HC Deb 15 June 1964 vol 696 cc912-3
12. Mr. P. Noel-Baker

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what reply Her Majesty's Government have sent to the request of the Government of the Congo for assistance in the supply of transport for the Congolese National Army.

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Peter Thomas)

In response to an appeal made by the Commander-in-Chief of the Congolese Army, General Mobutu, during his recent visit to the United Kingdom, and in support of the Congolese Government, Her Majesty's Government have agreed to provide spare parts to enable Congolese Army vehicles of British manufacture to be put back into service, and to supply three or four Landrovers and two or three river launches required in the maintenance of internal security. The estimated cost of this equipment will be about £30,000. Parliament will in due course be asked to vote the necessary amount by means of a Supplementary Estimate. In the meantime, an advance will be obtained from the Civil Contingencies Fund as required.

Mr. Noel-Baker

I thank the Minister of State for that reply. Will he consider that the British Commonwealth has great interests in the maintenance of peace and order in the Congo? Are Her Majesty's Government considering any special measures to help the Government of the Congo to maintain their armed forces in good order after the United Nations forces are withdrawn at the end of the month?

Mr. Thomas

The Congolese Army is assisted by an international training programme. In November, 1963, Her Majesty's Government made available a grant of 2 million dollars as a contribution to international aid to the Congo, and we have also agreed to contribute a further ½ million dollars towards the cost of United Nations civilian operations continuing in the Congo during 1964.

Mr. P. Williams

Are the contributions in dollars or £s sterling? Do we have to pay across the exchange?

Mr. Thomas

I cannot say that without notice. I appreciate that one should talk in terms of £s as much as possible, but those were the figures I was given.