HC Deb 29 July 1938 vol 338 cc3551-68

2.3 p.m.

Sir Percy Harris

My sympathies are with the hon. Members above the Gangway who have raised this interesting discussion about bridges, in the light of the problems of unemployment and transport. I wish to switch the discussion for a short time to the delicate and difficult problem of refugees. The matter came to a head in what has come to be known as the Vichy Conference. I would take the opportunity to congratulate the Noble Lord upon the great opportunity that has been afforded to him. He is one of the oldest Members of the House and he has had years of service, dating back I know not how many years, as a private Member of this House. At last he has achieved the coveted position of membership of the Cabinet, but I think he will be the first to agree that the position of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster does not offer great opportunities for him to show his administrative abilities. I am glad that he has had a chance to exercise his powers in what has come to be the great international conference that recently concluded. From all that I hear, he acquitted himself with skill, and gained the confidence and respect of all the countries that were there represented.

He will, however, be the first to recognise that the real success of the conference is largely due to the fact that it was initiated by the appeal of President Roosevelt; the fact that there was an important delegation from America was probably the best guarantee of something fruitful coming out of its long deliberations. We know the good will of the great American people. They are a long way off from our difficult and delicate European problems, but the fact that they were present to give a tone of impartiality is, I think my right hon. Friend will agree, the most likely assurance that something really practical and effective will come out of these deliberations. It was a great thing to get the representatives of 30 nations sitting round a table. It is true that it was not under the auspices of the League, but we are not going to be too critical of that. We have to be realists in these days, and it was perhaps quite worth while to get round the back of the League if it meant the presence of the United States of America. It is evidence of the common humanity of the civilised world when 30 nations can discuss, not any particular interest, but the common cause of humanity and generous mercy.

I am not going to say harsh words this afternoon about the German people; I think that the very last way to get things done is to stir up bitterness and bad feeling more than is absolutely necessary. I admit that I am unable to understand the psychology. I will not say of the German people, but of the present German Government. It is incomprehensible to us that they can keep in a prison camp such a distinguished ex-naval officer as Pastor NiemÖller; nor can we understand the glorification of the murderers of Dollfuss and their treatment as martyrs, or why a powerful people of some 70,000,000 should develop a cult of persecuting one per cent. of their population. It is incomprehensible to the British people. But we have to be realists, and see how we can by skill do something to ameliorate the condition of those unfortunate people who are suffering so much in Germany to-day. I would suggest that Members of this House and people outside might profitably read the very brilliant speech of the Bishop of Chichester in the House of Lords this week.

Our business at the moment is not to examine causes, but to see how far we can devise remedies, or perhaps, it would be more correct to say palliatives, of the position of these thousands of people who are being driven homeless out of their motherland. What can be done by cooperation was proved in a remarkable way during the first years after the War by the Nansen Committee, and I think, if I may say so, that the spirit which should inspire the Committee that is to be set up should be the spirit of the Nansen tradition. I am not one of those who underrate the difficulties. The difficulties are immense. We have to be realists. We have our own internal problems in the vast figures of unemployment and the horrors of the distressed areas, and other countries, which have great traditions in regard to the right of asylum and helping persons who are suffering from persecution owing to their race or religious beliefs, have similar problems to meet. That, of course, makes the difficulties very great. Naturally, people in our own country are suspicious of any immigration that may aggravate, in however small a way, some of our unemployment problems, though it is fair and reasonable to say that many of the immigrants who have been admitted to this country by the Home Office and have initiated new industries have been men of scientific or expert knowledge, and I believe that something like 300 new industries have actually been created as a reward for giving the right of asylum to men of distinction and business ability of scientific knowledge.

Let me pay a tribute to the present Home Secretary, who has shown great humanity and wisdom and personal sympathy in the treatment of individual cases. I know from my own experience that he is most accessible and willing to do all he can to help people where he can by his own personal wisdom. But the greatest possibilities of help seem to me to be in those large undeveloped tracts of the British Empire which are hungering for development. We have always boasted that we hold these vast territories, not in order to exploit them for our own selfish ends, but as the trustees of a civilised world. I congratulate the Colonial Office on the practical proposal which has been put forward for making use of Kenya Colony. That, of course, is within the personal powers of our Government, but it distresses some of us to see that more encouragement is not given to making use of the vast territories of Australia. Many Powers are casting hungry eyes on some of those undeveloped lands, and it seems a pity that Australia does not become more sympathetic. I hope she will be represented on the committee that is to be created to deal with this question.

