HL Deb 19 June 1961 vol 232 cc417-8

3.48 p.m.


My Lords, with your permission, I wish to repeat a statement made by my right honourable friend, the Lord Privy Seal, in another place on an Exchange of Notes with Kuwait. I shall make the statement in my right honourable friend's own words:

"An Exchange of Notes was signed this morning in Kuwait by His Highness the Ruler of Kuwait and by the Political Resident in the Persian Gulf on behalf of Her Majesty's Government. The text is now available in the Printed Paper Office.

"For some time past the State of Kuwait has possessed entire responsibility for the conduct of its own international relations, and, with the full support of Her Majesty's Government, Kuwait has already joined a number of international organisations as an independent sovereign State. This development has rendered obsolete and inappropriate the terms of the Anglo-Kuwait Agreement of January 23, 1899, under which Kuwait undertook not to receive representatives of other Powers or to dispose of her territory, without the prior agreement of Her Majesty's Government. Her Majesty's Government and the Ruler of Kuwait have agreed that the necessary formal step should be taken to cancel this agreement.

"The Exchange of Notes which has achieved this also states that relations between the two countries shall continue to be governed by a spirit of close friendship and that when appropriate the two Governments shall consult together on matters of common interest. The Notes conclude by reaffirming the readiness of Her Majesty's Government to assist Kuwait if the Government of Kuwait so request.

"On behalf of Her Majesty's Government I would like to extend once more to the independent and sovereign State of Kuwait our warmest good wishes for its continued development and prosperity."


My Lords, we are grateful to the noble Marquess for giving us this statement. Of course, this is to abrogate finally the position which was entered into with Kuwait in 1899, and, casting back to that date, the terms do now seem somewhat archaic in the light of what are the usual diplomatic exchanges in present circumstances. Nevertheless, I think the arrangement which has existed since 1899 has been to the great mutual advantage not only of ourselves in oil interests but also of the general economy and the general welfare of Kuwait itself. Therefore it is to be hoped that on the basis of the Notes now exchanged there will be a continuance of the friendly relations that we have had for well over sixty years. There are rumours about and from time to time I see in the papers discussions about the foreign situation in the Middle East and as to what is to happen. I do not know whether it is intended that Kuwait will join, or has joined, the United Arab Republic, but if there is any information on that point it might be useful. Otherwise I just note the announcement.


My Lords, I am sure everyone is glad of the welcome the noble Viscount has given to this statement. As regards the question of Kuwait joining the United Arab League or in fact any other organisation, of course Kuwait is absolutely free to take any decision she thinks fit.


My Lords, arising out of that point, could I ask the noble Marquess a matter for information? In his statement I think he said "Kuwait, with the full support of Her Majesty's Government, has already joined a number of other organisations." I take it the word "support" should be read in the sense of "approval" rather than any political or other support in an official way.


My Lords, I think the noble Lord, Lord Rea, is correct. Really the implication is this: that Kuwait had already, in fact, been acting as a free and sovereign State by joining these international organisations, and it has all along been with our support and approval. Perhaps it would have been better if both words had been there.