HL Deb 31 October 1956 vol 199 cc1228-30

My Lords, I beg to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government for the following information on the Suez Canal Users' Association, which was inaugurated on the 1st October, 1956; its precise functions and objects; its members, and how many of them have first-hand knowledge or experience of the control, either of the Suez Canal, or of shipping using it; whether the membership is the same as that of the Second London Conference which set up the Users' Association, and to whom does the Association report.]


My Lords, the functions and objects of the Suez Canal Users' Association are laid down in the Declaration of September 21 providing for the establishment of the Association. As this Declaration is rather long, with your Lordships' permission, I will circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT. The purposes of the Association are conveniently summarised in the Statement which accompanied the Declaration as follows: This Association is designed to facilitate any steps which may lead to a final or provisional solution of the Suez Canal problem. It will further co-operation between the Governments adhering to it, concerning the use of the Canal. For this purpose it will seek the co-operation of the competent Egyptian authorities pending a solution of the larger issues. It will also deal with such problems as would arise if the traffic through the Canal were to diminish or cease. The members of the Association are the Governments of fifteen of the countries which were represented at the second London Conference, namely Australia, Denmark, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Iran, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. These Governments are all closely concerned with the Suez Canal problem, either because of their shipping interests or because a considerable proportion of their foreign trade passes through the Canal. Since the Association is an organisation of Governments, the question of reporting to a higher body does not arise.

Following is the Declaration:




I. The Members of the Suez Canal Users' Association (S.C.U.A.) shall be those nations which have participated in the second London Suez Conference and which subscribe to the present Declaration. and any other adhering nations which conform to criteria to be laid down hereafter by the association.

II. S.C.U.A. shall have the following purposes:

  1. (1) to facilitate any steps which may lead to a final or provisional solution of the Suez Canal problem and to assist the members in the exercise of their rights as users of the Suez Canal in consonance with the 1888 Convention, with due regard for the rights of Egypt;
  2. (2) to promote safe, orderly, efficient and economical transit of the Canal by vessels of any member nation desiring to avail themselves of the facilities of S.C.U.A. and to seek the co-operation of the competent Egyptian authorities for this purpose:
  3. (3) to extend its facilities to vessels of non-member nations which desire to use them;
  4. (4) to receive, hold and disburse the revenues accruing from dues and other sums which any user of the Canal may pay to S.C.U.A., without prejudice to existing rights, pending a final settlement;
  5. (5) to consider and report to Members regarding any significant developments affecting the use or non-use of the Canal;
  6. (6) to assist in dealing with any practical problems arising from the failure of the Suez Canal adequately to serve its customary and intended purpose and to study forthwith means that may render it feasible to reduce dependence on the Canal;
  7. (7) to facilitate the execution of any provisional solution of the Suez problem that may be adopted by the United Nations.

III. To carry out the above-mentioned purposes:

  1. (1) the members shall consult together in a Council on which each member will be represented;
  2. (2) the Council shall establish an Executive Group to which it may delegate such powers as it deems appropriate;
  3. (3) an Administrator, who shall, inter alia, make the necesary arrangements with shipping interests, will be appointed to serve under the direction of the Council through the Executive Group.

IV. Membership may at any time be terminated by giving 60 days' notice.


My Lords, in thanking the noble Marquess for his statement, may I ask whether he would deal with the position of the executive committee, of which I. had no knowledge at the time when my Question was drafted?


My Lords, the position of the executive group, as it is properly called, is this. As the noble Lord will see when he studies the Declaration, there was a provision that to carry out the purposes specified in the Declaration, the members should consult together in a Council on which each member should be represented, and the Council should establish an executive group to which it may delegate such powers as it deems appropriate. The executive group consists of six countries. Perhaps that gives the noble Lord the information he desires.


My Lords, may I thank the noble Marquess for his very full answer, which will require some study.

Forward to