HL Deb 13 July 1909 vol 2 cc355-6

My Lords, I wish to ask the noble Earl the Secretary of State for the Colonies a Question of which I have given him private notice—namely, whether it is true that the British and Russian representatives in Teheran notified the two leaders of the Persian Nationalist troops that should the advance of those troops be continued beyond a certain point intervention by the armed troops of Russia would take place; if so, what justification there was for interference in the internal affairs of Persia; what justification there was for His Majesty's Government in sending Mr. Churchill and Major Stokes to the Nationalist leaders asking them to stop their advance on Teheran; whether the attention of the Russian Government has been called to the inaccuracy in their Note of July 3 describing the Enzeli-Teheran road as "our" road, and whether such road is not under Persian jurisdiction; whether the occupation of Azerbaijan by Russian troops may not lead to complications with the Turkish Government; whether the Indian Government have made any representation in regard to the position in Persia, and if so whether such communication will be laid on the Table; and further, with reference to to-day's intelligence from Teheran, whether, in the event of the Constitutionalists occupying and maintaining order in Teheran, His Majesty's Government will invite the Russian Government to stay the further advance of their troops and not enter the city.


The Russian and British representatives told the Nationalist leaders that the only way to avoid foreign intervention and to restore order was to give the Constitution as now re-established a fair chance. Mr. Churchill and Major Stokes were sent to the Nationalist leaders in the interests of peace and to avert any possible danger to foreign life and property in Teheran. There are still, it is believed, about 4,000 Russian troops at Tabriz, which were about to be withdrawn when the present movement by the Nationalists and Bakhtiari began. The noble Lord asks whether the attention of the Russian Government has been called to the inaccuracy in their Note of July 3 describing the Enzeli-Teheran road as "our" road. The statement is not in itself an inaccuracy. The road was made by a Russian company with Russian money, and in that sense it is their road. It is not accurate to say that there is a Russian occupation of Azerbaijan. The Russian troops have been reinforced at Tabriz for a specific purpose, and will be withdrawn as soon as that purpose no longer requires their presence. We do not know of any reason why the Turkish Government should resent the presence of the Russian troops at Tabriz. No representations have been received from the Indian Government.


The noble Earl has not answered my last Question.


With regard to the noble Lord's last question, I must ask for notice. I have not seen the telegram in to-day's papers.