Skip to main content

South Vietnam (Military Aid)

Volume 885: debated on Wednesday 29 January 1975

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will raise in the United Nations Security Council, as a threat to world peace, the recent provision of military aid by the United States of America to the Republic of South Vietnam.

No, Sir. The replacement of military equipment is permissible under Article 7 of the Parish Agreement.

I am concerned about arms supplies to Vietnam from any quarter. Does my right hon. Friend accept that recent escalations of arms supplies from the United States to Vietnam are an indication that President Ford is seeking to step up the warlike activity there? Does my right hon. Friend also accept that the Labour movement would like to see the Labour Government support the Democratic majority in Congress in seeking to curb the warlike aims of President Ford in Vietnam? Can he convey those sentiments to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary in Washington as a matter of urgency?

I cannot accept all the points made by my hon. Friend. I think that not only the Labour movement but all thinking and caring people in this country will be desperately concerned about the increased level of violence and warfare in Vietnam. I do not think that the majority of the British public would want to start apportioning blame as between one party and another, and I do not want to add my apportionment of blame. There is a tragic situation in Vietnam. The most important thing is that the political talks between the Vietnamese people provided for in the Paris Agreements should be resumed. We have discussed these matters with representatives of both the North and South Vietnamese Governments, who are well aware of our concern.

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that a far greater threat to world peace is posed by the intolerable invasion of South Vietnam by an army of upwards of 200,000 men, fully equipped and making no disguise of the fact that they appear as a hostile force upon the territory of an independent country?

I have already said that I and the Government deeply regret the increase in fighting and all the consequences in terms of loss of human rights, liberty and lives. The main thing, how- ever, is that it is clear that the Paris Agreements are not being properly fulfilled and that they should be fulfilled by all the parties concerned.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that nearly 2 million refugees have gone into South Vietnam as a result of the armed incursions and violations of Articles 3(c) and 10 of the Paris Agreement by the North? Are the Foreign Office and the Overseas Development Department taking steps to succour those refugees?

The Government are contributing £1 million towards the UNICEF programme in Indo-China, which goes to North Vietnam, South Vietnam and other parts of Indo-China. We have also contributed £100,000 to the International Red Cross relief programme.

In view of the clear breach of the Paris Agreements in that there is a substantial invasion force from North Vietnam in the territory of the Republic of South Vietnam, may I ask whether the Government are unable to establish the facts and to make representations to the guarantors of the Paris Agreements that they should be upheld?

I said in answer to a previous supplementary question that we have been in touch with both the North Vietnamese and the South Vietnamese Governments expressing our concern at the present situation. I think it is true that many parts of the Paris Agreements have not been fulfilled. We are deeply concerned about that and we have made known our concern.

In welcoming the hon. Gentleman to his new position, may I say that it is encouraging to see the weight in numbers of spokesmen on the Opposition Front Bench this afternoon. I cannot say the same in other respects.