HC Deb 16 November 1970 vol 806 cc859-60
41. Mr. Onslow

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further consultations he has had with Commonwealth Governments in South-East Asia, Australia and New Zealand with regard to the retention of a British military presence in Singapore and Malaysia after the end of 1971.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I would refer my hon. Friend to the statement made by my noble Friend the Minister of State for Defence on 28th October. We continue to consult closely with our Commonwealth partners.—[Vol. 805, c. 223–6.]

Mr. Onslow

Is my right hon. Friend yet able to say when he expects the next Ministerial meeting of the Powers concerned to take place and how soon he hopes to have an agreement finalised?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I think that there will be an official meeting in December, and as soon after that as is practicable, and as soon as such a meeting will lead to results, Ministers can meet.

Mr. Dalyell

In view of the Prime Minister's rather Delphic answer to me on Thursday and in view of the outright denial by the Minister of State for Defence, equally on Thursday, can the Foreign Secretary comment on Mr. Ross Mark's allegations from Washington in yesterday's Sunday Express that the British and Americans are going ahead with a staging post to the Far East in the Indian Ocean at Diego Garcia?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I should like the hon. Member to put that Question down.

Mr. Healey

How does the Foreign Secretary propose to reconcile the commitment of Malaysia and Singapore to a foreign policy of non-alignment with the commitment of Australia and New Zealand to military alliance with the United States? How will this be accommodated in the new arrangement? Secondly, can the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the five naval frigates which are the only naval contribution to the combined force are the five frigates which are carrying out the patrol off Beira?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

If the right hon. Gentleman wants that information, he must ask a Question of the Secretary of State for Defence. No doubt we shall announce the political arrangements which ought to govern the defence agreement among the five Commonwealth countries. The political definition has been given, and it should be announced before very long.

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