HC Deb 22 November 1939 vol 353 c1207
34. Sir Assheton Pownall

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many Jews in Palestine were under detention at the outbreak of war; and how many are now detained?

Mr. M. MacDonald

The General Officer Commanding in Palestine has recently ordered a review to be made of the cases of all Jews under detention, with a view to releasing as many of them as possible. At the outbreak of war there were 175 Jews under detention; that number has now been reduced to 57.

Mr. Boothby

Do the 40 Jews who were sentenced quite recently for carrying arms come under that review?

Mr. MacDonald

No, Sir. They are under detention in another sense, and the General Officer Commanding is now considering the punishment which the military court decided was appropriate.

Mr. T. Williams

Were not these men complimented previously by the military heads and will the right hon. Gentleman not exercise his influence to prevent the sentences—a 10 years' sentence in one case and a life sentence in another —being confirmed by the military authorities?

Mr. MacDonald

I do not propose to interfere with the discretion of the General Officer Commanding, who has all these considerations in mind.

Mr. Williams

May we take it that the right hon. Gentleman will not interfere, in the direction of getting the sentences confirmed?

Mr. MacDonald

Certainly. I will leave it entirely to the General Officer Commanding.