HL Deb 06 July 1932 vol 85 cc644-6

LORD LAMINGTON rose to ask His Majesty's Government as to the present position of our relations with the Yemen, and with special reference to a treaty being made with the Imam; also to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is a Question with which I have often on previous occasions worried your Lordships. It has reference to the Aden Protectorate and the neighbouring State of the Yemen. I would like to have information on the points which I have put down upon the Paper. A few months ago there was a possibility of the Imam coming to some agreement, and I think that perhaps there is now a great likelihood of his doing so. He has passed through trouble. He has lost one son who was drowned, another son is ill, and he himself is in very bad health. At this late hour I will not say anything further, but will ask for the information. I trust that under the conditions I have named the Imam may be more reconciled to come into an agreement with us as to the making of a treaty.


My Lords, I may be able to give my noble friend some information on this subject which I think will at any rate be to some extent pleasing to him, knowing how keen he has been for many years that an agreement should be arrived at between the Imam and this country. Since the date on which the noble Lord last raised this matter in the House, further communications have passed between His Highness the Imam of the Yemen and the Resident at Men, and I am glad to be able to say that they have been of a friendly nature. In October last the Imam put forward proposals for a treaty which were carefully considered by His Majesty's Government, who replied through the Resident that they considered that the draft provided a suitable foundation for treaty negotiations, subject to certain modifications embodied in a revised draft which His Majesty's Government had drawn up. They regarded it as an essential preliminary condition to the signature of the treaty that certain territories and subjects of Chiefs under their protection still held by the Imam should be peacefully restored without damage or detriment to person or property. In regard to that I may say that when my noble friend asked the question in December, 1930, there were some forty hostages held by the Imam. I understand that since that date he has released more than half of them, and so the number is materially reduced. But His Majesty's Government are still of opinion that they cannot conclude a treaty until the hostages have been released. Subject to acceptance of this condition, a settlement by mutual agreement would be achieved most effectively and speedily by direct and personal negotiations rather than by further correspondence.

The Imam was further informed that, if he was prepared to proceed with negotiations on the lines indicated, the Resident (Lieut.-Colonel B. R. Reilly) would visit him at Sanaa as soon as could be conveniently arranged. His Highness has replied within the last few days raising certain points of importance, and these are now under consideration. I can assure your Lordships that His Majesty's Government welcome and reciprocate His Highness the Imam's desire for a settlement, and they earnestly hope that it may be found possible to arrive at a satisfactory solution of this long outstanding matter. I am afraid I have no Papers at this stage to lay because, as your Lordships will understand, while negotiations are going on it would be inadvisable to lay a draft treaty or the treaty which is proposed by the Imam.


My Lords, the answer which the noble Earl has given me is more satisfactory than the answers which I have had in the past. I understand that it is possible our representative may go to Sanaa to negotiate personally. I do not know if our representative will be Colonel Reilly. I think everyone would have the greatest confidence in him. We could not have a better emissary. I hope good results will follow. It ought to be realised that the Soviet Government are making tremendous efforts to get the Imam under their control. There is no doubt that there is a gentleman from Soviet Russia there who would have great influence with the Imam, and his influence will not be confined to the Imam but will extend all over Arabia. It is therefore important that we should come to a friendly understanding, and have a clear agreement between the Imam and the Crown. I regret to hear that he still has some hostages. I thought they had all been released. I trust that he may see the wisdom of releasing them so that he may be able to co-operate more freely with His Majesty's Government. I thank the noble Lord for his answer and I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.