HC Deb 26 June 1967 vol 749 cc89-107
The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. George Brown)

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House, I wish to make a statement on my visit to New York.

During the five days that I was in the United States I addressed the Emergency Session of the United Nations General Assembly; I had long and valuable talks in Washington with President Johnson and in New York with Mr. Kosygin and Mr. Gromyko, with Mr. Rusk, Monsieur Couve de Murville, and with the Foreign Ministers and other representatives of almost all the countries directly concerned in the Middle East crisis.

The main theme of my speech to the General Assembly was to emphasise the urgent need to begin to deal at once with practical problems—the things we could do and ought to be doing now. I spoke also about some of the elements which had to be included in any final settlement. In particular I referred to the provisions of the United Nations Charter which call for all countries to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity and political independence of any other country. I made it clear also that in our view all States in the Middle East had a right to live in genuine independence.

Speaking on the lines of the speech that I made in Nottingham just before I went I said that territorial aggrandisement as a result of war was contrary to the provisions of the United Nations Charter and that other elements in a final settlement must be a long overdue solution of the refugee problem, the necessity for free and innocent passage through international waterways for the ships of all nations and the urgent requirement for an agreement on arms limitation. All this would, no doubt, require long and difficult negotiation and it is too early to see the outcome. Meanwhile there were certain practical steps which should be taken now. These, I said, included nomination by the Secretary-General of a representative, of unquestioned standing, who should go at once to the area and advise on the whole range of problems resulting from the cease-fire. In particular he could make recommendations for strengthening the work of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation and upon the form which a new United Nations military presence in the Middle East might take. There were, I said, a range of urgent problems also relating to those who had had to flee from their homes as a result of the war. Not only must they be allowed to return to their homes, but the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and the voluntary organisations must be provided urgently with the means of relieving their distress.

Apart from these problems I spoke of the urgent need to get the Suez Canal open again and I dealt very firmly with the vicious allegations about British involvement in the fighting. I ended my speech with a solemn warning that if the United Nations made no progress in solving these problems, there was a very real danger that it might go the way of the League of Nations.

I had in fact been the first speaker to emphasise the need to tackle urgent practical problems now and I was encouraged by the degree of support that I received for this from those speakers who followed me. The speech was I think well received in the United Nations itself and in newspaper, television and radio comment in New York. I gather that it has had a more mixed reception in this country. I must emphasise that we must at all costs avoid falling into the trap of applying a double standard. Would a similar line have been taken if the war had gone the other way—if, for example, the Arab air force had struck first and if Arab armies had occupied significant parts of the territory of Israel? What would then have been said about the permanent retention of territorial gains made by conquest?

As for the status of Jerusalem, may I remind the House of the attitude of successive British Governments in the past. The Armistice Agreement between Israel and Jordan in 1949 left the city divided between Israel and Jordan and this de facto partition persisted until the recent hostilities. But a General Assembly resolution of 9th December, 1949, provided that there should be a unified city under international control. Her Majesty's Government, along with most other Western Governments, have always withheld recognition of the claims to sovereignty over Jerusalem by both Jordan and Israel pending a final settlement. For this reason our Embassy in Israel, like those of most other countries, is in Tel Aviv and not in Jerusalem. Our Consul-General in Jerusalem is subordinate neither to the Ambassador in Tel Aviv nor to the Ambassador in Amman but directly to the Foreign Office.

I therefore went on in my speech in New York to warn the Israel Government not to inject another complication into the situation which is already more than sufficiently complicated by purporting to annex the old city. This is not simply a problem of religious administration of the Holy Places. It is not simply a problem of access to the Holy Places. Of course, we are all in favour of free access by all—Jews, Christians and Moslems—to their places of worship. The problem is one of sovereignty over territory and the Israel Government would, in my view, be very unwise indeed to attempt to prejudge the form of an eventual settlement. I am not asking for a return to a divided Jerusalem. Nor do I want to forecast what the eventual arrangements may be, except to repeat what I said in New York, that any lasting settlement of which they form part must, among other things, clearly recognise the right of all States concerned to live in true dignity and true freedom.

