HC Deb 21 February 1951 vol 484 cc1262-3
4. Mr. T. Reid

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what States in the Middle East Britain is bound by treaty to defend: to what extent conditions are imposed in such treaties as to the efforts to be made by those countries in self-defence: and whether he is satisfied that such conditions are being observed.

Mr. Ernest Davies

As the reply to this Question is necessarily long I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Sir Waldron Smithers

Will the Foreign Office do all they can to settle the existing difficulty between Egypt and Britain, so that we may combine against Communism and keep safe the Suez Canal?

Mr. Davies

I assure the hon. Gentleman that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is most concerned about restoring, or maintaining, friendly relations between these countries and peaceful conditions in the whole of the Middle East.

Mr. R. A. Butler

Quite apart from the details which the hon. Gentleman has promised to circulate, can he give an assurance that an effort is being made in this area towards self-defence on the part of the nations concerned?

Mr. Davies

Yes, Sir. The Government believe that these countries have a lively appreciation of the necessity for strengthening their defences. Within the limits of their economies and avail-abilities they are doing what they can.

Following is the reply:

The United Kingdom has Treaties of Alliance with Egypt, Iraq and Jordan and a Treaty of Mutual Assistance with Turkey. The former provide that if either party becomes involved in war the other will immediately come to her aid in the capacity of an ally. The latter is a tripartite Treaty involving the French Government also, and provides that, in the event of Turkey being attacked by a European Power or in the event of an act of aggression by a European Power leading to a war in the Mediterranean area in which Turkey is involved, the United Kingdom and France will collaborate effectively with Turkey and will lend her all aid and assistance in their power. Turkey is similarly pledged to come to the aid of the United Kingdom and France in the event of an act of aggression by a European Power leading to war in the Mediterranean area in which those two countries are involved. This provision does not, however, oblige Turkey to enter into armed conflict with the Soviet Union if France or the United Kingdom are involved in war with that country.

No conditions are imposed in the Treaty with Turkey as to the efforts to be made by any of its signatories in self-defence. It is, however, well known that Turkey is maintaining her armed forces in a high state of readiness and that their efficiency is steadily being increased. In addition to the general implication that those countries shall maintain their armed forces at a sufficient pitch of efficiency to discharge the obligations incurred, the Treaties with Egypt, Iraq and Jordan oblige them to put certain facilities at the disposal of His Majesty's Forces in time of peace. These facilities relate in the main to communications and transit rights and to the right of the United Kingdom to maintain certain forces in the Canal Zone of Egypt and certain units of the Royal Air Force in Iraq and Jordan. These Treaties also provide for cooperation between the United Kingdom and those countries in the training and equipment of their armed forces. His Majesty's Government are satisfied with the way in which those obligations are being carried out.