§ 14. Mr. Newens
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on British relations with Thailand since the coup d-état of 6th October 1976.
§ Mr. Newens
Will my hon. Friend find a convenient way of expressing revulsion at the murder, torture and imprisonment of Thai journalists, students, teachers and others since the coup? Will he note that many of us, at least on the Labour Benches, would utterly deprecate the sale of Centurion tanks to the new régime, if the reports that agreement has been reached on the matter are confirmed?
§ Mr. Luard
The main incidents of which we have knowledge occurred when the transition was taking place. Therefore, the present Government cannot take the responsibility. My hon. Friend knows that we do not give details about our arms sales to individual Governments, but I can say that present sales are on a very small scale.
§ Mr. Fletcher-Cooke
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that Thailand is under some threat from her eastern frontiers—some think a considerable threat? Will he confirm that our obligations, such as 660 they are, under the SEATO Treaty still stand?
§ Mr. Dykes
Inspired, although perhaps less boldly, by the courageous conduct yesterday of his right hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-East (Mr. Prentice), will the hon. Gentleman tell the House why the hon. Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens) and his hon. Friends below the Gangway are dreaming of the day when the whole of Indo-China is Communist?
§ Mr. Luard
I do not think for a moment that my hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens), whom I know very well, is dreaming of that outcome. If my hon. Friend is concerned about the interruption of democratic Government in Thailand, I entirely share his concern, and I hope that Conservative Members also share it.