I spent the rest of my time discussing the Middle East crisis and bilateral problems with those who had come to New York to attend the Assembly. It would not be proper to go into details of confidential discussions, but the House may take it that I left the three Arab delegates concerned in no doubt whatever about our attitude to their completely unjustified interruption of our oil supplies and to the closure of the Suez Canal. This is a matter in which we must, of course, work with our friends who share an interest in getting the Canal reopened. I might add that this interest is not all one-sided; the United Arab Republic itself is a heavy loser as a result of the closure of this international waterway. I also had valuable talks on matters of mutual interest with representatives from areas other than the Middle East.

As regards the future, much will depend on the outcome of the talks which took place between President Johnson and Mr. Kosygin. I would expect the debate in the United Nations Assembly to continue for at least a week and maybe longer. During this time there will be much discussion on the floor and behind the scenes of the kind of resolution which would command a majority vote in the Assembly. Her Majesty's Government are, of course, taking a full part in these discussions. It is too early to say what will be the outcome.

I believe that my visit to New York enabled me to urge upon all in the United Nations the vital necessity of tackling the immediate practical problems. I was also able to make clear in my speech and in my numerous private discussions that the main interest of the United Kingdom is in a lasting settlement acceptable to all parties: equitable and, therefore, justifiable.

Mr. Heath

We are grateful to the Foreign Secretary for making this statement. I hope he realises that the reason for what he described as the mixed reception to his speech here is that by his emphasis of the non-aggrandisement followed immediately in that particular part of his speech by his reference to Jerusalem, he appeared to be doing exactly what he said he did not wish to do, which was to forecast what the eventual arrangements are going to be. This, in fact, appeared to be a return to the exact status quo from which the trouble had originally sprung. May I therefore put to him this question? Is it his view that the final frontiers remain to be settled as one part of the total final package arrangement?

I should like to return to the other matters that he mentioned. As to the denial of the participation of British troops in the crisis, I noticed that he said in his speech, as a demonstration of this, that he had placed the ships' logbooks in the Library of the House of Commons where they were available for anybody to see and read them. This is not really the case. Is this sufficiently strong action to prove to the rest of the world that there was no participation?

Thirdly, as far as the opening of the Canal is concerned, the House is most anxious to learn exactly what the position is about the Canal being closed. What is the reason for it? How did it happen? Where exactly is it closed? Is there any reason why the four British ships should not be allowed to go out to the south?

Finally, about the British refugees—those who are refugees from Middle Eastern countries—coming back to this country, what are the Government now doing to look after them?

Mr. Brown

I will do my best to deal with all of those matters. If I miss any one of them, no doubt I shall be reminded.

On the first point, about what I said and how the right hon. Gentleman got it wrong—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—yes, if the right hon. Gentleman had, in fact, waited to read my speech, and in particular paragraphs 19 to 22, he would have seen that one follows immediately after the other, and the real point was that the misunderstanding so far as he was concerned was that, not for the first time—[Interruption.]—I shall be much obliged if the right hon. Gentleman will listen. He made the charge, after all. He took a shortened and, therefore, inevitably distorted passage in a newspaper and fastened on that to say that I had somehow misled anybody. In fact, if he had read it he would see that in paragraph 19 I start with Jerusalem and in paragraph 22, only three paragraphs later, I deal with the question of the rights of all States to live. The whole thing forms one whole.

I simply do not accept from the right hon. Gentleman or from anybody else that I was in any way responsible for any misunderstanding there was in this House the other night. We are in too much of a hurry in this place to take newspaper, shortened reports and assume that that is exactly what is done.

On the question of the frontiers, I recall that quite clearly in the speech. I made it quite clear in my statement today. When we come to a final settlement, the right of the States to live in true dignity, in freedom, to be able to earn their living in peace—that is what I said in New York; that is what I believe—that will have to be balanced against some other demands that will be made. I do not think this is the moment to prejudge all that.

