§ 36. Mr. Rankin
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what arrangements he has made with the Government of the United States of America regarding joint action with that Government in response to the taking-over by the Cuban Government of oil refineries owned, or partly owned, by British and United States companies; and if he will make a statement on the situation in Cuba as it affects British life and property.
§ 41. Mr. A. Henderson
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the recent exchange of Notes between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of Cuba.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
Her Majesty's Ambassador in Havana delivered a strong protest to the Cuban Government on 4th July against their action in taking over the refinery of the Shell Company of Cuba, and in preventing them for over a year from remitting foreign exchange. Her Majesty's Government have been closely in touch with the United States Government and other Governments concerned over this question. No joint action is being taken, but the United States Government have since taken similar action in respect of the United States oil interests involved.
29 The reply received by Her Majesty's Ambassador from the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 7th July is now being studied.
So far as I am aware, public order is at present being maintained in Cuba and there is no immediate threat to the safety of British lives and to other British property. British firms other than the Shell Group are not directly involved in the dispute which has arisen between the latter and the Cuban Government.
§ Mr. Rankin
Has the right hon. and learned Gentleman noted that in yesterday's Observer an ex-British Ambassador said that it is possible that America may be tempted to follow in Cuba the bad example set by Russia in Hungary? In view of that possibility, with its contingent danger to British life and property, would the right hon. and learned Gentleman offer to the the American Government some of the good advice they gave us at the time of Suez, when we set an equally bad example?
§ Mr. A. Henderson
As the Cuban situation is to be considered by the Security Council, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman consider proposing 30 to the Security Council that under Article 96 of the Charter an advisory opinion on the legality or otherwise of the action of the Cuban Government should be sought from the International Court of Justice?
§ Mr. Warbey
Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman say whether he condones the action of the oil companies in defying a long-established Cuban law requiring them to refine Government-owned oil?
§ Mr. Lloyd
I would rather expect the hon. Member to give a judgment on this matter against the interests of this country beforehand. This is a matter on which I have just said the Shell Company is challenging the action of the Cuban Government in the Cuban courts. I should have thought that the hon. Member might have refrained from an expression of opinion.