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Volume 643: debated on Wednesday 28 June 1961

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The following Question stood upon the Order Paper:


To ask the Lord Privy Seal what request Her Majesty's Government has received from the ruler of Kuwait for assistance, in view of the Iraqi Government's claim to sovereignty over Kuwait.

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I will now answer Question No. 56.

Her Majesty's Government have been in consultation with the Government of Kuwait. They have assured the Ruler of their support.

It has been agreed with the Ruler that the title of the Political Agency shall shortly be changed to that of Consulate-General.

First, may I thank the Lord Privy Seal for answering the Question out of turn and express the hope that some of his colleagues, particularly senior ones, will follow his good example?

While recognising the obligation of Her Majesty's Government to support the Ruler in his present argument with the Government of Iraq—if the Ruler requests help—may I ask the Lord Privy Seal whether he does not agree that the present argument is essentially an Arab problem, that there is every reason to believe that the Iraqi Government have isolated themselves from the whole of the rest of the Arab world by their present claim to Kuwait and that it would be a great mistake for Her Majesty's Government to go more forward in support of the Ruler of Kuwait in the present situation than the Ruler himself gives occasion to believe they should?

The argument is about the claim of Iraq to Kuwait and the independence of Kuwait itself. The hon. Gentleman is, of course, right in what he says in that most of the other Arab countries have already sent letters and other messages of support to the Ruler of Kuwait. The independence of Kuwait was, of course, recognised by the actions of the present Iraqi Government as recently as 13th June, when they voted for the admission of Kuwait, as an independent country, to the International Labour Organisation at its conference at Geneva. The obligations of Her Majesty's Government are laid down in the Exchange of Notes which I announced to the House last week, and we are, of course, prepared to carry out our obligations.

Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that there will be full consultations between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of the United States of America, those being the two principal Western Powers interested in the large oil output from Kuwait, and that there will be no independent action by Her Majesty's Government without full support from the United States of America in this matter?

We are, of course, in close consultation with the Government of the United States.