§ 3.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker (Derby)
I beg to move:That this House regrets that, disregarding the expressed opinion of the Permanent Mandates Commission that the policy contained in the White Paper on Palestine was inconsistent wtih the terms of the Mandate, and without the authority of the Council of the League of Nations, His Majesty's Government have authorised the issue of regulations controlling the transfer of land which discriminate unjustly against one section of the inhabitants of Palestine.We have put down this Motion, not because we are pro-Jew or anti-Arab, but because we are pro-Mandate and because we believe that it is of great importance, now, as always, that Great Britain's international obligations should be observed. We held last May that the Secretary of State's White Paper was inconsistent with the Mandate; and we oppose these regulations because they are a part of the policy of that White Paper policy, because we believe them to be a grave and deliberate infraction of the Mandate, and because, as we think, they compromise, if they do not destroy, the whole purpose for which the Mandate was first drawn up. We believe these regulations will damage the interests both of the Arabs and of the Jews. We believe that Jewish progress means Arab progress and that the prosperity of either means greater wealth and greater happiness to them all. It is this 412 conviction which makes us oppose the regulations as arbitrary, reactionary and unjust. The Secretary of State defends them in his new White Paper on economic grounds, and says in Enclosure 3 that His Majesty's Government have been advised that unless these regulations are adoptedthe rights and position of the Arab population will be prejudiced,that there is already a serious congestion of population over most of Palestine, and thatif land sales remain unrestricted there is likely to arise a 'landless Arab' population of such dimensions that it will be extremely difficult to find any solution for it.This will lead, he says, to renewed bitterness between Jews and Arabs and to violent disorders, which at all costs must be avoided. That is the whole case of the Secretary of State for these Land Regulations as he now puts it forward. And it all turns on the question of the landless Arab, the dispossessed and discontented proletariat from whose agitations a new civil struggle may begin. How many are there of these landless and dispossessed Arabs? The House will note that in his new White Paper the Secretary of State does not assert that there are any at the present time. He says:There is likely to arise a 'landless Arab' problem.The Jews have been in Palestine for 20 years. They have purchased more than 1,000,000 dunams of Arab land. It is 10 years since Sir John Hope-Simpson, on whose evidence the Secretary of State considerably relies, first drew the attention of the Government to this problem. Yet the Secretary of State does not tell us to-day that there are already so many thousands of these unhappy victims. He does not prove his fears for the future by his experience of the past: And why? Because, we believe, he cannot.
The House will no doubt remember that when Sir John Hope-Simpson made his first report on this subject in 1930, the Government took the problem of the landless Arab very seriously. They appointed a special Commission under Mr. French and Mr. Justice Webb to find out how many Arabs had been dispossessed because their land had been purchased by the Jews. That Commission sent out agents into every village where Arab land had been purchased by the 413 Jews and asked for claims from landless Arabs who had been dispossessed. They selected admirable lands, with excellent irrigation on which they offered new settlements to these claimants, if their claims were proved. They got 1,000 claims, of which Mr. French and Mr. Justice Webb allowed 600. Of these 600, 100 took up the Government offer of new settlements elsewhere. Of these 100, 50 deserted their new farms within a year or two and went back to the villages from which they came. Like the 500 who stayed at home in the first instance and refused the Government's offer, they found that they were better off working in other ways in their own villages than if they went to the new land settlements which the Government had offered.
If hon. Members will reflect on what has happened and on the immense colonisation by the Jews which has taken place, they will see that these figures would be almost incredible unless we knew on Government evidence that they were true. We think that they go very far to destroy the case which the Secretary of State has made in Enclosure 3. Perhaps he can show us that since Mr. French's effort the thing has changed and that now there are far larger numbers of landless Arabs than there were then. It would be surprising if he could because, for one thing, the Jews take great precautions to protect improvident Arab peasant proprietors from selling themselves out completely. They seek to buy only what they judge to be genuinely surplus land. The Government themselves have protected by stringent legislation tenant farmers who work the land on shares from being sold up by reckless landlords. It seems to follow that without these new Land Regulations the safeguards against the "landless Arab" problem are pretty strong. No doubt that is really why the Secretary of State cannot show us that great numbers of landless Arabs exist to-day.
But perhaps the Secretary of State will argue—indeed, I think he is bound to—that if the danger has not yet arisen it is very near, that saturation points lies close ahead, and that if the Jews go on buying land, then congestion on the land will soon be seen. What is congestion? How many people can live in comfort on a given piece of land? It all depends on how the land is used. The Secretary of 414 State knows better than any of us that the whole history of Palestine in the last 20 years has consisted of the process by which the Jews have reclaimed desert or marshy land, by which they have introduced intensive cultivation, and by which they have increased the productivity of the soil by modern methods and thereby added to the population which it can support. On any true understanding of the facts the Jews have not decreased the land available to Arabs. They have increased it in a notable degree. They have expanded Palestine for Arabs and Jews alike.
Take one example. They have developed orange growing on new and modern lines, and have helped the Arabs to develop it, too. They have helped them by direct instruction, by their example, and by the capital which Arabs got by selling surplus land. As a direct result there are now in Arab hands 100,000 dunams of orange groves in bearing and others which are coming on. Two dunams of orange grove give the same net income as the Arab cultivator would get from 100 dunams of inferior grain-farming land. Fifty times the income. On that basis it is surely fair to say that by helping Arabs to get 100,000 dunams of orange groves the Jews have added 5,000,000 dunams to the cultivable soil which is in Arab hands, and by that process have enormously increased the potential soil which can carry additional population, both for the Arabs and for the Jews.
We think it is precisely by that process that, as the Secretary of State told us a year ago, 400,000 Arabs have been added to the population. He said then, in words that deserve attention:The Arabs cannot say that the Jews are driving them out of their country.To-day, apparently, he says that they may.If not a single Jew had come to Pales-time after 1918, I believe the Arab population of Palestine would still have been round about the 600,000 figure."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th November, 1938; col. 1992, Vol. 341.]It was because the Jews had gone to Palestine, because of what they had done for the Arabs as well as for the Jews that this great increase had taken place. This can be proved in detail. I do not want to weary the House with this part of my case, but I have figures which 415 Show that in districts where Jews have bought a lot of land the Arab population has grown considerably faster than in districts where the Jews have bought no land at all. There are figures to show mat the Arabs are not only more numerous, but that by every test they are more prosperous and healthier than they were before.
That is the process which the Secretary of State by these Land Regulations proposes to stop. In future, he is to allow the Jews the right of free purchase in 2.6 per cent. of the total area of Palestine. When they were first promised the National Home, it was to include Trans-Jordan and was to be 45,000 square miles. In 1922, Trans-Jordan was cut away and it became 10,000 square miles. The Peel Commission proposed to cut it to 2,000 square miles. Now the Secretary of State cuts it to 260 square miles. That 260 square miles is in the area Where the Jews have already purchased most; where the land has already been reclaimed and where, proportionately, the Arabs are thickest on the ground.
Nor is that all. A year ago, the Arab Delegation told the London Conference that there were 19,000,000 dunams of land in Palestine which they could not cultivate. The Jews have already begun to show that they can cultivate it. They have proved outside Jerusalem, and they are proving now in Northern Galilee, that by terracing and planting trees, they can cultivate even the barren hills. But the Secretary of State will now prevent them going there at all, because the hills are all in his prohibited zone. This policy is not adopted for economic reasons. In reality, the Secretary of State proposes to keep the greater part of Palestine clean of Jews. He is adopting Dr. Goebbels' watchword. It is to be, "Juden rein." The right hon. Gentleman's economic defence for his policy utterly breaks down. I think he proposes later to quote to us what was said by Count de Penha Garcia, a member of the Mandates Commission, who supported his general view. But discussing these land proposals, Count Garcia said thatthe new policy suggested, might not be, very advantageous to the Arabs and it would also impoverish Palestine.I think it is true to say that the Secretary of. State is indeed the modern prophet who declares that the desert shall not 416 blossom like the rose. The Land Regulations are hot only indefensible on economic grounds. They are open to grave economic objections. But they are open to grave political objections as Well. They bring to the Jews of Palestine, the three evils of the dispersion which they chiefly hate—barred doors, legal discrimination on racial and religious grounds and permanent minority status. It was to escape those things that the Jews dreamed for centuries of a national home. It was to permit, them to escape that we made the Mandate.
These regulations are open, as the whole White Paper policy is open, to grave objections on moral grounds. During the last war, the Jews were very strong, and had great influence in many lands. We desired their help. It was to get that help that we made the Balfour Declaration. [Hon. Members: "Hear, hear!"] The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) says, "Hear, hear!" and two years ago the First Lord of the Admiralty told us that this measure had been taken inthe dire need of the war, with the object of promoting the general victory of the Allies, for which they expected and received valuable and important assistance.To-day, the Jews are a weak and hunted race. Tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of them have already perished; their property has been stolen and destroyed, and it is because, in the general holocaust of civilised standards, their influence has gone, that we dare to do this shameful act, that we try to repudiate the moral contract which we made with them during the last Great War.
But it is, above all, on legal grounds that we object to these Land Regulations. We are now at war to resist aggression; to prevent the rule of violence in international affairs and to uphold the sanctity of international law. It is on that principle that our national unity in this struggle has been built. If that principle were called in question, our national unity would be utterly destroyed. Yet it seems to us that by the course which he now proposes, the Secretary, of State is deliberately violating the obligations by which the nation is bound, that he is striking a blow at the great principle for which we are at war, that he is gravely prejudicing the faith of other nations in 417 our word, and that, in doing so, he is treating not only the League of Nations, but this House, with unjustified contempt.
May I remind the House of what has happened? Last May, the Secretary of State brought the new and, we think, revolutionary policy of the White Paper before the House. Many hon. Members considered that it was inconsistent with the spirit and the letter of the Mandate by which we were bound. The Secretary of State often says that on Palestine all parties are divided among themselves. In fact, the two Opposition parties, except for a few scattered voices, were substantially agreed in support of what we call the Mandate policy, and among the Government's supporters there were many who thought that the Secretary of State was wrong. Among those who took that view were the ex-Prime Minister who made the Balfour Declaration, and the two ex-Colonial Secretaries who had most to do with bringing the Mandate into effect. In view of that conflict of opinion, the Opposition last May moved a Motion urging that Parliament should not be committed to this new policy, pending examination of the proposals by the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League. The Secretary of State replied with a categorical assurance that his policy was consistent with the Mandate; and it was on the strength of that assurance—and I stress that point—that he got a majority of 89. That was on 23rd May.
In June the Permanent Mandates Commission met in Geneva and discussed the White Paper at great length. There was a four days session with the Secretary of State; and on 29th June the commission approved of its minutes and drew up its report. Soon after it was credibly reported that the majority of the commission had declared that the White Paper was not consistent with the Mandate and that it was destructive of the Jewish National Home. Accordingly, on 17th July my hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) raised the matter in the House, and we demanded that the Secretary of State should tell us whether those reports were true. We asked him to secure the early publication of the commission's minutes in order that the House could reconsider the matter in the light of what the competent international authority had said. The Secretary of State refused both those de- 418 mands. He announced that he proposed to take the White Paper to the Council of the League for its aproval, without giving the House any further opportunity for discussion and regardless of what the Mandates Commission might have said. On that occasion his majority fell to 69
In August, a fortnight later, the minutes of the Mandates Commission were published. The House had risen; and we discovered, first, that the Mandates Commission by a majority had declared that the White Paper was inconsistent with the Mandates, and, secondly, that, had he so desired, the Secretary of State could have Secured the publication of the minutes, at latest, by the middle of July. But the Secretary of State was undeterred by these revelations. He still proposed, if he could, to force his policy through the Council of the League at its meeting in September. But the war began and he did not get a chance. Palestine was forgotten until a week ago. Then he raised a storm by promulgating these new Regulations, which have created the new and dangerous situation confronting us today.
From that history of events since last May, I draw two conclusions which I offer to the House. The first is that it was intolerably wrong that the Secretary of State should have compelled the House to approve his White Paper policy without a chance of knowing what the Permanent Mandates Commission had said, when he could easily have let us know. The second is that it is intolerably wrong that he should now come forward with that policy, in face of the adverse opinion which the Commission gave. I know that on those two points the Secretary of State will argue that the Mandates Commission is only an advisory body; that it is not advisory to him; that, in, any case, it decided only by a majority of one; that the real authority with whom he deals is the Council of the League which, if it wants to do so, can stop him now, but that until it does so, he must go on. It is true that Article 22 of the Covenant says that the Commission shall "advise the Council on all matters relating to the observance of the Mandate." But from the very first the Commission has always been regarded as what I ventured in July to call a quasi-judicial tribunal, as the competent authority to interpret the Mandates and supervise their loyal execution.
419 It so happens that it was my duty, as an official of the Secretariat of the League, to draft the first memorandum on which the constitution of the Permanent Mandates Commission was considered. I remember that it was, at first, proposed that the Mandatory Powers should each nominate a member of the commission, but, later, that plan was abandoned, and it was decided that all the members should be independent, holding no Government offices of any kind, and that a majority of them should be chosen from nations which did not hold a mandate. I remember that the late Lord Balfour in private conversation stressed the importance of the independence of the Commission and in fact he said that in its work on mandates, the Council itself, and every member of the Council, must put first, not their national duty, but their international duty to the League as a whole. In the early discussions at the Assembly it was often said that the mandates system would be the crucial test of the sincerity of the new policy of the League, and that whether that test was passed or not would depend on the authority and character of the Mandates Commission. I have here a speech by a Canadian Minister, Mr. Doherty, at the first Assembly, in which he said that it was vitally important that the Council should appoint men to the Commission who would see thatthe sacred trusts defined in the covenant were realised, met and fulfilled…The result might then be (he said) what the world had a right to expect, the strictest fulfilment of the obligations involved in that trust.That has always been the view held by the Assembly and the Council of the League. It has always been the view held by the Commission themselves. At the last meeting, in June, the Chairman of the Commission, M. Orts, who had been a member of it from the beginning, said this:Would it be said that it was not qualified to interpret the mandates? It had done nothing else since the very beginning of its existence. It had done that for the Palestine Mandate, for the Tanganyika, Ruanda-Urundi and South-West African Mandates; and were not the observations which it had submitted to the Council as a result of its examination of the various annual reports based on its conception of the provisions of the Mandates? Neither the Council nor the Mandatory Powers had ever suggested that in so doing it had exceeded its duties or its competence.420 Finally he said the Commission not only had a right, it had a bounden duty, to interpret the Mandate and that unless it did so it would be abdicating and ruining any authority it might possess. It has happened—the Secretary of State will correct me if I am wrong, but I think I am not—that on every occasion when there have been disputed questions the Council has adopted the views which the Mandates Commission have put forward. It certainly did so in all the cases cited by M. Orts. When the French Government sent a delegate to Geneva who had a violent controversy with the Commission about Syria, a delegate who virtually accused the Commission of prolonging a bloody war, the Assembly upheld the Commission against the delegate from France. When we ourselves submitted a question to the Commission, about 10 years ago, I think, concerning the question of a closer administrative and customs union between Tanganyika and Kenya and other territories around, the Commission found thata constitutional union of the mandated territory with the neighbouring territories cannot be carried out so long as the present mandate is in force.While I know that other causes as well were operating, it is the fact, after that decision by the Commission, we did abandon the plan which we had put forward. It is a fact—you can find it in all the academic books on the mandate system—that the Commission interpret the mandates and the Council accept their interpretation, and by so doing they add to the law of the Mandate system; and, indeed, unless the Commission are accepted as a quasi-judicial body, whose findings on questions of interpretation are accepted, the whole thing makes no sense at all.
If all this is so, surely this House had the right to know the opinion of the Mandates Commission before it gave approval to the White Paper last July. The Mandate is not the personal responsibility of the Secretaryof State. It is a sacred trust which the nation exercises in the name of, and on behalf of, the members of the League, and it is the responsibility of this House to see that that trust is fulfilled. The Secretary of State, as I have said, could quite easily have let us have the Minutes last July. In the Debate then I ventured to argue that their publication in August, which 421 was normal, was only due to administrative reasons, that they were in no sense secret, and that if the right hon. Gentleman asked for it, the Minutes on Palestine could be published forthwith separately from the rest of the Commission's proceedings. I said that it lay in his hands to choose whether the House should have them or not, that he could do it but would not, that he had decided that we should not have the Minutes before the White Paper was laid before the Council of the League, and that in future he would find it hard to defend his action. That was on 20th July.
The Secretary of State put us off with various excuses. He said that he could not "give instructions to the Council and the Secretariat" on such a matter; that obviously there would have to be "consultation and agreement"; and that he still had to send in his own comments and perhaps they would make the commission change their view. All the time he knew the Council had nothing whatever to do with it, that the Commission itself was the authority to decide, that never in its history had the Commission changed its minutes as the result of the final comments which a Government made. The Commission had separated finally on 29th June without the slightest intention of coming back to Geneva to consider what he said. All the time he knew that on the 29th June, three full weeks before he gave the House these irrelevant excuses, the Commission had agreed to the following Minute—I hope the House will pay attention to their chilling prose:It was understood that the Secretariat would do everything possible to expedite the printing of the Minutes and the Report, and that, if the United Kingdom Government asked that the Minutes of the discussions on Palestine, and the commission's observations on the matter should be published as soon as possible without waiting the publication of the rest of the proceedings of the session, the commission should be deemed to have accepted.He told us in that Debate that he had had those Minutes already for a week. In other words, I was right when I said that the decision lay entirely in his hands. He decided that the House should vote without knowing what the Commission had said. He got a majority of 69. He got it by asserting again that the White Paper was not inconsistent with the Mandate. And yet in those Minutes, which he de- 422 liberately suppressed, the Mandates Commission, the competent authority, which M. Orts had called "The guardian of the Mandates," had said it was inconsistent. It is true they said it by a majority. They had unanimously decided that the new policy was inconsistent with any interpretation of the Mandate ever given before and inconsistent with all the interpretations adopted by the Commission and by the Council itself. And then by a majority they decided that the White Paper was inconsistent with any possible interpretation of the Mandate. They said that any contrary conclusion appeared to them to beruled out by the very terms of the Mandate and by the fundamental intentions of its authors.The Secretary of State will say that the majority was four to three. So it was. But does it matter? Every tribunal decides by a majority; there is no other way. The Permanent Court of International Justice does it, and there is no higher tribunal in the world. And who were the majority? The majority consisted of the chairman and the vice-chairman, who had each given 20 years of their lives to the work of the Mandates Commission, and of two other members, the Dutch and Norwegian, who had long experience in the work. The majority all expressed their view in the strongest language and without reserve. The minority consisted of Lord Hankey, for whom we all have a very high respect but whose knowledge of international law and the Mandates system is not profound, and who was attending his first meeting of the Commission. He was supported—and having read it I am bound to say I think it was a tepid and hesitating support—by M. Giraud, relatively a new-comer to the Mandates Commission; and by Count Penha Garcia, who not only used the language about the land proposals which I have quoted but who also said that if the White Paper policy were carried through there might still be a Jewish National Home, but surely it would be a home that was almost "dead." This majority which I have described decided that the White Paper was contrary to the Mandate; that the stoppage of Jewish immigration would be an open violation of its terms; that the restrictions on land purchase would be the same; and they made it very plain that in their opinion—and there, as I 423 read him, they had the virtual assent of Count Penha Garcia—the White Paper would virtually destroy the Jewish National Home.
And yet the Secretary of State proposes to go on. He has imposed a prohibition on immigration far beyond any limitation which had been put on before. Now he is imposing these land restrictions. True he is sending out his paper to the Council of the League and saying that if any member of the Council chooses to call a special meeting on the subject he will graciously attend. If my information is correct—the point is very important, and I hope that he will clear it up—he is only making that concession to the Council, because of the pressure which the Parliamentary Opposition brought to bear; his original intention was to go ahead, whether or not the Council met, without asking for it or calling it himself. Indeed, he meant to go ahead without regard to any of the organs of the League.
And after all, what is his concession? He is offering a chance to members of the Council to summon a special meeting in order that they may challenge something which he has already begun to do. In fact it is no concession, for they have a right under the covenant to ask for such a meeting if they want it. But it would hot be easy, even in peace-time, for another nation to challenge the British Empire in that way. In war conditions it is a great deal harder. I put it to the Secretary of State in all sincerity that it is inconceivable that even a year ago any British Government could have adopted such a course as this. Almost certainly they would have accepted the findings of the Mandates Commission and started again. At the worst they would have taken the findings of the Council and would have asked the Council to get an advisory opinion from the Permanent Court, a course which the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Lord Hailsham proposed in 1930 when Mr. Ramsay MacDonald's Government proposed to restrict immigration into Palestine.
But now the Secretary of State cares nothing for our solemn international obligations. He is trying to bluff his policy through, regardless of what the "guardians, of the Mandate" have declared. In doing that we believe he is exploiting for his own advantage the 424 present weakness of the League and the general disrepute of international law. Has he forgotten what the Foreign Secretary said to the League of Nations last September, that we were fighting for these very things? Has he forgotten that he who comes to equity must come with clean hands? Does he really believe that the neutral nations are going to take much notice of what Lord Hankey and M. Giraud Say? Will not they say that we, like Hitler, throw over our international obligations when it suits our book?
Why has the Secretary of State struck what we believe to be a grievous blow at our national unity and our national cause? For six months he has had peace in Palestine. Jewish immigration has continued in spite of his prohibitions. Last year was about the fourth highest year for immigration there has ever been; yet the Arabs did nothing to prevent it. On the contrary, there has been more Jewish-Arab co-operation than ever before. The Jews have completely stopped their agitation against the White Paper—he is exploiting their silence. Ninety per cent. of all the eligible Jewish men had volunteered to fight for Britain's cause. And now the Secretary of State throws this bombshell, and Palestine is in turmoil once again. There are mass demonstrations by the Jews, there are police charges, the Army has been called out, many people have been wounded, one Jew has died, there has been the curfew in Haifa and Tel-a-viv. But there have been no counter-demonstrations by the Arabs against the Jews. Indeed, I am told that a certain number of Arab villages have already sent in petitions to the Government against the Land Regulations; they support the Jews. I am told that on Monday last, two days ago, in spite of what has happened, a Jewish village and an Arab village, which a year ago were fighting, made a new pact of peace. It is not the state of Palestine which justifies the grievous error which the Secretary of State has made.
Then why has he done it? Does he still believe that he or any man can in future close the land of Palestine to homeless Jews? Last week in Brussels I met a, Jew who left Warsaw three weeks ago. He told me that then the Gestapo 425 alleged they had just discovered a conspiracy against the German Army which they said was headed by a certain Jew named Kot. In accordance with their custom, they declared the collective responsibility of the Jews. They arrested 100 of the leading Jews of Warsaw, and they informed the others that these 100 would be shot if Kot was not found and handed over within 48 hours. The stated time elapsed, and the 100 men were shot. Another 100 were arrested, and so on every 48 hours. And no Jew in Warsaw had ever heard of Kot or even knew whether he existed. Does the Secretary of State believe that when the war is over Jews will continue living in a country where things like that have happened? Does he still pretend that we can solve the problem by our cruel futilities about British Guiana and the West Indies, where in two bitter years we have not found safety for even 100 hunted Jews? He knows, as we know, there is one indispensable solution—the Jewish National Home in Palestine—and whatever else there may be, there must be that as well. He knows, as we know, that in Jewish brains and courage there lies the one living force that can reclaim the wastes of Zion, and which, by its leadership and its example, can revitalise the arid deserts of the Middle East. We ask him to withdraw these Regulations and to tell the world that this Parliament and this nation will faithfully fulfil the sacred trust which in the last great war we undertook. If he will not do it, then this House and history will judge him as he deserves.
§ 4.35 p.m.
§ Sir Archibald Sinclair (Caithness and Sutherland)
In these Debates on Palestine I have always spoken as a convinced exponent of the Mandate policy, which implies support for the Jewish National Home in Palestine, subject only to respect for the civil and religious rights and liberties of the Arab people. My opinions on those matters are unchanged to-day, but I do not intend to inflict them on the House this afternoon. I still think it is a betrayal of the Jews who trusted us, who rendered such indispensable services to us in the last war and therefore to all those who, like the Arabs, profited so substantially from our victory, who have exerted themselves so heroically and have lavished treasure so 426 generously to make the policy of the National Home a success, I still think it is a betrayal of the Jews to introduce info the National Home these restrictions on racial grounds against the transfer of land, although I can indeed conceive of circumstances in, which by general agreement between the Jews and Arabs, and as part of such an agreement, it might be possible to arrange that certain areas would be reserved for the people of one race or the other. Nevertheless, for two reasons I shall not develop this afternoon, the case against the White Paper.
