HL Deb 13 June 1980 vol 410 cc774-6

12.27 p.m.


My Lords, with your Lordships' permission, I shall make a Statement on Anglo-Libyan relations.

Your Lordships will have seen in today's press a report of remarks by the Head of the Libyan mission in London, Mr. Musa Kusa.

My right honourable friend the Lord Privy Seal called Mr. Kusa to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office earlier today to tell him that in view of his remarks, his presence in this country is no longer in the interests of Anglo-Libyan relations and he asked him to leave forthwith.

In my statement to your Lordships on 12th May, I emphasised our wish to maintain good relations with Libya. That remains our position, but we are making clear that the Libyan authorities must understand what can and cannot be done under the law of the United Kingdom, and that criminal actions in the United Kingdom must cease.


My Lords, we are all grateful for the Statement, and I am sure that we all warmly welcome it. It is quite intolerable that any embassy in any country should connive at and officially approve of incitements to murder, which is what happened on the steps of the Libyan Embassy yesterday. This is not a breach of diplomacy, but an act of criminality. I should like to ask how many accredited Libyan representatives will remain in the People's Bureau in the Libyan Embassy in London after the departure of the ambassador—indeed, not only accredited representatives but also un-accredited people, such as so-called students who for some time have seemed to be running the embassy and its various activities.

I should also like to put the point that, while we entirely agree that Anglo-Libyan relations, which have for many years been very good and mutually beneficial, should continue to be so, nevertheless the Libyan authorities simply must be brought to understand that, important as those interests may be—the legitimate commercial interests we have in Libya and the presence there of some thousands of British nationals—there is no future to mutually beneficial relations, or any kind of ordered relations at all, so long as any country pursues what amounts to a policy of savage anarchy.

For this reason, have the Government considered whether they might raise the matter in the United Nations as a matter of urgent and crucial importance affecting everyone?—because everybody is concerned at what is happening; it affects not only this country, but others, for instance, in particular Italy. If they were to do so in concert with like-minded countries—and there are no lack of those—they would be assured of complete support from this side of the House.


My Lords, the Statement obviously gives great satisfaction to your Lordships. If I may, I should like to ask what steps are being taken by the Government to regularise the position of the Libyans' People's Bureau in this country. Is it correct that a number of people are occupying or using it who are not entitled to diplomatic immunity and who are, therefore, subject to the ordinary criminal law of this country? Will the Government give an assurance that the criminal law will be fearlessly applied in relation to such activities, as we have heard of in the last few days?


My Lords, to answer the point put to me by the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, and obliquely by the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, the number of diplomats in the People's Bureau, as they now call their mission, is uncertain. We are in the process of going through the names and accrediting those who appear to justify being accredited. However, I am not able to give precise numbers at present because, as I said, in the case of some of the personnel there and as the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, mentioned, there is some doubt as to their precise status. But we are working to resolve that doubt and of course we shall accredit only those who are entitled to be accredited. I can confirm to the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, that the law will of course be rigorously applied in every case.


My Lords, does the noble Lord note that among the appalling statements made by Mr. Kusa yesterday he is reported as having said: The decision to murder two more opponents of Colonel Gaddafi had been taken by revolutionary committees meeting in Britain on Wednesday night"? May we assume that there will be a most searching inquiry into the existence of these revolutionary committees in England, and appropriate action taken in regard to their criminal activities?


My Lords, yes indeed there will.