HC Deb 02 December 1953 vol 521 cc1134-5
8. Mr. Patrick Maitland

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many British subjects have been taken into custody in Egypt in the past year without a charge being formally preferred; and in how many cases British subjects have been denied facilities for prompt communication with the British consular authorities.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

Eighteen British subjects, almost all Cypriots or Maltese, have been imprisoned in Egypt during the past year without formal charges having been preferred. Although in one case a British subject was arrested and deported without prior notification to British consular authorities, facilities for contact with our authorities have usually been granted. As far as I am aware, only one British subject is now held in an Egyptian prison on an unspecified charge.

Mr. Maitland

Would my right hon. and learned Friend agree that this is an uncivilised record and that there is great resentment in this country that we should continue to negotiate with a country under such duress and pressure?

Mr. Lloyd

As these cases arise they are the subject of individual protest to the Egyptian authorities, and in some cases that has involved the immediate release of the person concerned. We take a serious view of them and do what we can to correct them as they arise.

Mr. Ferny hough

While deprecating the attitude of the Egyptian Government in this matter, may I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman if he agrees that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones? Does not he feel that it would be rather crude and unbecoming for us to object to what Egypt is doing so long as the same practice obtains in parts of the British Colonial Empire?

12. Mr. Mott-Radclyffe

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement regarding the circumstances in which two British subjects, Mrs. Butcher and Mr. Clarke, were recently arrested by the Egyptian authorities; what charges were brought against them; what facilities were accorded to Her Majesty's Consul to visit them in custody; and what treatment they received while in custody.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

Mrs. Butcher was arrested at Suez on 19th November. A consular official visited her in prison in Cairo, where she was detained for two nights under most unsatisfactory conditions. Two offers of a consular bond were refused, but following intervention by Her Majesty's Embassy, she was finally released on 22nd November and left Egypt immediately.

Mr. Clarke was arrested in Alexandria on 21st November, but released four days later on consular bail. Her Majesty's Consul visited him in prison and found conditions better than those under which Mrs. Butcher was detained. Mr. Clarke has now been given one month in which to leave Egypt. No charge has been preferred against either Mr. Clarke or Mrs. Butcher.

Mr. Mott-Radclyffe

May I ask my right hon. and learned Friend first, whether Mrs. Butcher left Egypt of her own volition, or whether she was forced to leave by the Egyptian authorities; and, second, whether the British Ambassador has been instructed to make any protest whatever about the case of Mrs. Butcher or Mr. Clarke?

Mr. Lloyd

In answer to the first part of the question, Mrs. Butcher was forced to leave. She did not go voluntarily. Both arrests have been the occasion for formal protests by Her Majesty's Chargé ďAffaires in Cairo and also through the Egyptian Ambassador in London.

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