HC Deb 04 February 1929 vol 224 cc1390-1
54. Colonel HOWARD-BURY

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has seen the reports that Sir Francis Humphrys and his staff are to be withdrawn from Kabul; and whether, in view of the importance of maintaining our Minister there and the facility with which in case of danger he can be withdrawn by air, he will continue to maintain the Legation and the staff at Kabul?

The SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir Austen Chamberlain)

I have seen the reports to which the hon. and gallant Member refers. The facts are that subordinate members of the Legation staff and other persons both British and foreign whose continued presence in Kabul is not essential have been and are being withdrawn. The question of the withdrawal of His Majesty's Minister and his staff must depend on circumstances and I cannot make any statement anticipating the decision that may finally be taken on this question; but I must point out to the hon. and gallant Member that the removal by air of even a small number of persons may very well prove to be by no means an easy matter. I take this opportunity to express on behalf of His Majesty's Government their admiration for the courage and fortitude which Sir F. Humphrys and his staff have displayed in circumstances of great difficulty and danger. A similar tribute is due to Lady Humphrys and the other ladies who were withdrawn some time ago.