HC Deb 12 April 1967 vol 744 cc1177-9
11. Mr. Powell

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what interval of time he now expects to elapse between the commencement of the independence of the Federation of South Arabia and the completion of the withdrawal of British forces.

21. Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will delay the withdrawal of British troops from Aden until Egyptian troops withdraw from the Yemen.

25. Mr. Wall

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will now announce the programme for the withdrawal of British troops from Aden.

Mr. Healey

I have nothing to add to the statements made by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary on 20th March in the debate on the Consolidated Fund Bill, and on 10th April.—[Vol. 743, cc. 1091–4; Vol. 744, cc. 743–6.]

Mr. Powell

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall his indication in a reply to me on 1st March, that after independence for Southern Arabia there would be an interval before the final withdrawal of British troops? In view of the important contribution which such an interval could make to a peaceful solution in Southern Arabia, will the right hon. Gentleman reaffirm that important indication?

Mr. Healey

I do not want to encourage the right hon. Gentleman to draw conclusions which are not justified by what I said or what I now say. It will not be possible to withdraw the last British troops from the soil of South Arabia on the very day that South Arabia obtains independence, but I will bear in mind the considerations which the right hon. Gentleman has mentioned.

Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles

As the right hon. Gentleman said a few moments ago that there was no concerted will among the United Nations, would he agree that it would facilitate peaceful negotiations in Aden if the Government would at least declare one thing, namely, that they will definitely not abdicate to anarchy, and will stay there for as long as is necessary?

Mr. Healey

With respect, my right hon. Friend has discussed this on many occasions in the House, and so have I. I do not think that broad statements of a rhetorical character such as the hon. and gallant Gentleman has suggested are likely to help at all in the matter.

Mr. Stratton Mills

Having just returned from the Middle East, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is aware that I am advised that 45,000 Egyptian troops in the Yemen are now deployed in such a way along the Yemen border facing towards the Federation, and will he bear this in mind in settling his policy for the future defence of the Arabian Federation?

Mr. Healey

I will certainly bear in mind all the facts which are brought to my notice by sources at my disposal. I think that it might be helpful if the hon. Gentleman gave the figure of 45,000 to his right hon. Friend who spoke in the debate on Monday and said that it was 60,000.

Mr. Dickens

Is my right hon. Friend aware that while we on this side of the House appreciate that there need be no precise time between the departure of the last British soldiers from Aden and the date of independence, we are very much against any continuing defence commitment there involving further military expenditure?

Mr. Healey

I certainly will bear that in mind.

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