On the question of the log-books, yes I did believe when I was in New York that they had already been placed in the House of Commons. I now learn that it took rather longer to collect them from the ships, but they are now here and they will be in the Library in a day or so—certainly in the next day or two—and the point will, therefore, be very easily cleared up. I apologise for the delay, but maybe I assumed too much. I thought it might be a simple matter to collect them and I assumed too much. There is no reason for smiling about it or giving the impression that there is anything here but the ordinary practical business of collecting them from ships which are dispersed about the seas. But they will be there in their proper form in the next day or two.

As to the Canal, it is in fact blocked in two different areas between Ismailia and Port Said and at the southern end. I think it is reasonable to assume that it was blocked by ships or other obstacles which were placed there by the Egyptians. It is, as I said when I was in New York, a matter of great urgency to persuade the Egyptians or use some other means of getting it open.

Concerning our own ships—[Interruption.]—I have not the slightest intention of sending a gunboat. I suggest to the Opposition that we should treat this with a bit of sense. We want at the end of this crisis a lasting settlement which will carry everybody with us. As I said in my speech, this is a moment to concert with our friends who are also involved. There are 13 ships in that area and we have four of them. There are a lot of other countries involved. I am in touch with them and we all believe that, given what the Egyptians are losing by keeping the Canal shut, given that we have our passengers and most of our crews off, it would be a wrong thing at this moment to go crowding in on the issue. We are acting in concert as to what should be done, when it should be done and how it should be done. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) the other day asked why we do not seek an injunction in the International Court.

Mr. Sandys

I never said anything of the sort.

Mr. Brown

I thought I had read it in HANSARD. It would be a mistake at this moment, for a number of reasons, to move in on that issue. It is better to take it, as we are all agreed, at the present rate of progress.

On British subjects, we have got most of them home. The bulk of those who stayed behind are in Israel. There are some wives who staved elsewhere. We have looked after them as they have come home and have seen to them. We have reserved all our rights for compensation for property and other kinds of disturbance and we are currently in touch with each of them to see what they have suffered as a result.

Mr. Heath

From this side of the House we have been trying to elucidate what the Foreign Secretary's speech meant and that is what we were trying to do with the Prime Minister last Thursday afternoon, as I think the Prime Minister will agree.

The Foreign Secretary must not think that absence in New York for a week is sufficient ground for ignorance of what the Press of this country, the rest of the world and Members of this House have been saying. What I said in the House was that his speech had been widely interpreted and, when one reads it in full, it is still open to that interpretation. The Foreign Secretary had better realise it.

Secondly, what evidence was there that Israel was intending formally to annexe the Old City of Jerusalem? No evidence was or has been produced. The Foreign Secretary owes it to the House to say so.

Lastly, concerning the denying of the lie about British participation, my point is that the House of Commons Library is not open to the rest of the world to come and examine the log-books of British ships. If the Foreign Secretary wants to deny that he must take more active steps to do so.

Mr. Brown

On the last point, the only man I have met in the last five days who cast any doubts on the lie being a lie appears to be the right hon. Gentleman [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] If the right hon. Gentleman wants to mix it, we will mix it. There was nobody in New York who believed this or who cast doubt upon our denials any longer, and the Egyptian representative, Dr. Fawzi, did not even include it in his speech. If I were the right hon. Gentleman I would drop that one as fast as I could.

As to the Press, five days' absence from this country will never make me ignorant of the misrepresentations which appear in our Press. Nor will it ever lead me to the extent to which the right hon. Gentleman makes up his other deficiencies by seizing on them and trying to use them.

On annexation, the right hon. Gentleman says there was never any evidence; and I ought to tell the House, as he must well know, having served in the Foreign Office, there are things that one cannot in fact say in public. But he must take it from me—[Interruption.] When he has finished muttering, may I say to him that there is a very distinguished team of people who serve in our posts abroad most of them known to him, and a very distinguished team of advisers, on all of whom he relied. I had every reason to take the moment for saying what I said.

Mr. Heath

In view of the Foreign Secretary's—[Interruption.]—

Mr. Speaker

Order. There are a lot of questions to be asked. I hope we can have quiet.

Mr. Heath

As I was the first to support the Prime Minister's statement that British troops had not taken part in any operations in the Middle East, I challenge the Foreign Secretary to produce any evidence that I have ever believed it myself and I call upon him now to withdraw. It is much too soon for him to behave like the Prime Minister.

