HL Deb 13 June 1956 vol 197 cc921-78

THE EARL OF LISTOWEL rose to draw attention to the political situation in Aden and to move for Papers. The noble Earl said: My Lords, as this is the first opportunity since the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, returned, perhaps I may be allowed to congratulate him on his visit to Somaliland and Aden. It is not the first time that Somaliland and Aden have set eyes on a Minister from the United Kingdom, but there have been few previous past occasions, and I am sure that all noble Lords who have served at the Colonial Office, will agree that these visits do an immerse amount of good and strengthen the ties between us and the Colonies. We like to have the noble Lord reply to us about Colonial matters, but we never grudge him any time he may wish to spend on these visits.

My Motion this afternoon deals with Aden, and it raises, also, one or two general problems arising out of our policy towards Aden. I think I can start with a proposition with which all your Lordships will agree: namely, that both for the people of Aden and for this country it is of the utmost importance that Her Majesty's Government should have at the present time a really sound and adequate policy. We need a policy that will assure us the good will of the local population and will enable us as time goes on to build up a lasting and friendly relationship between Aden and the rest of the Commonwealth. I need hardly remind the House that we are responsible in the Colony and the Protectorate (in the main, I shall be speaking of the Colony, and when I use the word "Aden" without qualification I shall mean the Colony) for the welfare of about 800,000 persons. Looked at from our angle, the Port of Aden, which I believe is now refuelling about 100 ships a week on their way to and from India and the Far East, is of great importance, not to mention the enormous importance to us of Aden as a military and air base on the Arabian Peninsula. The strategic importance of Aden for East Africa and the Middle East has, I think, been accentuated by our evacuation of the Canal Zone—which I heard on the news to-day was completed six days ahead of the Treaty period—and also by our present difficulties in Cyprus. Aden is, indeed, a key point among the defence outposts of the Commonwealth.

These commercial and strategic interests of ours will be in serious danger if we get on the wrong side of moderate Arab nationalism. Again and again, looking back at the past, policies that have discounted moderate nationalism have been paid for in riot and revolt and have led in the end to separation from the Mother Country. Now, surely, is the time to avoid making mistakes in policy that will have to be paid for later on in violence or estrangement. It is exactly because we fear that Her Majesty's Government have committed such a mistake, and are about to persevere in it, in a policy that is antagonising our Arab friends in Aden, that we are so concerned about the new policy outlined in the statement of the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, to the Aden Legislative Council on May 19. This is a policy, on the face of it, that is bound to bring us into conflict with the desire of the whole politically-conscious Arab population for self-government and ultimately for the ending of colonial status.

It may be—and I hope that it is the case—that the statement of the noble Lord is interpreted quite differently by the Government from the way in which I, and, I believe, many others, have read it. I trust that our interpretation is wrong and that the noble Lord may put quite a different interpretation upon the words that he used. If this is the case, then I hope profoundly that the noble Lord will make it perfectly clear to us this afternoon what the policy of the Government really is. The people of Aden should know—and, indeed, it was the noble Lord's intention in making his statement that they should know—what are the Government's intentions as to their future and, of course, Parliament, both we and Members of the other place, should be told (I am sure that the Government again would agree with this) what are the precise measures of policy for which they are asking us to accept responsibility.

I shall proceed to give my understanding, imperfect as it may be, of what the noble Lord said, and he will, when he replies, tell me if I have got it wrong. The passage in the statement of the noble Lord which has caused most concern is as follows—and with your Lordships' permission, I will read it: Many of you have a perfectly legitimate desire to take a greater part in the affairs of Government and there is no reason why this desire should not be realised. But I should like you to understand that for the foreseeable future, it would not be reasonable or sensible, or indeed in the interests of the Colony's inhabitants, for them to aspire to any aim beyond that of a considerable degree of internal self-government. That, I believe, is a verbatim quotation from the report of the noble Lord's speech. The last sentence that I have just read appears to be a flat denial of eventual self-government for Aden, at least for as far as Her Majesty's Government can see into the future, which the Adenese, at any rate, will regard as a somewhat long distance. If Aden were to lose its strategic value, then, presumably, I take it, from the Government's point of view, British control would be allowed to lapse. But this is quite contrary to the long-accepted policy of all political Parties here—that of full self-government, within a reasonable time, as the goal of every British dependency. This basic principle of colonial policy has never hitherto been made contingent upon strategic considerations.


My Lords, for the purpose of clarity, would the noble Earl define exactly what he means by "full self-government"?


I am much obliged to the noble Lord, for his interruption. I shall get to that in a moment, if he will be kind enough to follow the course of my remarks. May I ask this question, to which perhaps he will reply on behalf of the Government, because I think it is an important question. Are Her Majesty's Government now enunciating the new and, in my view, dangerous doctrine that self-government is incom- patible with British strategic commitments and requirements? If that is the case, then it will have serious repercussions in many other Colonies besides Aden.

Now may I deal with the larger questions of policy to which the noble Lord referred, which obviously arise out of the problem of Aden. It is true, as we should all agree, that it is only the large units among our dependent territories that can become Commonwealth nations in the full sense of the word—nations capable of managing their own defence, their own relations with foreign countries, as well as their own internal affairs. The small units, some of them, at any rate, will achieve nationhood in other ways, such as federation with their neighbours—which is, of course, being tried by the West Indies—where these other ways are possible. Neither this alternative nor other alternatives is possible for an isolated territory like Aden; and Aden is clearly one of the many isolated Colonies that are too small and poor to become a nation State and will probably, if they are treated properly in the meantime—and that is our responsibility here—continue, after self-government, to look to us and the rest of the Commonwealth for their protection.

Let me make it perfectly clear that in our view—and here I am speaking for the Labour Party and, I hope, with a full sense of responsibility—every city or Island territory under British rule, however small it may be, and whether it is of strategic importance or not, should be able to look forward to full internal self-government. We have not in any way retracted from that, which we regard as an absolutely essential principle of colonial policy. In this fashion, the inhabitants of these small territories will come in time to the freedom and equality of the self-governing Commonwealth countries, and will exchange colonial status—this is what they are deeply anxious to do, because this is more a moral and psychological problem than anything else—for full Commonwealth status. Let me make it perfectly clear that we do not underestimate the importance of British strategic interest, but we do take the view, and we have always taken the view, that good will is a far better safeguard for British strategic interests than any political authority that is unpopular and irksome to the local population. May I say that this interpretation, whether it is correct or not—and the noble Lord, of course, will put me right if I have been wrong—of the noble Lord's statement at Aden is not confined to the political Opposition here or indeed to the Opposition Press.

I should like to quote a short comment from the Economist which I think everyone regards as a fairly independent periodical and one which is as a rule, far more unpalatable to noble Lords who sit on this side of the House than it is to the Party opposite. This is a short quotation from a comment in the Economist of May 26. Referring to the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, it says: His language was sadly governessy.' He lectured his audience on being 'reasonable' and 'sensible,' and on their perfectly legitimate desires.' And he added that self-government must be limited, as British economic and strategic commitments would allow no fundamental relaxation of responsibilities He gave no sign of recognising that he was up against the fist wave of a tide of national emotion, and that, unless he offered inspiring counter-attractions, even the pro-British citizens he was addressing would soon become South Arabian nationalist. The Economist, in the passage from which I have quoted, appears also to suggest that there was a patronising tone about the noble Lord's remarks which I am sure he himself did not intend but which I fear can hardly have failed to give offence. Perhaps the best test of the validity of this criticism is to put ourselves in the place of his Arab audience. I wonder how we should feel if a visiting member of President Eisenhower's Administration were to tell us that it is not "reasonable" or "sensible" for us to want complete control of our internal affairs because the American airfields in East Anglia are essential to the security of the United States? I think that that is a fair parallel, and it is often easy to see things if we are looking at them from another point of view.

The worst flaw in this policy statement, to my mind, is its lack of imaginative understanding of the point of view of the moderate Nationalists, represented by the Aden Association and by the Arab commercial community. These are people who want, and who have always wanted, to retain the British connection. They have been looking forward for a long time to self-government within the Commonwealth. They do not in the least desire—it is the last thing they want—to be swallowed up by their backward Arab neighbours. But if the claims of these moderate Arabs are turned down, as the noble Lord and the Government appear to have turned them down, we shall drive more and more of their supporters into the arms of the extreme Nationalists. As the noble Lord well knows—I daresay he met some of them when he was in Aden—there are political groups in Aden, the United National Front and the South Arabia League, which would dearly like to merge Aden into a Greater Arabia. They are assisted in their work of proselytising among the Arabs by a continuous bombardment of wireless propaganda from Cairo. They have already made converts in the unskilled labour force, which is dissatisfied after the recent Arab strikes and which includes a large number of immigrant workers from the Yemen. It would be folly to underestimate the potential following of these spokesmen of Pan-Arab Nationalism.

The policy I would urge the Government to adopt, before it is too late and we lose the good will of our present friends in the Arab community, is one that offers the Arab population of Aden an equal partnership with us in all walks of life. By that I mean not only a political partnership, in which we should promise to do our utmost to speed up the stages of constitutional development towards internal self-government. I mean also—and I am sure it is no less important from the point of view of the Adenese—an economic and social partnership which will steadily bring more Arabs into the better paid jobs undertaken by craftsmen and skilled workers, into clerical posts in businesses and Government offices, into the main professions, such as teaching and medicine, and which will ultimately, in the course of time, give them a share at least in the management and operation of local enterprises, such as the Port itself and the great new refinery.

Surely the best way of countering Pan-Arab nationalism and the misleading propaganda put out by its supporters is to display to the people of Aden a broad vista of the growing freedom and the varied occupational opportunities which they will certainly have in continued association with us. I only wish the noble Lord's speech had been an offer of this kind. But the noble Lord seemed far more anxious to limit political advance than to encourage it. He said nothing about advance in the other fields to which I have just referred. I am sure he would agree that the political programme of the Aden Association is not by any means unreasonable, if it is compared with similar programmes of moderate political parties in other Colonies. I believe that the Association is asking for an elected majority in the Legislative Council and for some unofficials in ministerial posts, both of which are recognised steps in the progress of every Colony towards self-government. The place and the timing of this programme are, of course, matters which should be carefully discussed between the Association and Her Majesty's Government; but if we desire a full internal self-government as the aim, then surely we cannot refuse the means of achieving it.

I should like at this point to ask the noble Lord who is to reply a question. I find it rather difficult to believe that the noble Lord—though I am sure he tried—was able, during his brief visit to Aden, to give the full consideration that he would wish to give to the claims of the Aden Association. I should therefore like to ask him whether he would be willing, or at any rate whether he would ask his right honourable friend the Secretary of State and Her Majesty's Government if they would be willing, to invite representatives of the Aden Association to London at a convenient moment, not too far hence, for discussions. I am not suggesting that further constitutional changes should be made (I know that the Government have expressed this view) during the lifetime of the present Council, but it is hard to see why there should not be a larger number of elected members, and perhaps a transfer from officials of some ministerial functions, in the lifetime of the next Legislative Council. That surely is a matter that deserves most careful consideration by Her Majesty's Government, in order to see whether or not some concession could be made—or, rather, should I say, whether some advancement or encouragement should be given.

Another demand, or request, of the Aden Association is that Arabic should be recognised as an official language. I cannot help feeling that this, again, is a matter which deserves most careful consideration. If this could be done without discouraging English as the lingua franca, there would obviously be much to be said for it, particularly if it would admit Arabs to posts from which they are debarred only by their ignorance of the English language. Another demand of the Association, which again seems to me to be most reasonable and to deserve careful study, is that more attention should be paid, both by Her Majesty's Government and by the Administration of Aden, to public education, because it is only by improvements in the educational system that the local people will be able to qualify for the skilled, clerical and professional posts, at present largely held by immigrants.

