HC Deb 15 July 1963 vol 681 cc29-30
34. Mr. Mayhew

asked the Lord Privy Seal, for how long Her Majesty's Government propose to maintain British jurisdiction in certain States in the Persian Gulf.

Mr. Heath

I cannot say. But Her Majesty's Government look forward to the time when the development of satisfactory legal and judicial systems in the Persian Gulf States will justify the relinquishment of British jurisdiction, as it has already been relinquished in Kuwait.

Mr. Mayhew

Will the right hon. Gentleman not agree that we are more likely to be able to maintain our interest in the Gulf, which is perfectly legitimate and of great value to the people there, if we bring our relationships with those States a little more up to date, and if we do it a little more quickly than we are doing now? What reason is there for maintaining British jurisdiction in all these States when other judicial processes are available there?

Mr. Heath

We are most anxious that all the arrangements which we have with the Gulf States should be up to date, and indeed we give the lead in this respect. The reason for maintaining our jurisdiction is that the rulers themselves are still in the process of improving and establishing their jurisdiction. We will give them every assistance in doing that, and as soon as it is completed we will be ready to relinquish our jurisdiction.

Mr. Stonehouse

What steps are the Government taking to ensure the administration of these States? Are we taking steps to ensure that the slave trade in Muscat and Oman is kept down?

Mr. Heath

My hon. Friend has just answered a Question about that. We have no responsibility for the internal affairs of these States. Our responsibility is for their external protection.