HC Deb 31 July 1930 vol 242 cc800-17

It is usual upon the Appropriation Bill to pass from one end of the world to another, and I venture to ask the attention of the House not to any Indian question but to one or two matters arising out of the Treaty which has recently been signed between the representatives of Great Britain and Iraq. On 30th June of this year a Treaty was signed under which in five years' time it is contemplated that the British Forces now in Iraq will in the main be withdrawn, and Iraq to all intents and purposes become a sovereign and independent state, managing its own affairs without direct British intervention. If 10 years ago it had been suggested that in so short a space of time the representatives of Great Britain and Iraq would be signing a Treaty of this kind nine out of 10 hon. Members would have said that such a hope was optimistic even to the point of being foolish. Yet in that short space of time our representatives and the Arab representatives have signed this Treaty and we are now within sight of embarking upon a new chapter, under which probably the internal development of Iraq will loom much larger than the problem of external defence, a chapter in which we shall be laying down the trust that was given to us by the League of Nations when we undertook the mandate in the Peace Treaties after the War.

It should be a matter of some pride and satisfaction to every hon. Member of this House to think that mainly owing to the efforts of our civil administrators and the Air Force officers in Iraq such a transformation should have been made possible in so short a time and that we find ourselves to-day in the position of being the first mandated Power under the Peace Treaties to fulfil, in the main, our obligations and be able to hand over the duties we have hitherto performed to an independent Iraq State. A passing tribute is well merited from all quarters of this House to the handful of British civil administrators and Air Force officers and men who have made this result possible. There is Sir Percy Cox, Sir Henry Dobbs, Sir Frances Humphreys, Sir John Higgins, Sir John Salmond, and other names which one could add. These are the men, the civil administrators and serving officers and men in the British Air Force, who have made it possible for us to contemplate in five years time handing back our Mandate to the League of Nations with the credit to ourselves of having carried out in the face of the very greatest difficulties the task that was entrusted to us 10 years ago.

Having paid that passing tribute to this handful of men in this distant sphere of the British influence let me say a word about the Treaty itself, and ask the Under-Secretary of State one or two questions regarding it. I do not take the view that it was not worth facing a certain measure of risk with the Treaty, provided that we could, by taking that risk, create an even more friendly atmosphere between Iraq and ourselves than has been the case in the last 10 years. I will not delay the House with the criticism which might be made—namely, that the time is too short, that we have not yet reached the moment when we can lay down our obligations. I am prepared myself to take that risk, provided the Treaty is carried out in the, letter and, still more important, is carried out in the spirit. But there are one or two considerations to which I should like to draw the attention of the Under-Secretary of State. At present the main interest of Great Britain in Iraq is the maintenance of Imperial communications and particularly our air communications. Iraq lies midway on the air route between Great Britain and India and the Far East. It is a vital section in that route, and in any arrangements we make with Iraq in this Treaty, or in other agreements, it is vital that the security of our Imperial communications, and particularly our air communications, should be maintained. As far as I can judge I think they are, generally speaking, safeguarded under the Clauses of the Treaty. The Government of Iraq is a member of the International Air Convention and, being a member of that Convention, is under an obligation to allow the free passage of civil aeroplanes and civil air lines.

So far as civil lines then are concerned there is no reason for criticism against the terms of the Treaty or against the present position. So far as our military communications are concerned there, again, I think there is no substance for serious criticism, although there is a point to which I hope the Under-Secretary will give careful consideration. It is vitally important in the development of our system of air defence that we should be able to transfer air squadrons quickly from one part of the world to another. If we cannot do so, then, obviously, we do not obtain the full advantage of the mobility of air power which we should obtain by being able to take machines quickly from one threatened point to another. It is therefore vital that we should have in Iraq, after the period of the Treaty, facilities for maintaining air bases and making it possible to take our air squadrons quickly from Egypt to India, Singapore or Australia. Under the Treaty two bases, one near Basrah and the other on the west of the Euphrates, are guaranteed to the British Government and to the British Air Force. So far, therefore, as the bases are concerned, we need not feel any undue anxiety. But I am somewhat nervous as to what is going to be the position of these bases and of the squadrons when we have laid down the Mandate, when we have no longer a High Commissioner in Bagdad and when our representative in Iraq is nothing more than an ordinary diplomatic Minister.

