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Indo-China

Volume 526: debated on Thursday 29 April 1954

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44

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement on the recent official French request for aid in Indo-China.

I do not wish to add to the statement which I made last Tuesday.

Can the Prime Minister at least say whether the request was confined simply to material aid, or whether there was also a request for British troops as well?

I do not wish to add to the statement which I made last Tuesday.

45

asked the Prime Minister if he will approach the Governments of India, Pakistan and Burma with a view to consultations, at ministerial level, on recent developments in South-East Asia with particular reference to the situation in Indo-China and Her Majesty's Government's proposal to examine the possibility of a defence pact.

Her Majesty's Government have been in close touch with these Governments and have undertaken to give full consideration to their views. A special Ministerial meeting would not be helpful at the present moment.

Is the Prime Minister aware that, despite the fact that there may be telegraphic communication, there is a distinct feeling in India, Pakistan and Burma that decisions may be taken at Geneva over the heads of these South-East Asian countries without proper Ministerial consultation? Is he aware that he himself has a singularly bad record in relation to those countries and should do his best by sending a Minister out there to show that he now regards those countries as full and equal members of the Commonwealth whose advice is at least worthy of the same consideration as that of the other Dominions?

I really think that the giving of special missions to Ministers in a Government should be left to the Government itself. I think that that would certainly be the rule which would be enforced should any change of authority take place here.