§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 7.4 p.m.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."
As the House had a very long day on this subject the other Friday and discussed all the details of the Money Resolution and the White Paper, I think that it will wish to satisfy itself on this occasion of one thing only: that the Bill carries out the intentions of the White Paper. I can give hon. Members that assurance. Clause 1 is the authority for giving the loan; Clause 2 lays down the conditions on which the Treasury have to be satisfied before the loan is issued and the Treasury guarantee is given. The House will see that in Clause 2 (2) the two conditions are laid down to which I particularly referred last time this matter was before the House, namely that fair conditions of labour are to be observed in the execution of the work, and that all plant, machinery and materials are to be ordered in the United Kingdom.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
I did not have the advantage of listening to the Debate when the Money Resolution was before the House the other Friday, but I have taken the opportunity of reading the speeches which were delivered on that occasion, and I think, if I may say so without offence, that there was some spirited temper shown in some quarters that day. I should have thought that the right hon. Gentleman would have taken the opportunity of answering the criticisms made then by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood). I do not think that he will be able to leave it exactly at that point, for, unless I am mistaken, that was the most vigorous criticism that has been made of any Money Resolution in this House for some time past.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
It was effectively dealt with by the then Leader of the Labour party, who, on behalf of his party, disassociated himself entirely from the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. DAVIES
The Labour party is of the same opinion to-night, except perhaps that the words we shall utter will be a little more delicately assembled together. I wish, however, to say a word or two on what I regard as a very important Measure. I had the privilege, along with some other hon. Members of this House, of visiting Palestine some months ago, and I wish that all hon. Members could see exactly what is happening in that little country, so wonderful in many respects. We must always remember, in dealing with Palestine, either with this loan or any other subject, what the British Government of any particular colour has to do in Palestine under the Mandate. This country has indeed undertaken a very difficult task. I am certain that whoever is at the head of the Department now represented by the right hon. Gentleman will always find it rather difficult to balance the claims of the two elements, the Arabs and Jews, in that country. I made some inquiry on my travels through Palestine into the problems which confront the Government there, and without associating myself too vigorously either with the right hon. Gentleman or the right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme, I will gladly pay a tribute to the work of the High Commissioner and his staff in Palestine. If the right hon. and gallant Gentleman himself were the High Commissioner in Palestine, I am not sure that he would be able to do very much better. He is a very well-informed gentleman; I wish that I knew half as much about the world as he does. I cannot, however agree with him in his criticism of the way in which Palestine is governed. Moreover, the Government of this country through its representatives in the Holy Land must walk very warily as between the Jews and the Arabs, and keep on an even keel as it were. Having said that, however, I am not quite able to understand this loan, because it does not actually belong to our responsibilities under the Mandate. It seems to me that we could have carried out the Mandate without this loan at all. I know of course the necessity for a water supply in Jerusalem——
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I only interrupt because the hon. Gentleman said that he was not present when the House discussed this loan. I then explained to 98 the House that his own Government had undertaken not only to guarantee this loan but also to give a grant-in-aid in addition to the guarantee, and I also explained that owing to the altered financial circumstances the grant had become unnecessary, but that it was reasonable that we should attach perfectly safe financial conditions to the guarantee.
§ Mr. DAVIES
If the right hon. Gentleman had remained patient a little I should have come to that. He is always a little too jumpy for a Debate on Palestine, and he must not forget that hon. Members of the Labour party and of the Tory party too criticise on occasions the Governments of which they were once members. I hope that I shall live long enough to see the right hon. Gentleman on this side of the House—that will be very soon, I hope. When he is on this side later on he will probably stand up and criticise the very proposals which he is now fathering. He will be a very unusual Member of Parliament if he does not do so. I do not think that this loan, in spite of the commitments of a previous Government, is of itself part of our Mandate responsibilities towards Palestine. That Palestine is a very flourishing country we are all delighted to know, and the first requirement of Palestine is indeed an adequate water supply. Nevertheless, I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman a question. I have read the whole of the previous Debate, and it seems to me that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme failed to notice this point which I am now about to put. If these water supply undertakings are to be carried out in Jerusalem and in Haifa, will the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether they are to be municipal or private enterprise?
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I think both will be under Government control, though I should like to verify that in the case of Haifa.
§ Mr. DAVIES
The right hon. Gentleman is now championing State Socialism as against municipal Socialism; it is indeed a delight to see how far the Tory party has approached to our point of view, though I do not suppose that they would do that here at home.
§ Mr. DAVIES
And a land of promise. Having reached that point, that this money is to be spent under Government control for the purposes of a water supply-in Jerusalem and Haifa, may I ask another question? Who is going to have control of this item, the construction of an oil-berth and the land reclamation scheme at Haifa?
§ Mr. DAVIES
The right hon. Gentleman did not follow me. Who will lend the money to the Government of Palestine and the Haifa Water Board? I am sure that the money will be put up by capitalists.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I hope that the trade union funds will find their way into such sound investments.
§ Mr. DAVIES
I should not think that the trade unions of Great Britain would wish to invest their money in Palestine. The Jewish trade unions are very powerful in Palestine. I wish at this stage to pay this tribute to the Labour movement in Palestine, that, as far as I know, they own co-operatively the whole transport system of Palestine minus the railways. On this point I am entitled to ask the right hon. Gentleman, who spoke about trade union conditions there, whether he will inquire a little more closely into the disabilities of trade unions in Palestine. I am not speaking of trade union disabilities in connection with these schemes now under discussion, but I understand that there are peculiar difficulties in the way of trade union work in Palestine that are unknown to us here. There was one sentence in the remarkable and critical speech of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman which I disliked immensely. He was dealing with the educational problem and, being well informed, he told the House that he objected to the Koran and Talmud being the only text books in Palestine. On 100 that principle I suppose that he would object to the teaching of Welsh in Wales.
§ Mr. DAVIES
On that point we definitely part company. There is, however, a consideration in regard to education in Palestine which is important. The Jews are making great progress in the teaching of Hebrew—in my view every nationality has the right to teach its own language—but the important point appears to be that members of small nationalities, before they can find a livelihood outside their own country, must learn the English language too. That is why I learnt the English language. There was another remark in the speech of the right hon. and gallant Member which amazed me, to which I think the Secretary of State should reply. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman said that the Palestine Government does not want this money. Is that so?
