HC Deb 25 November 1953 vol 521 cc351-2
38. Mr. Wyatt

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a further statement on the Suez Canal negotiations with the Egyptian Government.

Mr. Eden

I have nothing at present to add to what I said on this subject in the course of the debate on the Address, except to say that, as the House will already be aware, Sir Ralph Stevenson, Her Majesty's Ambassador in Cairo, will shortly be returning to Cairo. General Sir Brian Robertson has now returned to this country to take up his duties as Chairman of the Transport Commission. I should like to take this opportunity of expressing the gratitude of Her Majesty's Government to General Robertson and of paying him a personal tribute for the part he has played in these negotiations.

Mr. Wyatt

Is it not the case that these negotiations are now being held up on two very narrow points, first, what clothes the technicians who are to remain behind in the Canal Zone shall wear, and, second, what conditions would precede availability of the base to us again in the event of war? Are we not missing a great opportunity to sign the agreement with the Egyptians while General Neguib can still hold the nationalist element under control, merely because the Foreign Secretary has become afraid of 25 Tory back benchers?

Mr. Eden

The hon. Gentleman can, of course, use his imagination as to the reasons for the attitude of Her Majesty's Government. However, the issues upon which we are at present divided will, I trust, be resolved. I cannot for a moment admit that one of them in particular is other than of major importance.

Mr. Speaker


Captain Waterhouse

On a point of order. This is an extremely important subject, Mr. Speaker. Might not one supplementary question be allowed from this side of the House?

Mr. Speaker

I am afraid not now. These are all very important subjects.