In the first place, all our actions and the conduct of our Debates at the present time must be influenced by the fact that we are at war. Every one of our controversies, except those connected with the aims and conduct of the war, sinks into insignificance against the background of our deadly conflict with Nazi Germany. When issues threaten to divide us we must strive to re-knit our ranks, and in this Debate I would like publicly to pay my tribute to the Prime Minister for his accessibility to and respect for the opinions of those who take a different view from his own of the proposals of the Secretary of State. That is one reason why I am in no mood to argue with the force of my own conviction on the merits of the White Paper policy.
The other reason is this: His Majesty's Government have raised a much larger and graver issue and one which goes to the root of the cause for which we are fighting in this war. We are fighting for freedom—for the freedom of men and of nations—freedom of which the rule of law, and sanctity of contract and of treaties are indispensable supports. Sanctity does not mean immutability. Laws and treaties grow old and obsolete, like the Straits Convention, which was amended at the Instance of Turkey and with the assent of all the signatories of that Convention. In one eloquent speech after another the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and other Ministers have said that we are fighting to resist Herr Hitler's claim to vary international treaties unilaterally. I will select only one quotation from a speech which the Prime Minister delivered in the House in October. He said:The overwhelming mass of opinion in this country, and I am satisfied also in France, is determined to secure that the rule of violence shall cease, and that the word of 427 Governments, once pledged, must henceforth be kept."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd October, 1939; col. 1857, Vol. 351.]I accept that gratefully from the Prime Minister. I will make that the point of departure for my speech and the criterion by which the policy of the Government in Palestine must be tested. The Palestine Mandate is an international treaty, and the first question I would put to the House is whether the White Paper is consistent with the Palestine Mandate. As the hon. Member who preceded me reminded the House, this was a question which we debated thoroughly in May of last year and those who had played the greatest part in bringing the Mandate into operation expressed from their great experience the view that this White Paper is inconsistent with the Mandate. That is the question on which on a three-line Whip the Government majority fell to 89 votes. That Debate took place on 22nd and 23rd May. The White Paper went to the Permanent Mandates Commission. I have often heard from the benches opposite scornful references to the delays and evasions of the League of Nations, but whatever delay there has been here it has not been on the part of the League of Nations, for within less than a month the Permanent Mandates Commission had reported and had reported in the sense of which the hon. Member has reminded us—that the White Paper was inconsistent with the existing interpretation of the Mandate, and by a majority that it was inconsistent with any reasonable interpretation of the Mandate. That is the only impartial body to whom the Government have so far submitted their White Paper.
It is true that His Majesty's Government, as they say in their letter to the League, remain of opinion that the White Paper is consistent with the Mandate, but the rule of law implies that no man and no Government can be judge in his own cause. In a case where genuine doubts are raised by a responsible body of men like the Permanent Mandates Commission and the League of Nations as to whether action proposed by the Government is in conformity with their Treaty obligations, it is the duty of the Government to clear up those doubts before and not after they take action; not to act first and then to write round to the members of the League Council 428 and ask them if they mind. His Majesty's Government tell us that action is urgent and that the defence of our interests in the Middle East might suffer if we did not act quickly. We have not yet heard the speech of the Secretary of State, but that is the rumour which is being spread round—that there are some great Imperial interests at stake which make it necessary to act with urgency; and I shall be interested to hear whether the Secretary of State makes that point in his speech. If he does, I must remind him that it is on grounds such as those that Herr Hitler justified his breaking of his non-aggression Treaty with Poland and M. Stalin justified his breaking of the non-aggression Treaty with Finland.
What is the urgency of action now? Yesterday I was talking with my noble friend Lord Samuel, who has just come back from Palestine, and he gave me a first-hand account very much like that which was given to the House by the hon. Member who spoke for the Opposition. He gave an account of a country smiling, quiet and prosperous, with the scars of the recent troubles being rapidly removed, and Jews mingling happily with Arabs. I know of no ground for supposing that there is any situation in Palestine which requires immediate and urgent action. Indeed, His Majesty's Government themselves have shown no sense of this urgency in the way they have handled this problem. It is nearly 10 months now since the White Paper was published. It is more than nine months since the two-day Debate in this House. It is nearly eight months since the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League reached their conclusions on the White Paper. The Secretary of State cannot say to-day that in those eight months it has been impossible for the Government to obtain an advisory opinion from the International Court at The Hague, that it has been impossible for them to ask the Members of the League Council to come together to consider the mandate, and still less to argue that it would not have been possible months ago, and certainly before he put this policy of the Land Regulations into operation, informally at any rate to consult the members of the League Council in the way he is doing now when they are an accomplished fact. In these circumstances I ask the House to reject the plea of urgency as a justification for the Government's 429 fait accompli which, according to the opinion of the Permanent Mandates Commission, constitutes a breach of our Mandate obligations.
See into what an equivocal position in the eyes of the world His Majesty's Government have placed the League Council. Apart from ourselves, who are the members of the Council of the League? France, Egypt, and South Africa, who are fighting with us against Nazi Germany; Finland, and China, themselves the victims of aggression, and suppliants for our help; Belgium, Greece, Yugoslavia, and Iran, in deadly peril of embroilment in the struggle, and in no position to make an enemy of anybody. There remain as the only detached members of the Council Bolivia, San Domingo and Peru. Around them is the embattled might of Britain and her Allies—beyond, the flames of German hatred for the Jews. As His Majesty's Government have doubtless calculated, Bolivia, San Domingo and Peru will pass by on the other side. But suppose I am wrong. Suppose they ask for the Council to be summoned in order to discuss the fait accompli with which His Majesty's Government have confronted them. What could the Council do? Suppose they upheld the decision of the Permanent Mandates Commission and declared that the Land Regulations are inconsistent with the Mandate; what would His Majesty's Government do? If it is dangerous to delay for so much as a month or even two months to allow the Council of the League the opportunity of considering these Regulations before they are put into operation, how much more dangerous would it be to withdraw them a month or two months after they had been put into operation.
It is my profound conviction, one which I believe will be shared by many of my fellow countrymen and by many men in other lands, perhaps by those who chronicle these ominous events hereafter, that His Majesty's Government are abusing and making a convenience of the League of Nations, and that the right and only honourable course was for His Majesty's Government to summon a meeting of the League Council, to produce the Land Regulations, not as an accomplished fact but in draft, to tell the members of the League, if they liked, that in spite of the opinion of the Permanent Mandates Commission they still remained of their 430 own opinion that the White Paper was not inconsistent with their Mandate obligations, but that in deference to the opinion of the Commission and because a genuine doubt existed among those very responsible men, they would ask the Council to seek an advisory opinion from the International Court.
In failing in a proper and regular manner to consult the League, His Majesty's Government have broken faith both with Parliament and with the League of Nations. We were told, as the hon. Gentleman reminded the House, that the Council of the League would be formally consulted, and that if in their opinion the White Paper was inconsistent with the Mandate, His Majesty's Government would consult Parliament again before attempting to put the White Paper into operation. What has happened to that pledge?
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Malcolm MacDonald)
I want to correct that statement of my right hon. Friend. That is not the pledge that was given. The White Paper has in fact been in operation since May of last year. The pledge that was given was as follows: We said we would take the White Paper which was already in operation, as the House well knew, to the Council of the League of Nations, and that if the Council took a decision which involved either an alteration of policy or else a suggestion to the Council that there should be an alteration of the Mandate, we would not take a decision on that issue without coming to the House for a further discussion.
§ Sir A. Sinclair
The actual words the right hon. Gentleman used were these:We recognise fully that the Permanent Mandates Commission have a certain function to perform in this matter. This is purely an advisory function. They present their report not to His Majesty's Government, not to Parliament, but to the Council of the League of Nations, and their function towards the Council is a purely advisory one. The authority in this matter is the Council of the League itself; and when the Council receive the report of the Permanent Mandates Commission we shall, of course, be present at the Council…"—but there has been no meeting of the Council—and I give the House the assurance straight away that if the Council of the League were to reach a decision which would, in our view, involve the necessity of altering the Mandate, 431 then we shall not take steps to bring about that alteration until this House has had another opportunity of considering the situation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th July, 1939; cols. 806–7, Vol. 350.]The right hon. Gentleman cannot claim, therefore, if indeed the Council is not even going to be invited to meet, that he has a right to go on with his policy just the same in spite of the fact that the Permanent Mandates Commission have advised that this policy is inconsistent with the Mandate. If the right hon. Gentleman thinks that to put this policy into operation in defiance of the opinion of the Mandates Commission of the League which considered the White Paper is a fulfilment of that pledge, I hope this House will show that it takes a very different view. The same pledge of consultation with the Council was given by the Secretary of State in discussion with the Permanent Mandates Commission, and His Majesty's Government are not even entitled to claim the support of the minority of the Permanent Mandates Commission for the view that this White Paper is consistent with our obligations under the Mandate unless they quote the proviso by which that expression of opinion was conditioned—that the League Council did not oppose it. To confront the individual members of the Council with a fait accompli, is not the fulfilment of the Government pledges to Parliament and the League to consult the Council; on the contrary, it is the unilateral violation of a treaty, to whit, the Palestine Mandate. A few weeks ago the First Lord of the Admiralty was appealing to the neutral nations of the world to take their stand with us on the covenant of the League, and the moment it gets in our way here are Ministers kicking it down. In treating the League with contempt, in putting into operation these Land Regulations in defiance of the opinion of the Permanent Mandates Commission unfortified by the opinion of the International Court, and without asking for a meeting of the League Council, His Majesty's Government are inflicting a defeat on the very cause for which they are asking us to fight, the cause of the rule of law and respect for international obligations.
What a moment to choose to inflict fresh wrong on the tortured, humiliated, suffering Jewish people, who are exerting themselves to help us in this war, who 432 are rendering us great services, who are, willing to fight in defence of Palestine in the Middle East, and who are willing to send troops to fight in France for this country. What a moment to inflict fresh wrong on them. There are 6,600,000 acres of land in Palestine. Two million of those acres are hill land. From those 2,000,000 acres the Jews by the right hon. Gentleman's Regulations are to be barred absolutely. There are further 2,000,000 acres of plainland, and from that particular 2,000,000 acres of plainland also the Jews are to be barred absolutely. From 4,000,000 acres they are absolutely barred. From a further 2,000,000 acres of plainland the Jews are to be barred except with special authorisation. Out of the 6,600,000 acres of land not even the odd 600,000 acres are available for free settlement by the Jews. Only 335,000 acres are available. There are larger single estates in private ownership in this country than that. Only 335,000acres are to be available for free settlement by the Jews. We are all resolved to win this war. We are all sure we can win it. It is only when I look down that Front Bench in the absence of the First Lord of the Admiralty that doubt chills me. For it is only when this Government or another shows faith in the cause for which we are fighting, inspiration in leadership, consistency in policy, and energy in action, that we shall stride forward to victory.
§ 5.14 p.m.
§ Mr. M. MacDonald
I am deeply sorry that this controversy should be raised at the present critical time. If I may utter a few personal sentences, I think I regret it more deeply than any other hon. Member in this House. More than anyone else for the time being I have to bear the anxiety, the burden, and the bitterness of this difficult, contrary, but by no means hopeless problem. I make no complaint about that, but I do say that I would be the very last Member in this House to increase unnecessarily those anxieties and that bitterness. I can assure the House that if it had been possible to maintain a firm and healthy peace in Palestine now by the policy of masterly inactivity, I would have shown myself a very master at doing nothing at all. It is because I believe, and the Government believe also, that this policy on which we have decided is essential, first for the maintenance of good and impartial government in Pales- 433 tine, and, second, to enable us to mobilise our forces to prosecute to a victorious conclusion the war against Nazi Germany, that we are troubling the House with this legislation to-day.
In moving the Motion of Censure upon us the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Noel-Baker) and the right hon. Baronet have presented various reasons why the House should censure us on this occasion. They have urged that these Land Regulations represent an unjust discrimination against the Jews in Palestine, and also that they represent a breach of the Mandate. I contest that. On the contrary, it seems to me that action for the control of land sales has become essential if we are positively to carry out the obligations put upon us by the terms of the Mandate itself. What does the Mandate say in regard to this land problem? It deals with it in Article 6. Let me read what it says. Firstthe Administration of Palestine shall encourage, in co-operation with the, Jewish Agency, close settlement of Jews on the land.But there is a qualification for that instruction which reads as follows: We are to encourage that,while ensuring that the rights and position of the other sections of the population are not prejudiced.Hearing a great deal of the comment on these Land Regulations one would never suspect that that latter condition is contained in the Mandate itself, but it is there. In fact, so far as Article 6 deals with the land problem, it enshrines two obligations. They are complementary obligations. They are of equal importance and equal weight. One is to the Jews and the other is to the Arabs. We are to encourage close settlement of the Jews on the land right up to the point where that close settlement would prejudice the rights and position of the Arab population, and then we are to stop. What is the position when we turn away from the sheets of paper on which the Mandate is written to the hills and plains of Palestine where the Mandate is being carried out? For the last 20 years the administration of Palestine has been encouraging the close settlement of Jews on the land. By the importation of capital, by skill, by an inspired zeal, that remarkable people have wrought something of a miracle. They have made barren places bear fruit. Where land was already fruitful they have multiplied its 434 fruitfulness. To-day young Jewish settlements are scattered right through the plains. They have arrived at the border of the desert. They have penetrated up into the hills.
There are 65,000 souls supported to-day in these Jewish agricultural settlements. In their turn those settlements have fed a steadily and vastly expanding Jewish population in the urban areas. Twenty years ago there were fewer than 60,000 Jews living in Palestine. Today the figure has risen to very nearly 500,000. In that short span of 20 years, with the encouragement of Britain, the Mandatory Power, more than350,000 Jews have emigrated and settled in Palestine, in a country, which is comparatively a tiny country about the size of the Principality of Wales, a country much of which is rock, much of which is desert, and in which there are settled also already more than 1,000,000 Arabs. I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman that this Jewish entry has been of benefit to the Arab population as a whole. I do not need to labour that point. I have done so in previous Debates. It is true, for instance, that the wealth which the Jews have brought in and the revenue with which they have provided the Government have enabled us to give to the Arab people a standard of administration and education and health services such as they have never known under any previous régime. The central fact of these 20 years is that under the powerful guidance and protection of Great Britain more than 350,000 Jews have found happy settlement in a National Home in Palestine.
In reading some of the criticisms of these Land Regulations one would suppose that that process of gradual Jewish development is to be cut short, to be stopped dead by this legislation. I read a letter in the "Times" this morning which, unless I read it incorrectly, indicated that because of this legislation, Jewish emigrants going to Palestine in future would find it almost impossible to settle on the land and that they would have to go into industrial employment in the urban areas. That is not true. Let me make three points. In the first place, there is a great deal of room for additional Jewish settlement on the agricultural lands which the Jews have already bought. Those lands are by no means fully developed. When they are fully 435 developed, as they undoubtedly will be, there will be room for thousands of additional cultivators on the land. But, in addition to that, under the very terms of these Land Regulations, the transfer of land from Arabs to Jews is to continue freely, absolutely unrestricted, not only in all the municipal areas but over a great part of the best agricultural land in Palestine. That state of affairs will continue throughout practically the whole length and breadth of the maritime plain. The third point that I would make is this. Over a great deal of the rest of Palestine there will be no prohibition of sales of land from Arabs to Jews. There will be no prohibition in the rest of the plain country, the plains of Esdraelon, Jezreel, and Eastern Galilee. There will be no prohibition in that famous, spacious territory called the Negeb, where we were told once upon a time populous communities were supported and where many Members of the House think that once upon a time again in the future populous communities can be supported. In those areas transfers of land from Arabs to Jews will be allowed, but they will be controlled. The High Commissioner will allow them, he will encourage them upon certain conditions. The conditions are set down in the Regulations themselves. I will not go through them in detail, but I should like to mention one, perhaps the most important of all and the most significant of all. Land transfers will be allowed in all these important restricted areas in furtherance of some special scheme of development in the joint interest both of Arabs and Jews.
I wonder what is wrong with that principle. It seems to me an excellent principle. It seems to me to be exactly what is wanted in Palestine. What is wanted is a development which is beneficial to the Jews, which enables them to continue, where possible, their close settlement on the land, and development which at the same time is beneficial to the Arabs, which confirms, or enhances, their economic security. If the Jews are right in saying that their plans for development are plans which will benefit not only themselves but their Arab fellow citizens as well, I say there is no restriction on those plans in the controlled areas under these Land Regulations. On the contrary, the High Commissioner will give every encouragement to plans of that type.
436 Then what about the proposal that there shall be other areas where, for the time being at any rate, there will be a prohibition of transfers of land from Arabs to Jews? What are the reasons for that proposal? It has been suggested—the hon. Gentleman suggested it to-day—that that is a concession to political pressure by the Arabs. It was suggested the other day in a protest issued by the Jewish Agency against these Land Regulations, which was a statement by one party to the dispute made with a dignity which all of us must respect. I do not agree with everything which was said in that protest. They said that the new Regulations were a "concession to Arab political claims and not a measure for the protection of Arab cultivators.'' That is not true. If we were concerned with making concessions to Arab political claims for the sake of making concessions to those claims, we should have gone very much further than we have gone, not only in the matter under discussion but in other questions. We should have done very differently from what we have done about immigration. We should have done very differently from what we have done about the Constitutional proposals.
As regards this land problem, what was the Arab demand? It was that there should be a complete stoppage, in every part of Palestine, of transfers of land from the Arabs to the Jews, permanently, for all time. These Regulations are very far from meeting that political demand of the Arabs in Palestine. Our whole problem in Palestine is to hold the scales evenly and fairly between the Jewish claims and the Arab claims. We have to do justice to each community under the Mandate according to the instructions written into the Mandate. It is not an easy task; it is an extremely difficult one. It is difficult to encourage close settlement of the Jews on the land and to be certain that, in all cases, it is without prejudice to the rights and position of the Arab population. The sole and simple reason why we are introducing these Land Regulations is that, over a long period of years, a series of impartial and authoritative commissions have told us that, unless we introduced control of land settlement in the near future, we should be allowing a state of affairs to grow up in Palestine in which 437 the rights and position of the Arab population would be prejudiced.
Those commissions started uttering that warning 10 years ago. First, the Shaw Commission, in 1929, warned the Government that Jewish purchases of land were proceeding in such a way, that Arab methods of cultivation were often so primitive, and that the Arab population was increasing so fast, that there was a very serious congestion of Arab cultivators in many parts of the country. That warning was repeated by Sir John Hope-Simpson in 1930, and again reiterated by Mr. Lewis French in 1931.The investigations of the Royal Commission in 1936 fully confirmed the picture which had been drawn by those earlier inquiries. I think that in many ways, perhaps, the view of the Royal Commission was the most important of all. I should like to read it to the House. This is the unanimous opinion of the Peel Commission on the land question. First, they say:We are of opinion that this alienation of land"—from Arabs to Jews—should only be allowed where it is possible to replace extensive by intensive cultivation, which really means in the plains and not, at present at any rate, in the hills.That is our prohibited area. In the second place, they rubbed that in, when they said unanimously:We therefore have no hesitation in saying that at present, and indeed for many years to come, the Mandatory Power should not attempt to facilitate the close settlement of Jews in the hilly districts generally.That conclusion was fully confirmed by the fifth of these commissions, the Wood-head Commission, which visited Palestine in the following year. There is something very significant about this unanimous evidence, produced to show that we should control land sales at an early date; because these commissions very often expressed quite different views on all sorts of other topics concerning Palestine. It was only on this land question that they were absolutely consistent and absolutely unanimous—commission after commission, and year after year—in recommending the kind of land restrictions which we have embodied in these Regulations. I say, therefore, that we are not introducing this Measure at all as a result of political pressure from the Arabs, but because of this great weight of evidence from im- 438 partial and authoritative opinion that, unless we do something like this in the near future, we shall be defeating the purposes of the Mandate itself.
I have only one other comment to make upon the substance of these Regulations. In putting the hilly country and certain other congested districts into the prohibited zone, we are not fixing upon them, so to speak, a strait jacket, which shall preserve their methods of cultivation in their present state and rigidly prevent any agricultural improvement. On the contrary, it is the policy of His Majesty's Government to encourage, as far as they possibly can, improved methods of cultivation amongst the Arab population of Palestine.
§ Mr. MacDonald
We announced recently a policy of expending £5,500,000 per year on development and welfare in the Colonial Empire, and said that the benefits of that policy would be extended fully to the Mandated Territories, including Palestine. It is certainly our intention, if money out of those funds, which I hope the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will help us to vote—
§ Mr. MacDonald
I say that it is the policy of the Government to spend money, as far as that may be desirable, in order to improve methods of cultivation in Palestine. These Land Regulations do not draw boundaries between prohibited and restricted and free areas which will stand for all time. It is possible that, as a result of agricultural development, we can alter the boundaries later on; though I want to utter a word of warning about that, in order to be perfectly fair. In these hilly districts, as in other parts of Palestine, the Arab population is increasing very rapidly; and, however we improve methods of land cultivation, we may well find that every scrap of land there is required to support the livelihood of an increasing Arab population. But, 439 at any rate, these Regulations will not lay down boundaries for all time. They establish a system which is elastic, and which can be adapted to economic developments as they appear in Palestine.
I should like to contrast these Regulations with the condition which attaches to much of the land bought in Palestine by the Jewish National Fund. Land which is bought in Palestine by the Jewish National Fund is, under the conditions of that fund, not allowed at any time in the future, under any conditions whatsoever, to be alienated to anyone who is not a Jew by race. If the Jewish authorities consider that condition necessary in order to protect the interests of their own people, I do not know why they quarrel with us when we say that a similar condition—and, perhaps, a far less permanent condition—is required to protect the interests of the Arab population. I find it difficult to understand the people who say that that provision regarding the land held by the Jewish National Fund is in accordance with the spirit of the Mandate, and then turn round and say that this much milder condition regarding the hilly country is contrary to the spirit of the Mandate.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would explain how many landless Arabs there are as a result of the conditions about which fears were expressed by commissions, as long as 11 years ago.
§ Mr. MacDonald
If the hon. Member will be patient, I will deal before I sit down with that and with other points which he has raised. I should like to turn, first, to another point which he and the right hon. Baronet raised in their speeches. It has been raised on other occasions, in this House and in the newspapers, since we announced this policy last week. It is asked: Is it really necessary to introduce this legislation in Palestine at the present critical moment? People are saying that the blessing of comparative peace has descended upon Palestine, that strife and violence have been reduced, at last, within narrow limits, that both the Jewish and the Arab communities appear to accept the present position, that they are even showing a new disposition to co-operate together, and that certainly both are disposed to co-operate with His Majesty's Government 440 in the prosecution of the war. Why, it is asked, interrupt that happy state of affairs, by casting this controversial legislation upon the scene?
It is certainly true that a situation in Palestine which 12 months ago was exceedingly grave, which was fraught with danger to this country and to other people besides, has very greatly improved. In fact, Palestine is enjoying greater quietness than it has enjoyed for four years past, and the whole House is profoundly grateful for that. Herr Hitler may not be quite so grateful. He had hoped that a divided, quarrelling, warring, rebelling Palestine would be an ally of his and an enemy of ours when it came to the greater struggle between Germany and Britain. He has been profoundly disappointed. I do not seek to deny for a moment the great effect which the outbreak of war has had in bringing about the greater pacification of Palestine. It has made a deep impression.
On the one side, the Arabs, who were struggling against our policy six months ago, have realised that, with the outbreak of war, a new issue has been raised which transcends their quarrel with the Jews and with the Palestine Administration. They have recognised that the Nazi domination of Europe would be a great threat to their own prospects of freedom and to the freedom of the Arab Kingdoms in the rest of Arabia, and they have abated their hostility to us. They have expressed their complete friendship with us, and have offered their support to us in the prosecution of the war, which we are accepting in many ways. On the other side, the Jews, six months ago, were engaged in a bitter campaign of hostility against our policy in Palestine. But the moment that war broke out their leaders also declared that a large issue had been raised, that Great Britain was at war with the cruel persecutors of Jewry in Central Europe, and, without qualifying in any way their criticism and hostility towards the White Paper policy, they offered unconditionally their support to Great Britain and France. The Jews in Palestine also have offered practical support to our war effort, an offer which we are accepting to the maximum practicable extent. There has been a détente in Palestine, and I would like on behalf of the Government to express our thanks to both the Jewish and the Arab communities in Palestine for their loyal 441 friendship and support in our war against the common enemy, Nazi Germany.