§ Mr. DAVIES
I am sorry to have to put questions to the Secretary of State in a somewhat triangular fashion, but this is the only way in which we can get any information at all from the Government. Then we are told that this loan is only to be guaranteed. I have known such guarantees as this come home to roost. There is the case of the Austrian loan, in which we guaranteed the whole and any loss arising from it. Before we pass this Bill I think we should have some assurance that there is a possibility of the money being safe. Personally, I think it is as safe in Palestine as it would be in Newcastle-under-Lyme; and that is saying a great deal. Then there is the question of the resettlement of displaced Arabs. When I was in Palestine I was told that there was a wrong impression in Great Britain as to the sufferings of the Arab population—I do not know how far it is true—and that some of the land which was bought by Jewish immigrants was not bought from poor Arabs, as we have been told, but from rich Arab landlords, at a good price, Arab landlords who own land in Palestine and live in Syria. The right hon. and gallant Member for 101 Newcastle-under-Lyme is a keen advocate of the taxation of land values, and I have the impression that he is critical of this loan because increases in the value of land in Palestine are not finding their way to the proper quarter. There is a great deal to be said about that, and I think that much of the trouble in Palestine has arisen because of the fictitious prices which have been paid for land.
But in regard to the resettlement of displaced Arabs, where are they going to be put, in what part of Palestine? The argument I heard was that the Jews were able to buy the best land and that the Arabs, as a consequence, were thrown back on poor soil. There is no doubt that Palestine is a wonderful country if you can get engineers to provide water supplies there. Almost anything will grow there provided you get water in abundance. It is worth while asking also whether these Arabs are going to be resettled in communities, as has been done in those most wonderful colonies established by the Jews. In connection with public buildings there is an item of £407,000, including an expenditure on the Jerusalem Post Office. In this country our private banks and financiers do not loan money to support Post Office undertakings, and I am wondering whether it is not possible for the Post Office in Palestine to sustain itself and expand its buildings without a loan from this country.
I want to see this glorious little country, with its wonderful historical associations, peopled very much quicker than it is now, and I can see no reason why the restrictions which now prevail against Jewish immigration should be so strict. Palestine is as large a country as Wales, not quite so beautiful maybe. There is a population of 3,000,000 in the Principality and I should not be surprised if Palestine could not maintain from 2,000,000 to 2,500,000 people easily. The Jewish people are cultivating the soil in a remarkable way and are transforming patches of desert into a beautiful garden, and, therefore, I think that we should remove some of the restrictions against the further immigration of the Jews into that country.
I cannot leave this subject without making one slight protest. Some of us 102 represent distressed areas, and the reflection constantly arises as to how easy it is to get money for foreign parts when we cannot get any at all for our own districts. New bridges are wanted in many parts of this land, and something should be done to find work for our people in that connection. This is the kind of problem which brings a conflict into the human mind when in this House we pass millions upon millions of pounds, in one case for the people of Austria because they are in a terrible financial condition, and now a loan to Palestine to help people some of whom are at any rate very much better off than our own folk. There is in my mind a definite conflict on occasion as to whether we are right in supporting so readily loans for purposes abroad when we could do with the money at home. I hope that the Government will inquire into its own responsibilities at home and balance the pros and cons as to where money should be spent. If the banks and financiers of this country have so much money to spare let them come to the aid of our own people. They seem very ready to lend money to people abroad. I should be the last person to say that we should not lend money abroad. Finally, I wish the Palestine Government well, I wish the people of Palestine well, and I hope that the British Government, no matter what may be its political colour, will always bear in mind the conflict between Arabs and Jews and steer clear of any trouble on that score, Palestine is not only a promised land; it is indeed a land of promise.
§ 7.25 p.m.
§ Mr. LOFTUS
I am as anxious as any hon. Member for the development of Palestine, a country to which we owe so many obligations and which has such sacred memories for us all. But I confess that I view this loan with a great deal of misgiving, and especially I fear its effects on the future prosperity of Palestine itself. Palestine is a small country and it has been importing capital at a very high rate. During the last 10 years Palestine one way and another has imported at least £25,000,000 of capital. It is now proposed to issue this loan. That process at the moment is all right; it means the importation into Palestine 103 of wealth. But that process cannot go on indefinitely and in a few years time the import of capital, money pouring into Palestine, will stop, and then Palestine, like all debtor countries, will be faced with a crisis. She may have to find as much as £1,000,000 a year in payment of the interest on the amount of capital imported, and when that happens she will suddenly have to find a favourable balance of trade of this amount—an excess of exports over imports. This will mean that Palestine will have to sell her products in the markets of the world at any price. World prices are generally forced down by debtor countries having to sell their products in order to meet the interest on loans when no fresh loans are obtainable to pay the interest on the old loans. That is what I fear in Palestine in the future—the inflow of capital probably stopping quite suddenly and the necessity of Palestine, a poor country, finding an immense favourable balance of trade, £1,000,000 a year, in order to pay the interest. I do not think she can do it, and there may be great suffering caused to the country not in the remote future but in the course of a few years time.
The result of this loan on our own trade at the moment will be good. It means that directly or indirectly goods and services to the value of £2,000,000 will leave this country, but the effect will not be so good in the future. It means that while the loan endures, that is for nearly two generations, Palestine will have to send us directly or indirectly goods to the value of nearly £80,000 every year in payment, and these goods will come here without any corresponding exports of our own goods in payment. The Colonial Secretary pointed out that Palestine this year has a budget surplus of £1,500,000 to £2,000,000. Last year, as far as my memory goes, she had a budget surplus of £500,000, a sufficient surplus in hand to provide for all this expenditure without the risks and dangers of a loan. The Colonial Secretary suggested that it was advisable that the Colonies should have a reserve fund equal to a year's expenditure. That may be desirable. It would be very desirable in this country, but I submit that it is a counsel of perfection. The Colonial Secretary suggested that it was right for a business to raise fresh capital 104 by loan even though it had ample cash resources for its purposes, but I would point out that the greatest business in the world was built by a single man, Mr. Henry Ford. He never raised capital for that gigantic business by way of loan, but put the profits back into the business. He never raised loans nor issued any fresh capital. In a country like Palestine, having a surplus of £1,500,000 on this year's Budget, using this available surplus would be a much more healthy form of development than following the old road, the constant borrowing of capital and ultimately having to face the inevitable crisis which that must cause. For these reasons, I feel anxious about the effect of this loan. As Palestine has a Budget surplus sufficient for these needs, if we are to raise any capital loans it would appear that might be better used to help in the development of our own country, especially in the improvement of the backward areas.
§ 7.32 p.m.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I think the hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Loftus) will agree that the question whether the borrowing of money leads to employment in a crisis depends on how that money is employed and whether it is invested productively.
