HC Deb 30 June 1884 vol 289 c1688

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether, in the event of the proposed neutralisation of the Suez Canal being carried out, the war vessels of a Foreign State with "whom this Country might be engaged in hostilities would have the same rights as English vessels of passing through the Canal, and that the British Government would neither be able to stop these hostile men of war nor to fortify the Canal against possible injury or destruction?


Perhaps the hon. Member will permit me to answer his Question. I may point out to the hon. Member that the word "neutralization" as applied to the Canal is misleading, the proposal being in the nature of an agreement to secure the free passage of all ships under all circumstances. The answer to the first Question is in the affirmative. The British Government would not be able to stop hostile men-of-war in the Canal or its approaches. It is contemplated that provision would be made for the immediate repair of any damage to the Canal caused by a war-vessel at the cost of the Power to which she belonged; but the British Government do not claim the right to fortify the Canal.