Yemen

Oral Answers to Questions — Southern Rhodesia – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st July 1964.

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Photo of Mr Richard Marsh Mr Richard Marsh , Greenwich 12:00 am, 21st July 1964

asked the Prime Minister, in view of his expressed policy of non-interference in the Yemen, who authorised the former aide-de-camp to the British High Commissioner in Aden to become actively involved, while holding that office, with an organisation led by British nationals which was supplying men and military materials to the Yemeni Royalist forces; and why such activities were not reported to Her Majesty's Government.

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

No one gave any such authorisation. Both the present High Commissioner and his predecessor have assured my right hon. Friend that they were not aware that the person in question was involved in any way.

Photo of Mr Richard Marsh Mr Richard Marsh , Greenwich

Is the Prime Minister seriously telling the House that people as well known as Colonel David Sterling, Major Cooper and the High Commissioner's own A.D.C. could, in an area as dangerous as this, engage in activities on this scale without anyone noticing it? Has the Prime Minister read the recent book by Sir Charles Johnston, the former High Commissioner, which makes it very clear that if he did not know what was going on he had a pretty good idea?

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

No. The hon. Gentleman has no right to make that kind of insinuation. Both Sir Charles Johnston and the High Commissioner have assured me that they had no idea at all that Mr. Boyle was engaged in these activities, and I must take their word for it—and I do.

Photo of Mr John Eden Mr John Eden , Bournemouth West

Is it not a fact that we still recognise the Imam as providing the legal and legitimate Government of the Yemen? In these circumstances, would we not in any event be perfectly right, if called upon to do so, to assist the Imam to expel Egyptian occupation forces from the land? In any case, can my right hon. Friend assure us that every assistance is being given to resolve the dispute in that area and persuade the Egyptian Government to withdraw their forces?

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

We are certainly trying to persuade the Egyptian Government to withdraw their forces. We are also trying to get the United Nations to demarcate the frontier—so far we have had very little response—because this would stop the traffic in arms which goes on all the time between tribes in that area. Our policy is one of non-involvement in the civil war in the Yemen.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

Accepting the right hon. Gentleman's assurance that the authorities were not aware of these very extensive, very dangerous and very mischievous activities, does he not consider that they were committing a gross dereliction of duty in not knowing what must have been completely obvious?

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

I cannot say whether they should have noticed this. The fact is that they did not.

Photo of Commander Sir Peter Agnew Commander Sir Peter Agnew , Worcestershire South

Is it not a fact that in the meantime, while the trouble continues, the disengagement agreement sponsored by the United Nations has been honoured absolutely in letter and spirit by the Kingdom of South Arabia and by the Federation of South Arabia under Her Majesty's Government's control and dishonoured in letter and spirit, and flagrantly, by the forces of the United Arab Republic?

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

That is so far broadly true. I cannot say whether the United Arab Republic will now decide to withdraw some troops. I profoundly hope that it will. The only result of all the plans for disengagement over the last 18 months has been the continuous increase in the number of Egyptian troops in the Yemen.

Photo of Mr Richard Marsh Mr Richard Marsh , Greenwich

In view of the thoroughly unsatisfactory reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter at the earliest opportunity.