§ MR. GROTRIAN (Hull, E.)
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the petitions of British shipowners representing about five million tons of shipping using the Suez Canal, in which the shipowners strongly protest against the provisional regulations, and the proposed authorisation of the passage of tank steamers laden with petroleum on the waters of the Canal by reason of its climatic and other exceptional conditions; and, in view of the fact that the shipowners' protests have been sustained to the fullest in the Report of the eminent petroleum authorities, Sir Frederick Abel and Mr. Boverton Redwood, Her Majesty's Government will instruct the British Directors on the Board of the Suez Canal to urge, as Directors, upon the Suez Canal Company, that the whole question shall be re-considered, with the object of securing the protection of navigation in the Suez Canal?
§ MR. AIRD (Paddington, N.)
had notice of the following question: To ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Government have communicated to the other Signatory Powers under the Suez Canal Charter the fact that British shipowners, representing over five million tons, have protested against the provisional regulations and proposed authorisation of the passage on the waters of the Canal of tank steamers laden with petroleum, as a danger which threatens the security, the safety, and the freedom from interruption of the Suez Canal?
THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. J. W. LOWTHER,) Cumberland, Penrith
Perhaps the hon. Member for Paddington will allow me to answer his question at the same time. In answer to the hon. Member for Hull, I have to say that the Report of Sir Frederick Abel and Mr. Boverton Redwood has been referred to the British Directors of the Suez Canal Company. In reply to the question of the hon. Member for Paddington, I beg to say that I think the hon. Member is under a misapprehension. There are no Signatory Powers to whom the sug- 1121 gested communication could be made. The original concessions for the formation of the Company and for the construction of the Canal were granted to M. de Lesseps by the Viceroy of Egypt and confirmed by the Sultan's Firman. So long as the Company complies with the stipulation in the Concession of 5th January, 1856, to treat the flags of all nations equally, Her Majesty's Government have no locus standi to interfere with the decisions of the Company.