§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Creech Jones)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
This Bill is necessary to make provision for certain matters arising out of the termination of His Majesty's Government of Palestine. On 29th November the General Assembly of the United Nations recommended the adoption of a plan for the partition of Palestine with an economic union. That plan provided for the termination of the Mandateas soon as possible but in any case not later than 1st August, 1948.The Bill accordingly provides that on a day to be appointed by His Majesty the jurisdiction of His Majesty in Palestine shall cease and His Majesty's Government will no longer be responsible for the government of Palestine. The day to be appointed, as has already been announced will be 15th May of this year. As the Mouse is aware, it will not be possible to withdraw all our Fords by that day, but they will be withdrawn by 1st August at the latest.
The Government of Palestine as we know it today will cease to exist on 15th May, and any contracts made by that Government will automatically terminate on that date, for example, contracts with public officers. The authority for the administration of Palestine after 15th May will, in accordance with the United Nations Resolution of 29th November, be the United Nations Palestine Commission. The partition plan gives the Commission authority to issue "necessary regulations." As I have said, His Majesty will have no jurisdiction in Palestine after 15th May, and any decision of His Majesty in Council after that day cannot be enforced. It necessarily follows that proceedings before the Privy Council must abate. A similar provision, I believe, was endorsed by the House in the Burma Independence Act. I understand, however, that it is likely that all pending cases from Palestine lodged with the 1247 Judicial Committee before the introduction of this Bill will be disposed of by 15th May.
The British Forces still in Palestine after that date will be in the position of armed forces in foreign territory. There is no exact precedent for the Palestine situation however. While I am advised that under international law the Forces will possess the necessary rights to protect themselves, and will have the powers required to secure their withdrawal, we have thought it right to give in the Bill express protection from proceedings in a British court in respect of acts done in good faith and in the executing of duty for the protection and withdrawal from Palestine of His Majesty's Forces or stores or other property. The troops in Palestine will merely carry out measures necessary for their safe withdrawal and the withdrawal of their stores. The action of our Forces will be limited to whatever may be required for the withdrawal and protection of themselves and their stores.
Immunity has also been conferred on the civil Government in respect of acts done for peace, order and good government in Palestine before the appointed day, or for the purpose of, or in connection with the termination of His Majesty's jurisdiction. The civil Government have, of course, been acting in accordance with the laws of Palestine and will continue so to act as far as is possible. But I am sure the House will appreciate that in the increasingly disturbed state of the country and in circumstances of extreme difficulty, which are entirely without precedent, it will not be possible for the Palestine Government to proceed in every way, and to leave every duty done, as if they were administering a peaceful country and an orderly population. We are not in the position of knowing what acts may be necessary in the increasing disorder in Palestine up to 15th May. After then the position is still more uncertain. The provisions are based on those of the Indemnity Act, 1920. It is for these reasons that it is proper to confer immunity from vexatious actions upon the officers of that Government.
The Bill also repeals Acts of Parliament having application to Palestine, but leaves them to continue in force as part of the domestic law of Palestine. Enactments specifically repealed relate to the 1248 raising of loans by the Palestine Government and their guarantee by the Treasury. There is one outstanding loan and the guarantee of that by the Treasury will continue. Clause 3 also repeals any enactments which have been applied to Palestine as a mandated territory. The Acts will, however, be repealed only so far as concerns the law of the United Kingdom, and are left to continue in force as part of the law of Palestine. Whether or not they will continue in force for long, will, of course, depend on the successor authorities, who will be able to alter them at their own will.
There are other transitional provisions, including power by Order in Council to transfer any funds or other property of the Government of Palestine which may be required to meet that Government's obligations. Thus the funds and other movable property vested in or belonging to the Government of Palestine can be vested in appropriate authorities here. Immovable property will, of course, be left to the successor authorities except such as is vested in a Government Department here, such as the War Office.