It is clear to me, from the discussions that have taken place and from my knowledge of the whole problem, that the real help lies in agricultural settlement. After all, the Jewish people were originally a pastural nation; they were agriculturists. In recent centuries they have been associated with finance and industry, not always to the improvement of their repute, but they were forced into these channels of earning their living largely because they were denied the right to own land. Palestine has proved that, given the opportunity and the necessary capital, they can do wonders as practical farmers. They have literally, to use the language of the Bible, produced figs from thistles, and made vineyards out of land that has been desert; and, if given the chance, they will be able at any rate to make a livelihood. But, of course, the financial difficulty stands in the way. The report points out that they must have capital. They cannot expect to raise vast sums to enable them to become agriculturists, in new countries and undeveloped States, without capital resources. The German people in the early days when they were driving out their unfortunate fellow-citizens because of their race or religion, allowed them to take away a reasonable amount of their capital, something like 70 per cent. That has been gradually cut down and now they are being thrust into the world almost penniless on the charity of their neighbours. The "Times", in an excellent leading article the other day, made this pertinent remark: A policy of merciless confiscation is unworthy of a great country, and the unloading of forced migrants in a destitute condition is an offence against humanity and the community of nations". The fifth resolution of the Evian Conference—many of these resolutions are excellent both in wording and spirit—said, If countries of refuge or settlement are to co-operate in finding an orderly solution of the problem before the Committee they should have the collaboration of the country of origin and be therefore persuaded that it will make its contribution by enabling involuntary emigrants to take with them their property and possessions and emigrate in an orderly manner. The German people value the good will of other countries. They want to belong —they have reiterated that—to the comity of nations. I think they will respond to the appeal that was made to them at this conference at Evian. A new committee is to come into being, I understand, in London, and we are honoured that London has been chosen as its location. But this committee is not to be in any sense a merely British committee. It is to be really representative of the nations which took part in the Evian Conference. I hope that America above all will be closely identified with the work of this committee, and that the initiation of the conference by President Roosevelt will be continued by the active co-operation of America in the work of the new committee.

In conclusion, I would like to impress upon my right hon. Friend the Minister who is identified with this work the importance of the time factor. There has been terrible distress, especially in Vienna, and a whole crop of suicides. The patience of many of the people has been stretched to breaking-point. If the 30 nations assembled at Evian are really to do something constructive, I would impress upon this House and the world outside the importance of speed and of the avoidance of red tape, the importance of tact in tackling the problem and last, but not least, the exercise of that definite imagination that is so necessary if we are to do really constructive work.

2.19 p.m.

Captain Cazalet

Like the last speaker I desire, before the House adjourns, to detain it for a very few minutes in regard to this distressing and terrible problem of refugees from Europe. Some of us had hoped that conditions in regard to Jews in Central Europe would improve, but exactly the reverse has been the case in the last two months and even in the last two weeks. It is quite impossible to exaggerate the situation in which many hundreds of thousands of Jews and others find themselves in Central Europe to-day. Never since Milton immortalised the slaughter of the Albigenses has a whole community been in such danger. I am not going into details of individual persecution and atrocities, but there is every evidence to-day that wholesale indiscriminate arrests of Jews are going on in Vienna with the deliberate intention, I believe, of almost compelling these people to choose suicide as the only way out of their misery. Those who do not choose the happy release of suicide are sent to concentration camps where by hard work totally unsuited to them many of them find what is euphemistically termed a natural death.

I am not suggesting that anyone in this country is complacent about this problem, but I do say that the whole system is so alien to our traditions and habits of thought that it is almost impossible for us to envisage the situation and the circumstances in Germany and Austria to-day. We can all understand one act of cruelty, but what we cannot conceive is a definite official policy that is driving thousands of people to choose suicide as the only release from their problems. What can be done? Everyone in this country, and I think almost throughout the world, deplores the situation. May I for a moment or two state what is the problem as I see it? I think perhaps it is not always realised that before the War some two or three million emigrants from Central Europe left this Continent and found new homes in the United States of America, in South America and in the British Empire. During the years since the War that migration has ceased, and therefore the problem has become more acute in certain countries in Europe.

