HC Deb 29 July 1957 vol 574 cc866-7
51. Mr. G. Nicholson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement regarding the claims against the Egyptian Government by the former British officials who were dismissed in 1951.

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd)

The former British officials of the Egyptian Government who were dismissed in 1951 have made claims against the Egyptian Government for breach of contract, loss of career and vexatious dismissal. During the negotiations for the 1954 Agreement with Egypt, Her Majesty's Government obtained from the Egyptian Government an undertaking to set up a Commission to deal with these claims. The Commission was set up and claims were submitted to it, but no awards had been announced up to the time when relations between the two countries were disturbed by the Egyptian nationalisation of the Suez Canal Company in July, 1956.

Her Majesty's Government undertook, in April of this year to help ex-officials suffering hardship through the nonpayment of their claims. The Anglo-Egyptian Re-settlement Board has been dealing with such cases of hardship as have been put to it. The Government have also agreed to present the claims of these officials to the Egyptian Government at the same time as a settlement of other claims is sought. We have undertaken to do everything we can to ensure that the Egyptian Government discharge their acknowledged obligation to compensate these ex-officials.

Mr. Nicholson

Would not my right hon. and learned Friend agree that this class of claimant is in a special position and that the matter has been hanging over them for a very long time? I know that my right hon. and learned Friend is favourably disposed towards them; can he not accelerate the settlement of this just claim which was made six years ago? Is he not aware that because of their peculiar position these people should be given priority over any other claimants?

Mr. Lloyd

I am very conscious of the facts to which my hon. Friend has referred. It was with those facts in mind that we obtained a broadening of the definition of "hardship" in the Anglo-Egyptian settlement.

If there is any case of hardship which my hon. Friend wishes to bring to my attention, it will be referred to the Resettlement Board and it will be dealt with by that Board.