HL Deb 20 May 1974 vol 351 cc1260-2

3.45 p.m.


My Lords, perhaps I may now intervene to answer a Private Notice Question asked by the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary made the following Statement in another place this afternoon:

"At 11.17 a.m. on May 19, there was an explosion on the third level of a multi-storey car park at No. 1 Terminal at London Airport. The explosive, between 50 and 100 lb., was contained in a B.M.C. 1100.

"The Press Association received a warning in general terms at 11.05 that a car bomb was due to go off between 11.10 and 11.20 a.m. in a Heathrow Car Park. At 11.09 the information reached the police, who were engaged in clearing operations when the explosion took place. Four people suffered minor injuries and a number of vehicles were destroyed and others damaged.

"At 10.25 p.m. another warning was received about a bomb at the N.A.A.F.I. Headquarters in Kennington Lane. After a police search of the area a bag containing about 30 lb. of explosive was found at the rear of the building. The area was evacuated and the bomb was defused at 11.20 p.m.

"These are the bare facts and the House will already be aware of them, the police are pursuing inquiries vigorously.

"It would be prudent to assume that we have not seen the last of such activities in Great Britain and to maintain at a high level of vigilance our preventive and precautionary measures.

"That, my Lords, we are doing."

3.48 p.m.


My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, for that Statement. If anybody pays any attention to what we say in this House, I hope that they will have heard and marked what he said about the need for vigilance, because it is only vigilance that will save lives and save damage to property. I have no doubt, also, that we would all express our regret that, yet again, entirely innocent people have been hurt and have had their property damaged or destroyed in this reckless, needless, futile way. May I take this opportunity, because I do not believe we can say this too often, to say to the Government that we all realise that it is upon the bravery and vigilance of the police and security services, and, indeed, of the people who have to defuse these bombs, whose job must be one of the most dreadful in existence—they are so often successful, but they run such a dreadful risk all the time—that we must depend for our safety. Perhaps I shall also be expressing other people's views if I say that, whoever is carrying out this series of attacks and may be threatening further ones, British public opinion will not be influenced except in the direction of complete revulsion and abhorrence of this sort of behaviour and that it is not the slightest use supposing that any other effect whatever will ensue.


My Lords, I would briefly associate myself with what the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross said, and I thank the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, for repeating the Statement. I completely agree with what the noble Viscount said about the work of the police and the people who defuse bombs, and of the others who keep an area safe. I assure the noble Lord that such action will have our support.


My Lords, may I first thank the noble Viscount for what he has just said. I am sure that everything he said represents the feeling not only of my colleagues in the Government, but of the membership of the House as a whole; and, indeed, of the overwhelmingly majority of British public opinion. In particular, I should like to associate myself with the words he used about the work done by the people who have to deal with these unexploded bombs. Every time they go out they risk their own lives, and too much cannot be said about the gallantry which they have displayed on this and other occasions.