§ 5.45 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Duncan Sandys)
I beg to move:That this House approves the policy set out in the White Paper on the Accession of Aden to the Federation of South Arabia (Command Paper No. 1814).In their letter of 16th August, in page 5 of the White Paper, the Ministers of the Federation and of Aden stated that they were… convinced that the ending of the unnatural division between them, which is due to the accident of history, would be in the true interests of all who live in this area, and would contribute greatly to their prosperity and safety.I have no doubt at all about that.
The area of Aden Colony is about half the size of the Isle of Wight. Its population is about 200,000, of which over one-third consists of migrant workers who come and go. Aden is now enjoying considerable prosperity, but this is not, I believe, very firmly based. Aden's old entrepôt trade is declining, and its economy is now largely dependent upon oil. Two-thirds of the working population are employed directly or indirectly by the oil refinery, on the oil bunkering installations or on work for the British Forces. It is therefore difficult to see how Aden could hope on its own to become politically independent and remain in the long-term, economically viable.
As the House will see, the proposals in the White Paper are embodied in three main documents. The first document is the draft Treaty, which provides for the accession of Aden to the Federation, the second deals with the Federal Constitution, and the third with the scheme for constitutional advance in Aden. If the House approves this Motion, we shall conclude a Treaty with the Federation on the lines of the draft in the White Paper. Most of the Treaty is, I believe, self-explanatory, but I should like to say a word about one or two of its Articles.
Much thought was given as to whether Aden should have the right to secede from the Federation, a right which is not enjoyed by the existing member States. In view of the commercial importance of Aden and of the dislocation which its 246 withdrawal would cause, it would be undesirable to leave its relationship to the Federation in a permanent state of uncertainty. On the other hand, we felt that some arrangement should be made for separating Aden from the Federation if it were found that the merger could not be made to work fairly.
Article 10 in the draft Treaty accordingly provides for a trial period of about six years. If, after that, the Legislature of Aden complains that its legitimate interests are being unfairly prejudiced by the Federation, the matter can be referred to the British Government, which may ask the Federal Government to redress the grievance. Failing that, we can withdraw Aden altogether from the Federation. Apart from this provision in the Treaty, the British Government will have a separate opportunity to review the working of the arrangement when the time comes to grant independence to the Federation. We feel that these safeguards, taken together, strike a reasonable balance between indissoluble union and over-easy divorce.
Those who criticise the merger plan sometimes suggest that the inhabitants of Aden are being handed over to the arbitrary rule of mediaeval potentates. As regards the individuals concerned, I think that anyone who, like myself, has mot the Ministers of the Federation will know that they are every bit as enlightened as the political leaders in Aden Colony.
Those functions which can most efficiently be administered by the central authority will be entrusted to the Federal Government, but by reason of our treaty rights and by reason of the Budgetary support which we give to the Federation the British Government will continue to exercise a considerable influence over the whole field of administration.
Since much interest has centred on labour matters in Aden, the House will, I think, be glad to see that this is one of the important functions which will remain wholly under the control of the Aden State, but, apart from the reservation to Aden of specific functions, a number of valuable safeguards have also been provided. A Code of Human Rights has been embodied in the new Aden Constitution, and any Federal law or State law which contravenes this Code of Human Rights will be invalid.
247 The present judicial system of the Colony is specifically retained together with the right of appeal to the Privy Council. With regard to personal liberty, the control of the police is, of course, of cardinal importance. That is why the Governor, who will be re-styled High Commissioner, will retain overriding authority in all matters concerning internal security in Aden, including the control of the security forces.
Much has been said about the interests of the people of Aden Colony, but I think that surprisingly little attention has been paid to the interests of the people of the Federation. Although one is a Colony and the other a Protectorate, we consider that we have the same duty towards their inhabitants. The proposed merger will, I am sure, benefit the Federation as much as it will benefit Aden.
The separation of the Federation from its natural port and commercial centre has been an obvious disadvantage, and the merger will bring economic benefits to both. Not only will it create a free trade area embracing Aden and the Federation, but it will also abolish the present Customs barriers between individual Federal States which have hindered commerce and economic development.
The Federation, whose population is more than twice as great as that of Aden, may well be able in time to achieve independence on its own, but with the addition of Aden it will certainly constitute a much more balanced unit and should, as a result, be able sooner to shoulder the responsibilities of separate nationhood.
In statements on colonial policy, it has become fashionable to mention everybody else's interests except our own. Some people seem to think that it is almost improper to suggest that Britain, too, may at times have interests which ought to be safeguarded. Our military base at Aden is a vital stepping stone on the way to Singapore. It is also indispensable for the safety of the States within the Arabian Peninsular whom we are pledged by treaty to defend.
The House will see from their letter in the White Paper that the Federal and Men Ministers specifically recognise that Britain's military presence in Aden is essential, 248for the protection of the inhabitants of the area".With this in mind, Article 9 of the draft Treaty gives us the right to exclude from the Federation, before or after merger, any areas in Aden Colony which, for defence reasons, we may think it desirable to administer separately.
Since we are retaining—I should like to emphasise this—sovereignty over the Whole of Aden Colony, even after its accession to the Federation, and since the Governor will continue to be responsible for the defence of the entire Federation, the administrative separation of the base areas would, in practice, make little difference. I do not know whether we shall wish to exercise this right, but it is, perhaps, a wise precaution to possess it.
The proposals in the White Paper for political advance in Aden, as the House will see, follow the usual pattern of constitutional development in our Colonial Territories. With the exception of the Attorney-General, all the official members of the Legislative Council and of the Executive Council will be replaced by elected members. A Chief Minister will be appointed and the Governor, except in respect of his reserve powers, will act on the advice of Ministers responsible to the Legislature.
I should, perhaps, explain that these new constitutional proposals do not deal with the franchise, since this is a matter which is already within the competence of the existing Legislature. All parties are agreed that the next election should be held on a revised franchise, but they are very much divided on what changes need to be made. It would be quite impossible for these differences to be resolved and new legislation to be passed by the Legislative Council before its present term runs out in two months' time. That is why it was necessary to extend the term of the Legislative Council for another twelve months.
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)
This is an extraordinary argument. Why should not the next Legislative Council also consider these proposals?
§ Mr. Sandys
I said a moment ago that all the parties were agreed that the present franchise was unsatisfactory and 249 that the next election ought to be held under a new franchise, but there are, as the hon. Gentleman knows, very considerable differences as Ito what principle should be adopted in regard to the amendments to be made. The controversy centres on the question of nationality and residential qualifications.
The Legislative Council in Aden, as the House knows, has passed a Motion, in the same way as we are doing at this moment, approving the White Paper proposals. The Opposition group likewise favour the idea of a merger, in fact their amendment to the Government Motion opened with these words:While wholeheartedly endorsing the principle of unity between Aden and the Federation.These were the opening words of the amendment to the Government's Motion approving the White Paper in the Aden Legislature. The main difference between the two groups is that the Opposition group would like to hold elections first, after which they believe that they would be able to negotiate more favourable terms with the Federation. As we know here, in another context, it is not altogether unusual for a party in opposition to believe that they could negotiate better.
There is a third political group, the People's Socialist Party, which is based on the Aden T.U.C. It is not at present represented in the Legislative Council because the T.U.C. boycotted the last general election. But we really cannot accept the principle that by boycotting an election a party thereby acquires the right to question the validity of the decisions which may subsequently be taken by the Legislature. In any case, the policy of this party is perfectly well known. In a recent statement, it declared unequivocally that it was not opposed to the accession of Aden to the Federation. In fact, it said:Aden has to accede and should accede.But that party, of course, wants to go very much further. It demands that Aden and the Federation should not only be united with one another but should together be incorporated in the Yemen, which claims the whole of South Arabia as part of its territory.
250 It will be seen, therefore, that while all three groups favour a wider association, they differ on two main points: the first relates to the question of whether fresh elections should be held before a decision is taken and the second is whether Aden should be incorporated in the Yemen. I should like to examine frankly with the House the advantages and disadvantages of holding elections before the merger because that is the main issue in the Opposition's Amendment.
If the present Government group won the election in Aden and if the Federal Government kept open their offer, then merger would, presumably, take place on the terms set out in the White Paper. Alternatively, the election might produce a majority for the opposition group in the present Legislature. As I have explained, that group, too, is committed to a policy of merger, though it seems to believe that it could secure more favourable terms. In my opinion, it is most unlikely that the Federal Government, which have already made important concessions, would be willing to reopen these difficult negotiations. In the delay and confusion which would result the opportunity for merger on any terms might well be lost.
The third possibility is that the election might be won by the People's Socialist Party, a substantial proportion of whose members are temporary immigrants from the Yemen. As I explained, this party is asking that both Aden and the Federation should be incorporated in the Yemen. The Federation would, I am sure, have nothing to gain and much to lose by joining the Yemen, not to mention the fact that many of the tribes on either side of the border have been fighting each other for years. There is no doubt that any suggestion of union with the Yemen would be totally unacceptable to the overwhelming mass of the population of the Federation.
Those who object to joining the Federation on the ground that it is not sufficiently democratic cannot, I think, seriously be attracted by the prospect of joining the Yemen. No one can have anything to say in favour of the rule of the old Imams, but neither does the 251 behaviour of the new military leaders and their Egyptian allies encourage much hope that under their rule the Yemen would be either democratic or independent. I cannot, therefore, believe that any substantial section of opinion in Aden can genuinely want union with the Yemen under present conditions. One must regard this cry as no more than an emotional expression of Arab nationalism by people who know that there is no risk of Britain agreeing to their demand.
Quite apart from the general political objections to the holding of immediate elections, I regret to have to tell the House that organised political intimidation, which has for long existed in Aden, has increased to a point where it would be quite impossible to secure a free and fearless expression of opinion at the polls. Before the recent debate in the Aden Legislature on the White Paper proposals, Aden Ministers and Members were threatened with death and their children with kidnapping if they voted for the White Paper.
Outside the Legislature many who were known to support the merger have been forced by intimidation to hoist the Yemeni flag over their shops or dwellings. I am sure that the whole House will utterly condemn these despicable methods and will share my admiration for the courage and steadfastness with which Aden Ministers and Members of Parliament have ignored threats and have stuck to their opinions. I hope that they will be able to continue to resist the pressures that are still being put upon them. Intimidation makes a complete mockery of democracy and I am sure that the House will agree that it cannot and must not be tolerated.
With the help of the Governor, Aden Ministers and officials, I intend to do all in my power to stamp out this vile practice between now and the elections in a year's time. I trust that the House will give me its support in any measures which may be necessary to enable the people of Aden to express their opinions openly and without fear.
I wish to thank all those who are serving the Government in Aden for the devotion with which they are carrying out their duties in extremely difficult 252 circumstances. Their services are highly valued and will continue to be needed as much as ever after Aden's accession to the Federation. So far as I know, the party opposite recognises the desirability, at any rate in principle, of a union between Aden and the Federation, but considers that elections should first be held to make sure that this is what the people of Aden really want.
Naturally, I entirely understand the attitude of hon. Members opposite. When I became responsible for the affairs of Aden a few months ago, my inclination was to put the issue to the people by means of an election. That was the obvious and the easy course and, apart from any constitutional considerations, it was crystal clear that any other course was certain to involve me personally in a lot of trouble and criticism. But I must say that the more I studied the problem, the more I became convinced that the British Government could not escape responsibility for this important decision and that in view of the present internal situation in the Colony it would not be fair or possible to shift that responsibility on to the shoulders of the electors. If elections were held now they would be held under a franchise which all regard as unsatisfactory. Moreover, the prevalent practice of intimidation would prevent a free expression of opinion, and in consequence invalidate the result. We could, of course, postpone the merger until elections could be held under more satisfactory conditions, but in the present unsettled situation, it is I think unlikely that the Federal Government would feel able to maintain their offer for any appreciable time.
§ Mr. William Yates (The Wrekin)
This is a very important point. In view of the fact that a new Government of the Yemen is hardly established and, presumably, according to the Foreign Office, we want to establish good relations with them, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he does not think that these elections should be postponed to see whether we cannot get on better terms with the Yemen?
§ Mr. Sandys
We are talking about elections in Aden. We are concerned with our own affairs and not with the affairs of the Yemen. I do not think that the House or anybody in the country 253 would want to have the timing of elections in a British Colony determined by what is going on in a civil war, a revolution, in some other country. Perhaps my hon. Friend will have an opportunity to explain his point later in the debate.
I do not believe that if we were to postpone the merger by waiting for elections the Federal Government would be willing to reopen these difficult negotiations with any new Aden Government. Therefore, by postponing a decision now, Aden would stand to gain nothing. It would merely risk losing altogether the opportunity for union with the Federation which I believe most of its people truly desire.
In any case, this constitutional controversy—and here perhaps I am more in harmony with my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mr. W. Yates)—has been completely overshadowed by recent events in the Yemen. Over Sana Radio last week Brigadier Sallal called upon the people of Aden to prepare for "revolution" against the British. He added that Egypt and the Soviet Union were ready to help if needed. This serious new development has widened the whole issue and has lent added urgency to our decision.
The main issue is no longer whether or not there should be elections before merger. The central issue now is whether Aden and the Federation should, by union with one another, be strengthened and consolidated in the face of open incitement to rebellion. The alternative is to yield to intimidation from within and without and to postpone the merger, which we know to be right, and thereby dispirit and discourage all who believe in ordered progress in partnership with Britain. That is a course which we are not prepared to take.
I sincerely believe that the plan proposed in the White Paper is the one best suited to the internal and external problems which confront the peoples of this area. It effectively protects the legitimate interests of all concerned and, by uniting Aden and the Federation, it offers them together a prospect of political and economic progress which neither could hope to achieve alone.
§ 6.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)
I beg to move, to leave out from "House", to the end of the Question and add instead thereof:regrets the decision of Her Majesty's Government to compel Aden Colony to accede to the Federation of South Arabia without first obtaining the consent of the colony's inhabitantsThe Secretary of State opened his defence of the Government's decision as mild as milk. I must confess that as he got deeper into it, and particularly in his concluding passages, we were treated to the extraordinary spectacle of seeing a dinosaur, living and breathing, before our eyes. I cannot believe that a British Secretary of State, in 1962, can be so insensitive to the forces now sweeping the world, and above all the British Commonwealth, as the right hon. Gentleman appeared to be in his closing passages.
As the right hon. Gentleman said, all of us in the House and all the inhabitants of Aden Colony recognise that there is a strong case for joining Aden before independence to the territory in the hinterland behind it, however we define that, whether it is the Federation alone or the Yemen as well.
It would be extremely difficult for a Colony of about a quarter of a million inhabitants to survive on its own, though, frankly, not very much more difficult than for Trinidad with 100,000 more inhabitants to survive on its own. But it is clearly desirable, in principle, that when this part of the world achieves independence it should achieve it as a single State and that what the Aden Ministers in their letter to the Secretary of State describe as the one people inhabiting Aden and the Federation should have one society and one State din which to express their identity.
But, as we know to our cost, from our own experience in other parts of the Commonwealth, if we are discussing the union of peoples and States everything depends on how and when we do it. This, after all, is the whole issue of debate between my hon. and right hon. Friends on this side and those on the Government benches opposite on negotiations for Britain's accession to the European Economic Community. I do not think that the Secretary of State would deny 255 that the success of any union of peoples, whether it is federal or unitary, depends, above all, on the freely given consent of all concerned.
We learned this to our cost when the Caribbean Federation broke up earlier this year, despite the many economic advantages which many of us had seen in it and many of us still see in such a link between the territories concerned. We are learning it at even greater expense to ourselves and those concerned in the break-up of the Central African Federation which all of us know, whether we applaud or deplore the fact, is bound to come some time in the next twelve months. Unless the people concerned freely give their political consent to this type of union, all the potential economic advantages which might flow from it are bound to be swept away in violence and anarchy. We have learned it in the Caribbean and are learning it in Central Africa, and we also know that it is true of our relations with continental Western Europe.
Her Majesty's Government refused to consult the people of Aden Colony on their views about the Federation, and in refusing to have an election before this decision was taken I suppose they are in a sense following the same line of argument as in refusing to let the British people express their views on our own relations with the Common Market before the Government take their decision. But however similar these two issues may appear to be on the face of it, there are tremendously important differences in practice.
In the first place, the Government are not proposing, or at least I hope not, as far as the United Kingdom is concerned to postpone the elections due by October, 1964, until October, 1965, if they have not already concluded their negotiations with the European Economic Community. But that is what they are proposing for Aden. Under the existing Aden Constitution, elections are due next January. There was no question but that they would be held next January until, in the summer of this year, this new proposal for federation came forward.
Now the Government are trying to "cook up" all sorts of arguments which 256 they never used at all in the earlier half of this year to explain—certainly not to justify—their decision not to hold elections when they are normally due, but to hold them a year later, nine months after Aden Colony has been compelled to join the proposed new Federation. In the meantime, the existing members of the Aden Colony Legislative Council will co-opt four new members without consultation with the public, and new changes in the franchise will be made, though we have not the slightest idea what they will be.
It was interesting, and, I think, rather depressing that, although the Secretary of State made much of this point—we all know that the existing franchise is most unsatisfactory—he gave no hint of what changes in the franchise the Government or the Aden Legislative Council propose to introduce before the elections are held in January, 1964.
It is very important to note that, once Aden Colony has joined the Federation on 1st March next year, if the Government's intentions are carried out, there will be no Chance whatever of changing its relationship with the Protectorates and taking it out of the Federation until six years have passed, and then it will be very difficult indeed, for reasons to which I shall come later. I do not think that anyone can be surprised that even newspapers, which were initially sympathetic to the idea of this Federation, newspapers such as the Economist, should be talking of "fast practice" on the part of the Government in refusing to give the Aden people their natural and constitutional opportunity of expressing their views about it when the date came along in two months' time, that is, in January of next year.
I honestly cannot accept the Secretary of State's argument that we cannot have an election before the franchise is changed and we cannot wait till the franchise is changed before the Federation is set up. If the readiness of the Emirates in the Protectorates to accept union with Aden is so fragile and delicately poised that a delay of three, four or six months would wither their enthusiasm for union with the Colony, then there is not very much ground for believing that this Federation has any reality in it whatever.
There is no doubt at all that, when elections finally are held in Aden Colony 257 —especially if the franchise is then more representative—the views expressed in the election campaign and represented in the following Legislative Council will be a great deal less satisfactory to the rulers of the Sheikdoms and Emirates in the Protectorates than the views which were expressed six months ago by the existing Ministers in the Aden Colony Administration.
The only possible justification which the Secretary of State can have for refusing to hold elections at the normal time, before the Colony is forced to accede to the Federation, is that the existing Legislative Council in some sense represents the people of Aden and is, therefore, fully fitted to take this enormously important decision for them. But what are the facts?
