Supply of Arms

Oral Answers to Questions — Egypt – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 2nd July 1956.

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Photo of Mr John Peyton Mr John Peyton , Yeovil 12:00 am, 2nd July 1956

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if, in view of departure of the last British troops from the Canal Zone, he will now stop the export of arms to Egypt.

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

No, Sir. Her Majesty's Government's policy on arms to the Middle East countries, including Egypt, remains as stated in my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for East Aberdeenshire, (Sir R. Boothby) on 28th March.

Photo of Mr John Peyton Mr John Peyton , Yeovil

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that there will be some disappointment about that answer, and that public opinion in this country is inclined to demand such a cessation of exports, at least until such time as the Egyptian Government commence to honour both international agreements and international law and resume the normal courtesies of international behaviour?

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

I must say to my hon. Friend that I think it is unfortunate that he should add those comments to a Question about the departure of British troops from the Canal Zone. That agreement has been most punctilliously observed by both sides.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

But are we to understand that Her Majesty's Government are still exporting arms to Egypt at the present time? Is that the position? Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman regard that as a contribution to peace in the Middle East, which apparently is the objective of Her Majesty's Government?

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

What I said in answer to my hon. Friend was that our policy on the export of arms is governed by the answer of 28th March, which I invite the right hon. Gentleman to read again. Specific deliveries to any particular country come within the practice, which I have referred to before in answer to the right hon. Gentleman, that I would not give particulars of specific transactions.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

But is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that I am not asking him to give particulars or details of the export of arms to any particular country; I am merely asking him whether the Government are now at the present time exporting arms to Egypt?

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

If the right hon. Gentleman will put down a question which deals with a particular period, I will see whether I can answer it.

Hon. Members:

Now.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

Is my right hon. and learned Friend sure that none of the British arms exported to Egypt will be sent to North Africa to be used against our French Allies?

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

I have not said that at the present time arms are being exported to Egypt. What I have said is that the policy with regard to them is as laid down.

Photo of Mr Alfred Robens Mr Alfred Robens , Blyth

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman satisfied as at this date that the balance of arms in the Middle East is as complete as he has indicated that he wishes it to be?

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

I think that at the present time the balance is as has been indicated before in this Houseā€”I would say rather in favour of Israel.