HC Deb 16 February 1943 vol 386 cc1589-90
47. Mr. Hammersley

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that Sir Ronald Storrs and the right hon. Member for Mitcham (Sir M. Robertson), Chairman of the British Council, are at present travelling in the Middle East; whether their visas and travelling facilities have been given for the purpose of transacting Government business; and what instructions they have received from His Majesty's Government to conduct discussions or negotiations with leading men or governments in that part of the world?

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Eden)

I have been asked to reply. I am aware that Sir R. Storrs is travelling in the Middle East; he has been charged with no Government business, and no instructions such as those suggested by my hon. Friend have been given to him. The right hon. Member for Mitcham is also at present visiting the Middle East in the capacity of Chairman of the British Council, to inspect the Council's important establishments in that area, and to make personal contacts with the Council's employees and with the leading authorities in the educational and academic fields in each country.

Mr. Hammersley

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the sole purpose for which the Question was put down was to elicit some indication from the Government that after this war we shall not be left in the same position in which we were left after the last war with any secret or embarrassing commitments?

Mr. Eden

I had hoped that I had dealt with that satisfactorily in the Debate as recently as last Thursday. We have no secrets, but I would not like to say that we have no embarrassments.

Sir Patrick Hannon

Is it not a fact that the contacts which have been made by the British Council in the Middle East are of the greatest possible value in stimulating interest in the war on the side of the Allies and bringing educational contacts into operation which are valuable to us?

Mr. Eden

Yes, Sir, I think that that is so.