HC Deb 10 July 1946 vol 425 cc383-4
40. Dr. Segal

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies for what reasons the Palestine Government compelled orthodox Jews to desecrate their Sabbath when carrying out their arrest; whether he is aware of the affront to religious feelings caused by this action; and what steps he now proposes to take to remove the painful impressions aroused in Palestine by this action of the Government.

Mr. George Hall

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by the Prime Minister to a supplementary question by the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) on 1st of July, namely that this matter was left entirely to the local authorities to decide.

Dr. Segal

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this debasing of religious and administrative standards could only be justified in time of war; and does he realise that no action on the part of His Majesty's Government could have done more to persuade the Jewish population that it is now engaged in a holy war in defence of its religious liberties?

Mr. Hall

It was necessary to carry out this action with the least possible inconvenience, and it was necessary to leave the matter, as stated, in the hands of those who were best competent to judge.

Mr. Wilson Harris

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman who it was who began the acts of war?

Mr. S. Silverman

While one understands that the decision on time and place and method in such a matter would have to be left to the local authorities, in view of the fact that the local authorities chose an entirely unsuitable time has my right hon. Friend asked them for any explanation of why they chose the early hours of Saturday morning?

Mr. Hall

No, Sir, they have not been asked for any explanation; indeed the results of the action itself have justified the action taken.

42. Mr. Janner

asked the Secretary State' for the Colonies the number of leaders and officers of Jewish trade unions, Socialist parties, and co-operative societies, who have been arrested in recent operations in Palestine.

Mr. George Hall

The information requested by my hon. Friend is not in my possession, but I am asking the, High Commissioner for Palestine for a report, and will communicate with my hon. Friend when this is received.

Mr. Michael Foot

In view of the fact that the right hon. Gentleman has such detailed evidence about arms secured in various places, is it not extraordinary that he has not detailed evidence of the number of men taken into custody by the British administration in Palestine?

Mr. Hall

We have the numbers, but it is difficult to classify them, because a very substantial number have already been released.