§ 47. Mr. Dickens
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why a continued British military presence is required in the Persian Gulf.
§ Mr. George Brown
Our continued presence in the Persian Gulf is required to enable us to fulfil our remaining commitments in the area and to contribute to its stability.
§ Mr. Dickens
Will my right hon. Friend brace himself to receive a compliment from me, namely, is he aware of the widespread and sincere admiration felt in the House and in the country for the way in which he has handled the Middle East situation in the past week? Secondly, does not the Middle East war show, finally and conclusively, the utter futility and ineffectiveness of a British military presence east of Suez?
§ Mr. James Davidson
Can the Foreign Secretary tell us what these commitments in the Persian Gulf are, especially in view of the fact that although we have British forces there, three of our main sources of oil in the area—Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Iraq—have been closed to us as a result of the recent crisis, leaving us with only two? The other commitments, so far as I know, date back to the treaty of 1856, to prevent slave running in the Gulf. What are our other commitments in the Gulf?
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker
Has the right hon. Gentleman studied the apparent success of the French in backing one side and selling aircraft to the other?
§ Mr. Sandys
Does not the Foreign Secretary realise that once we have broken our commitments and withdrawn our protection from South Arabia it will be politically and militarily almost impossible to hang on in the Persian Gulf?