HC Deb 06 May 1957 vol 569 cc639-41
54. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, following the recent discussions in Washington on the arms balance in the Middle East, he will make a statement on the supply of modern armaments to Syria and Egypt since 1st January.

57. Mr. Janner

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the recent supplies of arms to the Middle East countries by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and her satellites; and what proposals he has for adjusting the balance.

Mr. Ian Harvey

Subsequent to the events of last November, when Egypt lost a considerable quantity of the arms supplied to her from the Soviet bloc, Soviet ships were widely reported to have resumed deliveries of military equipment to both Egypt and Syria. Shipments to Syria were certainly resumed in December; shipments to Egypt were reported to have begun again by February at least, if not earlier. Although I am not in a position to give any details, Her Majesty's Government have reason to think that there is some basis for these reports.

Mr. Henderson

What action is Her Majesty's Government proposing to take, either under the Tripartite Declaration or through the United Nations? Is it not time that some action was taken to secure an international agreement for the banning of these supplies?

Mr. Harvey

We are examining the position as it progresses, but, at the moment, we do not think it appropriate to take any further action.

Sir R. Boothby

Has Israel asked for any further supply of arms from this country?

Mr. Harvey

That is another question.

Mr. Janner

As the Minister knows very well that very large quantities of arms are being supplied at present—a matter which has been referred to in another place—will he not take immediate steps to see that the balance is adjusted, particularly as regards Israel, and as regards the supply of arms from this country to Israel?

Mr. Harvey

I repeat, we are keeping this matter very closely before us, but I cannot give any definite answer to the hon. Gentleman today.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

As the Joint Under-Secretary is keeping it very closely under observation, can he tell us whether the Government consider that the Tripartite Declaration is in force for this purpose?

Mr. Harvey

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Langford-Holt

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is a strange and unhappy similarity between both the Questions and the Answers and the facts of the case and those of this time last year in regard to the same area?

Mr. Harvey

I note my hon. Friend's observations.

Mr. H. Morrison

As the Question asks about the balance of arms being supplied to the Middle East, surely the Joint Under-Secretary can state whether Israel has made application. He might be able to state whether there is any result. Is Question Time to become just fictional? Why should he refuse information? Has he been taking lessons in avoiding answers from the Lord Privy Seal who, when he was Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, similarly refused to give the House any information?

Mr. Harvey

With the deepest respect to the right hon. Gentleman, I think that it is unwise for him to refer to anybody's experience as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.

In reply to the first part of his Question, I can add nothing to what I have already said.

Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas

In view of the statement by the Joint Under-Secretary that the Tripartite Declaration is considered by him as being in operation for the purpose of considering the supply of arms, and of the statement of the Government on a previous occasion that the Tripartite Declaration is not in operation, will the hon. Gentleman inform the House for which purpose the Government consider that Declaration to be in operation and for which purpose they consider it to be not in operation?

Mr. Lipton

That is another question.

Mr. Harvey

It is, in fact, another question, but, arising out of the Questions that have been asked, I should like to make it perfectly clear that the Tripartite Declaration does not call for the maintenance of a balance.

Mr. Noel-Baker


Mr. Speaker


Back to