Regarding Palestine assets and liabilities generally, we are at present negotiating with the United Nations Commission in New York about them. Our object is to hand over the general assets of the Government to the successor authorities on their undertaking to meet liabilities. It may be that we shall be unable to complete satisfactory arrangements until well after 15th May, or possibly not at all. Accordingly we are taking power in this Bill to transfer to appropriate authorities here the funds and other movable property of the Palestine Government. They will be held until satisfactory arrangements can be made for meeting the obligations of the Palestine Government or for meeting liabilities falling due for settlement here, such as amounts due for payment under contracts placed on behalf of the Palestine Government by the Crown Agents for the Colonies, or such matters as retirement and superannuation benefits.
Power is also sought to adapt the Acts relating to superannuation so as to avoid any break in the service of officers of the Palestine Government which would otherwise be caused by that Government coming to an end. This is the only provision in 1249 the Bill which will impose any charge on public funds, but I understand that it will be small. I should add that this becomes necessary as the service of the officers with the Palestine Government terminates on 15th May. The House has already been informed that the expatriate officers have the assurance of His Majesty's Government that they will receive the compensation and statutory benefit to which they are entitled on the terms which have been intimated to them, while the local Palestinian staff are similarly guaranteed the payments due to them until such time as successor authorities have emerged capable of taking over this liability.
§ Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge University)
I do not complain about the right hon. Gentleman reading upon this occasion, but merely in order to try to understand him I would ask him to read a little slower. When a speech is read it is much harder to follow than the speech which is not read.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
The point I was making was that in regard to superannuation rights an announcement has already been given to the House as to what benefits will be given to the Palestinian staff as well as to those members of the Colonial Service who are concerned.
It is fitting that I should refer now to several points which emerge from the Amendments on the Order Paper.
§ Mr. Ivor Thomas (Keighley)
Before my right hon. Friend leaves the provisions of the Bill itself, would he say whether it would be possible, under Clause 3, to sequestrate property now belonging to the Government of Palestine in order to meet the terms of compensation which he said, in an answer given to me about a week ago, were definitely promised to the Palestine Administration and the Police Force? His Majesty's Government have undertaken that they will be met, although they take the view that they should be met by the successor authorities.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
That is a matter among the financial arrangements with the successor authorities, which are now being discussed with the United Nations Palestine Commission. Until those negotiations have finished, I am not able to make a statement.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
Will my right hon. Friend say whether, supposing that all these things are some day agreed upon, he will then need to come to the House for another Bill?
§ Mr. Creech Jones
I do not think that is desirable, and I also think that the powers asked for in this Bill are sufficiently wide.
There are protests that the Bill fails to make provision for the independence of Jewish and Arab States in Palestine as provided by the United Nations decision. I should point out that the future form of government to be established in Palestine is not a matter for His Majesty's Government but for the United Nations Assembly. On termination of our exercise of an international Mandate it was proper that that international authority should determine the new form of government which Palestine should enjoy. The Resolution of the Assembly provides that independent Arab and Jewish States shall be established by the United Nations Commission. There is nothing in this Bill which will prevent that. Indeed an act of the United Kingdom could not establish these independent States. Their recognition is a matter for international agreement, and cannot be done in a Bill designed to terminate the jurisdiction of His Majesty in Palestine.
It is also protested that the Bill makes no provision for the orderly transfer of His Majesty's jurisdiction to the United Nations Commission. It is assumed that acts for the orderly transfer of jurisdiction should be written into an Act of Parliament. What the Bill does is to leave the legal position straight, that is, to leave Palestine law in a form for the successor Government authority to take over. Moreover, the High Commissioner in Palestine has, by Order in Council, been given power to make such legal provision as will be appropriate in preparation for the withdrawal of His Majesty's Government, thus leaving a body of law in a suitable state for the Commission to administer.
With the concurrence of the Commission, these powers are being exercised, for example, to transfer to municipal authorities certain administrative functions now exercised by the central Government. I repeat that the Bill makes the way clear for the establishment of 1251 the successor authority in Palestine and for the United Nations to take up its task. It places no impediment in the way of the United Nations Commission assuming the tasks required of it by the Assembly's Resolution. It terminates His Majesty's jurisdiction and everything that can be done by legislation is done to leave the house in order for the incoming tenant.
