HC Deb 29 May 1963 vol 678 cc1306-8
22. Mr. Mayhew

asked the Lord Privy Seal what special privileges are exercised by Her Majesty's Government in Bahrein, Qatar and the Trucial States; at what dates these privileges were acquired; and what steps are being taken to modernise relationships with these sheikdoms.

Mr. Heath

Since the reply to the first two parts of this Question is long, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT. As for the third part, I have nothing to add to the reply which I gave to the hon. Gentleman on 25th March.

Mr. Mayhew

Would not the Lord Privy Seal agree that it may well be easier to maintain our interests in the Gulf, which are of great value to the people there, if our relations with the sheikdoms are brought more up to date and, if possible, made rather less obtrusive and dominating? How long do we intend to maintain British jurisdiction in this area, how long are our representatives to have the name and status of political agents, and how long do we intend to insist on monopolising all the foreign diplomatic contacts of those countries?

Mr. Heath

We are always ready to discuss changes in our relationship with the Rulers, as we did in the case of Kuwait, which led to the exchange of letters of 19th June, 1961, but no question has been raised by the other Rulers in the Gulf to alter their arrangements. As to jurisdiction, a process of hand-over is going on as their juridical processes are established. From the point of view of the remainder of the supplementary question, as long as the relationship is desired, and Her Majesty's Government feel it valuable to maintain it, these other matters will remain.

Following is the reply:



Perpetual Treaty of Peace and Friendship 1861. The Ruler undertook that "British Subjects of every denomination…may reside in and carry on their lawful trade in the territories of Bahrain…and in respect to the treatment of British Subjects and Dependants they shall receive the treatment and consideration of the Subjects and Dependants of the most favoured people. All offences which they may commit, or which may be committed against them, shall be reserved for the decision of the British Resident."

Exclusive Agreements of 1880 and 1892. Under these Agreements the Ruler undertook respectively not to enter into negotiation or receive representatives from any other power and not to alienate territory without the consent of Her Majesty's Government.

Agreement regarding Oil, 1924. The Ruler undertook not to grant oil concessions without the approval of Her Majesty's Government.


Treaty of 1916. Her Majesty's Government acquired privileges similar to those already existing in the Trucial States (see below), and the right to approve all monopolies, concessions, and cable-landing rights. British merchants are allowed to reside and trade in Qatar, and are guaranteed national treatment of their imports.


Exclusive Agreements of 1892. These bound the Rulers not to negotiate with any other power, receive agents or alienate territory without the sanction of Her Majesty's Government.

Fujairah became a separate State in 1952, when its Ruler accepted all the Treaties to which the other Trucial Rulers were parties.


Her Majesty retained jurisdiction in all of these States over, broadly speaking, non-Muslims. This special British jurisdiction has grown up largely by "usage or sufferance" over a long period, and it is not practicable to define its growth by dates or individual undertakings. The full terms of the above and other Treaties with the Rulers can be found in "A Selection of Treaties, Engagements, and Sanads relating to India and neighbouring countries", compiled by C. U. Aitchison, of which there is a copy in the Library.

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