HL Deb 14 July 1958 vol 210 cc969-72

3.42 p.m.


My Lords, with your Lordships' permission I will make a statement which my right honourable friend is making in another place about the situation in Iraq. It is as follows.

" I have little to add to Press and wireless reports. A telegram received from Her Majesty's Ambassador in Baghdad at 7.30 a.m. this morning reported that Baghdad Radio was in the hands of a revolutionary Government and had announced the establishment of an Iraqi Republic with Brigadier Abdul Karim Qasam as Prime Minister. The where- he at a later stage himself introduce in the Bill some power to enable the Minister to close such undersirable slaughterhouses at some future date?

On Question, Whether the said Amendment shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 20; Not-Contents, 47.

Attlee, E. Boyd-Orr, L. Ogmore, L.
Lucan, E. [Teller.] Chorley, L. Pakenham, L.
Crook, L. Rea, L.
Alexander of Hillsborough, V. Faringdon, L. Silkin, L.
Stansgate, V. Greenhill, L. Sinha, L.
Haden-Guest, L. Wise, L. [Teller.]
Ammon, L. Henderson, L.
Amulree, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Kilmuir, V. (L. Chancellor.) St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.] Derwent, L.
Swinton, E. Forbes, L.
Buccleuch and Queensberry, D. Waldegrave, E. Grantchester, L.
Winterton, E. Hampton, L.
Ailsa, M. Hawke, L.
Lansdowne, M. Crookshank, V. Hemingford, L.
Lothian, M. Falmouth, V. Leconfield, L.
Goschen, V. McCorquodale of Newton, L.
Albemarle, E. Ingleby, V. Mancroft, L.
Bathurst, E. Masserecne and Ferrard, V. Merrivale, L.
Bradford, E. Soulbury, V. Milverton, L.
De La Warr, E. Saltoun, L.
Dudley, E. Amherst of Hackney, L. Sandford, L.
Galloway, E. Ashton of Hyde, L. Strathcarron, L.
Gosford, E. Baden-Powell, L. Strathclyde, L.
Home, E. Chesham, L. [Teller.] Swaythling, L.
Malmesbury, E. Conesford, L. Teviot, L.
Perth, E.

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

abouts of the King, Crown Prince and Nuri Said were unknown and there had been some fighting round the Palace where the King was believed to have been in residence. There were considerable demonstrations in the streets. The United Kingdom Information Office and Consular Section building, which was surrounded by crowds was evacuated.

Her Majesty's Ambassador added that Baghdad Radio had broadcast an appeal to respect foreign Missions. All Embassy staff and families were safe and he had advised the British community to stay at home. Nothing, however, has been heard from the Embassy since 9 a.m., when it was reported they would not be sending further messages for the time being owing to the presence of rioters in the courtyard. A telegram despatched at 10 a.m. this morning has been received from the Officer Commanding the Royal Air Force at Habbaniya that all was well with British personnel there ".


My Lords, we are indebted for the statement made on behalf of Her Majesty's Government. This is a very difficult matter upon which to comment at the present time and I do not propose to do so. Comparing this statement with later messages received on the tapes, which cannot yet have been checked as coming from official sources, it would appear that the position is even worse than is made out in this official statement. Obviously there must be a very confused position at the present time, and I am sure that the whole House will be anxious that the Foreign Secretary should continue to keep in closest possible touch and secure all the information he can. I hope that at whatever time further information may come in, Her Majesty's Government will be able to communicate it to Parliament—if not during the course of to-day's Sitting then during to-morrow's session.

In the absence of some assurance from Her Majesty's Government, the reference towards the end of the statement to the absence of messages since 9 o'clock this morning because of the presence of rioters in the courtyard cannot but add to anxiety with regard to British lives in the area. I take it that we may look to Her Majesty's Government for an assurance now that every possible step will be taken by Her Majesty's Government to secure the safety of British lives in that territory.

3.45 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to support what the noble Viscount, the Leader of the Opposition has said. In thanking the noble Earl for his statement may I express the sympathy of the whole House, which I am sure it would be your Lordships' wish to offer, to those connected with the King, the Crown Prince, and Nuri Said in these tragic circumstances, as well as to those having friends or relatives in that area, who must be feeling considerable anxiety at the present time.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Viscount, and the noble Lord, Lord Rea, for their remarks, and I am sure it is wise that we should not make any further comment at this stage. Naturally Her Majesty's Government have great anxiety over the safety of British civilians. They have this in the forefront of their minds and I will certainly keep the House informed of all news as soon as it is corroborated.