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Persian Oil Dispute

Volume 178: debated on Wednesday 15 October 1952

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4.18 p.m.


My Lords, with the leave of the House, I desire to make two statements, the first a short one on the policy of Her Majesty's Government in regard to the Persian oil dispute, and the second upon the case of Herr Alfried Krupp.

As regards Persia, on August 30, joint proposals for a solution of the dispute were communicated to Dr. Mossadeq by the Prime Minister and the President of the United States. The Persian reply to these proposals was received on September 24. It contained, in addition to a counter-proposal which offered no hope of a solution, many inaccurate statements which showed that the joint proposals had not been correctly understood by the Persian Government. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs therefore sent a message to the Persian Prime Minister on October 4, in the name of Her Majesty's Government, with the object of correcting these misunderstandings. Mr. Acheson sent a similar message on behalf of President Truman. In spite of these messages, the Persian Government, on October 7, repeated their counter-proposal, and in some ways misrepresented what my right honourable friend had said by way of clarification of the joint proposals. All these communications will be laid before the House and will be available to noble Lords this afternoon. In the meantime, I would inform the House that Her Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires, acting on instructions, last night delivered a Note to the Persian Government placing the views of Her Majesty's Government on record in terms of which the following is a summary:

First: Her Majesty's Government and the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company accept the nationalisation of the Persian oil industry as a fact, but in return Her Majesty's Government claim just compensation on behalf of the Company.

Second: Her Majesty's Government consider that the question of compensation should be referred to the impartial adjudication of the International Court.

Third: Her Majesty's Government claim compensation on behalf of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company for the unilateral termination of the 1933 Concession Agreement, contrary to the explicit undertaking in the Agreement that it will not be so terminated.

Fourth: Neither Her Majesty's Government nor the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company seek to revive the 1933 Concession Agreement in any other respect.

Fifth: As soon as agreement is reached as to the terms on which the question of compensation is to be adjudicated, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company will be ready to open negotiations as indicated in the joint proposals. As already stated, neither Her Majesty's Government nor the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company insist on the Company securing a monopoly of the purchase of Persian oil.

Sixth: Pending agreement as to the terms on which the question of compensation is to be adjudicated, Her Majesty's Government on their own behalf, and on behalf of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, reserve their full legal rights.

4.24 p.m.

My Lords, in the absence of my noble and learned friend the Leader of the Opposition, and on behalf of my noble friends sitting on this side of the House. I should like to thank the noble Marquess for making this statement. It is not my intention to raise any question in relation to this statement in view of the fact that I understand that a White Paper is available at the present time.

That being so, the Paper will have to be studied, and we shall reserve the right to raise the matter, if necessary, at some time in the future. All I would say is that, after a close study of the terms, I should have thought that the statement formed a reasonable basis for discussion, at any rate in relation to this dispute.

May I ask whether the White Paper will contain information or alleged information, of which we have heard a good deal during the Recess, about the various non-British business men, financiers and others, who have been attempting to buy and ship oil from Iran, such oil being the legal property of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company?

My Lords, the White Paper is not a detailed history of what has been going on over the past weeks. It is the presentation to the House of various documents which have past connection with this dispute during that period.

That was the answer I expected. In that case, is there any information in the possession of the Foreign Office which the noble Marquess can give to the House in connection with reports about the various interests which are supposed to be buying the oil?

My Lords, upon that matter I have no information which I can give to the House.