HC Deb 12 April 1967 vol 744 cc1201-2
52. Mr. Leadbitter

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for the early evacuation of British women and children from Aden; what steps have been taken to provide their fullest protection; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Healey

On the first part of the Question, I have nothing to add to my reply to the hon. Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher) on 15th March; on the second, the comprehensive range of measures taken to protect families includes patrols, guards, flood-lighting, escorts and the use of secure areas. It would not be in the interests of the safety of families in Aden for me to reveal details of these protective measures.—[Vol. 743, c. 111–2.]

Mr. Leadbitter

That is all very well, but will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that since that statement of his the Chairman of the United Nations Mission, Perez-Guerrero, has made some very disgraceful, irresponsible, and calculated comments which have added to the danger of these families and I am of the opinion that, unless immediate steps are taken to bring these families back much earlier, there will be a graver risk than need be taken?

Mr. Healey

I understand my hon. Friend's concern, but I must ask him to recognise that the withdrawal of families in an orderly way with their children will start in just over a fortnight's time. It would not be in the interests of the families, and certainly not of the morale of the troops serving in Aden, to take panic measures which do not have a real justification.

Mr. Stratton Mills

Does the Secretary of State accept that it is virtually impossible to protect families living in the Ma'alla district of Aden, and will he consider evacuating those homes first?

Mr. Healey

I will certainly take into account the point made by the hon. Member.