HC Deb 24 February 1965 vol 707 cc388-90
Mr. Sandys

(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement about the resignation of the Government of Aden and its effect on the holding of the forthcoming Constitutional Conference.

The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Anthony Greenwood)

I am informed by the High Commissioner that the Ministers of the Aden State Government resigned yesterday. The situation is still being discussed between us, but for this and other reasons it is clearly now most improbable that the Constitutional Conference can begin in London on 2nd March, as originally planned. I hope that the postponement need only be a short one.

Mr. Sandys

I am sure that the whole House regrets the difficulties which the Secretary of State is encountering in bringing this conference together. Will he assure us—I have no doubt that he can—that he recognises the importance of bringing into effect as quickly as possible the considerable constitutional advances which were agreed upon at the conference last summer? Will he keep the House informed of further developments?

Mr. Greenwood

I am most grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. I fully appreciate the need for speed in this matter. I think that it would be a great mistake to let any postponement which may be necessary drag on too long, and I have emphasised that in the communications which I have sent to South Arabia.

Mr. Amery

In view of the continuing Egyptian-inspired terrorism in Aden, and the declared view of the Egyptian Government that the conference should not take place, will the Minister make it plain to his right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary that this is not the time for a British Minister to visit Egypt?

Mr. Greenwood

I think that it is a time at which we should not score any points on a matter of this kind. The important thing is that we should keep the temperature down as much as we can so that the discussions, which, I hope, are to start shortly in Aden, will bring about a successful conclusion.

Mr. Taverne

Can my right hon. Friend give an indication of the reasons which lie behind the resignation of the Aden Government?

Mr. Greenwood

I understand that the Aden Ministers were not happy about a statement which emanated from the Federal Ministers and which was published on 21st February. Some of them wished to issue a rather strongly worded counter-statement which the High Commissioner thought would be inappropriate under all the circumstances. He was unable, though, to persuade them to withhold or modify the statement, and four of them resigned. Later in the day all the Government resigned.