HC Deb 12 November 1928 vol 222 cc476-8

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement with regard to the reasons for the breakdown at Jeddah in August last of the conference between the King of the Hejaz and Nejd, Sir Gilbert Clayton, and Taufiq Beg Suwaidi, the Iraq delegate; whether he will state what were the British demands which were rejected by Ibn Saud; what was the statement of the British delegate with regard to arbitration on certain points under discussion; and whether since the date of the breakdown there have been any incursions of the Wahabis into Iraq or Transjordania or any flights by the Royal Air Force over Wahabi territory.


Correspondence is still proceeding with the King of the Hejaz and Nejd and in the circumstances I do not think that it would be desirable for me to make any statement at this stage. As regards the last part of this question, there have been no serious incursions of Wahabis into Iraq territory recently, though I have learnt during the last few days of a raid on a Trans-Jordan tribe, which would appear to have been on a somewhat more serious scale. The R. A.F. have undertaken no flights over Nejd teritory. I understand, however, that on one or two occasions within the last few months isolated machines of the Royal Air Force have inadvertently crossed the Nejd frontier in the course of their normal activities. In the cases of an undelimited frontier, mistakes of this nature are always possible; but steps are being taken to improve the marking of the proper routes in order to prevent mistakes in future.


Are the British Government quite sure that no British arms are going to those parts now?


I am not aware of any arms going there.

25. Mr. MALONE

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will acquaint the House with the circumstances in which the conference at Haifa between Wahabi, British and French authorities, in regard to the question of the Hejaz railway, broke down last August; who were the British authorities taking part in the conference; and whether there is any prospect of its resumption at an early date.


The Haifa Conference was convened to meet the expressed wish of the King of the Hejaz that the whole question of reconditioning the Hejaz Railway should be examined from a practical point of view. The invitation to the Hejaz Government made it clear that the discussions would be confined to technical questions only; but at the opening of the conference the Hejaz representative declined to proceed with the discussions unless the general question of the status of the railway was first considered. The conference accordingly proved abortive. The Palestine Government were represented by three senior officers of the Palestine Railway administration, which also controls the section of the Hejaz Railway in Trans-Jordan. The answer to the last part of the question is in the negative; but I have no doubt that the Palestine and Trans-Jordan Governments would be ready at any convenient time to resume discussions on the limited basis previously proposed.