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Sterling Balances (Egypt)

Volume 437: debated on Thursday 8 May 1947

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50.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will now make a statement regarding the recent visit paid to Cairo by British financial experts; and if the negotiations which took place were secret.

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the communique issued on 3rd March, to which at present I have nothing to add.

Will the right hon. Gentleman now make every effort to convince the people in Egypt that the scaling down of debts is in their interest as well as ours? I ask him to bear in mind that at the moment our publicity in the Middle East is so bad that our case is not getting over.

I think the speech of my right hon. Friend a night or two ago probably will help to rectify the point Mentioned by the hon. and gallant Gentleman.

Can the Minister say, in view of the many authoritative statements that have been made in Egypt, why he is unwilling to make a statement of the policy of H.M. Government?

It is not a question of being unwilling. The answer I gave was that at the moment there was nothing to add to the statement made on 3rd March.

If the machinery for putting over the very strong statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer is inadequate, will the Financial Secretary see that that machinery is improved so that the people of Egypt do realise the determination of this country not to be done down for the debt incurred in saving Egypt?

Is it not a case that previous Governments generally had the support of the British Press in putting over their case, and now the position is that most of the Press of this country is hostile to the present Government?

The Financial Secretary said that he cannot add to the official communique, but will he not say something in view of the Egyptian demands for the transfer of the Suez Canal and Anglo-Egyptian oilfield shares?

The Question dealt with a recent visit to Cairo by British financial experts and the negotiations which took place there. I have replied to that Question.