§ 1. Mr. Charles Fletcher-Cooke
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if it is proposed to allow Haifa-bound tankers through the Suez Canal now that the terminal ports of this international waterway are under the control of British Service authorities.
§ 15. Mr. Barnett Janner
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether vessels carrying oil for the Haifa refineries are now permitted to pass through the Suez Canal.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Anthony Eden)
This matter has been discussed with the oil companies concerned. They, of course, look forward to the day when they will be able to operate Haifa at full capacity again, but they do not feel that in present circumstances the situation would be assisted by Government action. I agree with this view and do not, therefore, propose to take any action at the moment.
The premise upon which my hon. Friend the Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) bases his Question is not correct. The British Service authorities are not exercising full control at Port Said or Suez.
§ Mr. Fletcher-Cooke
Does my right hon. Friend agree that the action of the Egyptian authorities in denying passage 160 to these tankers is a continuing breach of international law?
§ Mr. Janner
Would the right hon. Gentleman not consider expediting this matter, particularly in view of the fact that, for effective defence in that area, it is necessary to have as much crude oil refined in Haifa as possible, and because of the large loss of revenue to this country consequent upon the fact that the oil is not going through?
§ Mr. E. Shinwell
Are we to understand that there is going to be no holdup so far as the Haifa refinery is concerned because of any embargo placed on the passage of tankers through the Suez Canal by the Egyptian authorities?
§ Mr. Shinwell
Are we to understand that the control is to remain there if there is any change on the part of the Haifa refinery people? Suppose they want to effect some modification of the present position, will the embargo placed on the passage of vessels through the Suez Canal continue?
§ Mr. Eden
We have always said, of course, that we do not recognise the embargo, as the right hon. Gentleman knows from the days when he was a member of the Government; but I was asked about the position of control, and I said that, at the present time, the physical control at each end of the Canal is in the hands of the Egyptian Government.
§ Mr. M. Philips Price
Is not the legal position in this matter a matter of considerable uncertainty?