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Volume 65: debated on Tuesday 21 July 1914

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is able to explain how the authority of the Government of Persia can be maintained, especially in the South, while the Persian Treasury remains empty; whether he will say if the British and Russian Governments are prepared now to advance money to meet the pressing needs of the Persian Government; and, if so, on what security?

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to my remarks on the subject of Persia on the 29th ultimo—to be found in column 113 of the Parliamentary Debates of that day. I cannot usefully add anything to them at this juncture. They state the extent to which His Majesty's Government propose to advance money.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the position on the Bagdad-Kermanshah road, where £120,000 worth of British goods are held up owing to the unrest in the country, while Russian goods from the North flow in uninterruptedly?

That is not in connection with my hon. Friend's question; but as a matter of fact, that particular point has been brought to my notice, and some days ago I made the facts known to the Russian Government. I pointed out that in the interests of the "open door" for trade the Russian Consul at Kermanshah ought to be instructed to give support to the Persian Governor-General in measures to keep the road open, and the Russian Government have promised to send such instructions.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whether, in view of the fact that the Persian Treasury has stopped payment to all Persian officials as well as to the Swedish gendarmerie, he has taken measures to ensure the maintenance of order in the territories where the Anglo-Persia Oil Company hold concessions; and whether he has satisfied himself that the Bakhtiari chiefs and the sheikh of Mohammera can protect the company's works and pipe-line without the help of the Persian Government in the districts dominated by those chiefs?

His Majesty's Government are ready to advance funds for the payment of the gendarmerie, which I trust will enable that force to maintain order in Fars and Kerman. In reply to the second part of the question, I see no reason to apprehend danger to the company's works.

Supposing these wild tribes are ineffectual in maintaining the works of the company, is the only other resource to have troops from India?

I think it is impossible to discuss various hypothetical contingencies. I can only contemplae the most probable contingencies, and I would reply to my hon. Friend by saying that I think the most probable contingency is that, supposing the tribes in question feel that it is to their interest to keep order and see that the pipe-line is not interfered with, no measures on our part will be necessary.

is my right hon. Friend aware of the agitation which has now started in the Russian Press against the Anglo-Persian oil arrangement altogether?

I dealt with that point expressly in the speech which I made a short time ago in the House. I can only say that the agitation in the Russian Press is not likely to have any influence whatever on the conduct of the tribesmen.

Is there not every reason to believe that the tribes highly appreciate this industry, which will put so much money into their pockets?

I have already stated what I consider to be the most likely hypothesis, and if that should be so no measures will be necessary.

Do the Russian Government regard this contract as being in conformity with the Anglo-Russian Agreement with regard to Persia?

I must ask for notice of that. I have already answered one question very fully without notice, and I must ask for notice of further questions.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whether he is in a position to report the result of his recent communications with the Russian Foreign Office upon the existing state of affairs in Persia, and upon matters which have lately arisen in connection with the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907; and whether he will state the latest date when Russia's determination to preserve the independence of Persia was officially reaffirmed by Russia?

I will give the present state of the communications about the collection of taxes in Persia in reply to the next question on the Paper. I cannot make any more definite statement of a general character than I have made previously on the Foreign Office Vote. The independence and integrity of Persia as explained by me on the Foreign Office Vote the other day has been on both sides the basis of all conversations, whether this year or previously, and the Russian Government have repeatedly disclaimed any intention of annexing any part of Persian territory.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how long these communications are likely to last, and whether he will be able to make any statement in regard to this matter before the end of this Session?

The communications, I think, are likely to last as long as Persia is in an unsettled state.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has official information to the effect that Russia insists upon the supervision of taxation in the Northern Provinces of Persia by the Russian Consular authorities; whether Russia has decided that the revenues of Azerbaijan are to be paid into the Russian bank; and, if so, has he protested, or does he intend to protest, against either or both of those measures as an infringement of the Anglo-Persian Convention of 1907?

The question of the collection of taxes in Persia by Russian officials was brought by us to the notice of the Russian Government last month, and a reply has been received to the effect that the collection of taxes by Russian Consuls has occurred in the case of Russian subjects and Russian protected persons, and that these revenues have been paid into the Russian bank, but that an account is kept of all sums collected by Russian Consuls and nothing is taken from the Persian Treasury.

Has the right hon. Gentleman any information as to the sum of £42,000, said to have been impounded by the Russian bank, which was to pay the police and the gendarmerie?


asked whether any representations have yet been made to the Russian Government with regard to the collection and appropriation of taxes in Azerbaijan by Russian officials; and whether the financial administration of that province is now entirely in the hands of Russia?

I have repeatedly stated that this is one of the questions in connection with Persia that I have brought to the notice of the Russian Government; the extent to which financial administration in that province is in the hands of Russian officials will appear from my answer already given to question No. 9.


asked whether any reply has been sent by His Majesty's Government or the Russian Government to the Memorandum handed to the British and Russian representative at Teheran by the Persian Government in June last?

I can only answer for the British Government. So far as concerns them the answer is in the negative. There is no object in our making a reply to the Persian Government on a Memorandum which, although a copy was communicated to His Majesty's Government, was addressed by them to the Russian Government.