§ 28. Mr. Nicholson
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what help has been offered by Her Majesty's Government to the Government of Persia in connection with the recent earthquake.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
Her Majesty's Government have learned with great sorrow of the tragic loss of life and the destruction caused by the series of earthquakes which began in Northern Iran on 2nd July. I know the House will wish to join me in expressing our deepest sympathy with our Iranian friends and allies in their misfortune. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister sent a message of sympathy to the Iranian Prime Minister on 3rd July, as soon as the first accounts of the extent of the devastation reached this country. I myself sent a message to the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs. An offer of material help has had to await reliable reports of the needs of the stricken areas, which took some time to reach Tehran. These reports indicate that the greatest need is for tents to protect the homeless, and also for doctors to tend the injured. Her Majesty's Government have therefore offered to help the Iranian Government in meeting these two requirements. In particular they have offered to send to Tehran at once the Director of Medical Services from General Headquarters, Middle East Land Forces, to investigate the possibility of an 369 Army surgical team being flown from Cyprus to Iran. The aircraft taking him to Tehran will also contain a full load of tents. The Iranian Government have gratefully accepted both offers, and I hope that the officer concerned and the tents will be reaching Tehran within the next twenty-four hours. If this officer's report shows that an Army surgical team could operate effectively in the earthquake area and the Iranian Government agree, the team will be despatched to Tehran at once by air.
§ Mr. Nicholson
May I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for what he has said? I am sure that this sentiment of sympathy will be re-echoed not only in this House but throughout the country. Will my right hon. and learned Friend bear in mind that an emergency of this kind calls for urgent measures? Will he allow no question of protocol or official delays to stand in the way of sending this help, which must be most urgently needed in that outlying part of Persia?