asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that British subjects who are barristers-at-law and who have been practising in Egypt in the Consular Courts for many years are now unable to practise their profession owing to the change in consular jurisdiction as a result of the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty; whether any efforts are being made to assist those so affected to secure other employment; and, if so, what action has been taken?
The answers to the first two parts of the hon. Member's question are that the British Consular Court is being retained for personal status questions, and that this work constitutes, from a practical point of view, rather more than one-half of its previous jurisdiction. I cannot admit, therefore, that even those barristers in Egypt who practised solely before the British Consular Court are no longer able to practise their profession in Egypt. Nevertheless, efforts have been made to find alternative employment for the four barristers who desire it, but so far unsuccessfully because they are not of the right age or qualifications.
Is it the Government's view that these gentlemen must have known that there would be a change which would make it impossible for them to carry on their previous occupation? Is it not also true that, previous to last year, the idea was that if capitulations were to be abolished British jurisdiction would be substituted, in which case these gentlemen would have been able to continue practising. In these circumstances, would not the Government consider waiving the age limit and allowing them to practise?
The Government are doing their best, though they are under no obligation to these barristers. The position was fully stated in answer to a question by the hon. and gallant Member for Nuneaton (Lieut.-Commander Fletcher) on 13th July, to which I would refer my hon. Friend.