HC Deb 19 December 1960 vol 632 cc877-8
31. Mr. Stonehouse

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will now state when he intends to release the Bahraini prisoners now detained on St. Helena.

Mr. Heath

The Ruler of Bahrain has reviewed this matter at the request of my noble Friend and, after consideration, has asked that the prisoners be returned to his custody in Bahrain. Arrangements for this are now being considered.

Mr. Stonehouse

Is it not outrageous that, having been kept in detention for so long, these men should be returned to the Ruler of Bahrain, who had them convicted on trumped-up charges in a feudal court? Would it not be better to release them and allow them to go to any country they choose?

Mr. Heath

They were sentenced under the Ruler's jurisdiction and detained under an agreement by which, at the Ruler's request, they could be returned to Bahrain. He has now made that request.

Mr. W. Yates

If the prisoners ask for political asylum, what will my right hon. Friend answer?

Mr. Heath

There can be no question of political asylum for the men who are detained.

Mr. Healey

Is it not the case that these men are now under the sovereignty of Her Majesty's Government, and that the Government are now in a position to accede, if they so desire, to any request they may make? Can the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that if these men request political asylum he will, in consonance with long British tradition, consider their request very sympathetically?

Mr. Speaker

Order. The latter part of that supplementary question is out of order, because it is hypothetical.

Mr. Heath

These men were detained because of their sentences under the Ruler's jurisdiction. When they were taken to St. Helena it was by an arrangement that, at his request, they would be returned to him.

Sir G. Nicholson

Can my right hon. Friend say anything about the conditions in which these men will be detained or imprisoned in Bahrain?

Mr. Heath

The conditions in Bahrain were recently examined by Her Majesty's Judge of the Chief Court in the Persian Gulf. He has assured us that the conditions there are good.

Mr. Stonehouse

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether, when these men are being returned to Bahrain, they will have sufficient time in which to consider their position? Will he make a further statement to the House about this before the Recess?

Mr. Heath

I shall have nothing further to say to the House before we rise for the Recess.

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