HC Deb 21 July 1958 vol 592 cc24-30
36. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the latest report from the United Nations Observation Group that they have now obtained full freedom of access to all sections of the Lebanese frontier; and whether, in view of the recent official statement of the United Nations Secretary-General to the Security Council, he is now satisfied that there is no reluctance on the part of the group to report movements across the frontier.

38. Mr. Swingler

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will now publish as a White Paper the reports of the United Nations observers in the Lebanon, including that read to the Security Council of the United Nations by the Secretary General on 16th July.

42. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will consider publishing a White Paper on the events which led to military intervention in the Middle East.

46. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will instruct the representative at the United Nations to propose the immediate establishment of a United Nations Emergency Force to replace the United States and British Forces in the Lebanon and Jordan.

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

The United States representative on the Security Council has introduced a resolution which recalls the Security Council Resolution of 11th June and puts forward certain proposals designed to carry that resolution into full effect. Her Majesty's Government fully support this proposal by the United States Government. With regard to Jordan, Her Majesty's Government have reported their action to the Security Council and the matter is under discussion in the Council. Her Majesty's Government will, of course, comply with any valid decision of the Council, but I cannot forecast what action the Council may think fit to take.

With regard to the proposal of the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Swingler) for a White Paper containing the reports of United Nations Observers in the Lebanon, all the documents concerned have already been published and are available in the Library of the House.

Nor do I think a White Paper as suggested by the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) is necessary at this time. It is hardly for Her Majesty's Government to issue a White Paper on the subject of United States assistance to the Lebanon and the events which led up to the landing of British Forces in Jordan have already been described in detail by the Prime Minister. Nor am I prepared to add to my right hon. and learned Friend's comments of 16th June on infiltration into the Lebanon.

Mr. Henderson

Why will not the Minister reply to the latter part of my Question; is it the view of the Government that there has been reluctance on the part of the United Nations Observers on the Lebanon-Syrian frontier to report what they have seen? Is it correct, as reported, for example, in The Times last Friday, that aerial photographs showing convoys crossing the Lebanon-Syrian frontier have been suppressed? This is a very serious matter, and we are entitled to know, are we not, whether the Government take the view that this is the case?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

I cannot confirm specific cases, but Press reports appear to confirm what my right hon. and learned friend said last week.

Mr. Swingler

Is not the point, whether Her Majesty's Government accept or challenge the report of the United Nations Observers, that their observation is affective? That is what the Secretary-General reported to the Security Council. Do the Government accept it or, if they challenge it, where is the evidence?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

Part of the evidence lies in the second report of the Observer Group, copies of which have been placed in the Library. This makes it clear that the Group need additional resources, including both men and aircraft, with which to institute border patrols, and that they think some of the aircraft should have night photography capabilities. In view of this, I would have thought it fairly clear that their resources up to now have not been sufficient.

Mr. Younger

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that what his right hon. Friend said the other day raised a question quite different from the facilities available to the United Nations Group? The suggestion there was that Lebanese opinion thought that the United Nations Observer Group was reluctant to report information which it had—that was my right hon. and learned Friend's reference to what was in The Times about aerial photography. This is a very damaging statement to make and as the use of observer corps is a growing technique, is it not absolutely vital that no smear should be made, unless the Government are prepared to substantiate it?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

I agree that it is wrong to make any smears, but it is right that we should point out that when these groups are put into operation they should carry out the task with which they have been charged.

Mr. Gower

Is it not probable that the reluctance is due to the defects of the means at their disposal and the inadequacy of their knowledge? In those circumstances, can my right hon. Friend say what future steps are contemplated to make a much more adequate force available?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

Having received the second report, the Secretary-General is now having conversations to see to what extent he can improve the resources at the disposal of the Observer Group.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Since it was suggested that the Observers were reluctant to report the facts in their knowledge, ought not the Government to produce some evidence about the facts which they are supposed to have suppressed?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

I can only refer the right hon. Gentleman to the Press reports about it.

