Oral Answers to Questions — Persian Gulf (British Interests)

– in the House of Commons on 8th April 1935.

Alert me about debates like this

Lieut. - Colonel Sir ARNOLD WILSON:

9.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether British sovereignty, which has been maintained over a portion of Basidu island, in the Persian Gulf, for over a hundred years, has now been formally abandoned; and, if so, what, if any, steps have been taken to safeguard the British cemetery at Basidu, wherein many British seamen of all ranks have been buried during the past century?

Photo of Mr John Simon Mr John Simon , Spen Valley

The regular use of the station at Basidu on the Persian island of Qishm, by His Majesty's ships has been discontinued since 1911. The local climatic conditions are unhealthy and the place was not British territory. His Majesty's Government recently decided that British interests in the Persian Gulf would best be served by the transfer of the station to Bahrain on the Arab side of the Gulf; and, in accordance with this decision, the station at Basidu is now being evacuated. Arrangements are under discussion with the Persian Government for the proper safeguarding of the British cemetery at Basidu.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Arnold Wilson Lieut-Colonel Sir Arnold Wilson , Hitchin

Is it not the fact that for more than 100 years the British flag has been flown there and that repeatedly statements have been made that it is British territory; and has that position not been pointed out frequently to the Persian Government?

Photo of Mr John Simon Mr John Simon , Spen Valley

I think the terms of my original answer show that the place has not been regarded as British territory.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Arnold Wilson Lieut-Colonel Sir Arnold Wilson , Hitchin

Why should news of the abandonment of a British naval station reach us from Delhi instead of by an announcement from His Majesty's Government to this House especially having regard to the very ancient connection which exists in this case as the right hon Gentleman has already explained?

Photo of Mr John Simon Mr John Simon , Spen Valley

I cannot answer that question I did not know that the announcement had reached the hon Gentlemen from Delhi.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Arnold Wilson Lieut-Colonel Sir Arnold Wilson , Hitchin

In view of the very unsatisfactory reply of the right hon. Gentleman and the importance of the issue involved, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this question at the earliest opportunity on the Adjournment.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Arnold Wilson Lieut-Colonel Sir Arnold Wilson , Hitchin

10.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Persian Government have now finally abandoned their claim to sovereignty over the islands of Bahrain?

Photo of Mr John Simon Mr John Simon , Spen Valley

The Persian claim to the islands of Bahrain, which has frequently been advanced in the past, has not, so far as I am aware, been abandoned; but His Majesty's Government, who have been in close treaty relations with the rulers of Bahrain since 1820, do not regard, and have never regarded that claim as possessing any validity whatever.