In the first place, the question of federation between the Colony and the Protectorates was not an issue in any way in the election in 1959. Of course, the Government can argue that joining the Common Market was not an issue in the 1959 election in Britain and this does not prevent the Government from taking a decision on a new line of policy without an election. But there is this big difference, that the existing elected Members of the Legislative Council, and still more the Legislative Council as a whole, cannot be regarded as in any way representative of the inhabitants of Aden of whose unity as a people so much is made in the letter from the Ministers to the Secretary of State earlier this year.
The existing elected Members of the Legislative Council received 5,000 votes in a Colony which has 220,000 inhabitants. The only analogy I can dredge out of my memory is Sir Roy Welensky's wonderful total of 10,000 votes in the Federal elections in Central Africa earlier this year. As we all know, the major opposition party in Aden refused to contest the election on the ground that the franchise was so restrictive as to forbid all unskilled workers from taking any part in it. Only 27 per cent. of the population voted. On what grounds can the Secretary of State maintain that persons elected by 5,000 votes in a Colony of 220,000 inhabitants can in any sense be said to speak for those people?
258 Let us look further. On 26th September last, the Legislative Council of Aden did vote on these proposals. As the Secretary of State said, it passed them. But only four of the 12 elected Members of the Council—elected on that tiny majority vote on a very restricted franchise—actually voted for the proposals. The other eight elected Members abstained. This is fantastic. I cannot imagine how the Secretary of State can have the gall to pretend in this situation that in any sense the popular view was expressed by the decision taken by the Legislative Council on 26th September this year.
Since that date, of course, public opinion in the Colony has moved even faster and more unanimously against the Government's proposals. As the Secretary of State pointed out, there has been a revolution in the Yemen. With all respect to him, a very large number of Aden inhabitants who are not themselves Yemeni believe in Arab unity and would like union with the Yemen, and the only thing which has held them back from proposing it in the past has been the knowledge that the régime in the Yemen under the defunct Imam——
§ Mr. Healey
Yes, under the defunct Imam—I am talking now of him, not of his son, who, we are told, is still alive—was notorious even throughout the Arab world as being the most cruel and barbarous of all régimes in the Middle East. And that is saying something. We do not know precisely how the new régime will turn out. I venture no predictions about that at the moment. I only repeat what The Times said in its editorial, that any change in the Yemen was certain to be a change for the better. This was certainly how it was seen by the overwhelming majority of the population of Aden itself.
In this situation, I should have thought that Her Majesty's Government had a wonderful opportunity to win the confidence of the people of Aden in showing some enthusiasm, or, at least, sympathy, for the new régime in the Yemen. Instead of that, a Government who recognised the murderers of Nuri es Said a few hours after his body was being dragged through the streets are still dithering and hesitating on the edge of deciding whether or 259 not to recognise the new régime in the Yemen. Of course, the result is that any lingering sympathy of which the British Government might have disposed in Aden Colony has now disappeared.
A few weeks ago, municipal elections were held in Aden. The only party prepared to contest them in these conditions was the party of Mr. Bayoomi, the leading Aden Minister in favour of the Government's proposals. Mr. Bayoomi's party put up candidates in all 20 of the seats. All the other parties boycotted the elections. The only other people fighting them were a handful of independent candidates without party backing. Not one of Mr. Bayoomi's candidates was elected in that election, which took place only a few weeks ago.
There is not the slightest doubt that the people now in the Legislative Council who are still supporting the Government's proposals are totally unrepresentative of the population of Aden Colony whose fate is now in their hands.
It seems to me that, in face of these obvious facts—the Secretary of State cannot deny any of the facts which I have quoted—there is an overwhelming case to test public opinion in Aden by a vote. Otherwise, we are rushing headlong into a disaster in which British interests, which the Secretary of State was so anxious we should protect—and I agree with him—would be the first to suffer.
The Yemen revolution gave the Secretary of State a wonderful opportunity to withdraw from the extremely untenable position in which he found himself by putting these proposals forward in the first hectic days of assuming his new responsibilities for Colonial as well as Commonwealth affairs. But, with the impeccable sense of timing which the Government so often show nowadays—as in deciding to hold an underground test at the moment when a test ban agreement seems to be in sight for the first time—these were the considerations which the Secretary of State told us this afternoon made him determined to push this proposal through no matter what the opposition on the spot.
The excuse which the Secretary of State gave was that there is a great deal of intimidation going on in Aden Colony. I can believe it, and, like the right hon. 260 Gentleman, I deeply deplore it. But the intimidation of which he complains started after the refusal of elections. Frankly, we have seen this all over the world, above all in British Colonies. If people are refused the right to express their views through the ballot box they are tempted to express their views with the fist, with the petrol bomb or with whatever it may happen to be.
I do not know—very few of us have had the opportunity to visit Aden—precisely how much truth there is in these tales of intimidation. I have no doubt that there is some, but I cannot help remembering that there were exactly the same stories about intimidation distorting the public's view before the elections in Nyasaland. There were stories about a Murder Incorporated. We all know what happened. When the Nyasaland Malawi People's Congress won the election by an overwhelmingly popular vote, the stories of intimidation were immediately dropped, and now Dr. Banda is negotiating with Mr. Butler on equal terms. This will happen with Mr. Al Asnag. All this stuff will be dropped if the moment ever comes that the Aden people are free to express their own views and the British Government find themselves forced to negotiate with people who really represent the local population.
We cannot ignore the fact that there is a great deal of counter-intimidation, too. Most of the newspapers in Aden Colony have been banned. Hundreds of trade unionists have been thrown into jail. My hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) had a telegram yesterday saying that 14 trade unionists had been flogged in jail. I hope that the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies will comment on this report when he replies. I hope that this is not a true story and that this is not what the Secretary of State meant when he said that he would ensure that intimidation stopped.
Incidentally, let me say to the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies how much I appreciate the predicament in which he finds himself. I think that Sir Hugh Foot's position at the United Nations was a bed of roses compared with the hon. Gentleman's tonight.
The final blow is that these Ministers who voted for the Federation earlier this 261 year are now all beginning to resign. Mr. Husseiny has announced his intention to resign today. It is likely that two more Ministers will join him. It is likely that seven of the twelve elected members of the Legislative Council, who were elected under these extremely unrepresentative conditions, will boycott the Legislative Council from now on.
There is no denying—and, frankly, the Secretary of State did not really try to deny it—that opinion in Aden at the moment is overwhelmingly against the right hon. Gentleman's proposals. It is worth looking for a moment at the proposals themselves to see why people in Aden are so strongly opposed to them when all of them recognise in principle the desirability of some constitutional link between Aden and the hinterland. First, there is the provision in the new proposals that the United Kingdom will be free to remove any part of Aden Colony from the Federation at any time that it likes without consultation. This is a quite extraordinary provision to introduce into what the right hon. Gentleman describes as a progressive colonial Constitution in this day and age.
Secondly, there is no chance whatever of the Colony being able to withdraw from the Federation in anything under six years, and even then the conditions under which it can withdraw are so stringently drawn that it is difficult to see it happening. The Legislative Council has to ask for secession by passing a resolution with a two-thirds majority, and, if no agreement is reached after talks between the colony and the Federation, if the British Government are satisfied that the Aden claim of unfair prejudice of its interests is justified and if the Federal Government has not subsequently taken remedial measures, then the British Government may, but not must, agree to winding up the Federation or at least withdrawing Aden Colony from it.
Aden Colony has half the population of the Emirates which are coming into the proposed Saudi-Arabian Federation but is only being offered a quarter of the seats. It is proposed to change the proposals for a quorum in the Federal Council, which is the Parliament of the Federation, from two-thirds to a half so 262 that it could go on working even if the whole of the Aden Colony representatives decided to boycott it.
The revenue of the Aden Colony depends very largely on the excise duties which it gathers as a port. But control of the excise duties is 'transferred from Aden Colony to the Federation as a whole in which the Colony has only a quarter of the representation. Financial arrangements between the Colony and the Federation are left for later agreement between this unrepresentative colonial administration and the emirs in the Federation. There is no doubt that many people otherwise sympathetic to the idea of the union believe that this means that Aden Colony will be compelled permanently to subsidise the backward states of the protectorates.
But outstanding among the reasons why local opinion opposes these proposals is that they mean tying Aden Colony, which is by far the most politically advanced territory in the whole of Arabia, to the reactionary sheikdoms in the Federation. As Mr. Al Asnag said in a good phrase, "People blame us for saying that we do not want to go under the Yemen while there is an Imam there, but this Federation means going under eleven Imams at once". And so it does.
In terms of political status—I will not talk about brutality and cruelty, because I do not believe that there is as much of that in the Emirates as there was under the Imam—these Emirates are among the most backward States in the world. This is very much like the situation in Central Africa. One of the reasons why Africans in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia objected to the Federation was that it meant tying their political advance to the will of the white minority governing Southern Rhodesia. One of the reasons why the inhabitants of Aden Colony object to this Federation is that they believe that their own political advance inevitably will be tied to the readiness of the backward Emirates in the Federation to accept them.
For a generation now we in this House have talked about the need for Britain to deal with peoples and not pashas in the Middle East. Successive British Governments have explained honestly and sincerely to the House the difficulty of dealing with peoples when pashas are in 263 power. Thank goodness, we have a different situation in Aden at the moment. Aden is infinitely more advanced politically than any other part of Arabia. The trade union movement in Aden, which is the backbone of opposition to the Federation and which has now produced its own political party, was described by the British Trades Union Congress and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions as by far the best in the whole Arab world. Yet, Aden is being treated worse than any other part of the proposed Federation in terms of representation in it and of political advancement.
Normally, when a step like this is taken, the British Government take pains to see that political conditions in the backward areas are brought forward to resemble those in forward areas. But there is no hint whatever in the Government's proposals of any constitutional advance in the emirates. Of course, the Secretary of State gave the game away when he said, "We had an awful job jollying them along to agree to go in with Aden." Now he feels that he can put no pressure on them to become more representative, in case they shy away altogether.
The right hon. Gentleman is prepared to push the advanced Arab population of Aden into the Federation, while not doing anything about the fourteen other Emirates the British Protectorates of East and West, which have refused to join the Federation. This he is doing at a time when the whole of the people of the Middle East are in a state of ferment, of which we get new evidence almost every time we look, at a ticker tape or open a newspaper.
What is so tragic about this situation is that just when there is a fundamental shift in the balance of social and political power in the Middle East, Britain finds herself on the wrong side in every country. If Her Majesty's Government are concerned with the welfare of the people of Aden, as they claim they are, they would not be pushing Aden into this ill-starred Federation at this time, but would be first pressing forward towards self-government for Aden Colony and pushing the emirs in the Protectorates towards social and political reform.
264 The Secretary of State gave a hint of the real power which Britain has in the emirates when he said that we will continue to exercise our influence in the Federation as we have done in the past; as he knows, 85 per cent. of the budgets of these anachronistic emirs comes from Britain. We have an overwhelming means of pressure if we choose to exercise it but instead we are submitting the one advanced part of Southern Arabia Into a position of permanent subjection to one of the most backward areas in the world.
Why have the Government, instead of following the normal line of British colonial policy over the last fifteen years, of moving steadily toward self-government in the more advanced areas and towards same form of representative government in the less advanced areas, come forward with this proposal? The reason is that the Secretary of State is quite rightly concerned with British interests. There is nothing wrong about that; indeed, there is everything right about it. It is the job of a British Government, I agree with the right hon. Gentleman, but the trouble with him is that he has not learned any of the lessons of the last fifteen years on how to protect British interests in the Middle East, in the colonial areas and in the Commonwealth.
The right hon. Gentleman talked much about the opposition to the British base in Aden, but this is a comparatively new thing, and what created the opposition to the base, above all, is the feeling among the population of Aden that it is British determination to maintain her present position in the base which is responsible for the lack of political advancement in the Colony. There is not the slightest doubt about this. Opposition to the base was not a real factor until the last year or two, but it has become a hurricane in the last few weeks and months. It could change equally rapidly if the British Government would only meet real and justified demands of the local population. This change came about in Malta, in Cyprus and in Singapore.
Dr. Banda made a very wise remark, which, at first sight, may seem a little comic, when he said the other day, "You cannot expect me to behave like a statesman when I have not got 265 a State". There is a lot of truth in that, and an immensely encouraging lesson in the fact that when a man is given political responsibility, he responds to it. We have seen it again and again while the British Empire has been in the course of its transformation into the Commonwealth, and we have also learned that a military base is worthless, whether in Aden, Cyprus or Suez, without the support of the local population.
For the present Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations to take this step when he himself, as Minister of Defence, almost abolished our Armed Forces and left us in a position in which we could not both defend the base and use it, is quite extraordinary to me. The situation which he has created in Aden at present will tie down British troops for a long time in defending their own base so that they can no longer operate from it.
I should like to ask the Secretary of State a serious question and perhaps the Under-Secretary will answer it when he replies. It is always said that the military function of this base is to protect the Gulf Sheikdoms, to which we have treaty obligations. If this is really the case, why do not the Sheikdoms provide a base themselves and pay for it? It is an extraordinary situation in 1962 that we should feel ourselves under an obligation to spend treasure and men in producing a base in Aden in order to defend the Sheik of Kuwait, the richest man in the world, and the Sheik of Abu Dhobi, who is hoping to become even richer than the Ruler of Kuwait. If these men really want British protection, let them make the concessions necessary to obtain it. There is not the slightest reason why we should ruin ourselves in regard to the whole of the Arab world because of these rulers in the Sheikdoms.
The most extraordinary thing about all this is that this is the policy of the British Government. It is not only the Secretary of State himself who is responsible here, but this is the policy of a Government who are now going round the country and claiming that they welcome change. The wind of change has been blowing even more powerfully in the Middle East than it is blowing in Africa. If the Government cannot bring themselves to identify themselves with 266 the new forces in the Middle East, at least let them recognise their existence. Yet the fact is that we are identifying ourselves with all the most backward and feudal régimes in the whole area—régimes which recognise slavery, and the judicial systems of which are a mockery of human as well as of legal justice.
It seems to me, and I thought that the Secretary of State revealed this in the closing passages of his speech, that in a sense this extraordinary policy of his, which makes such a miserable contrast with British policy in the rest of the Colonial Empire, is really the death agony of the Suez spirit. It seems to me that the Secretary of State has learned nothing and forgotten nothing.
The right hon. Gentleman is a courageous man, and he patted himself on the back for it at the end of his speech. We respect his courage, and we have always respected him in being able to take decisions rather than let things slide. That is what he has done in this case, but what we deplore is the fact that the decisions which he takes are almost invariably wrong and it takes up to ten years for Britain to recover from them. In fact, we are still trying desperately to recover from the decisions which he took when he was Minister of Defence.
The right hon. Gentleman betrayed his real unsuitability for his present responsibilities when he said that he could not believe that the people of Aden really wanted union with the Yemen. He could not believe it. It is this incapacity to understand the real forces at work in the Middle East at present which is at the root of his error on this issue. Once he takes a decision, he is as stiff-necked and insensitive as any Bourbon. I believe that if he persists in this dangerous course, in face of the clear evidence of public feeling, it means exposing the refinery and the base, which are real British interests, to unnecessary and perhaps fatal risks.
It means ranging Britain with all that is most backward and anachronistic in the Middle East, and alienating all the more progressive forces, which certainly, whether we like them or not are the real hope for the future in that great area. It means staining our reputation in the world with a type of colonialism for which there has been no precedent in British policy at any time since 1945.
267 I pray that the Secretary of State will think again about these proposals in the light of this debate. I appeal to all Members present, on both sides of the House, in the hope of influencing the Government's decision, to support the Opposition Amendment.
§ 6.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Neil McLean (Inverness)
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) said at the beginning of his speech that he, and, I understand, his hon. and right hon. Friends with him, agreed in principle that the merger between Aden Colony and the Sultanates was a good thing for the future of those peoples. He went on, however, to spend most of the rest of his speech pointing out how in detail he disagreed with the methods which the Government proposed and the timing for the carrying out of this merger.
§ Mr. Healey
I am sure the hon. Gentleman does not want to misrepresent me. What I said was that it would not be right that Aden should obtain independence without some sort of relationship with the hinterland. I thought I made it absolutely clear that it was wrong to link up with the Protectorates before the existing régimes in the Emirates were reformed.
§ Mr. McLean
I am sorry if I misunderstood the hon. Gentleman. I thought that he and the party opposite were prepared to see some sort of union between the Colony and the other parts of the hinterland and did not wish to put through all the changes which they desire among the Sultanates before that unity was accomplished.
I am not sure whether I shall misrepresent the hon. Gentleman when I accuse him, let us say, of accepting the importance of the Aden base remaining in British hands for a number of years to come in order to ensure stability in the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf. I do not know whether he would agree with that or not.
Another point I would take him up on is this. He said that if those sheiks and Sultanates in the Persian Gulf with which we have treaty relations need to be protected, why should they not let us have bases in their own territory? I do not know what he would imagine the 268 kind of base we should have to have in Abu Dabhi. The truth, I think, is that almost the only suitable base we can have to enable us to honour these obligations is in Aden, and all our treaty obligations depend on the base in Aden, from the communications and strategic points of view.
The hon. Gentleman also said that the trouble in the past had been that the British Government were always prepared to ignore the peoples of the Middle East and thought in terms of the pashas. I do not know whether, when he talks of the advance and progress, he thinks in terms of colonels—such as Colonel Kassim in Iraq, and Colonel Nasser in Egypt, but I am sure that if he follows conditions existing in Iraq today, and the conditions of the people of Iraq, he will find that there are many who, perhaps, although critical of the old-fashioned approach of Nuri es Said and the Hashemites, look back all the same on those days with a certain amount of regret, when they see their country today torn by civil war, with the whole of Kurdistan in revolt, on a larger scale than, perhaps, ever before.
In his speech, the hon. Gentleman did make a lot of points, which I must say I myself, when recently in Aden, have heard people there say they were definitely worried about—the influence, for instance, if this merger took place, of the traditional rulers upon the trades unions in Aden. I believe that this matter is exercising opinion in Aden, but I personally agree with what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said in his speech and in the White Paper, that there are in fact sufficient safeguards there to protect those people and the trades unions in Aden.
