HL Deb 20 March 1967 vol 281 cc523-5

2.37 p.m.


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

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government—

(1) Whether the Federal Government or Her Majesty's Government will be held responsible for the safety of the United Nations delegation in Aden; and

(2) Whether the United Nations have been warned of the risks attached to the visit and have been asked to use such influence as they may possess with the instigators of terrorist activities.]


My Lords, in Aden State internal security is the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government who will therefore be responsible for the safety of the U.N. Mission. In the Protectorate of South Arabia, the Federal Government and the Governments of individual States will have this responsibility. I am sure that the U.N. Mission is well aware from the declarations issued by FLOSY of the risks which attend its visit. As the Mission's main task will be to bring together all parties in South Arabia its members will doubtless seek to use their influence with instigators of terrorist activities in an attempt to abolish the use of violence in Aden.


My Lords, I am sure that the Minister is as anxious as we all are, but he will well remember the tragic fate which overtook Count Bernadotte in the Middle East when he went out there as a United Nations emissary. I wonder whether it would not have been better to start negotiations for a United Nations Peace Corps to go in as we vacate Aden, rather than to have this Mission, which will only add to the risk, and does not look like being very successful.


My Lords, as the noble Baroness will understand, before we vacate Aden, as she puts it, we want to have an alternative political set-up there. It is in order to study the problems involved in getting a stable Government that the United Nations Mission is going to Aden.


My Lords, are the Government satisfied that the present distribution of responsibilities for security among the various authorities in the Arabian Federation is most effective in containing the terrorists' activities? Is it not time that this matter was reviewed?


My Lords, this is a matter that has been under review ever since I have had anything to do with it, over the last two years. In Aden State itself, the old Aden Colony, there is no difficulty about deciding who is in charge there: it is Her Majesty's Government, and Her Majesty's Government's forces. In the Federation, the matter is a little more complicated, but I believe that in the circumstances, although the situation is changing, and will continue to change from now until Independence, it is the best possible arrangement that can be made.


My Lords, the noble Lord spoke a moment ago of the necessity for seeing that there is a stable Government to whom we could hand over in Aden. Are Her Majesty's Government satisfied that the lessons of, for example, Palestine and the Congo have been learned, and that when we leave Aden we shall not leave a vacuum behind us and hand over something with the risk of the same sort of bloodshed and disorder as occurred in the other areas?


My Lords, with respect to the noble Lord, I think the situation here is rather different from that in Palestine; but I agree with him that there is a necessity for us to do our utmost to ensure that there is no vacuum; and that is the objective of Her Majesty' Government.