I understand that our policy in respect to Palestine is thought to undermine the authority of the United Nations organisation. I should like to meet this criticism. Presumably, it is based on our attitude to the Mandate and future government of Palestine; on our alleged non-co-operative attitude to the United Nations Commission; and on our refusal to enter into fuller commitments in Palestine should forces be called for to impose the Assembly's plan for Palestine.
The question of our attitude to the Mandate, which proved in practice both self-contradictory and unworkable, and of the reference of the Palestine question to the United Nations, has been debated in the House, and I need not explain further the principles of the Government's policy. There is no substantial body of opinion which believes that the Mandate should not be terminated. We gave full notice to the United Nations of our intention that in the absence of a settlement between Jews and Arabs we must plan for the withdrawal of the civil administration and military forces. That decision was welcomed by the United Nations.
We accepted the twelve general recommendations of the United Nations Special Committee which went to Palestine, and we contributed from our knowledge and experience to all the committees established by the United Nations for the study of the problem. We made it clear that we could not be responsible for implementing or enforcing any policy determined by the United Nations, not could we carry responsibility for any changes through an indefinite transition period until Palestine attained independence. The Assembly accepted that position, and resolved that:The Mandate for Palestine should terminate as soon as possible but in any case not later than 1st August, 1948.In this respect, therefore, our policy fully accords with the views of the United Nations. But it is alleged that since the 1252 resolution of the Assembly we have pursued a non-co-operative attitude with the United Nations Commission. I should point out that in the discussion on partition in the autumn we left no doubt as to our position in the future affairs of Palestine.
We made it plain that the success of any plan in Palestine depended on Arab and Jewish co-operation, that implementation must be an essential part of any plan, and that if an attempt were made to impose a policy which one or other community vigorously opposed, the means of enforcement was an important aspect of implementation. As for ourselves, we had asked for the judgment of an international opinion on the future government of Palestine, we had refused to prejudice discussion by promoting any plans of our own or urging any interests we may have in Palestine, and we had made it clear that we would not oppose the judgment. Indeed, both the Foreign Secretary and myself said to the House in December that His Majesty's Government accepted the conclusion of the United Nations as to the future government of Palestine. Since the last Debate in this House we have acted in accordance with the policy we announced.
After the November meeting of the Assembly we told that body that it was essential to set up the United Nations Palestine Committee without delay. At once we sent our experts to New York in order that the fullest knowledge should be made available to the Commission. We have supplied the Commission with considerable information and discussed many problems with them concerning the withdrawal and orderly transfer of administration, and we have brought to their notice numerous matters which must be dealt with if they are to assume effective authority in Palestine. In this respect His Majesty's Government have been fully co-operative, though we have refrained from actions which would involve implementation of the United Nations policy. We have dealt with such matters as communications, the future personnel of the administration, the continuing food supply of Palestine and certain problems relating to the economy of the country; and we have submitted a considerable number of other problems which must be determined by the Commission at an early date.
1253 The Commission have also asked us about our attitude to certain of the recommendations of the Assembly's Resolution. We have been unable, on grounds of security in Palestine, to make a port available to the Jews from 1st February for immigration of men and arms. We could not thus surrender our authority over a part of Palestine, while still retaining responsibility for law and order in the country, particularly when the surrender of a port would involve the heavy task of meeting increased Arab resistance. The consequence of such a step could not be faced at a time when we were evacuating our own Forces, and preparing for the transfer of our authority. We felt, for similar security reasons, that our plan for withdrawing our Forces and administration must not be compromised by allowing other areas to pass outside our control before the termination of the Mandate.