§ Mr. LOFTUS
I do not agree. I suggest that even money invested productively in the Argentine railways caused a crisis when fresh loans from this country ceased to pay the interest on former loans.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
The investment in the Argentine was pretty good for our trade while it lasted. The economics of the hon. Member are just a little shaky. If we send £2,000,000 worth of capital from this country it is only £80,000 that we get back in interest. That £80,000 comes to us in the shape of those excellent oranges which we want. When it is all repaid there will be no more oranges, but meantime let us have the oranges. The right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary in his opening statement said that the Debate on the Money Resolution ended in unanimity. My recollection is that it ended in mere vulgar abuse. My hon. Friend the Member for Westhoughton (Mr. R. Davies), who has deserted me and cast me off, said that the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secre- 105 tary did not reply to me. That is quite wrong. The right hon. Gentleman replied like a machine gun—"Rubbish, rubbish, rubbish!" He was so contentious that I counted up to 65 and then I left him. But I always think that "rubbish" is a reply faute de mieux. If the right hon. Gentleman still thinks that my objection to the Bill was rubbish I shall have to make it a little clearer than I did on that occasion. It must have been a lack of clarity on my part.
My objection to the Bill, of course, is multifold. In the first place, in spite of what the right hon. Gentleman says, I cannot see that the money is really wanted in Palestine. When it has a surplus of £1,500,000 no other colony will borrow money. The right hon. Gentleman invents the delicious idea that every one of the Colonies under his Government is to have in hand, as a reserve, one year's revenue. Does he not wish he could get it? I do not think there is one other Colony in the whole Empire which has got that ideal reserve. I am certain that the people of Palestine themselves do not want this money. The Jews have already been protesting, and have sent their protests here, against the loan. Why should they have the money? There is certainly no desire on the part of the Arabs for the money. I am not surprised at that either. Here we are carrying on once more an entirely contradictory policy. We are pushing capital into the country and exporting labour out of the country, refusing to allow labour in and exporting any that we find on the premises. I notice in to-day's paper a telegram from Jerusalem, dated 28th May. It states:Sixty-three Oriental Jews"—Those are not the Jews that we know here; they are Yemenites and look like Arabs, though they are Jews—including old people with children, were arrested this morning as illegal immigrants, on arriving in Palestine on board a sailing vessel from Egypt. They have all been taken in chains to Gaza prison.Does it not strike the House as somewhat ridiculous that when we are taking such very stringent measures with completely inoffensive people in order to prevent labour going into that colony, at the same time we should be urging them to accept capital and to employ that capital productively, when we are preventing people from having the chance of employment? 106 In this country we have a Labour party which sees 2,000,000 or 1,500,000 unemployed here, and it has a natural reluctance to see foreigners coming into the country. I think they are wrong. At any rate, their argument does appeal to the public. The trade unions do not want more competition when there are 1,500,000 out of work. But in Palestine the trade unions are begging the Government to allow them to import more labour, to allow an increased immigration into Palestine. Palestine is about the only country in the world where we find the trade unions wanting more immigrants. And that is the country which you select to prevent or restrict further immigration and to deport the unfortunates who have come there without permission.
I think that giving any country more money than it needs will lead to extravagance. I know that the expenditure of this money will lead to increased land values and increased rents, and will not benefit the country or benefit the poorer sections in that country. I am certain that without very strict Treasury control even the best of Governments will find that there is reasonable opportunity for increasing salaries, increasing the administrative side and treating a considerable portion of the loan as a windfall for the administration.
These objections of mine are, of course, not my fundamental objection to the Bill. My real objection goes much deeper. It was that real objection to which the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary objected so strongly on the last occasion when we debated the matter. He not only objected strongly, but it was objected to strongly by pretty nearly all parties in the House, and I think it is necessary that I should do what I can now to substantiate that principal objection of mine to the Bill. That objection is that the administration of Palestine is not fair as between Arab and Jew at the present time, and that this money will not be administered fairly. I admit that that is a very heavy charge to make, and it is necessary that I should show to the House the cumulative evidence there is of the truth of my accusation. If at the end of my proof the House think that there is something in it, I beg them not to vote against the Bill, but to make it clear to the Colonial Office that the sole duty of the Secretary of State is not to support in all circum- 107 stances the man on the spot, but that it is his duty, as in the past it has been the duty of Colonial Secretaries whose names will last, to formulate his own policy and to see that his subordinates carry out that policy, and that he is not to be merely the mouthpiece of officials.
On the last occasion I tried to show that, in the matter of taxation for instance, a far larger proportion of the taxes was drawn from the immigrants, the new civilised immigrants, than from the indigenous population; that indirect taxes were by far the largest element in the taxation, and that 90 per cent. of these were paid by the immigrants; that the taxes on the land had been reduced year by year and that taxation of imports had been increased year by year. A very good case can no doubt be made out for that, but at the same time there is an illustration which, though it may be lost upon this House, is by no means lost upon the Jews in Palestine.
Take the question of immigration. I tried to show that while we are restricting immigration of Jewish labour into Palestine, and while we are doing our best to prevent tourists, by making them pay a deposit, from entering the country, immigration of the Arabs from Transjordan, and, I think, to a large extent from Syria and Egypt also, is unrestricted—certainly it is from Transjordan—and when you consider the considerable Syrian frontier, it must be very difficult to prevent immigration from there too. There is a difference in treatment which may not strike us as being anything out of the ordinary, but which strikes the Jew as being worse than similar treatment would be in Poland or Rumania, simply because Palestine is his ideal of his future home.
Then, as regards education, it is true that in the Last two years the Government contributed from taxes, paid of course by Jews as well as Arabs, £25,000 a year to the Jewish schools. At the same time there is no Jewish school there which has been built by Government money. Where taxes have been spent on building schools these have been Arab schools. Again, I suppose it hardly strikes the Government of Palestine or the Colonial Office or the Colonial Secretary as being in the least wrong that this money should be spent, solely on the advancement of Arab education, or that 108 it is unjust, when both parties contribute, that you should allow the Jews themselves with money contributed from America and elsewhere, to build their own schools and that the Government money should all be spent on providing Arab schools. I gave the House on the last occasion the case of the Bagdadi Jew who left a bequest of £100,000 for education in Palestine. The bequest was of course made for Jewish education, but it was divided and half was spent on building an Arab school and the other half has not yet been spent at all and when the Arab school was opened they avoided even mentioning the Baghdadi Jew's bequest—a case of ingratitude which must be more offensive and more unpleasant to the Jews in Palestine even than any of the other things I have mentioned.
