§ 53. Mr. A. Fenner Brockway
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if, in view of the fact that the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has published a record of conversations on 5th and 6th June, 8th July and 3rd and 14th August, 1950, between Field-Marshal Sir William Slim, Mr. Chapman Andrews, British Minister in Cairo, Sir Ralph Stevenson, British Ambassador, Air Commodore Hayes and Moustafa el Nahas Pasha, Mohamed Salah ed Din Bey, Moustafa Nosrat Bey, and Group Captain Ibrahim Gazzarine, he will publish a record of these and subsequent conversations as a White Paper.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
No, Sir. As the hon. Member will be aware, subsequent Anglo-Egyptian conversations on the defence of the Suez Canal and on the Sudan were recorded in a White Paper (Command 8419) presented last November. The conversations to which he refers were of an informal and technical nature and no agreed records were kept.
§ Mr. Brockway
Could the right hon. and learned Gentleman say whether the record, as published by the Egyptian Government, is accurate, particularly in respect to the alleged statement of Field Marshal Slim that a conflict between Russia and the capitalist countries is inevitable and that Russia is preparing to attack Egypt?
§ Mr. Shinwell
Was the Government informed by the Egyptian Ministry for External Affairs that they intended to publish these informal conversations?
§ Mr. Shinwell
Is that not rather serious? Is it not serious if we cannot trust the Egyptian Government in matters of this sort—conversations between accredited representatives of this Government or, at any rate, the Government of this country and the Egyptian Ministry for External Affairs? Surely they should not have published a record of these informal conversations without at any rate acquainting this Government of their intentions?
§ Mr. James H. Hoy
What steps have the Foreign Office taken either to correct or to deny the reports which have been published?
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
In reference to the supplementary point made by the ex-Minister of Defence is it not a fact that Socialists used to stand against secret diplomacy?
§ Mr. Shinwell
Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman understand that the purport of my question is to ascertain why these informal conversations, which were apparently regarded by Field Marshal Slim and his associates as private in character, were placed on record by the Egyptian Government and given publicity, despite the fact that this Government were not informed?
§ Mr. Arthur Henderson
In view of the present international situation is this not strictly a matter on which the right hon. and learned Gentleman should state, on behalf of H.M. Government, that they do not accept any suggestion that war is inevitable between the West and Russia? Does he not think they should issue a statement saying that the statement credited to the C.I.G.S. was inaccurate?