HC Deb 07 December 1959 vol 615 cc31-2

The following Questions stood upon the Order Paper:

83. Mr. LIPTON

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what inquiry he has made from the Egyptian Government about the proposal that a house in Port Said where a British officer was killed is to become a museum: and what reply he has received.


To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what inquiries have been made by Her Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires in Cairo into the proposal by the Egyptian Government that the house where Lieutenant Anthony Moorhouse died during the British occupation of Port Said in 1956 is to be turned into a museum; and with what result.

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd)

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I will now answer Questions Nos. 83 and 84.

The Head of our Mission in Cairo was instructed to take up this matter with the authorities of the United Arab Republic as soon as reports of it reached London. He has been told that the proposal to make the house in question a museum was not made on the initiative of the United Arab Republic Government. We have left the United Arab Republic authorities in no doubt about our views on the project itself and its effect on any improvement in Anglo-Egyptian relations.

Mr. Lipton

Is the Foreign Secretary aware that the proposal in question is regarded with the utmost revulsion and loathing by everyone in this country, quite irrespective of party? If, as he states, he has already made that quite clear to the Government of the United Arab Republic, will he also, perhaps, suggest that a word from the Government of that country dissociating itself from this proposal would help in the resumption of diplomatic relations?

Mr. Lloyd

I wish there to be no doubt about the feelings of my colleagues and myself, and, I think, of the whole House, about this project. This young man died, on the evidence of his captors, accidentally. He was tied to a bed and left for such a time that he died either of asphyxiation or starvation. Such an occurrence surely cannot be a subject for celebration, however strong nationalist feelings may be. I should have thought that that would be the reaction of ordinary people in any and every country. I repeat, however, that according to my information the project was not initiated by the Government of the United Arab Republic.

Mr. Gaitskell

Whilst agreeing entirely with what the Foreign Secretary has said and with my hon. Friend the Member for Brixton (Mr. Lipton), and regarding this whole notion as not merely repulsive but, as an indication of Egyptian pride, incomprehensible, may I ask whether the Foreign Secretary would not agree that it is best to treat this, as Lieutenant Moorhouse's father suggested, with dignity and restraint?

Mr. Lloyd

I think that we all must have been very much moved by the terms of the telegram sent by the parents of Lieutenant Moorhouse.

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