HC Deb 18 December 1961 vol 651 cc937-9
38. Dr. D. Johnson

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether, in view of the military intervention of the United Nations in the internal affairs of the Congo, and the fact that this is being pursued in such a manner as to endanger the lives of women and children, he will withdraw Great Britain from membership of the United Nations.

Mr. Heath

No, Sir.

Dr. Johnson

Is it not a fact that representatives of this body, instead of being the champions of order in Katanga, have become the apostles of chaos? In view of the fact that the efforts of Her Majesty's Government to obtain a cease-fire have so far been rejected, may I ask whether it is not time to assess our position with a view to obtaining at least a situation in which nations experienced in international affairs carry responsibility for such actions rather than characters like Dr. O'Brien?

Mr. Heath

We debated these matters fully last Thursday. and the position of the Government was then made known. There is another Question on this subject later on. Our thought on a solution has always been made clear to the House, and I am glad to say that today there have been moves in that direction.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Mr. George Ivan Smith, to whose integrity The Times diplomatic correspondent paid a tribute the other day, officially reported last week that at every stage of the operation the United Nations forces have been handicapped by the fact that mercentaries, politicians and Katangese politicians alike have been trying to shield behind civilians"—

Mr. Speaker

I think that the right hon. Gentleman is momentarily forgetting that one is not allowed to quote verbatim from newspapers or the like during Questions.

Mr. Noel-Baker

This is not a newspaper. It is an official report from Mr. George Ivan Smith, a principal representative of the United Nations in Katanga, who said last week that Katangese politicians and troops were putting civilians in front of them and—

Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

I am sorry, but the same principle would apply to a verbatim quotation from that document.

Mr. Noel-Baker

I am not now quoting. I am now asking the Lord Privy Seal whether he is aware that the principal representative of the United Nations has reported that Katangese troops and politicians put civilians in front of them and invariably take up positions beside hospitals or schools?

Mr. Heath

I have not seen such reports. There has been full coverage in the Press and on television and the radio of incidents in Katanga, and hon. Members can form their own judgement.

Mr. Mayhew

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen that all the Commonwealth members of the United Nations Committee on the Congo have contemptuously rejected the British Government's appeal to the United Nations for a cease-fire in Katanga? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the British Government have dealt damaging blows at the United Nations? What does the right hon. Gentleman propose to do to improve our prestige?

Mr. Nabarro

Marshal Nehru.

Mr. Heath

It does not alter the fact that the Government believe that they were right in taking the initiative that they did in asking for a cease-fire. Surely today's development that, as far as we hear, Mr. Tshombe is moving towards a meeting with Mr. Adoula, is sufficient proof itself that the Government were right to concentrate on their request for a cease-fire on this matter.