HC Deb 20 May 1957 vol 570 cc847-8
27. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the policy of Her Majesty's Government in regard to a reference to the Court of International Justice for its ruling as to whether the Gulf of Aqaba is an international waterway.

Commander Noble

My right hon. and learned Friend certainly has in mind the possibility mentioned by the right hon. and learned Member. But, as my right hon. and learned Friend told him on 17th April, British ships are in fact exercising the right of free and innocent passage through the Gulf of Aqaba. In general, the present position seems reasonably satisfactory.

Mr. Henderson

Would the Minister of State make it clear whether British ships passing through the Gulf of Aqaba have every right to go to the Port of Elath if they so desire?

Commander Noble

I think we have always made that quite clear. I myself referred to it in the General Assembly earlier this year.

Mr. Bevan

Is not it a fact that where rights of passage are normally exercised by maritime nations, if a riparian nation wishes to interfere with that right that nation itself should go to the International Court; it should not be the obligation of some nation interfered with to assert its rights, but for the interferer to assert the right to interfere?

Commander Noble

I think that from the British point of view the situation is reasonably satisfactory. We have declared that we look upon this as an international waterway and our ships are using it.

Captain Pilkington

Is not it now up to the United Nations to say that all ships shall have free access to both these waterways?

Commander Noble

Yes, Sir.