HC Deb 02 August 1965 vol 717 cc1040-2
12. Mr. Jackson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the latest developments in the Persian Gulf area, including the removal of the Ruler of Sharjah.

49. Mr. Hamling

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has studied the evidence sent to him by the hon. Member for Woolwich, West, on the British involvement in the deposition and kidnapping of Sheikh Sagr Ibn Sultan El Kassimy, Ruler of the Emirate of Sharjah in the Trucial States, who was then taken by force by air from Dubai to Bahrein; what action he is taking in regard to it; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. George Thomson

On recent developments in the Persian Gulf generally I would refer by hon. Friend to my Written Answer on 19th July to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) and to my right hon. Friend's remarks in the foreign affairs debate on 20th July.

The Ruler of Sharjah was deposed by his family, who appointed his first cousin Shaikh Khalid bin Muhammad as Ruler in his place. The family's action was in accordance with the traditional Arab procedure for the removal of an unsatisfactory Ruler, and the document sent by my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) is not an accurate account of these events. I propose to take no further action on it.

Mr. Jackson

Regarding the general situation in the Persian Gulf, would not my hon. Friend agree that an additional responsibility of the British Government is to encourage the economic and social progress in the area so that the Trucial Omanate States can reach a satisfactory political working relationship with their neighbours?

Mr. Thomson

My hon. Friend's words almost exactly describe the policy of the Government.

Mr. Hamling

Is it the policy of the Government to support the usual Arabian customs? If so, is my hon. Friend aware that that point of view is not supported on these benches?

Mr. Thomson

Our rôle in the Trucial States is as the protecting Power in matters of external affairs. It has always been clear that we do not have a responsibility for internal affairs and in this case the change of Ruler was made according to the traditional practice.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there are two Arabian customs that Her Majesty's Government seem to be pursuing with alacrity—one, the custom of the 1,001 nights and the other the death of a thousand cuts?