Then why disturb that situation by introducing this controversial legislation? Hon. Members assert that this will upset the comparative harmony which has been established. My reply is that if we had not introduced these Land Regulations, that harmony would certainly have been disturbed before long; that these Regulations are essential if, over a long period, this harmony is to be maintained. [An Hon. Member: "What is the evidence?"] I will provide the evidence. Hon. Members seem to be impatient. I think that the House expects from me a very full statement on a subject which has perplexed many Members, and I would like to be as little controversial as possible, but it is rather difficult to avoid controversy altogether. The improved situation in Palestine is not due entirely to the outbreak of war. In fact, the pacification of Palestine began not six months ago when Great Britain declared war on Germany, but 10months ago, when the Government introduced their Statement of Policy on Palestine. Hon. Members sitting opposite were afraid that that would not be the case. When that policy was announced they were full of gloomy forebodings, as they are again to-day with regard to the publication of these Land Regulations. They said that the result of the publication of the White Paper policy would be to increase and deepen communal strife in Palestine and to usher in a period of bloodshed such as even that unhappy country had not known in recent years. That was not the result.
Slowly, conditions began to improve, and within two months of the publication of the White Paper policy we were able to withdraw from Palestine three battalions of troops who had been engaged there and to station them elsewhere. Shortly after that the position had improved so much further that we could contemplate the withdrawal, if necessary, of a further three battalions of troops, and that was long before the war had started. Incidentally, of course, this matter of the possibility of withdrawing troops from Palestine is far more important to-day than it was 10 months ago. The publication of the White Paper is partly at any rate—and, I think, largely—responsible for the improved situation 442 in Palestine. The harmony has existed on the assumption that the White Paper policy was to be carried out, and in that policy there were proposals with regard to Land Regulations.
Let me consider the immediate situation in Palestine with regard to this land question. It has been suggested that the Administration might have declared a political truce; that they might have said that they would suspend the implementing of the White Paper policy for the duration of the war, and that they would maintain the status quo. I am afraid that that was not a practicable proposition. While we were maintaining the status quo in that manner, the status quo would not have been maintained in other respects. Changes would have gone on in Palestine all the time. Purchases of land would have taken place, and when we came to the end of the war and wanted to introduce Land Regulations to carry out our obligations under the Mandate, we would have found that in the meantime such transfers of land had taken place that the object of the Land Regulations had been defeated.
I have had hon. Members come to me in the Lobby and say that surely this is an academic question, and that the Jewish community have not the means in these difficult days to make great purchases of land in Palestine. They have the means. Let me tell the House what the position is. Since we published the White Paper in May of last year we have had reported for registration in the Land Registration offices, proposals for the sale of 76,000 dunams of land from Arabs to Jews, a dunam being something like a quarter of an acre. Of these 76,000 dunams, 50,000 are in what we propose should be the prohibited zone, 17,000 are in what is now the regulated zone, and only 10,000 are in the free areas. That purchase of land in the prohibited and restricted areas is going on at the present time. I am advised by the High Commissioner that negotiations for further sales of land are being pursued with the greatest possible energy by Jewish authorities. I would like to know what is to be the consequence of that if that state of affairs is allowed to continue very much longer.
§ Mr. MacDonald
Let me deal with that. It is very difficult sometimes for Arab owners, large or small, to resist the temptations to sell their land. One of the troubles of the present moment is that the economic conditions in Palestine, as in many other parts of the world, are rather difficult, and it is very tempting to Arab landowners to accept the offers of ready cash, very often at exhorbitant prices, by the Jews for their land. Hon. Members may say that if these transactions are voluntarily and freely entered into between the two parties, what is the harm? Why should the Government intervene? I say that the Government have to intervene. The Government have a duty towards the Arab community as a whole and a duty towards law and order in Palestine as well. These sales are going on now mostly in the prohibited and the restricted areas. They are going on in parts of the country where the Arab population is most congested, and they are creating steadily a considerable landless Arab population.
§ Mr. MacDonald
The hon. Member for Derby disputed whether that was happening. He said that when an inquiry was held some years ago into the number of Arab tenants who had been displaced by Jewish purchasers of land only some 680 such tenants were found. That is absolutely true. It is a very small figure. He also said that since then we have introduced legislation to protect the tenants, and that is also true. But what he did not tell the House was, that the Royal Commission which conducted an investigation into this question some years ago pointed out that the question of the tenant is only a small part of the problem of landless Arabs in Palestine. Another section of the Arab population are dependent for their livelihood upon the land. They are the small owner-occupiers, and we have reason to suppose that many of them have been rendered landless in these last difficult years because they have disposed of their land to Jewish purchasers.
§ Mr. MacDonald
But what is much more important, if we are considering the 444 question of landless Arabs, is that a very large number of Arabs employed on the land are employed as hired labourers. They are not owners, they are not tenants; they are hired labourers. The Royal Commission pointed out that the landless tenants are only a fraction of the number of landless Arabs in Palestine divorced from the land because of Jewish purchases. If the purchases of land are allowed to continue in the parts of Palestine where Arab congestion is greatest, then we cannot avoid a steady increase in this army of landless Arabs.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
This is very important. Can the Secretary of State give any figure at all of these landless peasant proprietors and workers who are now without employment, or are landless because of Jewish purchases of land? He is aware that on many occasions we have tried to find out from the Government how many there were, and we have never had an answer.
§ Mr. MacDonald
We have not any statistics. The last information we have on this subject is what the Royal Commission said about it, and they said that the number of tenants, which is what the hon. Member and those who agree with him concentrate upon, was only a small proportion of the landless Arabs in Palestine. Even if Palestine were a normal country, where there is no bitter communal strife, the possibility of the creation of a landless population would have been serious enough. These people who are unemployed, and divorced from their normal occupation on the land become subjects for relief. But the existence of such a landless population is still more dangerous where, not far below the surface, there is still great communal bitterness. These Arabs would be idle because of the Jewish purchases of land, and they would be raw material for every anti-Jewish agitator. If it comes to trouble, they are levies recruited into Arab bandit bands. We have had experience of these troubles during the last three or four years. Numbers of these landless Arab labourers have been recruited into bandit bands and with their help the rebellion was sustained for a much longer period than otherwise would have been the case. We cannot take the risk at the present time of allowing the dimensions of that great problem to grow from strength to strength.
445 I must tell the House that we have had a most stern warning from Palestine in recent weeks that, despite the appearances, there was, beneath the surface, a growing unrest in the Arab villages, and a growing suspicion that His Majesty's Government were not sincere in their professions that they would protect the interests of the Arab cultivators, peasants and labourers, and that the population would become once more critical and hostile towards the Mandatory Power. The Arabs in Palestine are careful students of the Palestine problem, and they are well tutored in the interests of their own community. They know we are bound by the Mandate to save their rights and position in the land from being prejudiced. They know that the last five commissions of inquiry have told His Majesty's Government that they ought to introduce Regulations for the control of land sales. They know that in the last White Paper His Majesty's Government promised to introduce these Regulations, and the Arabs have kept quiet because they were confident that the promise would be carried out. They knew well that they would have to wait for some months, and that it would take some time to prepare these complicated Regulations, with the careful drawing of boundaries between one zone and another, but they were confident that His Majesty's Government would act under Article 6 of the Mandate and issue these Regulations affecting them. Because of that confidence they have been more peaceful and more disposed in war time to co-operate with the Jewish community and with His Majesty's Government, and to offer their services to us in the prosecution of the war.
If we now destroy that confidence, the whole mood of the Arab population in Palestine might well change. We might well find that the troops in Palestine who have just completed their work of restoring law and order have to remain there and start all over again their painful work. We might even find that the troops recently taken away from Palestine had to go back to lend a hand in that work. If there was trouble in Palestine again there would be repercussions in Transjordania, Iraq, Saudi-Arabia, and Egypt and even echoes of that trouble in India. One had better be frank about these things; the House knows that this is perfectly true. I say I would justify these Land Regulations 446 on two grounds. In the first place, by all the evidence of the series of inquiries they are essential if we are to carry out the Mandate and, therefore, they are morally right. In the second place I do not think it weakens the argument for taking this action if it is held to be expedient politically now to do it, when in a moment of supreme crisis we are engaged in a struggle for the defence of the liberties not only of ourselves, but of small peoples, including the freedom of the Jews from cruel and vile oppression.
What about the position of the League of Nations? It has a very important position in this matter, and we have never sought to deny that the Council of the League has a status in relation to the administration of the Mandate in Palestine that we must respect and observe. Let me examine that position for a few moments. The hon. Member opposite, and the right hon. Baronet the Member for Caithness (Sir A. Sinclair), have referred accurately to the findings of the Permanent Mandates Commission. There should be 11 members of the Commission, and in June seven of them happened to meet. Of these, four found that the White Paper policy was not in accordance with the Mandate and three put in an opinion to the contrary effect. I could make various comments on the report of the Permanent Mandates Commission, but I will make only one touching upon the land problem we are discussing to-day. I think the House may remember—if they do not, I think it is worth while reminding them—that when the four members who took the majority view in this matter discussed in their report to the Council this land question, they laid great emphasis on the first part of Article 6 of the Mandate—that the administration of Palestine shall encourage in co-operation with the Jewish Agency the close settlement by Jews on the land. But they never mentioned the other complementary part of the Article which said we should do that while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced. So far as that report to the Council of the League is concerned, there was no indication that there were two complementary obligations under Article 6 of the Mandate. There was no sign that we had an obligation to the Arab section of the population in that country. I say, with all respect, that in view of that there is no reason why 447 His Majesty's Government should feel shaken in their own view, and it is only their own view, I admit, that with regard to these Land Regulations they were acting in complete accordance with the whole terms of Article 6.
Nevertheless, I do not deny that the Permanent Mandates Commission is a body whose opinion is important. But it is not decisive. It is an advisory body of the Council of the League, and the body that matters is the Council of the League of Nations. The opinion that matters is the opinion of members of the Council of the League, and we have never sought to deny that. We have never set ourselves up as judges in an issue in which we are one of the parties; we have always recognised that we must get the authority of the Council of the League for the policy which we pursued in Palestine.
I think we are entitled to say this—and I hope I shall not be misunderstood if I say it, but the point should be made: If we have an obligation to the Council of the League, I think members of the Council also have an obligation to the Mandatory Power. We are responsible for government in Palestine. They are not. We have the practical task of administering the most difficult Mandate in existence. Incidentally, if the revenues in Palestine fall short, it is the British taxpayer who has to make them up. If there is trouble in Palestine, it is our soldiers, policemen, and civil administrators who are shot in defence of the Mandate. But quite apart from these considerations, we have the practical job of governing that country day in and day out, month in and month out, and year in and year out, and we have the most intimate knowledge of what policy is required in order to maintain order, progress, and good government in that country. Although I absolutely agree that the last word in this matter must rest with the Council of the League of Nations, I think it is incumbent on members of the Council, in view of that fact, to pay some heed to our judgment in this matter and give us some discretion in carrying out the difficult Mandate placed upon us. I believe there is no member of the Council who would like to cramp us by any refusal to acknowledge that general principle of political administration.
448 What ought we to have done in this case as regards the Council of the League? We have not any obligation at all to submit to the League, for their prior approval, any administrative action to be taken. On the contrary and normally and indeed inevitably the practice is that we take our administrative action and then the Council considers it and makes whatever comments it wishes on that action afterwards. But I agree with the right hon. Baronet that in this case the situation is affected, is even altered, by the fact that the Permanent Mandates Commission had expressed a certain opinion with regard to the White Paper policy. The right hon. Baronet suggested that the proper course for us to follow was to publish these Land Regulations in draft and hold them in suspense until the Council of the League had had an opportunity of pronouncing upon them. I admit, as I did in the House last week, that for many reasons we would have preferred that procedure, but, as I say, we were responsible for administration in Palestine, and there are certain practical considerations in the delicate situation which exists there at the present time which made us reject that proposal and adopt an alternative course. Let me mention some of those considerations.
§ Mr. Attlee (Limehouse)
The right hon. Gentleman has omitted to tell the House why he did not allow this House to have a knowledge of what was the opinion of the Mandates Commission.
§ Mr. MacDonald
I can answer that question in two or three sentences. When we received the report of the Mandates Commission it contained certain arguments and omitted certain relevant facts, such as the one I have stated in regard to Article 6. We felt that it was important they should receive our comments on the report before the report was published, in case they wished to alter the terms of the report in the light of our opinion.
§ Mr. Attlee
What right has the right hon. Gentleman to make these assumptions? He knows that he was asked by this House for a decision which we knew had been taken, and he deliberately dodged it and by a subterfuge prevented this House getting information about it.
§ Mr. Attlee
The right hon. Gentleman must realise that this is a matter of a Minister's attitude towards the House of Commons. It is not a party matter at all. Hon. Members will remember that in the last Debate on this matter there was a difference of opinion in all parties that we should get proper treatment of this House by Ministers. The issue was, and the right hon. Gentleman knows it perfectly well, that a decision was made by the Committee of the League, and this House wanted to know what that opinion was. The right hon. Gentleman gave the House to understand that it could not be obtained; that the Minutes were to be altered, and all the time he had the Minutes in his possession saying definitely that if the British Government wanted to have the decision, they could have it. The House is entitled to know why the right hon. Gentleman allowed the House to come to a decision without giving it the information in his possession.
§ Mr. MacDonald
Let me return to the point. There were certain things in the draft report of the Permanent Mandates Commission which we thought members of the Commission might wish to alter when they received our comments on the draft. Let me mention a particular point on which I think we were perfectly justified in assuming that members of the Permanent Mandates Commission might wish to make an alteration. In their report they made a quotation from one of His Majesty's Government's statements of policy, and they made certain comments on that quotation which showed that they had completely misunderstood what His Majesty's Government intended. In our comments we drew attention to the fact that they had misrepresented His Majesty's Government. I think we were quite entitled to assume, not that they would alter their report, but that they might wish to alter it when that fact was brought to their attention.
§ Mr. Attlee
The right hon. Gentleman could have explained that to the House perfectly clearly when he gave the House the documents. It does not alter the fact that the right hon. Gentleman withheld from this House information which it ought to have had.
§ Mr. MacDonald
I think I have explained why His Majesty's Government took the course they did. Of course, it 450 is quite open to the right hon. Gentleman and his friends to say that we were wrong, but, quite honourably and from motives which we believed to be right and proper, we took the decision we did. Let me deal with the point raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Opposition, that we could have published these Land Regulations and held them in suspense as a mere draft until the League Council had had an opportunity of considering them. What would have been the position? We could have no assurance that the League Council would dispose of the matter in a few weeks, or in a month, or in three months. It would have been quite possible that one or two members of the Council might wish for a meeting to discuss it and that other members of the Council might not wish for a meeting in the present circumstances. The resolving of that point might have taken some time. But suppose the Council had met.
§ Mr. MacDonald
Not since the publication of these Regulations. But suppose it had met after these Regulations were published, some member of the Council might have taken the view that they were contrary to the Mandate and there would have been a disagreement between His Majesty's Government and that member on the point. In that case we should have had to enter into negotiations with that member to see whether we could solve the difference and reach agreement. That might have taken time also; and if we had not been able to reach an agreement there would have been the question of sending the whole matter to the Permanent Court at The Hague. If the matter had gone there the consideration of it might have taken a long time indeed.
What would have been happening in Palestine in the meantime? The draft of these Regulations would have been published; everybody would have known where the boundaries were to be. There would have been forced sales of land, and there might well have been such resentment at these forced sales of land on the part of the Arab population in general that they might have tried to stop them. [An Hon. Member: "Why forced?"] I am using a technical term. A single incident in Palestine might have occurred which would have set the whole 451 country ablaze again. If we had any right to take a risk like that in peace-time, I do not think we should ever be justified in taking that risk in war-time. If there had been a recrudescence of troubles in Palestine, I think that members of the Council of the League of Nations would have come to the conclusion that we had made an error in judgment and that we had neglected our duty to do what was necessary to maintain peace and order and progress in the mandated territory.
§ Sir A. Sinclair
There was no reason for any sales at all. All the right hon. Gentleman had to do was to say that no sales would be recognised.
§ Mr. MacDonald
If the right hon. Gentleman is now proposing that, I am not certain what is the practical difference between himself and me.
§ Sir A. Sinclair
In one case the decision would have been suspended as to whether or not these sales would go through until the International Court or the League Council had come to its decision. In the other case, the decision is being made before the Council is concerned with the matter.
§ Mr. MacDonald
If I may say so, the right hon. Gentleman does not know his Palestine if he supposes that it would have been as simple as that. If we had put a provision like that in the Regulations, saying that we would not recognise any sales which had been completed after the date of publication and before the League Council had pronounced a decision, it would not have stopped negotiations going on in Palestine. The rumour would have gone around, it would have been encouraged, that if sales took place and an agitation was worked up, His Majesty's Government under pressure would withdraw the provision and allow sales which had been completed before that date. Money would have passed from Jews to Arabs, and you would have had a very complicated situation indeed arising in Palestine if that uncertain state of affairs had continued. Although there are many considerable arguments to be used in favour of the course which the right hon. Member the Leader of the Liberal Opposition has proposed, I say that on balance the right thing to do, as the Mandatory in Palestine and responsible for the maintenance of order, was to 452 publish these Regulations and bring them into operation at once, but in view of the position which the Council of the League holds in this matter, let them have information on the matter straight away and express our willingness to attend a meeting of the Council at an early date to discuss them fully and frankly in order to reach a conclusion.
I have only a few more sentences before I conclude, and I must apologise to the House for trespassing so much on its time. The hon. Member for Derby and the right hon. Baronet have spoken about the cruel persecution which the Jews are suffering in Central Europe and have pleaded for compassion. They have asked that we should extend towards these unhappy people a friendly and generous hand. They have urged particularly that the gates of the Jewish National Home in Palestine should be opened so that some at any rate of these people may escape from a vile oppression and tribulation and settle happily in Palestine. We are not deaf to these appeals. All the time Palestine is making its contribution towards the solution of the problem of the Jewish refugees. For instance, under the Government's policy we have made provision in the current 12 months for more than 20,000 Jews going into Palestine and settling there. The hon. Member for Derby said it was something like the fourth highest figure of immigration into Palestine. Most of these people have arrived in Palestine; about half of them legally, on legal certificates, and half of them illegally. They have taken the place of legal immigrants who otherwise would have been allowed.
Let me give another instance. On the day war broke out there were several thousand Jews in Germany in possession of legal certificates for emigration to Palestine. They had sold their homes and made their preparations for departure. Suddenly they found themselves stranded in the land of their persecution. We made arrangements to get them out. We sent special officers from the administration in Jerusalem to Europe to check their papers. They got out, and most of them are now settled in the Jewish National Home in Palestine. I do not think the House is going to be easily misled in this matter. I notice that in some high Jewish quarters it has been said that these Land Regulations turn the Jewish National Home into another 453 ghetto, that they establish a situation which is similar to that of the Jews in the worst days of Czarist Russia, similar even to that of the Jews in Nazi Germany to-day. I can understand a great deal of their bitterness, I know the firm faith and idealism of the Zionist Jews; but I say that it is a weak case which has to indulge in slanderous misrepresentation.
Under the benevolent and powerful protection of Great Britain, the Jewish National Home has been established in Palestine. It will stay there, it will grow, it will prosper. In the protest which they issued the other day, the Jewish Agency spoke about the rights of weak people. We recognise fully the rights of the Jews in Palestine. But there is another small people also in Palestine. There are the Arabs in Palestine who have rights equal to the rights of the Jews in Palestine. We are going to protect those rights as well as we protect the rights of the Jews. If the rights of the Arabs are ignored, the Jewish National Home will not prosper. It will raise for itself a host of enemies in the Middle East who will harry and trouble it until in the end they may even overthrow it and destroy it. There can be peace and progress in Palestine only on the basis of a mutual recognition of the rights of the two communities inhabiting that country. It is because these Land Regulations are based upon that principle that I ask the House to reject the Motion of Censure which has been moved.
§ 6.18 p.m.
§ Major Cazalet (Chippenham)
No one realises more than I do the extreme difficulty of speaking after my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies. Although I disagree profoundly with the Government's policy in Palestine, I recognise that this afternoon my right hon. Friend has made a brilliant defence of that policy, and that the overwhelming majority of hon. Members in my party are behind him. I do not pretend to view this subject with a completely open mind; nor did I come here with a completely open mind to listen to the Debate. I know some of the facts. My right hon. Friend made the speech which I had thought he would make—calm, endeavouring not to raise any unnecessary opposition, dispassionate in all his remarks, but I knew that to almost 454 every argument which he made there was another side.
I will give the House two examples of that. My right hon. Friend said that the peace in Palestine to-day is due, not solely to the war, but very largely to the publication of the White Paper some months ago. Of course, one can always purchase peace by making concessions to one's opponents. But what an invitation that is to the Jews to follow the example of the Arabs and to make trouble in order to wring concessions from the Government. I am certain they will not do that. I should, in my humble way, use every endeavour I could to prevent them from doing it. The idea appears to be that although there is peace now, the Arabs may at some future time make a fuss and revolt; and therefore, they must be given concessions. We were then told about the Arabs in Iraq, the Mohammedans in Africa, India and elsewhere. I would remind the House that there are 16,000,000 Jews distributed throughout the world. Surely, in these critical days, their views and opinions should also be considered. My right hon. Friend said that there is plenty of good land in the maritime area for the Jews to buy. He knows very well that it is in that area where the Jews have spent most money that they have attracted the greatest number of Arabs. If the Jews are to buy land there, and indeed they only buy it there, being excluded from 95 per cent. of the rest of the territory, it will put a monopoly price on a very limited amount of land and so make it practically impossible for the Jews to buy any land in that area.
I am opposed to the Government on this issue. I am pro-Government as they were three years ago, when they adopted the Royal Commission's Report on partition. I am afraid I have not been able to change my views on Palestine quite as quickly as the Government have changed theirs. Some months ago, I appealed to the Government in vain not to proceed with the proposals of the White Paper because I considered that they were dishonourable and broke the promises and pledges which the same Government had given to the Jews three years ago. In listening to my right hon. Friend, it struck me as rather odd how often he referred to these commissions, and in particular the deference which he paid to 455 the Royal Commission's views on land. I wish that he had paid a little more deference to their views on other matters in regard to Palestine.
A few months ago we had a hope that the League of Nations might intervene and prevent the Government from committing what I and others consider to be this crime against Jewry. The Permanent Mandates Commission has met and produced a report, and I think it would not be an overstatement to say that the Mandates Commission's report is not entirely satisfactory towards the Government. It is of no use decrying the Mandates Commission in this case simply because it happens to recommend something against the Government's policy. My right hon. Friend has given reasons why the Council has not yet been consulted. I agree with him in one aspect of this matter. I think it is very unlikely that any member of the Council, if asked to-day to give its opinion, would raise its voice in opposition to a policy which is officially favoured by Great Britain and presumably supported by Germany. It would have been much more honest if, from the beginning, the Government had said to the House that, in their opinion, the Mandate had failed, and they proposed something quite different. I would have disagreed with that, but I would have understood it. What I have never been able to forgive is the attempt to make this policy square with the Mandate. When the full White Paper policy is in execution—a permanent minority for the Jews, no more immigration, land sales to be confined within a narrow area—what will be left of the Mandate? The ghost of Lord Balfour ought to haunt those on the Treasury Bench when they try to square their policy with the Mandate.
Something else has happened during the last few months. War has broken out. I think that for several months the war gave some hopes about what might happen in Palestine. The war has influenced all our lives and policies. Surely, it should have had some effect on the policy in Palestine. After all, the Government in certain very important ways have changed their character. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty is no insignificant member of the Government. He was strongly opposed to this policy. When he entered 456 the Government, surely some concession ought to have been made to his views. The Opposition have been invited to co-operate with the Government, and they have loyally co-operated on most issues. Unity is our motto. It has been accepted loyally by the great bulk of the people of this country, and nowhere with greater surprise or with more welcome than in Palestine itself. Now this bomb has been thrown into our midst, spreading dissension and bitterness.