Mr. Bevan

Are we not entitled to have in the House of Commons a correct and objective statement from the Government, not having to rely on Press reports? If the Press reports are correct, why cannot that be indicated and brought forward as part of the evidence which the Government have in their possession about the failure of the Observer Corps?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

There are two matters. One is whether the Observer Corps itself had the resources to carry out this task, and I think that I have made the Government's position on that clear. The other question is whether the Observer Corps showed a reluctance to report all that it saw. If I remember rightly, my right hon. and learned Friend said last week that there was a general feeling in the Lebanon that there was a reluctance on the part of the Observer Corps to report some of the observations which it had made, and that has been confirmed in various Press reports.

Mr. Gaitskell

If the right hon. Gentleman is relying on Press reports, will he also take serious note of the many Press reports that the predominant cause of the trouble in the Lebanon was internal and not external?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

It is important in all these affairs to decide which are correct reports and which are incorrect reports.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Does not the Minister agree that there are many obscure matters which could be cleared up by a White Paper? For example, can he tell us whether we are still pledged to go to the help of Iraq in the event of an armed attack from Jordan? Are we not bound by the Bagdad Pact?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

That has no relevance to the Question.

Mr. A. Henderson

On a point of order. In view of the serious aspersions which have been elevelled against the United Nations and its officials, based simply on Press reports, I beg to give notice that I will raise the matter on the Adjournment.

37. Mr. Swingler

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what contact Her Majesty's diplomatic representatives in Bagdad have had with the authorities there; and what assurances have been received about the security of British citizens in Iraq.

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

It is now confirmed that Her Majesty's Ambassador in Bagdad has been in touch on more than one occasion with the authorities in control there. He has been given categorical assurances (which have been repeated) that the personal safety and property of British subjects and others for whom Her Majesty's Government are responsible would be safeguarded.

Mr. Swingler

Having received those assurances, which is a satisfactory development, will the Government now give an assurance that they will not intervene in the internal affairs of Iraq?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

The Prime Minister has made our position perfectly clear. We have no intention of interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq.

43. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the advice he has given to British subjects in Iraq, the Lebanon, and Jordan.

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

In Iraq Her Majesty's Ambassador, in the initial stages of the revolt, advised the British community to stay at home. This advice appears to have been followed and no reports have been received of casualties to the British community other than those in the attack on Her Majesty's Embassy.

In the Lebanon, Her Majesty's Ambassador has, as my right hon. and gallant Friend informed the House on 7th July, suggested to the British community, in view of the uncertain situation, and since the present situation makes it unlikely that the community will be able to avail themselves of the normal hot season amenities, that it would be sensible to send wives and children away from the country if they want to go.

In Jordan, Her Majesty's Representative is in close touch with the small British community and has reported that the situation in Amman is quiet.

Mr. Hughes

Is it the view of Her Majesty's Government that people in Iraq are now quite safe, and can he assure us, since the main thought in all this business has been to protect the lives of British subjects, that any person who loses property in any of these countries as a result of Her Majesty's Government's intervention will be treated more generously than the people who lost their money in Egypt?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

The only damage to British property which has been suffered and the only loss of British lives occurred during the Iraq coup at the beginning of the week, before Her Majesty's Government had taken any action at all.

45. Mr. Beswick

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in view of the new situation created in the Middle East, if Her Majesty's Government will now reconsider its attitude to proposals put forward by the International Co-operative Alliance to the United Nations Organisation for an international co-operative organisation for the development of the oil resources in the Middle Fast area as a whole.

Mr. Ian Harvey

There appears to be nothing in the present situation which suggests that the proposals made to the United Nations by the International Co-operative Alliance would be considered any more practical than they were previously.

Mr. Beswick

Can the Joint Under-Secretary look back at affairs in the Middle East over the past ten or eleven years, when this proposal was first put forward, and declare himself quite confident that the Western hold on Middle Eastern oil will be retained for another ten years on the present basis? Will he have regard to the fact that when we put forward a proposal for a Canal users' co-operative it was rejected with contempt and that we can put forward views of this kind now with both honour and long-term advantage?

Mr. Harvey

The hon. Member is asking me to undertake a very lengthy task, and I do not wish to make any prophecies at this stage.