HL Deb 14 May 1974 vol 351 cc861-3

2.42 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper. May I point out that, unfortunately, the letter "s" has been added to the "Palestine Liberation Organisation", which should be in the singular.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps are to be taken to prevent the Palestine Liberation Organisations from condoning terrorist activities, and organisations with which it is associated and others from the continuance of these.


My Lords, we have made it abundantly clear that we utterly condemn violence of any kind in the Middle East or elsewhere. Such violence can only set back the peaceful settlement which we all desire.


My Lords, in view of the fact that this body is a composite body to which are affiliated most of the terrorist organisations, is it not time that some action was taken, either nationally or internationally, to stop the activities of bodies of this nature, and not give them the opportunity to act entirely against the Charter of the United Nations organisation and create terrorism throughout the world? Can something be done internationally to stop these offices being opened in various parts of the world?


My Lords, on the latter part of the supplementary question, I would say that under British law there is no deterrent to any organisation opening an office in our country. However, we keep very close watch indeed on what happens when this is done. If there is any infringement of the law, prosecution follows; or if the person concerned comes under immigration control he is deported. This applies to any organisation, including that mentioned by my noble friend. As regards restraining terrorist organisations from engaging in the abominable practices with which we are all familiar, there have been a number of initiatives in the United Nations, including a recent one by President Nixon, which this Government have very strongly supported.


My Lords, will the noble Lord agree that we ought to pass on to the roving ambassador, Dr. Kissinger, our thanks for the amount of good work he is endeavouring to do in regard to what has been happening in the Middle East, in order to bring about a cessation of hostilities within that area?


My Lords, I very much welcome what my noble friend has said. Dr. Kissinger, acting for the Geneva Conference, has already secured a disengagement agreement between Israel and Egypt, which he did on January 17, last. He is now, we all hope, within sight of a similar disengagement agreement between Israel and Syria.


My Lords, is it not true that the existence of these organisations is conducive to interfering with the work of Dr. Kissinger, rather than assisting him? Are they not the organisations which at present are using terrorism against any settlement?


My Lords, of course we all have very great sympathy with my noble friend's point. But I think that the success of an initiative such as that of the United States Secretary of State is the most effective answer and, indeed, the most effective way of stopping terrorist activity in the Middle East and elsewhere.


My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that the terrorist activities of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, which all civilised men deplore, have their origin in the similar activities of the Irgun Zvei Leumi in Israel, many of whose members are now regarded as honoured citizens? Is not the lesson to be drawn from this that terrorist methods, if successful, lead to the terrorists being accepted as respectable members of society?


My Lords, we all know that violence begets violence, and that this country condemns violence wherever it occurs.