§ 38 and 45. Mr. K. Robinson
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) if he is aware that members of the staffs of foreign Embassies and Legations in London have made inquiries of British firms designed to discover the race and religion of their workers, managers, directors and shareholders; and whether he will inform Ambassadors and Ministers of foreign countries in London that Her Majesty's Government will take a serious view of such actions by members of their staffs;
(2) whether he is aware that British firms are liable to be boycotted by Arab countries if they invest in an Israeli concern; and what steps he proposes to take to defeat such boycotts.
§ 42. Mr. Janner
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that threats against firms and even limited liability companies in Great Britain the members or shareholders of which are of the Jewish faith are being intensified both directly and indirectly through other countries; and whether he will bring the position to the attention of the United Nations for action, as being contrary to its Charter.
§ 48. Sir L. Plummer
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why the diplomatic representatives of Her Majesty's Government are only intervening in cases of threatened or actual boycott by Arab countries of British firms trading with Israel where in the judgment of those representatives the information of the Arab Central Boycott Committee on which the boycott is based is false.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd)
The views of Her Majesty's Government on this boycott have been frequently stated and representations have been made to the Governments concerned. I am aware that there have been new developments, and action has been taken in individual cases. I should be grateful if hon. Members would send me confidentially any further information about specific cases. I think this method may well be the more effective way of protecting British interests.
§ Mr. Robinson
While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for that reply, may I ask whether he will accept my assurance that these things have been going on and that anti-semitic activities are being carried on in London by the Embassies of the Arab countries? I shall certainly give the right hon. Gentleman the information for which he has asked.
§ Mr. Janner
Could the right hon. Gentleman not inquire into this matter and see whether anything can be done by one of the bodies in the United Nations in order that information available can be collected? It appears to be a very serious infringement of the Charter when there is definitely a decided attack being made upon nationals, not only of our country but of other countries, to prevent them from trading and from exercising ordinary human rights?
§ Mr. Lloyd
One of the difficulties, of course, is to compel a Government to trade with someone with whom the Government does not want to trade. The best method is not too much ventilation of the matter. If I can be given information about specific cases, I am more likely to get results if I am allowed to deal with the matter in that way.
§ Sir L. Plummer
Will not the right hon. Gentleman consult the President of the Board of Trade about an answer that has been given from the Middle East Department of the Board of Trade to the effect that diplomatic representatives of Her Majesty's Government are intervening only in cases where the information of the Central Arab Boycott Committee is false? This clearly means that our representatives abroad are not intervening where the legitimate rights of British exporters are concerned. Would the right hon. Gentleman make representations to the President of the Board of Trade that stronger action than this should be taken by his Department?
§ Mr. Llewellyn
Are there any cases where firms have given this information to the Embassies which inquired?
§ 44. Mr. K. Robinson
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether 232 he will make representations to the Government of the United States of America that Kamel Abdel Rahim, permanent representative of the Yemen to the United Nations, directs the Arab Boycott Committee's actions against British firms trading with Israel from the Arab Information Centre, 445, Park Avenue, New York City; and whether he will ask the United States Government to take the necessary steps to stop this anti-British activity.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
I have no information to this effect. If the hon. Gentleman will send me his evidence, I will consider the matter further.
§ Mr. Robinson
Would the Foreign Secretary not agree that this is a wholly inappropriate activity on the part of a representative of the United Nations and is his answer that this Arab information Centre has an income of 4 million dollars a year, mainly acquired from American oil companies? If he can confirm those facts, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman raise the matter with the United States Government?
§ 46. Sir L. Plummer
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that British shipping passing through the Suez Canal or the Strait of Tiran on the way to or from Israel is liable to be black-listed by Arab countries; that this black-listing results in such ships being denied normal port facilities, pilotage, and fresh water in Arab ports; and what steps he proposes to take to protect British shipping from such hostile action.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
Several Arab countries have for some time imposed restrictions on merchant ships of all nationalities which have traded with Israel. These restrictions include the denial of normal port facilities. Her Majesty's Government have made it clear on a number of occasions that we do not accept the legality of the Arab blockade of Israel. But we believe, and have constantly maintained, that the best way to bring the restrictions to an end is to work for a general settlement of the Arab Israel dispute.
§ Sir L. Plummer
Nevertheless the boycott continues. Would it not be in the best interests of everybody concerned if Her Majesty's Government were to take the shipping lines into conference with them and say that they would support them to the hilt in opposition to this boycott? Furthermore, will the Foreign Secretary consult our Allies to see that we present a united front against this interference with the freedom of the seas?
§ Mr Lloyd
As far as British ships are concerned, there is, in fact, not very much interference. If the hon. Member will give me particulars, I will willingly look into them. Ships of ours which go to Israel are usually dry cargo ships, which do not go through the Canal, and are therefore not affected by the blockade, but if he has any particular cases which can be brought to my attention, or if that is the view he has attributed to the shipping interests concerned, I will look into the matter again.