HC Deb 25 June 1928 vol 219 cc2-3
6. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has now received information that several persons have recently been accused in Palestine of membership of an illegal association, and have been sentenced to deportation; whether he is aware that these persons asked that they should be treated as political offenders; that they went on hunger strike and are still on hunger strike; that three of them were flogged; and whether he now has any information to communicate to the House on the subject

The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Amery)

I have now received a report from the High Commissioner. On May 29th three militant Communists serving sentences of 30, 50 and 100 days respectively for taking part in illegal assemblies, refused to return to their cells after exercise. One of them threw a stone and hit the warder and the other two then joined with the first in attempting to wrench the warder's baton from his hand. They were overpowered and subsequently charged with refusing to obey an order and with using violence against a prison officer, and, being found guilty by the Superintendent of the Prison, they were punished, in accord- ance with Prison Regulations, by five days' solitary confinement and 12 lashes. These prisoners had been recommended by the Court for deportation, and the recommendation will be carried out in due course. There are nine other Jewish Communist prisoners in the prison who have caused considerable trouble to the prison authorities by constant violence and disobedience to orders and who for some days refused to take food. I do not know whether they asked to be treated as political offenders. Flogging is a legal punishment for offences of violence in prison, and the High Commissioner is satisfied that this punishment was properly awarded and administered.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Why were these men imprisoned? Was it because they were Communists?


No. I have given the answer. It was for taking part in an illegal assembly.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

But is it a crime in Palestine to be a member of the Communist or any other political party?


I should like to have notice of that question.


What evidence has the right hon. Gentleman that these men were Communists?


After all, in all these matters of administration, the evidence is taken by the Government on the spot, and they were satisfied that these men were taking part in an illegal assembly.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the illegal association referred to is the Communist party?




Where are these men going to be deported to?


Presumably to their country of origin.