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Israel (Trade Boycott)

Volume 80: debated on Wednesday 12 June 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will ensure that the answer by the Minister of State, the hon. Member for Shoreham (Mr. Luce) on 23 May, Official Report, column 512, about United Kingdom opposition to attempts by third parties to restrict United Kingdom trade with Israel, is circulated to all diplomatic missions overseas, to be conveyed to Governments of their host countries, as appropriate.

Our diplomatic missions and foreign Governments are well aware of the Government's long-standing opposition to the Arab boycott.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether, pursuant to the Minister of State's reply on 23 May, Official Report, column 512, about the Arab trade boycott of Israel, he will now reconsider the practice of departmental authentifica-tion of signatures on Arab boycott documents; and whether he will make a statement.

As my right hon. and learned Friend made clear in his reply to the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner) on 14 November 1984, at columns 673-4, we have concluded that it would not be right to change our present policy or the practice of authentication. It is a standard legal procedure and does no more than confirm the validity of the signature.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what report he has received from Her Majesty's ambassador in Washington about the recent report from the Office of Anti-Boycott Compliance for the fiscal year ended September 1984 regarding alleged compliance by United Kingdom subsidiaries of American companies with Arab boycott requests; what comparable figures were given for other European Community countries; and whether he will discuss this matter with the United States Administration.

It is for the companies concerned to decide what action, if any, they should take about any such allegations.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what report he has received from Her Majesty's ambassador in Washington about the fine payable by the Atlanta branch of Lloyd's Bank International Limited on the grounds of illegal compliance with the Arab trade boycott; and what guidance is given to British firms operating in the United States of America about the need for strict compliance with American legislation.

We noted reports that in May 1983 Lloyds Bank International Limited paid a civil penalty of $25,000 for allegedly infringing US legislation on the boycott. The Department of Trade and Industry is ready to advise companies about all aspects of the boycott's operations. It remains our view that individual companies should decide in the light of their own commercial interests what attitude to take to the boycott.