I do not think it is possible to over-emphasise the importance of education: it is the key to the tempo of Arab advance, and the pace of Arab progress, both political and social, will depend entirely on the provision of better educational facilities. I have noted, in the course of my researches before venturing to address your Lordships on this sub-pect, that a five-year educational programme from 1955 to 1960 is seriously trying to make amends for lost time, and includes the provision of five new primary schools for boys and five for girls, which will exactly double the present number of Government primary schools. Everyone will be delighted that that is the intention and purpose of the Administration, but it is even more important to give a larger number of local children access to secondary education, and to technical training courses, leading to skilled employment in industry. Perhaps the Government would consider whether a further grant could not be made from the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund towards secondary schools in Aden, scholarships for overseas students and vocational courses for would-be technicians. I should be greatly obliged if the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, could say something about the intentions of the Government in regard to these facilities and to giving Arabs access to better paid and more responsible posts of one kind or another.

I should like a more generous attitude, if I may put it that way, towards political and social advance in Aden to be coupled with a strong and repeated dose of accurate information about conditions of life in the Yemen and Saudi-Arabia. The "Voice of the Arabs" radio, which the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, from his experience and travel in that part of the world knows much better than I do, which operates, I am told, night and day from Cairo, exhorts its listeners to exchange British tyranny for the benevolent rule of the Imam. But it does not point out to them that they would exchange British justice and order for the personal rule of an autocrat, or find themselves rapidly brought down to the primitive and poverty-stricken level of the Yemen. Nor does it add that in Saudi Arabia slavery and the slave trade still flourish. I know that those of your Lordships who are interested in reports from that part of the world, from the Anti-Slavery Society, must have been alarmed by what has been happening recently. The bribery and corruption there are probably unequalled in any other country.

What do we do in reply to all this propaganda from neighbouring countries from further afield? We have the Aden Broadcasting Service which gives a service in Arabic for about three and a half hours a day. Surely, it should be the prime duty of this local broadcasting service (because I do not feel that the B.B.C. could adequately tackle this problem) to answer this mischievous propaganda from Cairo and the charges that are made, and also to explain to the local people the solid advantages of British rule. I do not see how they can possibly do this when broadcasting hours are so limited. I hope that the noble Lord will seriously consider providing the money or the personnel or both—in fact. whatever may be required—to expand this vital service.

In conclusion may I put the problem quite simply? I should like the Government to recognise—I believe they may recognise this; I hope they do—that, in the long run, the political future of Aden will be a simple choice between union with its Arab neighbours and full internal self-government within the Commonwealth. I discount coercion. I do not believe that, even in Cyprus, a policy of coercion will be countenanced by public opinion here for a very long period of time. I do not think that in these days we can seriously consider applying that method of rule. These then are the simple alternatives. We all know that self-government within the Commonwealth would abound with advantages both for the people of Aden and for us. Equally, we all know that everyone would be the loser from an Arab union. But unless the Government modify their present policy, unless they are more imaginative in their approach to our friends among the Arabs in Aden, and offer forthwith to Aden the equal partnership that we and the Commonwealth have always held out to all our dependencies, I am gravely afraid that we shall lose Aden in the way that we lost Ireland and in the way that we are now losing Cyprus. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.

3.2 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Earl who introduced this Motion is, if I may respectfully say so, always heard with interest and with respect in this House. When he was in office we did not always agree with him. We recognised him—and I think increasingly recognised him—as a painstaking and sympathetic administrator. To-clay he has made a most interesting speech. He will not mind my saying that it was rather a mixed speech. He said he was speaking for his Party. We know how Party manifestos are prepared, with a bit here and a bit there to suit all tastes—except, of course, that of the noble Viscount, Lord Stanigate: nobody can satisfy him, and perhaps he will intervene later. With the bits which I suspect were those of the noble Earl I found myself increasingly in agreement, but then, when he strayed into "isms" and generalities and, if he will forgive the expression, clichés, he seemed to me to be less in touch with reality.

I would certainly agree with one thing he said. I am not accusing the Government of not having a policy, but it is vital that we should have a policy as regards Aden, and equally necessary that we should make that policy plain, not only to everybody in the Colony and Protectorate of Aden but to the whole world. That is a policy and this is a subject which must be treated in a fair and true perspective and with a due sense of realism. I do not think anybody would dispute that we cannot treat Aden as an isolated territory or as an isolated subject. An interesting thing about the noble Earl's speech was that, from time to time, when I think he was speaking from his own heart, he spoke of the vital part Aden played in the geography, strategy and economics of the world. Yet when he came down to the Colony of Aden, which is only a small, though the most densely populated, part of the area, he seemed to think that it could be treated in isolation. I am quite sure that Aden, the territory, cannot be treated in isolation, and I am equally sure that you cannot treat the Colony of Aden and the vast, if less populous hinterland of the Protectorates, as separate. You certainly cannot treat Aden in isolation.

Aden has always been important, but to-day Aden occupies a key position in the Commonwealth and, indeed, in the free world. It is a vital link in Commonwealth communications. It is perhaps one of the greatest, if not the greatest, bunkering ports of the world. Ships of every territory bunker in Aden; they make their round voyages and they come back and bunker in Aden. It is an oil bunkering station of international importance and is served by a first-class refinery. All these interests vitally affect not only this country but the whole Commonwealth and, indeed, the whole of Western Europe; and they are interests which must be safeguarded. Prior to this debate I have been reading things said or written here and there about Aden. This is certainly not a criticism of the greater part of the speech of the noble Earl, but I must say that some of the criticism of Government policy that I have read shows a singular lack of appreciation of local realities. To hear or to read some of it—I think there is a little of it in the noble Earl's speech—one would suppose that this distant territory was entirely occupied by sophisticated gentlemen, all of whose thoughts and activities were motivated (I believe that is the right phrase nowadays) by the Declaration of Human Rights and other similar Charters.

If we are to draw parallels, I believe we should find a much truer parallel to Men and the Protectorate behind it by going a good deal further back and taking the parallel of the Wars of the Roses in this country. In the fifteenth century discontented nobles of York or Lancaster, according to the political climate of the day, migrated to France or to Scotland, there to recuperate and to try to stir up sympathy for their grievances; and France and Scotland indiscriminately backed Yorkists or Lancastrians in order to "down" England. In the twentieth century, a number of nobles in the Protectorates of Aden migrate across the frontier into the Yemen or into Saudi Arabia to the northeast, just as their English prototypes in the fifteenth century used to move across into France or Scotland. And the parallel is still more exact when one finds that both the Yemen and Saudi Arabia are only too willing to play the old game that France and Scotland used to play in encouraging the dissidents against England.

Meanwhile, I am sure it is true (and I would ask the noble Lord who will reply to confirm it) that, just as was the case more than five and twenty years ago when I had to administer these territories, the vast majority of the Sultans are loyal to their protector—Britain—and the vast mass of the people want security, prosperity and peace under British protection. I believe that is a far truer picture; and it is our duty and our obligation to give to Aden, and to the Protectorates and the Sultans, that peace and that protection. After all, that is what "Protectorate" means; it means that one protects the people to whom one has given a guarantee. I use the word "guarantee" advisedly, because under the Treaties or Agreements, which go back many decades, we have agreed with all these Sultans that we will protect them and their people.

I believe that they are anxious to-day, but not in the way mentioned by the noble Earl. Their anxiety is quite a different anxiety. I agree that it is stimulated, and I shall have a word to say about propaganda in a minute, when we shall be in much closer agreement. They are misled by the flood of propaganda that comes out from Cairo and even more distant stations. But they are not anxious about self-government, though people in the Colony would like a little more of that. I find nothing in what was said to them by my noble friend which excludes that. The real anxiety of these Sultans is: "Are you going to clear out or are you going to be kicked out? Are you going to surrender Aden and the Protectorates? Are you going to surrender us, the Sultans you have guaranteed? Are you going out as we have been told you have gone out of other places?"

My Lords, it must be made perfectly plain that we are not going out and that we are going to discharge our duty to these people whom we have to protect. The loyal Sultans should be defended and enabled to defend themselves. Local troops and levies should be well officered, well armed and well trained. British officers have a great experience and an almost inherent genius for this. I saw that as a Service Minister and as a Colonial Minister, with the Iraq Levies, the Arab Legion, and the levies on the Trucial Coast, to say nothing of our magnificent East and West African troops, differing in every way, officered, after they were trained, partly by their own people but initially, and still to-day, officered by British officers from British regiments who love the life. They get to love their troops and their troops trust them; and one cannot have a better or more coherent force than that. I am not sure how those officers are selected to-day, but if I may venture one word of advice it is this: Army officers are best on the ground and air officers are best in the air. That is no reflection on what the Air has done in Aden, for it has done a most remarkable job and is doing a wonderful job to-day. I hope we shall not hear in this debate too much about bombing, for, as a matter of fact, nothing preserves the peace with fewer casualties than the Air Force does.

It may interest your Lordships to know something which I came upon when I was Secretary of State for the Colonies more than five and twenty years ago. The noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Portal of Hungerford, who is not here to-day, was then in Aden enjoying his first command as a young group captain, and I believe it was the then Group Captain Portal who instituted these air patrols. It was a fascinating business. I talked to the Sultans about it, for I did pay a visit. The noble Earl is a little unkind to some of his predecessors; et ego in Arcadia vixi.At any rate I have travelled in those regions. In those days there was not so much of this Yemen and Saudi Arabia business, though the chief occupation, or favourite sport, of subjects of some of these Sultans, I regret to say, was the raiding of convoys coming down from the Yemen. That, naturally, had to be stopped, and an aeroplane used to fly up with a political officer on board, an admirable fellow who spoke fluent Arabic, with a small aircrew and no escort. They came down in the territory of the peccant Sultan. There was no need for them to guard the plane, for the Sultan's guard looked after it, while the political officer reasoned with the Sultan and the Sultan brought his recalcitrant subjects to justice. Then, after a good meal of a whole sheep, enriched no doubt by the eye of the sheep, competed for by the political officer and the air officer, they went off again. It all went very well.

Of course we have to continue that protection. That is our obligation to the Sultans; and they have the corresponding duty of loyalty to us, their protectors. It is a long time since I had to administer these Treaties but my recollection is that under them we appoint a Resident and give advice. And we have the right to approve a ruler, and, in the last resort, the right to remove a ruler if he is a bad ruler or will not take the advice which is in the interests of his people. It is in the interests of those people themselves that we should exercise that power, if it is necessary. There is another power—the power of deportation. I am not going to be wholly destructive, but it is very necessary to recognise that, should there be a lot of Yemeni immigrant labour—and there are a great many Yemeni; or at least there used to be, even in my time, in the docks—and should any of these people stir up trouble, they are not citizens of the Aden Colony or of any of the Protectorates. If they make trouble and are subversive, when they may well be drawing good pay in Government service or on public works, they ought to go. And, believe me, not a dog will bark at their going.

I have dwelt upon our duty to safeguard the interests there not only of Britain but of the world—and it is our duty, and our contractual duty, to these Sultans. But none of this rules out constitutional advance in the Colony. Some elected members, I understand, have just joined the Assembly. The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, did not suggest that we ought to go further during the lifetime of the present Parliament there. After that, we might move forward to something more. I read my noble friend's address to the Legislative Council, and I do not find there anything against such an idea—on the contrary, if I read it aright, my noble friend said that they should be looking forward to taking an increasing part in the internal government (I do not think he suggested going further) of the country.

