HC Deb 23 July 1952 vol 504 cc533-4
Mr. F. Maclean

(by Private Notice) asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the ruling given by the International Court of Justice at The Hague, he will make a statement regarding the Government's attitude to the disposal of oil from the wells and refineries of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in Iran.

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. Her Majesty's Government have made it clear on many occasions that they regard products of the oil industry in South Persia as the property of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and that all practical steps will be taken to prevent any attempt on the part of the Persian Government to dispose of this oil in any manner to third parties. The fact that the International Court of Justice has ruled that it itself is not competent to adjudicate upon the claim which Her Majesty's Government brought before it merely means that the Court cannot pronounce on the merits of the claim one way or the other. It does not in any way affect the validity of the claim, nor does it affect the undoubted right of Her Majesty's Government to continue to support one of its nationals, namely the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, in its attempts to secure satisfaction for the wrong it has suffered.

Mr. Maclean

Will my right hon. Friend not agree that whatever the technical, legal position, Her Majesty's Government have the right and the duty to protect legitimate British interests in Iran or anywhere else, and will he give the House an assurance that they will avail themselves of that right and perform that duty whatever the ruling of the International Court?

The Prime Minister

I think all the points mentioned in that supplementary were fully comprised in the original answer which I gave.

Mr. A. Henderson

Arising from the last question, may I ask the Prime Minister whether Her Majesty's Government will continue to give the good example which they have given in the past by bearing in mind the existence of the United Nations and the entitlement of Her Majesty's Government, if they so decide, to take this matter before the Security Council?

The Prime Minister

This is raising wide issues on a supplementary question, and I do not think I wish today to add to the statement I have already made to the House.

Mr. Gaitskell

Has the Prime Minister any information about contracts made by the Persian Government with consumers of oil in other countries?

The Prime Minister

I have no information which I could impart to the House today. If a Question were placed on the Paper, full consideration would be given as to how full a statement could be made to the House upon the subject.