HC Deb 11 March 1980 vol 980 cc1150-2
Q3. Mr. Churchill

asked the Prime Minister if she will seek to pay an official visit to Thailand.

The Prime Minister

I have at present no plans to do so.

Mr. Churchill

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the plight of more than 500,000 Cambodian refugees sandwiched between the Vietnamese invasion army and the Thai defence forces along the Thai-Cambodian border? Will my right hon. Friend take the initiative on behalf of the United Kingdom and call for a reconvening of the Geneva conference in order to neutralise Cambodia? If such solution proves impossible to achieve, will she make the strongest representations, together with our allies, to the Vietnamese Government and its Soviet ally to protect and safeguard the civilian population?

The Prime Minister

With regard to the first part of my hon. Friend's question, there are a considerable number of refugees caught in the troubles, as he indicated. It is a tragic situation. The answer to the second part of his question about reconvening the Geneva Conference is that we and the Soviet Union were co-chairmen of that conference, and it does not appear to me that that would be a suitable vehicle at present.

My right hon. and noble Friend the Foreign Secretary, at a conference of the ASEAN countries and EEC Foreign Ministers last week, asked the United Nations to pursue the possibility, if need be, of an international conference. I am afraid that that proposal was rejected almost immediately by Vietnam. In the meantime, we shall continue to do everything that we can to relieve the great suffering in Cambodia, on the Thailand border, and among refugees in Thailand.

Mr. Hooley

Is the Prime Minister aware that all previous Prime Ministers of Thailand were educated in the United Kingdom? Does the right hon. Lady realise that if the Government persist in their present lunatic policy on a 500 per cent. increase in overseas students' fees, that happy tradition will come to an abrupt end?

The Prime Minister

As the hon. Gentleman knows, we have increased overseas students' fees because we have to make economies. There will be the possibility for some applications to ODA for a part of the aid that we make available, in order to help needy students.

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