Was it foolish or reactionary or illiberal to say: "You have just started having your members in this Parliament: let us see how it works"? Time is a great solvent. Why should we rush? Do let us be realistic in this matter, too. After all, the first prerequisite of self-government is a capacity to govern, because government should be in the interests of all the people. And had we not better see how this works, for, after all, we are the trustees, and we cannot give up that trusteeship. I do not understand the allusion which the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, made to the Administration of President Eisenhower, to whom we are all so devoted. He said, I think, that if President Eisenhower's Administration told us that we were not to vote at the next election, or something of that kind, we should not like it. I could not see that that remark had much relevance. After all, with all our love and respect for President Eisenhower, we realise that he is not the Sovereign of Great Britain or the British Commonwealth. Therefore I do not think that that remark had very much to do with the point.

In the Protectorate—and one cannot consider the Colony without considering the Protectorate, the noble Earl, I think, advocated federation. I do not disagree with that. I think it might be, and probably would be, a good thing if there were federation of the Sultanates in the Protectorate; or perhaps it might grow up by federation of groups of Sultanates. I imagine that that would be a thing which Her Majesty's Government and the Residents would encourage. But federation is a very tender and slow-growing plant, especially in countries where there has been a lot of mutual hostility. After all, one of the occupations of most of these Arabs in the past (I hope I do not malign them at all, for they are a fine manly people) has been fighting their neighbours. In my early days I was told there were two things one could not stop an Arab doing: one was intriguing and the other was having a fight. Of course we ought not to do either of those things, but if you have been fighting your neighbour it takes a little bit of time to federate with him. So, though all in favour of federation, I think it may be of slow growth.

Lastly—and I have spoken longer than I meant to do—I come to something about which I can most wholeheartedly agree with the noble Earl who introduced this Motion, and that is the cold war, or the tepid war. It has been, and is being, waged against us insidiously and intensively the whole way through the Middle East. I would join with the noble Earl in saying to the Government: "Do for Heaven's sake make sure that our propaganda is right!" I could not agree more with him. Propaganda is the most potent weapon in the cold war. It is the weapon which our enemies use. We ought to answer—you have to answer lies; and I say answer them quickly. But when you answer a lie simply by denying it, you give a certain currency to it as well.

Therefore, I say, let your propaganda be positive and adapted to the people to whom it is addressed. After all, propaganda or public relations is not very different from salesmanship. You have to adapt yourself to your audience. The kind of thing that might appeal to the noble Earl in the Labour Party would not be much good in trying to sell something to the Unionist Women's Conference which the Prime Minister is now addressing. A slightly different approach is needed, one calculated to appeal to the people to whom you are trying to sell the thing. Tell the truth—never fail to do that. Go on telling the positive truth; go on telling the truth, through the medium of the B.B.C., to these people in good Arabic. Tell them the truth about the Yemen and about Saudi Arabia. It will strike a chord. The Yemen makes some claim to this territory, which it did occupy some hundreds of years ago, and it was then turned out by the Turks and never got back. But there were some more recent incursions, and some of these Sultanates were under the bondage of the Yemen for a few years when I suppose we could not rescue them at that moment. And they had, I understand, a frightful time. They were subjected to torture and slavery. It is perfectly true, I am told, that people were carried away into slavery—slavery is commonplace in these countries—and several perfectly disgusting things which I will not mention in this august assembly were also done to them.

I do not see why we should not tell a little of the truth about our enemies, against all the lies they are telling about us. I see that the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, has a Motion on the Order Paper, with no date fixed, about propaganda in all these countries. I hope he will put it down for some date and we shall he able to debate it. Let us tell our own story. It is a very good story to tell, with nothing to be ashamed of in it. I am sure that if we did that, it would give great encouragement to our friends. I would say finally—and I hope it is a message which will go out from this House, not just to the Government but to these loyal Sultans who are looking to us—that the maintenance of the Pax Britannnica in Aden and its hinterland is our duty to that territory, to the Commonwealth and to the free world; and let no one doubt that we will do our duty.

3.30 p.m.


My Lords, this is the first occasion upon which I have had the honour of addressing our Lordships' House and I venture to ask that I may be accorded the indulgence and consideration which your Lordships always so generously accord on these occasions. Curiously, it is the second maiden speech I have made from this Bench, because it so happened that I first spoke as a Member of another place but in this Chamber here a few years ago.

Since the war, as the noble Earl who opened the debate said, it has been the declared object of British colonial policy under successive British Governments to bring the colonial territories to fill self-government and ultimately to independence within the Commonwealth. In the case of the larger Colonies, even if progress towards nationhood has sometimes been slow ox intermittent, it has at least been possible to see where we are going. But what of the smaller colonial territories—territories perhaps incapable of sustaining an independent economic existence, or politically too weak to play their part in the world as independent nations? Many examples at once spring to mind. To the difficulties arising from their size or economic viability must be added strategic considerations or the vital economic needs of Britain or, indeed, those of the free world. Some cif these territories owe their very existence to such strategic considerations. In other cases they are subject to important external factors or to the designs or claims of other Powers. I submit to your Lordships that these are considerations which cannot simply be overlooked or lightly brushed aside.

There is, in fact, a great basic question involved. At what point must or should the interests of a relatively small number of people—indeed, the right of self-determination, if you like—be subordinated or qualified, at any rate for a temporary period, by the wider interests of Britain and of the free world? It is a question to which we have to provide an answer. And let us bear in mind that this problem exists not only in the British Commonwealth. Would the Americans be willing to cede Okinawa should there be a demand there for self-determination and independence? Would the Russians be prepared to hand back Petsamo to Finland? Do not let us always regard ourselves as the villain of the piece. This is a problem which has to be tackled with imagination and with methods which will vary in every case, and for which occasionally even quite unorthodox s solutions should be devised. I do not believe that it is possible to lay down hard and fast rules.

Aden and the Aden Protectorates afford classic examples of this problem, with all its difficulties. All the ingredients are present—the strategic and economic importance of the territories, their lack of economic viability, their backward political state and the covetous eyes turned upon them by their neighbours. As the noble Earl said, it raises a triple problem—a problem not only of the Aden Colony but of the Eastern Protectorate and the Western Protectorate. The Colony to-day comprises some 130,000 inhabitants and is steadily growing. When we occupied it in 1839 it was still very much "The Barren Rocks of Aden" and except as a coaling station it remained comparatively unimportant until the beginning of the last war. Since the war there have been tremendous steps. The revenue has gone up from £145,000 in 1938–39 to nearly £2½. million in 1953–54 and the same thing is true of exports and imports. With the help of grants from the Colonial Development Funds, great steps have been taken in building up modern services, public utilities and so forth, and the Aden Port Trust have continued their work of development. And to this must now be added the increased importance of the port of Little Aden as a result of the establishment of the new refinery. All this is the joint work of British enterprise, British officials and British merchants and the inhabitants of the Colony itself.

When we are dealing with the Colony, let us remember that of its inhabitants 79 per cent. are true Arabs, but it is a cosmopolitan place, with Indians, Somalis and many other races represented. Constitutional progress has been slow, partly because of the small population in the past and more recently because there was no demand for it. But last year a radical step was taken with the introduction of the electoral principle for some seats on the Legislative Council. Certainly last year, I can say frankly, there was no doubt whatever in our minds that the Constitution as it was then introduced met with the full wishes of the people of the Colony, including those who were politically minded.

But in the Protectorates, conditions are entirely different. There we have a number of more or less organised sheikdoms, emirates and sultanates, varying in their relationships, some of them linked closely to one another and some of the smaller subordinated to others in certain cases. The Eastern Protectorate, mainly the Hadramaut, stretching up towards Saudi Arabia, with its seven States, has been up to now internally quiet and contented. It has been pacified in the last twenty-five years. On the whole it is poor and arid, but now the prospect of discovering oil there opens up entirely new vistas. On the other hand, the Western Protectorate contains some fifteen main States with a common frontier with the Yemen. The country is entirely different from the Eastern Protectorate, rising in many places to 6,000 feet. From my visit last year, the best description I can give is that it is like the old North-West Frontier of India, and that applies as much to the temperament and character of the people as it does to geography. Roads are poor or non-existent and in general it has been a backward area.

But there again there has been economic development. In two States in the Lower Yafai and Fadhli Sultanates, there has been the development of the Abyan Cotton Scheme, which, from producing 100 bales of first-class cotton in 1949, is now producing 24,000 bales in 1954, worth some £2½ million. This scheme is capable of further development, I was told, by another £2½ million worth of cotton within the next five years. So far as the Western Protectorate is concerned, although the area is not fully pacified and incidents have been endemic for many years, it has been possible with our comparatively small security forces to keep it at least quiet.

So one is bound to ask: why should it be that the whole of this area has now become an urgent problem? It is not, as one might suppose, that the Yemen has suddenly launched new territorial claims on it. As the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, said, it was occupied by the Yemeni for only a hundred years, from 1630 onwards. In fact, every year at the General Assembly of the United Nations the Yemeni delegate raises the formal claim to the whole of the territory, but that is firmly but courteously rejected every year by the representatives of Her Majesty's Government. Of course, during this same period there have been sporadic raids across the frontier by Yemeni forces, and gifts of food, money and arms have been given to subversive elements.

The reason for the sudden change in this position is fourfold. Paradoxically enough, the first reason may be said to be the great, increasing improvement in the standards of living of the people of the Western Protectorate as a result of the economic development and the Abyan Scheme. The economic conditions contrast noticeably with the primitive, almost medieval, conditions which exist in Yemen. And, having regard to the fact that the inhabitants in Southern Yemen belong to the Shafei sect, to which the inhabitants of the Western Protectorate also belong, and are fundamentally hostile to the ruling Zeidis of North and Central Yemen, it is easy to understand how the Imam and his advisers would become apprehensive over this growing prosperity and improving standards of living in this neighbouring territory of the Western Protectorate.

The second factor to which the noble Earl alluded just now and which has led to increased Yemeni pressure has undoubtedly been the proposals for federation which were put forward in a tentative form two years ago. Clearly, a number of small States, scattered over a large area, cannot in the long run hope to achieve full economic or political development unless something can be done to associate them more closely one with the other. That was the object of the federation proposals. No attempt was made to enforce those proposals on the rulers or on the people against their wishes. Only recently the rulers have indicated that they accept this conception of closer association and are prepared to sit down together and work out proposals for carrying it out. But there again it is easy to see that the rulers of the Yemen would become apprehensive at the prospect of a consolidated State emerging side by side with them and thus frustrating the long-term aims which they have always had.

Then I believe that the third factor which has contributed to this increase of Yemeni pressure, and also to pressure from Saudi Arabia, was the probable existence of oil in the Eastern Protectorate. Oil Petroleums Limited are drilling there, and I understand that the prospects are most encouraging. This not only encouraged the cupidity of the two neighbouring Governments but at the same time helped to arouse in the minds of the Yemeni rulers the fear that they were seeing a great stride forward in the conditions of living of the people of the Protectorate, to their own disadvantage.

The last factor has been the growth of Arab nationalism throughout the whole of the Middle East, under the inspiration of Colonel Nasser and the Egyptian Government. When I was in the Protectorate a year and a half ago Arab nationalism was a comparatively unimportant factor. It is true that "The Voice of the Arabs" was already broadcasting and was having some effect, but it was comparatively unimportant. It is only in this last year that propaganda has been stepped up to the extent that it has, with its violence and provocation; and to this has been added the implicit threat in the military treaty recently signed between the Imam and Colonel Nasser and the King of Saudi Arabia. No doubt this propaganda has been falling upon some fertile soil, due to Yemeni intrigue and aggression; and one must accept the fact of the natural feelings of the Arab people linked with the rest of the Arabian world by language and religion. Certainly it had its greatest effect among the Yemeni heavy manual labourers in the Colony itself. I would venture to say that it must have been this Yemeni element which provided many of the demonstrators who were said by the Press to have greeted my noble friend Lord Lloyd when he visited the Colony recently.

