HC Deb 21 March 1973 vol 853 cc424-5
16. Mr. Boscawen

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the RAF airdrop of food supplies in Nepal.

Mr. Anthony Royle

The Royal Air Force airdrop of foodgrains in Nepal began on 3rd March, and by 20th March 1,000 metric tons had been dropped. We are hoping to complete the total airlift of 1,850 tons by the first week of April.

The operation has gone very well indeed. I am glad to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the Royal Air Force and Army personnel involved for their hard work and efficiency and to express appreciation for the effective support arrangements made by the Nepalese authorities. I am confident that this British effort will greatly strengthen the bonds of friendship between Nepal and the United Kingdom.

We are also most grateful to the Indian authorities for their co-operation over fuel supplies and prompt clearance for the necessary overflights of Indian airspace.

Mr. Boscawen

I congratulate my hon. Friend on the part he has played in bringing about this airlift. I also congratulate the personnel involved. Is not this a great assurance to our friends all over the world that where necessary, in a humanitarian cause, we not only can take the initiative but have the means of engaging in such a difficult and hazardous operation? Does not this further demonstrate the need for a high level of intelligent defence expenditure?

Mr. Royle

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his remarks. It is indeed a very satisfactory outcome. We have been able to do this in other parts of the world. Only recently we conducted a similar operation in the Sudan.

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