We were asked also whether we could agree to allow the Provisional Councils of the two successor States to recruit armed militias from their residents, leaving political and military control to the Commission. We have made it clear that we could not permit any authority other than our own to exercise governmental functions in Palestine before the end of the Mandate. To allow the recruitment of militias would involve two distinct authorities in the country at one time, one of them taking steps to implement the United Nations plan. Further, such a procedure could not fail to increase immeasurably the possibility of grave disturbances while the Mandate still ran. The suggestion did not take account of the realities of the situation. The possible result of an attempt to form a representative militia for the proposed Jewish State, which includes some 400,000 Arabs in its area, when the Arabs were strongly resisting the implementation of the partition plan, should be apparent to everybody. The objections to this step, of course, apply with even greater force to the Jewish request that the Commission should immediately start to establish a purely Jewish militia for the Jewish State, with full training facilities and the acquisition of the necessary equipment and stores.
There was also a difference of view as to the time when the Commission should arrive in Palestine. Again, all the evidence appeared overwhelming that it was 1254 most inadvisable that the Commission should overlap with the mandatory administration for more than a very brief period, since, in view of the declared attitude of the Arabs, it was apparent that the arrival of the Commission would be the signal for increased disorder. We informed the Commission of the grave difficulties involved, and while their staff have already begun to take up their work in Palestine, they themselves will work on the numerous vital matters which can be settled in New York, and which can only be agreed and settled in calm conditions—far different from those likely to be found in Palestine.
I have frankly stated these difficulties, because we are told by various people that this inability to meet these parts of the Resolution of the Assembly is symptomatic of our non-co-operative attitude to the United Nations Commission. I say emphatically that the grave position in Palestine, and the security needs, alone account for the decisions His Majesty's Government took on the matters I have mentioned. In all this discussion by our critics there has been little comprehension of the problems confronting the administration and the Services in Palestine. Until 15th May we have a heavy and complicated responsibility in Palestine. It involves the carrying on of the administration in conditions of outrage and civil violence—almost civil war at a time when that administration has to wind up its work, make arrangements for the transfer of Services and authority, and provide copious information to the United Nations, when its staffs are depleted and working with difficulty, and when the Services, are packing and withdrawing as well as deployed to deal with disorder and outrages. It is important that the problem of our administration and Services should be appreciated as much as the problem of the United Nations Commission itself. I would only add that the situation in Palestine has tragically deteriorated since the Assembly Resolution. Consequently, the Assembly's plan, conceived as it was in conditions of strong partiality, has, in some respects, proved impracticable and unworkable.
The distinguished Chairman of the Palestine Commission has told the Security Council that many of these points which I have already mentioned are really irrelevant to the basic problem of applying the Assembly's Resolution. He 1255 indicated clearly that Arab and Jewish co-operation is a fundamental necessity, and that that co-operation is not forthcoming. Given the most perfect conditions, the scheme is hardly workable in many important respects; in any case, the co-operation which is required cannot be expected in the case of a plan to be imposed by force. The Commission therefore reached the conclusion that a non-Palestinian security force is essential for the protection of the Commission on its arrival and for assisting it in carrying out the terms of the Assembly's plan.
The British representatives on the Security Council, while pointing out the gravity of the situation in Palestine and the urgency of the matter, have maintained the view before the Council that this country cannot commit itself further in respect of Palestine, and that our Forces must be withdrawn and our civil administration end on the announced date. We decline to be parties in the implementation and enforcement of a scheme which is calculated inevitably to involve the Forces of the United Kingdom in a prolonged stay in Palestine, and the coercion by force of a considerable section of the population to a plan which they are determined actively to resist. I do not believe, after our bitter and tragic experience, that the British public would tolerate any new commitments in Palestine.
I want to emphasise, however, that we do not want to see our work in Palestine during the past 25 years undone; and that we have tried by our negotiations to secure an orderly transfer of authority and responsibility. It will interest the House to know that with a view to helping to that end the Government of Palestine are doing their utmost to facilitate the operation of essential services by local authorities after 15th May. They are creating and extending the powers of municipal and local councils and giving them new authority in respect to finance and the control of services. Municipal police forces are being formed in Jaffa and in 18 other medium sized Arab towns. A country wide scheme for the enrolment of armed special constables to police Arab villages is being initiated. These forces will be part of the Palestine Police Force until transfer to local authorities. Efforts to recruit a civil police force in 1256 Jerusalem, of Jews and Arabs, are also being made.
