HL Deb 19 December 1956 vol 200 cc1241-2

2.44 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government—

  1. (1) Whether they can make a statement in regard to the disorders in Bahrain during the first week in November;
  2. (2) Whether they can explain why permission was given by the Bahrain Government on Friday, November 2, for an anti-Anglo-French procession to take place;
  3. (3) Why, despite the most urgent and pressing representations of British firms that the civil authorities had lost control, British military protection, so readily available, was refused, with the result of great damage to British property, let alone serious danger to British life and limb;
  4. (4) To whom application should be made for financial compensation for damage sustained by British subjects owing to the failure of the authorities to maintain law and order.]


My Lords, as regards the first two parts of the Question, I refer to the statement which I made on November 20 on the situation in Bahrain. Her Majesty's Government are not responsible for the internal affairs of Bahrain, and the procession which took place on November 2 was licensed by the Bahrain authorities within the exercise of their normal and undoubted powers. In reply to the third part, the British authorities were clearly confronted with a very difficult decision, involving a number of conflicting considerations. Certainly there had been incidents resulting in damage to British property before British troops intervened, but according to all my information it is not correct to say that in general the civil authorities had at that stage lost control of the situation. The local police handled it with courage and determination. I am satisfied that in all the circumstances, and in spite of these very unfortunate incidents, the British authorities were filly justified in not calling upon British troops until requested by the Ruler to do so.

In the matter of compensation for damage, it is not possible to lay down any general principle, in view of the rapidly changing course of events on the day in question. But if the noble Lord will send me details of any cases of damage to British interests of which he has knowledge, I will gladly consider them and examine what advice might be given in each case.


My Lords, thank the noble Marquess for his Answer. I understand from it that Her Majesty's Government are satisfied that the matter was properly handled by the competent authorities and that nothing further is to be done in way of inquiry.


My Lords, I said in my original statement that we were satisfied that the decision of the authorities on the spot had been right.