But, in general, I believe that the success of Arabic propaganda, Egyptian propaganda and Yemeni propaganda has been due mainly to the feeling among the people of the Protectorates—particularly the Protectorates—and including some of our best friends among the rulers, that we did not intend to stay. That feeling was derived from withdrawals from other parts of the world, including the neighbouring territories of Eritrea, Somalia and so on. Constantly they said to me: "You have gone away everywhere else. What reason have we to think that you will stay here? What reason have we got to remain loyal to you? Why should we not make terms with the Imam?" I think that something has been done to dissipate these doubts by official statements made at the time of my visit, and more recently by my noble friend Lord Lloyd, that we do not intend to abandon our responsibilities in this area. Certainly the despatch of Regular British troops, and the improvements which have been made in the Aden Protectorate levies and the Government guards in the past year, have helped in this respect. I would venture to say that in the past there have been far too few officers in the Aden Protectorate levies, manned at that time by the R.A.F. Regiment, who understood Arabic or really understood the mentality of the people. I understand that that has now been changed and that progress has been made; but I would suggest to my noble friend that we should find out where the remaining officers of the Sudan Defence Force, who left in the course of the past four or five years, are. There must be many of these young men who have gone back to their regiments and who have a knowledge of Arabic and could be employed in this part of the world.

It seems to me, however, that the most notable contribution that we can make to a reassurance of the minds of the people of the Aden Colony and the Protectorates is to make it quite clear where we are going. I believe that often it is doubts and misunderstanding as to what our intentions are which lead to difficulties. My noble friend at the conclusion of his recent visit made it clear that British interests, as well as the needs of the peoples themselves, and our obligations to them and their rulers, made it imperative for Britain to remain in that part of the world for the foreseeable future. But that is no reason why we should not indicate as clearly as we can the direction in which we consider that constitutional and economic and social progress can be made. Unlike in other places, where sometimes we have allowed ourselves to be carried along by events, let us in this area take the initiative, and let us leave the inhabitants, and, indeed, the whole world, under no doubt as to what direction we are proceeding in and-at what pace we hope to proceed.

I readily accept the fact that it is impossible to lay down a hard and fast scheme, or anything approaching a timetable. But it is my view—and it is one that I held at the time of my visit—that we should make it clear that, so far as the Protectorates are concerned, our ultimate intention is to foster the creation of an Arab State on the lines of development of Jordan. Of course, this is going to take a long time. In the first instance, there must be closer association. British control must remain as long as it is needed to enable us to carry out our obligations towards the rulers and to ensure the strategic requirements of Britain and of the free world. But ultimately there is no reason why it should not lead to complete independence on the lines of Jordan, in close association with Britain.

The tempo would inevitably depend on events in the Aden Colony itself. Whether that Colony could ultimately be absorbed into the Arab State, as many of the inhabitants would like, must depend on our continued strategic and other requirements. This is one of those cases where other wider considerations simply cannot be completely ignored. I would venture to say to the noble Earl who opened the debate that this is not a new principle. It has been enunciated in the past without contradiction, and it was brought out clearly in the recent Malta Round Table Conference Report, which was signed by the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, and other leaders of the Opposition. This Report stated, in regard to Malta, that: Owing to the special conditions the road to full self-government was blocked. I do not know how the noble Earl reconciles that statement in the Report with his earlier statement in regard to Labour Party policy.

But whatever our strategic requirements, and however long we may have to stay there, I do not think that anyone can contest the fact that it is our object and aim to develop in the Colony the fullest possible measure of internal self-government within the Commonwealth. However, I should not wish to see progress in the Protectorates, at the rate which I have indicated, held up owing to the need for us to retain a greater measure of control within the Colony itself. I will therefore suggest that this question of whether the Colony can ultimately be integrated under the Protectorates is one which can be held over for the time being until we can see more clearly where we are going. We do not know, and we cannot foretell, with the great strategic developments which are taking place throughout the world, exactly what our needs will be, although I must say that recent political changes in Ceylon seem to me to make it more important than ever before that we should maintain our position in Aden.

I should like to ask my noble friend who is to reply, on the point whether he would consider again, with the First Lord of the Admiralty, the project which was raised a year or so ago by the chairman of the Aden Port Trust for the construction of a dry dock at Aden which would serve naval and merchant vessels, including, of course, the tankers serving the refinery. It seems to me that this project has now assumed great importance. When my noble friend was in Aden recently he stated that there could be no change in the present Constitution of the Colony during the life of the present Council. I do not contest that view, but I would suggest to him, with all respect, that it would be desirable to give practical proof to the inhabitants of our intentions for the future by taking steps within a reasonable time, perhaps the next twelve months, to examine the position and to see (and then announce) how far we can hope to go. I believe that pointing the way now can strengthen the hands of those moderate elements which are still strong in the Colony to-day—do not let us underestimate that—and strengthen the hands of our friends.

So far as external pressure is concerned, we must take all possible steps to resist aggression as we have known it in the past, and also subversion. We must intensify our counter-propaganda on the lines which both noble Lords have already indicated. At the same time, I think that in defending our position there and making ourselves strong and showing that we are determined to resist all aggression, we must make it clear that we are not actuated by any hostility towards the Yemen or Saudi-Arabia themselves. We should like to see good neighbourly relations established out there. This involves frontier settlements; it involves asking the Government of the Yemen to carry out their undertakings under the 1934 Treaty and the 1951 Agreement to set up a Demarcation Commission. It involves good will on both sides. If these things are done, then I believe that we can look forward to a period of great material and social development in these territories, at the same time providing all the necessary safeguards for our strategic requirements. I believe that these can well be reconciled.

I venture to suggest again, as I did before, that in this matter, as in other territories, we should not be afraid of an unorthodox and imaginative approach. Do not let us be afraid of starting something new. The really important thing is that we should know what we want and be ready to give a lead. Let us call the tune and not dance to it; and let it be a tune which, as far as human ingenuity can contrive, is one which is acceptable not only to ourselves but to all the people of Aden and the Aden Protectorates.

3.54 p.m.


My Lords, to me falls the happy task of congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, on your behalf on his maiden speech. Indeed, I am not sure that many of us are not feeling that we should like to congratulate ourselves on the quality of our new recruit. He comes to us with a long experience, both in the diplomatic and in the political field, and he speaks to us with the knowledge of his subject that this House always enjoys and which certainly we who know him should expect from him. In fact, I might say that he speaks with the knowledge of the civil servant coupled with the freedom of a politician. We certainly look forward in the future to seeing him in your Lordships' House a great deal, and to enjoying further contributions from him.

I believe we are all grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, for introducing this subject and for the manner in which he did so. Whether we agree with everything he said or not, he always speaks with a desire to offer constructive assistance, and he has given us a number of points that we shall want carefully to consider. On his main point I am afraid I must say that I find myself in disagreement with him. He spoke of his disappointment at the terms of my noble friend's speech. He said that he thought it would certainly be disappointing to moderate opinion in Aden. That is not what I should expect, and certainly does not accord with my opinion. So far as I can ascertain, the definiteness of that speech was most welcome to moderate opinion out there. The noble Lord spoke of the need for a great deal more propaganda, and I think all of us in this House agree strongly with him. But the very essence of propaganda is definiteness, and the very essence of propaganda in areas like this is first to make your friends feel secure—to feel that it is safe for them to nail their flags to our mast. That seems to me to be the main contribution which the noble Lord made in his statement only a short time ago.

The noble Lord was definite on two further points. The first was that we intend to stay there, and the second was that there are certain definite limitations as to the constitutional advances that we feel able to make for the time being. I think the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, regretted particularly the second point that I have made. But it seems to me that more harm has been done lately by indefinite formulæ on this point than by almost anything else, because expectations have been raised of much earlier advance than is, in fact, desirable or possible. Having been quite definite on these points the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, made it clear in his statement that they could expect a considerable degree of internal self-government—those were his words, and they were almost the same words as were used by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, as applying to territories of this character.


I am sure the noble Earl does not wish to misrepresent me. I used the word "full", to qualify "internal self-government", which I think is very different from "limited degree".


With great respect, I did not say "limited degree": I said "a large degree."


I apologise to the noble Lord.


If I can help both noble Lords the words were "considerable degree". In this case, the word "full" has absolutely no meaning, because the phrase "internal self-government" in itself implies a limitation. It means a limitation to the extent of not including either foreign policy or defence. Therefore, as far as I can see, on that particular point we are virtually in full agreement. But this promise of the noble Lord was following, only, I think, by four or five months, a considerable step in advance which had just been taken when, for the first time, there were four elected members of the Legislative Council. Moreover, the noble Lord did not ask for indefinite delay. He put a definite limit on the delay that was asked—"until the end of the life of the Council"—which is in only two years' time. Surely it is not asking them to wait very long. It is a gap which gives them the opportunity—and, I should have thought, an all too short opportunity—for proving their capacity and for gaining experience.

As I listened to the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, I could not help feeling that the only point in dispute on these matters was the question of timing. Timing is vital. What is the real danger which many of us who are thinking about this promise must feel at the present moment? After all, over the course of the centuries, starting with a great Empire, we have converted that Empire into a free Commonwealth, over 550 million of its population being now completely free and self-governing, and only 80 million being retained within the Commonwealth; and we know that within the next few years, Nigeria, the Gold Coast, and Malaya are to be added to the list of self-governing Dominions. Many people who have thought deeply on this subject feel that the real danger to-day is lest we go too fast rather than too slow, and that we may find ourselves establishing in power small groups of ambitious politicians who are there simply for the purpose of dominating their fellow-citizens.

This point seems to me so important that I shall venture to read to your Lordships two or three quotations. They are such important quotations that they are slightly longer than any with which I should normally have liked to trouble your Lordships. The first is part of a statement in a paper called Africa Digest: There are dangers during or after the process of achieving self-government of 'overrunning' self-determination to the point of fragmentation where it becomes retrogressive, with splinter or minority groups tending to break away and the dominant groups in the new state resorting to undemocratic practices to enforce their rule and seeking to restrict therights of minorities and opposition parties. The statement continues: Another danger that has to be faced is that of corruption and maladministration due to lack of experience and the still immature growth of indigenous standards of civic duty … Then, finally: Nationalism has been likened by Mr. Arthur Gaitskell to the Nile in flood. Its waters can be harnessed for the well-being of mankind, or they can be very destructive. That series of quotations is not taken from the speech of a Right Wing Conservative politician but from a statement made by the Reverend Michael Scott; and when someone of such proved friendliness towards advancement among primitive peoples as the Reverend Michael Scott feels compelled to utter such words as those, surely we must feel justified in saying that there is some danger lest at the present moment we try to travel too fast. I suppose the most obvious example of what he is referring to is what, in fact, occurred in British Guiana.

There is one other important limitation. It has been referred to by all speakers and especially by the noble Lord, Lord Colyton. I am not sure whether he actually used the word that I intend to use but we mean the same thing. I believe that the absolute key word in the consideration of these problems is "viability". Are these States which we are discussing viable, or are they not? Are they in a position to stand on their own feet, in terms of economics, internal security or external security? Because, as the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, said, a condition of self-government is the ability to carry the responsibilities of government. Of coarse, if we apply this test, we realise that few of us in the modern world are able to stand absolutely on our own feet. But, as the greater nations of the world realise this, and more and more get together—and, after all, the great nations and powers of the world to-day are sharing each other's bases with a considerable sacrifice of sovereignty—so, I am afraid, many small and primitive nations increasingly demand a complete sovereignty which they can never hope to sustain. I do not think that anyone who has spoken in this debate has tried to contend that Aden is viable. It certainly is not, either internally or as regards its external relations, particularly with its nearest neighbour, the Yemen.

