HC Deb 25 July 1956 vol 557 cc411-2
41. Mr. H. Fraser

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether Britain has yet entered into a firm commitment to make a grant to Egypt for the construction of the high dam at Aswan.

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd)

My hon. Friend will be aware that since he put down his Question Her Majesty's Government have announced that they do not consider it feasible in present circumstances to participate in this project.

Mr. Fraser

I am sure that my right hon. and learned Friend knows that the decision of Her Majesty's Government not to proceed with this project has been welcomed throughout the country for hydro-logical, economic and technical reasons. But will he now consider, in view of the fact that the Aswan folly is out of the way, the idea of a Nile Valley authority—the idea of using the £200 million now floating about in the World Bank for investment in the Nile Valley, and a return to the World Bank conception of a multiple dam scheme for the whole Nile Valley?

Mr. Lloyd

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend that that is a matter which now requires careful consideration.

Mr. Zilliacus

Will not my right hon. and learned Friend consider approaching the American, Soviet and Egyptian Governments with a proposal to grant international aid, through the Social and Economic Council of the United Nations, to build the Aswan dam on conditions consistent with the principles, purposes and obligations of the United Nations Charter?

Mr. Lloyd

That is a different question from the one on the Order Paper.

Mr. H. Morrison

In view of the fact that Egypt unilaterally repudiated the Treaty of 1936, is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that some of us are relieved that we have not gone in for this loan, which might also be unilaterally repudiated by this or another Egyptian Government?

Mr. Stokes

Is it not a fact that Egypt can get all the water she wants from the White Nile for an expenditure of about one-third of that involved in building the Aswan dam?

Mr. Lloyd

Again, I think that that is rather wider than the Question on the Order Paper.

49. Mr. Grimond

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the decision not to assist with British funds the construction of the dam at Aswan.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

I dealt with this matter yesterday in the course of the debate on foreign affairs.

Mr. Grimond

I have read what the Foreign Secretary said yesterday. While it may well be that we have come to the right conclusion, nevertheless, would he not agree that the handling of the matter has been rather unfortunate? Could he not review the machinery by which these projects are examined before they are entered into at all, because to have a withdrawal at the heels of the Americans in the last resort seems to have put us in a somewhat difficult position?

Mr. Lloyd

What the hon. Member said is not true. We were in close consultation with the United States Government about this matter, and our announcement followed immediately after the announcement of the American decision.

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