HC Deb 17 December 1975 vol 902 cc1382-3
13. Mr. Tim Renton

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next proposes to visit Australasia.

Mr. Rowlands

My right hon. Friend has no plans at present to visit Australia or New Zealand.

Mr. Renton

Will the Minister persuade his right hon. Friend to change his mind, so that in view of the recent major change of political direction in both those countries he may gain a little from their experience? In particular, is there not a case for wide-ranging discussions between Britain and the new Governments of Australia and New Zealand on such matters as trade and security in the Pacific basin, following Communist successes in Vietnam?

Mr. Rowlands

I am sure that there is a case for wide-ranging discussions, but my right hon. Friend has no plans for a visit at present. The hon. Gentleman may be disappointed, but there is little correlation between what happens in politics in Australia and New Zealand and what happens in Britain.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

In view of the quite devastating repudiation of Socialism by the predominantly British people of Australia and New Zealand, will the hon. Gentleman rescue his colleagues in the Foreign Office and in the Ministry of Defence from one particular dilemma—namely, that they are still replying to letters from hon. Members of this House as late as Monday of this week by saying that Her Majesty's Government support Mr. Whitlam's policy for the neutralisation of the Indian Ocean? As this is not the view of the new Government of Australia, will the hon. Gentleman persuade his colleagues to think again and to write more accurate letters to hon. Members?

Mr. Rowlands

We still suppport Mr. Whitlam's view concerning the Indian Ocean.