HC Deb 21 September 1948 vol 456 cc86-7W
Mr. J. Hynd

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies when the Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Aden disturbances will be published; and whether he has any statement to make on the conclusions and recommendations in the Report.

Mr. Creech Jones

The report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Aden disturbances will be published on Wednesday, 22nd September.

His Majesty's Government are greatly indebted to Sir Harry Trusted for the able manner in which he conducted his inquiry into the disturbances and for his valuable report. Subject to the few minor reservations indicated in this statement his conclusions and recommendations have been accepted and action to give effect to the latter has either been taken or is in train.

It is clear that the disturbances were primarily due to political developments in or connected with Palestine. I agree with Sir Harry Trusted's finding that, although there was an atmosphere of some political tension, the local Government had no grounds to apprehend the outbreak as it occurred.

The Commissioner has criticised the conduct of the Aden Protectorate Levies. I accept that there were regrettable lapses by individual members of the Force. It is clear that, on being called upon at short notice to suppress civil disorders of such a character, the Levies were undertaking a task of exceptional difficulty and one outside the normal scope of their duties. They should he given credit for the part played by them in evacuating considerable numbers of Jews, in face of Arab opposition, to the Jewish camp at Hashed, for guarding this camp since the 7th December, 1947, and for conveying food to the Jews in the Crater.

Approval has been given for an increase to the armed police as suggested in paragraph 247 of the Commissioner's Report, and in conformity with his recommendation in paragraph 246 a Wing Headquarters and two Squadrons of the R.A.F. Regiment are now stationed at Aden and are available for internal security duties. The internal security scheme has been revised in the light of experience during the disturbances. Measures for improving the organisation and training of the Levies are under consideration.

With regard to the recommendation in paragraph 245 of the Report, I have decided to accept the view of the Governor of Aden, that it would be preferable not to disturb the present arrangement whereby within the small area of the Colony of Aden the Chief Secretary and the Commissioner of Police, and not the District Commissioner, are responsible to the Governor for internal security. It follows that Sir Harry Trusted's recommendations on this point should not be interpreted as in any way involving criticism of the District Commissioner personally, since he was not intended by the Government of Aden to exercise responsibilities of the nature suggested in the Report.

The evidence of two Jewish witnesses referred to in paragraph 75 of the Report is disputed by the District Commissioner, who was not in the Colony at the time of the inquiry, and, since this complaint is uncorroborated and Sir Harry Trusted has not recorded any finding on the point. the allegation is not accepted.

Sir Harry Trusted's recommendations relating to the law regarding local assembly are under consideration.

In view of the fact that the majority of those taking part in the disturbances were not natives of Aden but immigrant Yemeni labourers, it is clearly important that the movement of such casual labour into Aden should be brought under adequate control and measures for this purpose are at present under consideration by the Governor.