HC Deb 21 March 1951 vol 485 cc2404-5
27. Mr. J. Langford-Holt

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to what extent obstacles are now placed in the way of British ships proceeding through the Suez Canal on their lawful occasions; and if he will now make a statement.

Mr. H. Morrison

All ships passing through the Suez Canal from south to north, in addition to the usual narcotics and health control by the Egyptian authorities, are submitted to a Customs inspection in order to ascertain whether they are carrying items on the Egyptian contraband list destined for Israeli ports. In addition, ships which have at any time since June, 1950, carried goods on the Egyptian contraband list destined for Israeli ports are liable to be refused certain port facilities by the Egyptian authorities. As the House is already aware, His Majesty's Government have protested to the Egyptian Government against these measures, and, as my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated in the House a few days ago, we heartily deplore this situation. Indeed. as our representative at the United Nations pointed out on 13th November last, it must be a matter of regret to us all that the continuance in force of these restrictions for so long after the Armistice between Egypt and Israel should contribute, as it does, to the present state of tension and uneasiness in the Middle East.

Mr. Eden

Would the right hon. Gentleman consider sending to the Egyptian Government a précis of yesterday's discussion in the House on this matter and, at the same time, perhaps, draw their attention to the fact that the volume of speeches against the proposals as they now are bears no relation to the actual vote?

Mr. Morrison

I appreciate the point and I will consider the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion.

Mr. Paton

For the information of the House, will my right hon. Friend agree to publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT the items which Egypt includes in its contraband list?

Mr. Morrison

I will look into that and see whether it can be done.

Sir Herbert Williams

Would the right hon. Gentleman consider asking a company of Israeli troops to travel on one of these ships so that the Egyptian Customs officers might take the same action as their Army did a little time ago?

Mr. Morrison

That sounds a little complicated.