HC Deb 21 May 1930 vol 239 cc386-8

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can make any statement regarding the action of the Palestine Government in cancelling the certificates for 2,300 Jewish immigrants previously authorised to enter Palestine?

49. Mr. MARCUS

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the Jewish Agency for Palestine recently applied for 3,300 immigration certificates on the basis of the actual requirements of each Colony; that the Palestine Government granted the application; and if he will explain why the Colonial Office has since instructed the Palestine Government to cancel these certificates and to suspend all immigration until Sir John Hope Simpson has completed his inquiry.


There has been no general stoppage or prohibition of immigration. The Secretary of State is aware that, owing to a misunderstanding a schedule of 3,300 persons was approved early in May by the High Commissioner for the half-yearly period ending 30th September next. This figure included 950 persons whose admission bad been sanctioned in advance. His Majesty's Government have taken the view that, having regard to the criticisms made in the Shaw Commission Report and the consequent mission of Sir John Hope Simpson to Palestine for the special purpose of examining questions relating to land and immigration, it is desirable, pending the receipt of Sir J. Hope Simpson's Report, that further arrivals should in the meantime be restricted. It has accordingly been decided to confine the issue of certificates for the present to the 950 persons whom I have mentioned. No certificates have been cancelled, nor has a final decision been reached as to the Labour Schedule covering the whole period to 30th September next.


How many people will be affected by the suspension of this provision to enter Palestine?


I think that about 2,000 people will be affected in the meantime, but there is no reason why they should be ultimately affected.


If the economic capacity of Palestine is insufficient to absorb these 3,300 people, why were these certificates granted by the High Commissioner? If, on the other hand, Palestine is capable of absorbing these 3,300 immigrants, is it not contrary to the terms of the mandate that the Government should stop these people going in?


The position is really this: The situations to which these people were going were all of a temporary kind, in the orange groves and so on. We have been attempting to carry out the policy as stated in the Command Paper in 1922, of only allowing immigration into Palestine according to the economic capacity of the country to absorb it. A Commission was recently appointed, as hon. Members are aware, in connection with the disturbances of last autumn. That Commission criticised, not the principle of our immigration policy, but the way in which it had been carried out, and they made the suggestion that an expert should be sent out in connection with the land question. That expert has been sent out, and surely it only seems ordinary discretion that in the meantime the immigration should be restricted, so that we should not be accused of making the mistakes which the Commission said we had made in the past?

Forward to