§ 3.10 p.m.
§ EARL OF KINNOULL
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 whether the facilities of No. 200 Squadron Royal Corps of Transport (Hovercraft) was considered for the relief operation in Pakistan.]
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR DEFENCE (LORD CARRINGTON)
My 642 Lords, the use of this unit has been considered, but in the view of those on the spot the hovercraft offers no significant advantage for this operation over helicopters and small boats which can more readily be deployed and operated in the disaster area.
§ THE EARL OF KINNOULL
My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reply, but can he say whether any trial exercises have been made in the air freighting of hovercraft as emergency forces?
§ LORD CARRINGTON
No, my Lords, I do not think I can say that without notice. But, of course, hovercraft take up a lot of room, and in this particular case we thought it easier to use the small craft and helicopters which were available in the Far East rather than use the capacity of the aircraft in this country when we could fill them—and did fill them—with the necessary food and clothing.
§ LORD SHINWELL
My Lords, in view of the aid that we have furnished for those who required help arising from the disaster in East Pakistan, can the noble Lord explain why our forces have been instructed in a rather discourteous fashion to leave East Pakistan? Can he explain the reason for that?
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, I think the noble Lord is referring to some Press reports from West Pakistan which have suggested that our forces are not welcome. I think it must be for the Pakistan Government to explain their attitude, and the attitude of their Press, and not for me. All I can say is that I think every Member of your Lordships' House must be very proud of the way our forces have behaved.