HL Deb 01 March 1967 vol 280 cc1101-4

3.47 p.m.


My Lords, with your Lordships' permission I should like to repeat a Statement which is being made in another place by my right hon- ourable friend, the Foreign Secretary, on Aden. It is as follows:

"Since I reported to the House on Monday, terrorist attacks in Aden have caused yet more casualties. In one particularly deplorable act of violence a bomb was planted in the flat of one of our officers as a result of which the wives of two British officers have been killed and others are seriously ill. In addition to this senseless and cowardly outrage a good deal of strife has taken place between the rival terrorist groups. I equally deplore the senseless act of violence which killed the sons of Abdul Qawee Mackawee. As the House knows, there were further acts of violence at the funeral of these Arab victims which led to two further brutal deaths. I assure the House, in the most solemn terms, that the Government will take all necessary measures to discharge our obligations to maintain law and order in Aden. Meanwhile the House will wish to join me in deploring this pointless violence, and send understanding and sympathy to the relations of the victims."

That is the end of the Statement. I know that all in this House will join in echoing my right honourable friend's comments on these deplorable events and will wish to extend their sympathy to the relations of the victims.


My Lords, I must thank the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, for having repeated that Statement. This is the sort of occasion when no one finds any satisfaction in saying, "I told you so", but the fact remains that the Government must be held responsible in very large measure for the intensification of terrorism and violence in Aden. It is a direct result of their policy; and I must say that we on this side of the House greatly deplore it. The noble Lord has said that the Government propose to take all necessary steps to maintain law and order. May I ask him whether that means sending more troops, and, if it does not, what does it mean in practical terms?


My Lords, may I first of all say that I think it is quite wrong and mischievous to say that the current events in Aden arise from the Government's decision not to maintain defences in this area. Terrorism has been maintained in Aden since 1964 and its direction and intention have not been changed through any of the Defence Review decisions. So far as the question about immediate action is concerned, I can only say that Her Majesty's Government deplore this violence. As I said, we will take all the action necessary to maintain law and order. I am confident that our authorities in Aden will do all they can. I assure the House that they will do all they can to improve the preventive measures against terrorism and to find the perpetrators of these recent events.


My Lords, we on these Benches would like to accord our full sympathy to the injured and also to the relatives of those who have been killed as a result of these brutal outrages. I would ask whether the Government are giving full support to the security forces in Aden, both to the soldiers and to the police, and whether the security forces realise that they have the full support, physical and moral, of the Government. Finally, I should like to ask Her Majesty's Government what Power, if any, is behind these cruel attacks. One particular Power, or nation, as the noble Lord knows, has been alleged to be behind them. If this is so, what action do the Government propose to take?


My Lords, of course I can assure your Lordships' House that the armed police and the other security forces in this area have the full support, physical and moral, of Her Majesty's Government. So far as responsibility for these outrages is concerned, we do not know yet who is responsible for the explosion at Mackawee's house, but it seems probable that it was a demonstration by the N.L.F., the National Liberation Front, against the Egyptian-supported organisation called "FLOSY"—the Front for the Liberation of Occupied South Yemen. The explosion at the British official's flat which resulted in these tragic deaths was obviously a direct attack upon the British administration. We cannot say yet who was responsible. I can only repeat that we will take all the action at our disposal to find out who was responsible and, so far as we can, prevent a recurrence of these events.


My Lords, may I ask the Minister whether, even at this late hour, the Government would not reconsider their policy of withdrawing our forces from Aden upon an already set date because if, by continuing our present policy, anarchy and murder continue, it will be a stain upon the Government's record which will never be wiped out?


My Lords, I can only repeat that I believe it quite wrong to say that the current events arise from Her Majesty's Government's decision about defence facilities in Aden. There has been no breach of faith by Her Majesty's Government in this respect. We have simply had to recognise changing world conditions, and I think it quite wrong to suggest that as a result of this action and this decision these outrages are taking place. As I have said before, they have been taking place since 1964.


My Lords, in view of what he has just said, is the Minister aware that figures were given in another place that the incidents in Aden have doubled since the date of the declaration that we were going to leave and as this has happened now, what does the Minister imagine will happen when we actually leave the place.


My Lords, I shall not, of course, enter into the hypothetical question of what will happen when we leave, but on the question of the increase in the tempo of terrorism in Aden I would say that of course this is so. As the figures given in another place have shown, the number of incidents has certainly been higher recently. My point was to show that the direction and intention of the terrorism has not changed and it is arguable, and I would argue, that a good deal of the increase in the number of outrages and attacks is due simply to an increased tempo and increased skill in terrorism, which comes from experience in these matters.


My Lords, will the Government at any rate give an assurance that we will not move out of Aden while these atrocities continue?


My Lords, if there is one way not to solve a problem it is by running away from it.

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