This must act as a limitation on the pace by which, and the extent to which, we extend self-government. It becomes doubly important when we think of the millions in the world whose prosperity and security depend on this small spot. It is of vital importance not only to our world trade but to world trade generally. It is of vital importance to the security not only of ourselves but of the free world. It is the strategic key to South-East Asia at the moment, all the more after what has happened in Suez and what is likely to happen, or could happen, in Ceylon, and the large question mark that exists at the present moment with regard to Singapore. Therefore, on all grounds, I hope strongly that the Government will stand by the policy that was announced with such admirable clarity by the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, when he was in Aden, a policy offering steady advance but limited by a sense of responsibility to the people of Aden, to world trade and to the security of the free world. I hope, too, that the people of Aden will realise that, the greater sense of responsibility they show in operating their existing powers, the sooner will it be possible for a further step to be taken.

4.10 p.m.


My Lords, at this stage of the debate it is perhaps necessary for me only to underline many of the points which many of your Lordships have already made. For me, the great interest the noble Earl has raised in presenting this opportunity to discuss Aden, is that surely Aden reflects so many of the problems of the world which confront us in the constant task of having to adjust our policy to outside stresses and strains on our economy, on our tradition, on our policy, and, not least, on our temper. As I see it, we all agree with regard to the strategic importance of Aden. There is one aspect of its strategic importance which has not yet been touched upon—namely, the position of Aden with regard to the Baghdad Pact Powers. As I see it, one suspects that increasingly, as time passes, Aden will be a key point in relation to the Baghdad Pact. We all accept the principle that we are trustees for people who, in the fullness of time, quite rightly demand to take control of their own affairs. It is, as always, in the reconciliation of strategic requirements and political demand that our problem lies. Whether it be Ceylon, Singapore, Cyprus or Aden, we have, on the one hand, the strategic requirement and, on the other, the political demand. As I see it, the noble Earl agrees with us on this side about the strategic requirement; it is only when we come to the political demand that we find that our views diverge.

May I give, briefly, what is my own analysis of the noble Earl's argument? In Aden there are good citizens who want nothing less than to remain, in some form or another, in loyal partnership with the British Commonwealth. In order to retain that loyalty we have to enter into some kind of political game of poker with Powers outside Aden—Powers who have strong cards, as, for instance, the familiar promises, which we all recognise, about "freeing nations from the shackles of British Imperialism" and so on. We have to play our trump card, which is to hold out as a bait to these loyal and willing citizens of Aden the promise of some political advancement—it may be a fully-fledged elected Council, or a semi-elected Council, but something of that nature.

Before I come to analyse the political demand, may I again underline the nature of the change which would take place in the event that Aden one day passed into the hands of such a country as the Yemen. It may sound undiplomatic, but it is merely the objective truth, to state that Aden would be exchanging the Pax Britannica for a dispensation whose political technique has hitherto been based on taking hostages from its enemies and shutting them up in cages like animals in the zoo. That is the truth. The Imam of the Yemen has claimed, and continues to claim, the Aden territory. May I once again underline the historical facts?

It is true that when we took over Aden in 1839 we took it over in a way which was not beyond controversy. I have no doubt that to-day the Security Council would deem it a matter for consideration under Article 34. But I think I am near the truth when I say that we did not take Aden from the Yemen. Before that, the Sultan of Lahej had broken away from the Yemen and formed his own suzerainty; and if Aden is to be returned to anybody the Sultan of Lahej has priority over the Yemen and other Protectorates. Turkey occupied the southern coast of Arabia for one hundred years, from 1538 to 1638, before the Yemen came. Persia has at times occupied territories in Iraq; Rome has occupied Britain. Rome has even occupied Aden. If we were to start taking into consideration past historical claims, we should have to sit down and re-draw much of the map of the world. So, as I see it, this is our opportunity to state beyond a doubt where we stand in Aden. Of course, as has been said from this side—and I know the noble Lord who is to reply will endorse this view—we shall stay. From this side, it is only a matter of considering whether or not the measures which we take to maintain our position in Aden are adequate.

In considering those measures, I do not intend to enter in detail into the old controversy between the Royal Air Force and the Army, in regard to control in colonial and under-developed territories. Recently, the Aden levies were transferred from the Royal Air Force Regiment to the Army. That is a step which I regard as right—not that I in any way discount the part that the Royal Air Force has to play, because in a purely punitive rÔle it is quite obvious that the Royal Air Force is an economic weapon and one which is appreciated. The technique adopted by the Royal Air Force saves lives and gives the tribe its warning—it may be analysed as nuisance value, and as such it has its part to play. But when the bombs have dropped, you need men to be seen on the ground; you need policemen visible and available, and I think our friends, no less than our enemies, can endorse that. I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, will tell us that some of these Chiefs—I am thinking in particular of the Scharif of Baiham—has hitherto been able to turn to us and say: "Where are your men on the ground?" They want to see the strong arm of the law. Let us make quite certain that it is the law of Britain and not the law of a cosmopolitan disposition which might be established in a future Aden Colony and which would not be acceptable to us. As the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, has reminded us, in doing this we should only be fulfilling our treaty obligations to the Protectorates.

My Lords, I am not recommending any vast concentration of the forces of the Royal Air Force or the Army, but do say that in the strategic conditions of to-day we should have facilities for rapid expansion in Aden in case of a sudden emergency, and that, meanwhile, we should build up the local forces, in size, in scope and in status. We have one fine source of officer material. I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, who referred to the availability of the Sudan Defence Force. May I read your Lordships a notice which appeared in The Times last week—namely: Ex-Arab Legion senior staff officer seeks responsible and progressive administrative post abroad. Widely travelled, fluent Arabic, experienced in a wide variety of problems and accomplished in achieving the impossible. There is a rather mournful reflection on the fate of good Englishmen to-day and perhaps some mild indictment of past policies. Why not turn to the Arab Legion, in view of the uncertainties of the future, and, as these good officers become available, put them into Aden and build up an indigenous force such as we have been accustomed in the past to see arise from the genius of British officers? They would have the great asset of having fluent Arabic. That particular aspect of our problem applies not only in connection with the Armed Forces but in connection with political officers.

I am not recommending anything in the nature of short-term secondment from the Royal Air Force regiment or from anywhere else. I see only the long-term officer as measuring up to the requirements in such places as Aden—an officer chosen for the particular qualities of head and heart which are demanded in hot uncomfortable climates when a man is in command of Arab troops. May I emphasise the nature of the physical dangers they have to face in Aden? It has been underlined that Saudi Arabian money is available in great quantities, and that there is a treaty between Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Yemen; but it has not yet been underlined that rifles find their way there from those countries, and that there are many adventurers who are quite willing to sell themselves to the highest bidder.

Nor has it been underlined that loyal chiefs are often tempted by big money. I believe your Lordships will recognise that, with so mach intrigue and intimidation going on, all mixed up with competition in marksmanship at the same time, these are not conditions which make British troops suitable for employment. The local levy is cheaper. He knows his own country and is more appropriate to defend his own soil. I sometimes wonder whether the ruler of the Yemen has ever paused to consider what would be his fate if, flushed with success, he ever found himself down on the South Arabian sea. Would his great oil imperialist neighbour allow him to stay there very long?

In conclusion, may I turn for a moment to the political background. As I understand it, in a Legislative Council of seventeen, four elected members were introduced for the first time since July, 1955. The present Council complete their three years' tenure in December, 1958. There is a demand from the United National Front for an immediate increase in the elected element. Those are demands of a kind which might conceivably be regarded as reasonable, and certainly framed in tolerance but always behind them lie slogans on ready loan from outside about "driving the British Imperialists into the sea." I appreciate perfectly well that good men are entitled to their aspirations and to have those aspirations treated with sympathy and understanding; but the suggestion that after a few months' trial of only the first experiment in the elected element in government, there should be set up a fully-fledged elected Council, which would tend to spread its responsibilities outside the Colony into the m[...]re and difficulties of the surrounding federal problem, is, I feel, quite fantastic.

If it were a case of an ancient indigenous community who had lived and developed on their soil from centuries previously, groping their way forward to a goal of self-government, I think there would he far more logic in this sudden demand. But the population of Aden, which to-day is 150,000, was in 1839, when the British went there, only 500. I believe that the prosperity of Aden can be attributed far more to the Indian trader from the Bombay coast than to the local indigenous Adenist. British security has brought together Arabs, Indians, and Smalls, and I would remind your Lordships that the trade which is the greatest of the indigenous trades of the territory is, I understand, in the hands of the Italians, These cosmopolitan traders, particularly the Indians, require the stability and the strong arm of Britain behind them without ambiguity in the changing circumstances of to-day.

The noble Earl said the statement which the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, made before he left Aden—to the effect that the inhabitants could not aspire beyond a considerable measure of internal self-government—was reported by the Press as having been received in apathy. I doubt whether it was apathy. Obviously nobody is going to express delight over a statement of that kind, but in the absence of a clear indication of local opinion is it not quite normal to assume that the statement was accepted and even, in many cases, as noble Lords have stressed, welcomed? When we reflect on the complexity of the external problems which an internal Government of the Aden Colony might have to face we are dismayed—a £45 million refinery suddenly added to former commitments; all the problems of strategy which your Lordships have emphasised, and the delicate stresses and strains with this proposed federation. Then there are such questions as: is the Colony to come into the federation? Would it be a federation of the Western Protectorate only or a federation of the Colony with the Protectorate? And when one imposes on that the doubts and problems surrounding the Egypt-Saudi-Arabia-Yemen alliance, one has a stimulant sufficient to upset a very mature Government, let alone a local Government which has itself a very artificial background.

I suggest that there are two lines of approach. The noble Earl, Lord Swinton, referred to the prospect of a complete registration of the population in the Colony. It has always seemed to me curious that a man can go to a British colonial territory and reap the benefits of law and order, and possibly enjoy a status and opportunity out of all proportion to that which he enjoyed in the country from which he came, and can then turn round and mercilessly attack the dispensation which has made that possible. I note that the Colonial Report on Aden refers in some detail to the numbers of arrivals and departures through Aden. I am wondering whether, attached to a system of registration, there could not be some arrangement by which the citizen who is there constantly gives a guarantee of his behaviour and loyalty. I understand that that is what is now being attempted in Cyprus.

In this connection, I would ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are satisfied that the conditions which brought on the recent strike have been thoroughly examined and remedied, for there seem good grounds for believing that there was some logic behind the grievance. It seems that the trade union process is not properly understood and that there is no machinery for collective bargaining; and in the absence of such machinery erratic conditions sometimes prevail. I believe there is a Labour Commissioner, with a staff under him, but I wonder if Her Majesty's Government are entirely satisfied that that machinery is sufficient to prevent industrial trouble in and around the Port of Aden.

I make no apology for referring once again, before I sit down, to the lack of evidence of any adequate machinery geared up to tell the people of Aden the truth about our intentions and the intentions of our enemies. I know that this matter has been ventilated both in and out of Parliament. Nevertheless, I think it can stand its trial again here in its application to Aden. In the year 1953–54, figures given in this Colonial Report on Aden show that out of a total of £3,182,000, a sum of £1,747 went to "Public Relations and Information Department," which I presume includes broadcasting. Let us get clear in our minds the nature of the organisation opposed to us. We have only to note the striking similarity of events in December last year in Jordan, the events when the Foreign Secretary passed through Bahrein recently, and the events when the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, arrived in Aden the other day, to realise that there is a machine directing these operations and the dissemination of these ideas. Therefore, only a machine can adequately reply to it.

