HC Deb 19 December 1962 vol 669 cc1248-9
7. Mr. F. M. Bennett

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether, in view of the new policy towards Katanga now proposed at the United Nations for more stringent measures for integration, including sanctions, Her Majesty's Government will now propose at the United Nations the settling of the Congolese problem on the same basis of self-determination of the constituent parts as that adopted in the case of the Central African Federation.

Mr. Godber

No, Sir, Her Majesty's Government have consistently supported the United Nations Plan for National Reconciliation in the Congo, which was accepted by both M. Adoula and M. Tshombe. This Plan provides for a federal system of government for the Congo. The Congo attained independence as one country, and Her Majesty's Government in common with other Governments recognise the Central Government as that of the country as a whole. The principle of the unity of the Congo has been upheld in a number of United Nations resolutions.

Mr. Bennett

That is a very interesting historical analysis, but is my hon. Friend aware that, while it may be perfectly arguable that economic considerations applying to a whole area outweigh the political aspirations of one section of the people living there, it is not very difficult for my hon. Friend or anyone else to justify precisely the opposite when considering conditions in two separate but adjoining territories?

Mr. Godber

No, Sir; I think that the conditions are very different. I understand my hon. Friend's point of view in this matter, but the Congo has been under one Government for a very long period of years. The situation as regards the Federation, to which he refers, is entirely different, and there has been only a very short time during which a federal association has been considered there. There is really nothing comparable in the two cases.

Mr. Wade

Is it not most important that the policy of Her Majesty's Government should be clear and unequivocal? If Britain does not support the United Nations, would it not be wise to say so, but if Britain does, is not the proper course to give the Secretary-General wholehearted backing in this operation?

Mr. Godber

As was made clear by my hon. Friend in the House only the other day, we have supported and do support the Plan for National Reconciliation in the Congo. That has been made abundantly clear.

Mr. H. Wilson

I welcome the hon. Gentleman's acceptance of the unity of the Congo, but is it not a fact that the Secretary-General's plan, which has the support of most of our allies and most members of the Commonwealth, is being frustrated, if not actually sabotaged, by the attitude of Her Majesty's Government? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that it is felt in many parts of the world and by many of us in the House that the motives behind the Government's attitude in this matter come from pressures both from Sir Roy Welensky and from some other undesirable financial interests in the Congo?

Mr. Godber

I do not accept that for a moment. As I have said, Her Majesty's Government have accepted the plan and we support it. That is the basis of our position in relation to the Congo. The other questions in relation to the courses of action proposed are quite another matter. Her Majesty's Government have made their position perfectly clear.

Mr. F. M. Bennett

Does my right hon. Friend realise how interested we, or at least some of us, on this side of the House are to hear all this vindictive talk against the right of self-determination from the Liberal Panty and the Labour Party which are very fond of preaching it everywhere else in the world except, apparently, where it appears that any defence of British interests may be at stake?