HC Deb 20 November 1958 vol 595 cc1316-7
27. Mr. Cronin

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why, bearing in mind that France and the United States of America have now re-established normal economic relations with Egypt, he will not agree to unfreeze part of Egypt's sterling balances to permit trade between Egypt and the United Kingdom and so make use of the latter's present surplus export capacity.

Mr. Erroll

As has been made clear in the past, it is the policy of Her Majesty's Government that these balances should not be released except as a result of a settlement with the Government of Egypt of the problems arising from the sequestration and expropriation of British property in Egypt. Egypt already has substantial earnings of transferable currencies which can be used to pay for exports from the United Kingdom.

Mr. Cronin

Does not the hon. Gentleman appreciate, in spite of the cheers of hon. Gentlemen behind him, that the total of the assets frozen is enormously in excess of any possible claim that can be made against them? Therefore, does not the continued freezing of all these assets by the Chancellor deal a blow at our export trade, without any compensating advantage?

Mr. Erroll

I do not think so. Egypt already earns considerable sterling from the Suez Canal which could be used for purchases from the United Kingdom.

33. Mr. H. Wilson

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement about the progress of negotiations with representatives of the Egyptian Government about blocked sterling balances and the compensation claims of British nationals and sequestrated British companies.

Mr. Erroll

I have nothing to add to the replies given yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to the right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Younger) and the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly).

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