The Manchester Guardian correspondent in Aden reported on May 25 that three hours of Arabic broadcasting had been stepped up, as the noble Earl has reminded us, to three and a half hours. Why not ten hours? The same correspondent went on to say that the officer in charge of the local station had plans for expansion but was: unable to give effect to them without a larger staff and appropriations. One need, I think, say little more: inadequate staff, inadequate money, and, if the Manchester Guardian is correct, a lack of imagination in the presentation of material. I do not for one moment underestimate the work which the B.B.C. Arabic Services can do when in touch with the higher strata of education in such territories as the Middle East. I am told that families in, shall we say, Syria, tune in to the B.B.C. in order to check the truth of what it given out from their local stations But it is not the same when one is talking to people in the bazaars of Aden, or to the Bedouins with their little wireless sets placed on the ground beside them while they are watching their flocks. For them, something far more virile than a correct objective presentation is needed What is needed is something put over as strong wine If the air is unexploited, one may assume that the same applies to the Press. There is a saying that evil men triumph only when good men do nothing. In this battle of words in Aden, I hope that the good men will be given a chance to do their duty as surely as if they were, with their lives, defending this vital soil.

4.34 p.m.


My Lords, if it is not presumptuous for a Back Bencher, such as myself, to congratulate a distinguished former Minister, I should like to add our congratulations to those of other noble Lords who have preceded me, to the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, upon his most interesting maiden speech. My noble friends and I hope that we shall have many opportunities of hearing him in the future.

The noble Earl, Lord Swinton, in his very interesting speech, said he hoped that nothing would be said in this debate about bombing from the air. Well, I am sorry to disappoint the noble Earl, but I am afraid that that is going to be the subject of the few words which I shall address to your Lordships. On June 15 last year I asked the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, a Question about the bombing of Arab villages in the Western Aden Protectorate on May 20 of that year. On May 30 this year, during the absence of the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, I asked Her Majesty's Government two Questions about certain incidents in Eastern Aden which had taken place last month. Answers on behalf of Her Majesty's Government were given by the noble Earl, Lord Munster. May I say that I am grateful to the noble Earl for his very full replies. In his second reply the noble Earl, Lord Munster, said that on May 26 two strikes were made by two jet aircraft against sixty hostile tribesmen of the Protectorate who had been provided with arms by Saudi Arabia. No casualties have been proved but traces of blood were found near the scene of the air attack. I then asked a supplementary question, and in his reply the noble Earl, Lord Munster, suggested that I should address another Question to the noble Lord on his return, since he might have first-hand information. I should like to welcome back the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, from his trip, which I am sure has been most useful, and also to say how much I sympathise with him because his reception at Aden, I understand from the Press, was not entirely friendly.

I should now like to ask the noble Lord two questions (of which I have given him notice) arising out of those previous Questions: first, how many casualties were there from these two air attacks on May 26; and secondly, whether this "strafing" of a small band of sixty men by two jet fighters is not likely to make the people of the Aden Protectorate even more susceptible b the hostile anti-British propaganda coming from Egypt and Saudi Arabia. I shall be grateful if he can let me have answers to those questions. The third point I should like to put to the noble Lord arises in this way. A report appeared in The Times newspaper on June 9 headed "Protest by Yemen", "Alleged R.A.F. Bombing of Customs House". I should like to read your Lordships a few lines from this report: The Yemen Legation in London yesterday published a Note to the British Government protesting against the alleged bombing of a customs house in the Harib district on the frontier between the Yemen and the Aden Protectorate. The protest stated that on June 3, two R.A.F. aircraft without warning dropped four bombs on the building, which was occupied by customs officials only. I should be glad if the noble Lord would let me know whether that report is exaggerated and, if so, what arc the actual facts.

I should also be glad to know what the Government's view is upon this whole policy of bombing. There are, I know, precedents for it. It was used on the North West Frontier of India and also in Iraq in the early 1920's. I agree that it is expedient. Possibly in some cases it is justified if it saves British lives. But I cannot agree that it is justified in every case. In my view, on many occasions it is quite indefensible, and it would seem to be playing into the hands of those anti-British propagandists to whom so much reference has been made in the debate today. It seems to me quite wrong, as the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said, I think, in the debate on the subject last year, that people under Her Majesty's protection should be bombed and "strafed" by Her Majesty's Air Force.

The other day I was re-reading a book which I read about twenty years ago and which impressed me very much—the autobiography of Air Commodore Charlton, who was Chief Staff Officer, Iraq Command, in 1924. I should like to read a short passage from this book to your Lordships. It runs: He was aghast to learn on further inquiry that an air bomb in Iraq was more or less the equivalent of a police truncheon at home. It was a horrible idea and, in his private opinion, work in which no one with a moral standard should be asked to engage. And this autobiography contains some very horrifying descriptions of the bombing which had to be done in Iraq in the 1920's. In the end, he became so appalled by it that he actually resigned. I think that that was a fine gesture, especially as it cost him his Service career. Nowadays, the trouble is that a great deal of warfare, particularly aerial warfare, is remote. I think that the noble Earl. Lord Swinton, when describing air attacks in the Aden Protectorate, said that they were "fascinating". I doubt whether the people at the receiving end would find them so. As Dylan Thomas wrote: The hand that signed the paper felled a city. That is what happens. An order is given, a button is pressed, a flash and a few puffs of smoke, then a laconic communiqué full of euphemisms and down below carnage and misery—misery engendering hatred, hatred which becomes more and more bitter so long as we continue through selfish motives to abuse our power.

4.42 p.m.


My Lords, the debate which has taken place this afternoon is evidence of the importance which your Lordships attach to the progress of affairs in Aden, a Colony which, as your Lordships know. I recently had the good fortune to visit. It is most fitting that we should have a debate on Aden this afternoon, because from the point of view not only of this country and the Commonwealth but also from the point of view of the whole Western world, Aden is a very important place. Incidentally, I also think it is most fitting that this afternoon we should have had a maiden speech from my noble friend Lord Colyton, who has great knowledge of Aden and its problems and whose contribution I thought was of first quality. I hope that we shall hear more from him again.

Strategically, Aden is one of the few remaining British bases in Arabia and the Middle East. It is the third largest port for traffic in the Commonwealth, including this country, and is one of the largest ports in the world. As your Lordships know, for ships proceeding on their way to the Persian Gulf, to India, to the Far East and to West and South Africa, Aden is an important port of call, where many of them are bunkered. As is well known, the importance of Aden as a commercial centre has recently been enhanced by the new oil refinery which has been erected in Little Aden by the British Petroleum Company.

In discussing this question, I should like to draw from the start a clear distinction between the Aden Colony and the Men Protectorate. Although the Motion is couched in general terms, the Colony covers no more than seventy-five square miles and has a population of 150,000, mainly engaged in trade and commerce and in the operation of the port. On the other hand, the Protectorate, which lies between Aden and the rest of Arabia, covers 112.000 square miles and has a population of 800,000. Not only is there this great difference in size, but the relations between Her Majesty's Government and the Colony on the one hand and the Protectorate on the other are entirely different. The Colony is administered by Her Majesty's Government, while the Protectorate consists of a number of Arab States with the rulers of which we have protectorate and advisory treaties. Though I agree with the noble Lords who have said that it is impossible to consider the affairs of the Colony without also considering the affairs of the Protectorate, the factors which govern our policy in the two areas are of necessity different. Again, as your Lordships will recognise, it is impossible to form a fair appreciation of the situation in either Colony or Protectorate unless we consider the attitude and the policies of the neighbouring Arab States of Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

I hope your Lordships will forgive me if I make a short historical excursion here, because I think it is important that your Lordships should know the true position between ourselves and the Yemen. The cause of the long-standing disagreement between Her Majesty's Government and the Yemen is the claim of the Imam of the Yemen that he is the rightful ruler of the whole of South Western Arabia, which, of course, would include not only the Kingdom of Yemen but also the whole of the Western Aden Protectorate and possibly part of the Eastern Aden Protectorate as well as Aden itself. This claim, as I think was mentioned by my noble friend Lord Birdwood, is based on the fact that the Imam's ancestors ruled over the whole of South Western Arabia after they had played a leading part in expelling the Turks from the Yemen in 1630, but their rule over this area lasted for less than a century and it was a thing of the past when we occupied Aden in 1839 and started making our series of treaties with the rulers of what are now the Protectorates. Indeed, the Yemen was itself conquered by the Turks in 1849, and it was only after the First World War that the Imam, who had been granted local autonomy in the Zeidi Highlands in 1911, regained his independence and, having done so, began seeking to extend his control, first over the Shafai areas of what is now the Yemen itself, and then over the States of the Protectorate.

He refused to recognise the boundary agreement between Her Majesty's Government and the Turkish Government in respect of the Aden Protectorate and the Turkish province of Yemen, and it was only after his invading troops had been ejected by the Royal Air Force that he entered into negotiations which led to the Anglo-Yemeni Treaty of 1934. This Treaty, perhaps best described as a "cold storage" treaty, provides that negotiations about the frontier should take place some time before 1974 and that meantime the situation in regard to the frontier existing at the date of the signing of the Treaty should be maintained. The frontier then existing became known as the status quo frontier, but owing to the reluctance of the Yemeni Government it has never been possible to have it properly demarcated, and the frontier commission which under a subsequent agreement of 1951 was to decide the position of doubtful points has never met. I am sorry to inflict this historical excursion on your Lordships, but I think it is important that you should know how we stand in this matter.

I think it is important that your Lordships should realise how flimsy is the Yemeni claim to the Aden Protectorate, and how clearly the Yemeni Government are bound by the agreement which they themselves signed to observe the status quo frontier until 1974. Lest there be any doubt on this point, I wish to make it absolutely dux that it is not only Her Majesty's Government who do not admit the claim of the Imam of the Yemen, but all the Arab rulers of the Protectorate Station, who with their people belong to the Shafei sect of Surd Moslems and dislike—and when I say "dislike" I mean dislike—the Zeidi sect of Moslems, of which the Imam of the Yemen is the head.

During the last two years the situation has deteriorated, owing to Yemeni encroachments and interference in the Protectorate particularly in the Beihan, Upper Anlaqi and Andhali areas. Encroachments have been made by incursions of Yemeni tribesmen and sometimes, though not recently, by Yemeni troops. Interference has been by the incitement of malcontents in the Protectorate to rebel against their local rulers, and they have been encouraged to do so by gifts of arms, ammunition and money. This form of subversion created a serious situation in the Andhali country in 1954 and still more so in the Upper Anlaqi country in 1955, and it became necessary during the later year to strengthen the British forces available to operate in the Protectorate and to assist the forces of the local rulers.

May I conclude my remarks to your Lordships concerning this particular phase of what is going on. Some of your Lordships have referred to the propaganda on the wireless from Cairo and the exhortations from the Yemen aimed at subverting the people of the Protectorate and of the Colony, and especially at preventing the achievement of any form of federation between the States of the Aden Protectorate which would have given them greater cohesion and made their ultimate absorption by the Yemen more difficult. These efforts to undermine the authority of the local rulers who rely on British help and protection have continued in spite of Yemeni professions of a wish for friendly relations with Her Majesty's Government. Her Majesty's Government, for their part, are only too anxious to have friendly relations with the Yemen. But it should be clearly said that we are equally determined to honour our treaties with the local rulers of the Aden Protectorate. I am sure that it is against this background that our future policy, both in the Colony and in the Protectorate, must be considered.