Mr. Brown

One tells the honest truth. It is a wee bit late. We once tried together.

The real point is that the remarks which the right hon. Gentleman has just made seem to me to do less than justice to the position of our country and that is why I said what I said.

Mr. Thorpe

I would ask the Foreign Secretary three questions. First, is it not unfortunate that the Foreign Secretary has come down to this House to explain what he really meant in a speech, whether made either in this Chamber or at the United Nations?

Secondly, having read the speech carefully in full, would he not agree that it is unbalanced to refer to withdrawals in the context of Article 2 without any reference to the threat to the integrity of Israel which started this up?

Thirdly, would he not agree that it would be unethical if our present stand now were to indicate that we are seeking to revive friendship with the Arab countries at the price of selling the Israelis down the river?

Mr. Brown

On the question of the unbalanced nature of the speech, this has now got a good deal of currency. I would say to the right hon. Gentleman that no one who heard it thought it was unbalanced, neither the British correspondents who were there, nor my colleagues, nor the other countries—not any commentator. It is for him to say whether it is as good a speech as he would have made in the circumstances. However, it is balanced and it does include the reference which he says is missing, which suggests that perhaps he has not read it as clearly as he thought.

It is no good the Leader of the Opposition looking at paragraph 18. He must come down to paragraph 22. The references are there and it is balanced but there is a problem that I have had to face and, with respect, everyone who has ever held this position in whatever Government has had to face it. The moment one balances considerations for the case of the Arabs with that of the Israelis, then one is under enormous pressures for being unbalanced for that reason. I am not the first Foreign Secretary to suffer from this difficulty.

On the question of appeasing the Arabs at the expense of Israel, that is never a charge that could ever be really levied at me with any justice. For very highly personal reasons, I have every reason for caring about the integrity, peaceful defence and the right to live of Israel and there is not the slightest chance of my forgetting that. Britain has important, vital interests in that part of the world and a British Foreign Secretary has to consider them as well as other things. That is what I was trying to do.

Mr. William Hamilton

Will my right hon. Friend assure us that there is no conflict between what appears in paragraph 18 of his speech, referring to territorial aggrandisement, and paragraph 23, referring to free access to international waterways? Can he say whether there has been any response by the Israeli Government to his suggestion that Jerusalem should be regarded as more or less an international free city in view of what is reported in the Press today about the attitude of the Mayor of Jerusalem to this matter?

Mr. Brown

No doubt there are many arguments going on in Israel and there are different views there about how Israeli interests would be best safeguarded. I would rather not comment on them. I have had no comment from the Israeli Government about the question of Jerusalem's future, nor would I expect it at the moment. But I said in my speech that this must be part of the final settlement. There are other things to be taken into account. I do know that no annexation of the Old City has taken place and I am relieved about that. I do not believe that there can be any conflict between what I said in paragraph 18—the paragraphs are so numbered for convenience—and what I said in paragraph 23 regarding the question of territorial aggrandisement being outlawed by Article 2 of the Charter. It is something by which we are all bound.

The Government of that time was not from this party. It was from the party opposite and we are all bound by what was then worked out and signed. It applies to everybody. It applies when it comes to shutting waterways which should be kept open. It applies when it comes to taking over somebody else's territory. I am not willing to choose between the two because one is more convenient to me than another.

Mr. Shinwell

Does not my right hon. Friend appreciate that his desire to ensure a lasting and peaceful settlement in the Middle East is shared by every right hon. and hon. Member? There is no dispute about that. Does he also appreciate that his warning to Israel on the subject of territorial aggrandisement created the impression that he was condemning Israel, that he was prejudging the intentions of the Israelis before seeking to ascertain the facts?

In view of the conversations he had with Mr. Kosygin, President Johnson and others, did he seek a conversation with the Israeli Foreign Minister before he made his speech at the United Nations in order to ascertain what the intentions of the Israeli Government were? Did he do so?

My right hon. Friend has spoken about what might have happened if the Arabs had gained the victory. Does not he recall the threat by the Arab States and President Nasser of annihilation of Israel? How then would the question of territorial aggrandisement emerge?