It is very difficult for the Government to find the right balance in this merger and in its timing. There are those in the Government in Aden, and in the Governments of the various Sultanates in the Protectorate, who wish for this union to take place now. There are those—and there are many in this House, especially on the benches opposite—who feel it would be wrong, before an election has taken place in Aden to associate the people of Aden with that decision. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds, East gave examples in other parts of the world where federation has been put 269 forward and forced through without the consent of the local people. I believe there is a certain amount of validity in the arguments which have been put forward. At the same time I would ask them, if they wish to have those elections before the merger takes place, would they, for example, insist upon votes for all the immigrant Yemenis working temporarily in Aden? Because, after all, that is where the maximum opposition to the merger comes from. It is the People's Socialist Party where most of its members, whether they have votes, or will not have votes, will lead, and are leading, the campaign against this merger. If there is violence and intimidation and so on, it would probably stem from this party and this organisation. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends would recommend that before this election takes place all these people should be given votes or not, because if they are not given votes they will undoubtedly continue to use intimidation. If they get votes they may win the elections, in which case they will opt for union, I presume, with the Yemen.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson (Dundee, East)
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that about 60,000 of the disfranchised people of Aden come from the Protectorate and are being backed by their fellow citizens of the Yemen? Would he not agree that they ought to be enfranchised?
§ Mr. McLean
I would agree that they ought to be enfranchised, but the question of the franchise will be a bitter and controversial matter, and in the process of working it out and in the election it may well be the question of having the merger will become so confused and that there will be so much harm and prejudice against it that it may never happen.
It strikes me, therefore, that one has to decide whether it is in the long-term interests of the people of Aden and the Protectorate that they should come together in a close union as soon as possible. If that is so, then I believe that the Government are right, and the Governments of Aden Colony and of the Southern Arabian Federation are right, in trying to push it through as quickly as possible, under certain safeguards, which will allow people to express their 270 feeling afterwards, as to whether they are contented or discontented about it.
§ Mr. R. W. Sorensen (Leyton)
Assuming for the moment that the hon. Gentleman is right, that the great majority of the inhabitants of the Colony come from Yemen or the Protectorate, would he agree that many have actually been born in Aden and that the overwhelming majority are against the Government's proposals?
§ Mr. McLean
I would doubt that. I think it difficult to judge these matters. I think the more vociferous element are against it, but the representatives in the Government have taken their stand and, in spite of the intimidation which has been put upon them, I believe they will stick to that decision and go ahead with the merger.
I refer to the remarks of my right hon. Friend and those of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds, East when they said that the whole manner in which a merger may take place, and the climate of opinion in Aden, have been affected by recent events in the Yemen. Whatever may be the merits of the merger, and the timing of the election, I believe these are comparatively insignificant compared with the effect that the establishment of Egyptian military power in the Yemen may have upon events in Aden.
I want for a moment to analyse what has happened in the Yemen; the extent to which the Egyptians have established their power there, or are likely to establish their power, and the effect that this may have upon events in the South Arabian Federation and in Aden. Fairly recently I was in the Yemen, and there I met a wounded Egyptian soldier who had been captured by the Imam's farces. The tribesmen asked him, "Why have you come to the Yemen to fight against your brother Arabs?" The soldier replied, "Colonel Nasser lied to us when he sent us to the Yemen, because he told us that we were coming here to fight the British." Whatever Colonel Nasser may say, his past record of broken promises and pledges leaves one in grave doubt about his intentions in the Yemen and in this part of the world. The announcements and statements over Cairo Radio and from Sana Radio are not reassuring; in fact, they are openly hostile to the British in Aden.
271 It is difficult to judge the degree of Egyptian interference in the Yemen. Estimates of the number of Egyptian soldiers vary from 3,000 to 15,000, and there is much talk about more reinforcements coming from Egypt. When I was in the Yemen—and I was not in the towns and, therefore, did not see the Egyptians, except the captured ones—the nearest figure that I could guess at was about 3,000, but further reinforcements may have come since then or be on the way. The Egyptian aeroplanes, originally said to be based on Aswan, with extra fuel tanks, were bombing and machine-gunning Yemenis who resisted all the Egyptians and Colonal Sallal troops. Since then a new airfield has been constructed at Sana, about 14 kilometres to the north, so that now the Egyptian Air Force has established itself in the Yemen. I flew by Hodeidah, and there I saw three Egyptian warships, although they were not very large, moored in the Bay, just north of Hodeidah. The Egyptians themselves have admitted, over their own radio, that they have had quite heavy casualties among their parachutists, who have been fighting in the eastern part of the Yemen. The Deputy-Prime Minister of the Yemen, Ahmed Sigaghi, whose headquarters in East Yemen I visited, showed me about 35 identity cards of Egyptian parachutists who had been killed, and I was told that the remainder of the company—about 100—had all either been killed or disarmed by the tribesmen and that a further 100 Egyptian parachutists had been surrounded in Sirwa, a town about 60 miles from Sana, and I believe that it has since been captured and the Egyptians there either killed or disarmed.
There is at any rate a considerable degree of Egyptian intervention in the Yemen. The Egyptian planes are bombing the villages and machine-gunning the Yemenis. Their troops are in action, and with armoured cars, tanks and guns, they are pressing their intervention on that country. This has been done under the Treaty of Jeddah, which Colonel Nasser signed with the late Imam. He has used this Treaty to intervene on the side of the rebel colonel, who siezed power in the capital. He has now signed a new treaty—a joint defence pact—with Colonel Sallal, so that we have the 272 two colonels, Nasser and Sallal, whom the hon. Member for Leeds, East obviously regards as far more acceptable to him than would be the case if they bore the title of Pasha or Imam. Although I hold military rank myself, I believe that some of the people who held the titles of Imam and Pasha were a good deal more civilised, and have done a great deal mare for their countries, than these upstart colonels who are now ruining them.
One can well appreciate that from Colonel Sallal's point of view the Egyptian intervention is most welcome. Without it there is little doubt that he would by now have been driven from Sana, the capital, by the tribes, most of whom have turned or are turning against him. I travelled through most of the eastern part of the country, where practically all the tribes have turned against Colonel Sallal, or are fighting against him and the Egyptians, and have made common cause with the Imam. In the North of the country, the tribes are opposed to Colonel Sallal and the Egyptians, and for that reason have joined the Imam. I do not say that they were inspired by any particular liking for the Imam, but they found that Sallal and the Egyptian interference were utterly unacceptable to them. The Yemenis dislike the Egyptians as foreigners and despise them as soldiers.
In a surprise attack Colonel Sallal carried out a coup d'etat and seized Sana and the main towns, which he still holds. He also controls the main communications between these towns, with the help of Egyptian soldiers and the Egyptian air force. On the announcement of the Imam's death the loyalists were disheartened and disorganised, but since then they have discovered that that announcement was a lie, put out by Sallal over the radio, with the obvious intention of putting his loyalist opponents in despair. The Imam is alive in the north of the country, trying to raise the tribes there. Since then there has been a turn in the tide. Many tribes are joining the Imam's standard. One of the reasons why the tribes dislike Sallal so much, some of them told me, was that, although they did not like the Imam or his rule, they regarded it as no disgrace to accept his rule on religious grounds 273 provided the Iman was strong enough to impose it. The Imam is the religious leader of the Zeidi Shia sect, of which the majority of the country are followers, and they respect him for that reason. Even the Shafais, who are a Sunni sect, have respect for the Imam as a religious leader. On the other hand, Sallal is an unknown upstart from the town—the son of a blacksmith.
§ Mr. McLean
He is not a crofter's son. He would be much better if he were. To these Yemeni tribesmen who are living in the Middle Ages he is unacceptable for this reason. One may laugh about it, but that is the situation as they see it. In the Yemen power does not lie in the towns. Damascus may be the key to Syria, as Cairo is the key to Egypt, but Saana is not the key to the Yemen. In all the towns in the Yemen put together there are probably not more than 150,000 unarmed people, whereas in the country, mainly in the centre and north, the tribes can raise anything from 100,000 to 200,000 armed men.
In 1948, when the last Imam was assassinated, a man called Abdulla Wazir, a member of the second greatest religious family in the Yemen, seized all the towns, but he was driven out by the tribes and, in the usual way, was executed. He was a wiser and much more popular man than Sallal, and I am sure that the same fate will befall Sallal.
Colonel Sallal's support lies mainly among the officers, especially those whom he selected himself, when he was adviser to the Crown Prince, to go to the military, police and air force academies. He selected those whom he felt to be loyal to himself, and he is also supported by those who have been trained in Egypt. But the soldiers are tribesmen, and there is no guarantee that Colonel Sallal's army of about 11,000 men will remain loyal to him.
Colonel Sallal also depends upon the support of the Free Yemen Committee, which for ten years has been stationed in Cairo and was under the chairmanship of Dr. Baidany, who is now Sallal's Vice-Prime Minister and Deputy in most departments. Most of the Yemenis regard Baidany as more of an Egyptian than a Yemeni. Colonel Sallal's relations 274 with the Free Yemen Committee are very strained. Sheikh Noman and a well-respected Shafái leader, have been removed from the Yemen to Cairo—two of the most able soldiers there have been exiled to Cairo.
Lastly, Colonel Sallal depends on the support of the Communists, who are well organised but not very numerous; otherwise Sallal has little support. So it is clear that he welcomes the support of the Egyptians. Without it I do not believe that he could survive long in his own country.
Why do the Egyptians give that support? What is the reason for the Egyptian intervention in the Yemen? After all, the Yemen is a poor, rather barren and mountainous country with a warlike and unruly population and there does not seem to be a great deal of profit in the matter from the point of view of the Egyptians. We may rule out the idea that Colonel Nasser would be prepared to send troops and incur the expense of fighting in a far away country for the sake of altruistic ideals. It is far more likely that he has a very good reason of his for going there. Apart from the obvious one, that by establishing his puppets in the Yemen he can overcome the loss of prestige which he suffered from the breakaway of Syria, he believes that if he can establish himself in the Yemen it would give him an excellent base from which he could extend the Arab socialist revolution into Saudi Arabia, perhaps through a military coup d'etat in that country, and then perhaps later into Jordan and the Persian Gulf. Also he would be in a position to turn the heat on us in Aden. Indeed the hon. Member for Leeds, East and the Minister have admitted that the present set-up in the Yemen could be very dangerous for Aden, that is a revolutionary colonel supported by Egyptian military and political power.
Of course, the establishing of Egyptian power in the Yemen is only the first phase in this wider plan which would commend itself to the Russians. After all, any weakening of the ties between the Arab States and the Western world must be to the interest of the Communist Powers. I do not think that Russia is yet involved, but I believe that from the Russian point of view it would be well worth while to support and encourage 275 this trend. It would make a larger gap between the Western Powers and that part of the Arab world.
The aim of Colonel Nasser in the end must be to get his hands on some of the money coming from the oil wells in the little States of the Persian Gulf and Kuwait. If our position in Aden were destroyed and our treaty obligations could not be honoured, Colonel Nasser would be heir to the power in the Arabian Gulf and to a certain extent, could dispose of the oil money. The threat to Aden from the Yemen, should Colonel Nasser and the Egyptians estabish their power there, would, I believe, be very grave. He could operate through military methods, such as sending guerilla bands or groups of armed saboteurs into Beihan, Dahla and Mukarra, or even better into the upper Allaki and lower Yafai. Thus, combined with the gift of money and arms to dissident tribesmen, he could make the position of the Federal Government and the British Administration in Aden and the Protectorate an extremely difficult one.
I believe that through propaganda and various other methods the Yemeni workers in the Aden Colony could also be incited to cut up rough and make it difficult for the Aden Government to continue their work. These are all weapons in the use of which Colonel Nasser and the Egyptians are extremely expert. One must admit that Radio Cairo in general has made all other propaganda machines look extremely inefficient. Colonel Nasser spends a great deal of money on this kind of activity.
When one regards his rôle in the Arab world, one asks what he has done with all the money he has obtained from the Americans and the arms which he has obtained from Russia. For the most part he has used the money and arms against other Arab States. He takes the money and the arms nominally to strengthen the hand of Egypt in the fight against Israel. But I do not think that he has killed one Israeli soldier. Instead, he has turned the rifles against his neighbouring Arab States. Colonel Nasser is probably wise not to attack Israel, because he knows full well that if he did he would quickly get a bloody nose.
The interesting thing about the Egyptian operation in the Yemen is that 276 it is the first phase in establishing their power in the Yemen which is most difficult. Once they have done that in the Yemen, or in part of it, the rest will follow rather more easily. The actual job of establishing their power over the Yemenis, who are armed and dislike them, is not an easy one. I believe that Colonel Nasser has learned a great deal from his experiences in Syria, and even if his military intervention in the Yemen is successful he will realise that to hold the country for long will not be an easy task. The Turks never occupied the whole of the high Yemen, and they were a good deal better soldiers than the Egyptians.
If Colonel Nasser is able to establish himself in the Yemen through his puppets, I believe that he will strike fairly quickly, because he will know that he cannot stay there indefinitely but perhaps for only a year or two years. He will have to strike at Saudi Arabia and at us in Aden as soon as possible. In the end, I believe that he will be thrown out of the Yemen anyway. But, in the meantime, he could do immense harm to that part of the Arabian Peninsular. We are faced not with what one might term a Khrushchev Castro, but with Nasser's little Castro who will give a great deal of trouble, not only to us but to the whole of that area, unless this process is stopped as soon as possible.
For these reasons, I believe that it would be wise of the Western countries to formulate a united policy so far as possible regarding their dealings with the Egyptian intervention in the Yemen. Priority should be given to putting pressure on the Egyptians to withdraw their troops and aeroplanes from bombing and fighting in the Yemen. When countries intervene elsewhere a tremendous cry goes up in the United Nations. But one has not heard a word spoken against the bombing of villages and the killing of women and children, as well as of men, which is being done by the Egyptians. All remain silent on that subject.
I also believe that it would not be wise or right for us to recognise the régime of Colonel Sallal until he has proved that he can control the majority of his country without the help of the Egyptian Air Force and Army. Were the Egyptians to leave, the Yemenis themselves, by their own methods—one 277 hopes those methods would be as peaceful as possible—could decide what form of Government they wished to have, the Imam or a military dictatorship. But I do not think it right that such a decision should be made by Egyptian troops and aeroplanes.
Lastly, I do not see why, if it is right—or people consider it right—for the Egyptians to help an illegal Yemen Government which they recognise, that other countries who recognise the Imam Government as the legal Government should not help him if he demands help from outside Powers. Probably if he were helped, or even without help, the Imam may succeed in beating Colonel Sallal and the Egyptians, although it is vary difficult for tribesmen, however brave they are, to stand up against the aeroplanes and tanks of the Egyptians.
I believe that if the Imam gets into power again he will have learned his lesson from the Egyptians and the Communist bloc who tried to kill him and that he will prove a reasonable neighbour. Our relations in the past with the Yemen have not always been happy, but one hopes that the new Imam may have learned his lesson. In any case, if he were in power he would be a good deal more reasonable than Colonel Sallal backed by the Egyptians judging by their present tendencies.
This situation in the Yemen is the background to the merger we have discussed today. Whether the merger goes through easily or with difficulty, the future of the Aden Colony and Protectorate will to a great extent be influenced by what happens in the Yemen. If the Egyptians can establish themselves with military power there they can do great harm for the future progress of the South Arabian Federation and the Colony.
If the Egyptians remain in the Yemen and if we still wish to maintain our base in Aden and to help forward the independence of the Colony, we shall find ourselves forced to make far greater efforts. We shall have to increase the amount of men, money and materials in order to maintain our base there and to help the people in the Federation to become an economically viable state.
§ 7.21 p.m.
§ Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)
The House always listens with the greatest respect to anyone who has just returned from a country and can give first-hand evidence of what is going on there. I am bound to say, however, that the views of the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. N. McLean) are not those of most of us on this side of the House, though, generally speaking they are probably the views of the Conservative Party.
The hon. Member derogated colonels—a surprising thing for him to do—and preferred monarchs. He preferred King Farouk to Colonel Nasser. I prefer Colonel Nasser to King Farouk in spite of anything that has happened. His régime is a great improvement on the régime which went before.
§ Mr. Dugdale
I am not sure whether he is an improvement or not. In many ways he is, and in many ways he is not.
I have not been to Iraq and I am not prepared to commit myself on that, but I think that Colonel Nasser is a considerable improvement on Farouk in spite of the fact that most hon. Members opposite supported Farouk and preferred his régime. The party opposite has never said anything remotely derogatory to the régime of the late Imam. He might have been the most democratic of monarchs.
The Times hoped that "the worst excesses" in the Yemen have been removed since the Imam died. I have met the new Imam and I certainly think that he is an improvement on his father. Goodness knows whether he is a big improvement and would modernise the Yemen and make it anything remotely resembling a democracy. That is highly improbable. I put my faith in the colonels rather than in the monarchs. They, at any rate, are more up to date. The kind of régime there was in the old days, in which if a man stole the smallest thing he had his hand cut off and if he committed adultery his eyes were put out, first the left eye and then the right eye, has been supplanted by the colonels, who seem to have a better régime.
I turn now rather more directly to the subject of the debate and wish to say 279 how much I appreciated the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) and the line he took in his general attitude to the Government's approach to this problem. The Secretary of State said, "Some say that Aden is being handed over to the arbitrary rule of medieval chiefs". He said that he did not know whether those chiefs were medieval people, but believed that they were fine, noble people. Of course many of them are very fine, but they are not democrats. Members of the Tory Party over and over again, when faced with the choice, choose the medieval rather than the modern and democratic.
They have always done so, back to the old days of Lord Lugard, who built up the system of indirect rule and planted and held chiefs in positions of power in Nigeria. The Tory Party supported the Native States in India, with their despotic rude. Some may have been good, but some were appallingly bad. But they were all right for the Tories, because they were the old monarchs and despots. That is what we should like to change in Aden. We cannot think that a Constitution which will give more help and votes to the States which have fewer people in them can be a right and justified method of procedure. We do not think that the right way to make a Constitution. The Constitution should give more power to more people and not more power to fewer people.
There is a very strong case for delaying action until these points can be thrashed out. The Secretary of State referred to the fact that there had been intimidation. Of course, we do not like intimidation, but we know that so-called intimidation can be used as an excuse over and over again by Her Majesty's Government, as it has been in Rhodesia and Nyasaland. It is used as an excuse for putting off having a good Constitution, for preventing people from voting as they might in an ordinary democratic system. So far as I see, it is going to be used if we adopt this Constitution today and if it goes forward without another election being held.
The Secretary of State laid great stress on the importance of looking after our own interests. Of course we want to look after our own interests; of course we want to see British interests looked after, 280 but time and time again we have found that the best method of looking after British interests is to get friends in the country which previously has been ruled by Britain—not to force it into the hands of reactionary people. Right hon. and hon. Members opposite did their best to prevent the advance of the people of Cyprus for as long as they could, but eventually they had to give way. I think that today we find that in Cyprus, from the point of view of the defence of Britain alone, we are in a much better position than we were when the people of Cyprus opposed us. If we go on with this new Constitution we may well find that a large number of people in Aden will be against us. We may find them opponents rather than friends.
