HC Deb 06 May 1957 vol 569 cc637-9
53. Mr. Grimond

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if, in view of our relations with Jordan and the presence of British troops on Jordanian soil, he will make a statement on the attitude of Her Majesty's Government to developments in that country; and what consultations have taken place with the United States Government and our Commonwealth and allies over concerting a common policy towards Jordan and the Middle East generally.

Mr. Ian Harvey

As the House knows, the 1948 Treaty with Jordan was terminated by agreement on 14th March and our forces are now withdrawing from Jordan. As my right hon. and learned Friend stated in the House on 14th March, we wish King Hussein and his country good fortune and hope our friendly relations will continue. Her Majesty's Government regard the continued independence and integrity of Jordan as essential elements in the maintenance of peace and stability in the Middle East. They are accordingly glad to note that the recent disturbances in Jordan have been brought to an end and tranquility restored. Her Majesty's Government have been and continue to be in close consultation with the United States and other allies with regard to the situation in Jordan and the Middle East generally.

Mr. Grimond

While appreciating the difficulty of Her Majesty's Government in dealing with the Middle East at all, is it realised that there is grave misgiving that all the running in this part of the world should be made so frequently by the Americans? Are there not two major problems concerned with Jordan over which we might help, one being the refugee problem? Can the hon. Gentleman say what steps are being taken regarding a resettlement? The other question is the continual increase in arms to the Middle East. Is there any possibility of the Disarmament Sub-Committee considering the Jewish proposal for some disarmament in that area in an effort to relieve tension?

Mr. Harvey

The matters to which the hon. Gentleman has referred were recently discussed at the N.A.T.O. Ministerial meeting, and I anticipate that my right hon. and learned Friend, who was present, will make a statement in due course.

Mr. Shinwell

Why does the Joint Under-Secretary say that the Government wish good fortune to King Hussein? Has he been such a good friend that we wish him success in the future?

Mr. Emrys Hughes

He is a good democrat.

Mr. Harvey

We believe that the future of Jordan is of the greatest importance to stability in the Middle East.

Mrs. Castle

In view of the fact that Her Majesty's Government were consulted before the Sixth Fleet went into the eastern Mediterranean, can the hon. Gentleman tell us whether Her Majesty's Government advised the American Government that if there was a threat to Jordan they ought to bring it before the United Nations and not "go it alone"?

Mr. Harvey

The matter did not arise.

Miss Lee

While the hon. Gentleman is extending good wishes to the King of Jordan, will he also extend good wishes to the democratically elected members in Jordan and the newspapers of Jordan which have been suppressed?

Mr. Harvey

I do not think that there is any call for us to take that step.

Miss Lee


Mr. Bevan

Is it not undesirable that the hon. Gentleman should express good wishes to a régime which has offended against all the principles in which we believe, and to a monarch who, only recently, stated over the radio that at an early opportunity Jordan hoped to make war upon Israel? Is it desirable even to appear to give encouragement to views of that sort?

Mr. Harvey

What I have said is a reflection of what has already been said in this House by my right hon. and learned Friend—

Mr. Lipton

Then it is wrong; when did he say it?

Mr. Harvey

I repeat that the King of Jordan has had to contend with extreme difficulties, and I think he has done so with commendable courage.