HC Deb 05 June 1946 vol 423 cc1986-7
29. Mrs. Middleton

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware of the resentment caused among the population of Palestine by the methods used by the Government and Army in requisitioning private houses and buildings, the arbitrary way this is done, the short notice often given and the discourteous treatment to which the owners are subjected; and if he will take immediate steps to put an end to this.

Mr. George Hall

In the selection of premises for requisitioning every effort is made to reduce disturbance and inconvenience to the public to a minimum. The shortness of notice in certain cases has been due to the need to move troops rapidly to the scene of a disturbance, and I cannot agree that the methods used by the Government and the military authorities in Palestine have given cause for resentment. If my hon Friend has any cases in mind, I should be glad if she would send me particulars and I will then have inquiries made into them.

Sir Ralph Glyn

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he has had any representations to justify this complaint? Given the circumstances in which the police and the troops are working in Palestine, is it not a fact that they are carrying out their duties with the minimum of disturbance to the local population?

Mr. Hall

That is the information I have received and this is the only complaint of which I know.

30. Mrs. Middleton

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies to what extent the Defence Regulations are still in force in Palestine; what powers these regulations give regarding the requisitioning of private property; how many buildings have been requisitioned; what proportion of these are owned by British subjects, Jews and Arabs, respectively; and,, in view of the difficult housing conditions for the civilian population, whether every effort will be made to release this requisitioned property as soon as possible.

Mr. George Hall

Regulation 48 of the 1939 Palestine Defence Regulations, which conferred power of requisitioning land, has been kept in force for a period of five years under the Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Act of 1945. There is also power to requisition land under Regulation 114 of Palestine Defence (Emergency) Regulations 1945. The detailed figures and distribution of property so requisitioned are being prepared by the Government of Palestine; and I shall let my hon. Friend have them as soon as they are available. The possibility of releasing requisitioned property is kept under constant review, but there is no prospect of any substantial release for private use in the immediate future.