§ 48. Mr. G. Jeger
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how far the matters being discussed with the Egyptian Government concern the payment of compensation in respect of British soldiers killed in Egypt and the refusal to permit their bodies to be returned to Britain for burial.
§ Mr. Eden
The matter of compensation for British soldiers killed in Egypt is one of a number of matters outstanding between the Egyptian Government and ourselves on which I hope we shall teach a satisfactory settlement in due course. Meanwhile, we are seeking to restore conditions in which these tragic incidents are less likely to occur.
With regard to the second part of the Question, the Egyptian Government do not expressly forbid the return of the bodies of British soldiers to this country for burial. But for climatic reasons it is customary to effect burial in the Near East within 24 hours from the time of death and Egyptian health regulations preclude exhumation for a further period of one year.
§ Mr. Jeger
Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that there are a number of families in this country who feel very deeply about their loved ones being killed and buried in a foreign land, when they are quite willing to bear the expenses of the bodies being returned home? Will he say when they can expect some compensation for what is nothing less than murder?
§ Mr. Eden
I think we do understand the feelings of those concerned, but the hon. Gentleman will remember that during the war many of our soldiers were buried out there and that the reasons for not bringing the bodies home are largely climatic. If there were a crematorium there, it might be easier to handle this matter, but, unfortunately, there is not.