HC Deb 11 March 1936 vol 309 cc2110-2
16. Mr. MATHERS (for Mr. LUNN)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the present position with regard to the establishment of a legislative council in Palestine; and whether he would agree to set up a commission to inquire into the constitutional problem in Palestine before such a step is taken?


The substance of the Government's proposals has been communicated by the High Commissioner to the Arab and Jewish leaders. In reply to the second part of the question, I do not feel that the appointment of a commission would now be justified. In any event, no further step can be taken until I have received from the High Commissioner a final report, which he is now submitting, on the reception given by leaders in Palestine to the Government's proposals.


Will the right hon. Gentleman, on receipt of the communication he is awaiting, reconsider the whole question in the light of that communication?


No, on receipt of the communication the Government must be influenced by the advice of the High Commissioner.


Would my right hon. Friend consider the setting up of such a commission as contrary to Government pledges, and may I ask whether the legislative council would have power to discuss either the mandate or emigration or land settlement?


In regard to the first part of the question, undoubtedly it would be regarded as absolutely contrary to every pledge given. With regard to the latter part of the question, the mandate would not be a subject for consideration by the legislative council; land questions and immigration could be discussed, but the ultimate authority will remain with the High Commissioner.


Before the right hon. Gentleman comes to a final decision on this very thorny problem will he wait till there has been a discussion in this House of Commons so that the opinion of this House can be heard on the subject?


My hon. Friend knows the difficulties there are in that connection, but I can give him this assurance that so far as I am advised at the moment it is not likely that final steps will be taken until the House will have had an opportunity to discuss the subject on the Colonial Office Vote if it so desires.