The right hon. Gentleman wants to see Aden as a stepping stone on the way to Singapore. The best method of making it such a stepping stone is to support the forces of advance, the liberal-minded forces and not the reactionary forces. If this is done it may be a base for our defence.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Neil Marten (Banbury)
I wish to make a small contribution to the debate, because in September I was in Aden, together with my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Kershaw), and the hon. Members for Lewisham, South (Mr. C. Johnson) and Rochdale (Mr. McCann).
I do not wish to deny my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State the pleasure of answering the points made by the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), but I should like to comment on some of them. The hon. Member for Leeds, East said that the existing franchise is in need of revision, and he asked whether we could not wait for six months or so before going ahead with the present proposals. I believe that it will take a year or a year-and-a-half to put the franchise right, and I wonder what would happen in the meantime.
As far as I could understand it, he said, in an intervention in the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Inverness (Mr. N. McLean), that he did not like this Federation going ahead until the pashas or sultans in the Federation had been more "de-feudalised". I do not know how long he expects that to take. I feel that we must get on with this proposal and not wait for a year or two years 281 over the franchise, and then make the sultans more democratic, or whatever it is, before we take action. The time has come when we should press ahead with this Federation.
The hon. Member asked why we did not recognise the Yemen Government. After what my hon. Friend the Member for Inverness said, I think that the Government are quite in order in not recognising the Yemen Government at this stage, because it clearly does not control a substantial part of the country. I understand that a qualification for our recognition is that a Government should control most of the country and that we are not withholding recognition merely because of the political implications of the new Republican Government which rules over part of the country.
Questions were also asked about the population. I think that the population of Aden is 200,000 and that of the Federation nearly 600,000. Perhaps the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) has the figures in front of him.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson
If the hon. Member would care to have the exact figures, the population of the Federation is about 480,000. The population of Aden is uncertain, but is probably over 200,000.
§ Mr. Marten
With great respect, I think that the population of the Federation is probably even more uncertain. When I was there I put the question, and I had the population placed between 500,000 and 600,000. That affects the point which the hon. Member made about unfair representation.
I welcome the White Paper. The hon. Member for Leeds, East spoke of my hon. Friend the Member for Inverness as being a member of the Suez Group. I was not a member of that group; first, I was not here at the time; and, secondly, had I been here, I certainly should not have been a member of the Suez Group. Nevertheless, I, too, welcome the White Paper and the proposals in it for the Federation. I also welcome the Government's determination to press forward these proposals at this stage, because I believe that in so doing they are facing the facts of political life as they exist in the Middle East. I believe that in the end they will give great benefit to 282 the people of that part of the world—and we are primarily interested in the people.
Mention has been made of defence, and I believe that these proposals will greatly increase the stability of our base there. This is the vexed question which the Opposition are posing. But I believe that it will increase the stability of that base and increase the potential stability of the Middle East. Having said that, I would add that I do not pretend that the situation is entirely satisfactory. I do not think that anybody regards it as entirely satisfactory. What I am saying is that, on balance, unlike the professional pessimists, I believe that the decision to go ahead now is right as being basically what the people out there want and basically what they need.
I am interested in the Middle East; I lived there, in total, for about three years, I have watched the ebb and flow of events there and I always have great interest in the Arab question. There are people who express grave doubts about the timing of the merger in the light of the revolution in the Yemen. The Yemen is a very primitive country, much more primitive than the Federation. The fact that it is now partly—I stress the word "partly"—under republican rule will not make it any less primitive for a great many years. The fact that a territory becomes partly or wholly a republic does not seem automatically to improve the situation of people in that country: we have seen this in places such as Iraq.
I should have liked Britain to have been able to offer help to the Yemen for the benefit of the people there who, after all, are fellow Arabs of the people in the Federation. Personally, I have great sympathy with the movement to uplift the lot of the Arabs. Unfortunately, Colonel Nasser's action—and not only his action but the way in which he has taken advantage of the situation—has made it quite impracticable for Britain to give the Yemen any help at the moment.
President Nasser saw his opportunity at this moment to extend what I say is nothing more or less than Egyptian imperialism. He is trying to extend it under the guise of Arab Socialism. I think that we must all face this fact, because if we do not take it in we get 283 the wrong impression of what Colonel Nasser is doing in the Yemen. Having established himself there, he would like to go on to Saudi Arabia and to Jordan, and that would put in peril the whole of our position in the Middle East and particularly that of our oil supplies.
We are witnessing a fresh outburst of Egyptian imperialism. But we have seen it before, and we have seen it fail before. We saw it over Israel. Nasser tried it in Iraq and he tried it in Syria. On all three occasions it failed. I cannot help wondering how long it will be before the Egyptians fail in the Yemen and are forced to withdraw.
One can see this Egyptian imperialism working very clearly. When Colonel Sallal first came into power he said that there was so much to do in the country that he would not press his claims over Aden, but would put them into cold storage. A matter of only weeks after that, an Egyptian called Mr. Rifaat arrived in the capital of the Yemen, and very shortly afterwards the Yemen started proclaiming once again its claims over Aden. There we can see the effect of Colonel Nasser's emissary upon Colonel Sallal.
About that time there was the bombing of the village Asseilan, 20 miles inside South Arabia. Had we done that 20 miles inside another country, we should have been arraigned before the United Nations straight away. Here we are seeing to our disadvantage the double standard of which the Foreign Secretary spoke recently.
May I make a suggestion to my right hon. Friend? Under the Treaty of Sana of 1934, we are bound to agree the frontier between the Yemen and the Federation before 1974. In such a situation as the present, it might be a good thing if we got on with that a little earlier. It would be particularly helpful if it succeeded, and it would keep relations between the Federation and the Yemen going over something positive.
When I was in Aden one could see Colonel Nasser's supporters and one could see his picture displayed in the small shops around the bazaar or behind the main street. I had the impression, if I might use a term which we used a lot in 1939, that these people were Nasser's fifth column. Why should South Arabia be allowed to become a province of 284 Egypt? And that is what this is all about. Federation holds out a great hope of ordered economic, ordered social and ordered political progress, but Nasser holds out only uncertainty, chaos and the grave chance of bloodshed. I admit that all is not perfect, but against that background I believe that the putting into operation of these proposals now is realistic and right.
It has been said in the debate that some of the rulers in the Federation are feudal. In comparison with Britain that is so. Indeed, it might be said that Aden is considerably more progressive than the rulers up in the Federation. However, the House should recognise that progress is afoot in the Federation. In some places very great progress indeed is being made. It often goes unrecognised.
Some people say that these sultans are merely hereditary rulers. That is not so. When a sultan dies the next sultan is not necessarily his son. There is an election under the Dola, together with the tribal chieftains. They select the most suitable man. It may be the son, but it is just as likely to be anybody else. There is, in a Middle Eastern way, some element of democracy about that, anyway democracy from the tribal chieftains' point of view working upwards.
My hon. Friends and I met the Federal Council comprising some of the sultans. I was greatly impressed by many of the progressive ideas about which we talked. In the State of Lahej, for example, elections for municipal councils are to be held early next year. That is a step in the right direction. In the State of Fadhli great strides are already being made in irrigation in the Abyan scheme. A new hospital has been put up there with eight health stations. Two intermediate grade boarding schools are being set up. There are 16 primary schools in that one State.
This sort of thing is not mentioned and is not recognised, but I believe that it is some measure of progress in defeudalising in what people imagine are totally feudal States. Further, roads, electricity and water are being brought to the people up there and light industry is coming along. Therefore, the beginning of the process of defeudalising the Federation is apparent, but everyone recognises that it must go faster and faster.
285 This area is in that part of the world which is blown by the sandstorms of nationalism which has swept through the area so often, but I hope that it will be our policy to harness this nationalism in the Federation to the good of the Federation and not to the good of outside countries.
As to the future, if the Federation goes through, as I hope that it will, it would be an awful mistake if we sat back and said, "That is now through. Now we can just coast along cosily and let it develop". That would be a ghastly mistake. We must see this Federation as a modern concept and not link it in our minds with Federations elsewhere in the world, because, with respect to those suggestions, I do not think that they are particularly relevant. To me it is an exciting concept. Anyone who has been out there and thought about the matter sees what we are trying to do out there as an exciting concept.
There is great scope for expanding the social services—schools, hospitals and particularly the maternity service. I gather that the rate of infant mortality is higher than it is in most places in the Commonwealth. We must make the people who are working there more conscious of civic responsibility in life. There is much to be done in this field.
It is apparent to anybody who has been there, as I am sure many hon. Members have—that there is great scope for slum clearance and rehousing. I say this without being emotional about the Middle East. Some of it has started. Considerable rehousing is going on and this must be carried out more quickly. We must get rid of many of the old factories in Aden and build new ones with better conditions for the work people.
On the positive side, we should bring new industries into Aden and into the Federation. One thinks of such industries as tanning, printing, furniture making, perhaps light engineering, canning of fish, and so on. Tourism could well be exploited because the Federation, up in the mountains, has great attractions.
We should also try to harness—I will not say the middle classes, because that is not an applicable expression, but what I will call the trading classes, who are now increasing in numbers in Aden and 286 in the Federation. They should be harnessed to this great civic effort. We have a long way to go to improve roads and communications, to help them with agriculture, to help them with water, and to help them with electricity. This is just the sort of place where an organisation like Voluntary Service Overseas could place a number of school leavers of suitable type up in the Federation. They would help these people as people.
If we go on in that way we shall get a balanced economy in the area. There is much to do. I only wish that the leaders of the Aden Trades Union Congress would concentrate much more on this sort of thing and on the conditions of the people and less on trying to place Aden closer to the archaic Yemen.
From the British point of view, we must rout out foreign trouble-makers quite ruthlessly. I stress "foreign trouble-makers". I am not talking about local Aden-born politicians. We must rout out the foreign troublemakers.
§ Mr. Marten
I will settle for "rout them out". Is my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary satisfied with the security arrangements and with our intelligence organisation? Are we able to identify the trouble-makers from overseas? In our approach to other people out there we must destroy the image that we are propping up out-dated feudalism.
§ Mr. Marten
I have tried to explain, but perhaps I have not made much impression on the hon. Gentleman, that the feudalism in the States concerned with the White Paper is not too bad and it is our hope that it will be developed in the right way. We are not propping up outdated feudalism just for the sake of it. That is not our policy. We believe in ordered progress. We do not believe in progress by revolution and bloodshed.
We must make Aden a viable State. I think that is accepted by everyone. Two things loom large on the horizon. First, Aden receives about 500 ships a month which call for oil from the B.P. refinery. In due course, as coal gave place to oil, oil will give place to nuclear power. In due course, if ships do not 287 need to call at Aden at the rate of 500 or even 700 a month to get oil from the B.P. refinery but sail past under nuclear power, the economy of Aden is in for quite a shock. Likewise, a large part of the economy is based on the spending of the British Forces, and with the ever-changing pattern of defence the time will come when we shall not want that base. It is our duty before we leave, and before Aden becomes fully independent, to make Aden and the Federation a totally viable State.
I gather from what one has heard this evening that some of the Ministers of Aden will resign either tonight or tomorrow. If they do resign, I shall recognise that part of the reason is intimidation, which I understand and fully appreciate, particularly when those concerned have wives and children. Nobody, of course, will say, "I am resigning because I am being intimidated." I hope that they will stick it out. They will gain in respect for their courage, and in Aden they have to work with them a first-class Governor in the person of Sir Charles Johnston—I am only sorry that his charming wife is unable to help him much at present because of her temporary illness; we all wish her well, and a speedy recovery—and an excellent Commander-in-Chief in Air Chief Marshal Elworthy. Ministers, with the others, and many of the people of the Colony, they could make things work quickly and well.
By accepting this White Paper, we will show Britain's determination to support an enlarged Federation, to resist aggression from outside, and to remain loyal to her obligations. I only wish that the Opposition would join in supporting what I think is the beginning of a bold and realistic development which could be of great advantage to the people of the area.
§ 7.54 p.m.
§ Mr. R. W. Sorensen (Leyton)
The hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) reminded me very much of someone trying to read an academic essay in a whirlwind. His speech was no doubt urbane and informative, but it showed no consciousness at all of what is happening in the Middle East. Much of what I have heard tonight has seemed to echo speeches made in the distant days when we had a British Empire, 288 when we still governed India and important Colonies. I am sure that a reference to past HANSARDS would reveal, in essence and spirit, many apparent paraphrases in the speeches of hon. Members then of those delivered tonight. In other words, although expediency has caused hon. Members apposite to move, the psychology of many of them has remained static.
When I read in the White Paper the description of the proposed accession of Aden to the Federation of South Arabia, and when I read the draft Treaty, I thought that I was suffering from an optical illusion because, although it seems complete as a document, my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) tore it to shreds. Yet the assumption of hon. Members opposite is that the proposals put forward by the Government are the most appropriate in the circumstances. We believe that they are inappropriate and irrelevant.
No one has yet referred to the history of Aden Colony and the Protectorates, and although I do not intend to wander far in that direction, it is as well to remind ourselves that Aden Colony was acquired as part of the British Empire in 1839, as the result of the landing of a number of ship-wrecked sailors on that rocky coast. The allegation that they were ill-treated led to military action and the ceding of a large part of the territory by the then Sultan of Lahej to the British Government of the day. Further development followed when it was realised we should have the hinterland to act as a kind of buffer State between the Colony and the Yemen. A number of treaties were signed, and are still maintained, between ourselves and the native rulers, or emirs and sheiks, in the area lye now call the West and Eastern Protectorates.
At that time, this acquisition was valuable as a coaling station and commercially, but it also had implicitly a strategic military and naval advantage which was increased when the Suez Canal was cut and we were able to control both ends of that waterway, from Aden at one end and from Egypt at the other. This enabled us to guard the new and quicker sea route from India, through the Suez Canal, into the Mediterranean, and so to our own country.
289 Later, the commercial value of Aden declined somewhat, though it still had, and has, considerable commercial importance. That commercial importance was supplemented by an increased strategic value. We all recognise that one reason why we are so interested in Aden is that it acts as a most valuable military and naval base for the protection of our interests in the Persian Gulf, including Kuwait. There is nothing discreditable in that. It is part of the natural process of nations and peoples. All engage in it in one way or another, and even those who criticise the expansion of British imperialism have themselves acted likewise when they had the opportunity.
In passing, we should all bear testimony to the remarkable work of many British pioneers in the protectorates, including Mr. Ingrams, who gained the admiration and respect—indeed, the affection—of the people there. But that does not alter the fact that here we have a kind of museum piece—a remnant of feudalism. I agree with one of my hon. Friends and submit that although many of the native rulers might be intelligent, high-minded and full of devotion to their people, the same could be said of barons of the Middle Ages in this country. The barons were possibly often men of admirable personality, but they were still feudal barons. That is true also of this territory, which I have visited.
We must, therefore, be frank in recognising that in attempting the federation of the Colony and the Protectorates we are trying to associate a relatively democratic area with one that is not democratic——
§ Mr. Sorensen
I will come to that in due course. I have my points, and I will deal with them seriatim. I thank the hon. Gentleman very much for reminding me, and if, later, he thinks that I have omitted what I had intended to say, perhaps he will remind me again.
We cannot consider this complex and important issue without referring to the Yemen. I shall deal with that country 290 although hardly as exhaustively as did one hon. Member opposite, for I, too, have been to the Yemen, and had a very interesting and fascinating time there. Every time I go into what I impresssively call my study, I look at a belt—given to me personally by the late Imam, who died a few months ago—embroidered with gold braid and complete with dagger, and remember the experiences I had, many of them quite exciting, in my short time in that country.
I assure the House that I do not intend to wear that belt when I come here, but it would certainly sartorially liven things up if I did. But the opportunity that I had together with a colleague of mine on this side of the House was certainly most revealing. Although I do not intend to engage in a travelogue tonight, which would be entirely out of place, I would say this: in wandering around and talking to all sorts of people, religious and political leaders of all kinds, although, of course, at first, they were most careful and reticent in what they said, I discovered that after some time, once one gained their confidence, and they were certain that one was not a spy and was talking to them in confidence they would reveal the alarming hatred that they possessed for the Yemeni régime of that time. I mention that because we must appreciate that something striking has happened in the history of the Middle East in the passing of the old Yemen and the upheaval that has occurred in that extraordinary mediaeval country.
We have to be objective in these matters. I, like everyone else in the House, abhor violence as much as I do intimidation, but we have to realise that great social and sociological movements occur from time to time, which change the whole outlook, and this is what has taken place, I submit, in the Yemen. I said earlier that some of the speeches tonight and some of the observations made seem to be echoes of past speeches made in the days of old regarding the Colonies and India. I would apply it in a rather different way.
We forget when we denounce the violence, the revolution and the insurrection that is taking place in the Middle East that at one time we did exactly the same thing regarding the French and the American Revolutions. After all, those 291 who now dwell in the United States are either distant or recent descendants of rebels against this country. No one suggests now that we should treat America on any other terms than that of equality.
Let us recall again many of the forebodings and warnings that we have heard tonight about the Yemen were uttered in almost precisely the same terms about India and what is now Pakistan and Ceylon and Burma. Some of the warnings were justified, because violence has occurred, which we all deplore. But looking beneath the violence, the excited propaganda and agitation and beneath the barbaric things that do occur when emotions are aroused, surely we can appreciate that what is happening today in the Middle East, including the Yemen, has happened elsewhere. It has been the breaking of old ties, and the liberation of the human spirit for new efforts in social reconstruction, even though sometimes, unfortunately, those engaged in the reconstruction fall by the wayside or misdirect their energies.
I just mentioned the Yemen because this has obviously a relationship to what we are considering tonight. First, we have to appreciate that running right through the Aden Colony itself is this tide of nationalism or racialism. I know, of course, that many of the Arab inhabitants of the Colony come from the Yemen. In some cases they are from the Protectorates and in some cases they are Aden born, and it is difficult to sort them out in order to find a proper basis for a franchise. That I fully appreciate.
But whether they come from the protectorates or from the Yemen, whether they are Aden born or whether they are not we know that although from time immemorial they have been engaged in strife in one way or another those in the Colony appear to be entirely at one in the rejection of these proposals, on the one hand, and, on the other, for ultimate union with the Yemen. I say this because that demand has been muted and modified for some time because of the abhorrence of the régime which one hopes has passed away with the death of the late Iman. Many of those I contacted told me that ultimately they wanted unity with the rest of their brethren. Many asserted that they agreed with 292 those in the Yemen who referred to the protectorates and Colony as Southern Yemen.
