HC Deb 26 July 1939 vol 230 cc1631-46

I desire to call the attention of the House to a matter, or matters, of great gravity arising out of the resignation or dismissal of Lord Lloyd, and I hope—and those who sit behind me, and, I am sure, the whole House hopes, though I wait perhaps with a livelier hope than confidence—that the Foreign Secretary will be able to dispel the mists which closed round this subject 24 hours ago—mists which have only been thickened into fog by the Debate in another place, and, though I shall take no longer time than I deem to be necessary, as there are many subjects which Members wish to raise to-day, the importance of the matter must justify me in treating it in some detail, as this is a matter which closely concerns Parliament, and upon Parliament the ultimate responsibility must rest.

I think it well at the beginning to make clear the situation which existed up to the present moment. Hon. Members will remember that the old Turkish suzerainty over Egypt was terminated by the Great War in 1914, and Egypt was declared a British Protectorate. The announcement in due course was made to the Powers, and an Egyptian King was chosen. Shortly after the War, in 1922, a most important declaration of policy was made which has been the foundation of British policy from that day to this. I think the House should have the very brief points in that policy clear in their minds for the purpose of this discussion. The first point was that the British Protectorate in Egypt, which was set up in 1914, was terminated forthwith. Egypt was recognised as an independent sovereign State. Secondly, it was stated that as soon as the Egyptian Govt, passed an Act of Indemnity, with application to all inhabitants of Egypt, martial law, which had been proclaimed in the autumn of 1914, should be withdrawn. That happened. The Indemnity was proclaimed, and martial law ceased to exist. Then comes, perhaps, the most difficult part of this Declaration. There were certain matters, four of them absolutely reserved to the discretion of His Majesty's Government in Great Britain: until such time as it may be possible by free discussion and friendly accommodation on both sides to conclude agreements in regard thereto. They were:

  1. "1. The security of the communications of the British Empire in Egypt.
  2. 2. The defence of Egypt against all foreign aggression or interference, direct or indirect.
  3. 3. The protection of foreign interests in Egypt and the protection of minorities.
  4. 4. The Sudan.
Pending the conclusion of such agreements the status quo in all these matters shall remain intact."

There is no doubt, as I think was foreseen at the time, that a Declaration of that kind imposed a great responsibility on the statesmen both of this country and of Egypt, and more than a responsibility. It set them to an extraordinarily difficult task, and I can say—and I think that the Foreign Secretary will admit this readily—that ever since that time British Governments have earnestly endeavoured to interpret that Declaration in a liberal spirit, and efforts have been made both by the present Prime Minister and by the late Government to effect a settlement of these difficult outstanding questions, and to effect it in a liberal spirit. In the Autumn of 1927 a settlement was very nearly effected, and I think the House should consider for a moment what the Treaty which was negotiated between Sarwat Pasha on behalf of the Egyptian Government and His Majesty's Government at that time involved. The House will remember, because it is barely two years ago, that if the Treaty had been signed and ratified then, the Declaration of 1922 would have been superseded by the terms of the Treaty. The Treaty made a formal alliance, described as such, between Egypt and Great Britain. We promised, following the implicit terms of the Declaration, that we would give immediate help to Egypt if she were involved at any time in a defensive war. On the other hand, if good relations were imperilled between Egypt and any other country, Egypt would at once consult with us with a view to obtaining our help to dissipate such difficulties. Then it followed that, in view of the co-operation between the two armies in the event of Egypt having to defend herself, and to defend herself with our aid, the Egyptians undertook that their army should be trained on British lines, and, if they required instruction in military work of any kind, they would look to this country to provide the necessary assistance, and not to any foreign country. Reciprocally, in the event of our being at war, Egypt undertook to give us all the help that she could by allowing us to use all her ports, her aerodromes, and her transport.

Now we come to what was, of course, a very important and difficult part of the Treaty. Permission was given to Great Britain to keep such armed forces in Egypt as she thought necessary and desirable to preserve the lines of communication of her Empire, and in the annexe to that Treaty, the Egyptian Government undertook that lands and buildings then occupied—that is 1927—should be made subject to a Clause that comes later. It was stated specifically that the presence of the troops in no sense meant an occupation of Egypt, and in no sense prejudiced the sovereign rights of that country.


Germany and Belgium!


