HC Deb 27 February 1967 vol 742 cc94-5
23. Mr. Wall

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what steps are being taken to obtain the release of, or compensation for, the property of British nationals which, while subject to the terms of the Anglo-United Arab Republic Agreement of 1959, was re-sequestrated by the United Arab Republic Government under Proclamation 138 of October, 1961.

Mr. George Thomson

As I told the hon. Gentleman in a Written Answer on 23rd February, negotiations on various property matters are currently being pursued in Cairo. These include the matters to which the hon. Gentleman refers. The United Arab Republic Authorities have given Her Majesty's Government an undertaking that the negotiations will be concluded without delay as soon as the remaining details have been settled.

Mr. Wall

Is the Minister aware that these negotiations have been going on on and off for the past five years? In view of the fact that we have now assisted the United Arab Republic with credit guarantees, could not this have been made a condition of settling the matter?

Mr. Thomson

I am aware that these negotiations have been going on for a long time, and I hope that they are coming to a conclusion. I would have preferred it if the property settlement could have been signed at the same time as the debt agreement. The debt agreement was very much in our economic interests as well as in the interests of the United Arab Republic. It seemed better to go ahead and sign it and to allow the remaining details of the property agreement to be dealt with with a sense of urgency in the light of the undertaking we obtained.