HC Deb 02 March 1922 vol 151 cc559-61

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are the names of the Arab rulers in Asia to whom subsidies are paid out of British taxes; and what amounts are paid to each?

The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Churchill)

The position as regards the payment of subsidies to Arab rulers is as follows: The sum of £150,000 was provided in the Estimates for the current year to meet probable payments to the following rulers:

To the Sultan of Nejd (Ibn Saud) £5,000 a month and a lump sum payment of £20,000 £80,000
To the King of the Hedjaz (Hussein) £5,000 a month from 1st August, 1921, and a lump sum payment of £20,000 60,000
To other rulers 10,000
Total £150,000

The Sultan of Nejd is the only one of these rulers to whom the full amount provided in the Estimates is actually being paid. As regards King Hussein, the conditions on which the monthly subsidy was to become payable have not yet been fulfilled, and consequently no payment has yet been made on this account. Certain advances have, however, been made to the King on account of the lump sum of £20,000. The sums so advanced amount in all to about £18,000. With regard to the other rulers mentioned above, no agreements have yet been concluded with these persons and consequently no subsidies have yet become payable. No other subsidies of any kind are being paid from British revenues to Arab rulers in Asia.


What are these rulers doing for all these large sums of money?


It is rather a question of what they are not doing! As a matter of fact this sum of £150,000 is less than the cost of a single battalion of native infantry for the year. During the period this policy has been in force nearly 50 battalions have been withdrawn, with the consequent saving.


Would it not then be better if we withdrew all the battalions and came away altogether?


My right hon. Friend asks rather too much.


Is it not the fact that the subvention paid to Ibn Saud is being used for the purpose of fighting the King of the Hedjaz, another ruler who is also paid a subvention to fight Ibn Saud?


I am assured that the hostilities between these two potentates would be on a much more devastating scale were it not for the mollifying influence that the subventions exercise.

Lieut.-Colonel POWNALL

Are these subventions paid once only, or continuously, and will the payments go on indefinitely?


Of course, I will present the proposals yearly to Parliament as long as I am responsible. The subventions are paid monthly—in arrear—and consequently we only pay for value received.