I was connected at the Air Ministry for several critical years with the defence of Iraq, and I was always nervous lest air power should in any way be misused or used too much. Hitherto there has been on the spot a British High Commissioner, with the British Government behind him as the mandatory Power. As long as the British High Commissioner was in Bagdad, and as long as we were the mandatory Power, we could prevent the abuse of British Air Force squadrons, and we could ensure their being used only when a real justification for their use existed. Under the Treaty we shall in course of time cease to be the mandatory Power. I should like to hear from the Under-Secretary of State that he has got the future position in his eye, and that he is already in communication with the Air Force and the Air Staff upon the subject. It will not be easy to define the occasions when the Air Force should be used and when it should not be used. It should not be used, of course, to prevent internal disorder, but it should still be used for the protection of the frontier against external aggression.

Unfortunately in countries like Iraq it is often very difficult to draw a clear distinction between the two. You have a raid over the mountains of the North, or you get a Bedouin raid in the deserts of the South-West. In actual practice, looking back over our experience of 10 years, it has been extraordinarily difficult to say clearly when internal disorder ends, when a threat by an external enemy begins, and when a raid develops into a war. Looking to the time when we shall cease to he the mandatory Power, I feel that this situation will have to be very carefully watched. It is presumed that there will still be squadrons of the Air Force at the two bases contemplated in the Treaty. It is most important that when we have ceased to be the mandatory Power and we have no longer a High Commissioner representing the mandatory Power in Bagdad, those squadrons should not be used as the mercenary squadrons of a Government for which we are no longer responsible, and that the British Air Force should not be used in these conditions for maintaining order in a country for which we have ceased to hold the Mandate. That is a point in connection with our future and the Air Force to which I wish to draw the Under-Secretary's attention.

I come to another part of the Treaty, to another phase of British relations with the Iraq Government; I come to the question of the treatment of minorities. Unfortunately, in the East there is not too good a tradition in the matter of the treatment of minorities. Perhaps I might even extend that charge to certain countries in Europe; but so far as the East is concerned the history of the treatment of minorities in the past has been a very bad one. In Iraq there are two minorities; there are the Kurds on the North-Eastern frontier, and there are the Assyrian Christians in the neighbourhood of Mosul. For the purpose of my argument I take the case of the Assyrian Christians. I have often visited the Assyrian Christians in their villages in the mountains of Northern Iraq, and in the neighbourhood of Mosul, and I know intimately several of their leaders, ecclesiastical and lay. I can tell the House that there is no more interesting little community in the whole of the East than this small remnant of a great nation that was once the dominant power in Mesopotamia and the Middle East—a small remnant now reduced, I suppose, to about 20,000 men, women and children, who still retain some of the purest and most primitive Christian rites, are still governed and, I suppose, are the only community in the world still governed, by a hereditary patriarch, who in the present case was educated at Canterbury, where he became a very good football player—the only Christian patriarch who has ever been in his school football eleven.

They are about 20,000 primitive Christians, who, after every kind of terrible vicissitudes during the War, eventually found their way into the North of Iraq and have there been living mainly under British protection. Their men for the most part have joined a local regiment of levies, and their women and children upon many occasions have been helped by the Mandatory Power and by British help from these shores. This community is a community of Christians, looked at askance by the Kurds who live to the east of them, and looked at rather askance by the Moslem Iraqis, who live in the other directions. We are under some obligation to these people. During the War they came out boldly on our side, and since the War at very difficult moments in the history of Iraq they have proved useful to us.

