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Volume 645: debated on Monday 2 October 1961

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asked the Minister of Defence if he will make a further statement on Kuwait.

Yes, Sir. As the House knows, withdrawals of forces from Kuwait began early in July and continued during the month. I circulated a list of the major units involved in reply to a Question last Wednesday by my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro). We are, of course, anxious to withdraw more as soon as the situation allows. I hope that it will be possible to begin more rotations soon.

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his statement. Can he say whether we have any up-to-date news about the three men who, unhappily, got lost? Having given the information of the withdrawal of major units, can the Minister confirm the figures that were extensively publicised last weekend that the total force left in Kuwait is now down to about 2,000 or 2,300 men? Thirdly, can he toil us something about the conditions of the men remaining there? Have the Kuwaiti authorities now agreed, for example, to open the schools, which are empty, so that our men can have the shelter that they would provide?

Concerning the three men, I am afraid that I have nothing to add to the full statement made by my noble Friend the Foreign Secretary, which indicated that as far as we know they have been well treated and looked after. We are trying to make contact with them and to see that they are released as soon as possible. I know that the right hon. Gentleman does not want me to give a precise figure of the troops now in Kuwait. I can, however, say that they have been very largely reduced and, probably, more than halved from the original force that was there. I have had a further report on the welfare of the men. I understand from the Commander-in-Chief that all his needs are being met and that he is satisfied, from the point of view of amenities, medical care and all the rest that he has everything he needs to look after them properly.