§ LORD LAMINGTON
My Lords, I beg to ask His Majesty's Government when a subsidy was first paid to Ibn Saud; what was the original object of granting the subsidy, and whether its continuance is not resented by King Hussein, our Ally in the late war. I understand that previous to the war Ibn Saud was a friend of the present King Hussein, King of the Hejas, that he used to write friendly letters, and to make demands of money in them, some of which were granted. Then came the war and the recognition of Hussein as King of the Hejas, which apparently created a feeling of jealousy in the mind of Ibn Saud. To keep him quiet this subsidy of £6,000 a month in gold wars given to him. The result is that the present position has made King Hussein rather worried, because he, with whom we kept in close alliance throughout the war, does not receive any subsidy, while Ibn Saud, who has developed au unfriendly demeanour and rivalry, is receiving one. It seems to me, therefore, very unfortunate that a potentate who is our friend, and who acted loyally throughout the war, should be placed distinctly at a disadvantage, compared with Ibn Saud, who, with this large subsidy, no doubt can maintain a very considerable military force, and thereby piece King Hussein at a great disadvantage. I therefore would ask whether it would not be better to withdraw the subsidy to Ibn Saud, if it is still being continued, or else to give a subsidy to our friend the King of the Hejaz also.
LORD BELHAVEN AND STENTON
My Lords, I venture to intervene in this debate because on the last occasion when the question of subsidies to Arab sheikhs was mooted in this House I spoke and received an assurance from the Government then in power that these subsidies would be reduced at the earliest possible moment. At that time the question of the Geddes Report was in our minds, and we were all very anxious that expenditure should be reduced wherever possible. I was then of opinion (and still hold the opinion) that, although these subsidies were extremely useful during the war, they were becoming rather a menace than of any potential use in the future.
298 The noble Lord, Lord Lamington, spoke as if this jealousy between King Hussein and Ibn Saud was a new thing. I know something about this subject, because I was in Arabia during the war and studied the question. It was a good deal over a century ago that Thu Saud's ancestor, who was also a Mohamedan Saud of the day, went to Mecca and compelled the Sherif of the time to do homage to him. It was to keep Ibn Saud and the Wahabis from Mecca that the Turks eventually decided on the expedition to Nejd, which was organised by Mehemet Ali, who was Khedive of Egypt. This jealousy between Ibn Saud and the Sherifian family is a long-standing feud of many generations. Of course, I know nothing of the real reasons, but I understand that the reason given why King Hussein gets no subsidy while Ibn Saud does is that Ibn Saud is able to do considerable damage to King Feisal, the son of the Sherif, if he likes to interfere on the Euphrates. No doubt, by giving him a subsidy, we have some little hold on Ibn Saud, for, if we do not give him a subsidy, he can create trouble on the Euphrates and in Mesopotamia.
I do not wish to embarrass the Government in any way by anything I may say on this question of Mesopotamia, but the question of subsidies to Arab sheikhs is very closely related to the question of our ova-ovation of Upper Mesopotamia. I am of opinion that it would be a foolish thing to reduce the subsidy paid to Ibn Saud while we are still in occupation of Upper Mesopotamia. Perhaps this is not the time to make any remarks about Mesopotamia. The Government are at the present moment sufficiently anxious about the many unfortunate legacies which have come to them from the war and which were continued under the late Government. I feel sure, however, that they are on the look-out for any suitable opportunity of carrying out the promises made of eventual withdrawal.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE)
My Lords, a subsidy was first paid to Ibn Saud, the Sultan of Nejd, during the war. The object of the subsidy was to assist bins in his operations against the Turks and their adherents. I should like to take this opportunity of reminding your Lordship that Ibn Saud was the loyal Ally of His Majesty's Government during the 299 war, and that since the conclusion of the war he has maintained the same friendly attitude. But the whole question of the policy of the Government in the matter of subsidies to Arab rulers is at present under consideration, and I should prefer to express no opinion on the merits of the question at the moment. The matter is one of very considerable delicacy, it has to be treated from a wide point of view, and I trust that before very long, in connection with the policy of the Government in the Middle East, I shall be able to make a statement on this, as well as on other important subjects connected with that vast problem.
§ [From Minutes of March 6.]
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR acquainted the House, That the Clerk of the Parliaments had laid upon the Table the certificates from the Examiners that the further Standing Orders applicable to the following Bills have been complied with:
§ South Oxfordshire Water and Gas. [H.L.]300
§ Felixstowe Dock and Railway. [H.L.]
§ London and South Western Railway. [H.L.]
§ North Eastern Railway. [H.L.]
§ South Staffordshire Mond Gas. [H.L.]
§ Swanage Gas and Electricity. [H.L.]
§ Thomas Cheshire and Company (Delivery Warrants). [H.L.]
§ The same were ordered to lie on the Table.