HL Deb 05 April 1984 vol 450 cc793-6

3.7 p.m.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make a statement on the bomb attacks in London and Manchester during the weekend of 10th–11th March, what representations they have made to the Libyan Government, and what further action they propose to take.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Elton)

My Lords, on Saturday 10th March five bombs were placed in various places in London; two exploded, and the rest were safely dealt with by explosives disposal officers. Casualties were confined to one of the attacks, in which 26 people were injured, none seriously. The following day, Sunday 11th March, there were two bomb attacks in Manchester, in one of which three people received minor injuries. As a result of police investigations, four Libyan nationals have been charged in connection with the bombings, and a further five have been deported by order of my right honourable friend the Home Secretary.

My right honourable friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary has told the Libyan authorities that the use of British territory for acts of terrorism is totally unacceptable, and that we expect the Libyan authorities to do everything in their power to persuade their nationals not to commit criminal acts. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has made it clear that he will not hesitate to make further use of his powers of deportation, if that seems appropriate.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

My Lords, in thanking the noble Lord for that reply, and placing on one side matters that are now properly sub judice, may I ask whether he does not agree with me that this was only one of a series of attacks which have been made in this country on Libyan nationals? Would he not agree with me that it is necessary to emphasise to the Libyan Government that if attacks of this kind continue on the present scale, we shall not exclude the possibility of asking Libyan diplomatic representatives in this country to leave, as well as some of those who have been deported?

Lord Elton

My Lords, attacks on, and by, foreign nationals in this country occur from time to time. I entirely agree that they are deplorable, and my right honourable friends the Home Secretary and the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary are determined to reply to them in the appropriate manner, should they continue to develop.

Lord Mishcon

My Lords, the noble Lord the Minister has indicated that his right honourable and learned friend the Foreign Secretary has made representations to the Libyan Government. Will he kindly indicate to the House what response, if any, has been received by the Libyan Government to those representations?

Noble Lords

From the Libyan Government?

Lord Mishcon

My Lords, from the Libyan Government.

Lord Elton

My Lords, I think I have the drift of what the noble Lord means. The Libyan authorities denied official Libyan involvement and stated that they were unable to control the individual actions of all Libyan citizens.

Lord Renton

My Lords, although the matter is not easy, is there any further scope on the part of the immigration service to try to prevent the coming to this country of people who may be terrorists?

Lord Elton

My Lords, the immigration service is extremely vigilant and, although we have more of these incidents than we would wish, I think that we have fewer than we should otherwise have.

Lord Boston of Faversham

My Lords, even though the Libyan authorities have denied any responsibility for these outrages, can the Minister say whether there has been any expression of regret at all or, indeed, of condemnation from the Libyan authorities about them? Can he also say whether Her Majesty's Government have been able to clarify the position in regard to who is running the bureau in London and whether they are satisfied both about the identity and about the number of people at that mission?

Lord Elton

My Lords, on the first question, I am not aware of expressions of regret or condemnation, but nothing should be read into that because I may not be fully up to date on the matter. As to the question of the bureau, I understand that its proceedings and status differ somewhat from some of the other diplomatic institutions in this capital. But, at the moment, that is not causing undue embarrassment.

Lord McNair

My Lords, will the Minister assure the House that no diplomatic recognition or immunity is granted to so-called students who from time to time take over the Libyan Embassy or whatever it is called?

Lord Elton

My Lords, a student is a student and a diplomat is a diplomat. There is no need to confuse the two wherever they reside.

The Earl of Kimberley

My Lords, can my noble friend say, without giving anything away, whether any surveillance has been done on the Libyan schools in Chelsea which was raised several times in your Lordships' House a few years ago as a possible seat for teaching young Libyans to be terrorists? Was any action taken following this last outrage?

Lord Elton

My Lords, on reflection, I think that that question goes a fraction beyond the Question on the Order Paper.

Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos

My Lords, in view of the persistence and extent of these acts of international terrorism which are taking place in increasing number, is there any action that Her Majesty's Government can take through the United Nations or one of its agencies?

Lord Elton

My Lords, I am obliged to the noble Lord for his suggestion which I shall pass on.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

My Lords, may I put forward one additional point or, rather, ask one further question in the light of the noble Lord's Answer? Would he not agree that Libya has been involved over the last few years in a whole series of attacks on Libyan nationals in this country? Would he not agree that in this situation it is necessary to indicate to the Libyan Government that if this continues we shall have to ask some of the representatives of the Libyan People's Bureau in London to leave these shores?

Lord Elton

My Lords, what I can agree with in the noble Lord's pointed question is that it is utterly unacceptable for foreign nationals of any country to come to this country to kill each other. In so doing, they break the fundamental laws, liberties and securities both of visitors to this country and of British nationals. As to how to respond to this if it continues, I think that if any such warning is to be uttered, it should not be uttered by myself at this moment, but I shall see that those who might utter it read what the noble Lords says.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

My Lords, cannot the Minister start by using the word "intolerable" instead of "deplorable" about these facts?

Lord Elton

My Lords, I think that we all agree that they are outrageous.