HC Deb 22 May 1974 vol 874 cc365-6
10. Mr. Cryer

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the action he has taken in view of the mining in Saigon harbour on 8th April of a British ship.

Mr. Ennals

British shipping has been alerted to the dangers involved in operating in South Vietnamese ports and is well aware of the risks. No additional action was called for in this case.

Mr. Cryer

Does my hon. Friend not agree that this is of very great consequence for British shipping, and does he not feel that representations should be made to the United States, which, under Article 21 of the Paris peace agreement, has obligations to aid the recovery of South Vietnam—obligations which at present it is escaping? Will he make representations to urge that country to help the recovery of a nation which it devastated so frighteningly in recent years?

Mr. Ennals

As far as I know, apart from the incident in question and a similar incident in Da Nang harbour on the night of 28th-29th April, there have been no other attacks on shipping in South Vietnamese ports since last October. The South Vietnamese make reasonable security arrangements, and British shipping is aware of the possible dangers of operating in South Vietnamese waters. The second part of my hon. Friend's question is a matter for the United States Government, and the views which have been expressed here will be conveyed to them.

Sir A. Royle

Is the Minister aware that our representative in Hanoi is still not accepted as the ambassador, even though arrangements were made between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of North Vietnam to exchange ambassadors some months ago? Will he take action with the North Vietnamese Government in London to ensure that our representative in Hanoi is properly received as the ambassador?

Mr. Ennals

That is an important point and is one of a number of unsatisfactory elements about the situation in Vietnam and a number of respects in which the Paris agreements have not been fulfilled.