HC Deb 03 December 1965 vol 721 cc268-9W
Mr. Bence

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what assistance Her Majesty's Government are now giving to former members of the Royal Air Force levies in Iraq.

Mr. George Thomson

As a result of the Anglo-Iraq special agreement of April, 1955 (Cmnd. 9544), the Levy Force, raised in Iraq and administered by the Royal Air Force, was disbanded. In recognition of the long and loyal services of the Assyrians in that force Her Majesty's Government helped them to resettle in Iraq and encouraged the foundation of the Habbaniyah Co-operative Building Society with the object of providing houses for former members of the levies.

In 1958 developments beyond the Society's control caused the withdrawal of finance promised to the Society from Iraq funds, and placed it in a critical position in which it could not meet contractual obligations already entered into. Because of their moral obligations to the Society, Her Majesty's Government accepted responsibility for certain of the Society's liabilities to the British Bank of the Middle East incurred in that situation. It is now proposed to discharge such liability by the payment of £44,006 to the British Bank of the Middle East, and Parliament will in due course be asked to vote that amount by means of a Supplementary Estimate. In the meantime an advance will be obtained from the Civil Contingencies Fund.