The situation in Germany to-day is that there are still about 350,000 people known as "full Jews". About 150,000 have already left. In Austria there are about 150,000 full Jews and only about 15,000 have left. Of that 150,000 to show how pressing is the problem, no fewer than 85,000 have already registered as desiring to find refuge and homes elsewhere. Of that 85,000 some 18,000 are children whose future, if they remain, is an absolute blank. Unfortunately that is by no means the whole problem. There are in addition an incalculable number, given sometimes as 600,000 to 700,000, of what are known as non-Aryans or half Jews—people, at any rate, who are all suffering the same disabilities as the Jews.

If that were the whole of the problem it would not be so bad, but to ignore yet a further aspect of it is really begging the question. There are in the Eastern countries of Europe—Poland, Rumania, Hungary—a number of people, between 3,000,000 and 5,000,000 perhaps, whose condition to-day, of course, is by no means comparable with that of the Jews in Germany—I am not suggesting that—but for whom something will have to be done in the near future. In Poland a very large proportion of the 3,500,000 Jews will never be, and can never be, assimilated to the country of their birth. I am not saying that if the Polish Government took certain measures they would not be able to settle a large number of these in their own land, but, even with good will on the part of the Polish Government, there always will be in Poland a very large number of Jews who will never be assimilated to conditions in Poland, and who, if they are to find a full and freer life, especially the young people, must find it elsewhere.

It is no good allocating the blame between one Government and another, but this is part of the problem we have to solve. In the next two or three years there will be at least 20,000 young Hungarians for whom no jobs will be available in Hungary; and, for the next five or o years at least, the liberal professions will be closed to young Hungarian Jews. Conditions in Rumania are somewhat similar to those in Hungary. That is a very formidable and stupendous problem, facing not only us but the world. The immediate problem is that of the Jews in Germany and Austria, and what can be, and will be, done for them in the near future. The Evian Conference offers no mean help—and may I be allowed to say that the success of that conference was largely due to the very sympathetic attitude taken by the delegate of His Majesty's Government. I would like to endorse what the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) said, that the record of the Home Office and the Home Secretary in the matter of refugees is one which we should admire. I have never known a case in regard to refugees where they have allowed red tape to stand in the way of not only the sensible, but the humane thing. I am very glad that the United States are going to take a lead in this conference.

I believe the first thing that that Conference—or the organisation set up by the Conference—has to do is to make a deal with Germany in regard to the possessions —money and property—that the refugees may be allowed take out with them. It is intolerable that people should not only be forced into involuntary exile, but should be robbed of every penny they possess. It is no good asking whether there is any moral justification for what they are doing; what we have to say to them is, "We appreciate that you wish to get rid of some hundreds of thousands of your people. We will help you, but you must always play your part if we play ours. The part you can play is to allow each individual to take a percentage of his property with him." That makes it, for all countries involved in this matter, so much easier to deal with public opinion. I believe that if all the countries will make the contributions they promised to make in their public speeches at Evian, something will be done. No one is more aware than I am of the danger of raising, in this country and elsewhere, anti-Semitic feeling, unless this question is handled tactfully; but, however successful the results of this Conference may be in the long run, it is only tinkering with the problem. I am not asking the Government to make any declaration on the wider issues to-day.

I perfectly appreciate that the Evian Conference was called for one object; and, indeed, I feel that every refugee who can be got out of Germany through the work of that Conference, is a life saved. But I think everyone who studies this problem realises that, if we are to find a real solution, it must be on a much wider, bigger basis than that of a small infiltration of a few skilled Jews into this country and into a few other countries. We have to find a territory where Jews and non-Aryans can create a community among themselves without disturbing the neighbouring people, where, in the course of the next decade, not a few hundreds but tens of thousands of families can settle and make a life of their own, in the same way as they have done in Palestine—and do not let us underestimate the contribution that Palestine has made to this problem. In the last few years, of the 150,000 Jews who have left Germany, over 40,000 have gone to Palestine. We hope that, in happier times, Palestine will be able once again to make a substantial contribution to the solution of this problem. I am not dogmatic as to where this other territory should be. Zanzibar and other places have been suggested. Personally, I would rather that it was within the confines of the British Empire. It is too difficult for private Members to obtain sufficient facts for them to be able to say where this territory should be; but simply to raise objections and to say it cannot be done is wrong. If you look at the map and see the vast open spaces which still exist in the world, it is obvious that that is not an attitude which would be justified. I am glad to hear that the Government intend and are indeed taking steps to find settlement in a small way—naturally, it must be in a small way to start with—in Central and Eastern Africa.

