HL Deb 07 October 1981 vol 424 cc110-2

3.6 p.m.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Baroness Young)

My Lords, with the leave of the House I should like to make a Statement. We have all been deeply shocked and distressed to hear of the death of President Sadat. We have lost a friend whose courage and vision we so greatly admired. The assassination of President Sadat is a grievous blow to Egypt, to the Middle East and to the cause of peace. The Egyptian nation has lost a supreme leader whose qualities of boldness and vision were matched by deep understanding of world affairs. History will mark his great achievements, most notably his imaginative and typically direct bid for peace in his visit to Jerusalem in 1977. The world is a more dangerous place without him. The deep and heartfelt sympathy of Her Majesty's Government and this House goes out to Mrs. Sadat, his family and his people.

Lord Peart

My Lords, I should like to join with the noble Baroness, Lady Young, in paying tribute to President Sadat. No one can have failed to be shocked by the assassination of President Sadat yesterday. He will always be remembered for his enduring contribution to the search for peace in the Middle East. His bold gesture in November 1977, when he announced in the Egyptian National Assembly that he was ready to go to the Knesset itself for peace talks with the Israelis, paved the way for the peace treaty which was finally signed in March 1979, and there were the talks on Palestinian autonomy which were suspended in 1980 and have yet to be resumed.

In his autobiography, President Sadat wrote: I shall be always guided by the principles of just peace and I am willing to make any effort and any sacrifice necessary, however long the process takes". It is a great sadness that that process will now have to continue without one of its strongest advocates. However, the institutions established by President Sadat remain, and it is to be hoped that his work will be carried on by his successors not only in the diplomatic sphere but also in his own country, for it was one of Sadat's proclaimed objectives to restore multi-party democracy in Egypt.

In conclusion, I should like to quote my honourable friend James Callaghan, who wrote of President Sadat: He was a key figure in the Middle East. He held the Camp David agreement together and that surely will be his permanent and lasting monument". We on this side of the House join in conveying messages of sympathy to Mrs. Sadat, his family and his people.

Lord Byers

My Lords, on behalf of myself and my noble friends on this Bench I wish to support the tributes which have just been made to the late President Sadat. He was a man of immense courage, both political and physical. He had lived for many years a life of constant risk. His political courage was demonstrated by his imaginative initiative in going to Israel and signing a peace treaty with Mr. Begin in an attempt to bring genuine peace to the Middle East. As chairman of the Anglo-Israel Association and President of the Liberal Friends of Israel, I deeply deplore this tragic act which I sincerely hope will not deflect Egypt and Israel from the search for stability and peace towards which the late President contributed so much. We too wish to be associated with the conveyance of sympathy and condolences to Mrs. Sadat and her family.

Lord Sherfield

My Lords, may I add a word from these Benches in support of what has been said in praise of the late President Sadat and in sorrow at his untimely death? I speak particularly of his foreign policy. Here he showed no ostentation or bravado but pursued his objectives by quiet, patient and persistent diplomacy. It is greatly to be hoped that his successors will be guided by the force of his example.

The Lord Bishop of London

My Lords, may I on behalf of those who sit on these Benches also express our support for the tributes which have been paid to the late President Sadat? I will not repeat many of the tributes which have already been made, but I wish to say on behalf of us how deeply Christians have appreciated his search for reconciliation and peace and his courage in taking steps to that end. His actions have encouraged men of good will throughout the world and for that we indeed thank God at this time. We pray for Mrs. Sadat, the late President's family, for the people of Egypt and also those who will be taking such important decisions in the immediate future as a result of this great tragedy.

Lord Aylestone

My Lords, from this Bench we should like to pay our tribute to the late President Sadat. This dastardly act of assassination has robbed the world of a man of peace whose tireless efforts in the Middle East gave us our first real hope of peace in that area. May we hope that his untimely and tragic death will inspire others to continue the work that he started. We join in extending our condolences to his family in the great loss and the sorrow which they have sustained.

Lord Shinwell

My Lords, may I, as one who is like other Members of your Lordships' House deeply involved in Middle East affairs, express my detestation and horror at this tragic affair? On occasions of this character we brush aside all political bias, prejudice and indeed opinions. We regret this event even more so because of its implications in the Middle East. All that we can hope for is that whoever is the successor to the late President Sadat he will follow his moderate and temperate line in order to ensure that peace will emerge in the Middle East at last.

Baroness Young

My Lords, I am sure that the whole House has listened with great feeling to the points which have been made. I think that it was right to have a Statement at this moment and I think that the House has appreciated it. I will see that all the points that have been made, and the way that they have been expressed, are passed on appropriately.

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