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Married Quarters, Canal Zone

Volume 486: debated on Tuesday 10 April 1951

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34.

asked the Secretary of State for War what new married quarters in the Canal Zone for officers and other ranks, respectively, were started in the year 1950–51; how many have been finished; and how many he plans to start in each of the next six-month periods.

During the financial year 1950–51 new married quarters in the Canal Zone were started for 54 officers and 125 other ranks and, with the exception of five officers' quarters, all of these were finished. In the next six months period it is planned to start quarters for 25 officers and 27 other ranks. Plans for the construction of further married quarters for 20 officers and 100 other ranks during this six months period and for 30 officers and 100 other ranks in the following six months period are under consideration.

Does the right hon. Gentleman recollect making a statement in this House on 16th May last year in which he said that 220 extra married quarters would be started during the last financial year? Is he satisfied that the short-fall of about 50 was really necessary? Will he give an undertaking that while the reported negotiations are going on in Egypt, he will ensure that proper accommodation arrangements continue to be made for British troops in the Canal Zone?

Oh, yes. Building is going on there and, as I have said in this answer, there is no question of interrupting it.

Does the right hon. Gentleman expect that these buildings are ever going to be occupied by the British, or are they being built for the Egyptian Army?

Is the cost of this accommodation being borne by the British Government or by the Egyptian Government? Am I not right in saying that under the original terms of the treaty the Egyptian Government were to provide alternative accommodation in the Canal Zone?

I think the accommodation is being built at the expense of the British Government. The other part of the hon. and gallant Member's question should be addressed to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.

Can the right hon. Gentleman answer the question put to him, namely, do these plans for future building in the Canal Zone imply—as I hope they do—that British troops are to remain in Egypt?