Zealand in Vietnam is very well and clearly known by both those Governments. With regard to the Russians, we view the position rather differently from our co-Chairman, the Russians.

Mr. Rankin

Can my right hon. Friend tell us in what way the people of Vietnam, or its armies of defence, are hurting in any way, or imperilling, the freedom of Australia and New Zealand?

Mr. Bowden

I hardly think that that arises for me on this question of aid to Australia and New Zealand.

Mr. Maudling

As the Government believe that the Americans, Australians, and New Zealanders are doing the right thing in protecting South Vietnam against Communist aggression, how does the right hon. Gentleman explain to our Australian and New Zealand friends that we are not prepared to help them in any way?

Mr. Bowden

On one or two occasions when I was in Australia and New Zealand I explained that we are co-Chairmen with the Russians under the Agreement, and it is our job to try to find a solution to the problem.

Mr. Winnick

In view of the concern among hon. Gentlemen opposite, would it be possible for the right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) to ask for volunteers from the Conservative Party to go to Vietnam?