HC Deb 07 December 1961 vol 650 cc1530-3
Q9. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Prime Minister whether he will discuss with President Kennedy at the forthcoming Bermuda meeting the problem of control and inspection, as the principal obstacle to a disarmament agreement, with a view to putting forward a practical solution.

Q10. Mr. Rankin

asked the Prime Minister whether, in his forthcoming meeting with President Kennedy, he wilt discuss the need for revision of United Nations policy in the Congo rendered necessary by recent developments.

The Prime Minister

My conversations with President Kennedy will, naturally, be confidential. But, as I told the right hon. and learned Gentleman on Tuesday, we shall discuss the international situation, and all the important current problems, I hope, will be covered.

Mr. Henderson

Will the Prime Minister bear in mind in his discussions with President Kennedy on the problem of disarmament the proposals which have emanated from a group of American and Russian scientists who have suggested that control and inspection should be exercised on a zonal basis with a view to reducing the fear of espionage from the Soviet point of view?

The Prime Minister

Many suggestions have been made. I must frankly say that in the discussions now going on at Geneva the attitude of the Russians to the question of inspection is not very encouraging.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Will the Prime Minister bear in mind that the question of inspection for a test ban is totally different from the question of inspection for general disarmament, and that the Russians have always made that plain and so has President Kennedy?

The Prime Minister

What is rather disappointing is that, whereas they did accept that position at a time when we got almost two-thirds of the way to an agreement on tests, they are now taking the position that it must be part of a general disarmament discussion and agreement.

Mr. Rankin

Reverting to the particular subject of my Question, is it not the case that Her Majesty's Government and the United States Government are deeply committed to the policy of the United Nations in the Congo? Will the Prime Minister assure us now that after his meeting with the President of the United States that commitment will still remain untarnished?

The Prime Minister

This has been discussed in the House. It does not wait for that particular meeting. We shall discuss it again. We are, of course, committed to the resolutions which have been passed, subject on certain points to reservations which we have made, and we with the United States are practically the only Powers making any effective financial contribution.

Mr. H. Wilson

But in view of the differing nature of the statements being put out on successive days by Washington and the statement we had from the Lord Privy Seal yesterday, does not the Prime Minister feel that it is a matter of urgency that the two Heads of Government should discuss the matter so that, at the very least, each Government will know the point of view of the other?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. But, without waiting for that date, which is still a little ahead, discussions on this matter are proceeding in the normal way through diplomatic channels all the time. But, of course, strange as it may be, it will naturally be included in the matters that we shall try to discuss in the two days that I have with the President.

Mr. Grimond

Speaking as one of the 50 million people in this country who are very confused about what is happening in the Congo, will the Prime Minister at some stage try to enlighten us on one or two points? First, can he throw any light on the suggestion that Mr. Tshombe's finances are entirely supplied by the Union Minière? Secondly, apart from defending itself, can he say exactly what the United Nations force in the Congo is now doing? If it is restoring order, is it doing so on behalf of the United Nations, on behalf of the Central Government, or on whose behalf?

The Prime Minister

I think that we have discussed the second part of the right hon. Gentleman's question before. I understand that it is likely to be debated again. It is trying to carry out the duties put on the staff of the United Nations by the resolutions which have been passed, which we understand to mean to use the minimum force, and only when necessary, to try to use its work to bring about harmony and reconciliation and the formation of a satisfactory arrangement. That is its duty.

With regard to the first part of the right hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, I have no doubt that the companies operating in Katanga pay revenue, according to the law, to the country.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

In view of the history and origins of the great American people, will the Prime Minister appeal to the President of the United States not to use United States' resources through the United Nations organisation to try to impose on the Katanga people a regime that they do not want?

The Prime Minister

The policy of Her Majesty's Government is to take part in the formation of these resolutions and, having supported them, to give their full support to those who try to carry them out. But we have a right and a duty to try to make sure that they are carried out in the spirit in which the United Nations pass them.

Mr. Gaitskell

Is it not the case that the United States Government regard the United Nations as having been attacked by Mr. Tshombe's forces and that on this account, and because they were acting in self-defence, the United States Government have, I think, sent some aeroplanes to help them? Will the Prime Minister confirm that that is also the view of Her Majesty's Government?

The Prime Minister

The last incidents are still very confused. I understand that the situation which is now developing has not resulted from the last resolution but is merely an attempt to prevent the United Nations forces from being in danger.

Mr. H. Wilson

While I think that all of us showed considerable restraint in accepting, without an opportunity of hearing the Government on the question, certain allegations made this week on the whole issue, now that these allegations have been backed, not only by the military commander in the Congo, but today by Mr. Nehru, will the Prime Minister recognise the desirability of a senior member of Her Majesty's Government taking a very early opportunity to deal in detail with the whole history of this affair so that the Government, if they are able, can clear themselves of all charges that have been made or, if not, so that the House can take appropriate action?

The Prime Minister

I think that we have had a debate in which the Government's position was made quite clear. I understood that there was the likelihood of a debate before Christmas in which this matter could be raised, but that will come later. That seems to be more satisfactory than that I should try to answer supplementary questions on a very tangled and difficult situation.