I greatly hope that the Under-Secretary of State, when he comes to reply, will be able to tell me that when Iraq applies to enter the League of Nations in two years' time, we shall ask the Iraq Government to give us undertakings and to give the League undertakings that will satisfy us that this small community of Nestorian Christians, with the Kurds to the East, will be properly treated when we have ceased to be the Mandatory Power. In saying that I do not wish to make any criticism against the Iraq Government. All I wish to do is to face the fact that this is a small Christian community, so small that it is difficult for it to stand by itself, is a community to which, both from the interest of it and from the services it has done for us, we owe more than one obligation. It would be a calamity if in the future state of Iraq its existence and its religious independence were in any way wiped out.

I now come to the third part of the Treaty. I see in the Treaty that the details of the financial arrangements are to be worked out in a subsequent agreement. No doubt that is a wise course in dealing with a very complicated financial situation. During Vie last 10 years the British Exchequer and British private capitalists have found very large sums for various activities, defence and civil, in Iraq. I should not like to say how much British money has or has not been spent in Iraq during the last 10 or 12 years. It must run into many scores of millions. But I would like to say, in passing, that so far as the defence side of it goes, year by year we have been able to reduce that expenditure in what is really a most startling manner, and that at any rate in Iraq we have had de facto disarmament on a scale far beyond the wildest imagination of any member of the Disarmament Committee of the League of Nations. The expenditure has been reduced from £30,000,000, £20,000,000 and £10,000,000 to little more than £1,000,000. Even so, taking into account this sum that we are still spending upon the defence of Iraq, and the much vaster sums of money that we have spent during the last 10 or 12 years, it is very in portant that, without driving too hard a bargain with a new and young State, we should at any rate try in these financial agreements, to get some return for the vast sums of money that we have spent.

I quite agree that at the present time Iraq is a poor country and cannot afford immediately to undertake any great financial obligations, but I believe, looking to the future, that Iraq is going to be a very rich country. I believe it is going to be a very important country from the point of view of air communications, and that in itself will bring money and intercourse into the country. I believe also that it is going to be a very rich country from the development of the oilfields. As the House knows, we have passed through various phases in our views about the oilfields of the Middle East. There was a time when we thought that they were by far the greatest oilfields in the world. Then came a reaction when we were told that there was no oil in Iraq and the surrounding territories. Now, I understand, expert opinion is unanimous in agreeing that the oilfields of Iraq are of very great value, and that in future, as the demand for oil grows, they may play a very large part in the total output of the world's oil supply. That being so, I think it would be only justice to the British taxpayer, in arriving at these financial agreements with the Iraq Government, if we deal not only on the basis of the immediate present, but take into account the fact that possibly in a few years' time Iraq will be one of the richest countries of the Near and Middle East. I am aware that while these negotiations are going on I could not reasonably press the Under-Secretary of State for details of the financial arrangements, but I should like to hear from him that he is taking into account in these financial agreements the fact, almost the certainty, that in a comperatively short space of time Iraq may be a very rich country.

8.0 p.m.

Let me end by saying that the words of the Treaty may be very important, the conversations which are, perhaps, going on now with reference to the financial agreement may be very important, but what is much more important is the spirit in which the Treaty is carried out on both sides. On our side we have readily to admit the fact that Iraq is not a Crown Colony and is not an integral part of the British Empire. Hitherto it has been a mandated territory with the implication that as soon as it could stand safely on its own foundations it was our duty to lay down the mandate and not to bear any grudge at having to lay down the mandate. On the other hand, it is necessary for the Iraqis, even though they may become under the terms of the Treaty fully independent in the next few years, to be wise enough to take the advice of a more experienced Government than theirs, and not on any account to drift, as so many peoples in the East have drifted in recent years, into an extreme form of nationalism, suspicious of every suggestion from outside, and hostile to any friendly intervention. I believe that if we can maintain on our side a spirit of friendly help, and on their side a spirit of grateful willingness to accept it, Iraq can look forward to a great future and we can look forward with confidence to Iraq remaining a safe link in British Imperial communications and a centre of law and order and stability in the Middle East. I hope that the Under-Secretary will be able to say something on the points which I have ventured to raise.

