§ 10. Mr. RHYS DAVIES
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware of the dissatisfaction in Egypt consequent upon the difference in treatment meted out to offenders against the law as between the native and consular courts, where it is possible for an Egyptian to be sentenced to five years' penal servitude and a foreigner to only a fine for the same category of offence; and whether, in view of the efforts of the Egyptian Government to 1566 stamp out illegal traffic in narcotic drugs, he will take the necessary steps to remedy this state of things?
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir John Simon)
If the hon. Member, in suggesting that His Majesty's Government should take steps to remedy the matter to which he refers, implies that it is the British Consular Courts which fail to impose adequate penalties on drug traffickers, I can assure him that he is entirely mistaken. The law and procedure adopted in any Consular Court is, however, a matter for the particular foreign Government concerned. His Majesty's Government are only responsible for His Majesty's Courts in Egypt, and it has not been suggested to me that the penalties provided in the Egypt Order-in-Council (1930) are inadequate, or that the Court has hesitated in inflicting them on persons found guilty. They include, in cases of British subjects convicted of drug trafficking, not only a fine up to £500 and imprisonment with hard labour up to two years, but also deportation from Egypt. The last-mentioned provision is a most effective deterrent, and many sentences of imprisonment and deportation have been inflicted by His Majesty's Supreme Court for Egypt.
§ Mr. DAVIES
While there is no allegation at all in my question as to the administration of the British Consular Courts in Egypt, is it not true that the British Government is a party to the arrangement whereby all other Consular Courts, representing other countries, are involved; and, in view of that fact, will the right hon. Gentleman take some initiative to deal with the failure of the other Consular Courts in this respect?
§ Sir J. SIMON
I am glad that my hon. Friend has made it plain that, when he asked that the necessary steps should be taken to deal with certain things, he was not referring to any Court for which this country is responsible. The Consular Courts of other countries, of course, administer the law of the other countries, and I think the matter is primarily one for representations either from the League of Nations or from the Egyptian Government, not from ourselves.
§ Mr. DAVIES
Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to imply that the British Government cannot take the initiative in this matter?
§ Sir J. SIMON
No, I did not mean to imply that we can take no initiative. I have pointed out what is the real distribution of responsibility in the matter.