HC Deb 12 December 1961 vol 651 cc219-20
Mr. Mendelson

(by Private Notice) asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he has now received official confirmation of the impending release from detention of the thre British soldiers detained in Iraq; and whether he will make a statement.

The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Edward Heath)

Yes, Sir. Her Majesty's Embassy was officially informed at noon today, Baghdad time, that the three soldiers and the two Turriff Burden employees, who were arrested in September, would be released and delivered to the Embassy soon. We expect to hear more very shortly, but we still have no definite date for their release.

Mr. Mendelson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this news will bring great relief to the families of all the people concerned and to many people all over the country who have been following their fate with keen interest and some anxiety? Will he give the House an assurance that as soon as these men are released they will immediately he flown home to their families, so that they can be reunited with them in time for Christmas?

Mr. Heath

I am sure that the whole House will welcome this announcement. I would like to express our gratitude to certain hon. Members who have been most helpful in these matters while these men have been in detention.

The question of the two Turriff Burden employees is a matter for the firm. I am sure that the firm will do everything it can to help these two employees because of the very great assistance it has been giving in the past two months.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War will arrange for the three soldiers to be brought back to this country as soon as they are released and I understand that they will receive a period of leave which, we hope, means that they will be home for Christmas.

Mr. Jeger

Will the Lord Privy Seal give an assurance that he will co-operate fully with the private firm for which the two civilians worked, to ensure that they can return to their families speedily?

Mr. Heath

Yes, Sir. We will give them every assistance that we can.