§ 3.51 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, may I ask the noble Viscount the Leader of the House a Private Notice Question—namely, whether Her Majesty's Government can make a statement about the safety of British subjects and protected people in Ethiopia? We are rather anxious to know of any late news at the same time, and whether arrangements have been made to give protection.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL AND MINISTER FOR SCIENCE (VISCOUNT HAILSHAM)
My 602 Lords, with the permission of the House, I will read a statement which has just been made in another place by my right honorable friend the Lord Privy Seal. The statement is as follows:
"I have received information from Her Majesty's Ambassador at Addis Ababa within the past two hours that fighting has broken out in Addis Ababa. As an immediate measure the Ambassador is admitting to the Embassy compound any British subjects who wish to take refuge there.
"It is too soon to say whether it will be necessary to provide facilities for the evacuation of British subjects and protected persons. In the meantime we are taking urgent steps to make the necessary transport facilities available, including aircraft, if this should be required. We are, of course, in constant touch with the Embassy.
"There are about 900 British subjects in Ethiopia as a whole, of whom about 440 are of United Kingdom origin and about 300 from other Commonwealth countries. Of those of United Kingdom origin nearly all, about 90 per cent., are in Addis Ababa itself.
"Communications outside Addis Ababa have been interrupted, but we have no reason at present to believe that there is any danger to the comparatively small number of British subjects and protected persons living outside Addis Ababa."
My Lords, that concludes the statement of my right honorable friend.
My Lords, is the noble Viscount in a position to say whether the Government know anything of this organization which is said to have taken over power, and whether they have been approached with a request for recognition, or matters of that sort?
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, I do not think we have been approached formally. I understand that the Ambassador has had an informal approach. It is, of course, necessary to await further clarification of the situation.