HC Deb 19 November 1956 vol 560 cc1369-70
33. Mr. Lewis

asked the Minister Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will now arrange to have referred to the International Court at The Hague, as a dispute for legal settlement, the action of President Nasser of Egypt in July last in nationalising the Suez Canal.

Commander Noble

The wider issue of a Suez Canal settlement is now before the United Nations. I do not think that it would serve any useful purpose at this stage to try to go to the International Court on the narrower issue of the legality of Colonel Nasser's action. Our primary purpose has been and must be to secure a just and workable settlement for the future.

Mr. Lewis

While I appreciate that at the moment it might not be opportune, if the Government had some doubts as to the legality of the action of the Egyptian Government, why did they not refer the matter to the International Court before sending in our troops? Would it not have been a better way than sacrificing men's lives, munitions and money in Egypt?

Commander Noble

That is a hypothetical question. Our purpose in regard to the Canal is to prevent it from coming under the political control of any one country. This principle has now been endorsed by the United Nations.