HC Deb 11 May 1950 vol 475 cc94-5W
Mr. T. Reid

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will now make a further statement as to the position of British ships using the port of Beira.

Mr. Ernest Davies

Yes. My hon. Friend will recall that in my statement of 3rd April I said that negotiations had just been completed in Lisbon between the Governments of the United Kingdom, Southern Rhodesia and Portugal for an agreement for the development of the Port of Beira. I regret to have to state today that our expectation was not fulfilled by subsequent events. The facts are that, in the confident belief that the Portuguese Government had accepted the draft of the Convention as it stood on 31st March, our delegations left Lisbon between 1st April and 3rd April. On the afternoon of 4th April, however, the Portuguese Government raised certain fresh points about the Convention including one of substance which Sir Godfrey Huggins, who returned to Lisbon on 5th April to sign the Convention on behalf of his Government, and His Majesty's Ambassador in Lisbon, who was to have signed the Convention on behalf of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, found themselves unable to accept for incorporation in the Convention without giving their Governments an opportunity to examine the issues involved. Sir Godfrey Huggins was therefore obliged to continue his journey to Southern Rhodesia without having signed the Convention. Meanwhile, the Portuguese Government have informed His Majesty's Government in greater detail of the points which they wish to cover and this communication is under consideration in consultation with the Governments of the British Central African territories. The Portuguese Government have also informed His Majesty's Government that they are not prepared to sign the Convention until these outstanding points have been cleared up.