HC Deb 08 April 1957 vol 568 cc808-9
16. Mr. Benn

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will sponsor Israel as a member of the Canal Users' Association.

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

The declaration of 21st September, providing for the establishment of the Suez Canal Users' Association, referred to criteria for new members which would be laid down by the Association in due course. This action has not yet been taken by the Association. The question of the admission of any particular country therefore does not arise.

Mr. Benn

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that his Answer will not convey any meaning at any rate to the House, since the Association was established by people who had previously not been members of the Association? Would he please look at this matter again? Would he not agree that membership of the Suez Canal Users' Association by Israel would be the first step towards the resumption of negotiations with Egypt to guarantee the passage of her ships through the Canal?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

We are always prepared to look at this matter again, but in fact the Association consists of the major users of the Canal by tonnage and trade, and, of course, Israel is not a major user.

Mr. Langford-Holt

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, ever since the Resolution years ago, the United Nations has retreated from the principle of free passage to the ships of all nations? If further retreat from this principle goes on, is that not the surest way of starting up conflict in this area?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend.

Mr. Younger

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that Israel would be a major user, in relation to the size of her economy, if only she were allowed by the Egyptians to use the Canal?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

If the Gulf of Aqaba is open, I do not think that Israel will be a major user.