HC Deb 17 April 1967 vol 745 cc86-7
36. Mr. Moyle

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what progress is being made in promoting Her Majesty's Government's modernisation policies in the Persian Gulf.

Mr. George Thomson

We have made considerable progress in the past year in helping the Rulers to modernise their administrations and promote social and economic development. Perhaps the most spectacular development has taken place in Abu Dhabi under the new Ruler Shaikh Zaid. In Bahrain the Government have taken over a large sector of jurisdiction which we formerly exercised, and abroad it has joined a United Nations agency for the first time.

Mr. Moyle

Can my hon. Friend guarantee that there will be further and continued progress along these lines towards democracy and stability, since, in my view, the build-up of the stability of local States and local methods of maintaining law and order will bring nearer the day when we can look forward to defence cost savings in this part of the world?

Mr. Thomson

I have found it impossible to guarantee anything in international affairs, but I guarantee that we shall continue to try to make the kind of progress which my hon. Friend seeks.

Mr. Thorpe

Although great progress has been made in the Sheikhs' Council of Rulers in the Persian Gulf, would the hon. Gentleman see whether more developments could be made on the economic front rather on the lines of the East Africa High Commission?

Mr. Thomson

Yes; we are very conscious of this. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, the Trucial States Development Fund was set up by the present Government a year or so ago with a capital grant of over £1 million. Work has been continuing on an all-weather road link between the Trucial States. We shall push ahead with these constructive proposals.