Mr. Speaker

Order. Before I call the Foreign Secretary to reply, I would point out that many right hon. and hon. Members wish to ask questions. If the questions are very long, we shall not get many.

Mr. Brown

I am obliged to my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) for his kindly opening. I share the same thing. As to whether I discussed my speech with Mr. Eban before I made it, the answer is that I most certainly did not. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] I am about to explain if the House will hold itself for a second.

Many delegates, many other Foreign Ministers, many Prime Ministers, wanted to see me before I made my speech. I decided that, if I saw any of them before I spoke, there was the gravest risk of its being alleged that what I said was due to the influence of someone or other. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] For this reason—because I had reason to worry about what was going to happen and I wanted to do what I could to ensure that it did not happen.

With regard to the Arabs and previous threats, I have taken exactly the same stand with them as I have taken with the Israelis. I repeat that our business is to maintain a long-standing, traditional and very profitable friendship with the Arabs and the Israelis and I will try to hold it this way. I ask my right hon. Friend not to ignore the value to us of our friendship with the Arabs and not to ignore the contribution we need to make in that area. But any idea that I will engage in double talk can be written off straight away.

I spoke to every single delegate in New York privately, just as I did in public, in exactly the same terms and they all know the basis on which I think a settlement should emerge.

Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid

Can the Foreign Secretary say whether, having failed to speak to the Israeli Foreign Secretary before he made his speech, he took the opportunity of speaking to him afterwards?

Mr. Brown

There was no failure to speak to him beforehand. Would I have spoken to the Egyptians beforehand? Would I have spoken to the Saudi Arabians beforehand? Why does one choose the Israelis as the one to whom one speaks to beforehand while refusing to speak to all the others?

I took the decision that the right position for Her Majesty's Foreign Secretary was to make a speech on behalf of Her Majesty's Government and of this House before I discussed the merits of it with anybody else's Foreign Minister. After I had made the speech, I saw the Israeli Foreign Minister twice—twiceand I saw everybody else—every Arab, African and Asian who was concerned in the dispute—at least once, many of them also twice, and I cannot believe that anybody else in my position would have done it any other way round.

Mr. John Hynd

While it would be difficult for anyone to object to the principle of no territorial aggrandisement as a result of the war, may I ask my right hon. Friend to give an assurance that his words do not mean that he expects Israel to withdraw, during a state of war which she did not wish for but which has been insisted upon throughout by Colonel Nasser, thereby leaving the Gulf of Aqaba and free access to her own territory again to be subject to Arab aggression?

Mr. Brown

The right hon. Gentleman will see that in the speech which I made I dealt with the question of withdrawal. I said publicly, as I said privately, to everyone to whom I spoke, that withdrawal would be unrealistic unless some other issues were faced by other people. That is in the speech and was said privately. On the question of the Gulf of Aqaba, I believe that one of the things that we must do is to get that international seaway, as well as others, opened up on terms that will ensure that no one will again be in an6y doubt as to their continuance and their remaining open.

Mr. Maudling

The Foreign Secretary referred to the response to his speech in New York as being a good one. Is he aware that those of us who were in New York last week did not entirely share that impression? Certainly my reading of the American Press was that they took the remark about territorial aggrandisement as Seine very unbalanced? Will the Foreign Secretary, following up the question immediately before, make it absolutely clear that in talking about territorial aggrandisement he did not rule out the negotiated alterations of frontiers in order to ensure security in future?

Mr. Brown

On the first part of the question, I am surprised that we can both equally misread the American Press as well as the British Press. This was not my view, maybe I am biased. Equally, it was not the view of anyone with me and it was not, with respect, the view of any other politician to whom I talked—American or any other. It is for someone else to judge as between the right hon. Gentleman's impression and mine.

On the latter point, I frankly believe that these are issues that have to come out in the final settlement, which I want to be a lasting settlement. I want it to be acceptable, equitable and justifiable. It will take some little time to reach, and I do not think that I would help very much by prejudging it and offering a view now as to what ought to be done.

