HC Deb 25 July 1960 vol 627 cc1053-4
9. Mr. W. Yates

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs for what reasons Her Majesty's Government have refused the offer of the Royal Saudi Arabian Government to submit the Buraimi dispute to the United Nations or the International Court at The Hague, bearing in mind that no oil has been found in the area.

Mr. R. Allan

My hon. Friend is, presumably, referring to the Saudi Arabian suggestions for a resumption of the arbitration procedure which broke down as a result of the actions of the Saudi Arabian Government in 1955. Although Her Majesty's Government are anxious to see an early settlement of this dispute and are, in fact, engaged at the present time in informal discussions with the Saudi Arabian authorities to this end, they do not favour a return to the arbitration procedure for the reasons which were explained to the House on 26th October, 1955.

Mr. Yates

Will the Minister kindly tell us how long it will take the Government to put this arbitration before either the United Nations or The Hague? Is this not a case of Naboth's vineyard? Would he also bear in mind that many hon. Members on this side of the House, and many people in my constituency, hope that in future the Foreign Secretary will answer our questions at this Dispatch Box?

Mr. Allan

The reference to Naboth's vineyard indicates some idea of jealousy or covetousness on the part of Her Majesty's Government, but in this case the Government are acting solely as the trustees and have no personal interest.

Mr. Healey

Could the hon. Gentleman answer the original question, which was whether the Government are considering submitting this dispute to the International Court—not to the previous arbitration procedure?

Mr. Allan

It is not up to the Government to do this. They could not do so without the consent and at the instigation of the two Rulers—the Ruler of Abu Dhabi and the Sultan of Muscat, for whom we act as trustees.

Mr. Healey

Is it not the case that Her Majesty's Government are responsible for the foreign affairs of these two States?

Mr. Allan

Not at all. These are States for whom we act as trustees.

Mr. Lindsay

Are the Government aware that there will be a general response on this side of the House to the last part of the supplementary question put by my hon. Friend the Member for the Wrekin (Mr. W. Yates)?

Mr. Speaker

Order. That part of the supplementary question was out of order.

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