The legal question has been dealt with. The question of the amount of land avail able has been dealt with. I want to state to the House one or two simple facts—facts, I admit, from the Jewish point of view—because I do not think that my right hon. Friend, although he paid a tribute to the Jews in Palestine, and expressed sympathy with them, understands how they feel about this policy. The question which the ordinary man-in-the-street is asking himself at the present time is why it should be necessary at this moment to introduce in Palestine this one item of the proposals of the White Paper. Does anyone really think it will help to win the war when it will raise bitter feelings on the part of Jews throughout the world? This must be the crucial test of everything that the Government do at this time—will it help us to win the war? That is the only thing which matters. My right hon. Friend has admitted that there is comparative peace in Palestine. In a few months, in a few weeks, war may develop in the Near East, and then we shall want the services of Jewish men—
§ Major Cazalet
—Jewish men, scientists, factories. Already Iraq, Turkey, Egypt and Syria are utilising the brains, talents and resources of the Jews in Palestine. Are the Government really afraid of an Arab revolt? I believe that to-day the Arabs are just as united in their loyalty as are the Jews. I am far less afraid than is my right hon. Friend of Arab dissension. Whom does he fear? From where is the revolt to come? Is the army of the Hedjaz to march up, is Iraq to invade Palestine? I thought we had thousands of troops from the Antipodes in Palestine. There are tens of thousands of troops in Syria, should they be wanted. The Government have always insisted, rightly, that there never will be 457 lasting peace in Palestine except through co-operation of the Jews with the Arabs. It is perfectly correct. I maintain that that co-operation can only be carried into effect successfully along economic lines. Economic prosperity depends on land purchases by the Jews. In areas where the Jews have bought land the Arabs work willingly, peacefully, and happily, with better wages and conditions than they have ever enjoyed. In some periods of the year at the height of the citrus season there are 10,000 Arabs working contentedly for the Jews. So it is a political question. I object to this decision because it will frustrate the only real hope of obtaining permanent co-operation between Jews and Arabs, and because it will deny the Jews the right to invest their money in purchases of land as they have done in the past. By this Measure you are handing back a vast number of Arab tenants and cultivators of the soil to the Arab moneylenders. Up to date they have been able to sell a portion of the land, and for that money they have been able to go in for intensive cultivation. You are condemning two-thirds of Palestine to bankruptcy. The right hon. Gentleman asked whether we had not heard of the £5,500,000 loan, but that is for the whole of the Empire, and what proportion will go to Palestine? We know the Jews have spent £5,000,000 a year in Palestine.
This is the third partition of Palestine. We had the first in 1922, and the second was suggested by the Government on the report of the Royal Commission. Now we have this miserable third partition of Palestine. I know although lip service is paid to the Jews by almost everybody in this country that the Jews have not many friends. One knows so well people who start a conversation by saying, "Of course, I have a great many Jews, intimate friends who I admire and like very much, but—"No one knows better their thoughts and failings better than I, but, perhaps, if we had been persecuted for generations, we might have possessed, if we do not already possess, some of their less desirable characteristics. Perhaps we should not have survived the persecution. One of the most potential factors in giving to the Jews some of their less agreeable characteristics is that for centuries he has had to dwell in towns and ghettoes and has been denied the right of land owner- 458 ship. Now, for the first time, in Palestine, he has land freedom and space, he can dig the soil and can create something constructive by the sweat of his brow. If you have not seen a Jewish farmer and compared him, as I have, with the type cringing in the ghettoes of Poland, you cannot understand what the possession of land and working on the soil, either in a communal farm or a farm in his own possession, means to him.
What magnificent work they have done; and have the Arabs really suffered? Have the Jews farmed well? Well, I have never tasted better cheese or drunk better milk than off a Jewish farm. Are they not in Palestine contributing something of real worth to the national need? And now you deny them further expansion. Do not be deluded. The right hon. Gentleman explained how many thousands of acres there were, but what are the facts? The Jews have been told by the First Lord of the Admiralty that they were in Palestine by right, but the Jews under this scheme are there by right in less than 5 per cent. of the territory. They are tolerated only in 20 per cent., and are excluded altogether from another 65 per cent. What a mockery of the National Home. After all, who are these people? Are they likely to conspire with our enemies? No, Sir, these are the men who in the first days of the war were ready to offer a fighting division to go anywhere the British Government asked. So far that offer, no doubt for good reasons, has not been accepted. These are the men and women who have pledged themselves unreservedly—pledged their lives and possessions—in the service of the Government until victory is won. These men will still fight for England, but you have played on their loyalty and strained their patriotism almost to breaking point. You have played them off against the Arabs because you knew that in the last resort they would not let you down. They have no one else to turn to, better for them the ghettoes of Poland than the martyrdom of Lublim in Poland. After all, for what are we fighting if it is not for the preservation of individual liberty and of the right of small peoples to live their lives and cultivate and develop their own culture in their own land? The Jews have been at war for six years, and they have suffered up to date more casualties than the Allies. Their war is our war, and our war is theirs, and yet to-day, they have 459 to suffer this supreme indignity in their hour of need.
I apologise for perhaps expressing very strong views, but I feel, and believe, that these Regulations should be withdrawn, for a variety of reasons. I think they are almost certainly illegal, that they are unjust in themselves, and, in spite of what the right hon. Gentleman said, that they are unnecessary. I have every reason to suppose that there would not have been very much land purchase, and that the money is not, and will not, be forthcoming in the next few years. I believe these Regulations are dishonourable in peace and wicked and contemptible in war. They divide opinion at home and lend support to that body of opinion in the United States of America and elsewhere which wishes to think wrongfully I believe, that we are prepared to make terms with the enemy. They inflict a deep moral wrong on the Jewish race. Holding these views, is it any wonder that I am distressed and feel bitterly on the matter? Is there any wonder that I am prejudiced on behalf of those who are prepared to fight to the bitter end on our side in this war?
Even if I were the only Member of my party who raised his voice against these proposals, and if necessary vote against them, I should do so. If I did not I should be ashamed of myself ever afterwards. I have been a most loyal back-bencher for 16 years, and perhaps I may be permitted this digression from the path of duty to-night. I realise, of course, that some of those on the Front Bench do not like these Regulations. There has been a good deal of mental shuffling to accommodate their consciences to these Regulations. I expect in their heart of hearts they desire, as we do, to see fair play to both Jews and Arabs, but, knowing as I do the extent of the bitterness of the blow which millions of Jews are feeling to-day, can I do anything else than raise my voice and beg the Government, futilely, I know, to withdraw even at this late hour these Regulations so that honourably once again Jews, Arabs and Christians in Palestine and elsewhere can unite whole-heartedly to destroy and defeat the King's enemy?
§ 6.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Stokes (Ipswich)
One could not have listened to the honest and sincere 460 speech of the hon. and gallant Member who has just sat down without being moved. Whatever I may say—I am reputed to be a pro-Arab, which is not a correct description—I hope he will do me the justice at least of remembering that I was the only Member of this House who suggested that the right thing to do with the persecuted Jews who could not find domicile in Palestine was to make adequate provision for them within the wide confines of the British Empire. I do not want to raise controversy—although other speakers have said the same thing and have failed to carry out that intention. No doubt I shall fail also because it is a subject on which one can hardly speak without being controversial. Whatever we may have promised the Jews, we undoubtedly promised the Arabs a year or so previously; there is not a way but of the difficulty to suit all people.
Having just been to Palestine, Egypt and Iraq, I want to address myself to some practical points which I observed in my travels. If one reads the papers to-day the impression is given that Palestine became a haven of peace as soon as war started and it united all parties. The Minister has pointed out that the pacification in Palestine started from the time of the publication of the White Paper, and I think that is true. My observations go to show, from remarks made by people from Cairo to Bag dad, that we have now, as a result of the first sign that we really mean to implement our promises to the Arabs, brought about a quiet state in Palestine. They have waited for years for some signal. It was given in the summer of last year but they also say nine months have elapsed and nothing has been done. They ask, will the British House of Commons support what was said in July last year? It is not a Palestine question only. Every responsible statesman throughout the Middle East raised this point, and more especially in Iraq and Egypt. The idea that it is just the war which has cemented the parties is wrong and I can only say that responsible Jews in Palestine have told me the same thing, namely, whereas they are hoping in their hearts that we shall let the White Paper slide and as the war goes on forget about it, and the White Paper policy will never be carried through. For that reason they are supporting quietness in Palestine. 461 Equally so are the Arabs but from the entirely opposite point of view. They are keeping quiet because they wish the White Paper to be put into force as early as possible and expect us to implement it.
There are two points to which I should like to refer. It has been said that there is now no danger, because the Jews are short of money, of any more land being sold in the immediate future. That is not true. I do not agree with the details of these measures because I object to landlords of all sorts, whether they are Arabs or Jews, but things being what they are, the necessity of restricting land sales at the present time is urgent for this reason. This year in Palestine they have had a very good citrus crop and, with the difficulties of transport, it has been impossible for the crop to be sold. They are expecting to have to bury no less a quantity than 8,000,000 cases of oranges, which means that something like 1,600,000,000 oranges are going to waste—about half the crop. It is obvious that the sales, on the whole, will be achieved by the Europeans, and that the Arab, who is not so good a business man, will not sell very much and out of dire necessity, coupled with the temptation of money in the near future, will sell his land, unless he is prevented, in order to get the wherewithal to live.
With regard to the Land Regulations, as I have said, I object to landlords, be they Christian, Jew or Arab, and I cannot understand why I should be asked to defend the sale of land to anybody in Palestine. I wish the land there to be used for the joint interests of Jew and Arab and the value used for the benefit of the community. I would like to point out one thing about the area divisions. Percentages are misleading. I know something about Palestine and in connection with my work on irrigation I travel through the territory a good deal. I have not calculated, for I do not think the maps are available, what percentage of each sort of land has been allocated or to whom, but it is misleading to take acreage percentages in judging whether a fair allotment has been made. There is another consideration. I am not a farmer and do not know what effect altitude has, but when thinking about the land question people are inclined to forget that the conditions in Palestine are 462 curious. You go from about 3,000 feet above sea level to 2,000 feet below. That is a factor which ought not to be forgotten.
Reference has been made by practically all the speakers to emigration from Central Europe, and the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Chippenham (Major Cazalet) spoke feelingly of the dreadful time that the Jewish Poles were having in Warsaw. Nobody can have a greater horror of what has happened there than I have, but I am bound to say in truthfulness that I think his remark was misleading—not, I believe, intentionally misleading. Emigration from Central Europe was one of the points which I discussed at some length with the Jewish authorities in Palestine, and I was told that the number of Polish Jews who had escaped over the Rumanian frontier was a mere handful and the majority, some 500,000, had gone into Russia and that the Russians were not prepared to let them out. Whether that is the case or not, I cannot prove, but it would be misleading to suppose that there has been a terrific exodus of Jews from Poland into Rumania and down through Central Europe.
But the Palestine authorities are faced with a great difficulty in that a horrible traffic is going on. For example, we are faced with a big growth of illegal emigrants from Central Europe, and the system is this. In Trieste harbour there are 25 to 30 German boats which cannot get out. I am told on good authority that the proposal on the part of the Germans is to liquidate those boats by filling them up with Jews from Germany and Central Europe in return for good hard cash collected from London, Paris and New York, and to put them out in the Mediterranean and allow them to go to Palestine. The Government of Palestine will have a serious position to face if they are confronted with the arrival of some 100,000 illegal immigrants. I hope that the Government will take some action here and will be ready with some constructive proposal, so that these people will be properly looked after, because it is obviously impossible that 100,000 of them should be allowed to land in Palestine. The Government may have made a complete legal error in these proposals; I am not a lawyer and do not know; but I do know this—and it is important that all Members, whatever their 463 political views on this and other subjects, should understand it—that from Cairo to Bagdad all statesmen, be they Prime Ministers or High Commissioners or Ambassadors, have heaved a sigh of relief that this Measure has been taken and that at last we are beginning to implement our promises to the Arabs.
§ 6.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Lipson (Cheltenham)
The hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) has given us the benefit of his recent experience in the Middle East and the House has listened with interest to what he had to say. Whether he talked to the right people or not, I do not propose to discuss. My purpose in rising is to be, like him, as non-controversial as possible. The House is discussing a problem which is of great interest to both Jews and non-Jews, but particularly to Jews. All hon. Members who have so for spoken are non-Jews. The House, therefore, may welcome at this stage of the Debate the intervention of a British Jew and, perhaps I may be allowed to add, of one to whom his religion has always meant a great deal and who as a Member of this House has tried to do his own thinking. I must not be expected to express satisfaction at the proposals in the Land Regulations. When they were discussed by the House on previous occasions I voted against them. A Jew can take no other view than that they are regrettable, but I do not intend to-night to indulge in wholesale condemnation of the action which the Government have felt compelled to take. My purpose is rather to try and put the issue is its proper perspective as I see it.
From the Debate to-day, it would appear that the great question facing the Jews of the world was the relation between Jew and Arab. That is not true. The overriding question which the Jew has to face to-day is whether the Jew is to survive or whether he is to be crushed to extermination by the Nazi persecution. It is in the light of that question that I wish to approach the matter we are considering to-day. The answer to it cannot be made until the victory of the Allies in this war has been made sure. Therefore, I submit that controversy over these Regulations must make no difference to the unqualified support which Jews, the world over, must give to Great Britain 464 and France in their struggle. There is no people in the world to whom the success of Great Britain and France in this war means more than it does to the Jews. Why do I say that? Great Britain is fighting for the freedom of the human spirit, and that includes freedom of speech, freedom of thought, the right of free people to their own existence and the right of minorities to be different. If these things are lost, all is lost. The survival of the Jew depends upon the continuance of these things. Great Britain in this war, as has been said, is fighting for her existence. That is true but if—which, God forbid—Great Britain were to lose the war, she would live to fight again. If the Allies were to lose, however, the Jew might very well be finished for ever. That is not only my opinion. A few days ago the distinguished leader of the Zionist movement, Dr. Weizmann, speaking in America, used these words:In a world in which the Nazi dominated, no Jew could live.Therefore, to the Jew the war must be the overriding issue whenever any question arises during these anxious and difficult days. What would happen to the Jews if the Nazis were to prevail? Look at what has happened to the Jew in Germany, in Austria, in Poland and in Czecho-Slovakia. We know that the same fate would await him wherever the Nazi domination is able to prevail. What would happen to the Jewish National Home if Hitler were to win the war? We must have considerations of this kind in our mind. I am not one of those who believe that victory is likely to come to this country lightly. I share the view that has been put forward by the Secretary of State for War and the Chancellor of the Exchequer—and I am glad they have said it—that victory will not be won cheaply.
Sacrifices will have to be made, and to-night we are discussing one of the sacrifices which the Jews are called upon to make so that victory will be assured. I believe that Jews will make that sacrifice. Sacrifice is nothing new to the Jews. I may perhaps be allowed to adapt the words which Shakespeare put into the mouth of Shy lock, "Sacrifice is the badge of our tribe." When the Colonial Secretary told this House that the action which he has taken was in the opinion of the Government necessary action for the 465 successful prosecution of the war I accepted that statement. I believe that in controversy it is always right to give those with whom you differ, at least the credit of right intentions. When the Colonial Secretary made that statement I accepted it. A great responsibility rests on the Government in these days and when the Government tell this House that certain political action is necessary for the successful prosecution of the war, I am not prepared to say I will not give them the support for which they ask.
§ Miss Rathbone (Combined English Universities)
I do not want to interrupt the hon. Member, but as this is so interesting, coming from him, will he tell us a little more plainly what he means? Is it that he recognises the Arabs need to be bribed into supporting the Allies, whereas the Jews need no bribe?
§ Mr. Lipson
What I have in mind is that during the war we ordinary citizens must give to the Government a certain amount of discretion in matters of vital importance. I am prepared to give them that discretion. If, with their fuller knowledge, they say that this action is necessary, I am prepared to accept it. That is my reply to the hon. Lady. I would add that I think we have already quite enough on our hands in this war and I do not want to see any addition, if it can be avoided, to the ranks of our enemies. Certainly I think we should hesitate to do anything which is likely to bring that about. The last thing I want to see, either during a war or at any other time—certainly in these critical days when Great Britain has such great difficulties—is that in Palestine, in the defence of the Jewish National Home, those difficulties should be increased. If the Government say that there is a danger of this, I for one think that it ought to be avoided at all costs.
Therefore, while I am grateful to the hon. Members opposite who have championed the cause of the National Home, and while I appreciate the generous tributes which have been paid to Jews from all sides of the House, I would say also that the Jew cannot quarrel with Great Britain over this issue. He cannot do so for two reasons. In the first place, I believe that it would be sheer ingratitude for him to do so because Great Britain is still the best friend the Jew has; and, secondly, he ought not to 466 quarrel with Great Britain because, at this time, Great Britain's interests are the interests of the Jew and the Jew has not so many friends in the world to-day that he can afford to quarrel with his best friend. It would be disastrous if any serious breach should arise between the interest of the Jew and that of Great Britain. It would be a very serious matter if, during the war, there should be any serious conflict in this country between different parties, and I should regret it bitterly if I thought that it was a Jewish issue which created that political difference. If these were normal times, if we were at peace, I should judge this question on the merits of the simple issue itself and I should indulge in the luxury of voting against the Government. But to-day I believe that other considerations should prevail. If, however, I support the Government to-day it must not be taken as approval of the actual proposals in the Land Regulations, but rather as meaning that at this time the supreme interest of the Jew coincides with the interest of the British people, and I should not want to do anything that is likely to weaken the hand of the British Government in the great task which they have set themselves.
§ 7.7 p.m.
§ Colonel Wedgwood (Newcastle-under-Lyme)
I would ask the hon. Member who has just sat down to realise that the best service he can render both to this country and to his own race is, in war particularly, to exercise and express his own judgment and not become one of the "Yes" men. It is particularly in wartime that the "Yes" men are to be deplored. I did not hear, and I do not believe the House heard, the Secretary of State for the Colonies say in his speech that this measure was taken for the successful prosecution of the war. If he had said it, I should disagree, but he did not say it. He argued, quite fairly, his two main reasons for desiring these rules and regulations. They were first that this course was in the interests of the Arab landless population of Palestine, and, secondly, that if he did not take this course there would be trouble from the Arabs in Palestine. Of the second statement I have no capacity to judge. He got the information straight from the administration of Palestine and they must be held responsible for it.
467 As far as the first point is concerned, however, that this legislation is in the interest of the landless Arabs of Palestine and is introduced in order to secure it, I must exercise my right of questioning the proposition. I hope to persuade the House that this legislation cannot possibly be in the interest of the working classes, the landless people, in Palestine. Let the House imagine for one moment that it is the landless people, the working classes, in this country who have to be considered; that this legislation is being passed in the interests of the working classes and the landless here; that no Jews would be allowed to buy land in England, and that, as there are so few Jews here, the proposal was extended so that the people of the towns might not buy agricultural land. May I ask how that would help the people of the towns or the people of the country? Does it help the working classes anywhere to stereotype the existing system of land tenure?
Always in their arguments Cobden and Bright were in favour of what they called Free Trade in land so that people should be able to acquire land cheaply, knowing perfectly well that unless they could they must starve. Land is the sine qua non of existence. Would it help unemployment and the exploitation of labour in this country if all the agricultural landlords of this country were told that they might never sell their land in order that it should be kept for the agricultural population and in order that their tenants and their labourers should always continue to be their tenants and their labourers? Anyone can see how ridiculous it would be if this sort of legislation were applied to England. It would cause no sort of development but it would obstruct every opportunity to get capital to use the land, and it would create far worse poverty than that system under which we live to-day.
The only cure for the landless people of Palestine and for the landless people of this country is to be able to acquire land that is not being used freely, so that they can get on the land, so that labour may get over that wall which the capitalist system has built up against them—get over the wall, get at the land and start producing. How far will this legislation enable the peasant in Palestine to prosper? The immediate result of this 468 legislation will be that of similar legislation passed in India and in Egypt, where exactly the same system has resulted in exactly the same conditions. No owner of land will be able to borrow money; he will never be able to secure the capital to develop the land. It will stereotype the past.
One result of the Jews buying land in Palestine has been that they have bought part of the holding of some landlord or part of some village and that with the capital so acquired, the village or the landlord has been able to buy manure and seed and new instruments of cultivation. Both sides have benefited. The land acquired has developed beyond the dreams or the imagination of the Tory Front Bench; the land not acquired, the land that has remained in the hands of the Arab landlord or the Arab peasant, has also gained. If you go through that country you will see the prosperity which has come from the Jewish money which was used to buy part of the land, from the Jewish example of how to cultivate the land, and from the market which this enormous population has provided in Palestine.
At the present time we have an army of great spending power in Palestine. Palestine is, I believe, exceedingly prosperous. The money which is being spent by the Australian troops, who are getting 7s. a day, is keeping Palestine going excellently. There has never been more prosperity in that country. If the right hon. Gentleman is looking ahead and is considering what will come when the war scare in the Near East is over and the Australians come nearer to that part of the world where they are wanted, then do let him consider his old political principles. Let him introduce into Palestine a little taxation of land values, which would enable the Arab or Jew peasant to get hold of the land cheaply, which would enable the building trade to get hold of the land, which would free the land for the people, instead of going on in this mediaeval fashion, checking prosperity, hampering progress and stopping the increased productivitiy of the soil.
There is nothing to be said economically in favour of the measures which the Government are bringing forward for Palestine—nothing. There is on the part of the administration in Palestine sheer ignorance of all economic practice and 469 all economic history. They are bringing this proposal forward at a moment when it could not possibly do more harm to us in the prosecution of the war. Has the House observed the immediate reaction in America, not only among the Jews there—and they, after all, are an important element in America, as long as we depend upon the export trade of this country to pay for the war—but among the American publicists and columnists? They have all seen that we here, fighting Hitler with our mouths, are copying his practice. This is precisely Hitler's policy of soil and blood, a policy of ultra-nationalism, preserving Palestine for one definite race. When shall we get away from the idea that this world is composed of a lot of different incompatible races? We are fighting for the idea that all men shall have a right to live equally under equal laws. I am not fighting Hitler, I am fighting Hitlerism, which is the drawing of distinctions between different members of society on account of their ancestry, or something nonsensical of that sort. We are importing that spirit into British legislation, importing it in the worst place, setting up in Palestine exactly the same anti-Jewish legislation that Hitler has forced not only upon Germany but upon Italy as well. Discrimination between two sorts of citizens on account of their ancestry is new to this country, and has been imported by the right hon. Gentleman in imitation of the doctrines preached in Germany to-day. If there could be a worst blow at our prosecution of the war than this I should like to know what it is. All over the world this will be held up against us.
Marquess of Titchfield (Newark)
By Lord Haw-Haw.
§ Colonel Wedgwood
No, Lord Haw-flaw will at once approve. He will discover that at last there is one Member of the British Cabinet who understands the Hitler point of view and knows how to deal with the Jewish problem.
§ Colonel Wedgwood
That will be said and what will be the answer? Is there any other part of the British Empire where legislation such as this exists? [Interruption.] In the Punjab the Mohammedans are protected in the same way against the Hindus by a prohibition 470 on the selling of land to anybody except those who are 100 per cent. Mohammedan; but it has not worked. It is very popular with the big Mohammedan landlords, who are buying up the land of the small peasants, but it does not work economically. And, after all, that prohibition was not imposed by us but by the Punjab Legislative Council. Here, for the first time, in the British Empire, we are saying, "There is certain land which certain people shall not be allowed to buy." I should have said that in Kenya there is something similar, because, there, no Indian is allowed to buy any land at all, and the blacks are not allowed to buy land in the prohibited areas.
§ Sir Walter Smiles (Blackburn)
There are other places also. In Assam the British Government have for years refused to allow any white settler to buy any of the land owned by the Nagas. It is reserved for the hill tribes of Assam.
§ Colonel Wedgwood
So we have an example from the savage tribes of Assam as well as from Kenya. Good. I recommend to the right hon. Gentleman the examples of the Nagas and of Kenya. They are not those which, I should think, a civilised Government would desire to follow, because it is the Hitlerite policy of trying to interfere with natural bargain and sale between peoples who are much better judges of what they want than any Government official. I do not think this is a question which concerns the Jews—not entirely—but I do not want to talk about the Jews. It is an uncommonly painful subject. But I do think there is a real resemblance between the attitude of His Majesty's Government towards the Zionist movement, extending now over 20 years, and the attitude of Hitler towards this country. Continually, fresh demands have been made for sacrifice, continually the Jews have been protesting, and continually they have surrendered. They had their Munich some years ago, when the earlier White Paper came out. When immigration was restricted by the right hon. Gentleman's father they had their Czecho-Slovakia. Now they are meeting their final Poland.
