HC Deb 20 November 1956 vol 560 cc1548-50
46. Mr. Lewis

asked the Prime Minister if he will now give further details of the temporary nature of the British occupation of Egyptian territory in the Suez Canal zone; and how soon after the cessation of hostilities between Israel and Egypt he will order the withdrawal of all British forces.

48. Sir T. Moore

asked the Prime Minister if he will give an assurance that the British forces will remain in their present position on the Suez Canal until a United Nations force approved by the British and French Governments as to numbers, armaments and effectiveness is landed in Egypt; if he will seek a similar assurance from the French Government as regards their troops remaining in Egypt; and if he will convey these assurances to the Egyptian Government.

51. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Prime Minister what arrangements are being made for the withdrawal of British troops in Egypt, in view of the arrival of elements of the United Nations Police Force.

Mr. R. A. Butler

I have been asked to reply.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary is at present discussing in New York the arrangements for the replacement of British and French troops by a United Nations force.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister stated in this House on 9th November that Her Majesty's Government were willing to hand over to the United Nations Force As soon as the force is in a position effectively to discharge its tasks,…."—[OFFICIAL REPORT,9th November, 1956; Vol. 560, c. 422.] The French Foreign Minister made a similar statement to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Council of the Republic on 13th November. No doubt the Egyptian Government have noted these statements.

Mr. Lewis

On the subject of the qualification stated by the Lord Privy Seal, relating to the time when the United Nations forces are in a position to carry out their job, may I ask who is going to decide that? Will it be the United Nations, as we hope will be the case, or will it be Her Majesty's Government? Can we have a categorical assurance from the Minister that he will abide by the United Nations decision on that particular point?

Mr. Butler

Decisions on this matter must be made by Her Majesty's Government and the French Government, in consultation with the United Nations.

Sir T. Moore

In view of the fact that this man Nasser wanted war with Israel, got his war, and was defeated, and now has the audacity to dictate or seek to dictate terms, will my right hon. Friend give an assurance to this House that we will not give way to any blackmail on his part?

Mr. Butler

I trust that we shall not give way to blackmail from any source.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Will the Lord Privy Seal give us an assurance—

Mr. Nabarro

Put your hand on your heart.

Mr. Griffiths

—that tomorrow or, at the latest, Thursday, he will indicate to us whether Her Majesty's Government have now decided to respond to the appeal and decision of the United Nations on withdrawing our troops? Since the Prime Minister last week promised that he would make a full statement on every aspect of the question this week, may I ask that when the Lord Privy Seal and the Government are considering the statement which they have promised to make to us on the situation in the Middle East, the right hon. Gentleman will deal specifically with the widespread belief and the persistent and continuing comments in the Press at home and abroad, which are causing deep anxiety in the country, that there is growing evidence of collusion between Israel, France and the United Kingdom? Does the Lord Privy Seal realise that these persistent comments cannot be allowed to continue without the Government making a clear statement about this?

Mr. Butler

I was going to answer Question No. 50 by the right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens), which, I thought, would implement the undertaking of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to make a statement. With your approval, Mr. Speaker, I will make that statement directly Question Time is over.

Mr. Speaker

I think it is over now, The right hon. Gentleman can proceed with the answer to Question No. 50.