I recognise that progress towards a scheme of this kind must be slow. Great hardships will be entailed, and it is only by persistent effort and a good deal of courage on the part of the emigrants that success will be possible. It would be a great idea, if you could find a suitable area, to take from Palestine a certain number of pioneers who know the difficulties, and these could form a nucleus. I do not believe money alone would ever be an obstacle to the success of a scheme of this kind. I am certain you could get the big Jewish firms of the world to guarantee whatever money was necessary to launch such a scheme. To no one who has seen what the Jews have overcome in Palestine would such a scheme seem an impossibility. These people would rather fight tsetse fly and blackwater fever in Central Africa than the Nazi régime in Germany. This may be rather a dream, but we have to lay the foundations so as to make it a reality in the next generation. Just 35 years ago, Mr. Joseph Chamberlain offered to the Jews a home in the neighbourhood of Kenya and Uganda. It may be that in the near future his son will be able to keep this promise, perhaps even somewhere in the same locality. We pride ourselves on being a democracy. I think hardly any of us ever makes a speech in his constituency in which that word does not form an important part of the peroration. We have always been an asylum for the persecuted.

Mr. De Chair

Including Karl Marx and Lenin.

Captain Cazalet

I am for opening our doors as wide as possible, and I do not want to be led astray. We have tolerated in our midst one or two examples even of that kind. I do not think that we have suffered very much internally. We welcomed in days gone by the Huguenots in large numbers, and I do not think that we suffered as a consequence. I do not believe that either this country or the Empire will suffer from extending the open, generous hand to some of the persecuted refugees in central Europe to-day. We pride ourselves upon being a Christian country. It is only in recent years that perhaps we have found it necessary to emphasise that we are a Christian country, and that as a Christian country we take certain views and hold certain ideals. This is not only a Jewish question. It is a Christian question as well. Upon what does Christianity stand? Upon the foundation of charity.

Mr. MacLaren

Upon justice, not charity.

Captain Cazalet

Justice and charity. My interpretation of charity includes justice. There is no real charity without justice. There are in the world to-day a great many people who are strangers, and we should take an interest in them. There are many who are hungry and without homes, and it is our job to feed and to clothe them. I know that up to date our record in this matter compares favourably with that of any other people or nation in the world. We have to-day a magnificent body of voluntary workers, led by certain Quakers, who have already made great contributions, with the assistance of the Government, towards the solution of the more immediate and pressing problems of many thousands of refugees. Much remains, however, to be done, and it is only with the help and assistance of the Government in the future that that work can be accomplished. I am certain that history will condemn violently the acts of commission of many of this generation, but we shall also have to pay the penalty if we, by any act of omission, fail to try and solve this problem. The Government, we all hope, however much we may differ as to the means they employ, will in the next six months or year enable Europe to avoid suffering from the horrors of war. Is it too much to hope that they will be equally successful in mitigating what may be justly termed one of the horrors of peace—the persecution of the Jews in Central Europe?

2.38 p.m.

