HC Deb 07 June 1951 vol 488 cc1199-200
11. Mr. Gammans

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what replies were received from India, Pakistan and Ceylon in answer to the invitations inviting them to be represented at the Commonwealth defence talks which are to be held in London in July.

Mr. Gordon-Walker

I take it that the Question refers to the meeting beginning on 21st June. It had never been contemplated that the Governments of India, Pakistan and Ceylon would attend this meeting, which is concerned with problems particularly affecting Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Southern Rhodesia, and also Canada. No question of sending invitations to India, Pakistan or Ceylon arose. The Governments of India, Pakistan and Ceylon have, naturally, been informed of arrangements made for the meeting.

Mr. Gammans

Does that answer mean that since the conference is to discuss Commonwealth security as a whole, we in the United Kingdom are under an implicit obligation to defend India and Pakistan against any external aggression and, in the case of Ceylon, under a treaty obligation to do so, but that these countries are not prepared to co-operate either to defend each other or to engage in any form of Pacific pact or world-wide Commonwealth pact?

Mr. Gordon-Walker

It would be quite wrong to draw such conclusions from my answer. This is a particular meeting of certain members of the Commonwealth to discuss problems in certain areas and regions of the world that particularly concern them. That is the only conclusion that can be drawn from my answer.