I do not think that that was the view of Sarwat Pasha. There was a Clause that at the end of ten years the question of localities was to be reconsidered. If Egypt and Great Britain were unable to agree, the matter was to be referred to the Council of the League of Nations. If the decision of the League of Nations was unsatisfactory to the Egyptian Government at that time, they had a right to bring the subject up at intervals of five years. There were other points dealing with capitulations, an undertaking by us to endeavour to secure the entry of Egypt into the League of Nations, and one or two minor questions. But, as the House knows, after negotiations had occupied the best part of three months, that Treaty failed, and it failed, I think, because of the part played by the extremists in Egypt. There is no doubt that they had hoped that, under some other Government, they might get far better terms for themselves even than in that Treaty. Yet they had little official grounds for believing that. There was nothing in the negotiations between the present Prime Minister and Sarwat Pasha which showed that he at that time was prepared to make any serious departure from the Declaration of 1922. The House will remember the draft despatch of the present Prime Minister, which was prepared in 1924, shortly before the fall of the Labour Government, in which he said: No British Government in the light of that experience"— meaning the European War— can divest itself wholly, even in favour of an ally, of its interest in guarding such a vital link in British communications"—meaning, of course, the Suez Canal, Such a security must be a feature of any agreement come to between our two Governments, and I see no reason why accommodation is impossible, given goodwill. The effective co-operation of Great Britain and Egypt in protecting these communications might, in my view, have been ensured by the conclusion of a treaty of close alliance. The presence of a British force in Egypt"— and I commend this to hon. Members who seemed amused at my earlier reference to it— provided for by such a treaty freely entered into by both parties on an equal footing would in no way be incompatible with Egyptian independence, whilst it would be an indication of the specially close and intimate relations between the two countries and their determination to co-operate in a matter of vital concern to both. It is not the wish of His Majesty's Government that this force should in any way interfere with the functions of the Egyptian Government or encroach upon Egyptian sovereignty, and I emphatically said so. If those words mean what they say—and I have no doubt that they do—there is not a great deal between the views expressed there and the views expressed in the Treaty which unfortunately failed. At this point, we find ourselves, having failed in the attempt to make a treaty, falling back once more on the Declaration of 1922, and that stands to-day. It stood through the time of the Coalition Government, of Mr. Bonar Law's Government, of my first Government, of the Labour Government, and of my last Government, and for all we knew it stood until the other day.

Throughout the last four or five years, Lord Lloyd was the High Commissioner in Egypt and the servant of the British Government in that country. No one who has any knowledge of Egypt can ever doubt the difficulty and the responsibility of that position. I need not embroider that subject, but it is one of the most difficult posts to which an Englishman can be sent. He played his part in attempting to secure, under the directions of the late Government, a liberal settlement of our difficulties. [An HON. MEMBER: "Oh!"] Perhaps the hon. Member who seems to have special knowledge will enlighten us later. Lord Lloyd is of the type which, I am glad to think, is not uncommon among those men who represent our interests abroad. He is never afraid to speak his own mind, and I regard it as part of the duty of our representatives in positions like that to speak their minds freely to the Government at home. They have special knowledge, they are on the spot, but the responsibility rests with the Government at home. They are glad to have criticism in difficult circumstances; it is their duty to receive it; it is their duty, as it is the duty of their representatives to argue when occasions arise, on the merits of proposals, and if His Majesty's representative can convince the Government that their view is right, the question falls to the ground. If, on the other hand, His Majesty's Government decide that their view is right, then there are only two courses open to His Majesty's representative; he must either loyally carry out the instructions of the Government, or, if he regards the matter of sufficient importance, as a matter of principle, he must resign. There is no question about that whatever. That has been the practice of our representatives, it is now, and will, I hope, always continue to be so.

But now we come to the point which is of real vital interest to this House: Why did Lord Lloyd resign, or why was he dismissed? The two terms have been used interchangeably. For the purpose of my argument, I do not much mind which is used, because, after all, this question is far greater than the personality of Lord Lloyd or any other public servant, however distinguished. Did the Government desire his resignation because they did not want a public servant who would criticise their decision as he had criticised those of their predecessors? Did they wish a dummy in that position, or, in the alternative, is there some change of policy which they knew would lead immediately to Lord Lloyd's resignation, and did they think it would be simpler to get him cut of the way before that change of policy took place?

