HC Deb 19 June 1967 vol 748 cc176-8W
67. Mr. G. Campbell

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the latest situation in the Middle East.

Mr. George Thomson

My right hon. Friend will be leaving for New York this evening. In the Middle East itself the cease-fire continues to hold, although there have been reports of an exchange of fire between Syrian and Israeli troops. Her Majesty's Government continue however to be concerned about the human problems resulting from the hostilities and in particular about the flow of refugees into Jordan. As I told the House, we have made arrangements for the despatch of emergency supplies to Jordan and blankets and medicines are being sent from British Government stocks in Cyprus. We have also made a substantial additional contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and have told the Jordanian Government that we are willing to provide a grant of £500,000 for expenditure on urgent rehabilitation and reconstruction projects in Jordan to be agreed between the two Governments.

All British subjects who wished to leave Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Jordan and the Lebanon have now been assisted to do so. I should like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the efforts of our representatives in these countries who have carried out their difficult tasks with great calmness and efficiency. I should add that no reports of serious injury to British subjects in any of these countries have reached us. Arrangements are also under way for the evacuation of the British nationals among the passengers on board the ships stuck in the Suez Canal. Crews are also being reduced to the minimum number sufficient to enable the ships to sail to a nearby port once the Canal is reopened.

Mr. Judd

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what action his Department is taking to co-operate with and support voluntary relief agencies in starting relief operations in the Middle East following the Israel/Arab war; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. George Thomson

Her Majesty's Government have been in close touch with the principal voluntary relief agencies, in particular the Red Cross, with a view to co-ordinating the emergency relief measures Her Majesty's Government have taken with those of the voluntary organisations. With regard to Her Majesty's Government's own initiative on relief operations for the refugees in Jordan, I would refer to my Written Answer on 15th June to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Fortescue). I am glad to report that arrangements are now in hand for flying to Jordan blankets and medical supplies donated by Her Majesty's Government.—[Vol. 748, c.122.]

Mr. Wall

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on British Government property damaged or burned in the Middle East, together with the number of British businesses that have been nationalised or damaged; and the action the Government proposes to take to obtain reparation or compensation.

Mr. William Rodgers

There has been considerable damage to British Government property in Jerusalem, Alexandria, Port Said, Benghazi, Tunis, Algiers, Aleppo and Basra.

So far as is known no British businesses were nationalised during the recent hostilities. There has been some damage to British business premises but few details are yet available.

The Government are considering what steps they should take to obtain reparation or compensation and have already approached certain Governments in the area.

Mr. Alan Lee Williams

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what offers of assistance have been given to the International Committee of the Red Cross to help refugees homeless as a result of the war in the Middle East.

Mr. William Rodgers

Stores of blankets and medical supplies made available from Ministry of Defence stocks in Cyprus are to be flown to Jordan in an aircraft of the International Red Cross. The hon. Gentleman will be aware of other steps the Government are taking to alleviate the sufferings of the victims of the conflict in the Middle East; in particular an additional contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and the grant of £½ million to the Government of Jordan for reconstruction and rehabilitation.

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