Oral Answers to Questions — United Arab Republic (British Firms)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 18th November 1963.

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Photo of Mr Patrick Wall Mr Patrick Wall , Haltemprice 12:00 am, 18th November 1963

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) what compensation the United Arab Republic Government are paying for British properties, factories and businesses that have been nationalised;

(2) what further nationalisation of British firms has been ordered by the United Arab Republic Government; and what compensation is being paid.

Photo of Mr Peter Thomas Mr Peter Thomas , Conway

United Arab Republic Law No. 72 of 12th August, and Presidential Decrees reported on 13th November, this year, extended complete nationalisation, as imposed in 1961, to about 400 further firms, more than half of which had already been partly nationalised. These measures are not particularly directed against British firms, but some British interests are bound to be affected.

The relevant United Arab Republic Laws provide for compensation in all such cases in the form of 4 per cent. United Arab Republic State Bonds with a 15-year term.

Photo of Mr Patrick Wall Mr Patrick Wall , Haltemprice

Could my hon. Friend say whether it is true that the total amount of compensation per head will be limited to £15,000 Egyptian in bonds? Could he also say whether any compensation has yet been paid and whether the property of British nationals resequestrated in October, 1961, has been returned?

Photo of Mr Peter Thomas Mr Peter Thomas , Conway

As for the first question, I am told that there is no such limit. Such a limit is to be applied to individual Egyptian shareholders, but Her Majesty's Government have been assured that it will not extend to foreigners. As for the question on the 1961 resequestration, we are continuing to press the United Arab Republic Government for a decision, but I am afraid that I cannot add anything to what was said by my right hon. Friend the then Lord Privy Seal on 2nd August. As to whether compensation has yet been paid, I should require notice of that question.

Photo of Mr Henry Hynd Mr Henry Hynd , Accrington

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that it is one thing for the Egyptian Government to make provision to pay compensation and quite another to get the money out of them and that there are a lot of claims still outstanding from the time of Suez? Can the hon. Gentleman bring pressure to bear to bring about a quick settlement of these claims?

Photo of Mr Peter Thomas Mr Peter Thomas , Conway

I assure the hon. Member that our embassy in Cairo has entered very full reservations of the rights of all British persons and concerns affected.