HC Deb 19 November 1958 vol 595 cc1146-7
36. Mr. Donnelly

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement regarding his progress towards the resumption of diplomatic relations with Egypt.

39. Mr. Younger

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the progress of his negotiations with Egypt.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

I had a long discussion with the Foreign Minister of the United Arab Republic in New York during the Special Assembly of the United Nations in August. As a result of that, we agreed to a speedy resumption of the financial negotiations. There were further discussions in Rome in September which, unfortunately, did not result in progress. I am considering what can be done to resume the talks with some prospect of a satisfactory conclusion; but I have nothing further to say to the House at this stage.

Mr. Donnelly

May I ask two questions of the right hon. and learned Gentleman arising out of that Answer? First, will he confirm that the Suez Canal is being operated at present in some respects at least as well and in other respects better than it was operated by the old Suez Canal Company? Secondly, in view of that and his association with past events, would the right hon. and learned Gentleman now consider tendering his resignation?

Mr. Lloyd

I should like notice regarding the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question in order that I may give him a considered answer. Regarding the second part, I treat it with the contempt it deserves.

Mr. Younger

Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that the prolonged absence of diplomatic relations with Egypt is a grave disadvantage in our attempts to develop any fresh Middle Eastern policy? Does he not think that he ought to take some initiative to try to bring that situation to an end? Is it not the case that the French, who were involved in the 1956 expedition with us, have reached agreement so that not only their individual citizens but also their institutions have returned to Egypt? Is it not time that the same thing happened with us? May I ask whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman has anything to say about the initiative which, I understand, has been taken by Mr. Black of the International Bank in offering his good offices to get negotiations going again?

Mr. Lloyd

I am in perfect agreement with what the right hon. Gentleman has said. It would be a good thing to resume diplomatic relations. It is necessary, however, that we should have some settlement of the outstanding financial problems. Otherwise, I do not think that the resumption of diplomatic relations would serve as useful a purpose as it should. With regard to Mr. Black, I should prefer a Question to be put on the Order Paper.