HL Deb 14 February 1922 vol 49 cc128-30

LORD RAGLAN had given Notice to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether negotiations have recently taken place between His Majesty's Government and the King of the Hejaz, and if so, with what result; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, the King of the Hejaz is an object of the hatred of his subjects and contempt of the rest of the Mahomedan world which has ignominiously rejected his claims to the Caliphate. The tacit support accorded him by His Majesty's Government has alienated much Mahomedan opinion. Since the Armistice large sums have been paid to the King of the Hejaz in subsidies. This money has been wasted. There is no administration in the Hejaz, and the Army is farcical. The King of the Hejaz has no scruples about biting the hands that feed him, and his activities are frequently anti-British. Negotiations took place last October. It is to be hoped that as a result of them we shall pay less to this demented tyrant and shall receive some value for our money.


My Lords, before the noble Earl replies on behalf of the Government I should like to say a word or two on this subject. I do not know on what Report the noble Lord has made this strong indictment of the King of the Hejaz. He forgets that he was our Ally during the war and rendered our troops enormous services. He was given most definite pledges, and I hope the Government are not going to run away from those pledges on mere rumour. I have some knowledge of this question, and I was going to ask how far Trans-Jordania is connected with the King of the Hejaz, what progress has been made, and what is the present position; but probably the noble Earl cannot give me an answer now. I must protest strongly against the vigorous and unfair statement made about one who rendered us signal service during the war.


My Lords, in the first place I desire, on behalf of the noble Marquess the Leader of the House, to apologise for his absence. He desired to reply to the noble Lord, but has been kept by his duties at the Foreign Office. Lord Lamington has anticipated to some extent my reply. I must plead guilty to being unable to give him a statement about the general condition now ruling in Trans-Jordania. I do not propose to comment on what Lord Raglan has said, in view of the fact that at this moment negotiations are proceeding with the King of the Hejaz with a view to concluding a Treaty of friendship. I am sure the House as a whole will realise that in such circumstances a public discussion, in which the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs should make a pronouncement upon policy, would at the present stage be inopportune. If and when a Treaty is concluded with King Hussein it will be laid before Parliament before ratification, and, should your Lordships desire, opportunities for discussion will then be afforded.