Air Piracy

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th May 1988.

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Photo of Mr Nicholas Bennett Mr Nicholas Bennett , Pembroke 12:00 am, 4th May 1988

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next intends to meet the Foreign Ministers of the European Community, the United States of America and other countries to discuss measures to combat air piracy.

Photo of Mr David Mellor Mr David Mellor , Putney

My right hon. and learned Friend raised the question of the Kuwait airlines hijack and its aftermath with his European Community colleagues in Luxembourg on 25 April. We shall also be discussing this in the Summit Seven machinery. The British delegation to the International Civil Aviation Organisation raised the issue there on 26 April.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Bennett Mr Nicholas Bennett , Pembroke

I thank my hon. and learned Friend for that reply. Does he agree that one of the problems facing the international community is the lack of an international force such as our own SAS, the GSG9 or Delta Force, that could tackle piracies when they occur? It is vital that either such a force is set up under the control of the United Nations or that such a force could be called upon by the UN to deal with piracies.

Photo of Mr David Mellor Mr David Mellor , Putney

I understand why my hon. Friend suggests that, but our view is that such a force would not be a practical proposition. My right hon. and learned Friend put forward a number of ideas in the five-point plan and one development that we are working towards is the establishment of a group of experts who would be able to advise a Government who find themselves in a situation such as that which confronted the Government of Cyprus on the best practice to handle a hijacking. We do not believe that the international force that my hon. Friend advocates is a practical proposition at this time.

Photo of Mr Robin Corbett Mr Robin Corbett Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

Given that the talks are likely to consider other aspects of terrorism, will the Minister explain to his colleagues why his right hon. and learned Friend is today trying to lean on the chairman of the BBC to try to stop BBC Ulster Television showing a programme about events in Gibraltar which involved Irish terrorists, which follows the heavy-handed—

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. The question is about air piracy.

Photo of Mr Cyril Townsend Mr Cyril Townsend , Bexleyheath

Will my hon. and learned Friend give serious consideration to making available to the public the recordings that the British authorities presumably took in Cyprus of conversations between the air pirates and the authorities in Iran?

Photo of Mr David Mellor Mr David Mellor , Putney

I shall think about what my hon. Friend has said.

Mr. Robertson:

We welcome the initiative that has been taken, especially on the possibility of a specialised negotiating force. When the Minister has the opportunity to discuss air piracy and terrorism with his colleagues, will he also ponder the effect on controlling terrorism in Europe of any wholesale abolition of frontier controls in the 1992 package? Should we not re-examine any such impossibilist idea? Why on earth should we seek to make it easier for terrorists to float around from country to country and escape any form of justice?

Photo of Mr David Mellor Mr David Mellor , Putney

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. Indeed, I recall being extremely troubled about the similar issue of the flow of drugs through the European Community, given that, unfortunately, one or two of our neighbouring states have not had the same success in controlling the warehousing of drugs in their countries as we have had. I am glad to say that we retain complete power to intervene at our frontiers, and after 1992 we will continue to have the power to check for imports of drugs or terrorism or for anything that is a criminal offence in this country.