HC Deb 20 November 1967 vol 754 cc917-8
24. Mr. Norman St. John-Stevas

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement of British policy in relation to the conflict between Israel and the Arab States.

Mr. George Brown

We have continued to work within the broad outlines of the policy I set out in my speech to the House on 2nd November. One side or other in the Middle East has found objection to each of the first two resolutions laid before the Council and it was therefore clear that neither resolution even if carried could produce results on the ground. After intensive consultation, I therefore decided last week that Great Britain should table a resolution which I believe sets out a position with which both sides could live. It would enable the Security Council to contribute positively to a peaceful solution and to enable the Secretary General to appoint a representative to proceed to the area. The Security Council may reach a vote this evening.—[Vol. 753, c. 342–5.]

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for that reply, but can he say what progress he has made in securing the reopening of the Suez Canal? Would not the securing of that objective be a much more valuable contribution towards solving our balance of payments problem than devaluation?

Mr. Brown

As I said in reply to earlier Questions, the reopening of the Suez Canal must be of major national interest to ourselves as it is of major national interest to many other countries. That is why I gave the Answers that I did earlier. I am sure that, through all the work now being done in New York, we must try to get a resolution of this kind, and then proceed to the kinds of solutions that will lead to the attainment of that desirable objective.

Sir B. Janner

Can my right hon. Friend say why he does not support a meeting of the two parties particularly concerned in this matter in order to see that a settlement is arrived at between them? Is he aware that if the parties did meet it would be only a very short time before a settlement was arrived at?

Mr. Brown

I am not aware of that as a fact. I am aware of it as an opinion of some people, but it is not an opinion that I share.