HC Deb 15 July 1963 vol 681 cc9-10
8. Mr. Skeet

asked the Lord Privy Seal what instructions he has given to his representative at the United Nations on the subject of free and unimpeded passage through the Suez Canal by the vessels of all nations; and what steps he is taking in the United Nations with a view to ensuring that the United Arab Republic, as owners and operators of the canal, comply with the Security Council's resolutions thereon.

Mr. Heath

There has been no recent occasion for instructions on this subject to be sent to our Permanent Representative in New York. Our views have been frequently expressed in the past and they are well known to the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Mr. Skeet

Is the Lord Privy Seal aware that in December last a Swedish vessel with a cargo of silver coin destined for an Italian port and to British consignees was stopped and the silver confiscated? Is it not high time that vessels were allowed by the U.A.R. to pass through the Canal irrespective of their country of origin and destination, and should not more positive statements be made by us in the United Nations to try to organise this?

Mr. Heath

At the time of this incident I made a statement to the House of Commons which was absolutely clear, and our views have also been made plain to the U.A.R. authorities. This matter has now been referred to the U.A.R. Prize Court. The insurers are in close touch with the Foreign Office and are being given all possible assistance. The seizure of the coins did not interfere with the passage through the Canal of the ship concerned.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Will the Lord Privy Seal represent to the Government of the U.A.R. that it is a pity to spoil their splendid record on improving the Canal and developing the traffic by failing to carry out the resolutions of the United Nations, to whom they owe so much?

Mr. Heath

The Government of the U.A.R. knew that we support the Security Council's resolutions, in particular that of 1st September, 1951, and the six principles embodied in the resolution of 13th October, 1956.