HC Deb 13 May 1957 vol 570 cc30-1
47. Mr. P. Noel-Baker

asked the Prime Minister what representations he has received from leaders of the shipping and export industries concerning the use by British ships of the Suez Canal.

The Prime Minister

The only communication which I have received is from the Chamber of Shipping of the United Kingdom which sent me the terms of a resolution passed at its Annual General Meeting on 28th February.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Do these shipping interests agree with the Minister of Transport, who said at Woking a week or two ago that the effects of the blocking of the Canal on industry in Britain and Western Europe had been trifling and that the world had been shown that that strip of water was not as vital to European prosperity as was thought before? Was the Minister of Transport speaking for the Government when he said this?

The Prime Minister

I do not think the right hon. Gentleman has accurately quoted what my right hon. Friend said, but I think it is true—surely, this is the balanced view—that while this is a serious loss to us, yet the resilience and power of Europe and the Western world to accommodate itself to these difficulties has been truly remarkable.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Is the Prime Minister aware that I was quoting the exact words of the Minister and if the Government think that the loss was trifling, why do the Prime Minister and his colleagues still say that they were right to go to war for the Canal on the ground that it was the jugular vein of our economic life?

The Prime Minister

Well, Sir, I do not know what is the view of the right hon. Gentleman about these matters, but I am ready to debate them with him again.