I am going to put one or two questions to the Foreign Secretary. I know the difficulties, but I do beg that he will be as candid with the House as he can, because there is nothing so detrimental to our interests and to peace as wild rumour. I want to know the truth, and then we know where we are. I want to know if the policy which has been the policy of successive Governments since 1922 has been changed, and, if so, in what respect. I want to know if the Government are contemplating making a new treaty with Egypt. If so, I want to know if they are in consultation with the Dominions, because any treaty with Egypt affects Australia and New Zealand as much as it affects us. I want to know, particularly, if in the event of their making, or contemplating, or having made, a new treaty, they are contemplating going beyond the concessions which we made in the treaty which failed to materialise in regard to the position of the soldiers in Egypt. If they are making any changes in that regard, I Want to know if they have consulted their military and naval advisers. If they have, and if they think fit to disregard that advice, they must take the full responsibility of what they are doing. I want to know one more thing, and that is, if negotiations have been going on, are going on or are completed, have those negotiations been carried out without the knowledge of the High Commissioner of Egypt? Those are very plain and very simple questions, and I hope we may have an equally plain and simple answer.

I would like to say this to the House, because there are many members of this House who are sitting in it for the first time, and it is sometimes difficult for those who have not been brought into contact with or had experience of what are generally termed foreign affairs, to realise that no action in the world on the part of a power like Great Britain, with her world-wide Empire, can take place in isolation. The results of any action of ours vibrate through the world from end to end, and any action in Egypt that contains within it the germ of disaster of any kind reacts swiftly and immediately all through the East and in the vital part of our own Dominions, in Australia and New Zealand. I would add this. Lord Lloyd is not the first distinguished servant of a Brtish Government in our history who has either resigned at a critical time or been compelled to resign. Many Governments in our history have come to hasty conclusions on matters in remote parts of the world, and often terrible events have followed later. But the responsibility of statesmen in this country, great as it always is, is peculiarly great, and the responsibility of Parliament is peculiarly great, in these matters of foreign affairs, because if disaster comes, if bloodshed comes, as it often has come in our history, the politician always escapes.


What about Churchill and Russia?


The worst that can happen to the politician is loss of office; but the men who give their blood are generally those whose hands have had nothing to do with the laying of the train that led to the explosion. That being my view, my firm and convinced view, I say, as my last word, that if there be a new treaty in prospect involving changes and concessions beyond those made in the projected treaty of 1927, then the responsibility for it ought to rest upon Parliament, that we all ought to take our share in the examination of it and in the forming of our own conclusions. This is the more necessary in that no party to-day has a majority over the rest of the House of Commons. The responsibility ought to be corporate, and I ask the Government, if there be changes of the nature I have indicated in contemplation, or if such changes are being made, that this House and Parliament shall either approve or condemn before finality is reached.

The SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. Arthur Henderson)

The right hon. Gentleman has concluded his speech on a note that must appeal to all sections of the House, but may I be permitted to say that it is a little unfortunate that that note was not struck earlier in the proceedings during this week in this and another place. The right hon. Gentleman occupied a great deal of his time in outlining the policy which has been pursued by successive Governments since 1914, and I think I can say, straight away, that in the statement he made regarding the position since that date there is very little that we would take exception to. I think it has been a conspicuous part of the policy of each Government, including the Labour Government of 1924, to raise the relationship between Egypt and this country above party, and to keep always in mind the great responsibility that rested upon us as a British Empire and the British Commonwealth of Nations. The right hon. Gentleman gave testimony to the position we took up on these benches when we occupied them on a former occasion, and he referred to the statement—a very natural, frank and important statement—made in the year 1924 by the present Prime Minister. I think the present Prime Minister would probably be prepared to tell the House that the policy outlined in that statement remains his policy to-day.

The right hon. Gentleman spoke of a policy of goodwill. May I say that every move that we have made, and every move we contemplate making, to improve the relationship between Egypt and this country will be influenced by a spirit if goodwill? The right hon. Gentleman, after reciting the policy to which I have referred, made this very surprising statement, that it was the policy until the other day. I expected he would have gone on to show us where the change has taken place and where there has been any departure from that policy, but I am surprised that he sat down without doing anything of the kind and proceeded to another subject. I want to say most emphatically that there has been no change.

12 n.

