HC Deb 24 November 1937 vol 329 cc1205-7
29. Mr. David Adams

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has any statement to make as to the present position in Palestine?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

Some further outrages have taken place and the additional measures for dealing with certain classes of crime, to which I referred on 10th November, are now in operation. Military Courts have been set up for the trial of cases of discharging firearms at any person, carrying arms, bombs, etc., sabotage and intimidation. On the night of 21st November, troops surrounded a village near Jenin; Sheikh Farhan Essaid, a notorious gang-leader, and three others were arrested, and four rifles, 1,500 rounds of ammunition and some revolvers were seized. These men will be tried by a Military Court.

42. Mr. Sandys

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many murders and assassinations have been committed in Palestine since the beginning of 1936; how many of the assassins have been convicted and sentenced to death; and how many of these have been reprieved?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

For the period 1st January, 1936, to 31st October, 1937, the figures are:

Murders 410
Convictions 113
Death Sentences 7

One of these death sentences was reduced to penal servitude by the Court of Appeal, while five were commuted to long terms of imprisonment by the High Commissioner. Forty-three persons arrested on murder charges awaited trial on 31st October.

Mr. Sandys

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in Palestine there is a widely-held feeling that this practice of reprieving assassins has tended to weaken the authority of the police and to encourage further crime?

Mr. T. Williams

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how many of these murders were committed by Arabs and how many by Jews?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

It is very difficult to say. There have been confused cases. There have been murders by both but certainly there have been more by Arabs than by Jews.

Mr. Gallacher

Will the right hon. Gentleman face the actual situation and institute a legislative assembly as the only means of stopping what is going on in Palestine?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

A proposal of that kind was made in this House by my predecessor and was rejected.

Mr. Sandys

Will my right hon. Friend, when the next Governor is appointed, draw his attention to the advisability of enforcing the law?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

The law is being enforced, and I should not like it to be thought that it is not being enforced. But the question of the exercise of the Royal Prerogative throughout the British Colonial Empire does not rest with me. It rests with His Majesty's representative, and in any case it would be most improper and unconstitutional of me to make any remarks about it.

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