HC Deb 03 August 1966 vol 733 cc458-9
30. Mr. Powell

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what he estimates will be the capital cost of the new facilities to be provided at Sharjah; what sum will be paid to the Ruler in consideration of the British presence; and what will be the current annual cost of maintaining at Sharjah the forces contemplated under the Defence Review.

Mr. Healey

Provisional estimates of the cost of the additional facilities required are at present being examined and it would be premature to give figures at this stage. On the sum to be paid to the Ruler, I would refer the right hon. Gentleman to the Answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, All Saints (Mr. Walden) on 27th July.

Mr. Powell

Since this expenditure, although the right hon. Gentleman has not worked it out, is bound to be substantial and incurred for the protection of Sharjah and other Trucial States and the preservation of peace in the Gulf, why is it right and fair that this country should have to pay £100,000 a year to the Ruler for the privilege of doing so?

Mr. Healey

Because it is always normal for Her Majesty's Government to pay for facilities provided in foreign States. I think that it is right in this case that we should make the sum of £100,000 a year available to the Ruler of Sharjah, which is a very poor State indeed and desperately in need of money for development, in return for facilities by no means related solely to the defence of Sharjah.

Mr. Sandys

How long does the right hon. Gentleman think that we shall be able to maintain a British presence in the Gulf after we have given up our main base in Aden?

Mr. Healey

Long enough, Sir.