HC Deb 17 February 1954 vol 523 cc1965-6
26. Mr. Benn

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will publish a White Paper on the negotiations at present in progress between Britain and Egypt on the revision of the 1936 Treaty, setting out the points still at issue.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

I have nothing to add to the answer which I gave to the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) on the 25th January. My right hon. Friend has already told the House of the two major outstanding points. He has also undertaken that the House will be given an opportunity to discuss the question at the appropriate time. It would not be in the public interest to reveal more details now.

Mr. Benn

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that it is impossible for people watching these negotiations to escape the conclusion that the British Cabinet have not made up their mind whether they wish to reach an agreement with the Egyptians and that that is the worst form of weakness, and would he further recall that the trouble in Boston over the tea tax was met with the utmost firmness, which resulted in the utmost possible disaster?

Mr. Lloyd

I do not think that the hon. Gentleman has been fair to the Government in this matter. They have put forward certain proposals. We think that they constitute the elements of an honourable settlement. Those proposals have been discussed but have not been accepted by the Egyptian Government, and that is where the matter stands at present.

Major Legge-Bourke

Will my right hon. and learned Friend say how much longer the present points are going to be relevant at all, and how soon the Government are going to withdraw the present terms in the light of the answer he gave to Question No. 17 this afternoon?

Mr. Lloyd

That is quite a different matter.