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Disturbances (Information)

Volume 529: debated on Monday 5 July 1954

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23.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what information he received from the Government of Guatemala prior to the recent disturbances, indicating the danger of armed attack and the details of the bombing of open towns and villages with consequent danger to British subjects; and whether he will publish the whole of the correspondence as a White Paper.

Last January, Her Majesty's Legation at Guatemala City received a copy of a statement which the Guatemalan Government had issued to the Press about the plans of Guatemalan exiles. No other communication received before the disturbances began indicated the danger of armed attack.

As I have already said, I am issuing a White Paper on this subject.

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman mean that he received, during the disturbances, cables stating exactly what was happening and what risks were being undergone by British subjects in the territory? Is he aware that it is important that the fullest information should be made available, so that we should know whether this was an old type of civil war of insurrection, or whether it was the iron heel in action?

I certainly think the hon. Gentleman's request is very reasonable, and I will seek to give the fullest possible information in the White Paper.

When the right hon. and learned Gentleman talks of getting the facts from the Fact-Finding Committee, is it not a fact that now that the aggression has paid, the Fact-Finding Committee is to be wound up?

I have never limited myself to saying that we only seek to get the facts from the Fact-Finding Committee. In answer to an earlier question, I said that we had no power to insist upon that, but we will certainly do all we can to see that the full facts are found.

I understood the Minister to say that Her Majesty's Government did not intend that the outcome of this revolution should prevent the Security Council from inquiring into this question whether there had been an act of aggression. How can they do that if there is no report of the facts received by them? Are we to understand now from the Minister that the Fact-Finding Committee has been wound up and that there is no independent body making any investigation into the facts in Guatemala?

I think the right hon. Gentleman has misunderstood me. All I was saying, in answer to the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot), was that Her Majesty's Government were not limiting their sources of information to anything that might be discovered by the Fact-Finding Committee. To my knowledge the Fact-Finding Committee has not been wound up, but has simply returned from Mexico City to Washington.