There are those in the Colony who say, "Of course, we have always wanted union with our brethren. We are one people, and we should be one people, but not under this present Imam". They referred, of course, to the Imam who has now died, and not to the Crown Prince, who succeeded him. But now we see that that restriction and impediment has passed away and they feel that a new start can be made. They now feel that with a republic in the Yemen they can expect at some time that all the barbarities, oppression and cruelties associated with the past Yemen will come to an end. Indeed, the present head of the Yemen, whether he be President or not of the alleged new Republic of the Yemen, has announced the abolition of the cruel punishments and of all the infamies associated with the Yemen during past centuries.
That being so, one can expect increased pressure for fusion of Arabic forces in the Colonies and Protectorates, on the one hand, and of the Yemen, on the other, wild recede. It is merely a question of time before the people in the whole of that peninsula will unite in demanding that their land shall become one.
In the past, I have denied the arguments of the late Imam and his Government that what he called Southern Yemen had been annexed by the British Government from the Yemen proper. On the contrary, I have said that the Sultan of Lahej was responsible for the agreement in 1839, an agreement which led to the transfer of a large portion of that territory to British possession, and, therefore, the annexation is not from the them of the Yemen but from the then Sultan of Lahej who, possibly under duress, agreed to the transfer of that territory. I mention this because all this is bound up in consideration of the proposed Federation.
Of course, a previous Federation has been attempted when a few years ago a Federation of East and West Protectorates was brought into being. Much was done to try to integrate and implement this, but only a minority of the rulers of these Protectorates acceded to that Federation. It may have had a certain 293 political, economic and educational advantage, but, broadly speaking, a large number of the rulers and possibly their peoples themselves refused to join in; they remained outside. Therefore, I wonder why we could not have waited a little longer to secure success of federation in the Protectorates before we started absorbing the Colony, also.
Like my colleagues on this side, I am not against the principle of federation. Quite the contrary. It is absurd that there should be some 220,000 people in the Colony while there are three times that r umber in the Protectorates. This small entity is not economically viable and, therefore, I am all in favour of federation under the right circumstances. Here I agree with my colleagues on this side of the House that as a prerequisite and necessity for successful proposals for federation there must be the consent of those who are to be affected. Without that we cannot succeed. Surely we have enough experience by now to realise that, however desirable something may be, unless the people to whom we are presenting it accept what we offer it will be fruitless. Thus, we must win their consent and secure their agreement.
I now come to the question asked me by the hon. Member for Banbury. The answer is that I would not compel or coerce these Protectorates, which would rather live as they are at present. I would, rather, make it quite clear to them that until and unless they change their ways and introduce the beginning of a new Constitution and pattern of life, the peoples in Aden Colony would be left where they are. It can truthfully be said that they at least enjoy a certain measure of democracy. It is by no means perfect, but it is a certain measure.
After all, only 27 per cent. of those on the electoral roll voted in the last elections, partly because there was the boycott to which reference has been made. Nevertheless, the franchise was confined to only a minority and while it was an instalment in gaining a democratic pattern of life, those on the Legislative Council in Aden have learned a great deal by their experience. Why should they now and the electorate against their wishes be linked up with emirs and their peoples who still belong to an age which existed a thousand years ago?
294 That is the answer to the hon. Member for Banbury. I would certainly not coerce or force the Protectorates to do anything, but would leave them if they so wish in their medieval atmosphere. By all means help them to be different so that they may discover better ways of living, politically and economically, but certainly not force them. Both political and economic changes are vitally necessary because a good deal of resistance still exists on the economic side as well as that against political change. One thing, however, is certain; we should not on any account forcibly compel the relatively democratic Colony of Aden to be linked up and integrated in large measure with the peoples of the protectorates.
§ Mr. Marten
I know that this sounds rather like a Common Market debate, but would the hon. Gentleman not agree that if the Federation comes about the opinions of the 24 members going into the new legislative bodies would expedite the sort of situation he is trying to bring about?
§ Mr. Sorensen
It may do so, but that is not for us to decide. We may offer certain proposals which we consider to be excellent—they may, intrinsically, be excellent—and we may be sincere about them, as I am sure the Secretary of State is sincere.
However, that is not the issue. The point is that the people themselves must decide if they want the proposals. We must consult them to discover fully how they want to go about formulating a new Constitution, and anyone who has studied the scene in this part of the world would admit that the overwhelming majority of the people in the Colony, including those actually born in Aden, reject this proposal.
In all these circumstances the right thing to do would be to call the people together, perhaps at a constituent assembly, and thrash the matter out. If they refuse to attend such an assembly we should go on until they are ready to attend, but we certainly should not, in their absence, use that absence as an excuse to do anything. Meanwhile, I would not deny—nobody would—that there has been considerable economic progress in the Colony in the last few years. Everything said by the hon. Member for Banbury in this respect is 295 true. Housing has improved, there are better water supplies, there has been the diminution of disease and better hospitals. It is equally true that a large percentage of those who attend hospital come from the Yemen.
Admitting all this one, must equally admit that man does not live by bread alone and that the economic factor is not the only one. Any idea of projecting the "economic man" is pure fiction because many other elements along with economics, go to make up man. Ireland is just one place where economic advantages do not mean as much as what is considered to be the value of being able to live one's own life. That may be true of the Aden Colony. Undoubtedly, there are the docks and the economic byproducts of British settlement, including the refinery. These are all British economic enterprises or by-products of our occupation. I realise that there are thousands of Yemenis in Aden Colony and that there are thousands of Aden-born Adenese who would be worse off if these things did not exist.
Nevertheless, just as we would retort to anyone who tried to seduce us from our way of life by a substantial material offer—we do not intend to sell ourselves for thirty pieces of silver—so the people in Aden may say the same and prefer to live in their own way. They have a certain background, and historical circumstances enter into this, and while they will readily say, "We have a long way to go to catch up", they also say, "We, with our brethren in the Yemen, want to work this out for ourselves." We must accept this fact and realise that it comes to us out of their history as basically a spiritual fact of their expanding experience.
The only way to meet this is not to ignore its significance, but rather to find opportunities by which we can persuade them to gain further experience and learn the responsibilities of democratic administration. While much has been said about British interests, I think that the Secretary of State was somewhat unfair when he declared that many people were ready to consider everyone else's interests but our own——
§ Mr. Sorensen
Perhaps the Secretary of State may not have meant it in that 296 way, but I would ask, "Are we considering this question of the Federation from our own standpoint or from that of the people in the Aden territory?" This is a simple issue. We are entitled to ask ourselves, "How does it affect our interests?", but we must be honest about it. If these proposals are to serve British interests, let us say so and not pretend that they are in the interests of some noble principle.
It is possible to serve both interests. The Arabs in the Colony require our enterprise, our economic expansion and our aid, but they also require it in the Protectorates. Something has been done in this direction, including the new dams which fertilise and irrigate the territory. I realise that we need to preserve certain things for our interests, but how are we to do this? There can be no doubt that the base is a real factor in our minds and I submit that just as it was possible to secure bases in Malta and Cyprus—and yet concede to the right of Cyprus to govern herself—so it should be possible to do likewise in Aden.
If we transferred the responsibility for self-government to the Adenese peoples themselves, they would, in turn, recognise our military and economic needs and grant us a long-term lease, or even more, for a base so that we could still carry on our military and naval operations. Why can this not be done in Aden since it has been done elsewhere, in Cyprus in particular? Such a move would not only safeguard our interests, but would promote the interests of the Adenese.
I hope that the Under-Secretary will explain why the British Government cannot consider this alternative. I may be asked, "How do you propose to transfer power to the people of Aden?", and I agree that this would be a complicated exercise, especially since so many people have slipped over the border, have settled in Aden and have then gone back backward and forward to and from the Yemen. Nevertheless, it would be a simple matter to lay down two principles: first, franchise by birth in the Colony and—although this might be difficult it should not be insuperable—residence for a number of years, say, five, seven, or even ten years. On the basis of these two a franchise could be granted plus an agreement on the part of those who 297 acquire residential qualification that they desire to be citizens of Aden and, therefore, have their names placed on the electoral roll. I agree that certain difficulties are involved, but such a step should prove insuperable. The number of years for residence could be three, five, seven or ten, but, whatever is decided, the people themselves should be taken into consultation. I am sure that, perhaps after some protracted negotiations, agreement could be reached. On this simple basis of residence for a number of years, plus a signed willingness to be a citizen of the country, or on the basis of birth we could proceed to have an election on a sound democratic basis so that those elected representatives, of their people with complete responsibility initially for internal self-government, could start to develop their country in an atmosphere of friendship with us which unfortunately does not now exist.
I therefore ask hon. Members opposite, including Government representatives, to think again most seriously and to realise that it is no good delivering speeches in the House which start by bleating like a lamb and end with the roar of a lion, even if it is a British lion. We must be realists. I am not suggesting that we should be wildly idealistic, but that on the basis of common sense, of objective facts and realism, we have to accept that a wind of change has blown through this part of the world as much as it has blown through South Africa.
If we want to begin to establish friendly relations with the Arab world, which today is so suspicious of us, we must postpone the elections, consider means of establishing the basis of fair franchise and on that have an election and with sound realism make a truly effective body which can consider what is best not only for ourselves, but for the people of that part of the peninsula.
§ 8.22 p.m.
§ Mr. David Walder (The High Peak)
I cannot approach the eloquence of the hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen), but he seemed to me to put a lot of words in the mouths of the populations of both Aden and the Federation, words which I certainly did not hear when I was in both places recently. Some of his speech to my mind was just a little exaggerated.
298 Three assumptions seem to run through the speeches of hon. Members opposite. One is the rather curious one that any Government should be able to see below the surface of another State. In other words, "Do not deal with Farouk but see Nasser in embryo behind him" or "Do not deal with the pashas because the Tories are notoriously snobbish and like pashas, but see behind the pasha the colonel who is rising to power." If I may use an analogy, hon. Members opposite, with certain exceptions, might raise their eyebrows if I started addressing the Leader of the Liberal Party as the Leader of the Opposition.
§ Mr. W. Yates
That is a good analogy, but if the hon. Member turns to the nineteenth century he will remember what Palmerston did when he was Foreign Secretary.
§ Mr. Walder
Neither my memory nor my historical knowledge will recall what Palmerston did at that period, and I do not think that my hon. Friend has identified sufficiently for me the incident to which he refers.
§ Mr. Walder
I am sorry but I think that one of the lessons of the nineteenth century is that revolutions did not necessarily solve the problems of a State. One of the mistakes which the British made then was to think that if a revolution occurred in a State that State was ready for the export of the Parliament of Westminster, model number 1.
The assumption that a Government should necessarily see beyond and behind the status quo and find out by some magical process what is happening and what the next régime will be and deal with that is quite a false assumption. The Opposition no doubt will make great play of this, but I think that it boils down to the question of saying what one would do and how one would see beyond an existing régime to what it might be in ten years' time. There is also the assumption that the Yemen, by going through the processes of revolution, by 299 which the then ruler, who had no time to prove himself one way or another, was bombarded in his palace, and the revolution still continues—that by that process the Yemen has automatically become democratised and civilised and that from now on all will be sweetness and light in the Yemen.
It was the assumption of the hon. Member far Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) who referred to the backward States of the Protectorate. One hears very little mention of the backward state of the Yemen. The assumption is that it is very wrong for Aden Colony to be linked with the backward States of the Protectorate, but if the inhabitants of Aden go round and say that they would like to be linked to the Yemen, when one has no proof that the Yemen has been improved by revolution, that is all right. I think that that is illogical.
I have recently had some experience in the Protectorate. I saw these very States 14 years ago and I cannot but contrast the conditions then with the conditions now and the vast improvements in areas such as Abyan and Lahej, with the cotton boards and the improved agricultural and fishing industries. One is dealing largely with a nomadic agricultural population. Only about 90,000 live in the towns. It is difficult to organise them, not only economically but politically. A great future may lie ahead for these States. The Federal Government carried out a geological survey last year which revealed certain mineral deposits and one cannot say at this stage whether these will offer alternative industries.
Enormous advances have been made in education. Ten years ago only the Arab Q'uranic schools were in existence. Now over 8,000 boys and about 800 girls—very significant in an Islamic community—are being educated in primary schools. Two thousand pupils are being educated in secondary schools, with opportunites of going to Aden College and even to universities abroad. This is a tremendous advance.
The next question is how we should encourage all this. Again I should like to go back to the speech of the hon. Member for Leyton. If one does not bring about federation, is not one, if 300 not condemning the States of the Protectorate, saying to them, "You have a rather feudal, antiquated system. You had better keep that and, unfortunately, deprive yourselves of the economic advantages so necessary for your advance"? It is a difficult question and a 50–50 striking of the balance, but I feel that, as in the Federation suggested in the White Paper, it is logical that these States should combine with Aden which is the obvious port and market for the hinterland. The Government party in Aden is in favour of federation, and so is the official opposition party. They seem to think that they might get better terms. But we have had references to that in another context in the House, and perhaps I had better say no more about it. The only party which objects to federation is the one which boycotted the last Aden elections. This party looks to the Yemen.
In this connection one should remember that the States of the Federation have had two neighbours, British-controlled Aden and the Yemen. For many years, going back to the 'thirties, the Yemen carried on a campaign of aggression on its borders, hiring outlaws, thugs and roving bands to prey on its neighbours. The Yemen has never been a friendly neighbour. I need a great deal of convincing, especially in view of what is happening at present in the Yemen, to believe that the Yemen has now suddenly become a friendly neighbour of the Federation. Those Arabs in the Federation to whom I talked had a fear and distrust of the Yemen which has not, I think, necessarily been dispelled by the revolution which has taken place there. It is all very well to talk about pan-Arabism. In my experience, pan-Arabism is divided by tribal loyalities and also by religious loyalties in the sense of loyalty to a particular sect of Islam.
The Yemeni actually in Aden, about 80,000 who work there, would undoubtedly agitate—they are doing that at present—and intimidate if they thought that there was a chance of persuading their fellow Arabs to vote against federation. I regard those Yemeni as being entirely out of court in this matter. They have an obvious interest. They would like to see union with the Yemen. I do not think it right 301 that they should express their opinion on this matter. The same applies, in my view, to the large foreign migrant population which comes into Aden. At one stage in the debate the question was asked: should the inhabitants of the Federation living in Aden vote? That would produce a curious situation, as though German residents here were asked to vote on whether Britain should go into the Common Market.
Speaking realistically, one can only say that, for the population of the Federation and of Aden, all the material benefits and the social and educational benefits quite obviously depend on peace, especially now when the Middle East is in a little more than its usual state of ferment. In my view, the real question here is the question posed originally by Milton: how tolerant should one be of the intolerant? To what extent should one listen to the voices of those who patently wish to destroy British influence and destroy the possibility of this federation ever coming about?
Hon. Members opposite have referred to our defence policy. Of course, we have world-wide commitments, and Aden is the logical base for our forces. It can be added that the presence of British forces in Aden has guaranteed peace in that area and in the States of the Federation. One sometimes loses sight of that fact. Not only have we our outward-looking interests but we have preserved peace in the area. Those Arabs to whom I recently spoke took the view that, if it were not for the presence of British forces in Aden, some of the States neighbouring on the Yemen might well have been overrun already.
I have already expressed my opinion about the assumption that, whenever a feudal despot dies and there is a revolution, that State automatically becomes a model of democracy and progress. Brigadier Sallal has got to go a considerable distance to prove that for me in his case. Until then, it is, I suggest, a logical necessity that the Aden Federation should come about. If it did not come about, we should leave a political vacuum in that part of the world which could very swiftly be filled by those who bear us no good will.
To protect our own interests and those of the population of the Federation, I 302 should be in favour of speed rather than hesitation and the waiting which hon. Members opposite suggest. This is the moment to press on with federation. Not to do so would be dangerous to British interests and, ultimately, I think, the interests of the population of both the Federation and of Aden Colony itself.
§ 8.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Donald Wade (Huddersfield, West)
I am tempted to follow the hon. Member for The High Peak (Mr. Walder) in his references to Milton, but I shall at this late hour refrain from doing so. Earlier in the debate, the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. N. McLean) gave us a very interesting discourse on the present situation in the Yemen, but I did not think that it really helped us much to solve the problem arising out of the White Paper now before the House.
There are two questions before the House. First, what is, or what should be, the aim of British policy in Southern Arabia? Secondly, how should Britain set about achieving it?
The aim of creating a federation embracing the Colony of Aden and the Federation of South Arabia seems both reasonable and sensible as a long-term aim. I do not criticise it as the ultimate objective. I agree in some respects with the spirit, at least, of the letter set out on page 5 of the White Paper, Cmnd. 1814. I agree thatThe inhabitants of Aden and of the Federation are predominantly of Arab race and Muslim religion.It may well be thatthe economic interests of both are closely interwoven".I agree that ultimate federation might well increase the economic strength and political stability of the area. However, the serious question is whether the policy which the Government are pursuing will help to bring about this desired end. I fear not.
It is only natural that on occasions such as this we should hark back to the debates on the creation of the Central African Federation. It is perhaps ironical that at the precise moment that we are discussing this White Paper discussions elsewhere should be taking place which, in effect, amount to the break-up of the Central African Federation. I took an active part in the debate on the Bill when the Central African 303 Federation was formed, and I think that I can claim that my colleagues and I are consistent, because even earlier, when this proposal was contemplated by the Labour Government, we were opposed to the suggestion that federation should be forced through against the wishes of the majority of the people.
During the long debates on the proposal to set up the Central African Federation the Government spokesmen time and again said that it was in the economic interests of the people that it should be carried through whether they approved of it or not and that if it was not done at that time the opportunity would be missed and might not come again. We were also told that if it was tried the people would in time realise what a good idea it was.
Unfortunately, it has not worked out that way. The Government refused to listen to the arguments of myself and of others. We said that we could not hope to make a success of that federation if we did not gain the consent and good will of the majority of the people. Very similar considerations apply to the proposal with which we are faced tonight.
I do not challenge the desirability of this ultimate objective. Moreover, I recognise the importance to Britain of Aden as a base. I can see the advantages of creating a closer link between the peoples of the Colony of Aden and of the Protectorates. The question is whether the Government are setting about this in the right way.
I fear that the British Government are only asking for trouble. Worse than that, I fear that their policy may well lead to disaster. What exasperates the nationalists, including some very moderate people, among the people of the Colony is the fact that the Government appear to be forcing this on those whose views are unknown, or, at any rate, have not been ascertained by anything that one could call a democratic test of public opinion. One wonders why this is being done. We are bound to ask whether the Government seriously expect a federation set up in this way to last. Do they really think that it will continue in spite of all the warnings that have been given about the future consequences of overriding opinion in this way, or is this being done merely to gain time?