Mr. Trevor Cox

I quite agree with the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Chippenham (Captain Cazalet) about the notable part played by Governments of this country in past times in assisting weak and small minorities which were being persecuted. The British Governments in the past have always played a very distinguished part in assisting minorities in distress, and I certainly hope that the Government will show, by putting forward constructive suggestions, that they are in a position to assist refugees in Central Europe to-day. The hon. and gallant Gentleman mentioned the question of the Evian Conference. I do not know that I agree with his statement that the Conference was a great success. I think that we rather have to look forward to its later developments in regard to assisting refugees in Central Europe. The President of the United States of America has taken a great interest in this question. It is quite clear that he is anxious to assist the Jews and to see that some notable contribution is made. I feel that there is a great future for this matter and I certainly hope that the British Government will be able to assist. I believe that Palestine is able to absorb large numbers of these refugees. I know that it is suggested that is it not possible to absorb large numbers of these refugees in Palestine. The Peel Report recently said, in regard to immigration, that: The heavy emigration in the years in 1933 and 1936 would seem to show that the Jews have been able to enlarge the economic absorbtive capacity of the country for the Jews. The process can be continued for some time to come and it would appear that its expansion need only be limited by the amount of funds which Jewish philanthrophy and enterprise are prepared to pour into the country. But such an expansion of the economic absorptive capacity is calculated to lead to a development of the Jewish national home which is not organic but is unnatural. That shows clearly that there are considerable possibilities of enlarging the economic absorptive capacity of the country, and that it is quite possible for large numbers of Jews to emigrate to that country. I feel that it would be far better if the economic absorptive capacity principle was set up again in place of the present political high level system. The Peel Commission Report makes it very clear that there are vast possibilities of development in Palestine and that it can absorb large numbers of Jews. It speaks of the great progress of industry and agriculture, and mentions the impressive work accomplished by the ardent zeal of the Zionists. To give one or two examples—the remarkable growth of Haifa, which now has a population of something like 100,000. This half-Jewish port serves both Arabs and Jews. Since 1933 the capital invested in industry has increased by 108 per cent., and the value of the output by something like 75 per cent. A remarkable development is taking place, chiefly due to the ability and enterprise of the Jews in many other directions. If 1921 is taken as the basic year, the capital in Jewish industry has increased by more than 1,800 per cent. and the output by more than 1,700 per cent. Great progress is being made in regard to agricultural colonisation and urban development. No fewer than 19 new Jewish settlements were established last year. The £77,000,000 worth of Jewish investments has greatly helped the trade of the country as a whole, and has benefited both Arabs and Jews.

Mr. Crossley

No Arab would admit that.

Mr. Cox

I do not know that that is actually the case. I think the Palestine Royal Commission makes it abundantly clear that the influence of Jewish immigration and reconstruction work has in the past greatly helped the Arab population. I can give one or two examples by extracts from the Report of the Palestine Royal Commission, which makes that clear. The large import of Jewish capital into Palestine has had a general fructifying effect on the economic life of the country as a whole. The expansion of Arab industry, especially the citrus industry, has been largely financed by the capital thus obtained. Jewish example has done much to improve Arab cultivation, especially in regard to the citrus plantations.

Mr. Crossley

I cannot let that go unchallenged. The depression in the citrus industry is so severe that many thousands of trees are being cut down.

Mr. Cox

That does not detract in any way from the point I was making, that the financing of this industry by the Jews has greatly benefited the Arabs. Owing to Jewish development and enterprise the employment of Arab labour has increased in urban areas, particularly in the ports. I can give one or two other examples which show that the Arabs have very much benefited from the activities of the Jews in Palestine. For example, institutions founded with Jewish funds primarily to serve the National Home have also served the Arab population. My hon. Friend would do well to bear that fact in mind. Hudussah, for example, treats Arab patients, notably at the tuberculosis hospital at Safed, and the Radiology Institute at Jerusalem admits Arab people to the clinics of its rural sick benefit fund, and does much to assist in welfare work for Arab mothers. These simple facts show how entirely baseless is the statement which is so often made and which has been made by my hon. Friend that Arabs do not benefit in Palestine from the activities of the Jews.

I should like to refer to one further point. It has been frequently stated by Arab leaders that the British Government have not kept faith in their dealings with the Arabs.

Mr. Gallacher

Hear, hear. Nor with the Jews.