I have been speaking of subversion, and I think I should, perhaps, at this point deal with the issues raised by the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, who has referred to the use of aircraft and bombs in operations against rebellious tribesmen. The problem we have to face is this. There are these dissident tribesmen who are incited against their rulers by outside sources and who go across the frontier, get arms and ammunition and then come back and stir up trouble and probably shoot a lot of innocent people in the States which we are bound to protect. I submit—and I hope it will be the feeling of the House—that it is our clear duty to stop that kind of thing from going on and to protect the people who live in the Protectorate. If the noble Lord is suggesting that by taking firm action against people of this sort we are adding to any discontent that may be felt, I would completely rebut it. On the contrary, if we did not take action to protect them we should certainly add to the discontent, because the peaceful people do not like being shot up at night by gentlemen who have come across the frontier with a few rifles and rounds of ammunition. The noble Lord said that we should not use aircraft to do it. All the military commanders on the spot—and that includes the Army and the Air Force—are jointly of the opinion that this is the best way, in this very wild and extensive territory, to deal with these incursions with the minimum of bloodshed.

In point of fact, the noble Lord asked about two cases, and I will tell him exactly what happened. In the first case, there were two lorries in the Eastern Aden Protectorate that had come from Saudi Arabia with a lot of gentlemen inside who had rifles. The Air Force spotted them, and they flew low over them and dropped leaflets telling them to stop where they were (because they were not on an authorised route) until the infantry—it was actually the Bedouin Legion—came up. The Bedouin Legion then came up, disarmed them peacefully and took their rifles, turned their lorries round and sent them back from where they came. Not a shot was fired.

In the second case, a group of tribesmen entrenched themselves on a small hill and refused to give up their rifles. Negotiations went on for about thirty-six hours and every effort was made to get them to give up their rifles in order to avoid bloodshed. However, they steadfastly refused to do so, and eventually it was considered that the best thing was to have two short air strikes, because it was thought that fewer casualties would be inflicted in that way than if an attack was made by ground forces. I cannot tell the noble Lord what casualties there were, because during the night these tribesmen disappeared, and if there were any casualties they took them with them. That is the sort of circumstances in which our forces are operating, and I do not believe that the majority of your Lordships will feel that we are doing anything less than our duty in stamping out that kind of terrorism which is going on in the Protectorate. I can assure the noble Lord that, far from adding to the discontent, everywhere I went I was pressed by the rulers to do more to protect them and their people against this kind of thing. I cannot emphasise that too much.


And there would have been far more casualties if soldiers had been used instead of aircraft.


My noble friend says that more casualties would have been caused if soldiers had been used instead of aircraft. I am not an expert on this question, but that is the view, and has been the view of every military adviser who has ever had to deal with the problem. If the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, knows of a better way in which the matter can be dealt with, I should be the first to consider it, provided that it carries out the essential object, which is to maintain law and order in the Protectorate. If he has any views on it, I can assure him that I should be happy to do any thing to maintain law and order and to avoid bloodshed; but, after long experience, we have found that this is the most effective way.

Finally, the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, asked me about the report in The Times on June 9, 1956, as to an allegation made by the Yemeni Government that one of their customs posts at a place called No'aman, in the Harib district, was bombed by British aircraft. On June 3, 1956, there was an engagement between Yemeni tribesmen, on the one hand, and Protectorate Government guards, supported by aircraft, on the other, at a place called Shaniya, in the Protectorate, which is some distance from the Yemeni customs post at Lakhf, to which it is presumed that the Yemenis were referring, as no such place at No'aman is known to the Protectorate authorities. There was no attack at all on a Yemeni customs post, and if Yemeni tribesmen had not been intruding into the Protectorate there would have been no engagement in the neighbourhood of the frontier.

I would now turn back from this general picture of the local situation in regard to the Yemen to the affairs of the Colony, with regard to which I was authorised by Her Majesty's Government to make a statement of policy during my recent visit. Political activity in the Colony has increased considerably of late, stimulated, no doubt, by the recent elections to the Legislative Council, which marked the first notable political advance in the Colony. The political Parties in the Colony consist at the present time of the South Arabian League, whose policy is the creation of a new South Arabian State, which would embrace both the Colony and the Protectorate; and the United National Front, whose policy is independence for the Colony but who were until recently opposed to the conception of a South Arabian State. Since my visit these two Parties have joined in a loose coalition called the Arab National Congress. In passing, I may say that it was the leaders of these two Parties who organised the rather over-effusive reception which I received when I arrived at the Colony. I would not wish your Lordships to think, as you might on reading the papers, that this was a mass rising of the "oppressed people of Aden." It was, in point of fact, organised by about 200 gentlemen who arrived in charabancs. Although they got very excited, and thoroughly enjoyed themselves, they certainly did little harm. Finally, there is the Aden Association, who claim the support of most of the moderate opinion in the Colony and whose policy, as I think your Lordships are aware, is internal self-government for the Colony. Of the four elected members in the Legislative Council three are members of the Aden Association, and the fourth is an independent.

Simultaneously with the growth of political activity there has been a considerable growth of trade union activity. My noble friend Lord Birdwood made reference to industrial relations in Aden, and I ought perhaps to say a word upon this matter. The growth of trade union activity is, I think, a most welcome development, and one which I hope will bring improved industrial relations to the Colony. It has, perhaps, one unfortunate aspect—namely, that the majority of trade union leaders, who are members of a political Party, the United National Front, have so far found it difficult to keep their political and trade union activities separate. Your Lordships, I know, will have noted the recent wave of strikes which has overtaken the Colony, and you will no doubt hive read the Report of the Commission which was set up to investigate this industrial unrest. I understand that a copy of that Report is in the Library. That Report has been accepted by the Government of Aden. Having had the opportunity of discussions during my visit with both employers and trade unionists, I have no doubt in my own mind that the findings of the Commission are substantially correct: that the strikes were originally the result of genuine industrial unrest, though once they had started they were exploited by politicians for political purposes.

I am convinced—and I am sure the House will agree with me in this—that it is of the first importance for the future stability of the Colony that industrial relations in Aden should be placed upon a better footing, and I agree with my noble friend who made exactly that point. I believe that on the side of the employers there is room for a better understanding of the management of labour, and that on the side of the workers there is still great ignorance of proper trade union practice and of the use of the machinery of conciliation. I should like to take this opportunity of paying a tribute to Mr. James Young, a member of the Colonial Advisory Committee of the Trades Union Congress in this country, who was good enough to serve as a member of the Commission and who, with his great trade union experience, did the most valuable work while he was in Aden. I hope that, through the good offices of the T.U.C., Mr. Young will shortly be available to pay a second visit to Aden, this time in the capacity of trade union adviser, to give guidance to the workers and their representatives in the principles of good trade union practice.

Now may I turn to the statement which I made on behalf of Her Majesty's Government regarding the political future of the Colony? In any consideration of our future policy it should be remembered that the prosperity, and indeed the whole livelihood, of the people of the Colony, depends upon the maintenance of confidence in the Colony's economic stability and the efficient functioning of the port. It was for this reason, among others, that, as I made clear in my statement in Aden, Her Majesty's Government cannot at the present time foresee the time when they will be prepared to abandon their responsibility for this mixed community of some 150,000 souls which has grown up round the port and trading centre created by British enterprise. Nor, apart from the people of Aden Colony, can we overlook the obligations which we have contracted to protect the rulers and people of the Protectorate States.

I do not think it has been suggested by anybody this afternoon in this House that these dual responsibilities should be abandoned. On the other hand, I was chidden by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, for being "governessy", for being unforthcoming, for giving no encouragement whatsoever, in the statement I made, to the more moderate of the political Parties in the Colony. With great respect to the noble Earl, I think he has completely misconceived what I said, and it would be a tragedy if—though I know he has not willingly misrepresented me—his misrepresentation should go out from this House this afternoon.

The noble Earl took exception, first of all, to the use of the phrase, "a considerable degree of internal self-government"—he will correct me if I am wrong. The other thing he took exception to was what I said about the more or less immediate future. I should like to deal with the first point first. The noble Earl's attitude in disliking that phrase is based on the assumption that it is always, in all places and in all circumstances, possible to draw a clear distinction between external affairs and internal affairs. To a large extent it is possible, but it is not always altogether possible, mainly owing to the close connection—which I know your Lordships appreciate—between defence and internal security. By "defence", I mean not only local defence, but the defence interests of the free world. Therefore, for that reason I did not think, and I still do not think, that it would have been wise for Her Majesty's Government to attempt to be more specific on this point at this stage. After all, let us also remember, as was pointed out by my noble friend Lord De La Warr, that it was only last January that the elected members of the Legislative Council in the Colony of Aden took their seats for the first time. But if the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, is anxious about this phrase, I can assure him that it is not our idea that, when the time comes, it should be interpreted with any undue rigidity. That is the first point I should like to make. If the noble Earl reads the statement again, there is no limitation such as he suggested in the statement, and it is quite untrue to say so.


Before the noble Lord passes from that point, may I ask him to explain exactly what he means by his statement that the phrase, "a considerable degree of internal self-government," will not be interpreted with undue rigidity? What I ventured to point out was that a degree of self-government is not self-government, and that—if I may pick up the noble Lord's qualification—however lacking in rigidity a degree may be, it is still a degree and not a whole.


May I return to the charge? I asked the noble Earl if he would define, in Parliamentary language, the phrase "internal self-government." It is because of the great difficulty of defining that phrase that there is inevitably a certain vagueness about it. However, may I repeat again the assurance I have given the noble Earl: that when the time comes we shall not interpret this phrase with any undue rigidity. That seems to me an assurance which I should have hoped would satisfy him.

Let me next turn to what I said about the more immediate future. First of all, I said that there should be no question of any further radical change in the Constitution during the life of the present Council. The life of the present Council comes to an end in 1958, and as the first elections were held only at the end of last year I do not believe your Lordships will consider that that is an unreasonable or a reactionary statement. Secondly, I said that the degree of constitutional development, and the basis on which it can be realised, must depend upon the sense of responsibility displayed by the people of the Colony. I think that is what the noble Earl meant when he accused me of being "governessy."


It was the Economist which accused the noble Lord of being "governessy." I did not make that accusation.


I thought the noble Earl agreed with the Economist. However, may I ask the noble Earl whether he really disagrees with what I said about the need for a sense of responsibility? I cannot believe that the noble Earl is an advocate of irresponsible government. Having said that, I went on to say that many of those whom I was addressing had a perfectly legitimate desire to take a greater part in the affairs of government, and there was no reason why this desire should not be realised later on. If that sentence cannot be said to give reasonable encouragement to the moderate elements in Aden, I do not know what can.

May I now, for the noble Earl's information, add this further word. After I had made my statement, I had a discussion with representatives of the Aden Association. They are certainly anxious that there should be a further advance when the life of the present Legislative Council expires It was clear, however—and this is an important point—that they had not yet agreed amongst themselves as to what precise form they thought that advance should take. I accordingly encouraged them to discuss the matter among themselves and, when they had formulated their views, to communicate them to the Government. I can assure your Lordships, without prejudice, of course, to any decisions which may eventually be taken, that those views, when they have been formulated, will be given most careful and sympathetic consideration by my right honourable friend.

The noble Earl suggested that it might be a good thing if the leaders of the Aden Association came to London to see my right honourable friend. Clearly that is a matter for him. I in no way rule it out; nor does he. We should see what proposals they eventually may wish to make. Therefore, I do not feel that the statement need in any way create the frustration or discouragement which Vol. 197the noble Earl has suggested it may. It would be most unfortunate if that interpretation—indeed, if would almost say that misrepresentation—of the statement were to go out from your Lordships' House. I should like definitely to deny it. It is our duty and intention to maintain and increase the prosperity of the Colony and of its people, and to give reasonable political stability. It is our intention to help and encourage the people of the Colony to take an increasing share in the management of their own internal affairs. That is our policy, and we have said so.

The noble Earl also criticised the statement because it did not contain very much about the economic future of the Colony. The reason for that is that it was a statement dealing with political affairs and not with economic affairs. Our economic policy has been consistent and our economic assistance increasing; but at this hour, and in view of the fact that I have a great deal more ground to cover, I feel that. I would rather not go too deeply into economic affairs. The noble Earl also mentioned education. For his information, I should like to tell him that the development plans for the period up to 1960 contain a considerable increase in the number of schools, including technical schools, in, the Colony. I do not want to weary your Lordships by reading out the list this evening, but I will let the noble Earl have it, if he is interested.