304 I have many quotations and a number of telegrams here, but, since time is short, the only quotation that I wish to make is from the Observer. I realise that some hon. Members opposite do not accept everything that is said in the Observer as gospel, but this quotation from an article of 19th August this year illustrates the point that I wish to stress:It is amazing that the British Government should have been persuaded to take this course even after its experience in Central Africa and in the face of the warning of Mr. Harold Ingrams, a former colonial adviser who did so much to produce order in that part of the world. In a recent issue of New Commonwealth Mr. Ingrams warned that if the British 'force a combination of Aden and the Protectorate as an independent State, the end will come more quickly than it did in Egypt'. What the British Government—with its commitment to a larger and better base in Aden—is primarily interested in is to gain a few useful years and to keep the Arab nationalist forces at bay. But it would be remarkable if from now on the pace and temper of Arab nationalism in Aden did not increase. This is precisely what happened to black nationalism in Central Africa after the imposition of federation 1953.The wordsto gain a few useful yearsare ominous. Is this just another holding operation in a long rearguard action?
If one considers what has happened in the last seventeen years and if one studies the map of the Near East and Middle East and compares the position in 1945 with the position today, it looks all too much like a rearguard action.
From time to time Britain has made a stand and said, "Here are vital interests which on no account will we give up. There will be no further retreat" and then in a few years' time Britain, under pressure, has done the very opposite.
§ Mr. Brian Harrison (Maldon)
Does not the hon. Gentleman think that "months" is probably more appropriate than "years"?
§ Mr. Wade
It may be a case of months in this instance. I hope not. What I am saying is that so often, as the Minister in opening the debate said, Britain has referred to vital interests but has failed to appreciate the effect of the popular feedings of the people in the territory concerned, and then, alas, in time there has been a retreat.
More serious is the fact that all too often in the post-war years, Britain has 305 given the impression of being on the side of autocratic rulers whose thoughts and ideas are centuries behind the times and who seem to others to be standing in the path of progress. This impression may be unfair, but there is no doubt that it is being created and it plays inevitably into the hands of those who wish Britain ill. The Government surely must be aware of this. Are we taking this action regardless of these effects? Is this merely a temporary expedient to gain a few years or months in face of Arab nationalism? If so, it is not a cheerful prospect. And yet I cannot explain this action in any other way except as a rearguard action.
I am not opposed to stating clearly to the people of the Colony of Aden that we are prepared to stand by them. There is a strong case for the maintenance of a base so long as it is acceptable to the people of Aden. Furthermore, I recognise that if Britain were to quit the area the alternative would not necessarily be freedom for the people of that part of the world. It might well be Egyptian domination, and I am not so naïve as to regard Egyptian penetration as progress and protection by Britain as the worst form of colonialism. I am not suggesting that, but it might be so regarded if Britain forces through this Measure without waiting until Aden has become a self-governing territory and without waiting until at least some move towards responsible government has taken place in the Western Protectorate.
Surely, all the lessons of past years point to the same conclusion, namely, that it would be unwise in our interests as well as those of the people in Aden to force this measure through, particularly having regard to the fact that the Colony of Aden will have no absolute right to secede should she so wish in the future. I recognise that there may be risks in deferring this new Federation, but there are greater risks in pressing on regardless. One must have sound foundations of popular support if any Federation is to succeed and I would say that the foundations here are as insecure as the shifting sands of the Arabian desert.
It may be that we have to choose between two evils, but I believe that the lesser of the two evils is to defer this proposal until it can be proved to be 306 acceptable to the people concerned. Therefore, I say to the Government, whom one hon. Member has told to think again, that they should think again and think hard. Otherwise, Britain may take a step which will prove to be a grave political error.
§ 8.48 p.m.
§ Mr. William Yates (The Wrekin)
I am delighted to have heard the speech of the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Wade). For the last few moments of the debate, I want to plead with the Government with all the power that I possess, and I hope that the country as well as the Government will listen. The present proposal is so dangerous that it might even imperil the whole of our position in the Persian Gulf. I must make these facts absolutely clear.
The House bore with me when I spoke about my visit to both Aden and the Yemen last year. My hon. Friend the Member for Inverness (Mr. N. McLean) visited the royalist forces on the outskirts of Narad and other places, but not into the Yemen. I know that the Government are in a dilemma. I know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is a man of great courage, and he, too, realises the drama which faces him. If the popular will is carried out in Aden, there is a danger, which my right hon. Friend sees, that the people of Aden will first demand unity with the Republic of the Yemen, whereas my right hon. Friend understands the position of the emirs, who are not in any way and never have been very keen on the Yemen or on Yemeni rulers. Take, for example, relations between the Sultan of Lahej and the Yemeni tribes.
Therefore, the Government are in a real dilemma, and on occasions like this one ought to speak with care and with a certain amount of calm. I am not, in the long-term view, opposed to some form of federation for the Emirates as a long-term policy, but to force through this Aden federation now without taking into account what has occurred in the Yemen must be a very grave mistake. I say that the Government have to go right back and realise that the future of Aden and the Persian Gulf will depend upon our relationships with the new rulers of the Yemen, and, if necessary, with the United Arab Republic, and that seems to me the fundamental base 307 of it all. What is the good of having a base there, with destroyers and our Army in Aden, with the hostile Yemenis all round? Good gracious, we went through all that in Cyprus. For heaven's sake, let us not repeat it all over again.
It is certainly a difficult problem. We are not disposed to recognise the new régime in the Yemen, and there must be quite sound grounds for doing this. Certainly, there are some other manoeuvres in foreign policy which might be unwise. However, we must be on the side of the forces of advance in the Middle East and not always seem to be following what is said by Radio Amam. People complain about Radio Cairo, but some of the stuff that comes out from Radio Amam in Jordan is just as bad.
The Government have to take a very difficult and dangerous decision in Middle East policy now, but I suggest to them that before they make any move in the Aden area at this time they should honestly do their best to see if they can come to an arrangement with the new rulers of the Yemen once they are established. People say, "What do you suggest? It is all very well being critical, but what do you suggest?" Bearing in mind the feelings of the rulers in the Emirates outside Aden, Aden itself and the Yemen, I cannot at this moment see what could be arranged, but it does occur to me that the Government will have to call some form of conference in that part of the world and, openly and without fear or favour, invite whoever controls the new State of the Yemen, the emirs and the people in Aden to work out a sensible policy for the salvation of Southern Arabia. I say to the Secretary of State that I see very little hope for our base in Aden—unless it is to be held by brute force. And really, that cannot be a good long-term policy.
I hope I have made my plea to the House reasonably and in moderation, as I have tried so to do. I do honestly try to appreciate the Government's difficulties. I have studied them. But please, I implore the Government, drop any move as contained in this White Paper for the time being. That is really all I wanted to say.
§ 8.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Robert Edwards (Bilston)
I find it very difficult to participate in this debate without some emotion. I have just 308 handed to my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson), who will wind up for the Opposition, a summary of the report of a London solicitor who has just returned from Aden and who, in the district prison yesterday, witnessed the indignity of an Arab trade union leader being stripped naked and beaten, without any medical examination before the beating took place.
My hon. Friend and I know these Arab trade union leaders. We know them to be cultured men, clerks, technical assistants, school teachers and scientists, and this terrible indignity, committed against these cultured men in a prison over which we have some control, makes it extremely difficult for hon. Members like me to speak without this kind of emotion. However, I will leave this report to my hon. Friend.
I hope that the Government will still have second thoughts about this panic proposal to link the Colony of Aden with this feudal federation of South Arabia. I have been to South Arabia, I have been to the Yemen, I have been to Aden. I talked with a journalist in June of this year who was sentenced to five years' imprisonment and who received 80 strokes of the birch in one of those Arab States for drinking beer in his hotel. There is no doubt about this. I discussed this case with the sultan concerned. I discussed with one of the sheiks at the head of one of those Arab States a case where a small farmer whose land had been confiscated was sentenced to twenty years' imprisonment merely for taking the sultan into the civil court in Aden.
This is the kind of feudalism, the kind of dictatorship, which, apparently, we want to impose upon the developing democracy of the Colony of Aden. I make this prophesy. Not merely shall we have to withdraw the British base from Aden in ten years if this proposal goes through. I make this prophecy, that in ten years we shall be swept out of the Middle East, and we shall lose all the oil throughout the whole of the Middle Eastern lands.
Here we are dealing with Arab nationalism, we are dealing with the development of a great sweep of nationalism. It is part of the conditions of the era in which we live. We cannot resist this sweep of Arab nationalism. We have 309 got to make our peace with it. We have got to help it along peacefully and constructively, and the very last way of doing this is to force the articulate, politically educated 250,000 people in the Colony of Aden into a Federation which they do not want, into a Federation of 400,000 backward people, where there are no elections, where there are no registered trade unions, where there are no elections even for local councils, where there is not any kind of democratic accountability. To force 250,000 people into this Federation against their will is really asking for trouble, and that is the kind of trouble which we are provoking because of the panic situation which has developed over the Yemen.
I have had to speak briefly because I promised to finish by nine o'clock, but I beg the Government to have second thoughts about this matter. Do not let us thrust this through until elections have been held in the Colony of Aden. Let the people decide whether they want to go into this Federation. If they decide that they do, all right, but if we force this through not merely shall we jeopardise our interests in the whole of the Middle East; we shall create great difficulties for the 8,000 British troops in the post at Aden.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson (Dundee, East)
My hon. Friend the Member for Bilston (Mr. R. Edwards), with whom I visited the Colony of Aden and the Federation of South Arabia in June, has spoken briefly but with deep emotion and passion. This is understandable, in the light of the information that he sought to convey to the House in the few minutes for which he addressed it.
The House would probably prefer it if I went straight ahead and conveyed to the Minister the information that has just been handed to us concerning the allegations of flogging in the prison at Aden yesterday. My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) raised this matter in his opening speech and said that the Opposition expected a reply. Yesterday, I received an urgent cable making these allegations, and I sought confirmation of them as far as I could. The report I have before me now. It has been impossible for either 310 my hon. Friend or myself to verify the details. The best thing that I can do is to read the relevant extracts into the record for the information of the House. After the allegations have been heard, I am sure that the House, with its strong conscience on these matters of prison administration, especially in the case of political offences, will expect a full reply from the Minister before it can be satisfied.
The report is made by a London solicitor, a Mr. Hostettler, who has been in Aden assisting in the defence of certain members of the Aden T.U.C. who have been charged with various offences arising out of the political unrest there. I quote directly from the report. It says:Mr. Hostettler was in Aden District Prison yesterday morning about 11 a.m. to see his clients. In the office of the superintendent … he heard discussions between superintendent and 11 men outside and decision taken to flog them at 11.30. The floggings took place at 1140. No time for medical examination. Five flogged, of which he witnessed three. Then could stand no more and left. The window of the superintendent's office over looked yard where floggings took place, distance 20 yards. Men stripped completely, tied to large rack bound by hands and feet, piece of muslin placed over buttocks … Screaming was terrible to hear.A note is added:Prison Regulations say twenty-four hours must elapse before canings take place to allow medical examination. Only ten minutes elapsed with first five men. … No examination, and breach of this rule. Eleven men were not criminals but all had been sentenced for demonstrating. Twelfth man who was president of the Forces Employees Union"—I know this man personally and can vouch for his character—was sentenced to solitary confinement for four days on 'penal diet' for complaining of toothache. Then other 11 decided to fast in protest. Argument arose with prison superintendent and sentence of caning imposed.I will pass this document to the Minister so that he has the full facts in front of him. I would only add in confirmation—so far as I can confirm them—of the serious allegations made there, that both my hon. Friend and I visited this prison and it seemed to me a prison which was a disgrace to the good name of Britain. It was a squalid, old building in which men and women prisoners were herded together with caged lunatics.
During our visit there to meet some of the political prisoners of the Aden 311 T.U.C. the question of corporal punishment in the prison was raised, and I can confirm one detail in that document, that it is possible to see the prison yard from the superintendent's office. My inquiries of the prison authorities, for what they are worth, indicated that flogging was rife as a prison punishment. Indeed, the officials to whom I talked made no secret of it. I gathered that it took place arbitrarily on the authority of the prison superintendent without any of the usual safeguards, such as visiting committees, that we expect in this country, and ought to have in colonial prisons for which this House has a direct responsibility.
As has been emphasised, these men were not criminals in the ordinary sense of the word. Far from being criminals they are in prison because they are trade unionists. Their crime is the crime of going on strike. In a very real sense they are the "Tolpuddle Martyrs" of the Middle East. This kind of incident does us immense and quite unnecessary harm throughout the whole world when it gets publicised. This situation is one of the results of the kind of policies that the Executive Council under Her Majesty's Government in London has been carrying out in the Aden Colony.
One of the things which has been done to try to curb the Aden T.U.C., a young and very impressive trade union movement—and a rather turbulent mouthpiece of Arab nationalism in the Colony—has been to declare strikes illegal. That is the practical effect of the labour ordinance which has been in operation in the Colony. It has led to the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, a staunchly anti-Communist body and very moderate in the kind of comments that it would make on this kind of issue, to launch an official corn-plaint against Britain at the International Labour Office.
Opening this debate, the Secretary of State spoke strongly about the existence of intimidation in the politics of Aden Colony, and certainly every hon. Member in this House would deplore the existence of any form of physical intimidation. When I was in Aden only a few months ago there were very few allegations made by people in official quarters of intimidation at that time or in the immediate past. If intimidation has 312 increased, it is because of the kind of policies which the British Government have been pursuing since the Aden Conference took place in London.
There are different kinds of intimidation in a colonial situation like this with which we are only too familiar. There is the intimidation of a political movement which finds itself without a constitutional outlet. Although it is understandable, it is to be deplored. But there is also the intimidation used by an official régime unwilling to put forward constitutional means of encouraging political advance, and I submit that the incident which apparently took place yesterday in Aden prison is an example of that kind of action.
The Secretary of State said that what he sought was conditions in which everybody could conduct their political activities in Aden openly and without fear. Hon. Members on this side of the House would strongly support him in bringing about that situation. But I hope that the Minister will understand that when that happy stage is reached, and political activities can be carried on without fear, it will be the first time for many years that that has been so; because the political aspirations of the young Arab nationalist movement in Aden have met with constant repression and prohibition from the Government in the Colony.
When my hon. Friend the Member for Bilston and I were there in June, we took part in political meetings. They were among the few political meetings which had been permitted for some time. There have been repeated bans on meetings and processions. The newspapers of the Aden T.U.C. have been suspended and suppressed. A large number of trade unionists have been deported either out into the Protectorate with which it is now proposed they should federate, or to the territory of Yemen itself, and there has been imprisonment of the trade unionists of whom I have been speaking.
The tragedy of this situation is that I did not find during the discussions I had with leaders of many political movements in Aden that the leaders of the Aden T.U.C. were fanatically anti-British. I did not find that the leaders of the smaller middle-class bourgeois parties in Aden were fanatically anti-British. They learn their politics and their desire for self-determination from us—why should they 313 be anti-British? I was encouraged to see in the Economist the other day that its correspondent in Aden took the same view. He said that:Violent anti-British sentiment is not common here and among the Opposition there is plenty of Ministerial timber.That was the impression I brought back. It makes it all the more tragic that the policies of Her Majesty's Government through the Legislative Council in Aden should be widening this gap instead of closing it.
All that has been said during this debate, certainly from this side of the House and in more than one speech of hon. Members opposite, has fully justified the Opposition in moving the Amendment. I would summarise the indictment we make, and which many hon. Members on both sides of the House have made, against the Government in this way. They have completely failed to learn the lessons from their own bitter experience in places such as Suez, Cyprus and Central Africa, or indeed the much more pleasant lesson of what happened in the politics surrounding the base in Singapore.
An additional charge against the Government is that they have failed to adapt themselves to the facts of modern Arab nationalism. The Secretary of State in his opening speech used a very revealing phrase. Speaking of the desire in various political quarters in Aden for union with the Yemen, he said—I think I am quoting him correctly—that this was no more than the emotional expression of Arab nationalism. If we take the emotional expression of Arab nationalism out of the Arab peninsula, what on earth is left of the politics of the Middle East?
We pay a big price for the kind of romanticism of the traditional British ruling groups of which we had such vivid expression from the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. N. McLean). When are we to stop playing at being Lawrence of Arabia in the Middle East and get down to the job of serious politics with the young and new political leaders who are rising there? They may often enough be difficult to deal with, but this is the way the world is moving.
No one on this side of the House says, although one hon. Member opposite suggested we did, that the revolution in the Yemen has produced a new model of democracy. The most he would say 314 about the Yemen—and I had the opportunity of getting a glimpse of it during my visit—is that it is being dragged reluctantly out of the thirteenth century. I do not know what the future developments may be there, but I am sure that the British Government would have been wise to have shown an instinctive sympathy with the revolution in the Yemen instead of cold-shouldering it in the way they have.
I cannot understand why we allow ourselves to appear in the eyes of the young Arab leaders, coming up all over the Middle East, as identified with the sheiks of the Aden Protectorate rather than feeling a sympathy with the trade union movement and the Arab Socialist movement which are growing up in Aden.
What I find particularly sad about this is the fact that this wrong policy by the Government spoils what in general is an extremely good record on the part of successive British Governments in granting independence and freedom to Colonial Territories. Successive Governments since the war have carried out major acts of independence. The trouble is that Conservative Administrations have always had two blind spots which have resulted in major blunders of policy. The first has been to believe that one can prolong the life of military bases by denying or slowing down progress towards self-determination. We found out how wrong that was in Cyprus, but we do not seem to have learned.
The second mistake has been to believe that one can impose a federation on territories against the wishes of the inhabitants and that, once they have been presented with a fait accompli, their hostility will wither away because, it is believed by the Conservative Party, this hostility in the first instance was fomented by a minority of unrepresentative agitators. We are still discovering in Central Africa how wrong that was.
But the Government are now proceeding in Aden to commit both these blunders at once. It seems incredible to me that at a time when the First Secretary is in the process of politely conceding secession to Nyasaland we should be seeking to repeat almost exactly the same mistake in Aden. I await with interest, and with some personal sympathy, the reply of the Under-Secretary 315 of State, who from the back benches has made such excellent and courageous speeches defending the rights of self-determination in Central Africa and the West Indies. I wonder how he justifies his Government doing exactly the opposite in Aden.
I ask the House to remind themselves of the enormity of what the Secretary of State proposed to the House in a quiet and characteristic speech. My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East analysed, in what seemed to me a devastating way, the unrepresentative nature of the present Legislative Council which is carrying this merger through, and the fact that all the evidence has been that opinion in Aden Colony, not only of the People's Socialist Party or of the Aden T.U.C., although that is entitled to respect, but also of the moderate middle-class parties, appears to be against this merger.
The Government have tried to stiffen the unrepresentative Legislative Council into support for the merger by the offer of constitutional developments in the Legislative Council itself. In one of his blander phrases the Secretary of State said that this was the usual pattern, but this proposal is one of the most unusual features which I recollect in some years of arguing about constitutional development in Colonial Territories in the House.