I do not know what they will do. It is not wise to counsel them, but I am certain that if they had broken off relations when immigration was stopped they would not have been faced with the 471 present situation, and that sooner or later they will have to make a stand, just as we have had to make a stand. It is very unpleasant for any Jew to break the law or to stand up against ny Government—very unpleasant and rather dangerous—but they are being driven to it. If they had imported all those thousands and thousands of refugees they would not have had this position forced upon them to-day. If they would stand up as the crofters stood up in Scotland when they occupied land they were not entitled to occupy; if they had acted as our English ancestors acted against the enclosures, it would have been all right. As it is, this is only one step more. The next will be the prohibition of Jews in the Civil Service in Palestine. Already they are being restricted in the medical service and in the legal service; already they are excluded from the railways. The whole force of laws such as the recent laws in Italy will be imposed upon them in Palestine, and it is a very little step between that and the actual robbery practised in Germany. They can always be taxed—and always trusted to pay.
No, I do not think it is worth while thinking about the Jews in this matter. They will manage somehow. They cannot buy land—but they can get it somehow, though their methods of getting it would hardly recommend themselves to us. But what about us? Cannot the right hon. Gentleman see that if we break our word now we are done. If this is breaking our word to the Jews, it is the worst possible thing for the morale of this country. Our honour is at stake. If it is a question of helping unemployed Arabs, for Heaven's sake devote the whole £5,000,000 to buying land for them and starting them on the land. I do not mind what we pay if there is a debt of honour involved, but let us not make other people pay our debts. Do not start in the British Empire a system which we loathe so much in Germany that we have gone to war against it. Do not put expediency before justice.
§ 7.29 p.m.
§ Sir H. Croft (Bournemouth)
I hope the right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) will forgive me if I do not follow him at any length in his argument. I was very sad to note such craven quali- 472 ties entering into his speech, and I think that as a prophet of woe—
§ Sir H. Croft
—he will be as incorrect as he has so frequently been in the past. I was staggered to hear one whose sword has so often been drawn on behalf of the natives in the British Empire speaking against the policy of reserves for the natives, apparently laughing at that system in Kenya and in other parts of the Empire.
§ Colonel Wedgwood
If I am against it, you may be quite certain that it is not in favour of the native inhabitants.
§ Sir H. Croft
It is a very new theory for the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, and I can only say that it has shocked me, because I always believed he was one of those who thought it was an enlightening sign of our policy, where we have great areas reserved for the inhabitants, and I thought it was one of which he warmly approved. I hope he was not correct in suggesting that any responsible Jewish leader in the United States of America had made speeches or written articles such as those to which he referred. It would be deplorable that any such articles or speeches should be made by leading Jews at the present moment. It would not help their case, and it would only deprive them of the sympathy which is so great all over the world.
I would like to say a word with regard to the speech of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Chippenham (Major Cazalet). I am very sorry at the adjectives which he used. I think the word "dishonour" came in his speech. I hope I may be able to show in a moment or two that there is no dishonour in this policy. It may be an unpleasant policy, but it is really a struggle between two conflicting rights. When my hon. and gallant Friend says that, above all, we want to see unity in the middle of a great war when we are just entering what may be a colossal onslaught on our people, I cannot help thinking that in the great difficulties of the situation with which we are confronted it is not helpful to make vigorous speeches ringing through the world, saying that all Jewry is against us, at a time when every man and woman ought to be standing behind His-Majesty's Government resolutely deter- 473 mined to carry out the policy which Parliament decided upon as late as 10 months ago. My hon. and gallant Friend said that this was a bombshell. How can it have been a bombshell? He dislikes it, of course; we know that. He is passionate and sincere, but when he says it is a bombshell, that cannot be a fact when one remembers that he took a most vigorous part in these discussions only a year ago, and when it is now 10 months since Parliament recorded its decision.
I am sorry he is not here, because I wish to say nothing discourteous about his speech, but I would like to refer to the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair) who laid very great stress on the fact that His Majesty's Government should have referred this matter, or should have waited until the matter was referred, to the Council of the League of Nations. Funnily enough, in the same speech only two or three minutes before he showed how absurd it would have been to go to the Council of the League of Nations. He said, "Are they going to criticise you and vote against you?" After he had eliminated all those who were in jeopardy, he said, "Bolivia, San Domingo and Peru," as much as to say, "How could they protest?" If he does not think that in conditions of war the Council would have taken any steps to support the decision of the Mandates Commission, what is his case when he said that their decision would have been under our influence? He said we were acting as a judge in our own cause. But the Mandates Commission is not a court; it is purely an advisory body to which we as a Mandatory Power agree at the end of each year—that is the normal procedure—to submit an account of our stewardship.
We should not be discussing this question here to-day and there would be no problems and no Debate but for the appalling outrages on the continent of Europe. That is the real truth of the matter. But for the diabolical treatment by Hitler and his associates of the people in Europe, Jewish settlement in Palestine would have gone on at a steady rhythm year by year. We should have found that quite a number of immigrants would have gone in, as many were contemplating at the beginning, but all of a 474 sudden there was this torrent of migration from Central Europe, and quite unexpectedly we found ourselves facing this veritable flood of unfortunate people who wanted to escape anywhere from the murder gangs of Europe. It was for that very reason that we had to speed up the entry of migrants into Palestine, and it is because we have speeded up the whole thing so much more than was ever contemplated by Arab or Jew that this very difficulty which we are to-day discussing arose.
I have been sorry to hear it said, not in this House, although one or two speeches have indirectly suggested it, that we are not really considering the case of the Jew in the pitiful circumstances in which he finds himself at the moment. I think that is not fair, and that those words should not go out to the world. From the first our country has been in front of all others with our sympathy with the situation of the Jews on the Continent of Europe. We espoused their cause, not because they were Jews, but because this brutal treatment has been inflicted upon them as weak people unable to defend themselves in Central Europe. To prove our desire to help, we did speed up this migration into Palestine, and by that very action we produced discontent—it was almost inevitable, and I suppose everyone foresaw it—and actually later the rebellion of a large proportion of the Arab population. We had to despatch very large forces to Palestine. Thousands of British troops daily risked their lives. Perhaps there have not been very many expressions of gratitude from either Arabs or Jews, but it is the British soldiers—thousands of them—who had this arduous duty all the time, and who have been giving their lives in large numbers in order to defend Jews from these wicked persecutors and bandits in the Arab ranks.
Again it cannot be denied—although the difficulties are known by everyone—that in every Crown Colony in the Empire where possible we have tried to see whether there is not some right of entering. We have done everything to encourage the Dominions to give a home to as many refugees as possible. I think 6,000 went to Canada. For 20 years I have been urging that 10,000 British unemployed should have an opportunity of settling in Canada. In two or three years 475 6,000 Jewish refugees went in. I am not complaining of that. I am complaining that anyone should get up and suggest that we have not done anything, when in fact we have, even at the expense of our own people. We were stricken with the burden of 2,000,000 unemployed, and yet I am not exaggerating when I say that since this persecution began we have actually welcomed something like 100,000 of those unfortunate people into this country. Thank God, the British people and British Governments have always led the world in helping to find an asylum for those who are really being persecuted, but I think when we are discussing this matter that we have some right to say there should be no attempt to create an atmosphere suggesting that the British people and the Government in particular have been backward in their sympathies for the Jewish people in the terrible plight in which they have found themselves.
I have never before taken part in a Debate on this subject, but I have listened to all the Debates. I have heard the case of the Government again and again, and I have met very many persons of different shades of opinion from Palestine. I must confess that the problem has been very intricate and difficult, but I have thought that various Governments, even the Socialist Government, when they were confronted with this problem have all tried to hold the scales evenly—that is, from the point of view of the Government. In this House we have 50 or 80 ardent exponents of the Zionist cause. They are well briefed, well informed, eloquent and sincere—undoubtedly passionatelysincere—and they have put their case extremely well. There is no reason why there should not be, but it so happens that there is, in fact, no Arab in this House. Therefore, we have not been able to hear the real voice of an Arab in our midst. I cannot speak as an Arab, nor can I speak for the Arabs, but as a Member of this House I do feel that I have a duty imposed upon me, and therefore I am a trustee, not only for the Jews, but for 90,000,000 Moslems under the British flag who at this time are all watching the situation very anxiously. It is my duty to try to hold the scales equally and to do what I think is right and consistent with British honour and security.
476 I must refer for a moment to the background of this question. It was the British armies which liberated Palestine, which was overwhelmingly Arab. With regard to the British Empire Forces which have been brilliantly led by British Generals, I would remind the House that one of our Generals in the Great War, General Monash, was a very gallant Jew who proved his great worth as a soldier. But for the fact that our armies were so successful in Palestine, there would be no Arab or Jewish discussion to-day. Those people would not have been liberated from the rule under which they had previously been, and in consequence there would be no question at all of a National Home for the Jews. Let us remember that in that conflict we sought the direct military aid of the Arabs. I do not think that that aid was actually decisive—I think we should have won the war without it—but as a military student I must say that those great and skilful operations on our flanks saved countless British lives and undoubtedly greatly speeded up the decision in that theatre.
§ Mr. Allan Chapman (Rutherglen)
Would the hon. and gallant Gentleman forgive me? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) at the Peace Conference said that the Arabs were essential to us in that campaign.
§ Sir H. Croft
Yes, I remember that. If I have under-stated the case, I apologise. I would remind the House of this undoubted fact, that during the operations the Arab world was under the impression that if Palestine was liberated, they would continue to live a free life there undisturbed. That is not putting it too high. [Interruption.] I hope the hon. Gentleman will not put into the minds of Members a thought that I did not intend to convey, merely with the idea of lessening the breach. I heard the speech from the leading spokesman on the Opposition Front Bench in which he said that ultimately the Jews must have a majority in Palestine. That does not mean life free and undisturbed for the Arabs. I now want to come to the other side of the question. We have to remember the romantic speech of Mr. Balfour, which I think won the support of British, people all over the world.
§ Mr. Loftus (Lowestoft)
The hon. Gentleman will remember that the proposals were strongly objected to by Sir Philip Magnus and others.
§ Sir H. Croft
I remember that quite clearly. I think that is rather ancient history. We have to deal with the situation as we find it to-day. When Mr. Balfour and his colleagues told the world the decision, the words were that there should be a National Home for the Jewish people in Palestine. I really apologise for reading those words again. The words were:a National Home for the Jewish people in Palestine,and it is vital to stick to those actual words. It was not the National Home for the Jews in a Jewish State, but a National Home in Palestine. We found at that time, having given that pledge, that it was essential also to tell the Arabs in equally specific pledge that we intended to establish a National Home for the Jewish people in Palestine in so far as it was compatible with the economic and political freedom of the existing population. This was at no distance of time actually carried out by the same Government—within a very few months. The whole problem must have been present in the minds of those who were making these very important decisions. I submit—others are entitled to have different opinions—that both these pledges were absolutely binding, and that they are not inconsistent but are complementary. Who is there anywhere in any quarter of this House who is so deaf to the cry of civilisation that he does not want to do all he possibly can to help the victims of Nazi persecution at the present time, and to provide a home if it be possible, on as large a scale as possible for homeless Jews? But this is our difficulty. The Arab comes along—although his voice is never heard in this House—and he says, "Yes, we agree to their coming to our land, but not in such numbers that we too may ultimately be driven forth and become homeless. We Arabs have a great fear that in your high endeavour to help the Jews our people will in a a very short time suffer a precisely similar fate and themselves become wanderers on the face of the earth." You may say that this is not likely in the near future, but it is a very genuine fear among the Arab population.
478 There is a real division therefore on this question. The Zionists—I do not blame them, I think I would do exactly the same if I were a Zionist—are openly demanding an interpretation of the policy of a Jewish National Home as the Jewish National Home, while the Arabs say that that means immigration of an aggressive character which would inevitably end in the Arabs becoming a minority in a country where they have been an overwhelming majority for over 1,000 years. You may say that those fears are ground-; less, but you cannot get away from the fact that in 16 years the Jewish population has increased from 80,000 to 450,000. It is a very astonishing increase. Very rarely have there been movements like this in the history of the world, I think it would be generally conceded. This movement in itself is equal—I do not use this figure in a military sense, but just to give the comparison—to the transfer of an Expeditionary Force of 22 divisions. The Arabs, we are told on the other side by the Zionists, have increased from 600,000 to 1,000,000. This is true, but whereas the Arab population has increased by 40 per cent. in 16 years, the Jewish population has increased by 500 per cent., and the consequence is that if it goes on at this pace the Arabs must inevitably in the long run be overwhelmed. An Arab put this point to me in a way which struck my imagination. He said, "If in 16 years 20,000,000 Jews entered Great Britain, would it console you that mean while your indigenous British population had increased by 9,000,000?"I at once saw that this kind of proportion for a small country is something so overwhelming that you can understand—I do not put it higher than that—the dread of the population which fears it is going to be out-weighted in days to come. I submit that is not an unfair historical presentation of the case.
Every High Commissioner, I believe, except possibly one, has at one time or another declared that land sales must be controlled. Every single commission which has been in Palestine has unanimously decided to the same effect, and the Royal Commission was also unanimous. All these bodies have differed considerably on other questions, but all of them have been absolutely unanimous, first of all, that there must be some ordered control of migration, and, secondly, that there must be a restriction on land sales 479 in congested Arab lands. Last May Parliament decided that this policy was essential. I know it caused a great deal of agitation, but the House decided that it was essential to go forward with that policy. If Parliament were now to go back on that decision, I cannot help feeling that there is considerable danger that the peace which is at last reigning in Palestine since that decision of Parliament last May would be seriously disturbed. It is true that voices have been raised saying that this was premature, and why not delay it further? I thought the right hon. Gentleman gave an extremely fair, but, if I may say so with all humility, a devastating reply to those criticisms, because, after all, we had given this definite decision of Parliament at the end of all these disturbed arguments that we have had, and there is no doubt the Arab world was looking to us to implement it, and the feeling was abroad in the Near East that under the stress of war we possibly were not going to implement that pledge, and a most serious feeling would have arisen.
I want to say just two more things, briefly. One is in regard to this Motion which has been tabled. I think that with the exception of two earlier speeches it has hardly been referred to. I submit, having made a little study of the whole mandatory question, that there is nothing in the Mandate which imposes a duty upon the Mandatory Power to refrain from any administrative decision in the Mandated country. In courtesy to the League of Nations under the agreement of the Mandate we do record our administrative decisions of any importance at the end of the season, and this has been done, but so far as I am aware no duty is imposed upon His Majesty's Government to seek orders from the League of Nations. As regards the administrative acts which they should undertake, only the Mandatory Power surely is in a position to judge and decide such questions or make such decisions, as is explained under Article VI. We do not ask the permission of the League of Nations to reserve areas for natives in Tanganyika, a country which I happen to know intimately, and I submit we have no reason whatever to ask the permission of the League of Nations to reserve territories for natives in Palestine.
480 Finally, we are engaged at this present moment in this strange and threatening situation, while I think it is generally agreed that owing to the terrible aggression which has taken place in Northern territories the dangers of the war spreading to the Near East are greatly advanced. Surely, when we realise that that possibility is with us, it must be vital that we should do everything in our power to keep together all those forces which to-day are sympathetic to us throughout the whole of the Near Eastern and Far Eastern world. The information I get at the present moment—and I expect it is the information the right hon. Gentleman gets—is that whether it be in the Hedjaz, Saudi Arabia, Transjordan, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, or Moslem India, all eyes are at present looking in this direction. If anybody has any doubt as to the wisdom of trying to keep the peace by implementing the decision of Parliament last May, I would only say that if hon. Members realise what is the nature of the conflict that lies before us, let them look at the map before they vote against His Majesty's Government to-night.
§ 7.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Amery (Birmingham, Sparkbrook)
I do not wish, in the few remarks I desire to address to the House to-night, to discuss again the whole wide field of our policy in Palestine. On the occasion of the introduction of the White Paper in May last I expressed my views fully, and I expressed my conclusion which was that the policy then introduced was a direct repudiation of every pledge which we had given—which I had given and my predecessors and successors had given. In my belief it is inconsistent with the Mandate itself. My right hon. Friend the present First Lord of the Admiralty took the same line as I did and said:I could not stand by and see solemn engagements into which Britain had entered before the world set aside for reasons of administrative convenience or—and it will be a vain hope—for the sake of a quiet life."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd May, 1939; col. 2168, Vol. 347.]That view of ours did not prevail with the House on that occasion. It did prevail within a very few weeks with the Permanent Mandates Commission. It is true, as my hon. And gallant Friend the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) has just said, that the function of the 481 Mandates Commission is not to intervene in ordinary administrative activities. Those are carried out by the Governments, and they are brought before the Mandates Commission for its comments afterwards. On the other hand, when there is a question of a great departure of policy directly affecting the terms of the Mandate itself, undoubtedly the Mandates Commission has every right to be consulted and to advise the League before we alter those terms. The terms of the Tanganyika and the Palestine Mandates are very different. If we proposed, say, preferential trade in Tanganyika we certainly would not do so as a mere administrative act.
§ Sir H. Croft
We are specifically pledged under the Mandate not to do so. Surely we are not explicitly excluded from controlling the transfer of land.
§ Mr. Amery
The cases are substantially the same. If we were introducing something that amounted to preferential trade in another form, something contrary to the clear intention of the Mandate, we should certainly have to consult the League, and the same applies with regard to this change of policy which, in the opinion of some of us, is entirely inconsistent with its plain and obvious intention. Anyhow, the majority of the Mandates Commission declared that this new departure was incompatible with any reasonable interpretation of the Mandate. What to my mind is far more important is that the whole of the members of the Permanent Mandates Commission unanimously decided that it was contrary to the interpretation of the Mandate which the British Government had given during the preceding 20 years. It was on that interpretation that I and others speaking on behalf of the Government gave pledges and declarations to Jews and Arabs which are the real basis of our position before the world and by which our faith and honour are far more judged by the world than by any interpretation that can be read into the Mandate if you wish to pursue an entirely different policy.
I should like to congratulate my right hon. Friend on a most masterly and dexterous speech. But, as I listened to it, there was hardly a sentence in which I did not feel that he was dealing with the matter from an entirely different angle and different outlook from that which every British 482 Government had previously taken up with regard to this question. He over emphasised points which were never intended to be more than secondary and under-emphasised, almost ignored, the main purpose for which the whole Mandatory system as regards Palestine was created. His speech undoubtedly made a profound impression upon the House. He used all the same arguments during four long days with the Mandates Commission, who know the subject quite as intimately as we do. It made no impression upon them. They did not attach importance to the arguments, which he deduced from certain Clauses of the Mandate. They were not unaware of them. They thought they were essentially irrelevant. So much for the position as to whether this policy which we are now taking one step further is consistent with the Mandate and with our previous pledges. I leave it at that.
I come now to the actual issue raised by the Motion before the House, which I do not think we ought to minimise or look at from a partisan point of view—that is that the decision of the House, by a comparatively narrow majority, was taken in ignorance of so very essential and important a fact as the conclusions of the Permanent Mandates Commission and was taken when it might have been in possession if it. My right hon. Friend on 20th July in answer to an urgent demand from hon. Members opposite that he should declare the conclusions of the Permanent Mandates Commission, or delay the Debate until they were ascertained, said:It would be absolutely improper for me, however great the temptation, to make any observation on those alleged facts. The document concerned is not yet complete and, in any case, is an absolutely secret document until it is published.Later on in the same Debate when asked to arrange publication at the earliest moment he said:No, I cannot make any promise of that nature without consultation with the authorities of the League, whose opinion in this matter has to be considered."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th July, 1939; cols. 805 and 807, Vol. 350.]Does the House realise that the authorities of the League concerned had already, on 29th June, definitely stated that they were perfectly prepared to have the minutes of their discussions and their conclusions made public at once? I must 483 say that the House was entitled to somewhat different treatment on that subject from what it received. To tell us now that my right hon. Friend had observations to make and that he did not agree with the Commission's views is entirely irrelevant. He could have made these observations to the House and they would have received such treatment they deserved. As it was the House voted in ignorance of a very material and important fact bearing on its vote when it could have had the facts if my right hon. Friend had so desired. Again, with regard to the authority of the League, I am not one who has always placed the authority of the League as high as the hon. Member who opened the Debate. I think there might be circumstances in which we could, frankly, go to the League of Nations and say, "We find the Mandate unworkable. We mean to carry it out on entirely different lines, or not to carry it out at all, and, if you disapprove, we are sorry, but we believe it is our duty to do what we mean to do." That, however, was not my right hon. Friend's view. In answer to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) on 12th July he said:The discussion will be between the Council of the League and His Majesty's Government. Certainly I will give an assurance to the House that if, as a result of a discussion by the Council, the situation regarding the policy is altered, His Majesty's Government will not proceed with any matter affected by that situation until there has been a further chance of the House expressing its views."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th July, 1939; col. 2235, Vol. 349.]In addition to that, he made another similar statement in the House on 20th July which has already been quoted. Surely that meant that the Government would make every effort to secure at the earliest possible moment a meeting of the League in order that it might come back to the House and either say it had acted with the approval of the League or give the House an opportunity of judging its conduct if it said that in spite of the disapproval of the League it still meant to pursue the policy on which it had determined. That is not what was done. Is there any reason why it should not have been done? The Council of the League is certainly unwilling to raise any issue which directly affects the conflict between us and Germany. I believe it would have been perfectly willing to dis- 484 cuss this question. Did the British Government ask the League of Nations for a special session in order to discuss this question?
§ Mr. MacDonald
The answer to that is in the negative. The question of Palestine was on the agenda at the December meeting and the Council themselves took it off the agenda.
§ Mr. Amery
Would it have taken it off the agenda if the British Government had asked that it should be retained in the agenda and brought up? I think not. At any rate, the policy that my right hon. Friend has preferred to follow is that of acting first and leaving it to Members of the League, individually, to try to undo the action he has taken. We know that method. It is the method that was adopted when the Rhineland was re-occupied and when Austria was seized. It is very familiar but I do not think it is altogether desirable. Again, that is a subject which will, no doubt, be argued further on the benches opposite. I do not want to follow it any further but I think on a matter so important, involving so complete a change of policy, the complete abandonment of a great enterprise undertaken in the belief that it would benefit not only Jews but Arabs and strengthen the whole reputation and prestige of Britain throughout the Middle East the House of Commons ought to have had every opportunity of coming to its conclusion in the fullest light of all the views held both by the Mandates Commission and by the League.
The action now taken is in a sense the sequel to that decision and the only question we have to ask ourselves is why that action is taken now? The White Paper was never accepted by the Arab leaders. In any case whether it was or not the war has created a very different situation now. It will be still more different by the time the war is concluded when eventually the whole problem of the Jews will come up again in a more intense and more difficult form, amore urgent form, than it did before the last war. I said in May last that, if foresight was the mark of statesmanship, even when the facts did not fully support the line taken, there could have been no greater statesmanship than that shown by Lord Balfour and the then Prime Minister and the Government in initiating a policy which, in advance of the developments which have 485 taken place since, offered a solution which might have been even more helpful if we had carried out our policy with any consistency.
§ Mr. MacLaren (Burslem)
I have heard that two or three times. Was there wisdom in the policy in view of the promise made to the Arabs in 1915? After making a solemn pledge to the Arabs was it honest practice to make another promise to the Jews?
§ Mr. Amery
That question has been fully answered again and again by speakers from that bench, including my right hon. Friend. Whatever promises we made were not inconsistent in any way with the mandatory policy adopted afterwards. That that was so, was admitted by King Feisal himself. I am not prepared to go into the whole history of the past. It is enough for me to take the view I have expressed on the line taken by several British Governments up to the time of the White Paper.
§ Mr. Dingle Foot (Dundee)
Is it not a fact that King Feisal agreed with the leaders of the Zionists in regard to their policy of a National Home on condition that certain other matters were carried out and a certain policy was pursued in Syria, and that proviso was expressly made in Arabic at the bottom of the agreement?
§ Mr. Pickthorn
How does what we did in Iraq affect the rights of the Arabs in Palestine, under the promises we made?
§ Mr. Amery
Because the promises, such as they were, were made to King Hussein. It was King Feisal, and not the Arabs of Palestine, who played that important part in connection with the conquest of Palestine. However, I am not concerned with that issue. I am raising the question of why this particular moment should have been chosen. My right hon. Friend brought forward again the fear of the creation of a great body of landless Arabs. There are no facts to show that that has actually occurred. Where are these landless Arabs? Undoubtedly, commissions during the past 12 years have expressed 486 that fear, but when the matter was investigated it was found to be groundless. More than that, precautions were taken to prevent the creation of a landless Arab class. What has happened in Palestine, to quote the recent White Paper, has been anatural growth of the Arab population and the steady sale in recent years of Arab lands to Jews.But it is Jewish capital, Jewish immigration, Jewish purchases of land, which have added to Arab prosperity and led to this remarkable increase in the Arab population. In a large measure, it has been an increase, not of landless Arabs but of Arabs working either on their own land or on the land for other Arabs or for Jews. In the ordinary orange season there are something like 10,000 Arabs working on Jewish properties. It is true that one Jewish trust does confine its land, and work on it, entirely to Jews; but, broadly speaking, the purchase of land by the Jews has meant employment for Arabs as well as better use by the Arabs of their own land. It is just in the area where Jewish land has been bought that the Arabs have made most progress. It is in that area that the Arab population is more dense than anywhere else in Palestine, and more prosperous, because, through the capital secured by the sale of some of their land, they have been able to substitute intensive for extensive cultivation.
