HC Deb 28 October 1946 vol 428 cc295-6
The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)

I propose, with Mr. Speaker's permission, to make a statement about the recent Anglo-Egyptian conversations. I must emphasise in the first place that the exchanges of views which have taken place in London between my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and the Egyptian Prime Minister were conversations on a personal and exploratory basis and not negotiations. They were conducted on the understanding that they did not commit either Government, and that they were to be treated as confidential. I can only regret, therefore, that incomplete reports from Egypt should have appeared in the Press. These reports deal with only isolated aspects of the talks, without reference to the whole range of the other matters dealt with in the conversations. In view of what I have said as to the nature of the conversations, I am sure that hon. Members will not wish to press for further details at this moment.

Mr. Oliver Lyttelton

Will the Prime Minister give the House further information about the statement which has appeared regarding the Sudan?

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friend may rest assured that, while the scope of the conversations included the relationship of Great Britain and Egypt to the Sudan, no change in the existing status and administration of the Sudan is contemplated and no impairment of the right of the Sudanese people ultimately to decide their own future.

Mr. Lyttelton

May I take it then that the statements attributed to the Egyptian Prime Minister are incorrect?

The Prime Minister

They seem to me to be partial and misleading in so far as they seem to announce agreements. Of course, these are purely preliminary conversations, and, therefore, there is nothing finally negotiated. I think in that respect my right hon. Friend is correct.