§ 61. Captain P. MACDONALD
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether there have been any further developments with regard to the Anglo-Persian oil concession in Persia; and whether he has had any intimation that the Persian Government is prepared to reconsider its attitude?
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. Eden)
I informed the House, in reply to a question by the hon. and gallant Member for East Lewisham on the 5th December that His Majesty's Minister at Teheran had on the 2nd December made the strongest representations to the Persian Government on this subject. I am now in a position to read to the House the text of the Note which Mr. Hoare then handed to the Persian Minister for Foreign Affairs. The Note was as follows:(1) His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom have taken cognisance of the terms of the letter addressed by the Minister of Finance to the Resident Director of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company on the 27th November. His Majesty's Government consider the action of the Persian Government in cancelling the Company's concession to be an inadmissable breach of its terms; they take a most serious view of the conduct of the Persian Government, and have instructed me to demand the immediate withdrawal of the notification issued to the Company.(2) Furthermore. I am directed to state that, while His Majesty's Government still hope that the Persian Government will be at pains to reach an amicable settlement in direct negotiation with the Company, His Majesty's Government will not hesitate, if the necessity arises, to take all legitimate measures to protect their just and indisputable interests.1791(3) Finally I have the honour to state that any damage to the Company's interests or interference with their premises or business activities in Persia.The Persian Government replied to these representations in a Note dated the 3rd December, received by His Majesty's Minister on the afternoon of the 5th December, which ran as follows:In reply to your respected Note of the 2nd December, I have the honour to state:His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom regarded this reply as wholly unsatisfactory and His Majesty's Minister at Teheran, under their instructions, has accordingly delivered to the Persian Government to-day a further Note in the following terms:
- (1) The Persian Government regards itself as within its rights in cancelling the D'Arcy concession and does not agree to withdraw the Note of the Minister of Finance to Mr. Jacks, the Director of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, announcing the cancellation of the concession. The Imperial Persian Government is of opinion that for some time past it has been entitled to take steps to cancel the D'Arcy concession and for a long time past the Persian Government has repeatedly pointed out the fact that the stipulations of the above mentioned concession are not in accord with the legitimate interests of Persia, and that it has not been satisfied with the situation arising from the above mentioned concession and with the conduct of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company; but, in the hope that the above mentioned Company would he prepared to amend their ways so as to satisfy the mind of the Government in the desired manner, it has waited in patience.
- (2) As the Minister of Finance has pointed out in the Note announcing the cancellation of the D'Arcy concession to the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, the Persian Government has not refused to enter into direct, discussions with the above mentioned Company with a view to the negotiation of a new concession which would safeguard in an equitable manner the rights and interests of Persia; hence the attainment of the desired result in this matter depends upon the good faith which the Company shows in this respect.
- (3) In reply to paragraph 3 of your respected Note, I have the honour to state that the Persian Government does not regard itself as responsible for any damage accruing to the Company, and responsibility for any damage which the Company may possibly suffer will rest on the Company itself."(1) His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom have had under consideration Your Excellency's Note of the 3rd of December replying to my Note of the 2nd of December in regard to the Persian 1792 Government's cancellation of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company's concession. I have the honour to inform Your Excellency that His Majesty's Government are unable to admit the validity of a unilateral cancellation of this concession. Such a cancellation is a confiscatory measure and a clear breach of international law committed against a British company and His Majesty's Government feel obliged to take the matter up in the exercise of their rights to protect the interests of their nationals. His Majesty's Government have from the outset, as pointed out in my Note of the 2nd of December, and as repeated in the statement made by the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in the House of Commons on the 5th of December, been anxious that an amicable settlement may be reached between the Persian Government and the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. His Majesty's Government cannot, however, regard the Persian Government's Note of the 3rd of December, as offering any satisfactory basis for such a settlement. As I explained on the 2nd of December, His Majesty's Government consider the action of the Persian Government in cancelling the concession to be an inadmissible breach of the terms of that instrument, and have therefore requested the withdrawal of the notification to the Company of the 27th of November. Since the Persian Government in their reply adduce no argument which can be regarded as in any way justifying their action, His Majesty's Government must reiterate their request.(2) Should the Persian Government he unwilling to withdraw their notification of the cancellation of the concession within one week from the date of the present Note, i.e., Thursday, the 15th of December, His Majesty's Government will have no alternative to referring the dispute which has arisen between them and the Persian Government in regard to the legality of the Persian Government's action, to the Permanent Court of International Justice at the Hague, as a matter of urgency, under the Optional Clause. In so doing His Majesty's Government would request the Court to indicate, under Article 41 of the Statute, the provisional measures which ought to be taken to preserve their rights.(3) Further, I am instructed to state that my Government do not accept the attitude outlined in paragraph 3 of your Note to the effect that the Persian Government cannot regard themselves as responsible for any damage accruing to the Company. On the contrary, I have the honour to inform Your Excellency categorically that His Majesty's Government will hold the Persian Government directly responsible for any damage to the Company's interests, any interference with their premises or business activities in Persia, or any failure to afford the Company adequate protection, and, in the event of any such damage occurring, His Majesty's Government will regard themselves as entitled to take all such measures as the situation may demand for that Company's protection.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
In reference to the last part of the statement, may I ask whether it means that if certain contingencies arise the Government propose to take measures, armed measures, against Persia? [Interruption.] I am asking what the Under-Secretary of State means by his statement.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
But the hon. Member went on, after making that statement, to say that His Majesty's Government would hold themselves free to take such measures as they thought fit. I want to know whether that means that in certain circumstances, while the matter is being arbitrated upon, His Majesty's Government might consider themselves obliged to take certain measures. I am bound to put a hypothetical question simply because of the hypothetical statement made by the hon. Member.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I should like to put a question to the Lord President of the Council, whether before any measures are taken, although the matter is referred to arbitration, the House will have an opportunity of discussing them.
§ The LORD PRESIDENT of the COUNCIL (Mr. Baldwin)
The right hon. Gentleman must know that it is perfectly impossible to answer hypothetical questions.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I must protest against the statement being made in this House in this fashion without anyone having had any notice that it was to be made.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
On a point of Order. I want to ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether I am entitled to move the Adjournment of the House on this matter?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
If the right hon. Gentleman will submit his proposal in writing at the end of Questions, I will deal with it.
§ Captain MACDONALD
May I be allowed now to put a supplementary question? I would ask the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether it is not a fact that the Persian Government are under a direct treaty obligation to protect the interests of this company in that territory; and whether it is not also a fact that it was on that condition that the company withdrew their own police force before the Persian Government undertook to protect this property?
§ Mr. THORNE
Are the Government prepared to issue. a White Paper giving the franchise, the number of years, the royalties to be paid, and the interests which the Government and other Members have in this company