HL Deb 18 December 1973 vol 348 cc212-4

4.5 p.m.


My Lords, with the permission of the House, I should like to repeat a Statement which has recently been made in another place by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary. The Statement is as follows:

"At about 8.50 this morning a bomb exploded in Thorney Street, which leads off Horseferry Road. The bomb was planted in a car which is known to have been stolen in London last night, and was parked outside Horseferry House (a building occupied by my Department) and opposite Thames House, which is mainly occupied by the Department of Trade and Industry. Both these buildings, and others nearby, were extensively damaged.

"I regret to say that a considerable number of people were injured, and about 40 received treatment in Westminster Hospital. Two of these were seriously injured and required operative treatment, although I am glad to say that I understand that their condition is now satisfactory. When I visited the hospital at midday a further seven were still detained for treatment for cuts, shock and other minor injuries.

"I am sure the whole House would wish to express our sympathy to those who have been injured. I would also like to pay tribute to the hospital staff who treated the injured with such speed and sympathy and to the police who coped so well and speedily with the whole situation.

"Two warnings were given of this morning's bomb. The first was by means of an anonymous telephone call to the offices of the Evening News at 8.22 a.m. The caller said that there was a bomb in Horseferry Road and Marshall Street and that these streets should be cleared immediately. It is presumed that the caller must have meant Marsham Street and not Marshall Street. The police were informed and started their search in these streets. While the search was in progress there the bomb exploded in Thorney Street.

"The second warning, also anonymous, was received by the telephone operator in Horseferry House at 8.45 a.m., saying that there was a car bomb outside, timed to explode in half an hour. Precautionary action was being taken when the bomb exploded only about five minutes later.

"I should also report to the House that two postal bombs were delivered in London yesterday. The first was received by British Home Stores, in Marylebone Road. A member of the staff was suspicious and called the police, who dealt with the bomb successfully. The second was received by the Chief of Staff, London District, at his home. It exploded and injured his hand. He is still in hospital, where his condition is described as 'comfortable'.

"The Metropolitan Police issued public warnings last night about the need for care in dealing with suspect mail and I should like to reinforce these warnings very strongly.

"The police are doing their utmost to apprehend those responsible for these outrages."


My Lords, the House will be grateful to the noble Viscount for repeating this Statement. In the light of the nature of the debate now before your Lordships, I do not intend to detain the House by asking the noble Lord any questions. We should like to be associated with the expression of sympathy to those who have been injured, and to express our confidence in the Metropolitan Police in safeguarding the general public and in tracking down these people who have perpetrated this wicked crime.


My Lords, we, too, on these Benches, deplore this senseless outrage and extend our sympathies to the innocent victims. I imagine that the Provisional wing of the Irish Republic Army, if they have not already done so, will soon claim the proud responsibility for the massacre.


My Lords, I am grateful for those two short interventions. All I can say is that at the moment nobody has claimed "proud responsibility" for these fine events, but we wait to see whether anybody does.