Certain water supplies have already been handed to local authorities for custody and operation. Arrangements have also been made to transfer responsibility for social welfare and remand homes. Plans for handing over Arab schools to the management of local authorities are in train, and it is hoped to supply a six months' stock of drugs and dressings to treatment centres and to persuade medical practitioners to maintain these centres. The Government farm is to be maintained by Acre Municipality. In this and in other ways we are trying to get orderly conditions which can be maintained after the 15th May.
I have referred to the conflict and outrages which have been so distressing a feature of the Palestine scene in recent months, and which have caused such grievous loss to British families here as well as to decent Jews and Arabs, and women and children, in Palestine itself We have been charged by both sides with favouring one or the other in this terrible trouble. I can find no evidence to sustain the baseless innuendoes and charges one often reads and hears. No side can excuse, and no one attempt to justify, the outrages by armed groups in either community.
The security Forces have had a desperately difficult task and they, with all our administrative and technical officers and officials, are entitled to our most generous appreciation in the anxious work and the enduring strain which they have experienced. They have tried to draw no distinction between Jews and Arabs in their action to suppress the activities of those obviously guilty of assault and violence. It has not been our policy to remove from the inhabitants of Palestine those weapons which can be regarded as necessary for defence on our departure. No searches for arms are being carried out, but where it is clear that arms have been, or are likely to be, used for offensive purposes, the security Forces in their exercise of impartial duty, confiscate such weapons.
We deeply deplore the fact that certain Arab bands have crossed the frontiers and dispersed themselves among the Arab villages. It is too often forgotten, however, how difficult it is, in the existing circumstances in Palestine, to control all 1257 the frontiers; how much patrolling has been done and how many Arab arms have been confiscated; how many bands of Arabs have been repulsed and how we have defended Jewish settlements. His Majesty's representatives in the Arab States which appear to be concerned have left the Arab Governments in no doubt of the serious view which His Majesty's Government take of these incursions from their territories into Palestine.
There are many other matters to which reference should be made——
§ Mr. Warbey (Luton)
Can my right hon. Friend say how many public protests have been made to Arab Governments in respect of these incursions?
§ Mr. Creech Jones
That I cannot answer, but we have made our protests, and representations have been made to the Arab States which we believe to have been involved.
There are many other matters to which some reference should be made in any statement concerning the termination of our responsibilities in Palestine under the Mandate. We have a formidable agenda of matters still awaiting the attention of the Palestine Commission—problems concerning communications, posts, municipal and local council powers, prisoners, medical services and many other things. His Majesty's Government have assumed that after 15th May the United Nations Palestine Commission will be exercising the functions of Government in Palestine. Whether that is possible now, no one at the moment dare say.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler (Saffron Walden)
The right hon. Gentleman has made a very important statement. He has been referring throughout to the successor authority, but his last statement is to the effect that it may not be possible for this authority to take control on 15th May. What does he propose in that event?
§ Mr. Creech Jones
The British Mandate terminates on 15th May. Our civil administration, therefore, comes to an end. We have tried to create the conditions whereby orderly life can continue in Palestine, by creating local security forces and transferring powers to local councils, and to Jewish and Arab groups, in order that much of the normal life and many of the services of the country 1258 can continue. It is possible that the Palestine Commission of United Nations may find itself unable to proceed to Palestine because suitable arrangements have not been made, either by the Security Council or by other organs of the United Nations, for it to take up its duties there.
