HC Deb 19 December 1963 vol 686 cc1439-40
Q6. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Prime Minister what steps he is taking to co-ordinate the activities of the various Government Departments affected by the official blacklisting of 49 British companies by the Governments of Jordan and Syria.

The Prime Minister

Constant contact on the boycott, as it affects this country, is maintained between the Departments concerned.

Mr. Henderson

May I ask the Prime Minister whether there is any precedent for Governments which have friendly relations with Britain black-listing British firms for carrying on their legitimate trading interests with a third country such as Israel? Is not the action of these Governments quite inconsistent with the principles of the United Nations Charter?

The Prime Minister

I think that it is inconsistent and deplorable, and that has been made clear; but the right hon. Gentleman was asking about the coordination of action by Government Departments, and I am satisfied that we can give the firms all the help that they need.

Mr. W. Yates

Would not the Prime Minister agree that this question concerning the companies also involves Israel's interest to extract the waters of the Jordan shortly, and that this is part of the propaganda before it?

The Prime Minister

That is another question.

Mr. Snow

May I ask the Prime Minister whether he has considered the desirability of consultation with other nations who may be equally affected, for instance, the United States of America, since there appears to be some evidence that there is an incipient move towards a boycott of companies in that country as well?

The Prime Minister

I shall consult my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs on this matter of consultation with other countries. So far, this boycott has been directed against us.

Mr. S. Silverman

May I ask the Prime Minister whether he recalls that the Minister of State, when dealing with this matter the other day, without condoning it, nevertheless thought it right to remind the House that this problem arose out of the Arab States' contention that there is in existence a state of war with Israel? Does not the right hon. Gentleman consider that this nonsense of an unreal state of war being used as a foundation for all kinds of mischief all over the world is one which the Government might take some step to endeavour to bring to an end?

The Prime Minister

I have deplored many times in this House, and in other places, mixing up politics and economic relations.