Then there is the question of the roads. My hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot)—the Member for Protestantism—told me that he thought the roads were beautiful though he admitted that he got on to some that were not so good. I maintain that if he goes there and looks again he will see that the roads which he mentions are all roads leading to Arab villages, and that it is very difficult to get to the Jewish villages. Again, Government money has been spent on the roads to the Arab villages and towns and I give the House a case in point. The two most important cities in Palestine are Jerusalem and Haifa. The road from Jerusalem to Haifa cuts across the Emek Valley running from south to north. That valley is one mass of Jewish settlements. But instead of going to Haifa direct down the valley the road climbs 2,000 feet over the hills to Nazareth which adds 10 miles to thee journey. For heavy traffic going to Haifa there is not only the additional 10 miles but there is this enormous hill to be climed. I think I am right in saying that it is about 2,000 feet.
Take another illustration. Tel Aviv is a town which is growing rapidly though not as rapidly as they say, and we may take it that it has about 80,000 inhabitants to-day. Haifa is 80 miles away to the north, but it is impossible to go from the one place to the other in wet weather unless you go round by Jerusalem. There is in fact no road. A case perhaps could be made out for not having a road there, although I do not call it a good case. There is a Government railway which 109 runs up the Plain of Sharon, and if they made a road it would reduce the traffic on the railway. One can understand that, although it is a bit old fashioned and pretty hopeless. Still there it is. But even that reason does not apply at all to the other cases in which roads have not been made. I have spoken about the Emek valley. It provides the natural access from the sea to the Jordan valley and Transjordania. I do not think that at any part it is more than 50 feet above the sea level. By using it you avoid the mass of mountains to the north and around Samaria. It has other names—the Plain of Esdraelon, or Valley of Jezreel. At the other end of it from Haifa is Beisan, an Arab city. From Beisan there are roads going to Damascus and roads going down to Jericho; but from Beisan to Haifa, along that beautiful valley, cultivated all the way and dotted with villages, there is no road at all.
§ Mr. CROSSLEY
But not to Jericho. The right hon. Gentleman said that there was a road from Beisan to Jericho.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
There is. I went down it. From Beisan to Samaria and where the Jordan runs out to the Sea of Galilee.
§ Mr. CROSSLEY
It is the other way. Beisan to Jericho would be the other way. There is a road from Beisan to Tiberias and then on to Damascus.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I am perfectly well aware of that. I know Palestine a great deal better than the right hon. Gentleman. I said there were roads from Beisan to the north and there is a road to the south on which I travelled for a part of the way. It is not a good road, but it is a road on which you can travel and by it you can get to Jericho and the Allenby Bridge. These are roads that 110 are practical, but from Beisan to the west there is nothing at all. The reason is that there is a railway there also, running along the valley, but the railway in that case is not Government property. The railway belongs to the Wafd, which is the religious organisation of the Arabs. But because the railway is there no road can be made through these Jewish settlements. It may be all very well to protect your Government railways, but I do not see any reason for protecting the property of the Wafd, thereby preventing these people who live in that valley from having the advantage of a road along which one can drive a motor car.
That is just one more illustration of the prevailing feeling. The Jews, it is said, can get loans of money from America. The Jews are willing to provide these things themselves! If they are not willing they ought to be willing. Therefore it is said the money that we take in taxes from all is to be used to do these things for the Arabs. Even if Jewish money does come in from America, that is no reason for not giving them exactly the same services as are given to the rest of the population. I do not know whether Members of this House think it all right, but it strikes me as being not "rubbish" but something un-English. What should we think if everything we did here was done for one particular faith, say the Protestant faith, if their churches and schools were built, if health services were provided——
§ Mr. CROSSLEY
The Catholic population in this country pay education rates and contribute to the education of the children of their Protestant neighbours while having to pay also for the upkeep of their own Catholic schools.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
We do not build any denomination's schools or churches. What we do is to provide national schools. We certainly do not help one faith at the expense of another. The objection to which the hon. Member refers from the Catholic point of view is equally strongly held by the Church of England, but we do not distinguish between the two. We do not say that the Catholics are richer and that therefore we shall build Protestant schools and not build Catholic schools. We treat them alike.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
That is a very interesting point. I shall come to that presently. I think the feeling is that the Jews ought to look after the Jews and the Government ought to look after the Arabs, and, as the taxes are drawn from all, that seems to me thoroughly unjust. I take a few more illustrations because I wish to make this case quite clear. As I have said, Tel Aviv is a town of some 80,000 inhabitants, but it has a post office which is ridiculous. It is so much a disgrace that the people of Tel Aviv go into Haifa and queue up to send letters.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I beg pardon, into Jaffa. Under this Bill we are providing for a post office in Jerusalem. We have already put up, with national money not municipal money, a magnificent post office in Jaffa. Tel Aviv wants a post office badly, much worse than Jerusalem, but we are providing out of this loan money for a post office in Jerusalem and for public buildings elsewhere. It is assumed—indeed we were told so the other day—that if the people of Tel Aviv wished they could raise a loan and build a post office. Of course they could, but it is not just that the Government should provide post offices for Arab towns and leave the Jews to provide the public buildings in their own towns. It might be justified on the ground that the Jews are richer than the other people but that is unfortunately no longer the case. In that country to-day the poor people are the Jews and the rich people are the Arabs. On the whole there is infinitely more wealth there among the Arabs than among the Jews.
There is another point. I do not suppose that anywhere else in the British Empire is there a town of 80,000 inhabitants which has not even got a railway station. The Colonial Secretary spoke about the Labour Government years ago having backed this proposal. Years before that a Conservative Government desired to reorganise the railway service in Palestine so that there should be a station in Tel Aviv. It is not there yet, and people have to travel miles in order to get to a train, that does not en- 112 courage traffic and still less does it encourage the Jews to think that they are going to get a fair deal in their own country.
The next point I would make concerns the municipal ordinance which has been passed into law in Palestine and which presumably has had the visa and approval of the Colonial Office. Under it a number of towns in Palestine have some form of local government—a municipal council with power to raise taxes, principally, and to direct the affairs of the town. On the whole, the Jews in Palestine are better educated than the Arabs. There is not much difference between them in the merchant class but the Jews taken as a whole are better educated. Why then are Arab towns given self Government if they have populations of 2,500 or more, while Jewish towns like Petah-Tikva with a population of 25,000 or 30,000 do not get self-government. Rohoboth, a new town, but a very old settlement, almost entirely Jewish, has no self-government. There can be no possible excuse for that when you have got the more intelligent section of the population, the better educated and quite as old established population, being left without self-government, while the small places are given all these rights. I will not tell the House what I believe to be the reason for that. I am giving facts, and it is a fact that there you are giving self-government to a large number of municipalities which are very small and not to those Jewish colonies or towns which are 10 times as large.