As I have said, no one can foresee precisely what the future of the Palestine Commission will be, but on withdrawal the mandatory administration will take whatever steps it can to hand over the assets of the Government of Palestine and to provide for the meeting of that Government's obligations. The United Nations Commission will, in the circumstances contemplated, be the effective authority in Palestine——
§ Mr. Creech Jones
As the situation is at the moment. Obviously, if the Commission is unable to take up its duties, we shall be confronted with a different and new situation.
It is contemplated that an overall financial agreement will be negotiated with the Commission covering the question of the transfer of assets of the Palestine Government and the acceptance of the liabilities properly incurred by that Government. Immovable assets in Palestine will be left to the successor authorities in the areas where they are situated, and arrangements will be made before our departure from Palestine to hand over to the Commission as trustee for the ultimate Government or Governments in Palestine all stores and other movable property belonging to the Palestine Government.
Certain of the proper liabilities of the Palestine Government will fall to be met in this country; for instance, the payment of leave salaries and retirement benefits of British staff of the Palestine Government who have been withdrawn to this country, of amounts due under contracts for the supply of stores to the Palestine Government, and of amounts due to the Ministry of Food for procurement of food supplies for Palestine. On the other hand, certain liquid and other assets of the 1259 Palestine Government are held here; for instance, monies invested by the Crown Agents on behalf of the Palestine Government. It is the intention to cover the question of meeting these liabilities and disposal of these assets in our negotiations with the United Nations Commission. All these matters can be covered by an appropriate Order in Council under Clause 3 (4, a) of the Bill
Turning again to the Security Council—which, I may say, has failed to endorse the Resolution of the Assembly and did not find a sufficient number of members willing to accept the recommendations of the Assembly on 29th November in respect to the partition plan—unofficial and informal talks between the permanent members of the Security Council are now going on. We have agreed, not to serve as a member of that group, but to supply any information in our power; but the meetings are for the purpose of considering what advice to give to the Security Council in a week's time regarding the situation in Palestine and what guidance should be offered to the Palestine Commission with a view to implementing the partition plan of the Assembly. The House clearly knows that His Majesty's Government are unwilling to enter into new commitments in Palestine or to participate in implementing the resolution of the United Nations. The question whether a threat to peace, necessitating armed force or other means of restraint, exists in Palestine, has not yet been considered by the Security Council.
I would like to say a word in regard to the position of Jerusalem and the Holy Places. The trusteeship Council concluded its consideration yesterday of the constitution for the City of Jerusalem, including an area round the City proper and Bethlehem, in accordance with the general directions of the Assembly. I need not, at this point, outline the proposed constitution. It is suggested that a Legislative Council, a Council of Administration and an independent Supreme Court should be set up. The Trusteeship Council was also instructed to appoint a Governor. There has been some delay, and that appointment has not yet been made, although many of us have tried to bring home to the body the importance of a very early appointment. In the work of the Trusteeship Council we have made, as a nation 1260 and a Power, a very important contribution to this problem; but we have been obliged to point out the security danger which exists between 15th May, when our civil administration ceases, and 1st October when it is anticipated that the statute will become effective. The Governor's responsibility for the Holy Places has been specially emphasised in the Statute, under which provision has to be made by him for a "Special"—that is, non-Arab and nonJew—police force, a security force working under the instructions of the Governor, whose function will be the protection of the Holy Places.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
What is provided for on that date is the British withdrawal. October 1st is the date when the new order begins in Jerusalem, and there is a gap between the withdrawal of the civil administration on 15th May and the date when the new order comes into operation. I myself have particularly directed the attention of the Palestine Commission to the risks of a gap between 15th May and and 1st October, and the importance of speedy action by the Palestine Commission to meet that situation. We have also done our utmost to secure the appointment of the Governor and have offered facilities in regard to the recruitment of volunteers for the Special Police Force which he may require.
