HC Deb 24 May 1966 vol 729 cc279-80
Q5. Mr. John Lee

asked the Prime Minister if he will commission an official history of the operations in Egypt in 1956.

Q8. Mr. Michael Foot

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement to the House on the compilation of an official history into the military operations in Egypt in 1956.

The Prime Minister

I do not think this is the right way of dealing with the situation, Sir.

Mr. Lee

Does not the Prime Minister agree that it is normally the practice to have an official history of a war? Should not this apply to an illegal war, even though it may be too late to punish the people responsible? Is it not time that this whole matter was cleared up?

The Prime Minister

The purely military aspects of the campaign were fully recorded in the despatches by the then commanding officer. It is a fact that recently published in more than one country authoritative works, memoirs and so on, have made it pretty plain that all we were told ten years ago about this operation was extremely misleading. Indeed, there is now strong prima facie evidence of the whole thing being a put-up job in advance of the fighting we were supposed to intervene to stop. I do not believe that an official history would be the way to deal with the situation. It can be dealt with only by hon. Members opposite giving the House the facts.

Mr. Foot

Regarding these recent publications, can the Prime Minister say whether the British Government have made representations to secure excisions from the recently published memoirs of General Dayan, the commander in charge of the Israeli Forces, or whether those excisions were made on the representations of those who participated in the original collusion?

The Prime Minister

There have been no representations made either to the Israeli Government or to General Dayan to cut out parts of his original memoirs relating to the very serious things to which I referred a few moments ago. The Government have no official knowledge of any such pressure.