HC Deb 20 March 1963 vol 674 cc377-8
28. Mr. G. M. Thomson

asked the Lord Privy Seal on what date Her Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires in Togo telephoned his official report on the assassination of the President of Togo; at what time it was sent; at what time it was first received in the Commonwealth Relations Office in London; and at what time it reached the Foreign Office.

Mr. Godber

The President was assassinated at approximately 7.25 a.m. on Sunday, 13th January. Her Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires telephoned his report to the High Commissioner in Accra at 9 a.m. After being encyphered the message was despatched at 10.45 a.m. It was received in the Commonwealth Relations Office at 12 noon and communicated to the Foreign Office after de-cyphering at 12.20.

Mr. Thomson

While thanking the hon. Gentleman for that reply, may I ask whether this rather cumbersome communications system does not illustrate the difficulties in Africa where there are Commonwealth countries and independent foreign countries in relation to the Foreign Office? What steps are the Government taking to co-ordinate the communications system between foreign countries in Africa, Commonwealth countries and Colonial Territories?

Mr. Godber

I thought that it was a pretty good record on communications. I am only sorry that we had to get the High Commissioner out of bed early on Sunday morning, but it operated successfully in this case. Communications in Togo had been closed down and therefore this was a very good piece of work on the part of our representative.

Mr. F. Noel-Baker

If this news was in all the newspapers, why did it have to be sent in cipher?

Mr. Godber

Certainly it was not in all the newspapers al; that time.