Mr. Cox

That point was mentioned in the evidence given before the Royal Commission and many times before this. The Arab Higher Committee stated that the faith of the Arabs in the British Government was shaken by the outcome of their efforts in the War, and that the subsequent action of the Government had deepened their mistrust. I think that statement is entirely untrue. Lord Balfour's reply shows how unjust those remarks were. He said: Of all the charges made against this country I must say that the charge that we have been unjust to the Arabs seems to me the strangest. It was largely through the expenditure of British blood, by the exercise of British valour and skill and by the conduct of British generals and British troops, brought from all parts of the Empire, that the emancipation of the Arabs from Turkish rule has been brought about. That we, after all the events of the War should be held up as those who have done an injustice, after we have established a King in Mesopotamia, and have done more than has been done for centuries past to put the Arab race in the position to which they have attained, and that we should be charged with being their enemies, and taking a mean advantage of the international situation, seems not only most unjust to this country but almost fantastic in its extravagance. I do not wish to continue that line of thought, but I would say, in conclusion, that I hope it will be said that we desire to the best of our ability to give to the Jewish people an opportunity to develop in peace and security those great gifts which hitherto they have been compelled to bring to fruition in countries which know not their language and belong not to their race. But, whatever be the decision of the Government on this very delicate and distressing problem, it is to be hoped that peace will be brought to Palestine and that her people will then be forgetful of all ancient animosities and be delivered from the apprehension of future danger.

2.53 P.m.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Earl Winterton)

I am thankful to the hon. baronet the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) for giving me an opportunity of saying something about this most poignant and pressing problem which was dealt with at the Inter-Governmental meeting at Evian. This problem requires most careful and delicate treatment if the position of these unfortunate people in their country of origin is not to be made worse. Mere denunciation of those responsible for the condition in which they find themselves will not benefit the people whom we wish to help, and certainly no one could have been more careful in that respect than the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Chippenham (Captain Cazalet). I must thank the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green for his most friendly personal references to me and to my colleagues at Evian, and I am also grateful to the hon. and gallant Member for Nuneaton (Lieut.-Commander Fletcher), who gave assenting cheers. Such things sweeten the acerbities of political life.

My colleagues and I, in the 10 days that we spent at Evian, did strive to achieve what we believed to be a very considerable measure of success, although it is only the first step in a continuous process. I should like to pay a grateful tribute to the initiative of the President and the Government of the United States of America in this matter and also to the support which was given by the French and the other Government representatives. I think I can in a very few minutes give a resumé of what occurred and what was achieved. We tried to deal with the matters before us in a purely practical way. We aimed at regulated rather that chaotic migration from Germany, and infiltration rather than mass migration. I should make it clear that it was recognised at Evian that the subject under consideration should be confined to the question of refugees from Germany (including Austria) and that it was impracticable to extend it to the question of refugees from other countries.

I must make it clear, although I think it is probably already clear to the House, that we had to consider not only the Jewish minority in Germany. The refugee problem is not confined to the Jews, and it would be unfortunate if that fact were forgotten. It was emphasized at the meeting that infiltration, not mass migration, was the only practical solution of the problem. I should like to say that we had support from many Jewish quarters for this point of view. Furthermore, I should like to pay a tribute to the moderation, good sense and common sense of the many representatives of Jewish and other refugee organisations with whom I had the honour and pleasure of discussing this question in private.

The reasons for the conference making the recommendations I have described may be briefly stated. We live in an age of intense suspicion, acute nationalism, and every sort of restriction of an economic character. If we recognised that mass-migration was impracticable, it was not because of any anti-Semitism on our part, but rather because we were determined to face the facts. The Dominions and the United States of America were opposed to mass migration from this country to theirs; they will only accept selected immigrants. The days have gone when large masses of people can move from one country to another. In the same way the receiving countries represented at Evian made it clear that they could only take members of the Austrian and German minorities within the limits of their absorptive capacity, but I believe that they will interpret this criterion in a more liberal fashion as the result of our meeting than was the case before. I cannot give actual statistics but I have a strong feeling of hopefulness on that matter.

As regards the United Kingdom, the policy of His Majesty's Government towards the admission of refugees has been frequently explained by the Home Secretary. It may be stated as a middle-course policy. Out attitude is to treat each applicant as sympathetically as possible, but we are of the opinion that there can be no indiscriminate admission. This policy has the support of the private refugee organisations. I should like to add one further point: this is not a party question, and any Government in office must have regard to the state of public opinion. It is largely public opinion which must be the determining factor in the matter. We think that we have as a result of the meeting at Evian done much to focus the eyes of the world on this problem as being urgent and as being one which demands the utmost sympathy of treatment.

