HC Deb 17 July 1967 vol 750 cc1522-3
12. Sir T. Beamish

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in what terms he has informed the South Arabian Government that the British guarantee to protect South Arabia against external aggression is subject to the limitation that, should there be a prospect of major military operations, the United Kingdom could only act in co-operation with allies.

Mr. George Brown

Her Majesty's Government's guarantee to the South Arabian Government does not contain such a proviso.

Sir T. Beamish

In that case, how is the guarantee meant to square with the dogmatic assumption of the 1966 Defence White Paper that Britain would not undertake major operations of war except in co-operation with allies? Has that principle been stood on its head or are we guaranteeing South Arabia against only a little attack and not against a big one?

Mr. Brown

The principle has not been stood on its head, nor does the other point arise. The guarantee which we are giving to the new State, when it comes into force, does not seem to us to conflict with what was said in the White Paper.

Mr. Sandys

Since the main military external danger to South Arabia arises from the presence of Egyptian forces in the Yemen, will the right hon. Gentleman express to the Royalist Government of the Yemen, who are the Government whom he recognises, his satisfaction at the remarkable progress which they are making in expelling the Egyptian invaders?

Mr. Brown

I shall be happy to facilitate the conveyance of the right hon. Gentleman's views.

38. Mr. R. C. Mitchell

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what timetable he now envisages for the further constitutional steps in South Arabia.

Mr. George Brown

The Federal Government published as a supplement to their Gazette on the 1st of july a draft law to provide a Provisional Constitution to replace the present Federal Constitution. Copies are in the Library of this House. It is the intention that the new Constitution, which will facilitate the formation of a broader Government, should come into effect as soon as possible, probably by next month.

Mr. Mitchell

As one of the constitutional proposals is the broadening of the base of South Arabian Government, has my right hon. Friend any information about whether negotiations have started between that Government and the various terrorist organisations?

Mr. Brown

I would not answer in quite those terms but, as I said earlier, Mr. Hussein Bayoomi is having consultations, and I think—at any rate I hope—that we are moving towards the formation of a broader Government.

Mr. Thorpe

Since the basis of the Government's policy is the formation of a broadly-based Government containing the nationalists and the somewhat more feudal sheikhdoms, can the Foreign Secretary say whether recent events in the Crater area have heightened his expectation of success or reduced it?

Mr. Brown

The fact that, at the end, the issue in the Crater area was got under control with arrangements between the police and the Army becoming normal again probably means that we are back to square one and does not detract from our hopes of arranging a broader-based Government.

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