What the Government are proposing is that this Legislative Council, which is carrying through such an unpopular proposal, is to be protected from facing even the present restricted electorate by the suspension of election's which were legally due to take place next month or at the beginning of the year. Then, with democracy in cold storage, the minority Ministers are to force their proposals though. As a reward, Ministers are to be given greater power and four new members of the Legislative Council are to be chosen by the electorate, consisting of the present time-expired Legislative Council. I have never heard of a more ludicrously undemocratic electoral college. No doubt the Secretary of State felt that the Legislative Council voting for itself was just about the only electorate he could find in present circumstances that could be sure to support the merger.
316 As my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds has indicated. it seems that even that hope may be dashed, because with the unexpected development of the revolution in the Yemen even present Ministers of the Legislative Council, despite the Secretary of State's efforts to stiffen them this evening, look like deciding that there ought to be a further delay.
I hope that the Secretary of State will take to heart the expressions of view of his hon Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mr. W. Yates), of the Liberal Party and of some of my hon. Friends, that he should think about this again and think about having some delay. The folly of creating this situation in Aden was mentioned by the Secretary of State himself. He said that he could not find any political group in Aden that disagreed with his professed aim of bringing about some sort of association between Aden Colony and the Territories of the Protectorate. It is the method of doing so, the form of it and particularly the timing of it, that are objected to. The people of Aden Colony insist that Aden should enjoy a greater degree of self-determination first and that a representative Adenese Government should negotiate the most suitable kind of links. We think that this is the proper way to go about it.
Why are the people in Aden Colony so insistent on doing it according to a different timing and by a different method if they agree with the same long-term aim as the Government are putting forward of association between Colony and Protectorate? The fact is that this is one of the most difficult proposals of marriage between two communities that can be imagined in a colonial situation. What the Government are trying to do is to join a British Colony, which has all the usual aspirations which we teach it of seeking one man one vote, with a series of feudal Sheikdoms where political power still rests somewhat uneasily on one man one rifle.
The hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) said that it was unfair to call the communities of the present Protectorate an out-of-date feudalism, that feudal they might be, but they were not out of date. An up-to-date feudalism is a new concept. Perhaps it is a new definition of contemporary Tory philosophy. The fact is that the Colony of Aden, with nearly half the population and very 317 much more than half the resources of the proposed Federation, is to be given about one-quarter of the seats.
It is rather difficult to find out exactly what the proportions are, because I have seldom seen a constitutional White Paper that gave the House of Commons less information about the details of what is being proposed than the present one. In any case, the overwhelming majority from the Sheikdoms are going to be completely unelected by any normal definition of the term "election" as we in this House understand it. Nor is there any proposal anywhere in the White Paper for any democratisation of the territories of the Protectorate. My hon. Friend the Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen), who is an authority on this area, said that Her Majesty's Government ought to have insisted on measures of democratisation as part of the price that should be paid for any form of association.
The White Paper contains an unspecified code of human rights for the Colony but no code of human rights is mentioned for the Sultanates, where the autocratic whim of the ruler is still the absolute law. The very least in the way of progress that ought to have been sought here was that the arbitrary and sometimes savage justice of some of the more backward rulers should come under the rule of an independent federal justiciary. There is no mention of that in the White Paper.
I found during my visit to the present Protectorate Federation that same of the more enlightened rulers were encouraging the grass roots of democracy. There are co-operative experiments in cotton growing. They were very keen on encouraging the spread of education. I echo what the Secretary of State said, that they should be helped in this. I hope that Her Majesty's Government will give them full financial help and political encouragement. The links between the Colony and the Protectorates would make sense both politically and economically as long as they were acceptable to the Aden people, which is the crux of the matter.
Why have the Government resisted this so constantly? I suspect that the main reason is that the Government 318 believe that by submerging the political nationalism of the Colony in the feudal backwater of the Protectorate's they will be buying time for the military base and the other interests in that part of the world. I simply do not believe that is so. I think that this is the best way to make the life of the base more precarious, to endanger our legitimate interests in that part of Arabia, and to embarrass us politically at the United Nations, and elsewhere.
My impression is that as recently as June there was little steam behind the campaign against the base but that the campaign has intensified since the Government have insisted on going ahead with the merger. The lesson of both Cyprus and Malta is that, given political advance, the opposition to a military base as a symbol of political status disappears. In fact, in Cyprus we are discovering that it has been converted into a preoccupation with the possibility of the base as a potential provider of employment.
Before it is too late, I beg the Government to delay proceeding with this merger until new and more democratic elections have taken place in the Colony of Aden. I should have thought that the occurrence of the revolution in the Yemen, which happened after the conference and after the Government had published the White Paper, and which created an entirely new situation, would have given the Government ample opportunity without loss of face to delay matters in order to take second thoughts.
I do not deny that there are risks whatever course we pursue in the matter, but the risks in the kind of course recommended by the Opposition in their Amendment are a great deal less than the certain dangers of forcing this Measure through against the clearly expressed will of so many of the people in the Aden Colony. It would be altogether better for the Government, even at this late stage, to have second thoughts, and to say that they will allow the people of the Aden Colony a new and more democratic election and then, with a new and more representative Government, to decide for themselves, in consultation with the British Government, what kind of links they want with their brother Arabs in the territories of the Protectorate.
§ 9.27 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Nigel Fisher)
I feel rather sorry that my arrival at the Colonial Office should have coincided with an interruption—I hope only a very temporary one—in the relatively harmonious and almost bipartisan atmosphere that has prevailed in our colonial affairs debates for the last three years. I hope, and the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) was generous enough to make some reference to it, that in the light of my own past contributions to those debates hon. Members opposite will acquit me of any unprogressive or illiberal tendencies.
I would not be defending the Government's policy now if I had any doubts at all about its wisdom, or if I thought it inimical to the best interests of the people of Aden Colony and of the protectorate States, for whom we have equal responsibilities. On the contrary, I think that it is very much in the interests of both those sections of people.
As my right hon. Friend and other hon. Members have pointed out, the division of these areas has been historical, artificial and unnatural. After all, the people speak the same language; they are of the same race and religion. Geographically, they are contiguous, and their economies are complementary. Without Aden, the protectorate States are a Federation which has no capital, no seaport and no airport. Without the States, Aden is a capital without a country. There really cannot be any doubt, and I do not think that any hon. Member has controverted this, that the abolition of the customs barriers between these two areas—and, indeed, between the States themselves—will be greatly to the economic advantage of both Aden and the States.
Politically, Aden, in a tiny area, with a population of about 220,000 people—which is about the size of the Borough of Lambeth—one-third of them Yemenis, and most of those only transient residents in the Colony, has very poor prospects of independence in isolation.
The protectorate States, with, of course, a much larger population in a much larger area, have nevertheless only an agricultural economy and they are dependent, as hon. Members know, upon British subsidies. But union with Aden, 320 which is their natural port, would much improve their economic potential without the least damage to Aden itself, and would thus bring nearer their own independence.
Together, I believe that these two territories make a natural and a complementary unit. Together, they can reasonably look forward to an independent nationhood which neither could nearly so readily achieve on its own. This has been the consideration—I ask hon. Members to believe this—uppermost in my mind in looking at our Aden policy.
§ Mr. Fisher
I am going to develop this argument a little further. I am only in my opening passages at the moment and the hon. Gentleman must be a little patient with me. That has been the consideration uppermost in my mind, because I feel that without merger the prospect of independence for either of these two territories does not seem very bright.
The hon. Member for Dundee, East quoted my attitude in the past to the other Federations—the Central African Federation and the West Indies Federation. That was quite fair and I make no complaint at all because, of course, I have often said 'that federations should grow up from the grass roots—I can almost hear my own words—of public consent and should not be imposed from the top.
The hon. Member for Leeds, East made the same point and also the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Wade). But the circumstances here, I suggest to the House, are quite different. In Central Africa, as we all know, we have an acute racial problem which does not exist at all in Aden—it simply does not arise. In the West Indies we have 1,000 miles of the Caribbean Sea separating Trinidad from Jamaica, and that, again, is a geographical factor quite absent in Aden. I do not think—and I say this with complete sincerity—that hon. Members can fairly and accurately compare those Federations with the one that we are considering today.
§ Mr. Healey
Would the hon. Gentleman agree that there is a gap of five 321 centuries between the Protectorates and Aden Colony and that social development is as important as a gap of 3,000 miles of sea in the Caribbean?
§ Mr. Fisher
I do not think so, and I do not think that the hon. Gentleman is right about five centuries. I think that a number of hon. Members have been curiously out of date themselves when they have referred to feudalism in the Protectorate States. I want to deal with that in a minute. I think that it is a little unfair and, on the advice that I am getting all the time, I can say that the situation has changed a great deal in the last few years. Hon. Members have referred so often to this matter that I should like for a moment to try to make some defence, which I think we owe to them, of the so-called feudal rulers who have been much criticised by the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale), the hon. Member for Leeds, East and the hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen). In fact, there has been practically nobody who has not been very rude to the feudal rulers, except my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten), who somewhat redressed the balance. It is only fair to our friends in the Protectorate States to explain their position. And, of course, these people are friends of this country. It is not a bad thing some-time's to support one's friends.
Any hon. Member, and I say this seriously, who has got to know these so-called feudal rulers, as my right hon. Friend and I did in August—and we have seen them since—could not fail to be impressed by their calibre and character. They are not nearly as feudal as hon. Members opposite would like to pretend. At the top, in the Supreme Council, which is the Government of the Federation, they are democratically elected for five-year periods by their fellow-Members in the Federal Council. There are nine Federal Ministers elected in this way, only four of whom are "rulers".
At the other end of the scale, the leaders are elected by their own tribal customs. They are not necessarily hereditary rulers, but are elected by the tribal leaders, who are themselves elected by their tribes in their own way. In many of the States Legislative Councils have already been established and they 322 are representative of all sections of the community. Lahej, for instance, is a constitutional Sultanate, with its own Legislative Council and municipal councils. I believe that they will have their municipal council elections very early in 1963.
Everywhere throughout the Federation money is being spent on new schools, new hospitals, and new roads, on irrigation, and agriculture, electricity and piped water. These developments are for the benefit of the ordinary people, and not for the benefit of the so-called feudal rulers. I rather regret having taken up the time of the House on this matter, but I feel that the Opposition might have done better had they referred rather less often to feudalism and more to facts.
§ Mr. Dugdale
Speaking for myself, and possibly for some of my hon. Friends, I would make it clear that no one has said anything which should be taken as being against the integrity or courage or, indeed, the friendliness of these people when it has been said that their rule was feudal.
§ Sir Kenneth Pickthorn (Carlton)
Before my hon. Friend replies, I wonder, as one who has spent a great deal of time trying to understand what "feudal" means, if he will explain what he considers to be the meaning of the word?
§ Mr. Fisher
I would never dare embark on a discussion of that sort with my hon. Friend the Member for Carlton (Sir K. Pickthorn), particularly when I have only a short time in which to reply to the debate. The last point I would make on this aspect is that there can be no doubt that the accession of Aden to the Federation will quicken the democratic processes which are already taking shape in the Protectorate States now.
I pass to one or two of the points which have been raised, not to the main argument but to individual points, particularly those made by the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey). He said that only four elected members had voted in the Aden Legislature for the merger plan. That is not quite accurate. The position was that, on the final vote, the Opposition did not vote at all. They walked out so that the effective vote was on the Opposition Amendment. That was the first vote and, on that, seven 323 elected members voted for the White Paper proposals and five voted against. I am told that if one converts that into House of Commons terms it would mean that in a House of Commons of 650 hon. Members there would be an equivalent of a majority of 106, Which is not too bad.
§ Mr. Healey
This, of course, is a majority, the hon. Gentleman claims, of seven out of 12, the 12 having been elected by 5,000 votes out of a population of 220,000, but could he say what was the vote when the thing as a whole was put after the Opposition walked out?
§ Mr. Fisher
All the members there were, which was 16, less one who walked out because he had been insulted by a member of the Opposition.
The hon. Member for Leeds, East said that the Legislature was unrepresentative, because only 5,000 voted rout of a population of 220,000. At the time of the last election the true Adenese population was only 100,000, because one must deduct the 80,000 transient Yemeni workers who have not the right to vote at present and also all the women, because they do not have a right to vote there as in many other Arab countries, and of course the children too. That means about 30,000 adult males, of whom about 21,500 were entitled to vote. Twenty-six per cent.—that is, 6,000—of those voted, which is much the same percentage as usually vote in a local election in my constituency. Although I do not call It very good, I do not call it as bad as some hon. Members make out.
It is not true that the franchise is unduly restricted. If many people did not exercise their votes they were entitled to do so, and this boycott is entirely their fault and they really cannot complain when decisions were taken in their absence. They did not bother to be there.
The hon. Member for Leeds, East, asked why there will be six years before there is a chance of secession. This period was chosen because it permits two general elections, one in a year's time and the second five years later, by which 324 time it is thought that people will have had a fair experience of the Federation and will be in a position to judge.
My hon. Friend the Member for Banbury asked whether we are satisfied with our security arrangements and our intelligence. I agree that that is very important. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] It is very important indeed in Aden. My right hon. Friend has recently arranged for the Deputy Inspector-General of Colonial Police to take charge of the security arangements and he has become Director of Security.
I shall have to deal very quickly with the serious matter which has been raised by the hon. Member for Leeds, East, the hon. Member for Bilston (Mr. R. Edwards) and finally, in some detail, by the hon. Member for Dundee, East, and that is this flogging occurrence in Aden. I shall say at once that my right hon. Friend and I knew nothing about this incident until we read about it in this morning's papers. A telegram was immediately sent to the Governor asking for information. So far, we have received only what I can describe as a short, interim reply. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shocking."] Not at all. I will say why it is not so shocking. It is because five of these canings took place yesterday at noon and the other four this morning. Therefore, it is not really so shocking that we have only just heard about it.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson
Is the hon. Gentleman saying that he heard about it only today, when information reached back benchers on this side of the House yesterday and was on the tape yesterday?
§ Mr. Fisher
It came through on the tape last night, I understand, but I heard about it when I read about it in the morning papers. I am giving the hon. Member the facts. There is no need to be controversial about this.
It seems—this is important—that the punishment was not flogging, but caning, which is a very different thing. I am assured that it was carried out under medical inspection—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I am just giving the information which I have been given. There was a medical examination beforehand to make sure that the people were perfectly fit to be caned. In fact, one of them was not and so he was not caned, 325 but the rest of them were caned. All of this, apparently, was ordered by the Arab Superintendent without any reference at all to higher authority.
Obviously, this is all we know about the matter at this stage. We are of, course, making further inquiries. I appreciate the concern of hon. Members about it. I recognise, and my right hon. Friend certainly recognises, that it is a very serious matter. I am not trying to minimise it at all. If hon. Members would care to put a Question on the Order Paper, then, as soon as we can get more information about it, we will answer it straight away. I think that that is the way I must leave it this evening, because I have no more information.
§ Mr. Healey
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that much, but may I put this point to him? It was entirely by accident that anyone outside the prison heard of yesterday's canings. It happened that a British solicitor was present in the building at the time and witnessed them. Will the hon. Gentleman inquire not only into the allegations made by this solicitor, but into the frequency of canings, in this prison and in Aden generally, of political prisoners during the past few months? What really disturbs us is that it is possible for these punishments to be carried out under British authority without, apparently, either the Governor of Aden or the responsible British Minister knowing anything about it.
§ Mr. Fisher
I take the hon. Gentleman's point. I do not minimise it at all. We are treating the matter very seriously, and we shall make the inquiries, as he suggests.
I come now to the substance of the Opposition Amendment. As I understand it, most hon. Members opposite are not really opposed to the principle of merger. They are opposed merely to the method—rather like the Common Market. But where does this talk about method and holding elections before merger lead us? I am myself quite satisfied that it would be impossible to hold elections now.
My right hon. Friend referred, in his opening speech, to intimidation. I must honestly tell the House that this has been happening on a most disturbing scale, 326 on a scale so large, I suggest, that there is no possibility that elections today could reflect adequately the large section of moderate opinion which, in fact, supports a merger policy. This intimidation has taken many forms. I will give the House some examples. The trade union leader Al Asnag has made intimidating speeches about destroying the Legislative Council and dragging Ministers in the streets. I should explain that the word "drag" in Arabic has, apparently, a particularly terrifying connotation because it means to murder by dragging the victim through the streets behind a vehicle, as was done to Nuri in 1958.
Here are further examples: a United National Party official, that is to say, an official of the moderate party in Aden, was beaten up at Sheikh Othman on 21st September. A U.N.P. member was dragged from his car and manhandled. Two members' cars were burnt on 24th September and two Ministers' cars were stoned. There was a threat in writing to kill a pro-merger Member of the Legislative Council which led to a confession and a written apology. Two Ministers' wives have been threatened by telephone calls. In one case, the wife was told that her husband would be murdered. She, poor woman, was at the time in an advanced stage of pregnancy and the incident was a great shock to her. One Minister has told us of threats to kidnap and kill the children of Ministers. He says that he has had no peace of mind owing to this sort of thing for a long time.
Another and serious aspect of all this, to which my right hon. Friend has referred, has been the boycotting of shops and products if they are owned by supporters of merger. All the shops in Aden now have to fly the Yemeni flag and if they do not they are boycotted and lose all their customers. I could give the House many more examples from my folder here, but I think that I have said enough.
§ Mr. Healey rose——
§ Mr. Healey
Is it not the fact that every single case of intimidation to which the hon. Gentleman has referred, 327 which all of us on this side of the House greatly deplore, occurred after the Government announced their decision to prevent elections being held next January and, therefore, is totally irrelevant to the hon. Gentleman's argument?
§ Mr. Fisher
The right hon. Member for West Bromwich said that intimidation is an excuse. I assure him that in Aden now it is a reality.
It is common ground, I think, that there should be a revision of the franchise in Aden Colony. I believe that all political groups in Aden take that view, and, like my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury in his very well-informed speech—he has been there so recently—I am advised that it would take at least a year before elections could be held on a new franchise. Hon. Members say that the change in the franchise should have been made before the merger agreement and that the merger should now be put on ice pending the franchise changes and a new election in a year's time. That could well be done. We could wait a year. But what will be the position when the year is over, when these elections will have been held?
There can be only two results of a general election: either the People's Socialist Party would win, in which case the merger of Aden with the protectorate States would be off, or one of the more moderate groups would win, in which case the merger would go ahead, with just the same result as our present policy, except that we should have lost a year. If the P.S.P. won, it would at once start agitating for Aden to merge with the Yemen. That outcome would be totally unacceptable both to the Protectorate and to Her Majesty's Government.
