HC Deb 13 July 1922 vol 156 cc1438-40
20. Captain W. BENN

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the territory in Mesopotamia for which the British Empire has accepted a mandate is coterminous with the territory of King Feisal's Government; if not, what form of Government exists outside Iraq; and who is responsible for maintaining order, by what means, and at what charge?


The area in respect of which the British Government has accepted a mandate in Iraq is not coterminous with the territory at present administered by King Feisal's Government. It contains some Kurdish districts, over which a certain measure of political control is exercised by British officers acting under the orders of the High Commissioner for Iraq. The position in these districts was explained in my reply to the hon. Member for Moseley on the 5th July, to which I would invite the hon. and gallant Member's attention. Civil administrative expenses in the Kurdish areas are met from local funds, but the cost of the Iraq levies, which are employed in these regions as well as in the territory under King Feisal's administration, is a charge upon Imperial revenues.

Captain BENN

Suppose trouble were to arise in those parts, who is responsible for quelling it, and who pays for it?


I hope trouble will not arise in those parts, but we intend not to get entangled there, either in a military or financial sense.


Do I understand that King Feisal's levies are an Imperial charge? I thought they were not.


The Imperial troops in this country are an Imperial charge. The Arab army is a charge on the Iraq Budget, and the levies officered by British officers are an Imperial charge, and were dealt with in the Vote presented to the House.


How many troops are there in the area of Kurdistan, in which the right hon. Gentleman does not propose to get entangled in a military sense?


We have no troops there at the present time. There are a few levies, but no Imperial troops beyond the town of Kirkuk.


Are the levies employed in Kurdistan Arab levies or Kurds?


In some cases they are Kurds, and in some cases Assyrians.