I could have understood it, if in that particular area, further land purchases had been prohibited, but I cannot understand such a prohibition being applied in other areas. I believe that the whole policy is based not on economic but on political considerations; and it would have been far better for the Government to have stated that honestly. It is worth while to consider what must be the feeling of the Jews about this decision. They were promised what was called a National Home in Palestine. They were given, clearly and explicitly, to understand, by the Mandate and by the declarations of successive Governments, that the peculiar feature of Palestine was that they were there not as aliens but as equal citizens, and with equal rights, entitled to live in any part of the country, to come into the country just as much as any other part of its population, subject only to such limitations as might be imposed for the prevention of economic dis- 487 tress. In this Promised Land of theirs, what is to be their future destiny under this White Paper? In 5 per cent. of it they will be allowed to live on the terms on which they understood they were to be allowed to live in the National Home, with the off chance of buying a little of the land that is still left in this densely settled area—settled, also, by prosperous Arab settlers, who have no reason to sell. In another large area—nominally 31 per cent., but really only 6 per cent. if we omit the Negeb, which is at present a desert—they live—
§ Sir Frank Sanderson (Ealing)
Is there any reason why you should omit the Negeb, an area which covers some 4400 square miles of Palestine? It need not be a desert.
§ Mr. Amery
My hon. Friend is right. By a large expenditure of money it might be converted into something other than a desert. But the prospect of that is rather remote. This White Paper, under its definition, precludes not only the purchase of land, but any lease or mortgage. In more than 60 per cent. of Palestine, the Jew may not even be a tenant; he may not even hire a house, an office, or a shop. He is to be, in the greater part of Palestine, not in a country of equal rights, but in a country where he will still be a Wandering Jew, with no foothold of his own. A great deal has been said about the danger of creating landless Arabs. Surely, the whole problem which this policy was initiated to solve was the problem of the landless Jew. Those Jews have undertaken responsibilities; and, in a remarkable measure, they have fulfilled their undertakings. They have created something entirely new, something very splendid, and something which I believe, if we had supported it consistently and fairly, would have made not only an immense contribution towards solving the Jewish problem, but also a contribution to the well-being of the Arabs of Palestine, and of the whole Arab people, of whom the Palestinian Arabs are only a small portion.
To my mind, this is a melancholy Debate. It means the winding-up of high hopes that were entertained, of constructive policies that were initiated, in which every consideration was given to the Arabs as well as to the Jews, of a 488 policy which was undoubtedly surrounded by difficulties, lending itself, perhaps, to misunderstanding, but which, if consistently and firmly carried out would I believe, have succeeded. Instead of that, for lack of firmness and consistency, we allowed Palestine to drift into a condition in which the Royal Commission thought that the best alternative lay in a division of the country, giving the Jews a smaller but still tolerable piece of land, within which to fulfil their original hopes. That was accepted by the Government with enthusiasm, and then, just because there were protests against it, they had not the courage to see it through. If they had, we would have had that policy settled and peacefully established two or three years ago. As it is, the Government drifted, procrastinated and wasted time with one commission after another and then dragged in the neighbouring Arab rulers, who had nothing to do with the question really and who could not in face of the Palestinian Arabs, take any other line but the extreme line of the Arabs in Palestine themselves.
It has been in fact, gloss it over as you will, a surrender, and we now get one further chapter of that surrender. It will not be the final chapter. Whether it will ease the position of the Government, from the point of the war, in Palestine, I do not know. I doubt it. A speech was made—I think it was a noble speech—by a Jewish Member of this House who is going to support the Government in spite of all that he feels about the policy. He declared that, in spite of every disappointment, the Jews will still stand by us in this war. I believe they will. All the same, in spite of the unanimity with which, at the beginning of the war, they all came forward to offer their services, and that they continue to offer them, in spite of the fact that we have cold-shouldered them, can they feel quite the same as they did? Can the feeling of neutrals and of the United States be quite the same? I am not thinking of Jews only, but of that great body of people in America who have a feeling that the British Government are not a Government who are really animated by the principles they profess, but that they prefer expediency and are inclined to sacrifice the weak to those who are stronger or more troublesome. I believe that in this matter we have not yet seen the end.
489 I hope that after the war we may see this whole question reopened upon very different lines from those which are being followed to-day. These things lie in the lap of the gods, and our first duty, no doubt, is to see this war through. All of us are reluctant to do anything that embarrasses the Government in the conduct of the war, and all of us will vote as our consciences dictate. For my part, I am bound to say, as I said last May, that, having been responsible, for not a few years, for the administration of the Mandate in Palestine, I could not hold up my head to either Jew or Arab, if by my vote I acquiesced in a policy directly contrary to every pledge and statement that I have again and again made to both of them, believing sincerely in my heart that they were equally in the interests of both, and in the interests of the British Empire.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Raikes (Essex, South-Eastern)
I confess that I have not intervened in a Debate on Palestine before, and I could have wished that the Debate which we have had this evening had not taken place for one reason beyond all else, that it is certain that some of the statements that have been made, and not the least those of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood), will be underlined and broadcast to the Middle East, and every statement, twisted as many of them are, will be sent to Arabia and to the whole Moslem area, and will do harm. This Debate has played a good deal around Jews and Arabs, and I should like, first of all, to say that I do not always pay high compliments even to my own Front Bench, but I think that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary was the most brilliant speech to which I, at any rate, have listened for a very long time in this House. It was a speech that deliberately kept away from any form of controversy that could be used by an outside Power. I wish I could say the same of other speeches that have been made this evening.
It has been asserted that, although the Jews are loyal on the whole to this country, the United States will be shocked at the steps that have been taken. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spark-brook (Mr. Amery), whom I no longer see in his place, mentioned this point, and I 490 want to deal with it, because more nonsense has been talked about the United States with regard to this war than almost any other subject. Those gentlemen, whether Jews or non-Jews, in the United States who have uplifted their voices in the cause of liberty for the past two or three years, now that the battle of liberty is being fought by this country and this Empire, not by manipulating the money markets 2,000 miles away, but with the flesh and blood of our own people, should be the last to complain. I hope that I can believe that those persons, at any rate, will be rather ashamed to pinprick the British Empire at this time when, as I say, we are fighting their battle, not with words and not merely with money.
§ Mr. George Griffiths (Hemsworth)
Does not the hon. Member think that Lord Haw-Haw will make use of his statements and tell the United States?
§ Mr. Raikes
I am rather inclined to think not, but if Lord Haw-Haw tells the Arabs in the Middle East what an unimportant Member of this House has suggested, the hon. Member thinks he would merely tell the United States.
§ Mr. Raikes
The right hon. Gentleman has raised the question of the Middle West, but I am not going to be drawn into such a subject as that, or I should be tempted to remind him, when he painted such a picture of the convenience we were making of the Jews this afternoon, of the convenience that we were making of Soviet Russia only a few months ago when he proved himself as wrong as the Liberal party generally is. I will leave that. It has been suggested that unless Arab grievances are equally considered there may be a little bit of a threat in the Moslem world. I think this point ought to be made: Suppose we were not to deal with the Arab grievances at all now, and were to wait until the war had drifted to the Middle East, we might then be forced, in the interests of British security, to make, not fair, but possibly unfair concessions to the Arabs. It is far better to deal with grievances when you can than hang on until there is pressure which compels you to do things.
491 I do not want to go into the particular question of land settlement, but I will say this: It has been admitted by those who are criticising the Government proposals, such as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook, that, at any rate, there has been one Jewish organisation which has been buying up land and which has deliberately excluded anybody from working on the land so bought up. Yet we have heard the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Noel-Baker) say that every time land is bought up by the Jews it is for the benefit of the Arabs. But an organisation which has been buying up land, forcibly evicting tenants and stipulating that under no circumstances may an Arab work on the land, has not been of great benefit to the Arab people.
Reference has been made to the citrus industry, which has been in rather a parlous plight during the last year or so. You have, in that area, which runs beyond Tel-Aviv to Haifa, both Jewish and Arab citrus growers. Debts have been piled up by Jews and Arabs alike as a result of the crop not being able to be marketed. There is one great difference between the position of the Arabs and the position of the Jews. I want to emphasise that because so much has been said to give the impression that there you have Arabs bolstered up by the British Government and the poor wandering Jew kicked wherever he goes. The Jewish citrus growers are in debt to the Jewish banks but not a single one has been bankrupted because it would be bad propaganda for the National Home to do so. On the other hand, the Arabs in the citrus district have been selling their land, because they are bankrupt, at a figure about 25 per cent. below its real worth. I suggest that that problem cannot be left to solve itself. I imagine that this Colonial Development Board which is being set up is for the purpose of helping Arabs as well as Jews, and I presume it will be used, and rightly, for two purposes. On the one hand it will assist Arabs to cultivate holdings near or adjacent to the homes in which they live and, secondly, to assist a community that has no financial backing comparable to the districts to which I have referred.
There is one other point with which I would like to deal. The whole question of appeal to the League Council has been discussed over and over again in the 492 course of this Debate, and I do not think hon. Members will disagree whether they like it or not, with the method which has been adopted by the British Government—that there is no legal obligation on the Government to hold up these particular Regulations until the League Council has considered them. Supposing we were to have adopted another scheme and were to have held up the Regulations until the League found time to discuss them, it is conceivably possible that next time the League Council met there might be some other State which had been aggressed upon, and which might take as much time for discussion as the case of Finland. Be that as it may, if you are going to continue the period of time for settlement of the problem, you will get a further degree of discontent among the Arabs on account of the propaganda which has been spread by the Zionist world in regard to the White Paper in the course of the last year.
I want to speak plainly and make one or two quotations in regard to it. It is not a question of whether we are favouring the Jew or Arab claims, but you have the Arabs a bit doubtful as to whether their claims are going to be dealt with. What have you had since? There is this sort of thing, for example—a statement made by the chairman of the Zionist Executive which was reported last September in the Jewish Press:The White Paper may perhaps be varied by the English Government or Parliament, but for us it does not exist and cannot exist under any circumstances or under any interpretation. We must behave as if we were a State in the land of Ishmael until we actually become a State.That sort of thing is not helpful when you are trying to get Jews and Arabs to live together. Then there was an article published by "Reflector" in the "Palestine Post" in December of this year which said:As far as we are concerned, the Palestine White Paper is in cold storage and friends of Palestine abroad might help in keeping it there.That, too, is not very helpful. I can go further. An article in "Asia" in November, 1939, starts by being complimentary to the First Lord of the Admiralty and extremely unflattering to my right hon. Friend, which shows its foolishness. Winding up, the article says: 493Mr. MacDonald's White Paper, a criminal blunder when first issued, is now as dead as a dud.This is the sort of stuff which is assisting new anxieties and new fears to arise among Arabs in Palestine. The Opposition Front Bench is fond of talking about the rule of law, but the way in which the Jews introduced some 35,000 immigrants, many of them illegal, from September, 1938, to September, 1939, is not likely to inspire hope among the Arab population. I am only producing these types of quotations because I think the Arab side of the case ought not to go by default. They have a case, although one would imagine from some speeches that the Arabs were a powerful and exultant race supported by the British Empire against a number of extremely weak Jews. I want to quote from "Soil, Settlement and Security," an article in the "Zionist Review" for last October. It boasted, first of all, that 1939 was a record year for land transfer, and said:During the several weeks preceding and following the publication of the White Paper 16,000 dunams were redeemed more than during the whole of 1937. In former times the economic aspect dominated in the land-buying policy of the Fund. The emphasis has now shifted to the political and strategic importance of the areas acquired. Purchases were aimed largely at strengthening our frontier positions.I say that if there are complaints from world Jewry to-day against the Arab question being dealt with rapidly and without going through the machinery of the League, they have brought a whole lot of them on their own shoulders by their propaganda. They have said that the White Paper does not mean anything, and that is what the Arabs are beginning to think. Finally, you have the last straw in the "Jewish Chronicle" of 19th January, 1940. It suggests that they should make use of the period of the war to get in 250,000 Jewish refugees during and immediately following the war. In view of this type of propaganda, and in view of the fact that the Middle East may be a decisive theatre of the war, this is important. I know that the right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) does not think it will be a theatre of war. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman is probably right, in the same way as Herr Hitler is. He says he is always right; but it is just possible that they are both wrong.
§ Mr. Raikes
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman is emphasising again his similarity to Herr Hitler, who says he is always right. When they meet in one place or another at a later stage of their eternal existence it will be interesting to discover which of the two is in Abraham's bosom and which is seeking for a little water outside. But supposing the Middle East becomes a theatre of war, you must have a united Moslem world, and the sort of propaganda which I have been quoting is the very propaganda which has made it vitally necessary, in my view, for the Government to act in the way they have. I think the Colonial Secretary, in taking the action he has with wisdom and with courage, and probably against a good deal of pressure, deserves not only the thanks of this country and the British Empire but the good will of all persons throughout the world who desire to see the Allied cause triumph at the earliest possible date.
§ 8.50 p.m.
§ Mr. McGovern (Glasgow, Shettleston)
If I did not know the political record of the hon. Member for South-East Essex (Mr. Raikes), I should have thought him a great democrat and in favour of most human problems. He is against the oppression of the Arab people, as I am, but he is in favour of a comparatively few white people dominating the whole of our Colonial Empire, and a few days ago he was vigorously protesting against the present reactionary Government who are much too progressive for him in the matter of giving India a certain measure of reform.
§ Mr. Raikes
In that I am with the right hon. and gallant Member for New-castle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood.)
§ Mr. McGovern
Let us have one at a time. I find no evidence that he was at that time against the oppression of the Indian people. He desired to keep the heel of British Imperialismon the people of India and prevent them from getting any form of democratic government. I enter into this Debate because I believe that not only the human side but the progressive side has to be considered in connection with the measures which are always taken in regard to Palestine. I have been amused by the way some Members talk about the Jewish people trying to escape from Hitlerism into 495 Palestine. If I was in my house and it was on fire, surely I should be forgiven if I tried to break down the wall of the next house in order to get to security, but some contemptuous language has been used in condemnation of the action of these people. The question of the prevention of the Jewish people from buying land in Palestine is one which we have to deal with because of the arguments which have been used by the Colonial Secretary this afternoon.
If I may be pardoned for saying so, I thought his speech was a masterly survey of the position and that the case he made out was a very moderate one. I think on the whole he made out a case, and in a Debate such as this it will be accepted as conclusive. But in saying that I must say that there were parts of the speech to which I could not agree—for example, when he attempted to tell us about the poor landless Arabs in Palestine. One would have thought that this Government were weeping tears of grief about landless peasants throughout the world and the inability of people to get on to the land or to get employment. We have landless people in this country, though probably the right hon. Gentleman has never heard of them. The right hon. Gentleman apparently has never heard of the fact that not very long ago this House decided to pay the best part of £100,000,000 to people who owned certain mineral rights in this country. Apparently he has never heard of land that is continually changing hands in every city, and for which vast sums of money are being paid, which will form the basis of the exploitation of the people of this country. Although I cannot to that extent agree with the right hon. Gentleman's argument about these peasants, I am bound to pay heed to that argument and the reason behind it, because it is one which has always been made in this country and throughout the world against Jewish immigration into Palestine.
Who has sold the land in Palestine to the Jewish people? The family of the Grand Mufti has had considerable dealings in land. They have not sold the land at the throw-away price which, we have been told, has been paid by the Jews who have exploited the Arabs in order to get cheap land. The evidence which I have seen both in this country and in Palestine leads me to believe that 496 undoubtedly there has been trading in land in Palestine, but that the rich Arabs who held the land—many of whom encouraged the peasants to raise their guns against the British forces—were the people who were making vast sums of money out of the sale of the land. For what purpose is the land being bought? That is material to the case. I would rather deal with a situation in which we were attempting to put people on to land that was not owned either by Jewish or by Arab landlords. I would rather we were discussing the question of putting people on to the land in order that they might grow produce for the use of mankind, and that the land and the produce were held in common. But we are not dealing with such a situation, and therefore, we have to apply what is generally termed a practical mind to the present difficulties in a modern capitalist world. Consequently, we are discussing the fact that certain Jewish organisations are raising money throughout the world, a large amount of it from the poor in various countries, and not all of it from capitalist sources or from influential and wealthy people.
§ Mr. McGovern
I would not say like the Prudential Insurance Company. The Prudential Insurance Company raised the money simply as a means of exploitation, but the Jewish National Fund has been raised for the purpose of putting many refugees on to the land in Palestine. To the extent that human considerations are behind the purchase of the land, we have to apply our minds to the question. In Palestine, they have bought land which up to the date of its purchase was of no value even to its Arab owners. For example, there was the Huleh concession, a pestilential swamp which led to a tremendous amount of disease from which the Arabs suffered. The Jewish people have poured money and lives into that country and have given the best of their energy to the creation of arable land which would make the country prosperous and give employment to the people who were running away from the terrors of Hitlerism, from Colonel Beck in Poland, and from other parts of the world. Therefore, we have to consider whether a convincing case has been made out to show that the purchase of that land in 497 Palestine and the putting of Jews on to it is excluding the Arabs from the land, driving them from what might be called their national home, and preventing them from earning their living. If the right hon. Gentleman could show me that those were the results of the purchase of this land, I would go into the Lobby with him to-night in order to protect the interests of the Arab peasants. No matter how great my sympathy with the Jewish refugees was, I should be bound to take a stand, as a working-class representative and as a person with human sympathy, in seeing that injustice was not done to the Arabs. But I do not think that case has been made out.
The substantial case that has been made out by the right hon. Gentleman and by hon. Members on all sides of the House is this one. We are at war. We must court Arab opinion throughout the world, and because the Arabs are numerous and influential in the East, we must support the Arabs in order to win the war, and thereby protect British Imperialist interests throughout the world. That is not a thing which commends itself to me, although it may commend itself to the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft), who is a great Imperialist. I am not convinced by the argument that the Arabs take advantage of our national necessity and blackmail the Government of this country into doing something which it believes to be wrong. I have seen the vacillations of this Government and other Governments during the last 10 years in relation to Palestine. Sometimes, when I see the trickery of Governments of various colours, I wonder that we are able to get people to go to the polls to vote for candidates who put up for election. I have seen those vacillations, I have heard the argument that the Arabs have to be courted because there might be a rising in the Near East and the Arabs might be in revolt, thus causing a great deal of trouble to us, and that therefore, in that situation, we have to introduce these Regulations as quickly as possible, we have in a sort of secret manner to throw the proposals at the League of Nations, almost bludgeon them into submission, and then proclaim that everybody concerned has consented. That sort of case does not impress me, and it does not impress me that various hon. Members who took a leading part in the 498 Debates on India are concerned about either the Arabs or the Jews in Palestine.
Therefore, I gravely question the arguments behind the case that has been made out. If the Arabs take notice of the words that have been spoken in the House to-night, they will gather that if they want something further they need only revolt in Palestine or in some other part of the Near East in order to apply the screw more completely and the British Government, in the emergency, will dance to the tune which they set. That is the lesson which I have taken from the Debate. I have not heard a single hon. Member make out a case other than that of national emergency. A national emergency can be made an excuse for doing anything. It can be made an excuse for taking away the liberty of the subject in this country or in any part of the world.
I have seen no evidence that the Arab is being excluded. After all, who is getting the money for the land in Palestine? It is largely the wealthy Arab landowners, the Husseini family and others of that nature, who own and dominate the country. The Arabs in Palestine working on the land have always been in an inferior position to the Jewish workers on their collective farms. I can see the force of the argument that the coming of the Jews into Palestine brought more advanced standards of living, undermining the Arabs. The Jew with his higher standards, coming into the country has had an effect on the mind of the Arab, and that to me has always been the cause of the struggle. The Arab landowner, anxious to evade the justice of the demands of the Arab fellaheen for a higher standard of living, has thrown the Arab against the Jewish worker. He tells him that the Jew is his enemy who is trying to divert his mind and activities whereas the Jew is a partner rather than an enemy in improving the standard of living.
It is all right for Members in this House to philosophise and theorise about what should be done about the Jews in Palestine, or in some other part of the world. I am against this Government and the capitalist system, but I realise that I have a stake in the country and a right to curse the Government. I can demand to change the system of society, and if I can convert my fellows, I can possibly bring about a new society. On the other 499 hand, the Jew has never had a country, and I invite those who talk lightly of his being wealthy, influential, and powerful to read the history of the Jew. He is dragged from country to country, terrorised, bludgeoned and beaten and is treated with contempt in every part of the world. The Jew is a creature of circumstances, and in many ways opinions advanced against him are similar to the young men, trained in the Army to-day at 18 years of age, to bayonet, shoot and bomb, who when he comes out is unemployed and holds up a bank. The people who, from pulpit to platform, encourage the young men to go out and murder Germans then ask to be protected against these assailants created by their own inculcation of force. Instead of asking to be protected against the criminal, it is the criminal who should be protected and have protection from society in his early days. After the ruling classes of the world have abused and terrorised and driven the Jew from one corner of the world to another, they come along with cheap sneers about the Jew instead of giving tolerance, sympathy, and justice to him, endeavouring to redress his misfortunes and develop his manhood and citizenship in some part of the world.
The most religious Jews, the strong Zionists, have looked forward to the return to a National Home in Palestine and to the time when they might become a majority by the process of immigration and to the time when they could take part in the struggles of that land. This is the first time the Jew has had an opportunity of working on the soil. The transport workers, the workers in the factories and workshops, those in engineering, the women and those trained in the arts of building, the seamen and harbour workers, they are all developing and creating civilisation in that land where filth and an abominable state of low living existed. They are inspiring the Arabs in that country whose minds are becoming stirred with the development of this higher standard of living compared with the filth, lack of opportunity, and decent accommodation which have existed up till now. The Jew is inflaming the mind of the Arab fellaheen, and the landlords see in this new civilisation and higher standard of living that the Arab will be turned against them in revolt against the low standards.
500 There is a capitalist development in Palestine. It has to be developed and encouraged, and workers will often be attracted from the land into industries. They will develop and supply markets of the Near East and even the Far East. Sometimes I feel that one of the greatest problems has been, even in Russia, that the country has not gone through that capitalist process where organisation and development take place previous to the control of the means of life. We have to look to that development in Palestine, but the Government say that they will stop the sale of land. This is a new philosophy, that landlords are not to be allowed to sell land for communal enterprises. There have been movements on foot in Palestine to bring the Arab and Jewish workers together because there are large numbers of people who feel that even Jewish capitalism or landlordism is not the thing they want. They want communal enterprise and to build up a state of society just as we are attempting to do in this country.
There has been a great deal of talk about concentration camps and Hitlerism. But an individual who took the hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen) and myself through Palestine and showed us the great development and communal enterprises in that country, when he came to lecture about it and went back and said that the trouble was due to the Government policy, was immediately clapped into a concentration camp. He is lying there now, without any trial or charge against him. Then we hear of Hitlerism and Germany and the concentration camps. The right hon. Gentleman is practising Hitlerism in a small way in Palestine, where there is not even a Constituent Assembly or right of expression. You are clapped into prison if you attempt to indulge in it. My attitude is that of a Socialist who is in favour of the abolition of landlordism and capitalism and the great financial octopus which dominates both these institutions. That is the long-distance policy.
The policy now is that of dealing humanely and considerately with the difficulties that arise from day to day. I am not concerned to apply a policy in Palestine which is only designed to drive the Arabs to our side. If our cause is really just we do not require to win support 501 in that way. A case has not been made for the elimination of the fellaheen from the land. The Government are rushing a policy on to the League of Nations and to this country which has no proper endorsement. I have no doubt that it will get an endorsement in the Lobby tonight when the hordes who have never heard the Debate come back from various parts of London and are concerned only with being "Yes men" to the Government and their policy, whether it is right or wrong. That is the common method in this House, no matter what Government is in power. As an independent Member in the House I examine the question from the point of view of whether a proper case has been proved or not. I do not think the Government have made out a case for prohibiting a policy which would put these people out of terror into security and would, at the same time, give an opportunity to the Arab worker, but they have made out an effective case to show that in our national effort to win the war we have to sacrifice the Jew in order to bribe the Arab to accomplish it.
