HC Deb 11 April 1956 vol 551 cc203-4
35. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will invite representatives of the Arab nations composed of the Middle East Arab States to meet him for the purpose of considering a new agreement or modifications to the Anglo-Egyptian Agreement of 1954, and to make preparations for a mutual economic agreement and lasting economic co-operation.

Mr. Nutting

No, Sir. Any modification of the Anglo-Egyptian Agreement would be a matter for the Egyptian Government and Her Majesty's Government alone. As regards economic matters, there exists, in the Economic Committee of the Bagdad Pact, an organisation which is designed to promote widespread economic co-operation in the area and is now meeting in Tehran.

Mr. Ellis Smith

Without for one moment trying to minimise the difficulties involved in this Question, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, as he cannot accept the proposals contained in it, he will consider further proposals in order that we can take positive action to deal with the difficulties in this area and so to avoid what could take place?

Mr. Nutting

As I think the hon. Gentleman knows, the Anglo-Egyptian Agreement deals entirely with the base and not with economic questions. As to economic developments in the Middle East, we are making a promising start. As the hon. Gentleman will have observed in the Press this morning, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury has pledged specific aid on behalf of the United Kingdom for the economic development of the Bagdad Pact countries. That is a start, and we wish to continue in that vein.