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South-East Asia

Volume 531: debated on Wednesday 28 July 1954

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7.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs his proposals, following the successful conclusion of the Geneva Conference, for economic aid to the countries of South-East Asia.

The existing arrangements for economic aid to the countries of South-East Asia will continue. No decision has yet been taken as to what additional measures will be necessary or possible.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the additional measures are under discussion, because the present paltry assistance under the Colombo Plan is quite inadequate to provide an effective counter to the Communist challenge in South-East Asia? Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the Burma Prime Minister said recently that he is not afraid of the Communists because he has a better programme than the Communists?

I am very conscious of the economic aspects of this problem, and certain discussions are going on, but I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's description of the Colombo Plan.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in the new countries of South-East Asia, such as Indonesia, which are trying to build up their own independence, such economic aid is welcomed?

Would the right hon. Gentleman consider whether the Government can support with an ample contribution the work in Southern Viet-Nam, similar to that which has been done in Korea by the United Nations?

15.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the improved situation in South-East Asia, he will communicate with the relevant authorities at the United Nations revising Her Majesty's Government's attitude to the Special United Nations Fund for Economic Development and announcing Britain's willingness to participate financially without waiting for the realisation of an agreed scheme of internationally supervised disarmament.

No, Sir. The position is still as indicated by my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State in his reply to the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. George Craddock) on 2nd June.

Do not the hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary feel that we might have obtained even better terms in South-East Asia if this fund had been in operation four years ago and we now had behind us the enthusiasm in the people there for the sort of work it would have been doing? Is it not rather foolish to deny ourselves the advantages which this fund can give by allowing the Russians the power to veto it?

Would the hon. Gentleman consider the rather valuable suggestion of the United Nations Association on this matter, that even if we can get the full support of America we should start it on a more limited basis?

Will the Under-Secretary of State undertake to ensure that the Government will consider again before September whether, in view of the changes in the course of events in South-East Asia and elsewhere, it is not very urgent to keep this fund on its feet?

If the right hon. Gentleman will look at the original reply of the Minister of State to which I have referred, he will see that it is clear that Her Majesty's Government did not envisage being in a position to contribute to such a fund until resources became available, and I cannot see that happening before September.

18.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will give an assurance that Her Majesty's Government will not enter into any commitments or make any expressions of intention which might lead to military action in South-East Asia without first making a thorough examination of the proposals for a general settlement which are now being put forward by the Chinese Foreign Secretary.

I am not aware of any such proposals. The policy of Her Majesty's Government in respect of South-East Asian security has been clearly stated to this House.

Can the right hon. Gentleman assure us that we shall not enter into expressions of intention or other informal arrangements, very similar to those which we had with France in 1913–14, which are quite capable of leading to military operations, without first exploring alternative possibilities?

I have fully explained our policy to the House, and I think it is well known.