HC Deb 07 March 1960 vol 619 cc10-2
10. Mr. Grimond

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what recent consultations he has had with the United States and French Governments regarding the implimentation of the Tripartite Agreement.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

None, Sir. I have nothing to add to what I told the House on 17th February.

Mr. Grimond

In view of the doubt about the interpretation of this agreement now, will the Foreign Secretary, if and when a suitable moment arises, consider making some proposals for a new agreement to guarantee peace in the Middle East?

Mr. Lloyd

That is a very wide proposition to deal with by way of an answer to a supplementary question. The realities of the present position are that, by reason of the United Nations' responsibilities and the part that the Secretary-General has been playing, we feel that the forum of the United Nations is the correct one in which consultation should take place at present.

Mr. Healey

In view of the fact that the Jordan Government have recently declared that they will fight on the side of the United Arab Republic if that Republic becomes involved in war with Israel in regard to the frontier problem east of Galilee, can the Foreign Secretary say whether the Government recognise any obligations for British intervention in such a situation?

Mr. Lloyd

The hon. Member knows that the more I say publicly about the Tripartite Declaration and any possible action under it the more difficulty it makes in the Middle East, and the more our statements and actions are open to suspicion. It is of no benefit to the interests of stability in the area to explore this matter further. I have stated our position previously, and I have repeated it to the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond). I would ask him to leave the matter where it is.

Mr. Healey

I was not relating this question directly to the Tripartite Agreement, but it is a matter of importance not only to this country but to the peace of the world that the British Government should state whether or not they recognise any obligation to intervene in case of war in the Middle East.

Mr. Lloyd

I have stated on a previous occasion what I regard as our obligations. I have stated them both in terms of this Declaration and with regard to the Charter of the United Nations. That remains our position.

Mr. Shinwell

Has not the Foreign Secretary observed that Colonel Nasser has recently denied the validity of the Tripartite Agreement and said that it is merely an aspect of imperialism which he rejects in its entirety?

Mr. Lloyd

Certainly he has said that. He made a speech which was provoked by a statement made in this House in answer to Questions asked. We have stated our position, and we had much better leave it as we have stated it.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Since the interpretation of the Tripartite Agreement given by the Foreign Secretary is not in accord with its plain meaning, or with the interpretation given by the United States, would it not be far better to have further consultations?

Mr. Lloyd

I find it very difficult to please the Opposition in this matter. It was suggested by one hon. Member that because of what Colonel Nasser has said the Agreement has no effect, and by another that because of what I said we should have further consultations. It would be better to leave the matter exactly as I stated it the last time I was questioned.