I will now tell the House what we have done up to the present time. There is no secret about it. I answered a question in this House on the 10th July, in which I said: I have had a conversation with the Egyptian Prime Minister, in the course of which various aspects of Anglo-Egyptian relations were naturally touched upon. His Majesty's Government are prepared to give the whole question their most careful consideration, but I am not yet in a position to make any general statement."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th July, 1929, col. 855, Vol. 229.] That was our position on the 10th July. There has been a suggestion in the speech to which the House has just listened, and which was made more emphatically in another place, that we have been carrying on negotiations behind the back of the High Commissioner. I challenge that state- ment most emphatically. Who is to decide when a Government responsible to the country for its policy is to place its officials in possession of that policy, and when that policy has to be placed in possession of the officials? Is it to be placed in the possession of the officials before the Government has decided it? That is the position we are in. As I told the House in the replies I have just given, we had conversations with the Egyptian Prime Minister. He went away to Paris for some days, and when he came back he had a conversation with some of my officials, and they took down the various points. I at once asked for a Cabinet Committee to consider the whole question in the light of the statement that I read and I gave to the House on the 10th July, when I said most emphatically that we were prepared to give careful consideration to the whole question.

May I inform the House that the first meeting of that Cabinet Sub-Committee to consider these proposals with the intention of presenting a report to the Cabinet was held on Monday last, and I think that ought to dispose of the charge that we have been negotiating—at any rate, it appears that a new meaning has been given to the word "negotiating." We have merely listened to the Prime Minister of Egypt, and he is the Prime Minister to-day. If he comes to this country and asks to see the Foreign Secretary, and he sees him, and we discuss and talk over matters, as I informed the House we did, then we are not supposed to do that, and, if we do it, we are charged with carrying on negotiations behind the back of the High Commissioner. Moreover, I have some dates here. The High Commissioner during most of the time that has elapsed since I had a conversation with the Egyptian Prime Minister has either been away in Syria or travelling to this country. I hope therefore that the right hon. Gentlemen who have made so much of this and have gone even to the length of saying in one instance that he had heard a rumour and on that rumour he informed another place that we had signed—that the Government had actually signed—a treaty, and have made that statement merely on a rumour—


The right hon. Gentleman is not in order in referring to speeches made in another place in order to influence this House.


I think I heard a reference to something that has been said in another place. Perhaps it was the result of my being a little more direct than other speakers.


It is very difficult for us to discuss this matter except in relation to all the declarations made by Ministers. Would it be completely out of order to refer to the statement made in another place by the Secretary of State for the Colonies. It will be exceedingly difficult to elucidate the whole of the facts unless we can do so.


It would not be out of Order to make references to any statement of policy that had been declared in another place, but it would be entirely out of order to quote, or almost quote, as I have said, the speeches made and the kind of words used, in order to influence this House. Any references must be confined merely to statements of policy


Further on that point of Order. I want to ask whether it will be in order, seeing that you have allowed criticisms of policy, to refer to a criticism in the other House of the rumour that has been alluded to by a leading statesman there?


I have clearly laid down that references to statements of policy made in the other place would be in order, but it is a very long standing custom and rule in this House that direct references to speeches in this House, and quotations, should always be declared to be out of order in this House.


In order that this matter may be quite clear, may I ask you, Sir, if your ruling means that there may be references in this Debate to declarations made by Ministers in another place, but that there may not be any references to, speeches made by other Members of that other place?


I really think that the ruling I gave was quite clear.


I do not propose to pursue the matter. I want now to come to what engaged the attention of the right hon. Gentleman in the, second part of his speech, and that is the resignation, or, as I think he said, the dismissal, of Lord Lloyd. I want to give the House as briefly as I possibly can the history. Within a few days of my going to the Foreign Office, a communication was received from Lord Lloyd. I read that communication, and was very much struck by the language and what I believed to be the spirit which underlay it. I at once asked for papers to be handed to me going back during the greater part of the time that Lord Lloyd had been the High Commissioner, and I must say I could not but be impressed with the very wide divergence of view that was manifested in those papers—divergence of view between the position taken up by my predecessor in office and Lord Lloyd. May I say, in passing, that I most profoundly regret personally the absence of my predecessor to-day. In making that statement I am fully aware that he had no knowledge—I want to be perfectly fair, and I am not going to suggest that the right hon. Gentleman is away purposely—he had no knowledge, at the time that he left this country, that such a Debate was to be held. As I have said, I could not but be impressed with the wide divergence of view between my predecessor and Lord Lloyd.

