HC Deb 15 May 1958 vol 588 cc592-3
18. Mr. Benn

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies when he proposes to revise the treaties governing Her Majesty's Government's relationship with the rulers of the Aden Protectorates; and if he will make a statement on his recent talks with the Sultan of Lahej.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I have no proposals under consideration for revision of the treaties. As regards the second part of the Question, I have agreed with the Sultan of Lahej that our discussions should remain confidential.

Mr. Benn

While, naturally, I respect the wish of the right hon. Gentleman that these discussions should be confidential, since I hope that that proves that they will be important, will he not agree that treaties going back as far as 1882, which are still in force and impose humiliating conditions on the rulers of the Protectorates, both East and West, ought now to be revised if there is to be any peace in the hinterland?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

To describe the treaties as humiliating is, if I may use the phrase, really rather ludicrous. In particular, the most recent treaty with the Sultan of Lahej was in 1952.

Mr. E. L. Mallalieu

Does the right hon. Gentleman not realise that he holds the palm for the speed with which it is possible for man to drift towards disaster, and does he not appreciate that, unless he does something rapidly in this part of the world, disaster will be upon us before we know where we are?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Certainly not.

Mr. Wall

Is it not a fact that these treaties are solely to protect these people from aggression from over the border in the Yemen, and is it not also a fact that there is far more freedom in Aden than exists anywhere in the Yemen?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Yes, Sir, to both.