HC Deb 20 May 1968 vol 765 cc14-6
14. Mr. Marten

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the negotiations with South Yemen.

16. Mr. Wall

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on his recent talks with the Government of South Yemen.

Mr. M. Stewart

I have nothing to add to the reply my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs gave to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Dodds-Parker) on 13th May.—[Vol. 764, c. 182–3.]

Mr. Marten

Does the Minister recall that a number of British officials were dismissed by the South Yemen Government on the occasion when the British Ambassador asked our pilots not to fly over the South Yemen frontiers? This was not in the Answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Dodds-Parker). What is the position about compensation for the British officials who were dismissed?

Mr. Stewart

The interim settlement we made and the further settlement we intended to make carried certain obligations on the Aden Government of the kind which the hon. Member and others have mentioned.

Mr. Wood

Although there is a further Question later on the Order Paper about the position of individuals in South Yemen, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he has anything further to say now about the security of British installations and property in the Republic?

Mr. Stewart

The South Yemen Government said at the time when the negotiations were broken off that they wished their relations with this country to remain normal. I believe that is so and I do not think there is ground for anxiety on the point raised by the right hon. Gentleman.

34. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what has been the result of his consideration of the effect on the negotiations with South Yemen of the prosecution and sentencing to death, or to long terms of imprisonment, by that Government of former servants and members of the Aden Administration because of their service to, and work for the former British Administration; and whether he will refuse help of any sort until a satisfactory reply is received.

Mr. M. Stewart

The political trials were one of the factors taken into account in deciding on the timing and content of the recent negotiations on aid. As the negotiations ended without any agreement the question of future aid does not now arise.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that while people are being persecuted and prosecuted for the offence of having served our own regime it would be intolerable to give any aid or comfort to such a regime as the present?

Mr. Stewart

We were engaged in negotiations to give some aid beyond the interim aid. We took into account the facts—and they are serious and deplorable facts—to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred. We do not believe, for reasons which have been given to the House, that, for that cause, we should not have made any offer at all. However, the offer was in my judgment unwisely rejected and the question of aid therefore now does not arise at all.

Mr. Paget

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, so long as we remain patently impotent to protect our friends, it is not much use having a fleet of Polaris submarines?

Mr. Stewart

I am not quite sure of the moral my hon. and learned Friend is endeavouring to draw from that. I make no bones about the fact that we were not able to give those who had been friendly to us the protection we should have done, but in consequence of representations we made—I think that it was in large measure due to them—the political trials came to an end and no death sentences were carried out.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

As there is no question of any further negotiations or further aid, can the Foreign Secretary say whether Her Majesty's Government now assume responsibility for pensions to some of these people, who are very deserving and were being paid by Her Majesty's Government?

Mr. Stewart

These are obligations which are accepted by the South Yemen Government and are part of the Geneva Agreement governing interim aid, and they are not affected by the fact that the negotiations for further aid have not come to any conclusion.

Sir G. Nabarro

Now that the Foreign Secretary states that no further aid will be given in any circumstances, what steps does he propose to take in response to the threat of the South Yemen Government to nationalise the British oil refinery without compensation?

Mr. Stewart

That is a hypothetical question. I stated earlier that the attitude of the South Yemen Government is that they wish relations between our two countries to be normal.

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