HC Deb 01 July 1926 vol 197 cc1338-40
39. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been drawn to the statement of His Majesty's High Commissioner for Iraq, on 26th June, to the effect that His Majesty's Government is renouncing claims on the Iraq Government amounting to 94 lakhs of rupees in respect of irrigation works, roads, bridges, telegraphs and telephones; whether we are abandoning all claim to repayment for these public works; whether any claim is to be maintained against the Iraq Government for the cost of the railways built at the cost of His Majesty's Government; and, apart from these claims, what is the debt of the Iraq Government to His Majesty's Government?


With regard to the first two parts of this question, I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Sir Robert Hamilton) on the 30th of June. The reply to the third part of this question is that the ownership of these railways still rests in His Majesty's Government, and that the question of their future is still under discussion. As regards the last part, there is a debt in respect of the port of Basrah, details as to which will be found in Article 10 of the Financial Agreement made under the Anglo-Iraq Treaty of 1922. There are also certain smaller claims on account of irrigation and other stores, the liquidation of which is now under discussion with the Iraq Government.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

I did not hear that answer, but what I want to know is whether this transaction is to be submitted to Parliament?


I asked the hon. Member to put that question down yesterday.

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

And I ask the hon. Gentleman now.


A question as to business should be put to the Leader of the House.

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

This comes under the Standing Orders.


Are we to understand that these railways, built with our money during the War, are now being handed over to the Iraq Government without compensation?


No, I said in the answer to the third part of the question that the ownership is still left with His Majesty's Government. The question of the future of these railways is still under discussion and has not yet been decided.


Is it not a fact that Clauses 6 and 7 of the Financial Agreement provide for the repayment of this money by terminable annuities over 20 years?


The agreement of 1922?




That, in certain respects, is being carried out, but the later recommendations of the Committee presided over by the right hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. Hilton Young) are being followed in certain other respects.


If the ownership of the railways is still vested in Great Britain, are we charging a rent to the Iraq Government, or do we share the revenue?


The working arrangement is somewhat. complicated. The working of these railways, the ownership of which is in the hands of the British Government, has been handed over to the Iraq Government. If the hon. Member will ask for the financial details I will do my best to supply them.


Will the hon. Gentleman say whether a return has been made since 1923 showing the payments made to the Imperial Government in respect of the moneys invested in these railways?


I am not aware that the figures have yet been published, but as soon as they are received they can be.

Captain BENN

Is the hon. Member aware that the Standing Orders of the House require the assent of the House to any discharge of an obligation to the Crown? If a question is put on the Paper next week, will he be prepared to answer definitely as to whether such legislation should be brought. forward?


Certainly—if such legislation be necessary.