HC Deb 20 May 1957 vol 570 cc838-40
23. Mr. E. Fletcher

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will instruct the British representatives at the meeting of the Security Council on Suez to support the French request that the Egyptian Government should be required to conform to the six principles laid down in October, 1956.

Commander Noble

Her Majesty's Government certainly support the view that the Egyptian Government should be required to conform to the six principles of the Security Council agreed last October. We shall continue our efforts to this end. The Security Council is meeting today and we await the outcome.

Mr. Fletcher

Will the hon. Gentleman not only emphasise the purely provisional nature of the present Canal arrangement, but use Her Majesty's Government's influence at the United Nations to do something to restore confidence in that organ as one capable of ensuring respect for international rights?

Commander Noble

We will certainly do everything we can.

25 and 26. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) in view of the Security Council Resolution of 13th October, 1956, what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government with regard to the sending of a ship by the Government of Israel through the Suez Canal as a peaceful test;

(2) whether he will instruct his representative at the United Nations to propose that the Security Council should implement their Resolution of 13th October, 1956, urging full freedom of navigation through the Suez Canal by calling on the Government of Egypt not to interfere with Israeli shipping passing peacefully through the Suez Canal.

Commander Noble

As my right hon. and learned Friend said on 13th May, we believe Israeli ships share the rights of all countries to freedom of passage of the Canal. And as the Prime Minister said during the debate on 15th May, we shall do all we can, through the United Nations and with our friends, to see that these rights are assured.

We stand by the Resolution of September, 1951, and by the six principles of October, 1956. The Security Council is discussing the Canal question today. Whether there should be a peaceful test voyage by an Israeli ship must be a matter for the Israeli Government.

Mr. Henderson

In view of the official statement made in Cairo last week by a Government of Egypt spokesman to the effect that they would stop any Israeli ship seeking to pass through the Canal, would the Minister of State at least make it clear that, in the view of Her Majesty's Government, any interference by the Government of Egypt with an Israeli ship on a peaceful occasion would be contrary to all international law?

Commander Noble

I think that my original Answer made that quite clear. Should the situation which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has just mentioned arise, it would be a matter for Israel whether to take the question to the United Nations or the International Court.

Mr. Nicholson

Will my hon. and gallant Friend think again? In view of the terrible results that might ensue from any untoward circumstance arising out of a test voyage, will he revise his view that this concerns the Israeli Government alone? It concerns the whole world. Will he attempt to prevent the Israeli Government acting single-handed?

Commander Noble

I think I made the position of Her Majesty's Government quite clear. The actual decision to take a ship through is for the Israeli Government, but thereafter it would be a matter for the United Nations or the International Court.

Mr. H. Morrison

In those circumstances, cannot the Minister of State make it clear that if the Israeli Government should exercise its undoubted right to take a ship through the Suez Canal, that would receive the sympathetic support of Her Majesty's Government? Cannot he make it clear now that if Israel should do that we would say that Israel was within her rights and that we would, at any rate, give her moral support in so doing and support in the United Nations?

Commander Noble

Yes, Sir. I think Her Majesty's Government have always made that quite clear.