§ 2.50 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, can Her Majesty's Government given an answer to my Private Notice Question: whether there have 'been any further developments in the situation in Laos?
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, there have been no significant developments since my statement on Monday last. I think there is no serious fighting now, but there is same skirmishing about 20 miles 1022 north of the city of Vientiane. I do not think it is very surprising that I have not yet had a reply from Vientiane, in view of the conditions, which have been very confused; and I have not, up to the present moment, had any communications from Mr. Gromyko.
§ LORD HENDERSON
My Lords, might I ask the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary whether he has seen the reported statement that the American Government have decided to renew military aid to the Government there, and the reported reaction of the Soviet Government to that statement? Further, in the light of his reply the other day to my noble Leader's question—when the noble Earl said that it was hoped to be all: to get a broad-based Government, in order to bring to an end the hostilities within the territory and to secure the establishment there of a Government based on a genuine policy of neutrality may I ask whether the noble Earl does not think that it would be a good thing to stop the introduction of all armaments from any quarter outside of the country, in order to bring a real end to the hostilities that are taking place?
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, the legal Government of any country, of course, has a right to seek arms from any other Government, and I think we could not use our influence to prevent that. I do not know of a request. I have seen a report that a request has come to the Americans to provide assistance but I believe I saw that the report was to the effect that this request had been received and that the Americans were studying it, because they were not sure whether it referred to military or technical assistance. We are very anxious to see a broad-based Government formed, and that, of course, can be done only by the authorities—the King and the legal authorities—in Vientiane. I still hope that that may happen. I have seen it reported that, referring to the International Commission, Prince Boun Oum said that they have in Laos a sad memory of that; but that was said before he received the message which I sent the other day.