§ 9.17 p.m.
§ Sir George Schuster (Walsall)
It is always a great plesure to follow the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern), because he brings an honest note into his speeches. We are grateful to him to night for one thing, at least. He has pleaded that these issues should be discussed from the point of view of what is right or wrong and not from the point of view, as some hon. Members suggested, of what America may think of us. It always seems to me a peculiar thing that those Members who warn us of what America may think always do their best to make America think the worst of us. I agree with the hon. Gentleman also that we do not want to discuss this problem in the light of what is necessary in order to propitiate the Arabs. As I understand my right hon. Friend, he has never approached the problem from that point of view. I have listened to many Debates on Palestine, and it is not a subject of which anyone would be particularly anxious to speak, because we are faced by distressful problems for which there is really no entirely satisfactory solution. I have always thought that my right hon. Friend is placed in an extremely unfair and difficult position and has to listen to a great deal of unfair criticism. As I feel 502 like that and have supported him in the Lobby, I think it is right to take an occasion to express the faith on which one has based one's convictions.
From the beginning there has been a conflict inherent in our policy. It was a conflict which it was possible to avoid in the early years because there was still room to go full steam ahead with our encouragement of the immigration of the Jews and their settlement on the land. To anyone who knew the facts, however, it must have been apparent that a time would come when the balance would have to be cast and someone would have to judge what was fair as between the two complementary sides of our obligations. It has fallen to the lot of my right hon. Friend to handle Palestine, not in the days when it was possible to make easy promises or use clever phrases, but when he was up against the stark reality of facts. He has my sympathy in that task. He has been unfortunate in another way, because it has so happened that the problem of Palestine has taken on a new urgency and a new significance in the last years which cannot have been in the minds of those who originated the policy. Here I want to address an appeal to my right hon. Friend. It always seemed to me most unfair that when the problem of refugees was under consideration it should be linked with the question of establishing a National Home for Jews in Palestine, and that the whole weight of the solution of the problem of refugees should have been put upon that.
It must be obvious that, however far we can go in our contemplation of what could be done in the way of finding room for people in Palestine, that Palestine alone could never offer a solution for the refugee problem as it has developed in the last few years. What that problem will be when the war is over none of us can say. But as I am supporting my right hon. Friend to-night on the Government's Palestine policy I would like to address this appeal to him. If at any time the world is able to settle down again after the war, and we have this problem of the refugees to consider, I hope, if he is in a position of responsibility, he will do his utmost to see that this country gives a lead to the world in making a genuine attempt to solve the problem. We must all admit that up to now there has been no genuine attempt to solve it.
503 I want to turn now to what is the main subject of the Debate—the question of land. This is a matter on which I speak with a great deal of feeling because I have been connected with land problems in other parts of the Empire. When we come up against land we really come up against the most vital problem of all. There is no more tragic problem than that of an ancient rural people being deprived of its land, and I do not think there is any more terrible crime that human nature can commit than to create that problem. I am always surprised when I hear hon. Members opposite speaking about the Palestine problem that they never seem to appreciate that side of it. They have always taken a strong line on that question when the problem has been that of rural populations in Africa, for example. But perhaps they may say, "That is a different thing; we have stood up for rural populations in Africa because the danger was that they were to be dispossessed by white settlers." But from the point of view of the ancient races on the land, if they are going to be dispossessed at all, it means very little to them whether they are dispossessed by white settlers or by people sent there under the noble inspiration of the Zionist ideal.
I would put it to hon. Gentlemen opposite that this is a real and genuine problem, and if I might reply to the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, I would submit that this is a problem on which I myself can speak with a clean record. I would be very glad if he would read some of the things I have written on the subject, because I have been able to play a small part in connection with the problem in Kenya in putting up the case for limitation of the power of white settlers to interfere with the lands reserved there for the natives.
§ Mr. Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
May I ask the hon. Member, supposing he were convinced that the Arab claim had broken down—and it is always being said that it has broken down—what would remain of the right hon. Gentleman's case?
§ Sir G. Schuster
If I were convinced of that, there is no one who would be more delighted than myself, because it would open the way to my right hon. Friend not to impose these restrictions. 504 But the point I was going to make was that no one who has studied the facts or who is acquainted with the people responsible for administration in Palestine can say that that case has not been established. [Interruption.] We all say it. It may be that hon. Members opposite say it, but, if so, I can only conclude that they have not read the evidence on the subject and are not acquainted with the people connected with the administration. The case has been established again and again. It is too late now to go in detail through that case, but I would ask the hon. Member to read the evidence very carefully. The right hon. Gentleman has been asked to give the numbers of landless Arabs. That, as he has replied, is extremely difficult to do. For political reasons I understand it has never been possible to take a census in Palestine of the land holdings. But this problem is not merely one of the number of landless Arabs. It is a problem of great over crowding on the land as it is at present settled. There are figures available on that, and perhaps I may be allowed to give just one figure. In the Zone A, for example—the prohibited area—there are 459,000 Arabs managing to live on land which, according to all the investigations of the agricultural department of Palestine, is sufficient to support only 273,000. There is quite a number of other such figures which I could quote.
§ Sir G. Schuster
The extra ones are members of the families of the Arabs living on the land. If the Arabs are to be allowed to part with land, the situation must get worse. It is very difficult to understand how hon. Gentlemen opposite can persist in the statement that the case has not been made out. Everyone who has been out there and who has studied the position confirms the statement of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. McGovern
I was hoping the hon. Member would support me in getting Mr. It'zaki out of the concentration camp in Palestine.
§ Sir G. Schuster
I must leave the hon. Gentleman to settle that with my right hon. Friend. I am relying for what I say on the report of the Royal Commissions and on the High Commissioner—a man with whom I have worked side 505 by side for many years and whose word I know that I can trust—and I say that the case is established and that there is a real land problem in Palestine. The question then is: What are you going to do about it? You have this demand for further settlement of Jews on the land, and it is a demand which carries great sympathy with it. Supposing we come to feel that there is a strong moral case for allowing more Jews to go on the land, what sanction would there be behind us if we tried to proceed with that course? There I think we come to another very fundamental issue in connection with this question. Suppose we come to a successful end of this war, and suppose we are then to try to settle down again as we tried to settle down at the end of the last war with a genuine community of nations ready to work together. I can imagine that with the support of a universal League of Nations we might make an approach to a problem of this kind. But are we in that position to-day? What has the League of Nations become, and what is the force of the Mandate under which we are administering Palestine? Can we possibly say we have a genuine world opinion behind us that would justify us in over-riding the rights of any nation and in taking it upon ourselves to settle a problem of this kind? I would put it to the House that we are very far from being in that position.
A good deal has been made of the technical position created by the fact that the Mandates Commission did reach an opinion that the course embodied in the White Paper was inconsistent with the terms of the Mandate. I wonder how many hon. Members who have spoken have read the full report of those discussions. They were extremely interesting and acute and very well reported. The impression made upon one's mind is that that discussion was of an entirely formalistic nature, and that the Mandates Commission dealt simply with the technical point of whether this particular course was inconsistent with the terms of the Mandate. There was no sort of condemnation of the action taken by His Majesty's Government. In that connection I would venture to quote one passage from the report. These are the remarks made by Baron Van Asbeck, the Dutch representative on the Mandates Commission, who was one of those who voted that what His Majesty's Government was 506 doing was inconsistent with the terms of the Mandate. He said:The Mandate could not, of course, last for ever in the form which had been given to it in 1922. In 1937 it had already been stated to be almost unworkable. If that were really the fact the fault was not that of the Mandatory Power. Why not face the facts and draw the necessary conclusion and consider whether another Mandate should be substituted for that of 1922? If the latter disappeared it would have had its effect and nobody could reproach the Mandatory Power or the League of Nations with changing policy at a time when the circumstances imperatively required that they should follow another path than that foreseen in 1922.I submit that that is an interesting passage and throws a new light on the fact, of which so much has been made to-day, that the Mandates Commission has condemned the policy of His Majesty's Government. That is far from being the case.
There is only one other point which I wish to touch upon. I think we all listened with admiration to the speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson). He lifted the Debate to an altogether higher plane. He made, with freat force, the point that while we were at war things have, perhaps, to be looked upon in a different way. There is no time to go fully into all that is involved by what are the effects of our being at war, but I want to make one point which was made also by my hon. Friend. The worst disaster that could befall the Jewish race would be that Britain should be defeated in the war and that British influence in the world should be lessened. Their case is merged in the much wider issue, and I am not ashamed to say that even if I had thought His Majesty's Government were wrong on this particular point, which in fact I do not, I should have supported them now so that there might be no dissension among us and no wrecking of our unity in the war in which we are engaged. We need unity at home and we need good reports of ourselves abroad. Many unfortunate things have been said in the Debate, but of all the unfortunate things to me the most intolerable is that things should have been said in this House which could be used by our enemies as a support for charges of broken faith or failure to do justice to Jewish aspirations. This country is the one of all others to which every Jew owes an unpayable debt of gratitude.
§ 9.40 p.m.
§ Sir William Jowitt (Ashton-under-Lyne)
My right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary has made a speech which has been the subject of almost universal congratulation from all quarters of the House. As an old advocate I am bound to say that he has performed what, to me, is not an unfamiliar trick. In the course of his argument he erected a charming looking residence, but if we come to examine that residence we shall find that he has left out any foundations. The lines upon which his argument proceeded must, I conceive, be something like these. First, there are a large number of landless Arabs. Secondly, that number is rapidly increasing. Thirdly, their landlessness is due to Jewish land purchases. Therefore, we must promptly stop Jewish land purchases. I have listened to almost every word of the Debate, and, as far as I am aware, there has been no attempt to justify any of the premises on which the conclusion is based. "There are a large number of landless Arabs." Well, I should imagine that is probably true. It certainly was true before the Jews ever went to Palestine. Anybody who takes the trouble to read the report of the Royal Commission will find that they say that the fellaheen were almost entirely landless and that the landlords were almost entirely absentee. I should not be surprised to hear that, though the Jews have worked wonders since they have been there, they have not yet been able to reduce or entirely remove the number of landless Arabs; but there it is.
The next proposition is that the number of landed Arabs is rapidly increasing, and this must be the justification for these savage Regulations, for such they are, being imposed retrospectively. There has been no attempt from any side of the House to give one piece of evidence in support of that contention. "Their landlessness is due to Jewish land purchases." There, again, there has been no attempt to give any evidence in support of that assertion. I have read the report of the Wood head Commission and looked to see whether they ever investigated this topic at all. I shall suggest reasons to the House presently for coming to the conclusion that, so far from the landlessness of the Arabs being due to Jewish land purchases, it is a fair inference that exactly the opposite is the 508 case, for it is undoubtedly the fact, and one which cannot be explained away, that wherever you have found Jews closely populated on the land there you have found the Arabs also closely populated. If I am right in saying that those three premises have really nothing to support them, it follows that there is no justification for putting an end promptly to Jewish land purchases.
I want to ask the consideration of the House for two main topics. First, does the present policy involve a violation of the Mandate? I do not regard this as a formalistic or legalistic topic. I regard it as a question of common honesty, of breach of trust, and therefore I am going to say, frankly, what I believe about it. I entirely agree that if you find yourself in a difficulty, you are always entitled to go to the Council of the League and ask for a new Mandate. That, I suggest, is the proper course to take, but if you want to invite political support at home it is sometimes more advantageous to pretend that there is no breach of the Mandate involved rather than to face frankly what I suggest is the proper and honest course.
Secondly, I want to examine whether this policy can be justified on the ground of expediency, but before I examine either of those topics—since the competent lawyer always likes to get his facts clear—I should like to spend some little time in examining the facts. The euphemistic phrase which the right hon. Gentleman used—"action for the control of land settlement" I think it was—completely obscured the nature of these Regulations. Let me therefore restate them. I have not had the advantage of seeing the corrected map but I think my figures are approximately accurate. Palestine, which to-day is very different from what it was when Transjordan was joined to it in the days of the Balfour Declaration, is some 10,000 square miles. That area is now to be divided, as Gaul used to be, into three zones. Zone A is prohibited, Zone B is said to be restricted, although it is equally prohibited, and the third zone is a free zone. Zone A, the prohibited zone, occupies 6,500 square miles, the whole area of Palestine being 10,000 square miles. That is to say, it is thirteen-twentieths of the whole country. In Zone A, in these 6,500 square miles, there are Jewish settlements to the extent of 150 square miles, that is to say some- 509 thing like 2 per cent. in area of this district.
I might fairly say that if there is considerable landlessness in Zone A, it is hardly possible to attribute it to the 2 per cent. Jewish settlement area. Zone B, the restricted area, is an area of about 3,000 square miles. That is to say it is some six-twentieths of the whole country. Of that 3,000 square miles, some 200 square miles—that is some 7 per cent. of the whole—is in Jewish hands. Any landlessness of the 93 per cent. of the land in Zone B, therefore, has nothing to do with Jewish land purchases. Now I come to the third zone, the free zone. Its area is some 500 square miles, which is one-twentieth of the whole. Broadly speaking, it is occupied about fifty-fifty by Jews and Arabs. So that in that area if the Jews were lucky enough to buy all the Arab land, they would have a chance of extending over an additional 250 square miles. That is the lot.
The precise boundaries of this territory were not demarcated or indicated at all precisely, until recently. It was announced last May that there would be zones, but a few days ago, for the first time, one was able to tell whether any particular property was or was not in a free zone, a prohibited zone or a restricted zone. Notwithstanding that fact, these Regulations are retrospective to May last. The position is this: In Zone A no one may transfer land to anybody except a Palestinian Arab, and "land" means a host of other things, such as "water, buildings, trees and any interest in, or right in, to or over land," and so on. Now let the House observe this. Suppose you are one of the Jews in Zone A who have acquired land. You lose your right to sell that land to anybody except a Palestinian Arab. I am aware that you can go cap in hand to some functionary out there and ask for a dispensing power, but it is a fact that a Jew who years ago has bought and paid for and occupied land in Zone A and who wants to raise a mortgage on it, or lease it or sell it, cannot do so except to a Palestinian Arab without asking somebody's permission.
Let us consider for a moment the effect of this retrospective legislation. Suppose that last June a Jew bought a property. He has paid for it, he has developed it, built a house on it, irrigated it or what 510 you will. It is not enough for him to say, "I had every ground for believing that this house was in a free zone." If it turns out to be unlucky, if it happens to be in Zone A, the transfer is null and void and there is no provision in these Regulations for the payment of any compensation.
§ Sir W. Jowitt
I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has made that observation. We are dealing here with an interference with rights and I say that rights are interfered with if, instead of exercising his normal rights, a man has to go cap in hand to the High Commissioner or anyone else and ask for permission to do that which any Arab can do anywhere. Let us come to Zone B—and here I would say that the interjection of the right hon. Gentleman is interesting. This is the restricted area which is equally a prohibited area. Again it is true that you can go cap in hand to the High Commissioner who, in his discretion, which cannot be contested in the courts, may or may not grant permission. I agree that the High Commissioner is a most eminent and excellent civil servant, but we know that often in these Government Departments papers are held up before they reach the Minister himself. The chance of any Jew being able to buy land in Zone B depends upon the unfettered discretion of this public functionary.
Why are not these things put into the Act of Parliament? This House remembers well many cases in which Ministers have in the best faith given assurances, and when the Act of Parliament has come to be construed in the courts, the courts have had no regard to those assurances. We all remember a typical illustration of that with regard to the Official Secrets Act. The right hon. Gentleman says that Jews are to be allowed to buy land in Zone B, in furtherance of some special scheme of development in the joint interest of both Arabs and Jews. Ever since 1931 they have been trying to get out these schemes of development in the joint interest of Arabs and Jews. I do not doubt there have been very great difficulties. It would be interesting to hear from the right hon. and learned Gentleman who is to wind up this Debate, how far anybody has succeeded in bring- 511 ing about the schemes of development at the present time.
Lastly, we come to the small free lands. The right hon. Gentleman told us, if I took him down correctly, that these represented the whole of the maritime plain. I no doubt misheard him. I was surprised to think he should make such a statement, because it would be totally in accurate. The right hon. Gentleman tells me he did not make it. If he says so, I am sure he is right. It is quite fallacious to think that the free zone represents the whole of the maritime plain. It represents by no means the whole of the maritime plain. It may be said that it is the best land. I think hon. Members have said so. But let me remind them that this very land in 1922, in the Valley of Jezreel, for instance, was regarded as totally uncultivable. That is the fact. Yet that land which less than 20 years ago was totally uncultivable, thanks to the industry and the enthusiasm of the Jews, has to-day become the most fertile land in Palestine. If we are to be fair about this matter—and we all want to be fair—we must remember that this is a very great tribute to he work which the Jews have done.
I believe I have stated the facts accurately, and I have then to ask myself: Does this or does it not accord with the Mandate? I have tried to look at this impartially; I have tried to look at it objectively; and frankly I have not found it difficult to do so. I am not pro-Jew, if to be pro-Jew means that you are anti-Arab; and I am not pro-Arab, if to be pro-Arab means that you are anti-Jew. I am in the position of the vast majority of hon. Members in this House. What I do care about, and what they care about, even more than the cases of these two peoples, is the fact that this country shall observe strictly and rigorously its solemn international undertakings.
Let us examine this problem and examine it without any heat. Let us put on one side for one moment what can only be regarded as the non-essentials. After all we have heard in previous Debates much about the message which Commander Hogarth carried, and the letters which Sir Henry McMahon wrote. We have had them brought out in the House to-night. One hon. Member likened this business to the case of a man 512 who sold the same horse to two people, and that is said to be the trouble. That is an undue simplification. Whatever may have been the McMahon correspondence—and I personally have a very strong view about the effect of it—I do not believe it contained a promise to the Arabs. The fact remains, that after these events, this Mandate was accepted, and the Mandate is our right and title to be in Palestine, and our sole right and our sole title to have anything to do with this problem at all. The recital of the Mandate says:His Britannic Majesty accepted the Mandate in respect of Palestine undertaking to exercise it on behalf of the League of Nations in conformity with the following provisions.That is our obligation. Whatever happened before, I believe every hon. Member in this House is anxious to see that that undertaking which we then gave, that trust which we then accepted, is solemnly and sincerely and faithfully fulfilled. There are three Articles of the Mandate to which I want to refer. The right hon. Gentleman in the course of his speech referred to one. That one, I think, is the least relevant of the three. The first I want to refer to is Article 2:The Mandatory shall be responsible for placing the country under such political administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish National Home, and also for safeguarding the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine irrespective of race and religion.One of the most elementary rights which the inhabitants of Palestine should have is the right to buy, to sell, to lease, and to mortgage. How can you say—and I put this to hon. Members opposite who I know are just as anxious about the faithful observance of this Mandate as anybody outside the House—that in the steps which I have indicated you are securing the establishment of the Jewish National Home and safeguarding the civil rights of the inhabitants of Palestine? Here, if I may criticise the right hon. Gentleman's logic, he has fallen into what I regard as an error, and I should like to point it out to him. Article 6 provides that you shall facilitate emigration and encourage close settlement by Jews. To "facilitate and encourage" obviously involves the taking of active steps. It is perfectly true that he said the words are qualified in this way.while ensuring that the rights and positions of other sections of the population are not prejudiced.513 Let us assume then that the rights and positions of other citizens would be prejudiced. I agree that the right hon. Gentleman is relieved from his obligation to facilitate or to encourage. He need no longer be active. But it does not follow from that, that he is entitled to prohibit. He seems to speak as though the antithesis of encouragement was prohibition but it is not. The antithesis of encouraging is not encouraging. Finally—and it is to my mind an astounding thing that this article has not been mentioned—Article 15 deals with freedom of conscience, free exercise of all forms of worship. It also deals with the exclusion from Palestine of certain persons. And between those two phrases there comes the short and sharp sentence:No discrimination of any kind shall be made between the inhabitants of Palestine on the ground of race, religion or language.I have the greatest difficulty in seeing how the right hon. Gentleman has got himself into the frame of mind of believing that he is not breaking that obligation. I know he has given the problem very anxious thought and it has been a great worry to him. I can only suggest that he has got himself into the position of no longer being able to see the wood because of the trees, because I really think the problem here admits of only one answer. He likened the case of the Jews to that of Scotsmen in England. What would a Scotsman in England say if he was told he was not allowed to buy or lease, or mortgage land outside the administrative county of London?
I suppose the Attorney-General will be able to tell us that the Law Officers were asked to advise on this matter. I should be very anxious to know, first, were the precise details of this scheme put before them for their advice as to whether this was a violation of the Mandate or not and, secondly, when was it done? I am sure the Attorney-General will in due course tell us about that. I should have the greatest respect for any opinion which he gave. After all, in the old days I started his faltering footsteps into the law and, if he is wrong in law, it is probably from my bad teaching, but I should be surprised if he can say with conviction to-night that the policy which has been adopted is not a violation of the Mandate. At least it is a fact that the Permanent Mandates Commission take that view. I am not sure that I regard this 514 matter as though there were any distinction between the majority and the minority. The majority stated that it could not bear such a construction but the minority says the circumstances justified the policy provided the Council did not oppose it. What is the relevance of saying "provided the Council did not oppose it"? If it is within the Mandate it is within the Mandate whatever happens. If it is not within the Mandate, of course I understand that you want some special latitude to be given, and I can only think that the meaning of that rider, which I frankly confess I do not understand, must have been that it was not within the pure and simple meaning of the Mandate.
In the Debate in 1929, the right hon. Gentleman's observations with regard to the land policy before the Permanent Mandates Commission in July were almost entirely concerned with immigration. Land only came before the Permanent Mandates Commission very slightly but the Portuguese delegate did some nasty little bits of cross-examination on the land question and the right hon. Gentleman was forced to agree that the policy which prevented Jews from buying further land would be an even more serious thing from the Jewish point of view than immigration restriction. I agree with him. I should have thought, from the point of view of construing the Mandate, that the land question would be a very much easier matter on which to come to a conclusion. When you are dealing with the restriction of immigration, you are dealing with the case of people who have not yet got into Palestine, but, when you are dealing with the restriction of land sales, you are dealing with the deprivation of rights of people who have gone to Palestine, and whom you have encouraged to go to Palestine. I think it a little unfortunate whilst acquitting the right hon. Gentleman of anything more that when this matter was being debated in July last the House was not told what conclusions the Permanent Mandates Commission were likely to reach.
I have had a very large number of cases for many years. There are certain cases which last for several days, but I can form a very shrewd idea in a short time of what is going to happen to them. I carry on as long as I can but I can foretell the result pretty well. No one who takes the trouble to read those. De- 515 bates could have the slightest difficulty in coming to a conclusion as to what the Commission would do. On 29th June they passed a resolution that they were prepared to disclose their report at once. The House was given no indication of what the report is and was led to suppose that it is a secret document. I say no more than that I think it is unfortunate. It is possible that the right hon. Gentleman's later arguments might have proved more convincing than those advanced by him during the four days before the Commission had done, but in coming to that conclusion, I think he was optimistic.
There is another weighty piece of evidence which I can produce as to whether this is or is not a violation of the Mandate. There is no opinion that I value more than that of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on these matters. In the year 1930, the Labour Government published a White Paper dealing with the question of land sales. It stated that they proposed to restrict dealing with Government surplus land by Arabs. It was a small matter. It dealt with surplus land of the Government already in Arab occupation. The right hon. Gentleman, associated with Lord Hailsham—in those days, as always, a full blooded Tory—the right hon. Gentleman was rather in the apprentice stage at that time—
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir John Simon)
Was it in 1930? I forget whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman was then a member of the Liberal party or of the Labour party.
§ Sir W. Jowitt
That was a Roland for an Oliver, but I do not think the right hon. Gentleman's memory is quite as bad as he pretends. I am quite certain that this does represent the view of two very great lawyers:We are not at present concerned with the expediency of the Government's policy; but the Mandate confers on the people of this country a legal, as well as a moral, duty, and a breach of its terms by any British Government would lay this country open to a grave charge of breach of faith and disregard of international obligations.They then call attention to the question of the State land being unoccupied. They say that it is not possible to make these areas available to Jewish settlement. They describe that as being in apparent conflict with these provisions, and conclude in these words: 516If therefore the terms of the White Paper are the deliberate and considered announcement of the Government's policy, we would suggest that immediate steps be taken to induce the Council of the League of Nations to obtain from the Hague Court an advisory opinion on the questions involved.I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General: Would the Government be prepared to do any such thing now? I speak quite without authority on this point, but if they were prepared to do so, I have but little doubt that my right hon. Friends would at once withdraw this Motion. After all, I express a very confident opinion that what is now involved is a breach of trust; and I am prepared to put it to the test. I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman: Would he be prepared to put this to the Hague Court? I would go further, if he said that that would occupy a great deal of time. There is one other court, perhaps not an international court, but a court to which all Englishmen pay very great regard, the Privy Council. Under the Privy Council Act, 1833, Section 4, the Government of the day are entitled to submit any question to the Privy Council for an advisory opinion. That would not take long. I am afraid the Government will adopt none of these courses. I am afraid they will take no opinion. I cannot help feeling that what they are doing is really—if I may use the vulgarism—"jumping the claim." They are confronting the League with a fait accompli. They rely on the reluctance which anyone must have at the present time to call a special meeting. I have no doubt that the Government have calculated well.
