§ 4. Mr. RHYS DAVIES
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that all British judges who served in the native courts of Egypt since the British occupation always heard pleadings and delivered judgments in Arabic, thereby respecting the native language and customs; and whether His Majesty's Government will set an example to the other Powers by making a working knowledge of Arabic a condition in the future appointment of British judges in the mixed courts?
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir John Simon)
I am aware that the charter of the Egyptian native courts lays down that Arabic is the judicial language. It was therefore natural that during the period when British judges sat in those courts they should have been acquainted with Arabic. The charter of the mixed courts, on the other hand, provides that Arabic, English, French and Italian are the judicial languages to be used; there is therefore no valid reason for the adoption of the hon. Member's suggestion, which would considerably restrict the choice of candidates. But a knowledge of Arabic is naturally and properly a high qualification for service in any capacity under the Egyptian Government.
§ Mr. DAVIES
Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that it would tend to create a better feeling in Egypt, if these judges were conversant with the language of the country in which they are engaged?
§ Sir J. SIMON
The charter names four languages and the ideal would be that every judge should be perfectly familiar with all four. That is setting a rather high standard. We do our best to be fair.
§ Mr. HANNON
Would it not be better, in the interests of peace and concord in Egypt, if questions of this nature were not put on the Order Paper at all?