HC Deb 21 July 1964 vol 699 cc252-3
8. Mrs. Hart

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and the Colonies if he is aware that there is a lack of confidence in the political and racial impartiality of the police and security forces in British Guiana; and what steps he is taking to increase public confidence.

Mr. Fisher

I know that the Police have been accused of partiality, but these accusations are quite unjustified. On the contrary, the British Guiana Police have done and are doing a fine job in very difficult circumstances. In recruitment to the Police Force and to the new Special Service Unit care is being taken to ensure that recruits are not drawn predominantly from any one racial group.

Mrs. Hart

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that his whole Department is being exposed to charges of the gravest arrogance and deliberate unwillingness to see what is happening in British Guiana when he gives an Answer like that? Is he aware that many persons have been imprisoned without any charges being made against them, and that at the same time there are people who are not in prison but who are known by the public in British Guiana to have committed many of the outrages? Will he look at the way in which recruitment is carried out so that it is of such a kind that there can be greater confidence by that section in British Guiana which does not have any at the moment?

Mr. Fisher

The racial imbalance is due to the fact that in the past there have been insufficient Indian recruits because they do not particularly like the disciplined way of life and are often not of the right physique. Over the last two years recruitment has been on a strict basis of parity between the two main races. If the hon. Lady talks about increasing public confidence in British Guiana, I think that that might be helped if hon. Members refrained from making quite unjustifiable assertions of this kind in the House of Commons.

Mr. Clark Hutchison

Is my hon. Friend aware that the police and the security forces in British Guiana are behaving excellently and have an admirable record? Will he back them to the limit of his ability and do his best to counteract the misrepresentations from hon. Members opposite?

Mr. Fisher

My hon. Friend is right, and we shall certainly back them to the full.