I was very pleased to notice that the right hon. Gentleman in his speech said nothing about the laying of papers. I just want to say in passing that I think the right hon. Gentleman has acted wisely in not pressing for that. All the papers that would have to be laid would be papers in connection with his own Government. But I am under the necessity of taking from some of the papers the position as I have seen it over the last three or four years. I think I can say that there were four or five occasions when the difference of opinion between my predecessor—and I suppose to some extent his Government—and the High Commissioner were most marked, and I am going to ask the House to permit me to read several instances where this divergence of view has been so marked. The first one was in the early summer of 1926. The question arose as to whether His Majesty's Government should or should not oppose the resumption of office by Zaghloul. My predecessor was strongly in favour of nonintervention. Lord Lloyd, on the contrary, wished to prevent Zaghloul from becoming Prime Minister. After a lengthy telegraphic dispute, Lord Lloyd's view was accepted by the Cabinet. In the winter of 1926–1927, the question of British officials in the Egyptian service generally, and the State railways in particular, came to a head. Lord Lloyd wished to reverse the policy of the preceding years, and to insist rigidly on the retention of a large proportion of British officials, and, in the case of some departments, an actual increase in their number. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I think that some of the "Hear, hears" had better be deferred. My predecessor held that such a reversal of policy was unjustifiable in itself, and calculated to defeat its own object by generating ill-feeling. A very lengthy exchange of telegrams and despatches resulted in Lord Lloyd being overruled. [HON. MEMBERS: "Cheer now!"]

In the summer of 1927, there occurred what came to be known locally as the Army crisis. Lord Lloyd considered that the Egyptian Army was a grave threat to our position in Egypt. My predecessor did not believe in the seriousness of the danger, and was convinced that, if a clash were inevitable, our own attitude should be constructive and not merely negative. A protracted exchange of very long telegrams took place, and continued for some weeks. Finally the issue went to the Cabinet, who decided mainly in favour of Lord Lloyd. Battleships were despatched to Egyptian waters, but no conclusive solution was reached. In the spring of 1928, a further crisis occurred on the introduction of the Assemblies Bill. Lord Lloyd held that, unless the Bill was withdrawn, it would be necessary to dismiss Nahas Pasha's Government and dissolve Parliament. My predecessor informed Lord Lloyd that His Majesty's Government did not desire to tear up the Egyptian Constitution. Nahas Pasha postponed the Bill. His Majesty's Government had obviously secured their object. Lord Lloyd, however, still wished to proceed to extreme measures but was overruled, and the episode closed.

In the early Spring of this year the Egyptian Government sought the concurrence of my predecessor in the imposition of certain new taxes on British subjects in Egypt. Under the capitula- tions, these taxes could not be imposed without our consent. The taxes proposed were moderate and reasonable in themselves, and the Egyptian claim that they were fully justified on equitable grounds in imposing them was unanswerable. Lord Lloyd, however, strongly opposed any concession whatever in respect of most of them. After a telegraphic argument he was overruled. It was this controversy which led up to my predecessor issuing—this is most remarkable in my opinion—on the 28th day of May, two days before the General Election, to a Commissioner who had held office under the Government for four years, a complete restatement of the principles upon which the Government decided to conduct the relations between this country and Egypt. I leave it to the House to judge whether there had not been running through the last three or four years of the relationship between my predecessor and the High Commissioner, as these statements indicate, this divergence of opinion to which I referred at the beginning.

In addition to these five cases, numerous minor differences of opinion revealed themselves between the time of these major disputes to which I have referred. I ought to say that, during the early part of this year, things became so bad that the conduct of business became difficult, since on few, if any, points was Lord Lloyd able to accept the views of my predecessor, and vice versa. An examination of the papers clearly demonstrated that the policy of my predecessor was a minimum of interference in the internal affairs of Egypt. I want to say that very frankly. That run through the whole of the proceedings so far as my predecessor was concerned—a minimum degree of intervention in purely internal affairs in Egypt and a liberal interpretation of the declaration of 1922. What was Lord Lloyd's attitude to this? In numerous instances he is clearly out of sympathy with both these objects which I have stated. Having read these papers, having very carefully considered the position, believing that the policy of my Government and my policy, or my position in interpreting that policy, would not be less liberal or less generous in expressions of goodwill, I was faced with this dilemma. Could we contemplate a perpetuation of this stream of dissatisfaction, a stream of which it could be said normally it was restless, very frequently it was turbulent, never smooth and never clear? Could we, I say, as a new Government contemplate, after all the illustrations and instances I have given, going forward with the policy that we hoped eventually to submit to the House with any degree of confidence if this marked determination to misinterpret or ungenerously to apply, that characterised the views of the High Commissioner during the last four years, had to be continued? Therefore, I came to the conclusion that we could not do so.