Mrs. McKay

Does my right hon. Friend appreciate, and will he make it known to our friends that, profit motive apart, this Government appreciate that the Arab nations have long-standing grievances, grievances which should be understood, examined and rectified?

Mr. Brown

I recognise, as I said the other day, that the Arab nations, like Israel, have a case which should be heard, listened to and dealt with. That I do firmly accept. Let me make it absolutely plain that there is no doubt in my mind, or in that of Her Majesty's Government, that Israel has lived under provocations and difficulties which should equally be taken care of. There is nothing more uncomfortable than trying to maintain a genuinely neutral rôle. Like everyone else, I have views and I have to try to relate them to realities. We have to see that both cases are heard, are dealt with and are dealt with fairly—[An HON. MEMBER: "Both cases."]—Having said that, I do not want to be misunderstood as meaning that one case is less strong than the other.

Mr. Sandys

Having talked so big about reopening the Gulf of Aqaba and done so little at a time when this might have prevented the war, does not the right hon. Gentleman feel that he is hardly in a position to lecture Israel about her future frontiers?

Mr. Brown

I would not know about that. It is time that the right hon. Gentleman sent me another letter, which I can answer. Whether I talk big and do so little is for him to say, but for others to decide. It is not a question of lecturing Israel. May I say to the right hon. Gentleman, who is responsible for more messes across the world than any of us will ever achieve, that he would do better on this occasion not to talk in those terms.

Mr. Orme

Would my right hon. Friend accept that some of us welcome the emphasis that he placed on the United Nations when he was in New York? Arising out of that, may I ask what progress he has made with U Thant and the United Nations for getting the adviser into the Middle East as soon as possible? Secondly, can he say what the United Nations can do for the refugee problem?

Mr. Brown

I am much obliged to my hon. Friend for coming back to this. I believe this to be tremendously important. I discussed it at great length with U Thant. It would be wrong to say that I made a lot of progress, because it is rather early in the day. I discussed it at length with members of the Security Council, and with very many members of the Assembly. My right hon. and noble Friend Lord Caradon, who is our Minister there, is carrying on with the negotiations about this, and I hope that we will have worked out, before the end of this Assembly, an arrangement whereby it will come about.

On the question of refugees, it is now being worked on as to how we can arrange for them to be looked after. We have made funds and other comforts available in considerable quantities. We will go on doing that and will do all that we can to ensure that other people do so.

Mr. Walters

Will the Foreign Secretary comment on reports that U.N.W.R.A. can assist only those refugees who were made homeless in 1956? If this is so, it shows a very unsatisfactory situation, and something must be done to rectify it.

Mr. Brown

I do not accept that U.N.W.R.A. should help only those who were made homeless in 1956. One of the things I was trying to say in my opening statement was that I believed that U.N.W.R.A. should be strengthened so that it can work, not only for those, but also for those who have been made homeless as a result of recent hostilities. I think that it has a very great rôle to play in both cases.

Mr. Bellenger

May I ask my right hon. Friend if he has any knowledge of any other nations, besides our own, contributing towards the relief of the devastation and the sordid conditions there? With reference to what he says about a final settlement, can he say who will make it. Will it be the United Nations or will the belligerents settle it?

Mr. Brown

The second question is the Gulf of Aqaba?

Mr. Bellenger

No. My right hon. Friend mentioned a final settlement. Is the final settlement to be made by the United Nations or are the belligerents to do it directly?

Mr. Brown

This again is one of the issues to be worked out. I feel pretty sure, but I am not laying it down as a firm commitment, that it will be better for us all if it is done under United Nations aegis, however the original discussions emerge. I have a feeling that it will have to be a United Nations operation right the way through. Here let me say that the permanent members of the Council, in my view, have a very considerable rôle to play and a very great responsibility to bear. This I said firmly to Mr. Kosygin, this we discussed with our American friends and I discussed it with M. Couve de Murville. It is very true, and it may be that in the end it will be the permanent members of the Council who will be able to help edge this thing through. However it is done, at the end of the day it must be registered as a United Nations decision, and somehow operated and policed by it.