The immediate prospects in Palestine are not bright. Our concern is deep for the well-being of the people of both communities, the violence committed day after day and the unaccommodating spirit that is abroad. We have done all possible to preserve authority and respect for law, to reduce violence, to see the work achieved by Britain maintained and conditions created for an orderly and effective transfer of authority. We fervently endorse the appeal made by the United Nations that the peoples concerned should cease their acts of destruction and that no States should add fuel to the fire already burning. Many harsh and wicked things have been said about the men and women who have laboured in the discharge of our international obligations. We remember the sacrifices they have made, and we thank those who have served and those who are still serving.
1261 We withdraw now with profound disappointment, conscious, however, that, whatever lapses we may have been guilty of—and mistakes are made by everybody—we have given, as a nation, much to Palestine and to the two communities there. We hope our friendship will not be dissolved by the experiences of recent years. The British people have given much in fulfilment of their international responsibilities. They should not be asked, to endure more. It is now for others to find and implement the solution which has eluded us. We pray that they will. We make the United Nations the fundamental principle in our international policy, and we have co-operated fully with it in this matter of Palestine. But terrorism has found its Nemesis in the attitude of the British people to this problem. With confidence, I ask the House to give this Bill a Second Reading.
§ Sir Patrick Hannon (Birmingham, Moseley)
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman a question before he sits down? The safety and security of the Holy Places is of profound consequence to the people of this country. What is the means of recruitment for the special Police Force, and will it be under the personal control of the Governor?
§ Mr. Creech Jones
The position is that this is the Security Force of the Governor, and it will not be controlled at all by any legislative body or other Council which is created in Jerusalem. It will be the Security Force of the Governor, who will be entirely responsible for it, as well as for its recruitment and everything else. It will be a non-Arab, non-Jewish organisation. We have urged the appointment right away of the Governor because we are anxious that the security force should come into being without delay. There is a large number of men in Palestine, some of whom have been members of the police force, who are prepared to offer their services as volunteers in this particular security force for the protection of the Holy Places.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler (Saffron Walden)
Those of us who have had anything to do with the Palestine problem before remember, first of all, the many friends we made in the process of trying to advance the affairs of Palestine towards solution. 1262 But we also remember the intense difficulty and the manner in which this problem seems to follow the same round, namely, an inquiry followed by a decision, followed by the decision to adopt the report of the inquiry, followed by the decision not to adopt the report, followed by the decision to start off a new investigation and another decision, and so forth. That has been the story of Palestine, and that it appears, is going to be the story in the international field now that this matter has been transferred, or is being transferred, from being a domestic problem to an international problem.
I must confess that the speech of the Secretary of State for the Colonies has brought further uncertainty into this matter. I very much regret that we have not heard from him a more satisfactory account of what the position is likely to be when we hand over our responsibilities in that unhappy land. In the circumstances, I think it would be as well, in this very uncertain atmosphere, if I say absolutely definitely where we on this side of the House stand. I will say, in order to bring a certain clarity into the situation, that, in our view, our decision as a nation to withdraw should be irrevocable, and that, meanwhile, until we withdraw, we should retain undivided control. I absolutely agree with the right hon. Gentleman that areas should not pass out of our control so long as we are the mandatory Power. Our withdrawal should be as soon as possible, and the general circumstances attending it, in respect of the future position of our troops, in regard to our general interest, and in respect of the wider interests of Palestine as a whole, should be as clearly defined as possible. That is where, I am afraid, the right hon. Gentleman has so far, from the point of view of the Government, let us down this afternoon, because, as far as I can see, the position in the future, from all these points of view, is going to be extremely uncertain. I shall touch upon them to the best of my ability.
I should like to lay down one further principle to which my right hon. and hon. Friends of this side of the House subscribe. It is that we refuse, with the right hon. Gentleman, to accept any responsibility, or to assume any responsibility, for taking part in the enforcement of a policy which involves coercing Jews or Arabs. Having said that, I think 1263 it will be seen that, to a certain extent, there is agreement on the fundamentals of our Palestine policy. So far, so good.