In the Municipal Ordinance you get far more remarkable and unjust things even than that. The population of Jerusalem to-day is 60 per cent. Jews and 40 per cent. Arabs. I was looking through the official report for 1932, the last one available here, and there they say that the majority of the population of Jerusalem is now Jewish, but under this Municipal Ordinance it is so arranged that the majority, the Jewish, educated, intelligent majority, will be in a minority and the Arabs will be in a majority. What sort of feelings does that inspire in the ordinary Jew in Palestine? How have they done it? They have done it by, for the first time in this Ordinance—I do not know that I am right in saying for the first time, but it appears to be for the first time—depriving of the franchise everyone who has not taken up 113 Palestinian citizenship, so that a British subject, an American Jew, people who would not naturally take up Palestinian citizenship, because either American or British citizenship is better than any other in the world, are deprived of the vote. You get a large, perhaps the best educated, the best politically minded section of the community, deprived of the franchise because that section is much more largely Jew than Arab. The newcomer who has not yet taken up citizenship, the man of a higher civilisation, coming from Western lands, who will not take up Palestinian citizenship, are deprived of the vote. Does that strike the House as being just? Is there any other British colony where the British subject is deprived of the vote because he is a British subject? It would be perfectly simple to alter it and to say that a man might be a British subject and a Palestinian subject as well. It would be simple to say that every Palestinian is ipso facta a British subject, but in order to prevent those Jews having a majority of votes, to which their majority in the population entitles them, these perfectly admirable citizens are deprived of the opportunity of voting.
That is not all. They have also stopped women having votes, and the allegation, of course, is that the Levantines would riot if women got the vote. It is excuses like that that make one more irritated with the Palestinian Government than anything else. The real reason is that, if they had the franchise, the Arab woman would not vote and the Jewish woman would vote, and therefore the women are not allowed to vote anywhere in Palestine, except in Tel Aviv, where they have been allowed to vote all along. I should say that in Tel Aviv, which is purely Jewish and where it is not necessary to create a fictitious Arab majority, British subjects are also still allowed to have their votes for municipal matters. But in Jerusalem the injustice goes even further than that. In Jerusalem you have the old city, and property in the old city is exempt from rates apparently, so these people in the old city, who are over-represented, have the power also of levying what rates they like upon the people who are under-represented, and themselves escape scot-free. We are told that the reason is that the Turks did 114 not tax property in the old city. Are they going to go rate-free for all time in the old city? When the Turks ruled in Palestine, I should like to know what value they got for their money, for their rates. Here you are having rates to keep the place clean, above all to keep order and to make the place safe, and one part of the city has to pay, and the other part of the city, which shares the benefit, has not to pay. How does that strike the House as being just? I suppose half the population of Jerusalem is in the old city.
Haifa, the third city, or the fourth, has probably got already a Jewish majority. There the constituencies are gerrymandered in the same way, so as to safeguard the Arabs from having the contamination of a Jewish mayor or a Jewish Government. If we lived in a country where that sort of thing was done, we too should lose all faith in the Government, we should lose all faith in their justice, and we should lose all hope. That is exactly what you are doing with the Jews, who were perfectly well prepared seven years ago to be our best friends. They are a people whose every interest it is to support British rule in Palestine, and all those people are being driven away and are acquiring for England exactly the same feelings that they have had for the Governments in Poland and such places. They are shrugging their shoulders and saying, "We do not expect justice, we have never had it, and we shall never get it. It is a hopeless proposition."
I hope hon. Members will believe me when I say that I am not pro-Jew; I am pro-English. I set a higher value on the reputation of England all over the world for justice than I do on anything else or on any other national attribute, but when I see this sort of thing going on, with the Government unable to put any argument on the other side, it makes me perhaps bitterer than even a Jew can be against the Government of Palestine to-day. I need not go into the question of Tel Aviv harbour or the question of the flying ground, which the right hon. Gentleman told us the other day was going to be at Lydda. I should not have thought that would be any good to Tel Aviv. They have an ideal flying ground just across the river, and instead of that, it is to be 10 miles away. For the Jews, employment in the public service is less than is warranted by the relative popula- 115 tions, and it is far less in the railways. In the hospitals and health services, in the agricultural research, and in the agricultural development, partly under this scheme, you get exactly the same thing. Because the Jews ought to be rich and ought to have money of their own, and do want these things, and sometimes get them, therefore the money which the Government have to spend must be spent for the Arabs.
The last straw has been that the Government now find out of the taxes £23,000 a year for the Arab Sharia courts. They are the domestic courts that deal with divorce and matters of religion, and exactly similar Jewish courts have not got any revenue at all except what they can get from court fees. It may seem a very little thing, but it is the cumulative effect of one injustice like that after another that makes the Jews hopeless of British government, and makes me say that that government at the present time is anti-Semitic and is a disgrace to England.
I must give one other illustration—from Transjordan. The Amir wants to have the Jews there, and the Jews want to go there, but the Government will not let them go because, they say, it is not safe for the Jews in Transjordan. I think they might have invented a better excuse than that. In what country is it safe for the Jews if you take that line of argument? It is not safe for them on Clap-ham Common. It is safe enough for the English, and the whole world is safe for us. Why? Because we can hit back. We have made the world safe for the English, not by police, not by armies, but by arming the people themselves. The worst thing we have ever done in Palestine, worse even than our emigration distinctions, was when the Jews were being massacred and we, at the request of the Grand Mufti, almost at his orders, lined the Jews all up and disarmed them because they were Jews. That is the sort of thing which people remember. It was not under this Government, it is true, but you cannot expect that anybody in that country will look for justice or hope for better things as long as you have that spirit ruling there. I sometimes think that the feeling has now become pro-Nazi. Hitler's "Mein Kampf" goes to Palestine, and is sold freely. The whole 116 book is a denunciation of the Jew—all lies and abuse. At the same time there is a book published in this country called "The Brown Book of the Hitler Terror." When that got out to Palestine it was banned. It is allowed in this country, but there it is legal to abuse the Jews but not legal to abuse the abusers. Then they were visited by Herr Frick. He stands among the half-dozen best Jew-baiters in the world. He goes to Palestine by the permission of this Government and sees everybody there. I wonder if he paid £60 as a tourist before he was allowed into that country.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I am sure the law is carried out absolutely impartially, whatever a man's nationality.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
And that law is to pay £60. I am very glad that he paid. The funny thing is that I got in without paying.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
You have to deposit it. Respectable people can get a bank to guarantee them.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Respectable people. Then there is the attitude towards the German refugees. All these things together are symptomatic of a degree of anti-Semitism which is revolting in view of what is happening in Germany to-day. I want to make a reference to the speech on the last occasion of the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton), who told me he could not get here to-day. The Noble Lord shares with me many things. He is regarded as being pro-Mohammedan and I as pro-Jew. The fact is that we are neither; we are not pro anything except pro-English. I think he is rather more anxious for the safety of the Empire, and I am perhaps rather more anxious for the good name of the Empire. The mistake he is making is in confusing the Pathans and the splendid Mohammedans of the Punjab with these Levantines in Palestine. The ruling Husseini house claim descent from the Son of Ali who was slain at Kerbela, a magnificent descent, but it is not true. They have taken the name, and every genuine Arab knows it perfectly well. The Levantines themselves are not Arabs. They are not pure anything. They are a cross created throughout the ages—more of a cross than any other nation in the world. These are not Pathans. 117 When the Noble Lord says that if my speech is read in Palestine there will be riots in Jaffa, he is wrong. It is very unlikely that with the police against them the Levantine Arabs will ever riot. They require to be pretty freely stirred up by the priests before they will riot at all. When they do get going they are a pretty efficient sort of rioter, from the time when, labelled Christians, they cut Hypatia to pieces with scissors, to the time when, labelled Moslems, they did the same to Jewish children at Hebron. The worst way to encourage these people to riot is to show that you are afraid of them, and, if you show you are afraid of them, you will have reason to be. I shall be afraid of riots when I hear the Chief of Police in Palestine is afraid. When I hear that, I should send more men.