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Dr. Drummond Shiels)

I would have been glad had it been possible for me to have had more notice of the fact that this subject was going to be raised, so that I might have been able to do more justice to it. I think it well that without waiting for the full opportunity, which will, however, doubtless arise later, of considering the Treaty as a whole—for it must be remembered that certain connected matters are still in course of negotiation—we should to-day have an opportunity, in the House of Commons, of marking our sense of the importance of this event in the history of the two countries. We could not have had the matter brought before us more appropriately than by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) who is familiar with this subject in all its aspects. He commented on one or two points and asked me to reply to them and I shall be very glad to do so to the best of my ability. First, he expressed some anxiety about the preservation of the Imperial air communications. The present position is that there are three air bases in Iraq, one at Hinaidi, one at Mosul and one near Basra. The position as it will he five years after the Treaty comes into force, is set out in the Treaty which has been published as a White Paper, and I may quote to the House the appropriate passage: His Britannic Majesty shall maintain forces at Hinaidi for a period of five years after the entry into force of this Treaty in order to enable His Majesty the King of `Iraq to organise the necessary forces to replace them. By the expiration of that period the said forces of His Britannic Majesty shall have been withdrawn from Hinaidi. It shall be also open to His Britannia Majesty to maintain forces at Mosul for a maximum period of five years from the entry into force of this Treaty. Thereafter it shall be open to His Britannic Majesty to station his forces in the localities mentioned in Article 5 of this Treaty, and His Majesty the King of 'Iraq will grant to His Britannic Majesty for the duration of Alliance leases of the necessary sites for the the accommodation of the forces of His Britannic Majesty in those localities. And Article 5, among other things includes this sentence: For this purpose and in order to facilitate the discharge of the obligations of His Britannic Majesty under Article 4 above His Majesty the King of 'Iraq undertakes to grant to His Britannic Majesty for the duration of the Alliance sites for air bases to be selected by His Britannic Majesty at or in the vicinity of Basra and for an air base to be selected by His Britannic Majesty to the west of the Euphratés It is true that the actual locations are not yet selected, but they are to be chosen by us and they will be selected and the bases actually constructed before the expiry of the five years after the Treaty comes into force. In connection with an incidental reference of the right hon. Gentleman, I would point out that the present High Commissioner or his successor will under the new Treaty become not an ordinary diplomatic minister, but an Ambassador with precedence over the representatives of all other Powers in Bagdad. All the arrangements involved have been worked out in consultation with and with the concurrence of the service department concerned. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman feels that he has every reason to have confidence in that department.

He expressed some concern as to the possible use of British forces on behalf of the Iraq Government. The chief danger of frontier disturbances lies in the possibility of tribal raids from outside the country's borders. It is not contemplated that British forces will need to intervene in such cases. With regard to more serious and more remote possibilities, the Treaty itself provides the necessary safeguards. In Article 3 it is laid down: Should any dispute between Iraq and a third State produce a situation which involves a risk of a rupture with that State, the High Contracting Parties will concert together with a view to the settlement of the said dispute by peaceful means in accordance with the provisions of the Covenant of the League of Nations and of any other international obligations which may be applicable to the case. Then, the whole Treaty is conditioned by Article 9: Nothing in the present Treaty is intended to or shall in any way prejudice the rights and obligations which devolve, or may devolve, upon either of the High Contracting Parties under the Covenant of the League of Nations or the Treaty for the Renunciation of War signed at Paris on the twenty-seventh day of August, one thousand nine hundred and twenty-eight. I think, therefore, it will be seen that any premature or unjustified employment of British forces is adequately guarded against.

