HC Deb 12 December 1963 vol 686 cc569-71
Mr. G. M. Thomson

(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what action Her Majesty's Government intend to take in connection with the exile yesterday of Abdullah al Asnag and other Adenese leaders to the Island of Kamaran.

The Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and for the Colonies (Mr. Nigel Fisher)

The hon. Gentleman is misinformed. Those detained are all being kept inside the Federation of South Arabia. Their detention is a matter for the Federal Government.

Mr. Thomson

I think the Undersecretary for correcting the information that has been conveyed in the Press today, but is he aware that while we all deplore Tuesday's bomb outrage, and hope that the reward that has been offered results in the perpetrators being brought to justice, there is bound to be concern about these apparently large-scale reprisals against the political leaders of the People's Socialist Party in Aden? Is there any evidence of their complicity in this outrage? Will charges be preferred against them and, if so, will Her Majesty's Government ensure that the normal processes of justice, to which we are bound by the Declaration of Human Rights, will be applied in the courts?

Mr. Fisher

These people are being detained because the High Commissioner and the Federal authorities consider that this is a necessary step in the immediate interests of public security. There is some reason to suppose—and I must tell the House this—that the bomb incident at Aden Airport on Tuesday was, in fact, part of an organised conspiracy rather than the work of an isolated individual. This is, of course, a provisional assessment. It cannot yet be absolutely confirmed, because police investigations are still continuing. I cannot say what charges, if any, will be brought until those investigations are completed.

Mr. Thomson

Since the Under-Secretary's comments are bound to bring back recollections of what happened in Nyasaland, can he give the House an assurance that these allegations of conspiracy will be brought out into the open in the court of law, or that the people against whom the allegations have been made will be released?

Mr. Fisher

I shall certainly not take refuge in any innuendo. I am now inquiring into this incident, which happened very recently, and I do not yet have full information at my disposal. I am simply keeping the House informed as we go along and I will make a further statement whenever hon. Members desire one.

Mr. Kershaw

Are not the Government of Aden justified in taking every precaution for security in a situation where so many nationals of a State which is by no means friendly are often excited by that State to overthrow British power in Aden?

Mr. Fisher

Although the measures being taken may, admittedly, appear somewhat drastic to us in London, I am sure that hon. Members appreciate that they are being taken by the Federal authorities in consultation with the High Commissioner in the light of their local knowledge of present conditions in Aden and their responsibility for ensuring public security. We must, at any rate for the time being, leave it to the judgment and assessment of the chaps on the spot, because I do not have sufficient information yet to justify any intervention by Her Majesty's Government.

Mr. Grimond

While accepting that security must have high priority in the mind of the Government of Aden, do I understand from the Minister's words that he is giving an undertaking that before the House rises for the Christmas Recess a further statement will be made on the situation?

Mr. Fisher

I said that it was my desire to keep the House informed at every stage and that if hon. Members wished me to make a further statement when I have more information I would do so.