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South-East Asia (Defence)

Volume 527: debated on Monday 17 May 1954

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what reply he has received from the Indian Government to his communication regarding Indian support for a settlement in Indo-China.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid) on 10th May and to replies given to him and other hon. Members on this point on 13th May by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.

How much longer is this matter going to be kept secret by the Government? In view of the fact that the Indian Government themselves have issued a statement on this question and have made it quite clear that they are not prepared to underwrite any settlement in Indo-China which is not agreed by all the parties, what is the reason for keeping it dark?

If the Indian Government have already stated that position publicly, nothing is being kept dark. What Her Majesty's Government object to is that when we are being constantly urged to engage in consultations particularly with the Asian members of the Commonwealth, we should be expected to make public the nature of the conversations.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what proposals he has received from the Governments of India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Burma and Indonesia regarding the formation of a regional security organisation for South-East Asia.

As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has informed the House, these diplomatic exchanges are confidential and if the confidence were not respected the exchanges would be seriously impaired. Her Majesty's Government attach the greatest importance to maintaining a full and frank exchange of views with the Asian countries concerned, especially on matters concerning the security of South-East Asia, and I am sure that hon. Members would not wish Her Majesty's Government to remove the necessary basis of confidence which makes such an exchange of views possible.

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman capable at all of giving a plain answer to a plain question? Will he tell the House whether any of these countries have made any proposal for the formation of a South-East Asia military security organisation?

I am not prepared to tell the House what confidential proposals have or have not been made.

It is certainly untrue that these countries have failed to answer with regard to the question of South-East Asia security.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the informal discussions with the Governments of the United States of America and other countries concerning an interim collective security arrangement for South-East Asia.

I would ask the hon. Member to await the reply which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will be making to Questions Nos. 40 and 44.