HC Deb 27 January 1958 vol 581 cc2-4
2. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the present state of tension on the Arab-Israel borders, he will state the present policy of Her Majesty's Government with regard to the maintenance of the existing Arab-Israel borders.

13. Mr. Lipton

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how far, in deciding to support the independence and sovereignty of States in the Middle East, as agreed by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Council meeting in Paris, Her Majesty's Government also support their territorial integrity.

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Commander Allan Noble)

I am happy to say that as a result of Mr. Hammarskjold' s recent visit to the area there has been a noticeable reduction of tension. The policy of Her Majesty's Government in regard to existing Arab-Israel borders is still governed by the principles of the Tripartite Declaration of 1950, as was stated by my right hon. and learned Friend on 1st April last.

Her Majesty's Government support the territorial integrity of States in the Middle East and their existing frontiers where these may be considered as final and internationally accepted.

Mr. Henderson

Can the Minister say whether there is any truth in the recent reports published in the Press that Her Majesty's Government now favour an imposed settlement based on the so-called Eden-Guildhall plan?

Commander Noble

There is no change in Her Majesty's Government's policy.

Mr. Lipton

Does the Minister's Answer mean that Her Majesty's Government no longer intend to bring any pressure to bear upon the Government of Israel to agree to any major modification of Israeli's existing boundaries?

Commander Noble

I do not think it serves the interests of this country, of the Arabs or of Israel to try continually to twist, as I think the hon. Member was doing, the Guildhall speech, because it pointed out that there were two sides to this question.

Mr. Grimond

May I ask the Minister of State if, under the Tripartite Declaration, it is still part of Her Majesty's Government's policy to keep a parity of arms between the Arabs and the Israelis, and, if so, would it not be better to make a move towards disarmament in the Middle East?

Commander Noble

In answer to the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supple- mentary question, it is still the policy of Her Majesty's Government, and we would welcome any proposals for disarmament in the Middle East.

Mr. Bevan

Is that not an astonishing answer to make in view of the facts? is it not true that offers of disarmament in the Middle East have been made for some time by the Soviet Union and that over and over again it has been suggested to Her Majesty's Government, as far back as the visit of Mr. Bulganin and Mr. Khrushchev, that no arms should be supplied to the Middle East? Is it not the fact that we cannot agree because of our obligations under the Bagdad Pact?

Commander Noble

The answer to the last part of the right hon. Gentleman's supplementary is, of course, "No". With regard to the first part of the right hon. Gentleman's supplementary, I would suggest that he await my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's reply to Mr. Bulganin' s last letter, in which, I think, these proposals were mentioned, and also the discussions which might take place in the future.

Mr. Bevan

Is the Minister of State suggesting to the House that Her Majesty's Government have no continuing obligation to supply arms to the nations of the Bagdad Pact?

Commander Noble

I did not say that at all.

Mr. Bevan

That is exactly what the right hon. Gentleman did say.

Commander Noble

Perhaps I misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman's supplementary, but I do not think I did. I thought the right hon. Gentleman said that the reason we did not come to any arrangement for discontinuing the supply of arms to the Middle East was because of our commitments under the Bagdad Pact.