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South Vietnam

Volume 892: debated on Wednesday 21 May 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he is yet able to make a statement regarding recognition of the new Government of South Vietnam.

Her Majesty's Government recognised the new Government of South Vietnam on 12th May.

Is my right Hon. Friend aware that he will have the support of the Government benches for that action? Will he confirm that the takeover by the new Government was effected peaceably, in contrast to the stories circulated by the media and Opposition Members? Will he also confirm that the best action for many refugees—in contrast to the squalid actions of certain commercial interests, such as the Daily Mail—is to return to Vietnam? Will he assure the House that he will give assistance to those people, if so requested?

As to the takeover, I understand that Saigon was not—as had been expected—subjected to shelling by the North Vietnamese regular troops who were on the outskirts of the city. There was no killing of the civilian population. The return of refugees is a matter that must be left to them. They will know whether they are likely to be able to satisfy the requirements of the new régime and to live there peacefully. We have a large number of refugees in Hong Kong, some of whom would wish to return but most of whom would not. This will present us with a problem.

Is it not plain that all the important decisions about the future of South Vietnam are taken in Hanoi? Why should we recognise two Governments in what is, in effect, one country? What decision has been made about the Vietnamese refugees who want to come to this country?

It is not at all plain that all decisions are being taken in Hanoi. We shall have to wait to see how the situation develops. At present, we are one of the 68 nations which have recognised the Government in Saigon and at this moment I think that that is the right thing to do. I believe that the Home Secretary has made a statement on the admission of refugees to this country. I do not think that any quota has been fixed and I understand that all cases are considered on their merits.

Will my hon. Friend give the names of the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary of the Provisional Revolutionary Government?

Will the right hon. Gentleman at last express his concern at the way in which South Vietnam was taken by the Communists? Will he at last condemn the actions of the North and the Russians, and will he beyond peradventure make plain that the refugees from the South who wish to have asylum here and the children who are already here will be either safely received or allowed to remain?

I understand from all the hon. Gentleman's previous questions that he is much more concerned to dig back into the past and to follow up those matters than he is to try to create stable conditions in South Vietnam in the future. Throughout the whole of my experience, I have been in no doubt that there was a large body of people—perhaps the largest body of people—who did not support the Thieu Government, the Communist Government or the PRG, but the PRG is the administrative authority and it is upon that that we base our recognition. As to the future of refugees, the hon. Gentleman should put down Questions about that to the Home Secretary.

The Foreign Secretary said that the guns threatening Saigon were North Vietnamese army guns. Does he wish to comment on that?