I should be greatly obliged to the noble Lord if he would let me haw the list of schools, including technical schools, in the Colony.


May I now turn from the affairs of the Colony to those of the Protectorate? We are confronted here with quite different circumstances to which a different approach in necessary. During my visit to the Protectorates, I was able to see some of the economic and social development which has taken place in recent years, as was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, with considerable financial assistance from Her Majesty's Government, particularly under the Colonial Development and Welfare scheme. A most remarkable effort has been made in this field in the cotton-growing scheme at Abyan, where the previously warring Sultanates of the Fadhli and Lower Yafai have now collaborated, to their common benefit. I was also able to see growing evidence of educational and medical progress, particularly in the new secondary school at a place called Zinjibar, which is remarkable. Other parts of the Protectorate have benefited in a like manner, although, so far, these advantages have naturally gone to the agricultural areas of the coast in Lahej and Mukalla and the Hadhramaut, rather than to the wild uplands and deserted country adjacent to the frontiers.

I also had the opportunity of meeting a number of rulers and of hearing their views. In all cases they were grateful for the progress that was being made, and everywhere they were very friendly to the British connection. Their main anxiety was with regard to the propaganda activities of Cairo Radio and the propaganda and subversive activities of their neighbours in the Yemen and Saudi Arabia. These latter activities are causing considerable trouble to the rulers. Your Lordships will no doubt wish to know the kind of thing I have in mind. Generally speaking, the situation has improved in recent months, but recently there was a case of the smuggling of 550 rifles and 200,000 rounds of ammunition in the West Aden Protectorate from a place called Neiran, in Saudi Arabia. We managed to confiscate a considerable number of these arms.

Apart from this incident, there have been raids by Yemeni tribesmen across the Western part of the Protectorate frontier into Beihan. The most serious of these was in April, when a Government guard post at Manawa was fired on. But the hostile tribesmen withdrew after the Yemen Government had been warned that they would be evicted if they did not leave within twenty-four hours. Again on June 2 there was another incursion into this part of the frontier by Yemeni tribesmen who were driven out by Protectorate Government and tribal forces. That is the sort of thing which is going on all the time. In the Eastern Aden Protectorate, there have been no hostile incursions, though about a month ago, as I was telling the noble Earl, two parties of tribesmen did come in with arms from Saudi Arabia.

The important thing, as the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, in his helpful speech, pointed out, is that everywhere I went in the Protectorate, I was asked for assurances regarding our intention to stay and protect them, and for additional assistance to help them deal with the very real problem which these activities have created for them. As I have already said, while we wish to maintain friendly relations with the Governments of the Yemen and Saudi Arabia, we are determined to honour our treaties with the rulers of the Aden Protectorates, to give them the protection they need and to afford them effective assistance in maintaining the inviolability of their territories against outside attack or interference.

One or two of your Lordships have touched upon the question of federation and it would not be right for me to leave the question of the Protectorates without saying a word or two on this important matter. The Protectorates consist of a number of States, many of them small and each with its own ruler; and, of course, they lack cohesion. That lack of cohesion is undoubtedly a source of weakness, not merely politically but also economically. As your Lordships know, it is therefore the view of Her Majesty's Government that they would be well advised to come together in some form of federation or federations, and the Governor has made it quite clear that he and his advisers will be very ready and willing to give them any assistance they can in any efforts they may make to bring about these developments.

It has been suggested in some quarters—not this afternoon in your Lordships' House—that possibly Her Majesty's Government have not been sufficiently active in this matter, and that more energetic steps should have been taken to press federation on these States. With great respect, that is a view which I cannot accept. If federation is to come about, and above all if it is to have a chance of permanent survival, it is essential that it should come about as a result of the conscious desire of the rulers and of their peoples for a closer association one with another. As various noble Lords have pointed out, in this process many old hostilities and mutual suspicions must be overcome. It would be idle to expect such a federation to spring up overnight. After all, the Federation of the West Indies has taken a considerable time to come to reality and, although I hope that in the Protectorate, where the conditions are very different, we shall not have to wait anything like so long as we did for the West Indian Federation, it will take a little time.

It is my belief that the idea of federation has taken root, but how soon the idea will germinate remains to be seen. Nor can we tell at this stage in what sort of form it will emerge. My noble friend Lord Swinton said that, as a start, probably we might have two or three of the smaller States with common interests federating with one another and then growing into something bigger. Possibly that would be a fruitful way of starting, but, in any case, all I should like to say at this stage is that. I am sure the urge must come from the Protectorate States themselves. For our part, your Lordships may be assured that there is nothing we can do which will not be done to help the progress.

My Lords, there are one or two points about which I was asked, and I should like to try to cover them as well as I can. The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, mentioned the question of Arabic as a second language. We are, in fact, considering this matter at the present time. It is already used as a second language in many ways for official matters and so on. I see considerable force in what the noble Earl has said, and, as I say, it is a matter that we are considering. I cannot say more than that to-day. The noble Earl also mentioned technical education. I hope that the facts in regard to the schools which I have given will cover that. The noble Lord, Lord Colyton, mentioned the question of a dry dock in Aden. Of course there would be or might be, in one sense, considerable advantage in this proposal, because a dry dock is, I understand, projected with Djibouti which competes, as a port, with Aden. As I understand it, the difficulty is that there is no certainty as to whether sufficient revenue will be forthcoming to build a dry dock, which is a most expensive thing. Until that aspect has been further explored, I do not think that any final decision can be reached.

A number of noble Lords mentioned the question of our reply to the propaganda which is being put out by some Other sources in the Middle East. I think it would be of interest to your Lordships to note that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State has recently approved a grant, under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, of £75,000 for the expansion of broadcasting facilities in Aden Colony and the Protectorate. A short-wave and a medium-wave transmitter will be established, and between them they will give a complete coverage to Aden Colony and the Protectorate; and I am assured that I after dark they will also reach certain parts of the Yemen. I understand that a further result will be an increase to up to five hours broadcasting a day, instead of three hours. That may not be all that noble Lords would like, but it is a considerable improvement. Of course, Her Majesty's Government are fully aware of the ill-informed and tendentious propaganda which is widely broadcast at present in the Middle East. They take a serious view of it, and in the near future propose to take further, and I hope effective, steps to counteract it. Further than that I am not in a position to go at present.

My Lords, there are a certain number of points with which I have not dealt this afternoon, but I have detained your Lordships for a long time—


My Lords, by the leave of my noble friend, I wanted to ask one question of the noble Lord, to add to his most informative speech. Clearly, the discovery of oil has made a great difference in this part of the world. Already we have the difficult position in regard to the Bureimi Oasis. Could the noble Lord say whether any definite steps are being taken to prevent the same sort of trouble arising with the neighbours of the Aden Protectorate as has arisen in the case of the Bureimi Oasis?


Is the noble Viscount referring to the Saudi Arabians and the Yemenis?


I was in those parts recently, and I was told that locally they do not admit that there is any line. It seems a very dangerous thing to leave an undefined line, in face of the declarations of the past when there was no oil. It may give rise to difficulties. That is what I have in mind and that is why I asked the question.


The point that the noble Viscount raises is a very real one, and I wish that I could give him an answer which would satisfy him, because it would make me very happy. But it takes two people to define a frontier. We are quite clear as to what we think our rights are in the Eastern Aden Protectorate, and we propose to defend them; but whether we reach agreement with the neighbours, especially when they think that oil is likely to be found there, is a very different thing. If the noble Viscount has any ideas in regard to how that problem might be dealt with, I shall be glad to have them. It is a problem which arises in all these places and it is difficult to find a way to deal with it. I have detained your Lordships far too long, but I have done my best to answer the many points that were put to me. In conclusion, I should like to say this. It is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to assist the political and economic advancement of the people of Aden Colony and the Protectorate. We are anxious also to continue to discharge our responsibility for their protection. In this area we intend, too, to continue to play our part for the defence of the free world.

There are many voices in the Middle East to-day, and for the average man they are little more than voices emerging from a radio set, voices which seek to persuade the people in Aden that their best interests lie in severing the British connection. As has been pointed out by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and by almost all noble Lords who have spoken this afternoon, these countries are not distinguished for the democratic nature of their régimes, and the people of Aden may well wonder at this sudden solicitude for their welfare in quarters which, until recently, barely recognised their existence. They may well compare their own lot with that of other citizens of the Middle East, and they may well ask themselves whether the motives which inspire these exhortations are quite so philanthropic as they sound. For my part, I do not believe that any sensible citizens of either the Colony or the Protectorate will be deceived. I believe that they will realise that their best hope of future prosperity, of justice, of peace and of true freedom, lies in their continued association with this country. For, whatever may be said by our enemies and detractors—and it is a curious thing that, while all our real enemies are also our detractors, not all our detractors are our real enemies—it is true that there is no nation in the world which has done more to help and advance its dependent peoples than the British nation.

5.28 p.m.


My Lords, I must first apologise for my noble friend Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, who has asked me to tell the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, that he regretted having to leave the Chamber before the noble Lord's speech was finished. I should like on behalf of noble Lords sitting on these Benches and myself to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, on his maiden speech, which, if he will not think me presumptuous, I must say I regarded as one of the best maiden speeches I have ever listened to in your Lordships' House—and I have been listening to maiden speeches for something over twenty years. I think it was particularly valuable on account of his recent and first-hand experiences in both the Colony and the Protectorate, and I greatly hope that we shall hear him often again in colonial debates.

There is one point he made which I should like to take up. He said that what the Labour members of the Malta Round Table Conference said about self-government in relation to Malta was inconsistent with what I said about the policy of the Labour Party in relation to self-government for the smaller Colonies. As I was one of the signatories of the Malta Round Table Conference Report, perhaps I might be allowed to say that at any rate what I meant in assenting to the view that Malta could not hope for full self-government was that Malta could not hope to control its own relations with foreign Powers or to organise its own defence forces. I think this is something that applies to Malta in common with all the smaller Colonies. But when I was speaking of the policy of the Labour Party in relation to Aden and the smaller Colonies I was most careful to avoid using the words "full self-government." Therefore I need not even have made a distinction between the use of the word "self-government" in the Malta Report and the use of the words, if I had used them, this afternoon. The words which I used, which the noble Lord will find if he cares to look at Hansard tomorrow morning, were "full internal self-government", which I am sure he will agree is something very different from full self-government as we know it in this country or as independent countries in the Commonwealth already have it.

I do not want to speak for long, but I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, for his speech, which I thought was an extremely useful gloss on his speech in Aden and will be particularly useful when it is read and reported there. I thought his speech at Aden was perhaps a little discouraging or limiting to political advance, whereas his speech this afternoon was definitely encouraging. I was particularly glad to hear him express willingness to consider the views of the Aden Association about a possible Constitution (a suggestion also made by the noble Lord, Lord Colyton), in time for the next Legislative Council in Aden. The noble Lord carefully avoided any comment on the implications on colonial policy of British strategic requirements as a limitation on internal self-government, and no doubt was wise to do so; I would rather have no answer than a wrong answer, and that is a matter about which Her Majesty's Government will think very carefully.

I should like to thank all noble Lords who took part in the debate, which I think reflected, with perhaps a little more emphasis on the Right than on the Left, as one would expect, the views that have been expressed in the Press and elsewhere since this important new statement of policy was made by the noble Lord during his visit to Aden. I, and I am sure all noble Lords, are most grateful to them for having taken part in this debate and for making it a debate of real interest from the point of view of Aden and the Commonwealth. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.

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