HC Deb 20 July 1972 vol 841 cc885-6
8. Mr. Hattersley

asked the Minister of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the future of the Five Power Defence Agreement between Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore.

Lord Balniel

The Five Power Defence arrangements, which came into operation on 1st November, 1971, are operating smoothly. They will continue so long as the partners need them.

Mr. Hattersley

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what contingency plans are being made by the Ministry of Defence in preparation for the strong possibility that Australia will pull out in the autumn?

Lord Balniel

I do not know of that strong possibility. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that the Australian Prime Minister visited the Malaysian Government and that they issued a joint communiqué very recently in which the Prime Ministers of both Australia and Malaysia agreed that the Five Power arrangements provide a framework for close and effective co-operation which is of value to both Governments.

Sir H. Harrison

Is my right hon. Friend aware that anybody who has visited these forces, as I have been fortunate to do, knows that the Australians play a very large part, and, indeed, we are glad that they do? As far as I can see, there will be very little likelihood of their pulling out because it would be greatly to their disadvantage if they did.

Lord Balniel

My hon. and gallant Friend speaks from first-hand experience and he correctly reflects the view of everybody in the Five Power Defence Agreement.

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