My Lords, I rise to ask His Majesty's Government what is the present situation in the Hejaz, and whether the Government are still, as stated in the House on February 14, engaged in negotiating a treaty of friendship with King Hussein. When I put this Question on the Paper I had no intention of making any speech, but the telegram of the Government of India, which was referred to earlier this afternoon, has changed the situation slightly with regard to the Hejaz. When I asked a Question on this subject some weeks ago I was told that the Government were engaged in negotiating a Treaty of friendship with King Hussein, and I ventured to express my opinion that King Hussein was an object of hatred to his subjects and contempt to the rest of the Mahomedan world. This opinion has been strengthened since.
Even if King Hussein were a desirable ally, which he is not, I do not think that at the present moment it is desirable to conclude a Treaty of friendship with him. Such a Treaty could have only two results. In the first place, it would prejudice our chances of making a satisfactory peace with the Turks, and in the second place, it would make further difficulties for the Government of India. In these circumstances I venture to urge upon the Government the desirability of a postponement of these negotiations sine die—that is, of course, unless they have already done so.
THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (THE EARL OF CRAWFORD)
My Lords, since the pilgrimage of last summer, which His Majesty's representative at Jeddah reported to have been on the whole one of the most successful for many years past no event of importance to the outside world has occurred in the Hejaz. The apprehensions felt in some quarters as to trouble between the Hejaz and Nejd resulting from Sultan Bin Saud's capture of Hail have fortunately proved groundless. 457 It is understood, however, that these apprehensions, combined with a financial crisis from which the Hejaz is no more immune than other countries, have led to certain measures of taxation and recruitment which have apparently not proved popular among King Hussein's subjects.
With regard to the second part of the Question it is regretted that King Hussein 458 has not yet seen his way to conclude the negotiations to which I referred in reply to the noble Lord's Question on this subject on February 14, but His Majesty's Government still hope for a favourable issue.
§ House adjourned at a quarter past seven o'clock.