§ 19. Mr. Cronin
asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty if he will make a statement on action taken by the Royal Navy to prevent British territory from being used as a base for hostilities against Cuba; and what consultations have taken place with appropriate United States authorities with regard to such preventive actions.
§ 30. Mr. Driberg
asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty if he will make a statement on recent incidents in the Bahamas, in which Royal Marines have been involved, arising out of the activities of anti-Castro Cuban émigrés.
§ Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing
Because the reply is somewhat lengthy I will circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Briefly the Senior Naval Officer West Indies has arranged for patrols of the Bahamas Cays over the last six weeks in consultation with the Governor of the Bahamas and the United States Administration and local co-operation with the United States Coastguard Service.
§ Mr. Cronin
While I appreciate that there are considerable difficulties and that it is necessary to patrol hundreds of islands, in view of the grave diplomatic issues involved will the hon. Gentleman ensure that the utmost vigilance is maintained?
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing
Yes, Sir; I will. The hon. Gentleman is very fair in saying that this is a difficult problem. There are also 88,000 sq. miles of sea to be patrolled. Consequently, it is not easy to find these very small boats.
§ Mr. Driberg
Can the hon. Gentleman say whether it is correct, as has been reported, that in one case a number of these émigrés were captured and were then allowed to retain the weapons which they had illegally in their possession?
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing
I will look into that question. I do not think it is one for me. I think it is a matter for the Attorney-General of the Bahamas to go into.
§ Mr. Rankin
With regard to Question No. 19, does the hon. Gentleman realise that personnel are being recruited and trained for these hostilities on United States territory? Will he take that point up also with the appropriate authorities?
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing
I do not accept that as a statement of fact, and if I did, I should not be responsible for it.
Following is the reply:In consultation with the Governor of the Bahamas, the Senior Naval Officer West Indies has arranged for patrols of the Bahamas Cays over the last six weeks. There has been full consultation with the United States Administration, and local co-operation with the United States Coastguard Service.During searches in early March, a small schooner and a quantity of arms were seized. On 31st March, H.M.S. "Londonderry" arrived off Norman Cay and conveyed 17 men, who had been arrested by Bahamian police, to Nassau. Their launch was towed to Nassau by a crew from H.M.S. "Londonderry".On 5th April a Royal Marine party, operating with Army and police officers, searched William Island. Two armed men were arrested, and a further party of five men escaped in a fast dinghy and were subsequently apprehended by a United States Coastguard cutter. Dumps of arms, food and fuel were discovered on William Island. In addition, nine Cuban exiles were captured on Andres Island and were transferred to H.M.S "Londonderry".