HC Deb 18 December 1967 vol 756 cc314-5W
Mr. Dodds-Parker

asked the Minister of Overseas Development what proposals he has for providing more medical and civilian aid to refugees in, and the population of, Southern Vietnam.

Mr. Prentice:

We hope to expand our medical team at the Children's Hospital in Saigon by engaging a seventh doctor, a radiographer, and four more nurses within the next two or three months; to provide more equipment and to continue to introduce new techniques at the Children's Hospital as and when the Vietnamese authorities indicate that these would be welcome and that they can supply necessary backing-up facilities; and to receive Vietnamese medical personnel in this country for specialised courses in aspects of paediatrics. We have been asked to provide lecturers in paediatrics at a new post-graduate medical centre in Saigon which is being established in late 1968.

A factor which has been causing my Ministry some concern however is the difficulty in finding suitable British personnel who can both be released from their existing commitments here and who are prepared to spend one or more years in Saigon.

Although many of the children at the Saigon hospital are refugees or orphans, I have no present plans for providing aid to refugees as such. I wholeheartedly welcome the admirable work being done by British voluntary and charitable organisations in this and related spheres.

As regards other forms of civilian governmental aid, the possibilities are under constant review, and, as the House will be aware from my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Dickens) on 14th November, aid to Vietnam has in fact been increasing very rapidly.—[Vol. 754, c. 78.]

Mr. Whitaker

asked the Minister of Overseas Development whether, to implement Her Majesty's Government's policy of giving aid for the relief of suffering, irrespective of politics, he will now offer civil medical assistance equally to North as well as South Vietnam.

Mr. Prentice:

I would refer my hon. Friend to the Answer given on 14th November by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.—[Vol. 754, c. 79.]

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