Reference has been made to Palestine during the course of the Debate. I should rather deprecate this Debate being treated as a Palestinian Debate. I am concerned with what happened at Evian, and I do not think I need read to the House what I said on- the subject at Evian when speaking on behalf of His Majesty's Government, and particularly on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary. I need only mention the very considerable contribution that Palestine has hitherto made to the question of the absorption of refugee and other Jews. Owing, however, to the particular circumstances of the moment, which we all regret and deeply deplore, it has been necessary to impose certain restrictions.

I think the House would like to hear a word in regard to the future of the Intergovernmental Committee. It will be a continuing Committee, and I ought to say that it will not in any sense be in conflict or in competition with the League of Nations organisation for refugees. I should like to take this opporunity of paying a tribute to the work of Sir Neil Malcolm and to the previous work of Dr. Nansen and his successors as heads of the League refugee services. I think, in vulgar parlance, that we can pat ourselves on the back that at the Evian meeting we reached a unanimous resolution in an atmosphere of good will.

The recommendations of the Committee make it clear that the new continuing body shall work in the closest co-operation with the League organisation for refugees. For obvious reasons it would be impossible for the United States to participate in a purely League organisation, and it would be equally impossible to deal with Germany on that basis, because Germany is not a member of the League. Moreover, when I say that the work of the new continuing Committee will not be in conflict in any way with the work done by the High Commissioner, I should point out that the mandate of the High Commissioner is at present limited to refugees in the strict sense of the term, that is to persons who have already left their country of origin. For political reasons the High Commissioner is not empowered to negotiate with the German Government or to intervene on behalf of persons still in Germany who might desire to emigrate.

I should like to mention at this point that I deprecate any suggestion that any of the countries represented at Evian were not prepared to do their utmost within the limits of their capacity to assist in the solution of this problem. A reference has been made to Australia. I am not entitled to speak on behalf of Australia, but the impression made on me by the attitude of the distinguished Australian representative, who is also a member of the Australian Government, was not that which the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green suggested, and I have reason to hope and believe that Australia is going to do everything possible to assist towards a solution of the problem.

Commander Locker-Lampson

What about Transjordania? The late Secretary of State said that in Transjordania there is room at once for 100,000 families.

Earl Winterton

I am afraid that is a matter with which I am not competent to deal at the moment. I can only refer to what His Majesty's Government propose to do in the Colonial Empire, and even there, of course, its authority is not absolute. It is a delusion to suppose that in the case of the Colonial Empire His Majesty's Government can act without regard to the opinion of the white settlers and also to the opinion of the native population.

Commander Locker-Lampson

TransJordania is relatively empty.

Earl Winterton

I am afraid that I cannot say any more on that question.

I think we should recognise and realise the intense interest in this question of the Government and the people of the United States of America. The House will agree with me, I am sure, that the well of sympathy of the people of the United States with human problems is very deep. We recollect what was done for refugees after the War through the agency of Mr. Hoover. I do not know whether the House is aware of the immense sums of money which have been given and the self-sacrifice on the part of individuals which has been shown by American citizens in all parts of the world under the American Red Cross. I believe that sympathy and assistance will flow steadily and continuously to help in the alleviation of the sufferings of these poor refugees. The only other thing I want to say is that German co-operation in this work is, of course, most desirable. If minorities are to be forced to leave the country of their birth, they must have the financial means to move. I cannot believe that this fact will be ignored by practical people like the Germans.

The Inter-Governmental Committee will meet again in London on Wednesday of next week. I understand that it is intended that there shall be a British chairman of that body, and His Majesty's Government have asked me to represent them and to be chairman. I am glad to say that I have reason to believe that Mr. Myron Taylor, the American delegate at Evian, and Senator Henri Bérenger, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Commiteee of the French Senate, who was the leading French delegate at Evian, will both be at the meeting next week, and will, I think, occupy important positions in the new Committee. The United States Government will be in a position to announce the name of the gentleman—I am not at liberty to give it at this moment—who will be put before the meeting for election as the administrator and executive officer of the new body. I am sure that we shall have the good will and support of the House in endeavouring to alleviate and mitigate, even if it is impossible to solve, this difficult and terrible problem.