HC Deb 09 March 1949 vol 462 cc1168-9
21. Mr. John Foster

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will now make representations to the Government of Egypt that they should desist from the practice, particulars of which have been sent to him, of discriminating against British subjects of the Jewish religion by removing their passports or detaining them on overnight stops in Egyptian territory.

Mr. Bevin

As the answer is long, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the answer:

To avoid inconvenience to passengers arriving by air in Egypt with direct transit visas, the Egyptian authorities have instituted a practice whereby the passports of these persons are collected at the airport on their arrival and returned to them on their departure. Passengers who object to giving up their passports while they are being examined and stamped by the Passport Control authorities may wait until the formalities have been completed and take their passports with them, but as this may involve their waiting two or three hours owing to the large number of travellers using the airport, most of them prefer to follow this procedure. One of the current conditions on which travellers to Egypt are granted a direct transit visa is that they do not leave the airport, but when the aircraft stops overnight passengers spend the night at an approved hotel. As the hon. Member will appreciate, there is no discrimination in this procedure against passengers of Jewish religion.

The Egyptian authorities have taken certain security precautions to prevent Jewish passengers leaving ships passing through the Suez Canal. In some cases, for example, the passports of Jewish passengers have been collected by the Egyptian police during the passage of the ship through the Suez Canal. The only instances of which I am aware of British subjects of Jewish race being inconvenienced by this procedure are those which have been brought to my attention by the hon. Member; these cases have already been the subject of correspondence between my right hon. Friend, the Minister of State, and the hon. Member. In view of this and of the circumstances obtaining in the Middle East I do not feel justified in protesting to the Egyptian Government against this practice. If, of course, cases of serious inconvenience are brought to my attention without delay, I shall certainly represent the matter to the competent Egyptian authorities.