HC Deb 02 May 1934 vol 289 cc298-9
18. Mr. RANKIN

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies by what date the report of the expert upon the nature of the repairs will be necessary to prevent the ruin of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem; and whether he will give an indication that the British Government is prepared to assist the Government of Palestine in the preservation of this historic building?


If my hon. Friend will refer to the reply given on the 31st January, of which a copy has been sent to him, he will see that certain works of consolidation which are immediately necessary are already being carried out. It was expected that these works would be completed by the end of April. The cost of these temporary works is being defrayed provisionally by the Government of Palestine, and the question of the provision of funds, both for the temporary works and for such permanent works as may be decided upon, will be a matter for discussion with the ecclesiastical authorities concerned. No question arises of a grant from the British Government.


Has the right hon. Gentleman made inquiries as to whether it is not possible for the patriarchs to look after their own churches?


I have stated the position quite clearly and indeed very accurately.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether there is any ground for the apprehension that the building is approaching a state of ruin?


There were certain things brought to our notice. I gave a very full answer to other questions as to the steps taken to bring a very good expert to advise on the matter. It was essential to take immediately certain steps to ensure the structural safety of the building. The House will agree that it was right that the Government of Palestine should take these immediate steps, and it is now discussing the various projects suggested.

Lieut.-Commander AGNEW

Have the religious bodies concerned made contributions?


The matter was very urgent and certain immediate repairs had to be effected in order to ensure the safety of this building. I am sure the whole House would agree that it would be very wrong for the Government of Palestine not to take those steps. Now We are discussing with the religious bodies the question of contributions.