So ends, as the right hon. Gentleman opposite said, another chapter in a tragic story. It is pretty obvious that the Jew is to be once more a sojourner in a strange land. Hon. Members opposite must not be surprised if, being prevented from dealing with land in 95 per cent. of the territory, the Jews state that what used to be a home has been turned into a pale.
I cannot help thinking that the real explanation which underlies this is, that the Government thought it expedient to take this action. Perhaps they think that justice is too expensive a luxury in these days. Was it expedient? Since the war began, at any rate, there has been a welcome improvement in the con- 517 ditions in Palestine. It began, it is said, with the immigration policy. No doubt if you prohibited the Jews, and indeed packed them off lock, stock, and barrel, it would be said that there was an improvement in the conditions of Palestine. I think that the improvement in Palestine largely began with the stern and brave action of the British soldiers who put down rebellion. But I should have hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would have had regard to another policy. He is not confronted with the alternative of masterly inactivity. If he had done anything with regard to strengthening those Acts which, in England, we call the Agricultural Holding Act, any Act providing security of tenure, any Act to say that a man, possessing an extensive holding, who sold part of it in order that that part should be used intensively, had to spend the money on the part which he retained, any Act to provide that a man should not be able to dispose of the area of land which is necessary for his livelihood, he would have our support. That would have been a land policy applicable to Jew and Arab alike. It would not have been a discriminatory policy.
I cannot help feeling, when I realise all the difficulties, that this policy represents another essay in appeasement, and the drawback of that policy, as I see it, is that you give something in the hope that you will put an end to agitation or political unrest. You hope that it will satisfy the appetite, but, unfortunately, as we know, it only whets that appetite. Economically, this policy may well be as bad for the Arabs as it is for the Jews. Let us look at it quite frankly. An Arab is prevented from selling or mortgaging or leasing his land, in what may be his best market. The value of his land is bound to decrease. The chance of getting necessary capital to improve his holding, to irrigate it, and to make it intensive, is diminished. I prophesy that, from the economic point of view, you will find in a very short time that this policy is resented by Arabs as much as it is by Jews. Politically, it may or may not satisfy the Arabs. I hope it does.
Let me ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman this question. Supposing it does not, are you going further? Surely the only principle on which you can intervene is the principle of justice which, in this case means, and must mean, the 518 observance of the solemn trust which we have accepted. It is because we believe that this policy is politically unwise, economically unsound and constitutionally unjust that we support the Motion.
§ 10.26 p.m.
§ The Attorney-General (Sir Donald Somervell)
The right hon. and learned Gentleman, in the course of his speech, referred to a letter which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, wrote to the newspapers at the time—as we have now settled—the right hon. and learned Gentleman was an ornament of the Government then in office. That letter suggested that there should be a reference to the Hague Court, arising out of the White Paper which that Government had then issued. That letter was answered by Lord Passfield—and I would not ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman, because I think these things are best kept confidential, whether his advice was or was not sought—but the fact remains that the answer repudiated the suggestion, and the Government, of which the right hon. and learned Gentleman was then a member, did not refer the White Paper to the Hague Court. [Interruption.] They issued an authoritative interpretation of the policy, but they did not refer the matter to the Hague Court, and in this unhappy problem that is a matter on which there is complete unanimity between the Government and right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen opposite, because we propose to follow exactly the same course.
Before I come to the wider issues which have been raised, I would like to remind the House exactly where we are in this matter, so far as this House is concerned. This House, in the summer of last year, approved the White Paper policy. The part of that policy under discussion to-day was, undoubtedly, in the view of the indigenous population of Palestine—the Arabs—an important part of the policy. I would like to read a sentence which appears in the White Paper:In these circumstances the High Commissioner will be given general powers to prohibit and regulate transfers of land. These powers will date from the publication of this statement of policy and the High Commissioner will retain them throughout the transitional period.That is a pledge to the Arabs approved by this House, and I understand right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite sug- 519 gest that in the conflict on which we are now engaged we should repudiate that claim. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) stressed the importance of our keeping our word, and that is exactly what His Majesty's Government are doing. And not only Arabs in Palestine, but Arabs throughout the world are waiting to see whether that particular pledge, which has been approved by this House, will be kept or not. What I have just said is borne out by the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) who, in an interesting speech, gave us his recent experiences gathered in parts of the world affected by this policy. The hon. and gallant Member for Chippenham (Major Cazalet) said that we are afraid of an Arab revolt and therefore are doing this.
§ The Attorney-General
The answer is, "No," and also that we are doing this with the approval of this House. The hon. and gallant Member also referred to the improvement in Palestine since the White Paper was issued. It is common ground that since war broke out there has been co-operation and a better feeling in Palestine, but those who have followed events in that country accept what the Colonial Secretary said that the improvement in Palestine started from the issue of the White Paper and its approval by this House. [Hon. Members: "No."] It may be that someone will disagree, but I think that the majority who have followed these matters will accept that view. I can understand the view of those who disagree. It takes a little time to adjust oneself to the fact that circumstances have disproved what one prophesied would happen. Of course, everybody condemns, and condemns unreservedly, acts of violence, particularly when they affect innocent people and cause loss of life and loss of property, but I am bound to say that it is wrong to suggest that a cause is unjust because some extreme exponents of it resort to violence. And nothing surprises me more than to hear that suggestion coming from hon. and right hon. Members opposite. Causes which they have had at heart and which we all have at heart now have often been supported by people who have 520 resorted to violence in order to draw attention to their grievances. It is quite wrong to be affected, in weighing the justice of a cause, by the fact that there are violent acts in support of it. The justice or injustice of a cause which is put forward should be judged regardless of what extreme exponents of it may do.
§ The Attorney-General
I was not suggesting they were. What I was suggesting was that one cannot assume a cause is wrong because there are acts of violence by those who support it.
§ The Attorney-General
No, certainly not. I pass now to the main point made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman, and also by other hon. Members, that legislation of this kind is illegal and contrary to the Mandate. The right hon. and learned Gentleman appealed to three articles of the Mandate—Articles 2, 6 and 15. Article 2 is a very important article. For one thing, it says that the Mandatory Power, in carrying out the Mandate, is to have regard to political considerations. Article 15 is an important article, and it deals, undoubtedly, with discrimination, though primarily with such matters as rights of worship. But Article 6 is the article which deals expressly and particularly with land, and it is the article which the Mandatory Power must look at in seeing what are the instructions in the Mandate with regard to land policy. In that Article 6 deals particularly with land, clearly, on ordinary principles of construction familiar to everybody, it overrides, if there is any conflict, general principles which occur in other Articles.
Article 6, as the House knows, contains two obligations. The Permanent Mandates Commission, the Council, and successive Governments have always recognised that each of the dual obligations contained in the Mandate are one as sacred as the other. Immigration is to be facilitated, settlement is to be encouraged, but the rights and position of other sections of the population are not to be prejudiced. Now, I just do not understand how we can 521 carry out those two obligations without administration, and if necessary legislation, which discriminates between the two communities to each of which we are put under an obligation. How can we possibly facilitate immigration and settlement of Jews without saying, "Is this man a Jew?" How can we safeguard the rights and position of the other sections of the population without saying, "Are we dealing here with Jews or with other sections of the population?" It passes my comprehension how anybody can suggest that land legislation, whether it refers to Jews or whether it refers to Palestinian Arabs, is ultra vires the Mandate when the Mandate, in the article dealing with land, says that we are to discriminate and we are to do one thing as far as one community is concerned and another thing as far as another community is concerned.
I am reinforced in that by the fact that that view has been taken—as far as I can see, with one possible exception—without any doubt or question, by everybody who has ever considered this matter. The Land Ordinances of 1920 and 1921—before the Mandate was framed, but those who drafted the Mandate never suggested there was anything wrong with them—gave control over land sales, and though they did not expressly refer to Arab or Jew, they were put before the Arabs as the instrument which could be used to protect the rights of the Arab cultivator and see that he did not get dispossessed. The Land Ordinances of 1926, 1929, 1933, and 1934 were passed, as everybody familiar with this subject knows, with the same object—to protect the Arab tenants and cultivators in order that we might carry out in accordance with the Mandate obligations placed upon us, the obligation of seeing that Jewish immigration did not affect the rights and position of other sections of the population.
This Regulation now before us is in a succession of Regulations which, although they may not, and some of them certainly did not, and it may be that none of them mention Palestinian Arabs or Jews by name, were all avowedly passed with the purpose of carrying out this obligation, namely, of seeing that the rights and position of the indigenous population were not adversely affected. Then, apart from the ordinances, let me refer to statements which have been made. Lord Snell, in 522 a Minority Report on the 1930 disturbances, said in the course of the report:The Arab on the other hand should be secure in the possession of sufficient land to provide him with a decent standard of life.How are you going to do that if you have to introduce legislation except by making that legislation refer to the Arab and see that he as an Arab is secure of possession? It cann make any difference whether it is done by administration or legislation. The last Royal Commission said:Further we are of the opinion that this alienation of land should only be allowed where it is possible to replace extensive by intensive cultivation, which really means in the plains and not as at present in the hills.You can hardly find a speech on this subject which has not implicit in it a proposal for discriminatory and discretionary legislation in order that this dual obligation may be carried out as immigration proceeds.
Now let me say a word about the position of the League. The only obligation under Article 22 of the Covenant is that the Mandatory Power should submit an annual report to the League. I think that those who drew up the Covenent and Mandate had a greater sense of reality than was clear in some of the speeches made to-day. Those who drew up the Covenant realised, of course, that the Mandatory Power which has the responsibility for governing the territory must be free to govern it. It must be free to take action when in its view the necessity for action arises, and it provides that there should be an annual report, and naturally when that annual report comes up there is scope for discussion as to the policy being pursued. But the idea that under the Covenent a Mandatory Power has to get approval for what it proposes to do to deal with matters which may be urgent, is utterly untrue. Of course, not under any obligation but as a matter of courtesy and proper conduct whenever there has been a Royal Commission or important statement of policy in regard to Palestine, or any other mandated territory, it has always been sent to the Council of the League as being the proper thing to do. So that if one of the members of the Council feels it raises so serious an issue that he thinks the Council ought to be assembled at once, he can take action.
523 So far as the obligations under the Mandate and Covenant are concerned, there is nothing except to make an annual report; and as far as any obligation under international law is concerned, there would be no breach if the White Paper and everything that was done last year had been left to the annual report. There is always, not as a matter of obligation, but as a matter of proper conduct, submitted to the League any report of a Royal Commission or any important statement of policy. It was under that practice that the White Paper was sent to the League last May. When the Permanent Mandates Commission sat it naturally came before them, and my right hon. Friend appeared before them.
The report of the Commission has been referred to several times in the Debate. I hope that those who referred to it have also studied the comments made by His Majesty's Government on it. There are two points of importance. One is that two if not three members out of the four clearly regarded the Permanent Mandates Commission as not concerned with political considerations. With great respect to the Commission I think they were wrong and that it is difficult to see how one can reconcile that with Article 2 of the Mandate, which says that the Mandatory shall be responsible for placing the country under such political conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish National Home. If His Majesty's Government neglected the necessary political considerations for the establishment of the Jewish National Home, they would be breaking or disregarding an important provision in the Mandate. Two of the members said quite clearly that they did not feel these were matters for them but that they were matters for the Mandatory Power and the Council. My hon. Friend the Member for Walsall (Sir G. Schuster) has already quoted one member of the Mandates Commission who took that view. I do not blame the Commission; I am not saying there is anything wrong in it; but they were saying that a situation has arisen which was not contemplated by those who drafted this document 20 years ago. I have often heard people say the Mandate ought to be altered to cover the White Paper policy. I have never heard anyone suggest what words he thinks ought to be put into the Mandate in order 524 that it should cover the White Paper policy. I believe that if anybody appoaches it from that angle will find himself in great difficulty because I believe that the Mandate was drafted by people who realised that in imposing this dual obligation all sorts of unanticipated difficulties and considerations would arise. They therefore drafted it in the vaguest and widest terms. It is full of phrases about "the position of the indigenous population," "the civil rights of the existing population," "suitable conditions," and so on. I am bound to say that I have tried to address my mind to what words anybody could insert to give a wider discretion to the Mandatory Power to deal with this matter having regard to all the circumstances, and I have been unable to find words. In these circumstances four members of the Permanent Mandates Commission expressed, not in the final report, but in minutes of a meeting that they did not at the time consider would be final, two or three considerations of what was the right course to pursue.
One hon. Member in one of our Debates propounded a principle which I think has a great deal of force in it. He said the Government ought not only to be ready with a policy but ought to be determined that that policy should be carried through. Being satisfied as we are that this is the right policy—and events have supported that view—being satisfied that it would bring better conditions to Palestine, being satisfied that it was completely within the Mandate, what was the right course? Was it to wait? Delay and uncertainty would have been fixed on at once as evidence that we were not going through with it. The right course and the course we did pursue was to go ahead; to notify, as we have done, these Regulations to the Council; to be ready, as we were bound to be, if any member of the Council desired to have this matter discussed, to go and discuss it; but not to take any step ourselves which would be interpreted at once as throwing doubt on our certainty and conviction that this was the right policy and a policy to be seen through. When the House realises that in this matter we have kept the Council informed at every stage, and that if any member of the Council had demanded that this matter should be discussed, we were ready to go and discuss it, surely, when the hon. Member 525 for Derby (Mr. Noel-Baker) suggests in the terms he did that this is a unilateral breach of an agreement, the only conclusion to which one can come is that he is intoxicated with controversial exuberance. We believe in this policy. We have reported to the Council—it is our only obligation—and we have reported before we need have done. If any member of the Council has any doubt about our action and wishes to discuss it we are ready to go and discuss it. In the meantime, believing we are right, we are not going to take steps which would throw doubt on our sincerity. We are just as sincere as are our critics.
Before I conclude may I say one or two general words perhaps of a less controversial nature? The conflict that exists in Palestine is a conflict between two ideals. The Jew wants to get back to the land which is associated with the history and greatness of his race. Everybody will sympathise with that. But the Arabs have a great history as well and the Jews and the indigenous population who have lived on the land for generations look with apprehension on the intruder on their ancient home. They are apprehensive that these other people, coming from overseas, with great wealth behind them, more experience, greater technical skill, will flood the civilisation and the culture which they hold dear and in which they believe. Everybody must sympathise with both those ideals and those two races, sprung in old days from a common stock, who have met in this land where one of them first appeared 3,000 years ago or thereabouts, and the other at any rate over 1000years ago. They have met in that land, and it is this country which has the great and difficult responsibility of trying
§ to make this National Home a real success in circumstances in which, ultimately, Palestine can take its place as an autonomous nation among the nations of the world. No one will underrate the difficulty of that task; neither Jew nor Arab will underrate it.
§ All I want to say before I sit down is that my right hon. Friend in particular, as everybody in this House knows, has devoted all his ability and his sympathy with both sides to seeking a policy which would be fair, which politically would re-establish those conditions in which alone the National Home can be a success, and which would carry out the particular obligations and the dual duties laid upon us by the Mandate. It is not because we are afraid of the Arabs, it is not because we feel that in present circumstances we can disregard the Jews, that we ask the House to vote against this Motion. It is because, after the most careful examination, we believe that this policy is fair to both sides, has the best hope of establishing conditions in which the National Home can take its place in the country associated with the past history of the Jews, that we ask the House to support us in this Division and to vote against the vote of censure which has been moved.
§ Question put,
§ "That this House regrets that, disregarding the expressed opinion of the Permanent Mandates Commission that the policy contained in the White Paper on Palestine was inconsistent with the terms of the Mandate, and without the authority of the Council of the League of Nations, His Majesty's Government have authorised the issue of regulations controlling the transfer of land which discriminate unjustly against one section of the inhabitants of Palestine."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 129; Noes, 292.529
|Division No. 49.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Charleton, H. C.||Gardner, B. W.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S)||Chater, D.||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Carn'v'n)|
|Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford)||Cluse, W. S.||George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)|
|Adamson, W. M.||Collindridge, F.||Green, W. H. (Deptford)|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Daggar, G.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S.||Dalton, H.||Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)|
|Ammon, C. G.||Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Davies, C. (Montgomery)||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Groves, T. E.|
|Banfield, J. W.||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)|
|Barr, J.||Dobbie, W.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)|
|Beaumont, H. (Batley)||Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)|
|Bromfield, W.||Ede, J. C.||Harris, Sir P. A.|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)||Harvey, T. E.|
|Buchanan, G.||Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Hayday, A.|
|Burke, W. A.||Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)|
|Cazalet, Major V. A. (Chippenham)||Frankel, D.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)|
|Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Montague, F.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Hollins, J. H. (Silvertown)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Horabin, T. L.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Isaacs, G. A.||Mort, D. L.||Stephen, C.|
|Jagger, J.||Muff, G.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Nathan, Colonel H. L.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Naylor, T. E.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Noel-Baker, P. J.||Tomlinson, G.|
|Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n)||Oliver, G. H.||Viant, S. P.|
|Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Owen, Major G.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A.||Parker, J.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Parkinson, J. A.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Kirkwood, D.||Pearson, A.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Lathan, G.||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Leach, W.||Pritt, D. N.||Westwood, J.|
|Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S.||Quibell, D. J. K.||White, H. Graham|
|Lunn, W.||Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Ridley, G.||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|McEntee, V. La T.||Riley, B.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|McGovern, J.||Ritson, J.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Maclean, N.||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)||Wilmot, John|
|Mander, G. le M.||Sexton, T. M.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Marshall, F.||Shinwell, E.||Woodburn, A.|
|Martin, J. H.||Silkin, L.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Mathers, G.||Silverman, S. S.|
|Messer, F.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Milner, Major J.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)||Sir Charles Edwards and Mr. Paling.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Clarke, Colonel R. S. (E. Grinstead)||Goldie, N. B.|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Clarry, Sir Reginald||Gower, Sir R. V.|
|Alexander, Brig.-Gen. Sir W.||Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston)||Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)|
|Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Sc'h Univ's)||Colfox, Major Sir W. P.||Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Colville, Rt. Hon. John||Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.|
|Apsley, Lord||Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)||Gridley, Sir A. B.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Grimston, R. V.|
|Assheton, R.||Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)||Guest, Lieut -Colonel H. (Drake)|
|Astor, Major Hon. J. J. (Dover)||Courtauld, Major J. S.||Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N.W.)|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Sir D. H.|
|Balfour, G. (Hampstead)||Craven-Ellis, W.||Hambro, A. V.|
|Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page||Hannah, I. C.|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Crooke, Sir J. Smedley||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Harbord, Sir A.|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Cross, R. H.||Harland, H. P.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Crowder, J. F. E.||Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)|
|Beechman, N. A.||Cruddas, Col. B.||Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.|
|Bennett, Sir E. N.||Davidson, Viscountess||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.|
|Bernays, R. H.||Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-|
|Bird, Sir R. B.||De Chair, S. S.||Hepworth, J.|
|Blair, Sir R.||De la Bère, R.||Higgs, W. F.|
|Blaker, Sir R.||Dodd, J. S||Hill, Dr. A. V. (Cambridge U.)|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C.||Doland, G. F.||Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Donner, P. W.||Holmes, J. S.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Dorman-Smith, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir R. H.||Hopkinson, A.|
|Bower, Comdr. R. T.||Drewe, C.||Horsbrugh, Florence|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Howitt, Dr. A. B.|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N. (Buckrose)||Duggan, H. J.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hask., N.)|
|Braithwaite, J. Gurney (Holderness)||Duncan, J. A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)|
|Brass, Sir W.||Dunglass, Lord||Hulbert, Squadron-Leader N. J.|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Hume, Sir G. H.|
|Broadbridge, Sir G. T.||Edge, Sir W.||Hunter, T.|
|Brocklebank, Sir Edmund||Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Jarvis, Sir J. J.|
|Brooke, H. (Lewisham, W.)||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Jennings, R.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Ellis, Sir G.||Keeling, E. H.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Elliston, Capt. G. S.||Kerr, H. W (Oldham)|
|Bull, B. B.||Emery, J. F.||Kerr, Sir John Graham (Sco'sh Univs.)|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R.|
|Burghley, Lord||Entwistle, Sir C. F.||Kimball, L.|
|Burgin, Rt. Hon. E. L.||Errington, E.||King-Hall, Commander W. S. R.|
|Burton, Col. H. W.||Etherton, Ralph||Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Evans, Colonel A. (Cardiff, S.)||Lamb, Sir J. Q.|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A.||Everard, Sir William Lindsay||Lancaster, Lieut.-Colonel C. G.|
|Caine, G. R. Hall-||Fildes, Sir H.||Latham, Sir P.|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Foot, D. M.||Lees-Jones, J.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Fox, Sir G. W. G.||Leech, Sir J. W.|
|Cary, R. A.||Fremantle, Sir F. E.||Leigh, Sir J.|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Fyfe, D. P. M.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n)||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Levy, T.|
|Channon, H.||Gibson, Sir C. G. (Pudsey and Otley)||Liddall, W. S.|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Lindsay, K. M.|
|Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.)||Gledhill, G.||Lipson, D. L.|
|Chorlton, A. E. L.||Gluckstein, L. H.||Little, Sir E. Graham-|
|Christie, J. A.||Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C.||Llewellin, Colonel J. J.|
|Lloyd, G. W.||Raikes, H. V. A. M.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'ld)|
|Loftus, P. C.||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.||Stewart, William J. (Belfast, S.)|
|Lucas, Major Sir J. M.||Ramsbotham, Rt. Hon. H.||Storey, S.|
|Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)||Ramsden, Sir E.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|M'Connell, Sir J.||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.|
|McCorquodale, M. S.||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)||Sutcliffe, H.|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)||Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)||Tate, Mavis C.|
|MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Reid, Captain A. Cunningham||Taylor, Captain C. S.|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)|
|McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.||Reith, Rt. Hon. Sir J. C. W.||Thomas, J. P. L.|
|McKie, J. H.||Robertson, D.||Thomson, Sir J. D. W.|
|Magnay, T.||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Maitland, Sir Adam||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)||Touche, G. C.|
|Makins, Brigadier-General Sir Ernest||Rowlands, G.||Train, Sir J.|
|Manningham-Buller, Sir M||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Russell, Sir Alexander||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Medlicott, Captain F.||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Meller, Sir R. J. (Mitcham)||Salmon, Sir I.||Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan|
|Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Salt, E. W.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Salter, Sir J. Arthur (Oxford U.)||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Mitcheson, Sir G. G.||Samuel, M. R. A.||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.|
|Moore-Brabazon, Lt.-Col. J. T. C.||Sandeman, Sir N. S.||Warrender, Sir V.|
|Morris-Jones, Sir Henry||Sanderson, Sir F. B.||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)||Schuster, Sir G. E.||Watt, Lt.-Col. G. S. Harvie|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Selley, H. R.||Wayland, Sir W. A.|
|Munro, P.||Shakespeare, G. H.||Webbe, Sir W. Harold|
|Nall, Sir J.||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)||Wells, Sir Sydney|
|Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)||White, Sir Dymoke (Fareham)|
|O'Connor, Sir Terence J.||Shepperson, Sir E. W.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Shute, Colonel Sir J. J.||Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Simmonds, O. E.||Wilson, Sir Arnold (Hitchin)|
|Palmer, G. E. H.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|Patrick, C. M.||Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Peake, O.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Perkins, W. R. D.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Peters, Dr. S. J.||Smithers, Sir W.||Wragg, H.|
|Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Snadden, W. McN.||Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.|
|Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Somerset, T.||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton||Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald|
|Procter, Major H. A.||Somerville, Sir A. A. (Windsor)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Purbrick, R.||Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.||Captain Margesson and Lieut.-|
|Pym, L. R.||Spears, Brigadier-General E. L.||Colonel Kerr.|
|Radford, E. A.||Spens, W. P.|
Question put, and agreed to.