Brain-Washing Techniques

Oral Answers to Questions — Civil Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th March 1960.

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Photo of Mr John Cronin Mr John Cronin , Loughborough 12:00 am, 17th March 1960

asked the Prime Minister what use has been made by any Government Department, during the last twenty years, of the psychological technique of inducing in prisoners disintegration of personality followed by emotional attachment to an interrogator, the process commonly known as brain-washing, for the purpose of obtaining confessions from prisoners or influencing their future conduct.

Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn

asked the Prime Minister to what extent techniques of brain-washing have been developed by the security organisations of Her Majesty's Government; and in what circumstances they have been employed.

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

The techniques to which these Questions refer have never been used by any organisation responsible to Her Majesty's Government.

Photo of Mr John Cronin Mr John Cronin , Loughborough

Is the Prime Minister aware that his Answer will give widespread satisfaction, but is it not unfortunate that an earlier statement was not made completely dissociating ourselves from these abominable practices when the matter first received publicity?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

I understood that a statement on the subject was made. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for war was questioned on the subject and made the position clear as far as he was concerned. At any rate, I am grateful to the hon. Member for putting down the Question so that I can make it clear on behalf of the Government of this country, of whatever party, and of the whole people, that we have not, never did and never would indulge in practices of this kind.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

While recognising that such an assurance will be accepted with great satisfaction, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to bear in mind that there are people in this country who will receive his statement with some surprise, having regard to their own experiences during the war? Does he not think it desirable to set up some proper commission or committee of inquiry to see whether the statement which he has made is in accordance with the facts?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

I could not undertake to set up a committee of inquiry to find out whether what I have just said is true.

Photo of Mr John Hynd Mr John Hynd , Sheffield, Attercliffe

Does the Prime Minister say that he repudiates everything that was said by the gentleman who raised this issue, that that gentleman had no authority to say these things, had no experience—

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

Order. The Prime Minister cannot be asked to comment on the speech of some unofficial person.