MR. JOHN MORLEY
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, By what instruments or other records our obligations to the Ameer of Afghanistan are, in the view of Her Majesty's Government, defined; whether these obligations have been modified during the recent conferences at Rawul Pindi; and, whether the Ameer's own wishes would operate as a release from all or any of them?
In answer to an earlier Question, my hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State has already read to the House what is in point of fact the principal, I may say the only, documentary evidence in our possession that is producible. It explains sufficiently the basis of the relations between the Ameer of Afghanistan and the British Government. But I think it may be well to add that these relations, although not previously expressed in documentary evidence now at our command, yet are to be inferred, to a certain extent, from the transactions that have taken place. There is a Return 1123 before the House, published some considerable time ago, in 1882, which gives an account of the aid supplied to the Ameers of Afghanistan at different periods; there is some to Dost Mahomed in 1856 and 1857; and to Shere Ali in 1868–9 were given various items of arms and ammunition, and 12 lakhs of rupees. In 1870 there was a further provision of arms and ammunition, and a further grant of money. In 1872 a further provision of arms and ammunition was given; and in 1873 both arms and ammunition and money. Of course, my hon. Friend will perceive that these were not isolated and accidental acts, but that they were acts expressive of a certain policy and of certain obligations voluntarily undertaken by the British-Indian Government. With regard to the second part of the Question, no modification whatever has taken place in these obligations. With regard to the third part of the Question, the Ameer is on the footing of an ally, though a protected ally; and naturally my hon. Friend will understand that the Ameer's own wishes would form a very material element in the consideration of any question that might arise.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
asked, whether there was any truth in the statement in The Indian Statesman to the effect that the Ameer had been compelled to come to the Conference at Rawul Pindi by threats that if he refused to do so Ayoub Khan would be put in his place?
No, Sir; certainly not. That statement is new to me. It is so entirely at variance with all my knowledge and my firm and unhesitating belief that I cannot for a moment scruple to ask the hon. Gentleman to consider it as a statement made in error.
MR. JOHN MORLEY
asked, whether these earlier gifts to the Ameer were not accompanied by an express warning that they involved no obligations on our part with respect to them?
I should not like to make a declaration reaching so far back as these transactions; but certainly they were expressive of a policy—a conditional policy, it is true, but a policy which would have a binding effect on a great State.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
inquired whether, in the undertaking, there was 1124 not an express reservation with regard to Herat, which the British Government declined to secure or guarantee to the Ameer.