Oral Answers to Questions — Aden

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th July 1967.

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Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Croydon South 12:00 am, 17th July 1967

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the latest position in Aden.

Photo of Mr James Dickens Mr James Dickens , Lewisham West

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the situation in Aden.

Photo of Mr Stratton Mills Mr Stratton Mills , Belfast North

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the latest position in Aden.

Photo of Mr Philip Goodhart Mr Philip Goodhart , Beckenham

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a further statement about the situation in Aden.

Photo of Mr Nigel Fisher Mr Nigel Fisher , Surbiton

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any progress has been made in bringing together the Aden nationalist leaders and the Federal Ministers in a broad-based Government of South Arabia.

Photo of Mr George Brown Mr George Brown , Belper

I shall later be answering separate Questions on the internal security situation and on constitutional advance. On the political front, Mr. Hussein Bayoomi, an Adeni and the present Federal Minister of National Guidance and Information, was charged by his colleagues on 5th July with the task of forming a provisional Government as the first holder of the office of Prime Minister to be introduced under the provisional South Arabian constitution. I understand he has been in touch with all elements of South Arabian opinion, but it is too early to say what Government will emerge.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Croydon South

I appreciate that reply. However, in face of the continued violence in Aden, which we all deplore, is there any possibility of direct negotiations with nationalist organisations and actual change in the status of the Federation? Can my right hon. Friend also look into the position of wounded British soldiers being closely questioned about Customs duties when they come back from Aden?

Photo of Mr George Brown Mr George Brown , Belper

That second question is quite different; I should be glad to see it on the Order Paper. We are in touch, and I am sure that Mr. Hussein Bayoomi is in touch, with the various organisations which claim to represent the nationalist Arabs of South Arabia, but I would not like at this moment to comment further on that.

Photo of Mr James Dickens Mr James Dickens , Lewisham West

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that there would be a much greater likelihood of getting an affirmative reply from the nationalist organisations if, for example, the Government decided to increase the amount of the civil aid programme to South Arabia and Aden to something like that to be spent on military assistance over the next three years?

Photo of Mr George Brown Mr George Brown , Belper

Frankly, no. I do not think that the two are connected.

Photo of Mr Stratton Mills Mr Stratton Mills , Belfast North

Has Lord Caradon been able to arrange a meeting with Mr. Mackawee, and have there been meetings between him and the United Nations Mission?

Photo of Mr George Brown Mr George Brown , Belper

I am sure that it would be very unwise for me at this moment to comment on who is consulting with whom.

Photo of Mr Philip Goodhart Mr Philip Goodhart , Beckenham

Will any attempt be made to bring to punishment those Adeni mutineers guilty of murdering British soldiers?

Photo of Mr George Brown Mr George Brown , Belper

That seems to be an altogether different question.

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Barking

When my right hon. Friend says "We are in touch with the various organisations", does that represent a slight advance on anything he has been able to say previously? Can he say whether Mr. Mackawee is still in New York?

Photo of Mr George Brown Mr George Brown , Belper

I understand that Mr. Mackawee is still in New York. What have just said was wholly in agreement with what I have said before.

Photo of Mr William Worsley Mr William Worsley , Chelsea

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) what action he is taking to compensate British civilians injured in attacks by terrorists in Aden; and

(2) whether he will arrange for compensation to be paid to British civilians injured during civil disturbances in Aden.

Photo of Mr George Brown Mr George Brown , Belper

There is no scheme in Aden for compensating persons, other than Government employees, for injuries caused by terrorist attack and I regret that it is not possible to introduce such a scheme.

Photo of Mr William Worsley Mr William Worsley , Chelsea

Would not the right hon. Gentleman reconsider that decision? Ought there not to be such a scheme? Is he not aware that there have been some tragic cases, including one about which I have corresponded with his Department concerning a woman who has been paralysed by terrorist attacks? Would he not look at this again?

Photo of Mr George Brown Mr George Brown , Belper

Yes, Sir. When I saw the question I did look into the position, and when I saw the details about the lady concerned, of course I was disturbed. The situation is that Government employees of all kinds are covered. The largest civilian employers have arrangements to cover their employees who are injured in such attacks. In the case of smaller firms, I strongly advise civilians working in any of these territories, where we do not have reciprocal arrangements for insurance facilities, to insure themselves.

I asked the Department whether we give advice in those cases, and I was told this morning, and given evidence, that in every case where we supply a passport for the first time, or on renewal, we give a book of advice to the person obtaining the passport, and this includes a section advising people of the risks involved in travel and advising them to insure, or to see that they are insured, against the risks, which include those about which the hon. Member is talking. In the Foreign Office, therefore, we take care to make sure that the attention of people is drawn to these risks. If they ignore that, there is nothing much that we can do about it.

Photo of Lord  Balniel Lord Balniel , Hertford

Is the Foreign Secretary aware that I doubt whether the House will accept that as a very satisfactory answer? Is it not a fact that these people are serving British interests at great risk to themselves and under the present arrangements there is no redress at all except by personal insurance against grave injury? Will the right hon. Gentleman look again at this matter with a view to making adequate arrangements to protect our nationals?

Photo of Mr George Brown Mr George Brown , Belper

No; neither would the noble Lord were he the Minister. The commitment for the British taxpayer would be open-ended, not to say enormous. We do our proper duty, as did our predecessors, in drawing people's attention to the risk. Big employers take care of it. Others do not. Those who go to serve and to live in these areas should be advised to find out whether they are covered and, if they are not covered, they should take steps to cover themselves.

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Barking

Are soldiers Government employees?

Photo of Mr William Worsley Mr William Worsley , Chelsea

On a point of order. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I will seek to raise the matter on the Adjournment.

Photo of Mr Patrick Wall Mr Patrick Wall , Haltemprice

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the internal security situation in Aden.

Photo of Mr George Brown Mr George Brown , Belper

The situation in Aden, following the re-entry of British forces into the Crater district a fortnight ago, has been calmer and there has been a slight decrease in the number of terrorist incidents. The Aden Police, both armed and civil, are carrying out their proper functions and relations between them and the British security forces are back to normal.

Photo of Mr Patrick Wall Mr Patrick Wall , Haltemprice

Is not the confusion in Aden primarily caused by Her Majesty's Government's decision to hand over power without knowing to whom to hand it over? Can the right hon. Gentleman say in terms when security in Aden will be handed over to the Federal Government?

Photo of Mr George Brown Mr George Brown , Belper

On the latter part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary Question, I have nothing to add to what I said in the debate which we had the other day. On the first part of his Question, the hon. Gentleman could not be further from the truth.

Photo of Mr Benjamin Whitaker Mr Benjamin Whitaker , Hampstead

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the opinion in Aden that a broad-based Government would have a better chance of being formed by someone who was not a former Federal Minister? Could he not employ the United Nations to form this Government?

Photo of Mr George Brown Mr George Brown , Belper

There is the United Nations Mission, and we have been in complete touch with it all the way through. I think that what we are doing now is the right thing, and I hope that my hon. Friend will support Mr. Hussein Bayoomi in the efforts that he is now making.