HC Deb 07 November 1961 vol 648 cc796-7
Q3. Mr. Warbey

asked the Prime Minister what steps he took to secure adequate publicity for his message to Mr. Nehru of 28th September affirming that the British Government had given no support at any time to allegations of inhumane conduct by Indian troops in the Congo.

The Prime Minister

I authorised an announcement on 28th September about a message that I had sent to Mr. Nehru. The arrangements for issuing the announcement were those normal for announcements of that kind.

Mr. Warbey

Is the Prime Minister aware that these malicious reports about the activities of Indian troops in Katanga were given wide currency at the time on the B.B.C. and in the British Press? Is he further aware that the reports were put forward by hon. Members in this House and noble Lords in another place? Will the right hon. Gentleman now emphatically dissociate the Government from the outrageous campaign carried on with the support of his own back benchers?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. The Government of this country, like the Government of India, under our free system, are not responsible for the newspapers or statements made by individuals. I was very glad that the Indian Ministry of External Affairs stated on 26th September that the Government of India welcomed the reiteration of British policy in the Congo in support of a united and independent Congo. I also issued round about the same time the statement to which the hon. Gentleman has called attention. In our free societies, that is all that falls to Prime Ministers to do. I issued a statement expressing the views of the Government. Mr. Nehru issued a statement about the same time expressing the views of his Government. I think that that was a very happy solution of the difficulty at the time.