HC Deb 18 December 1968 vol 775 cc1367-8
21. Sir Ian Orr-Ewing

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what progress is being made in the five-Power discussions and plans arising out of the Kuala Lumpur conference in June, 1968.

Mr. Healey

Confidential discussions betwen the countries represented at the Five Power Conference have been pro-ceding with a view to establishing effective co-operative arrangements for the defence of Malaysia and Singapore. As the Conference Communiqué made clear, it is hoped to carry these consultations a stage further at a Ministerial Meeting in the first half of 1969.

Sir Ian Orr-Ewing

We understand that the Secretary of State initiated this conference in June last year and we learn that he is going there again in June this year. In view of the rapid rundown in this part of the world, does he not feel some sense of urgency to try to take some leadership so that we can co-ordinate our defence efforts in a very important part of the world for Britain?

Mr. Healey

I do not think that any of our allies would dispute that we have been very much in the lead in this matter throughout. But the Australian Government, for various reasons, have had some difficulty in deciding precisely what their policy should be in this part of the world after 1971. Until they are clear about their own position in these matters, certain aspects of five Power co-operation will be difficult to tackle.

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