HC Deb 23 April 1958 vol 586 cc931-2
11. Mr. Grimond

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will take steps to consult with the States and companies involved, with a view to setting up a Middle Eastern Development Board at least partly financed from oil royalties.

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd)

A good deal of discussion has been going on for some time about development proposals for the Middle East. The fact is that any development plan to be successful must come about through the co-operation and with the consent of the countries principally concerned. I see no sign of any such agreement as yet for a plan covering the Middle East as a whole.

Mr. Grimond

May we take it from that Answer, however, that this is the policy of Her Majesty's Government, and that they are making every effort, in consultation with the countries concerned, to see that some such development board is set up, if agreement can be reached?

Mr. Lloyd

We think that the greater the extent to which development boards can be set up, and, on the whole, the more comprehensive their areas, the better. The difficulty is to get agreement with the countries concerned.

Mr. Bevan

Have not the Opposition made this proposal from this side of the House for some time past? Is not it the view of the Foreign Office that the initiative should come from the Arab States themselves? Would not it be much more desirable for the initiative to come from the West, since when Arab States take the initiative themselves, it is usually to bring about a unilateral change of some concession which leaves the situation for us rather worse than it was before? Would not it be better for us to have a comprehensive scheme, to which the Middle Eastern States would have to react rather than react each time with a demand for the re-negotiation of a concession?

Mr. Lloyd

There is a good deal in what the right hon. Gentleman says. At the moment, the most helpful approach is the fact that the secretariat of the United Nations and the staff of the International Bank are studying the technical aspects of this problem, and I very much hope that something will come out of that study.

Mr. J. Hynd

Can the Foreign Secretary tell us whether anything further has been done about the White Paper which was published in 1945 and which laid down a proposed agreement, submitted by the British and American Governments, for the setting up of an international oil authority?

Mr. Lloyd

I should like notice of that question.