HC Deb 19 June 1961 vol 642 cc935-6
12 and 17. Mr. Wall

asked the Lord Privy Seal (1) how many British nationals have been allowed to transfer out of Egypt the £5,000 per head allowed under the Anglo-Egyptian Financial Agreement; how many he estimates still wish to take advantage of this Agreement; and what he is doing to speed up the repatriation of these funds;

(2) to what extent the Government of the United Arab Republic have implemented the undertaking given in March to release or repatriate £E1,000 per head of those entitled under the terms of the Anglo-Egyptian Financial Agreement.

Mr. Heath

I regret that the full information asked for in the first and second parts of my hon. Friend's first Question is not available. As he may have seen from a notice which appeared in the Press on 12th June, the British subjects concerned are now being asked to supply it. Meanwhile Her Majesty's Embassy in Cairo are continuing to press the United Arab Republic Government to give full and early effect to their obligations under the Agreement.

According to the latest information, the United Arab Republic Government have given permission for the transfer of up to one thousand Egyptian pounds on each application in the case of one hundred applications since they gave the undertaking referred to by my hon. Friend.

Mr. Wall

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that there has been virtually no transfer from the U.A.R. because of the shortage of sterling? Have not the Government some responsibility in this matter, as they permitted the run-down of the U.A.R. sterling balances in this country? Will my right hon. Friend look again into this matter, which is causing great distress to a number of people?

Mr. Heath

Since we made the arrangements with the U.A.R. Government that they would permit the transfer of £E1,000 into sterling in each individual case, I believe that the scheme has been working reasonably smoothly.

Sir H. Legge-Bourke

If my right hon. Friend cannot give us an assurance that in the foreseeable future substantially the whole of these outstanding claims will he met, will he give some assurance that steps will be taken to ensure that those who are suffering as a result of this failure to repay what is owed do not suffer unduly?

Mr. Heath

I cannot give my hon. Friend that assurance at the moment. We are using all our influence with the U.A.R. Government to have the maximum transfer of these funds at present in Egypt. We accepted this scheme, particularly to help those who have small claims, and we hope that the Egyptian Government will soon be able to transfer the full amount.