HL Deb 16 April 1986 vol 473 cc667-8

3.4 p.m.

Lord Kennet

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 have any further statement to make about the use of British airfields by the United States to bomb Libya.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Young)

My Lords, I refer the noble Lord to the Statement repeated in this House yesterday by my noble friend the Lord President of the Council.

Lord Kennet

My Lords, is the noble Baroness in a position to answer a question which I asked the noble Viscount the Leader of the House yesterday, which he was not in a position to answer and to which it would be useful to have an answer before Friday's debate? It concerns the message which was sent from Tripoli to the Libyan office in East Berlin about 12 days before the bomb outrage in West Berlin and which was read by Britain and America at least? Was the information in the message passed to the East German authorities so that they could take the necessary steps against the Libyan office, to the West German authorities so that they could protect likely targets in West Berlin or to the Soviet Union so that they could dissuade Libya? If not, are not the Government likely to have to defend themselves against the certain charge of complicity in the outrage itself?

Baroness Young

My Lords, the noble Lord would not expect me to comment on details of intelligence reports, but what I can say to him is that the Pentagon stated publicly that warnings were given to United States personnel in Berlin and that security officers were on their way to the La Belle discotheque but were five to 15 minutes away when the bomb exploded. I cannot possibly accept the last statement in his supplementary question.

Lord Broxbourne

My Lords, can my noble friend say whether in preparation for Friday's debate it will be possible to place in the Library any summary of the opinions of the Law Officers in regard to the application of Article 51 of the Charter?

Baroness Young

My Lords, I think that this would be most unlikely. I suggest to my noble friend that he will find a lot of background material available as a result of the debate in another place this afternoon.

Lord Jenkins of Putney

My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that, although the noble Viscount the Leader of the House objected yesterday to my use of the word "accomplice", it exactly applies to those who facilitate the murder of civilians?

Lord Gridley

My Lords, may I ask my noble friend this supplementary question? Are not these terrorist attacks by Colonel Gaddafi against the West, ourselves, our democracy and our very way of life, and if we appease and do not act do we not ignore this to our peril? Are we not aware that the Security Council condemns terrorism in words but does not act, and that mere words mean nothing to Colonel Gaddafi?

Baroness Young

My Lords, both the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council have adopted declarations and resolutions condemning terrorism and calling for greater international co-operation to combat the problem. These were positive steps but they did not deter the Libyans from giving support to terrorists attacks; nor has the Security Council been able to agree on a response to the Libyan attack on US forces in the Gulf of Sirte.

The Lord President of The Council (Viscount Whitelaw)

My Lords, in the interests of the whole House and of the debates that are to come, it will be appreciated that, in accordance with the promise that I made when making the Statement yesterday, there is to be a debate in your Lordships' House on Friday. I hope that it would be reasonable to keep some of these points for the debate on Friday. It would be much better to proceed to the next business. I think, and I hope the House will agree.

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