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Anglo-Egyptian Negotiations

Volume 530: debated on Wednesday 21 July 1954

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38.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will name those Commonwealth Governments which have informed Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom that they approve of the total evacuation of British fighting troops from the Suez Canal zone.

I have nothing to add to what I said during the debate on 14th July.

Can my right hon. and learned Friend say whether it is true that the Government of Ceylon are greatly concerned that the neutrality of the Suez Canal should be maintained; that the Government of South Africa are greatly alarmed at the possibility of total evacuation, and that in Australia and New Zealand the possibility has been canvassed of withdrawing air force units from the Mediterranean if we leave Suez altogether?

As I told my hon. Friend, I have nothing to add in this matter to what I said in the debate on 14th July. I really think that it is not in the public interest to press for the revelation of any communications there may have been upon this sort of matter between Commonwealth Governments and Her Majesty's Government. I would direct my hon. Friend's attention to a statement which the former Prime Minister—the present Leader of the Opposition—made upon this matter on 8th May, 1946. This statement seems to me to contain in a short compass an admirable definition of the relationship which should exist between Commonwealth Governments and Her Majesty's Government in matters of this sort.

I am not asking the Minister to reveal anything he does not want to reveal in the public interest, but can he say whether it is a fact that the great bulk of Commonwealth opinion is in support of the policy which the Government are now pursuing?

I would direct the right hon. Gentleman's attention, as I have that of my hon. Friend, to what I said in the debate on 14th July.

40.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will, during the Anglo-Egyptian negotiations, reaffirm that it is the intention of the signatories to the Tripartite Agreement that any act of aggression by any of the countries in the Middle East on any of their neighbours will be resisted.

It is, of course, the intention of Her Majesty's Government, as I have already stated, to stand by the Tripartite Declaration of 25th May. 1950. Her Majesty's Government are considering the advisability of reaffirming this intention in connection with the present negotiations.

I welcome the statement which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has just made, but is it not also vital that in the process of these important negotiations it should be made clear beyond any possibility of doubt that the terms of the Tripartite Agreement will be applied?

Does the Minister's reply mean that the other two signatories would be invited to re-affirm it, together with the United Kingdom Government?

I shall, for the time being, confine myself to the answer which I have given.

Has the right hon. and learned Gentleman taken into fullest consideration the statement recently made by the Egyptian Minister of National Guidance to the effect that as soon as the troops have been removed from Egypt the Egyptian Army will be in a position to attack Israel? Will he see to it that arrangements for arms supply, or the relinquishing of military installations in Egypt, are not made until some definite understanding is received upon that point?

I have no responsibility for what the Egyptian Minister of National Guidance says. I am not at all certain whether it is admitted that he did say what it is reported he said. However that may be, I repeat what I said to the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) in an earlier reply, that that is a matter which we certainly have very much in mind.