Libya

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3 December 1969.

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Photo of Mr Neil Marten Mr Neil Marten , Banbury 12:00, 3 December 1969

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the future of defence facilities in Libya.

Photo of Mr John Farr Mr John Farr , Harborough

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the future of British service establishments in Libya.

Photo of Sir Gerald Nabarro Sir Gerald Nabarro , Worcestershire South

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will make a statement on the evacuation of British bases in Libya.

Photo of Mr John Fraser Mr John Fraser , Lambeth Norwood

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will make a statement about the future of training bases in Libya.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , West Lothian

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what negotiations he has had with the Libyan Government on the future of El Adem.

Photo of Mr James Ramsden Mr James Ramsden , Harrogate

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what agreement has been reached with the Libyan Government over stationing of British forces at Tobruk and El Adem.

Photo of Mr Marcus Lipton Mr Marcus Lipton , Lambeth Brixton

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what decision he has taken about the future of British service installations in Libya.

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

First, I apologise for the absence of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, who is away on Government business.

The negotiations with the Libyan Government envisaged by my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary in his reply to Questions on 17th November are expected to begin on 8th December. These negotiations will include, among other questions, our relations with Libya in the defence field. —[Vol. 791, c. 848.]

Photo of Mr Neil Marten Mr Neil Marten , Banbury

Will the Minister particularly bear in mind in those negotiations the need to keep an alternative east-about air route for the Far East? Is the question of the supply of air defence equipment and Chieftain tanks in those negotiations, or is it being kept as a separate issue?

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

The negotiations will include all aspects of our future and past defence arrangements with Libya. Therefore, the hon. Gentleman can rest assured that all the points he makes will be borne in mind.

Photo of Mr John Farr Mr John Farr , Harborough

If the negotiations bring about the removal of our defence facilities in Libya, will consideration be given to their re-establishment in Malta?

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

I do not want to make any comments on what might happen if one set of circumstances operates after the negotiations.

Photo of Sir Gerald Nabarro Sir Gerald Nabarro , Worcestershire South

Will the Minister apply his mind to the fact that both Malta and Gibraltar are anxious, willing and able to accommodate additional British defence forces of all three Service arms, and have often expressed their anxiety to do so in recent years?

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

I will apply my mind to any point the hon. Gentleman makes to me, but I will not comment about it before the negotiations.

Photo of Mr James Ramsden Mr James Ramsden , Harrogate

Is it a fact that at present, pending the commencement of negotiations, some British forces and their dependants are virtually immobilised in Libya? Can anything be done about this as a matter of urgency?

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

The description "virtually immobilised" is perhaps too extreme, but we accepted certain suggestions made to us by the Libyan Government. That, too, will be one of the things discussed on 8th December.

Photo of Mr Marcus Lipton Mr Marcus Lipton , Lambeth Brixton

May we have an assurance that Her Majesty's Government will not indulge in too much grovelling in return for unreliable favours from the Government of Libya?

Mr. Hartersley:

My hon. Friend can rest absolutely assured that we shall not indulge in too much grovelling.