The one bright spot in that country is the new police in Palestine. The backbone of that force is English. You cannot do better than the English constable as you see him in Palestine. He is not afraid of rioting. You say that the money spent on them is spent to protect the Jews. I think that is so when you consider racial crimes of violence. I have never heard of a Jew trying to kill an Arab except in self-defence. If you go to any police station, you will find in the records that the crimes of violence and the crimes against which the police are provided in every country are committed by Arabs and not by Jews. When you charge up against the Jews the cost of the police, although the crimes are committed on the other side, the whole of the community benefits and not merely the Jews. Owing to the advance of law and order the Moslem and the merchant are making money, and the orange grove owners, still predominantly Arab, are as much benefited as the Jews themselves. So far as the police and the defence of Palestine are concerned, if you gave Jews arms and allowed them to defend themselves, it would not need so much defence, even from the excellent British police. If you are so flush of money in Palestine, you might spend some of it not in rebuilding the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, but in providing decent barracks for the British troops and decent accommodation for the policemen. Public money would be well spent in that way. It might not be reproductive, but it would be better 118 spent than it is likely to be spent under this loan.
§ 8.23 p.m.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
This Bill corresponds, as far as I can see, in every important detail with the White Paper that we had an opportunity of discussing a week or two ago, but what has been said by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lmye (Colonel Wedgwood)——
§ Mr. FOOT
I hope I may still call him my right hon. Friend. What he said induces me to say a word. I am glad to hear the tribute he paid to the police in Palestine. That tribute is one that can be made by anyone with the slightest acquaintance with that country. I hope he will include in his tribute not only the English police, who are undoubtedly the backbone of the service, but also the Arab and the Jewish police. It was a remarkable thing at the time of the recent disturbance how both Arab and Jewish police, at great risk to themselves, some with the loss of life and limb, stood at their posts of danger; and were it not for their intrepidity and courage the troubles of last year would have been very much more widespread than they were.
§ Mr. FOOT
I am speaking of what was quite evident from the reports on the troubles of last year—the very serious-troubles, serious in their potentiality rather than in their actual achievements. When the right hon. Gentleman said that he was not pro-Arab or pro-Jew but pro-English I think he was not helping his English friends out there who were face to face with those troubles. The question is, What is to be done? I listened with great interest to all he had to say, but what is to be done in face of the trouble which has grown up in Palestine over many years?
§ Mr. FOOT
The right hon. Gentleman says: "Let justice be done though the Heavens fall"; but it is not so easy to apply those classical passages to the actual experiences of everyday life. What would he do in one of the towns in Palestine where there are very few Jews, say a town of 15,000 to 20,000 people where there are practically no Jews but where there are half-a-dozn English families all concerned with the administration and where, as some months ago, when the troubles came along, great disturbance arose because of the suspicion that the British Government were favouring not the Arab but the Jew?
§ Mr. FOOT
I am sure that that country is influenced very largely by fear, groundless fear, and that it is the business of the administration of that country, by patience and by thoughtful-ness, to eliminate the fear that undoubtedly exists. What was the cause of the troubles in the earlier years? The fears of the ignorant Arabs, which were played upon by hearsay and, very often, by design.
§ Mr. FOOT
My right hon. Friend will remember that the clash a few years ago occurred between Arab and Jew, and then it was because of the mutual fears existing. Stories were told that it was the intention of the Jew to rob the Arab of his sacred places in Jerusalem, and those stories, passing from mouth to mouth and from village to village, caused the trouble, which had its roots in fear. The trouble last year was not so much between the Arab and the Jew; the unhappy feature of that trouble was that it was a protest against the administration there. The Arabs had been led to think that the Government were not, as he had suggested, anti-Semitic but pro-Semitic. I am not saying that those fears were well grounded, but the troubles arose from, it may be, the lies that were circulated. That was the fear when the troubles took place not many months ago, when, as I have said, some British administrators were in towns of 15,000 to 20,000 population, when the whole country 120 was disturbed and when it was stated that the Bedouins were marching in in great numbers from the hillside. No one could have met that trouble, as some had to do, unless they could have convinced those people that the administration was out, as far as it could, to hold the scales level between one section of the community and the other.
§ Mr. FOOT
They were not afraid None of them left the post of duty. But those administrators in a town, say, of the size of Nazareth, or of Hebron, where the population is almost entirely Arab, and where the white representatives are just a handful, could not have met the difficulty and stopped the trouble without bloodshed if they had not been able to convince the Arabs that the administration stood not for one community or the other but was doing its best to serve the interests of both. I am not referring to any individual, but I am wondering what the right hon. and gallant Gentleman would have done if he had been in that situation.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
If I had been in charge in Palestine in 1929, I would have hanged the Grand Mufti outside the Damascus Gate.
§ Mr. FOOT
I am not now referring to 1929 and I am not sure that the remedy the right hon. Gentleman has referred to would have been effective. Probably extreme measures of that kind, although effective for the time being, would have sown seeds which would have produced future trouble, perhaps not for him but for his successor.
