HC Deb 11 May 1959 vol 605 cc846-7
22. Mr. Healey

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will refer the legal aspects of the dispute over the Buraimi Oasis to the International Court for a decision.

Mr. Profumo

No, Sir. This could not be done without the consent of the Sultan of Muscat and Oman and of the Ruler of Abu Dhabi, which would not he given.

Mr. Healey

Does the Minister of State continue to pretend that the Sultan of Muscat and the Ruler of Abu Dhabi are not puppets of the British Government? Is not the Buraimi Oasis dispute the only obstacle to the restoration of diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia? Although we all deplore the behaviour of the Saudi Arabian Government when this matter was last submitted to arbitration, is it not time to put first things first?

Mr. Profumo

I cannot agree with any of that. First, they are certainly not puppets of Great Britain. Secondly, with regard to it being the only obstacle, I was only just now answering a Question about Prince Feisal's statement in which he said that this was not the case. Thirdly, perhaps the hon. Gentleman may like to refresh his memory of what happened when they went to arbitration last time.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

If we have a good case in this dispute, should we not strengthen it by submitting it to the International Court? Have we asked the Sultan whether he would agree to do so?

Mr. Profumo

No. We cannot submit this matter without the agreement of all parties. As I informed the House, I am certain that the two Rulers concerned would not, unless they have recently changed their mind, subject themselves to this sort of thing.

Mr. Noel-Baker

May I have an answer to my question? Have we recently asked the Rulers whether they will agree to submit it, and, if not, why not?

Mr. Profumo

We have not asked them recently, if by "recently" the right hon. Gentleman means in the last month or so. I have no doubt that their attention will be called to this matter and, if they change their mind, we shall be very glad to continue to try to find a solution to this problem.