HC Deb 19 March 1956 vol 550 cc807-8
10. Mr. Philips Price

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what advice he has tendered to the Sheikh of Bahrein through the British Resident there about associating the people of the sheikdom more actively with the government of the territory.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

Her Majesty's Government are not responsible for the internal affairs of Bahrein. But, in view of our close association and friendship with the Ruler, we are naturally concerned that Bahrein should remain, as it has been in the past, a stable and well-ordered State under the present Ruling House. Not only the Political Resident, but I myself have discussed with the Ruler future developments in Bahrein. I am glad to say that a number of steps have already been taken towards the modernisation of the machinery of government, and no doubt others will follow when the Ruler judges that the time is right. We are always ready to give him our advice and help in this matter, but the responsibility must remain his.

Mr. Price

In view of the vital oil interests which this country has in Bahrein, will the Foreign Secretary bear in mind how important it is that there should be continued political development there, peace and security?

Mr. Lloyd

I agree with the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Patrick Maitland

Is it not the case that since the Foreign Secretary's conversations in Bahrein there is a prospect of political development there?

Mr. Lloyd

It is true that certain developments have been initiated and are now taking place.

Mr. H. Hynd

Is it not a fact that Bahrein is the only sheikhdom in the Persian Gulf where there is anything like democracy? It is the only one where there is an electoral roll and where there are elections for an education committee, which is at any rate a beginning of a democracy.

Mr. Lloyd

The hon. Gentleman is quite right. Besides education, there is also a committee for health.