My Lords, I beg to ask His Majesty's Government whether they can give any information as to a dispute between the Egyptian Government and the King of the Hejaz with regard to the pilgrimage to Mecca?
§ LORD SOMERLEYTON
My Lords, I may perhaps, be allowed to reply to the noble Lord's Question in the place of my noble friend who is unable to be present. I understand that the Egyptian Government recently asked permission of the Hashimite Government to send two hospitals to the Hejaz with the official Egyptian pilgrimage which annually accompanies the sacred carpet to Mecca. One of these hospitals was to be established at Jeddah and the other to accompany the pilgrims on their journey to Mecca, in order to look after the health of the Egyptian pilgrims. The Egyption Government naturally assumed that no objection would be raised to this purely humanitarian mission and were consequently astonished to 1211 learn that the King of the Hejaz refused to allow the hospitals to land in his country, although he stated that he would have no objection to special doctors accompanying the official pilgrimage. The Egyptian Government thereupon requested that representations might be made on their behalf to the Hashimite Government through his Majesty's Consul at Jeddah. The latter has, however, been unable to induce the Hashimite Government to modify their attitude.
Acting upon instructions from the Egyptian Government the leader of the official pilgrimage refused to land with the sacred carpet unless the hospitals were allowed to accompany him, and the whole party is returning to Egypt. On the official information received from His Majesty's representatives, His Majesty's Government feel that the Egyptian Government, in taking this course, have acted within their rights. I trust this conveys the information required by the noble Lord.