§ Mr. FOOT
It is true that some criticism can be made of the schedule to this Bill upon the lines that my right hon. and gallant Friend has suggested, but no one is responsible for that. In the matter of education more must be spent upon the Arab schools than upon the Jewish schools owing to the simple fact that for many generations the Jews have shown the greater regard for the education of their children. The Arabs 121 have not lived up to the same standard. It is a question of the laggards in the community being brought up to the general level. It is not by reason of any anti-Semitic purpose that there is to be a larger expenditure upon the Arab schools than upon the schools, but simply because we are face to face with the results of very many years of history in that country. Take the case of the water that is to be obtained. I suppose the Jews will benefit under that scheme as well as the Arabs. Whatever is spent in Palestine it will mean, no doubt, higher rents, it will inure to the benefit of the landlords, but that is an objection to all expenditure. It would be an objection, to a certain extent, to any expenditure in the neighbourhood of Newaastle-under-Lyme. If there is high expenditure of private or public money it will translate itself into higher rents and that objection, which can be urged in every country in the world under our present social conditions, can hardly be brought forward as an argument against this Bill.
Although under this Bill money will be spent more largely for the Arab than for the Jew that is not the purpose of the Government there. I am quite sure that they are not anti-Semitic. There is no desire to be against the Jew or to favour the Arab. The money to be spent upon labour in Palestine will go very largely to the Arab, but that is because the Arab is content to work under conditions such as the Jew would not tolerate. The Arab labourer who will be required for the heavy work that has to be done will be more largely employed, not because there is a desire to employ the Arab as against the Jew, but because for this heavy, labouring work low wages are paid in that country to those people who have riot reached the standard which the Jew has secured for himself. That is something which cannot be helped, because the work has to be done. It is unjust criticism to say that because more Arabs are employed upon that labour than Jews that is another manifestation of the secret anti-Semitic designs that are in the mind of those who administer Palestine. The right hon. Gentleman does not do himself justice. He is attributing to the Government and the administration of Palestine, against whom he has brought very definite and categorical charges in their effort to hold 122 the scales evenly between two sections with whom they have to deal, purposes which are not in their minds.
I do not think that it is of much purpose to allege, as has been done in the course of the Debate, that we ought to be spending this money here. I do not think that less money will be spent in our distressed areas because this guarantee has been given. If the choice were put to us between spending the money here and spending it in a country which is comparatively flowing with milk and honey, all of us would say that the work ought to be done first of all in our own country, but it was a false argument to put, as was done from the Front Opposition Bench, the condition of the depressed areas of Durham and elsewhere against the conditions which obtain in Palestine.
The main proposals of the Bill were discussed a short time ago, and we need not go into details now. I am satisfied, from what I have been able to see, that the apprehensions of the right hon. Gentleman have no reasonable ground. He must have looked at the matter from a different angle from mine. He speaks of his own experience there. He went to Arab villages and Jewish settlements. The picture that he drew last time in the Debate was that a great deal of money must have been spent on the roads to Arab villages, and the House was allowed to think that while one could only climb with difficulty into the Jewish settlements there was a broad and inviting road into the Arab villages. The impression left on my mind was the difficulty of the roads which gave access to Arab villages, and I wondered how any cars could be expected to climb into those places. It may be that both of us saw the things we expected to see there. There is always a danger, when one visits a country, of going with pre-conceived notions and seeing only the facts which support the notions with which one started.
The High Commissioner and others have given evidence of their desire to solve one of the most difficult problems which ever confronted this country. It is an experiment upon which the world is looking, because of the special circumstances in which it is being carried out. I would not like it to be thought that the opinion of this House was that those who are charged with the heavy responsibility 123 are doing anything other than giving justice to the people, so that there may be fair conditions for both the races in the land.
§ 8.41 p.m.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
With the leave of the House, I would like to intervene again, and first I would refer to the characteristic speech made by the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot), which has made it almost unnecessary for me to say more than a sentence or two about the speech which preceded it. I suppose that it is useless to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) not to continue in this House to traduce the public servants in Palestine whose sole aim is to do justice, and who are unsparing in their personal efforts. I should like it to be known in Palestine that it has been stated in every quarter of the House that the right hon. Gentleman speaks only for himself in this matter, if indeed he does that. His advocacy is as distasteful to many Jews as it is to many others who are not of that persuasion.
If this proposal be worked out on a population basis in order to see how far Jew and Arab will benefit from the works which are to be undertaken under this £2,000,000 loan, you find that the proportion is one-third Jew and two-thirds Arab. I do not think that is very unfair. It was not chosen on that basis. The way in which those items were selected, and the way in which I believe everybody, except the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme, would have them selected, was not with meticulous investigation as to whether there was to be exactly this or that proportion between Jew and Arab. The greatest service that we can render will be not to enlarge upon the differences between Jew and Arab but to reconcile their differences in the over-riding wherever interest both lead. It was from that point of view that those items were selected. I say nothing more about that.
The hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. R. Davies) said there were certain points which he would have liked to raise if he had been here on Friday week; I am sorry that he is not here, now that I am going to give an answer. He said 124 he hoped that there was reasonable security for the loan. I dealt with that on the last occasion very fully. The loan is largely on reproductive revenue-producing enterprises, and the actual revenue will go a very long way if not the whole way to meet the interest upon the loan. In addition to that, I pointed out last time how enormously the finances of Palestine had improved and how much better was the security and the prospects to-day than when we dealt with a similar loan in 1926. The argument advanced, so far as I followed it, by the hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Loftus), really amounted to this, that you must never lend overseas at all. Indeed, I am not sure that my hon. Friend did not carry the argument a step further, and say that you must never lend even in your own country.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I beg pardon; I thought that we were not even to lend in our own country, but that what we were to do was to save and then put our savings back into our own businesses. After all, what is lending? Lending means that you save and you invest your money, and it does not seem to me to make much difference whether you invest it in your own business or in someone else's business. If your own business has as much money as it needs for the time being, you must lend for reproductive enterprises to be carried out by someone else. If the argument be that it is unsound for this country ever to lend abroad whatever the security may be, and however many orders we may get in return, in that case we might as well, as far as the export trade is concerned, put up the shutters. That seems to me to be a terrible counsel of despair.
Then the hon. Member for West Houghton said that he would like to help the distressed areas but, as was pointed out so well by the hon. Member for Bodmin, there is nothing antipathetic between this Bill and helping the distressed areas, and, indeed, I hope the Bill will help the distressed areas. It is not as though I were coming to the House to ask for a grant-in-aid. I am not doing that at all. I think that last time I justified up to the hilt the security on which this loan is to be given. I am not asking for a 125 grant-in-aid for Palestine at the expense of a grant-in-aid to be given to Durham. This is a guarantee for a loan, and Clause 2 of the Bill contains a provision that all the orders shall be placed in this country. I do not pursue the argument that the whole of the £2,000,000 will find its way out in exports, I am only concerned with the contracts which will have to be placed outside Palestine, and which will represent something like £600,000 worth of orders coming into this country; and I hope that, directly or indirectly, those orders will benefit more than one distressed area in this country.
The hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. R. Davies) said two rather curiously contradictory things. He said he did not know how the country was going to be settled with Arabs, because he did not think there was any land; and then he said that he thought the restrictions on immigration were too drastic. If he were correct, and if there were no more land, then, obviously, the restrictions on immigration would not be nearly drastic enough; but, fortunately, he is not correct. There is a certain amount of land, and, after all, you can put land to better or worse use. Irrigation experience has shown that land which before only supported a very sparse population can, when properly treated, support a much larger one, and in much more prosperous conditions. The hon. Member asked me where the land was on which we were going to settle these Arabs. I am not going to tell him, because very able officers are engaged in surveying and making contracts to buy land, and, if I said in this House exactly where the land was which we were thinking of buying, so far as we have not already acquired it, for the resettlement of displaced Arabs, I should be acting rather foolishly, and the result would probably be that the price of the land would be put up.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I gave the exact figure on the last occasion, but, unfortunately, the right hon. Gentleman did not wait for the answer. Speaking from memory, I think there are 863 families, but at any rate on the last occasion I gave the exact figure, and he will find it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
Really, the right hon. Gentleman asks for information, he is given information, and then he says it is not what he wants. I do not give information without having made careful inquiry, and on the last occasion, when I was asked for the number, I obtained it. If the right hon. Gentleman will look back at the Debate, he will see the tests with which the Arabs have to comply before they come within the class of those whom we are undertaking to resettle. The hon. Member for Westhoughton says quite rightly that we must be absolutely fair in this matter as between Jew and Arab. I entirely agree, and that has been the sole intention and object, not only of this Government, but of every Government that has been responsible for the mandated territory since we took over the Mandate 14 or 15 years ago. That will continue to be the aim, and that is the daily work of the men who are serving that country so well out there. It is also the intention of everyone in this House, and I sincerely hope that that intention will not, even by one single Member of the House, be traduced and misrepresented in the future.
§ 8.53 p.m.
§ Mr. LECKIE
I must apologise for intervening at this late stage of the Debate, but there is one point which I should like to put before the House, and which, to my mind, has not been emphasised sufficiently. I speak as a strong supporter of the Bill, and agree with every word that has been said in favour of it to-night. It is a desirable Bill, and I am delighted that it has been so well received in all parts of the House. I want to refer specially to the provision in the Schedule with regard to water supply and the surveying of water resources. It seems to me that this survey is a very important piece of work, which ought to be done thoroughly, and I have no doubt that the Government of Palestine will see to it that it is done 127 thoroughly. Water is the great need of Palestine. The supplies are very limited, and must be conserved in every possible way. Therefore, the Government should make the fullest inquiries and researches, so that the water which may be found can be utilised to the best advantage.
Some time ago I asked a question in the House with regard to a project which is being carried out in connection with electricity works which are being set up on the banks of the Jordan a few miles south of the Sea of Galilee. If that project be carried out as it is intended to be, it will inevitably spoil altogether the Sea of Galilee as we know it to-day, because the electricity company will have the power to raise the level of the Sea of Galilee by some nine or 10 feet in certain seasons, and to reduce its level by another nine or 10 feet in a dry season. The Sea of Galilee is a shallow lake, and, therefore, it is of vital importance that no serious tampering with its level should be allowed. If in the high water season it were raised 10 feet, it would submerge a great many miles of villages and land round about the lake, while if in a dry season the water were allowed to go down by 10 feet, it would lay bare great foreshores which would become a breeding-ground for all kinds of malarial and other troubles, and would spoil the lake both for the fishermen and for the natives who live on its banks. I know that the Minister is very sympathetic in the matter, and I hope he will see to it that a proper inquiry is made into the whole question of water supply. The Sea of Galilee and the Jordan are the only real sources of surface water, and it seems to me very desirable that they should be conserved in every possible way. For that reason, I hope the Government will see their way to protect the Sea of Galilee, which has such sacred memories to most of us and which is serving such a useful purpose. I am glad that the Government of Palestine have included a review of the water resources, so that the whole question can be gone into and the best possible use made of the water supplies.
§ 8.56 p.m.
Lieut.-Colonel Sir WILLIAM ALLEN
The argument has been made use of that this money might be better spent at home, but the Government feels that it has a national and an international responsi- 128 bility in regard to the matter. If the Churches spent all their resources at home, I fear that they would not be carrying out their duty to the peoples of the world. There are some Churches which have an income from all sources of, perhaps, about £3,000 a year and, perhaps, £2,000 of it is not only not spent in their own neighbourhood or in their own country but is spent abroad. They have a responsibility, and they feel that responsibility, with regard to the peoples of the world. No less money is spent in their particular neighbourhood as the result of that expenditure which goes abroad, and which in their opinion is absolutely necessary for the raising up of the peoples of the world. If any additional expenditure be required in any parish or circuit, a round robin goes round the whole congregation and the people rise to the occasion. So it is with our national responsibilities. We have this mandated territory in Palestine, and we ought to consider it a privilege to live in this day and generation when we are assisting that wonderful, historic country. I feel it a privilege that in this House of Commons we are helping the people there.
It has been said that there are certain Jews in Palestine who are not at all in favour of this guarantee, not that they have anything against the British Government, not that they do not require the money, but that they realise that it is putting a burden on them which they should not be asked to bear. I think they are a minority, if there are such people, and, so far as I have been able to gather, the opinion of many of that race who are scattered about here, they are all looking forward to the development of that country, which they could not possibly carry out but for this guarantee.
There is one aspect of it which I, as an Irishman should like to impress upon the Government. We are going to help this country by the force of the British character. We are going to help it financially. These people, English, Jews and Arabs, are all looking to the British Government to see that fair play is done between them. I believe it is part of the British character to see that fair play is done, but we have had an unhappy experience in Ireland. I do not intend to argue it now, but I only wish to impress on the Government the history of that country as we have known it for the last 129 14 years. Might I also refer to the question of the possibility of the people even of India losing faith in the British Government. I only mention that in order to impress upon the Government the fact that these people in Palestine are trusting to the common sense and the great good nature and the bigness of the British people and, when the time comes, if it ever comes, when trouble arises between one and the other, or between the three, the British Government will see that they do not leave them to their own resources but act with a firm hand and see that justice is done.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House for Thursday.—[Sir P. Cunliffe-Lister.]