The right hon. Gentleman also drew attention to the important subject of minorities, and I am sure we must all have felt considerable sympathy with the point of view which he put. He stressed the importance of the position of both racial and religious minorities. This question is a familiar one in many countries, and has been dealt with along many different lines, but it has never been regarded as an obstacle to constitutional development and self-government. It has been said that there is no mention of minorities in the Treaty and it has been implied that some safeguards for them might have been inserted. But this criticism overlooks the circumstances in which the Treaty will come into force and the object which it is designed to serve. The Treaty will not come into operation until Iraq becomes a member of the League of Nations, and until the quasi-mandatory responsibilities of this country towards Iraq have been terminated.

The Treaty therefore when it becomes effective will be a Treaty between two free and independent peoples. When that important fact is remembered, it will be seen that any Clause implying any form of supervision or control of the Iraq Government's dealings with its own peoples, would be incompatible With the nature of the Treaty, and the full independence of Iraq. We are satisfied that the Iraq Government fully intend to give liberal treatment to their minority peoples and that full opportunity will be afforded to them to preserve their own language and culture. We are also confident that the Iraq Government will be in a position, fully, to satisfy the League of Nations on this point when the time comes. Many lion. Members will be aware that the League of Nations takes a special interest in the welfare of these minorities, and, in all the circumstances, I do not think we need feel apprehension about these people.


Would it not be possible when Iraq tries to join the League of Nations that this question should be brought to the fore both from our own point of view and that of the League of Nations? I should have thought it was just the time when such a question ought to be brought forward.


I think it is quite probable that the question may be raised then.


It ought to be.


The right hon. Gentleman will realise that it is not a subject on which I can make a pronouncement at this time.

The right hon. Gentleman spoke very interestingly about the history of oil in Iraq, and suggested that there is likely to be considerable development in that direction in the future. I noted what the right hon. Gentleman said, and agree with a great deal of it, but he will, I am sure, not expect me to follow him in commenting upon it. He can rest assured, however, that His Majesty's Government is fully seized of the great importance of this subject and has the matters which he brought forward fully in mind.

On the whole, I was glad to know that the right hon. Gentleman agrees that the Treaty is satisfactory. A treaty, of course, is a two-sided document, and no doubt we have not been able to secure all that we wished. On the other hand, the same kind of criticism is no doubt being made in Iraq. There must be give and take in all agreements, and on the whole, both contracting parties in this case have reason to be satisfied. I am very glad to be able to associate myself with the tribute paid by the right hon. Gentleman to the work of those British civil officials and to all ranks of the Royal Air Force who have been in Iraq during these last years and who have helped Iraq to reach the final stage of complete independence contemplated in the Treaty. On the other hand, it is only proper that we should recognise that this result could not have been obtained without the statemanship shown by His Majesty King Feisal, who is well known to and esteemed by many Members of this House. His Majesty's Government had the privilege of welcoming him and his able Prime Minister to this country a few days ago. In nine short years King Feisal has made a nation and a name in history.

Mesopotamia, now called Iraq, is regarded as a sacred land in many an Empire home. Thousands of British lads lie there, and it is gratifying to feel that the bond of sentiment thus made has now been reinforced by a Treaty which unites the two countries in a friendship which, I am sure, will be a lasting one.


My right hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) addressed to the Under-Secretary of State a question on the subject of the protection of minorities in Iraq, to which the Under-Secretary has given what I might call the orthodox reply that, when Iraq comes to be a member of the League of Nations, that will be a matter for the League and not for any special action on the part of this country. That raises a point on which I should have been glad of an opportunity of asking for an explanation from the Under-Secretary of State had he given me such an opportunity before he rose. Can we have some clearer account of just how His Majesty's Government have put to the Government of Iraq the obligation with regard to the candidature of Iraq for membership of the League? That point, I think, is worth raising for this reason, that the greatest possible misconceptions are apt to prevail as to the power of any single member of the League, and particularly any member of the Council, to secure success for the candidature of another country to enter into the League, and any opportunity that can be taken to remove those misconceptions is worth taking, particularly to remove them by pointing out that all that can be done by one country in furthering the candidature of another is to use its best offices to promote that candidature, but that it cannot ensure success.