As my right hon. Friend pointed out, we, too, have our interests in Aden, and I really do not see any reason why I should not say this and say it bluntly. It must be perfectly obvious to hon. Members on both sides that Britain is vitally interested in the Aden bases. They are quite essential to us for the defence of our oil interests in the Persian Gulf, for the discharge of our treaty 328 obligations in the Middle East and for our whole system of Commonwealth communications and defence.
As my hon. Friend for The High Peak (Mr. Walder) pointed out, the bases are an influence far peace in this area. They are also essential to the prosperity and well-being of Aden itself. Before we went there 120 years ago Aden was just a little village with a few hundred people. Now the population is 220,000, and they are very prosperous. Their prosperity depends on the British oil refinery at Little Aden, on the oil bunkering which goes with it, and on the presence of the British forces. Without all that—the oil and the forces—I fully agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury—the declining entrepot trade could provide work for only about one-third of those now employed there, and Aden would again be reduced to a small town with a dwindling economy.
Hon. Members should bear in mind that the British Forces spend £ll million a year in Aden. That is a lot of money by Aden standards. That excludes expenditure on public works and services which already supports a sizeable building boom, and we could not embark on further building projects of that sort, which would be greatly to the advantage of Aden, without retaining the security of the Colony and our sovereignty over it.
The revolution in the Yemen has, I think, made the retention of our bases more necessary than ever. I agreed with my hon. Friend the Member for Inverness (Mr. N. McLean), when he said in his fascinating account of events in the Yemen that there can be no doubt that Brigadier Sallal and his Government are very much under the influence of Colonel Nasser. Indeed, I doubt very much if they would be in Sana and Taiz today but for the outside military aid that they are getting from Egypt. I do not regard Colonel Nasser as our greatest friend in the Middle East, and Her Majesty's Government would not be happy to see Aden Colony absorbed into a Yemen dominated from Cairo.
Yet there is no doubt that that is the policy favoured by Mr. Al Asnag and his associates in the Aden T.U.C. There is no question about that. I ask hon. Members opposite to bear that in mind when they align themselves, as I think 329 some hon. Members do, with the point of view of the Aden T.U.C., of which Al Asnag is the leader. At an Aden T.U.C. meeting on 17th October, he and others declared categorically that their party's aim was union with the Yemen.
Meanwhile, as reported in The Times of 10th November—and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State referred to this—Brigadier Sallal has made a broadcast speech over the Sana radio calling upon his friends in the protectorate Statesto be ready for the battles we shall wage against colonialism.
§ Mr. Healey rose——
§ Mr. Fisher
The hon. Member has interrupted me five times. I have only a few more minutes and I must be allowed to get on.
Brigadier Sallal said:I call on our brothers in the occupied south to be ready for revolution. They must follow their northern brothers, the republican Yemenis … we have great forces ready to fight on our side when we ask them to do soand he mentioned the United Arab Republic.
That was a naked threat to the Federation and to Britain. It is nothing more nor less than a Yemeni take-over bid. I can only comment that if any hon. Members were in doubt about our Aden policy before, I am surprised if in the aftermath of the Yemen republican revolution they still hold that same view.
To sum up, the policy of hon. Members opposite—of elections before merger—would produce three possible results. It could lead to merger with the protectorate States, as at present, but a year later. It could lead to no merger at all if in a year's time the offer of merger was no longer open from the protectorate States, because that is certainly a possibility. The negotiations were protracted and difficult and I do not believe that these States would agree to any substantial variation in the terms, nor would they be at all ready to negotiate with other and less moderate Colony Ministers. If I am right in that, the offer of merger might no longer be open at the end of a year.
§ The third possibility is that the policy of hon. Members opposite could lead to heavy pressure for merger with the Yemen, which would not be acceptable to this Government and which, if hon. Members opposite have any regard for the interests of the people of Aden and of this country, which I know they have—[Interruption.]—that sort of thing would not be acceptable to hon. Members on the Opposition Front Bench, either. I do not believe that right hon. and hon. Members opposite really favour union with the Yemen.
§ Mr. Fisher
I remind hon. Members of a famous speech in Julius Caesar, which is well-known to all hon. Members:There is a tide in the affairs of men,Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune …On such a full sea are we now afloat;And we must take the current when it serves,Or lose our ventures.It is true that in the case of Brutus, that tide led on to Phillipi, but I do not see my right hon. Friend in the rôle of Brutus. I am certain we will succeed in this venture if we are bold enough to undertake it now. To abandon our course at the first sign of difficulty or danger would not only lack resolution, faith and courage: it would mean the abandonment of our whole merger project.
I must ask hon. Members opposite this final question, because it is highly relevant to the whole of this evening's debate. Is the abandonment of the merger project the end that right hon. and hon. Members opposite really want? That is the inevitable and logical outcome of their Amendment. If so, let them say so. If not, I ask the House to reject the Amendment with the contempt that it deserves.
§ Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 259, Noes 185.333
|Division No. 3.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Atkins, Humphrey||Barter, John|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Balniel, Lord||Batsford, Brian|
|Allason, James||Barber, Anthony||Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate)|
|Ashton, Sir Hubert||Barlow, Sir John||Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton|
|Bell, Ronald||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Partridge, E.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)||Peyton, John|
|Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth|
|Biffen, John||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Pilkington, Sir Richard|
|Bingham, R. M.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Pitt, Dame Edith|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Hendry, Forbes||Pott, Percivall|
|Bishop, F. P.||Hicks Beach, Maj. W.||Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Hirst, Geoffrey||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Bossom, Clive||Hobson, Sir John||Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Hocking, Philip N.||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Box, Donald||Holland, Philip||Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John||Hollingworth, John||Profumo, Rt. Hon. John|
|Braine, Bernard||Hope, Rt. Hon. Lord John||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Brewis, John||Hopkins, Alan||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col-Sir Walter||Hornby, R. P.||Rawlinson, Sir Peter|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Howard, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives)||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John||Rees, Hugh|
|Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Hughes-Young, Michael||Renton, Rt. Hon. David|
|Buck, Antony||Hulbert, Sir Norman||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas|
|Bullard, Denys||Hurd, Sir Anthony||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Bullus, Wing Commander Eric||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Rippon, Rt. Hon. Geoffrey|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Iremonger, T. L.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.)||James, David||Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)|
|Campbell, Cordon (Moray & Nairn)||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Russell, Ronald|
|Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||St. Clair, M.|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Sandys, Rt. Hon. Duncan|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Seymour, Leslie|
|Chataway, Christopher||Joseph, Rt. Hon. Sir Keith||Sharples, Richard|
|Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Smyth, Rt. Hon. Brig. Sir John|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Soames, Rt. Hon. Christopher|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Cleaver, Leonard||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Speir, Rupert|
|Cooke, Robert||Kimball, Marcus||Stanley, Hon. Richard|
|Cooper, A. E.||Lambton, Viscount||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Corfield, F. V.||Leavey, J. A.||Stodart, J. A.|
|Costain, A. P.||Leburn, Gilmour||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Coulson, Michael||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Storey, Sir Samuel|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Crawley, Aidan||Lilley, F. J. P.||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Critchley, Julian||Lindsay, Sir Martin||Tapsell, Peter|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver||Linstead, Sir Hugh||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Crowder, F. P.||Lloyd. Rt Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nc'dfield)|
|Curran, Charles||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Longbottom, Charles||Taylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Longden, Gilbert||Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)|
|Dance, James||Loveys, Walter H.||Teellng, Sir William|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn||Temple, John M.|
|Deedes, Rt. Hon. W. F.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Thomas, peter (Conway)|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||McAdden, Sir Stephen||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Doughty, Charles||MacArthur, Ian||Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Drayson, G. B.||McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|du Cann, Edward||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Duncan, Sir James||Macpherson, Rt. Hn. Niall(Dumfries)||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Maddan, Martin||Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon|
|Elliott, R. W. (Nwcastle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Maginnis, John E.||Turner, Colin|
|Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Marshall, Douglas||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Marten, Neil||Tweedsmulr, Lady|
|Farey -Jones, F. W.||Mathew, Robert (Honiton)||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Farr, John||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Fisher, Nigel||Mawby, Ray||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell|
|Foster, John||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Walder, David|
|Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh(Stafford & Stone)||Mills, Stratton||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Miscampbell, Norman||Webster, David|
|Gammans, Lady||Montgomery, Fergus||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Gardner, Edward||More, Jasper (Ludlow)||Whitelaw, William|
|Gilmour, Sir John||Morgan, William||Williams, Dudley (Exeter)|
|Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)||Morrison, John||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.)||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Goodhart, Philip||Nabarro, Gerald||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Goodhew, Victor||Neave, Airey||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Cough, Frederick||Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Gower, Raymond||Nugent, Rt. Hon. Sir Richard||Woollam, John|
|Grant-Ferris, R.||Oakshott, Sir Hendrie||Worsley, Marcus|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||Osborn, John (Hallam)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Gurden, Harold||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)||Mr. Chichester-Clark and|
|Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Page, Graham (Crosby)||Mr. Finlay.|
|Hare, Rt. Hon. John||Page, John (Harrow, West)|
|Abse, Leo||Griffiths, W. (Exchange)||Parkin, B. T.|
|Ainsley, William||Gunter, Ray||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Albu, Austen||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Harper, Joseph||Peart, Frederick|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Hart, Mrs. Judith||Pentland, Norman|
|Awbery, Stan||Hayman, F. H.||Popplewell, Ernest|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Healey, Denis||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Baird, John||Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Rwly Regis)||Probert, Arthur|
|Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.)||Herbison, Miss Margaret||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Beaney, Alan||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Rhodes, H.|
|Bence, Cyril||Holman, Percy||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Benson, Sir George||Houghton, Douglas||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Blackburn, F.||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Blyton, William||Hoy, James H.||Rodgers, W. T. (Stockton)|
|Boardman, H.||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Rogers, G.H.R. (Kensington, N.)|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. H.W. (Leics. S.W.)||Hughes, Cmrys (S. Ayrshire)||Ross, William|
|Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Royle, Charles (Salford, West)|
|Boyden, James||Hunter, A. E.||Short, Edward|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Jeger, George||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Small, William|
|Chapman, Donald||Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Snow, Julian|
|Collick, Percy||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Kelley, Richard||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Cronin, John||Kenyon, Clifford||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Stonehouse, John|
|Dalyell, Tam||King, Dr. Horace||Stones, William|
|Darling, George||Lawson, George||Strachey, Rt. Hon. John|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)||Swain, Thomas|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Lipton, Marcus||Swingler, Stephen|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Loughlin, Charles||Taverne, D.|
|Deer, George||Lubbock, Eric||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Delargy, Hugh||Mabon, D. J. Dickson||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Diamond, John||MacDermot, Niall||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)|
|Dodds, Norman||McInnes, James||Thornton, Ernest|
|Donnelly, Desmond||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John||McLeavy, Frank||Wade, Donald|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. C.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Edelman, Maurice||Mahon, Simon||Warbey, William|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Manuel, Archie||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Mason, Roy||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||Millan, Bruce||Whitlock, William|
|Evans, Albert||Milne, Edward||Wigg, George|
|Fernyhough, E.||MitchiBon, G. R.||Willey, Frederick|
|Finch, Harold||Monslow, Walter||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Fitch, Alan||Moody, A. S.||Williams, LI. (Abertillery)|
|Fletcher, Eric||Moyle, Arthur||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Neal, Harold||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip(Derby, S.)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|George, Lady Megan Lloyd (Crmrthn)||Oliver, G. H.||Woof, Robert|
|Ginsburg, David||Oram, A. E.||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Oswald, Thomas||Zilliacus, K.|
|Greenwood, Anthony||Owen, Will|
|Grey, Charles||Padley, W. E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Pargiter, R. G.||Mr. Charles A. Howell and|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Parker, John||Dr. Broughton.|
§ Main Question put:—334
§ The House divided: AYES 253, Noes 181.337
|Division No. 4.]||AYES||[10.11 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Bishop, F. P.|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Bell, Ronald||Slack, Sir Cyril|
|Allason, James||Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Bossom, Clive|
|Ashton, Sir Hubert||Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)||Bourne-Arton, A.|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Berkeley, Humphry||Box, Donald|
|Balniel, Lord||Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John|
|Barber, Anthony||Biffen, John||Braine, Bernard|
|Barlow, Sir John||Biggs-Davison, John||Brewis, John|
|Barter, John||Bingham, R, M.||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter|
|Batsford, Brian||Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Hirst, Geoffrey||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Hobson, Sir John||Pilkington, Sir Richard|
|Buck, Antony||Hocking, Philip N.||Pitt, Dame Edith|
|Bullard, Denye||Holland, Philip||Pott, Percivall|
|Bullus, wing Commander Eric||Hollingworth, John||Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Hope, Rt. Hon. Lord John||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.)||Hopkins, Alan||Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)|
|Campbell, Gordon(Moray & Nairn)||Hornby, R. P.||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Howard, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Hughes-Young, Michael||Profumo, Rt. Hon. John|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hulbert, Sir Norman||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Hurd, Sir Anthony||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Chataway, Christopher||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Rawlinson, Sir Peter|
|Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Iremonger, T. L.||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||James, David||Rees, Hugh|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence(Portsmth, W.)||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Renton, Rt. Hon. David|
|Cleaver, Leonard||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas|
|Cooke, Robert||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Cooper, A. E.||Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Rippon, Rt. Hon. Geoffrey|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Corfield, F. V.||Joseph, Rt. Hon. Sir Keith||Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Russell, Ronald|
|Costain, A. P.||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||St. Clair, M.|
|Coulson, Michael||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Sandys, Rt. Hon. Duncan|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Crawley, Aidan||Kimball, Marcus||Seymour, Leslie|
|Critchley, Julian||Lambton, Viscount||Sharples, Richard|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)|
|Crowder, F. P.||Leavey, J. A.||Smyth, Rt. Hon. Brig. Sir John|
|Curran, Charles||Leburn, Gilmour||Soames, Rt. Hon. Christopher|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Speir, Rupert|
|Dance, James||Lilley, F. J. P.||Stanley, Hon. Richard|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Lindsay, Sir Martin||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Deedes, Rt. Hon. W. F.||Linstead, Sir Hugh||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield)||Stodart, J. A.|
|Doughty, Charles||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Storey, Sir Samuel|
|Drayson, G. B.||Longbottom, Charles||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|du Cann, Edward||Longden, Gilbert||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Duncan, Sir James||Loveys, Walter H.||Tapsell, Peter|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Elliott, R.W.(Nwcastle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)|
|Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||MacArthur, Ian||Taylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)|
|Errington, Sir Eric||McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)|
|Farey-Jones, F. W.||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)|
|Farr, John||Macpherson, Rt. Hn. Niall(Dumfries)||Teeling, Sir William|
|Fisher, Nigel||Maddan, Martin||Temple, John M.|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Maginnis, John E.||Thomas, Peter (Conway)|
|Foster, John||Marshall, Douglas||Thomson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone)||Marten, Neil||Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Mathew Robert (Honiton)||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Gammans, Lady||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Gardner, Edward||Mawby, Ray||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Gilmour, Sir John||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon|
|Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Turner, Colin|
|Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.)||Mills, Stratton||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Goodhart, Philip||Miscampbell, Norman||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Goodhew, Victor||Montgomery Fergus||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Cough, Frederick||More, Jasper (Ludlow)||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Gower, Raymond||Morgan, William||Wakefield, Sir Wavell|
|Grant-Ferris, R,||Morrison, John||Walder, David|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||Nabarro, Gerald||Webster, David|
|Gurden, Harold||Neave, Airey||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Whitelaw, William|
|Hare, Rt. Hon. John||Nugent, Rt. Hon. Sir Richard||Williams, Dudley (Exeter)|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Oakshott, Sir Hendrie||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Osborn, John (Hallam)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Page, Graham (Crosby)||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Harvie Anderson, Miss||Page, John (Harrow, West)||Woollam, John|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)||Worsley, Marcus|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Partridge, E.|
|Hendry, Forbes||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Hicks Beach, Maj. W.||Peyton, John||Mr. Chichester-Clark and|
|Abse, Leo||Awbery, Stan||Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.|
|Ainsley, William||Bacon, Miss Alice||Bence, Cyril|
|Albu, Austen||Baird, John||Benson, Sir George|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.)||Blackburn, F.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Beaney, Alan||Blyton, William|
|Boardman, H.||Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics. S. W.)||Holman, Percy||Probert, Arthur|
|Bowen, Frederic (Cardigan)||Houghton, Douglas||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Boyden, James||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Hoy, James H.||Rhodes, H.|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Hunter, A. E.||Rodgers, W. T. (Stockton)|
|Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Rogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.)|
|Chapman, Donald||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Ross, William|
|Collick, Percy||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Royle, Charles (Salford, West)|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Jeger, George||Short, Edward|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, s.)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Cronin, John||Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Dalyell, Tam||Kelley, Richard||Slater, Jo eon (Sedgefield)|
|Davies, C. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Kenyon, Clifford||Small, William|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Snow, Julian|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||King, Dr. Horace||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Lawson, George||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Deer, George||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Sp Iggs, Leslie|
|Delargy, Hugh||Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Diamond, John||Lipton, Marcus||Stonehouse, John|
|Dodds, Norman||Loughlin, Charles||Stones, William|
|Donnelly, Desmond||Lubbock, Eric||Strachey, Rt. Hon. John|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)|
|Edelman, Maurice||McInnes, James||Swain, Thomas|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Swingler, Stephen|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||McLeavy, Frank||Taverne, D.|
|Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Evans, Albert||Mahon, Simon||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Fernyhough, E.||Manuel, Archie||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)|
|Finch, Harold||Mason, Roy||Thornton, Ernest|
|Fitch, Alan||Millan, Bruce||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|Fletcher, Eric||Milne, Edward||Wade, Donald|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Mitchison, G. R.||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Monslow, Walter||Warbey, William|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Moody, A. S.||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|George, Lady Megan Lloyd (Crmrthn)||Moyle, Arthur||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Ginsburg, David||Neat, Harold||Whitlock, William|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Wigg, George|
|Greenwood, Anthony||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)||Willey, Frederick|
|Grey, Charles||Oliver, G. H.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Oram, A. E.||Williams, LI. (Abertillery)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Oswald, Thomas||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Griffiths, W. (Exchange)||Owen, Will||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Gunter, Ray||Padley, W. E.||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Pargiter, G. A.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Harper, Joseph||Parker, John||Woof, Robert|
|Hart, Mrs. Judith||Parkin, B. T.||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Hayman, F. H.||Pavitt, Laurence||Zilliacus, K.|
|Healey, Denis||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Rwly Regis)||Peart, Frederick||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Herbison, Miss Margaret||Pentland, Norman||Mr. Charles A. Howell and|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Popplewell, Ernest||Dr. Brougbton.|
That this House approves the policy set out in the White Paper on the Accession of Aden to the Federation of South Arabia (Command Paper No. 1814).