It has been said that what we ought to have done was to give Lord Lloyd a trial, that we should have produced our policy and trusted him to carry it through to the satisfaction of the Government. Let us image for a moment that we had pursued that course, and that we had gone on, say, for a year. Would the opposition of right hon. Gentlemen and those behind the Front Bench have been any less? Would there not have been a, much greater justification for the suggestion that there was complete disagreement between the High Commissioners and ourselves and that we "fired" him because of that? I came to the conclusion that the best thing I could do was to intimate to Lord Lloyd that we were dissatisfied with the position that had obtained during three or four years. I made an intimation to Lord Lloyd to the following effect. In the short time at my disposal since taking office, I have endeavoured to review in their broad outlines the sequence of political events in Egypt since 1924. To be quite candid, I feel bound to tell you that I have been impressed by the divergence of outlook which has from time to time been apparent between my predecessor and your lordship. That this difference of outlook was perfectly sincere I do not for a moment doubt, but I confess that it appears to me so wide as to be unbridgeable. The success of my policy, which will certainly not be less liberal than that of my predecessor, will depend on the extent to which it may be interpreted with understanding and sympathy by His Majesty's representative. In the light of recent correspondence, I should be lacking in frankness did I not warn you that the possibility of your views being harmonised with those of either my predecessor or myself appears to me remote, and in these circumstances I should like to discuss the situation with you on your return. Lord Lloyd arrived in this country this day week. I was prepared to give him an interview the following morning. He expressed a desire to see me on Tuesday morning. I saw him and in the frankest way we discussed the position with each other, may I say not only frankly, but in a friendly manner. After we had been together probably half-an-hour he handed me his resignation and asked me if I was prepared to reciprocate. As he was handing me a note couched in friendly terms, would I reciprocate. I had not then read the note. I said, "If you will hand me your note and allow me to read it, I shall then be prepared to express my opinion." I read his note, and I said "Yes, I shall reciprocate very fully." I handed to him a rough draft which I had made out, and he put up three suggestions, and I accepted them all. I am telling the House this as an indication of the desire that I had, if it were at all possible, that Lord Lloyd and myself should part company on the very best of terms. I have nothing personally against Lord Lloyd. He was in this House for many years, and we were on the most friendly terms.

I do not think that it would have been possible for au interview to have ended more friendly than the interview did between him and myself on Tuesday last. In leaving me he had only one suggestion to make. No, I think I ought to say he had two suggestions. He had one suggestion. Did I object to him showing the letters that we were just then exchanging to his leader—the right Hon. Gentleman who has just spoken—and I at once replied: "I have not the slightest objection." The next point was—and I say this in order again to indicate the friendly character of the interview—that in leaving, as he rose from his seat, he said: "Well, Mr. Henderson, I may yet be of some service." I think all went well until he had an interview with the right Hon. Gentleman the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I do not know what the House thinks of the change of attitude that has taken place. There was a friendly exchange of notes. Lord Lloyd on his own admission saw the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, and, I suppose, we had the result of it two days ago at Question time, when I was asked, not in a very friendly way, whether I had extorted the resignation from Lord Lloyd.


Did not the right Hon. Gentleman, in answer to that Question, inform the House that he had sent Lord Lloyd a telegram, the result of which would, in his opinion, have led anybody to terminate his appointment?


I do not think that that lays me open to the charge of being an extortionist. At any rate, I have read a paraphase of the telegram, and the House can judge for itself. I only want to say that I have tried to put before the House the position in which I was placed as a result of my reading of the position over the last three or four years. I have tried to show to the House that I think it would have been a mistake for us, whatever our policy may be—and, may I say, in order to satisfy the right hon. Gentleman, that whatever our policy is, it will not be put into operation until it has been submitted for the approval of the Egyptian people and until it has been submitted to this House for ratification. It seems to me, that if a Government is to be asked to go beyond that there is going to be an end of reasonable negotiations. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the Dominions?"] I think the House has already been informed that we are taking no step such as will be involved in any new agreement or treaty without full consultation with the Dominions. I was placed in this very difficult position. If I had wanted to take the line of expediency, I could have done so. I could have avoided a disagreeable necessity, but I preferred to do my duty in the way I have done.

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