HC Deb 09 March 1938 vol 332 cc1876-7
30. Sir A. Knox

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the dependence of this country upon oil produced in foreign countries, His Majesty's Government will allow the development of the Dead Sea oilfield to proceed under the rights offered to a British subject, Dr. Homer, in 1933 and renewed in 1934, that oilfield being in a position of strategic importance to the defence services of the Empire and in territory protected by His Majesty's forces?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

The grant of oil rights, if oil is discovered in Palestine and Transjordan, rests with the Palestine and Transjordan Governments. Applications from several persons, including the lady mentioned in the question, for oil exploration permits have been received. Action upon them has been deferred pending the revision, which has not yet been completed, of the general oil legislation of Palestine and Transjordan.

Sir A. Knox

Is it not a fact that this lady was requested to go to Palestine as long ago as 1934, and why has the whole thing been held up ever since?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

We have no reason to suppose that there is oil in Palestine, but before we embark on giving concessions in a country of that kind we have to be very careful about the terms on which we do so.

Mr. Thorne

Is it not a fact that if there were oil in Palestine the British Government would have been after it?