HC Deb 05 July 1939 vol 349 cc1279-81
55. Captain Ramsay

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has considered the letter addressed to the High Commissioner of Palestine by the religious leaders of the Christian communities in Haifa, making definite charges against the supernumerary police in Palestine as the authors of the bomb outrages in Haifa; and what action he proposes to take?

Mr. M. MacDonald

I understand that the High Commissioner for Palestine received on 3rd April a letter signed by the local heads of the various Christian Churches in the town of Haifa containing allegations in general terms against Jewish supernumerary police. The High Commissioner assures me that he is satisfied that there is no truth in the allegations.

Mr. E. Smith

In view of the fact that these police are carrying on under very difficult conditions, is not the putting in this House of questions of that character to be deprecated?

Mr. Crossley

Is it not a fact that the most appalling outrages against Arabs have taken place in Haifa involving the loss of over 200 lives; and is it not a fact that the police protection in Haifa, and particularly the watching of the Haifa market, has not, up to now, been adequate?

Mr. Dingle Foot

Is it not. a fact that these allegations have been made by highly respected members of the community in Palestine, and is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that there has been the fullest investigation into them?

Mr. MacDonald

I am certain that the High Commissioner would not have given me the assurance which he has given without the fullest investigation and proof. As regards the watching of the situation in the market in Haifa, I am satisfied that the authorities in Palestine are doing their utmost to prevent any recurrence of these deplorable and disastrous events.

Mr. Lawson

Has the right hon. Gentleman taken note of the fact that the same charges are being made against British soldiers?

Mr. MacDonald

There are charges and counter charges in Palestine, most of which cancel each other out.

Sir N. Stewart Sandeman

Would my right hon. Friend not think of sending out a Commission to inquire into this matter?

Mr. T. Johnston

With regard to the supplementary answer which the right hon. Gentleman has just given, has his attention been drawn to the fact that an allegation has been put upon the Order Paper to-day against British troops from the same source?

Captain Ramsay

On a point of Order. May I ask you for your Ruling, Mr. Speaker? I put down a question which I subsequently withdrew.

Hon. Members


An Hon. Member

You were ashamed of it.

Captain Ramsay

Is it in order to suggest that I was making allegations when, in fact, I was putting a question the answer to which I believed would clear British troops of any allegation made against them?

Mr. Johnston

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can give the House and the country the same explicit assurance of the falsehood of the allegations regarding the British troops that he has just given regarding the allegations against the police?

Mr. MacDonald

Yes, Sir, without any hesitation.