As to what other countries have contributed, quite a number have done so. I regret that I do not carry the names in my mind, but we are certainly not alone. I think that I am right in saying that Canada and Sweden, and quite a number of others have contributed.

Mr. Clark Hutchison

May I ask the Foreign Secretary, in conjunction with other foreign countries, what salvage vessels are we sending out to clear the Canal?

Mr. Brown

At the moment we are not sending any vessels out to clear the Canal, for the reasons I just gave. If the hon. Gentleman would just sit back and think about it for a moment he will see why I cannot think of anything that would be more useless. There are many other nations that are involved with us—

Mr. Clark Hutchison

I said that.

Mr. Brown

—in the freeway of the Canal. I ask the hon. Gentleman to take it from me that I am in the closest touch with them about what action to take, how to take it, who should take the lead and in what circumstances. I believe that in this respect I am at least following the right policy.

Mr. Mayhew

Is my right hon. Friend aware that he has no reason whatever to apologise for his speech, least of all to hon. Members opposite? Is he further aware that his ideas for a settlement, which are fully in line with the principles of the Charter, will get a wide welcome in this country, as will his statement this afternoon, and particularly his warning about applying double standards to the Arab-Israel struggle? Finally, is he aware that many people are looking to him to keep a steady course against the powerful and unrepresentative criticism and pressure against him?

Mr. Brown

I thank my right hon. Friend for much of what he said, particularly in view of the disagreements which we have had recently. Whether or not I ever have reason to apologise to the Opposition, certainly it was not my intention to do so today. I will keep as steady a course as I can.

Mr. Ian Lloyd

Since the suggestion that the station and ships' flying logs should be deposited with the United Nations is one which I personally made to the Foreign Secretary over 10 days ago, and since the suggestion that these logs should be deposited in the Library was made only, apparently, after no action had been taken for four days when the Arab propaganda was at its most extreme, can the Foreign Secretary say why there was this delay, which is far more important than the subsequent delay?

Mr. Brown

It is very unusual to publish the logs of one's ships. The Americans have not gone any further than saying that the United Nations can appoint accredited people to look at theirs. We are publishing ours. It is a very, very unusual step to take. It requires a good deal of thought before one takes it. I should not have thought that we should be attacked for doing it too quickly.

Mr. Paget

Would my right hon. Friend tell us which of the nations whose boundaries are to be adjusted as a result of the recent war are likely to be influenced by anything we say as to the decisions they take upon that subject? Would not we perhaps get less ill will if we were to keep rather quiet upon questions in which we have no power to make our influence felt?

Mr. Brown

There is a widely held view, I am told, that if one keeps quiet, people respect one the more. I am bound to tell my hon. and learned Friend that that is not my experience.

Sir G. Nabarro

In his talks with the Egyptians, did the Foreign Secretary have anything to say about the continuing attacks from the Yemen on the South Arabian Federation? Having regard to the heavy losses of British troops last week while he was in New York, what assurances did the right hon. Gentleman collect from Fawzi and others that they would desist in future?

Mr. Brown

I gather that Aden was discussed in my absence. I should be very willing to answer on that matter if somebody would wish me to do so. On the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, my talks with Dr. Fawzi were very full and covered a wide ground. I certainly would not intend to breach their confidential nature by going into them here.

Mr. Strauss

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his statement made it appear that he and the Government were completely opposed to any boundary adjustment which might secure to Israel some greater security against the permanent threat of extermination by armed force by the Arab countries? Can he give us categorical assurance that he did not have that in mind and that the question of boundary adjustments remains open as far as the Government are concerned?

Mr. Brown

I refer my right hon. Friend to what I said. If he will do me the honour of reading it, he will see that his supplementary question could not possibly have been based on what I said.

Several Hon. Members rose

Mr. Speaker

Order. I must—

Dame Irene Ward

On a point of order. Since the right hon. Gentleman said that he would answer questions on Aden, and as I was doing my best to find out what happened about the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, may I ask when he will answer those questions?

Mr. Speaker

Not at this stage. The hon. Lady must find some other way of raising the question.

Dame Irene Ward

Could he just answer—

Mr. Speaker

Order. Time is precious, and we have a lot to do.