It is, I think, an occasion for real congratulation, which has been most clearly and justly put by my right hon. Friend, and to which we have had quite an adequate response from the Under-Secretary of State, on the fortunate completion of one chapter in our rather complicated relations with the new Kingdom of Iraq and what we hope to be the opening of a chapter which will prove to be equally fortunate in the future. I do not think it need be concealed here, any more than it is concealed from any responsible person involved in this relation, that the step now taken is a bold one. It is taking a very long step forward rather soon after the last. It is a bold one from the point of view of those responsible for the Government of Iraq, the Arab statesmen who form the Government. It is a bold one to contemplate so soon the casting off of all leading strings from the organisation of a State so new in the world, and a world in which competition among States is so severe and complexity of government is so great. It is a bold one also for the Empire, with its high interests involved, affecting in particular, as has been said already by my right hon. Friend, vital matters of interest relating to the Imperial air routes and also the Imperial land routes.

The boldness of the step would not have been justified in anything but a completely favourable atmosphere, and most fortunately we have an atmosphere in our relations with Iraq which is sufficiently favourable to make the step, in my opinion, justified. We owe that atmo- sphere, as has already been said, to the labours of those who have been responsible for the relations between the two countries in the past, and let me add my tribute to that of the Under-Secretary to the practical abilities of the Iraqi statesmen and politicians under the Iraqi Sovereign who have brought us to this fortunate condition of good understanding. Let me also add a special word for inclusion in the tributes that have been paid to-day to a particular class of officers, and that is the British advisers of the Iraq Government, who are owed a very strong testimony of admiration from us, no less than those who have perhaps occupied more prominent positions. Their task has been exceptionally difficult. It is always difficult to able administrators of our race to be content with a position which is advisory and not executive, because it deprives them of the pleasure of being able at once to carry out their own plans in what they consider to be the most prompt and effective manner, and it requires special gifts of tact and devotion to have succeeded, during the last five years, in making so great a success of the very difficult relations involved in what may be called the advisory Empire. Both sides, by a policy of common sense and devotion to the interests of the people of Iraq, have combined to make this a success.

There is involved in that new relation that has been set up between the big Ally and the small, a situation no doubt which is experimental in its nature and which involves at least one element od difficulty. The difficulty is probably only the consequence of being an experiment, with no experiences of the past to show how it will work out, but we do not know from any experience in the past bow the relations will work out between an independent State come to its full manhood among States and a member of the League, enjoying sovereignty and freedom from control, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, what I may perhaps describe as the guest of that State—that is, the British Empire—living within the territories of the independent State, something in the capacity of a guest, but with the right and obligation of protecting there the vital interests of Imperial communications.

The moat promising circumstance as regards the prospects of this relation working out satisfactorily is the free recognition in the treaty which has been established by the Government of Iraq that protection of the Imperial air routes and Imperial communications is a permanent interest which will be guaranteed by the Iraq State. That recognition no doubt should raise a high promise that the two partners will be able to sit down with mutual forbearance and understanding of each other's needs, which will lead to a workable relation for the benefit of both parties concerned. That secures the protection of the Imperial interest, but, in order that it may be worked out in a practical way, great forethought will be necessary on the part both of the Iraq Government and of the British administrators involved for the establishment of a sufficiently close connection to enable the functions which will be exercised on the spot by the Imperial Air Force to be exercised with efficiency, discrimination and effect. I do not think that one can emphasise too clearly or at too early a. date that unless the relation is to be allowed to be established in this manner—if there is no sufficient or close liaison, no direct means of communication and of representation in time as regards matters of high policy and administration between the Imperial administrators on the spot and the Arab Government—the Government must be Impractical and unworthy. You will have a great force there, but it will be impossible for it to act under any particular direction.

