HC Deb 25 July 1960 vol 627 cc1080-2
Mr. Marquand

(by Private Notice) asked the Minister of State for Commonwealth Relations whether he will make a statement on the assault made on the High Commissioner for Ghana on Saturday.

The Minister of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. C. J. M. Alport):

An incident took place in London on the evening of 23rd July during the visit of Mr. Lumumba, the Prime Minister of the Congo Republic. In the course of this incident His Excellency the Ghana High Commissioner in London, Sir Edward Asafu-Adjaye, was assaulted and knocked down. I am unable to give further details since the matter is sub judice.

On learning that the incident had occurred, by noble Friend immediately sent a personal message of apology to Sir Edward and informed the President of Ghana that Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom greatly regretted this most unfortunate happening.

Her Majesty's Government would be profoundly concerned at anything which might affect the present close and most friendly co-operation between the Governments of Ghana and the United Kingdom and earnestly hope that this incident will not impair the admirable relations between our two Governments and peoples.

The United Kingdom High Commissioner in Accra received a protest about this incident from the Ghana Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 24th July and replied in this sense. I would like to add that Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom greatly value Sir Edward Asafu-Adjaye's work in London and the talent and skill which he has brought to his ask. I am sure that right hon. and hon. Members will join with me in wishing Sir Edward a speedy recovery from any ill-effects which may have been occasioned by the assault.

Hon. Members

Hear, hear.

Mr. Marquand

May I be allowed to associate all my hon. and right hon. Friends with the right hon. Gentleman's statement? We are glad that the Government have made this statement and given this explanation to Ghana as well as to the world. I should like particularly to be associated with what the right hon. Gentleman said about the High Commissioner and to join in hoping that he will soon recover from any injury which he may have suffered.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we deeply deplore this most regrettable incident, particularly that it should have occurred at a time when we were having a visit to this country by the Prime Minister of the friendly country of the Congo Republic? I am aware that I must be restrained by the fact that the matter is sub judice, but may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether inquiries are being made into the apparent inadequacy of police arrangements to protect these distinguished gentlemen?

Mr. Alport

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his expressions of regret for this incident which, I am sure and know, is shared by all Members of the House. I am sure that the many friends in this House of the High Commissioner would wish particularly that the House should be associated with these expressions of regret.

I think that the question of the adequacy of the police is a matter which should be directed to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, who is responsible for the Metropolitan Police. But I am informed that a substantial number of police, together with senior officers, were present.

Mrs. White

Will not the right hon. Gentleman confer with the Home Secretary on that last point? Is he aware that it was reported that the High Commissioner's secretary said that he discussed the situation with the police before the High Commissioner came out of the hotel and told them that he felt that the arrangements were not satisfactory?

Mr. Alport

I think that that is a matter of judgment, but I am certain that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will be making careful inquiries into the whole circumstances from the police point of view.

Mr. Speaker

Mr. Redmayne.

Mr. Fell rose

Mr. Speaker

I suspect that the hon. Member is rising to ask for leave to move the Adjournment of the House. This is not the moment. I will give him an opportunity to do so.