HC Deb 26 May 1952 vol 501 cc912-3
4. Mr. G. Jeger

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Egyptian Government are now allowing British tankers to pass through the Suez Canal.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

Large numbers of British tankers have been and are still passing to and fro through the Suez Canal. I presume therefore that the hon. Member is referring to the passage through the Canal of tankers bound for Haifa. So far as I am aware, the situation in this respect has not changed since the reply given by my right hon. Friend to the hon. Members for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) and Leicester, North-West (Mr. Janner), on 30th January.

Mr. Jeger

Is nothing being done to force the passage of these tankers through to Haifa? Is not the Minister aware that his right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, when he was in opposition, roared like a rabbit for resolute action, and even said that he would force them through with the protection of the Royal Navy? Is nothing being done to implement those promises and threats made by the Foreign Secretary when in opposition?

Mr. Lloyd

It would not be correct for Her Majesty's Government to take unilateral action to secure the implementation by Egypt of the Security Council's Resolution of 1st September, 1951.

Sir H. Williams

Have not we a statutory right to take our ships through the Suez Canal, a right established long before the United Nations was ever thought of, and why does not Her Majesty's Government assert their rights in this matter?

Mr. Lloyd

The reason why action has not been taken in this matter is that at the moment other negotiations are going on between this country and Egypt and it is not considered appropriate to raise this matter first.

Mr. Shinwell

Is it not true to say that these general negotiations between Her Majesty's Government and Egypt have been going on for many months and there does not appear likely to be an immediate solution? Why is it necessary to bring in other countries to solve a problem which primarily concerns only three countries, the State of Israel, Egypt, and ourselves? What is holding this up? Will not the Government be forthcoming about it?

Mr. Lloyd

I imagine that the present Government are actuated very much by considerations similar to those which actuated the late Government.