HC Deb 26 March 1956 vol 550 cc1775-7
58. Mr. A. Henderon

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the new plan for dealing with any violation of the Israel-Arab frontiers.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

The right hon. and learned Gentleman is, I assume, referring to the initiative recently taken in calling for a meeting of the Security Council. I think it would be better to await the results of the meeting which is being held this afternoon.

Mr. Henderson

The right hon. and leaarned Gentleman has not replied to my Question. I am referring to the new plan, which, according to the Foreign Office spokesman on Saturday, has been prepared by the British Government with a view of taking immediate action in the event of aggression in the Middle East.

Mr. Lloyd

So far as action by Her Majesty's Government is concerned, at the moment we are endeavouring to keep the peace. In that function I think the United Nations has an important part to play. As regards plans for various hypothetical circumstances, as I have said previously, I do not think that those can be publicly announced.

Captain Waterhouse

Is it not a fact that the Security Council a year or two ago condemned the action of Egypt in holding up Israeli shipping? If nothing is to be done about that, is it any use going again to the Security Council? Is is not more desirable that my right hon. and learned Friend, on behalf of this country, if possible in agreement with America, should take a strong line?

Mr. Lloyd

Although, as my right hon. and gallant Friend says, it is true that there have been various resolutions passed by the Security Council, condemning both sides, which have not had much effect, what we are tackling at the moment is rather a different problem, namely, whether by strengthening the United Nations Truce Supervisory Organisation, which has done good work, we can keep the peace.

Mr. Bellenger

Is not the Foreign Secretary aware that there are very strong reports current, notably in The Times at the week-end, that the Government have prepared a plan to act in a military fashion apart from the United Nations organisation, if circumstances warrant it? Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman say whether there is any truth whatever in these reports?

Mr. Lloyd

The position of Her Majesty's Government is as I have stated. We intend to honour in the spirit and the letter the obligations of the Tripartite Declaration, and that involves the preparation of various plans for various contingencies.

Mr. Younger

Could the Foreign Secretary tell us whether he sees any hope of our getting a joint declaration from the three signatories? At the moment, there is a general impression among readers of newspapers that the United States and France are both following separate policies from ourselves in this matter. Is he aware that a joint declaration would give a good deal more confidence?

Mr. Lloyd

I agree that it is very desirable that we should seek to evolve a common line of action.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Would my right hon. and learned Friend consider the institution of staff talks both with the Israeli Government and one or more Arab States friendly to us? Would he, in that connection, have regard to the very useful precedent at the time of the grave troubles in India in 1947, when joint staff talks, particularly with the Pakistanis and Indians, took place?

Mr. Lloyd

I think that I should prefer my noble Friend to put that question on the Order Paper.

Mr. Henderson

Will the Foreign Secretary clear up a point that I raised with regard to this proposed plan? Was the statement made by the Foreign Office spokesman last week and published in the American newspapers entirely unauthorised or not? Is there or is there not a plan?

Mr. Lloyd

If the right hon. and learned Gentleman will furnish me with particulars of the precise statement to which he refers, I will try to deal with it.