HC Deb 20 May 1968 vol 765 cc1-3
1. Dr. David Kerr

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will dissociate Great Britain from the use of chemical and biological warfare by the United States of America in Vietnam.

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Michael Stewart)

I am not aware of any American activity in this field to warrant our dissociation.

Dr. Kerr

Would my right hon. Friend inform those who advise him that one Australian officer has died during a gas attack in Vietnam and that the use of defoliants in Vietnam cannot be categorised as other than the use of chemical and biological warfare, warfare which is not against military targets—although the excuse is used that to defoliate exposes guerillas—but which is, in fact, occasioning starvation among an already starving population?

Mr. Stewart

My hon. Friend has already given one of the most important reasons for the use of defoliants; and if this stops ambush raids, it is saving life. It is inevitable in the operations of war that there will be an interdiction of food supplies. I am not aware of any use of lethal gases.

18. Mr. Dewar

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what information he has received, as Co-Chairman of the Geneva Agreement, about the willingness of the Government of North Vietnam to accept the good offices of the United Nations, with a view to the early cessation of hostilities.

Mr. M. Stewart

As I told my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, North-East (Mr. Dobson) on 1st April, North Vietnam has consistently rejected any suggestion that the United Nations should concern themselves with the affairs of Vietnam; and I regret to say that I have received no information of the nature described in this Question.—[Vol. 762, c. 2.]

Mr. Dewar

While this Question, perhaps fortunately, has been out-dated by recent more hopeful developments, will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that at the United Nations we still have a very useful rôle to play in getting an ultimate settlement?

Mr. Stewart

Certainly. As I think the House knows, the United States has long been willing to submit the Vietnam question to the United Nations and to keep the Security Council informed of their actions.

Dr. John Dunwoody

Will my right hon. Friend say whether, with his co-Chairman of the Geneva Conference, he has been in touch with the three Control Commission members to ensure that if required they are prepared to play their part in reaching a settlement?

Mr. Stewart

I have from time to time been in touch with the International Control Commission members. What part they and the co-Chairmen may have to play is, I think, one of the things we may know more about in future.

27. Mr. St. John-Stevas

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on British policy in relation to the proposed peace talks on Vietnam.

Mr. M. Stewart

I would refer the hon. Gentleman to my Reply to the hon. Member for Harwich (Mr. Ridsdale) on 13th May.—[Vol. 764, c. 180.]

Mr. St. John-Stevas

In view of the chaos in France, will the right hon. Gentleman issue an immediate invitation to the participants in the Vietnam talks to move their talks to London where, thanks to the Parliamentary system, order can be assured?

Mr. Stewart

I note what the hon. Gentleman says, but I think not.

Mr. Philip Noel-Baker

Can my right hon. Friend say whether Mr. Harriman was correctly reported as saying in a public statement that the N.L.F. could have no share in the future Government of South Vietnam? If so, will my right hon. Friend represent to the United States Government that many people will feel it difficult to believe that they are seriously interested in peace if they stick to this point of view?

Mr. Stewart

I should like to check that report before commenting. I do not think that it would be wise for me at present to make public statements on the attitude of either side.

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