The relation which we establish requires that the mere skeleton that is set up in the Treaty should be clothed with the flesh and blood of the working, practical, close liaison of the two parties on the spot. The truest words that have been said this afternoon are that this Treaty will depend more on the spirit in which it is worked than upon its letter. It will be essential that the fact of independence shall be clothed with the flesh and blood of practical co-operation in order to make it workable. In this new State that was once an ancient empire, because of the atmosphere of good will and understanding that fortunately still exists in that part of the world, which is due to the high practical ability shown by both parties concerned, we can look forward with confidence to the working opt of this relation. But, in order that the relation may be worked out, it is essential that His Majesty's Government should consider what is the practical method by which it can in future assist the Government of Iraq. Of course, the services of British experts and the consideration of the extent to which they will be required in future as in the past are essential, but there are other directions.

My right hon. Friend has argued with feeling the case for the British taxpayer, and it was pointed out that, though Iraq may not be now a rich country, it has great expectations. Undoubtedly, that is a matter for the British Treasury to take into account in establishing the financial terms of the Agreement. If Iraq is to be wealthy in future, it can only be by means of a development from its very primitive and backward state, and that development can only be carried out by means of funds and capital. In fact, the great need of Iraq at the present time is development on capital account, and the chief manner in which we can assist her is by taking practical account of that, and recognising that this is the way in which we can clothe the dry bones of disagreement with the flesh and blood a close practical relations. It is a matter of some regret to me and to those of us on these benches that when the scheme of colonial development was brought in, Iraq, though not expressly excluded, was stated out by the drafting of the Act. The point was taken at the time, but I think that it has never been explained for what reason Iraq was excluded from the Colonial Development Act, except some point of title and the idea that the use of an Act called the Colonial Development Act for Iraq might cause some sense of inappropriateness.

I do not think that that difficulty would be very hard to overcome in dealing with Iraq business, and I would take this opportunity of laying at the door of the Under-Secretary and of the Secretary of State the renewed suggestion that even now this ally of the Empire should be included in this scheme of the Colonial Development Fund. There is great opportunity there we know both for the benefit of Iraq and for this country. There are large schemes of development which can be carried out for the benefit of that country, and, if done with financial assistance from the British Government, would assure orders coming to this country, giving great benefit to this country by way of employment.

I will mention only three such works awaiting development for the completion of the railway system in Iraq. There is the completion of the railway to Mosul, which would open up one of the most compact and fertile grain areas in that part of the world, and is of vital importance to the economies of Iraq. A new railway line would bring many orders for railway material to this country. There is also the building of the Bagdad bridge, and the linking up of the Iraq railways which are broken by the River Tigris. That is a typical case which would result in orders to the benefit of this country, for the whole of the money spent would be spent on bridge material, thus assisting one of the most depressed industries. Then there is the railway to Haifa, linking that up with the great world and sending all the currents of modern life running through the economic veins of Iraq—a matter of the most vital moment to the economic future of the State, which would result in just the sort of order for railway materials, bridges and so on which, if we could secure them here, would be of great benefit to those trades Which most need them now.

There could be no more typical instance of the beneficial direct work which can be done by a little stimulus from the British Government for the development of what is not a part of the Empire, but is so closely associated, that we like to think of it as a particular tie for the benefit of that country on the one hand, as an obligation both of history and under our Treaty; and on the other hand as giving a reasonable benefit to ourselves. The matter needs no argument. I cannot see what can stand in the way of including this new species of activity, which is being extended to similar undertakings in other parts of the world. There is the higher interest to us even than the material prosperity which we derive from such orders in giving the necessary impetus to make Iraq a prosperous and stable State. It is one of the highest interests of the Empire, for the sake of the maintenance of its routes, that there should be in that part of the world a stable, self-maintaining State, and it is to the highest interest, not only of the Empire, but of all the world, that the central point of the equilibrium of the Middle East should be a secure and stable State in Iraq. Anything that we can do by such an economic effort as I have described in order to secure prosperity and stability in that State is not wasted, for it is to the highest purpose.