I noticed that the right hon. Gentleman devoted a great part of his speech to attempts to answer ahead, certain Amendments put upon the Order Paper. As far as we are concerned, we propose to leave the quarrel between the right hon. Gentleman and his so-called friends to him and them, and not to take part in it. We believe there is enough quarrelling in the Palestine situation already, and that the right hon. Gentleman had better settle his own little matters with his friends, or enemies, whichever he chooses to call them, to the best of his ability. The House has been placed in a most difficult position in being asked to pass a Bill when it is impossible to see more clearly what the circumstances of the future are going to be. I must enter the warning that, although we propose to let this Bill go through today on its Second Reading, I cannot claim, in view of the extraordinarily fluid situation, that the last word has been spoken from this side. As my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley)—whose absence today we so much regret and whose expert knowledge we so much miss—said on 11th December, we are at the end of a chapter, but not at the end of the story. From the human point of view, it is always wise, in dealing with Palestine, to say that the last word has not been spoken.
Coming back to the speech of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, I am afraid I found it quite impossible to reconcile his extraordinary statement—which seems to me the apotheosis of meiosis—that the house is in order for the incoming tenant, with his further statements that the administration is working in an atmosphere of outrage and civil violence, that the arrival of the Commission—which, I presume, is the new tenant—will be greeted with signs of increased disorder, that the situation has tragically deteriorated, and that he has frankly stated to us the difficulties.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
I think the right hon. Gentleman misunderstood what I said. I said that the house was clear for the incoming tenant, in respect of the matter of domestic law.
§ Mr. Butler
I think it is just as well for the reputation of the British Government that the right hon. Gentleman should qualify his previous statement. I would rather let him out of his misery in the way he has himself devised than proceed further with my argument. I am perfectly satisfied myself what he said.
§ Mr. Mikardo (Reading)
In the catalogue of apparent contradictory statements, the right hon. Gentleman left out one very important piece of meiosis of my right hon. Friend, namely, that the prospects in Palestine are not bright.
§ Mr. Butler
As a matter of fact, the hon. Member has deprived me of a further gem to which I was coming.
§ Mr. Butler
I do not wish this afternoon unduly to stress these matters, and I am obliged to the hon. Member for his very able assistance.
The right hon. Gentleman's statement, therefore, viewed from any point of view, is really extraordinary because it is fairly clear to us, from studying the present position in the United Nations, that not only is the partition plan in jeopardy, but that we are certainly no nearer organising a method of enforcement of this or any plan. In this connection, I do the right hon. Gentleman justice when I say that, as long ago as 11th December, and on occasions before that, according to his testimony today, he warned the United Nations, to use his words of the 11th December, that:The plan makes little provision for enforcement."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th December, 1947; Vol. 445, C. 1211.]That is not the only warning which has been given on this subject. The House will remember that, as long ago as list August, 1946, my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) said from this side of the House:We should now give notice that we will return our Mandate to U.N.O., and that we will evacuate Palestine within a specified period."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st August, 1946; Vol. 426, c 1257.]I should like to say, on behalf of my right hon. and hon. Friends and myself, that we consider that had the Government acted more energetically on the advice given to them by my right hon. 1265 Friend, with his uncanny power of foreseeing events as they are likely to occur, we might well have been saved a great deal of the bloodshed and the trouble we have been through.
I do not believe that when, on that occasion, my right hon. Friend referred to the Government's previous activities as "a monument of incapacity"—that is, during their first year of office, the period between the election and the date on which he spoke—he was exaggerating. Since then we have had nearly two years, although I agree in all reason that part of the time has been spent in the United Nations' Commission examining the situation and part in delays at the United Nations organisation itself. I further say that I think the conduct of the Government and their views as expressed through their mouthpiece, Sir Alexander Cadogan, have, in most instances, been perfectly correct since the matter was before the United Nations, and we have little to quarrel with in the manner in which they have tried to put the facts of the case before the United Nations. But we do say that there has been unnecessary delay; to that extent the Government are responsible for the great troubles that have arisen, and they must bear their share of the responsibility.
Let us look at the chronology of recent events so that we can see what the present position is. It appears that on 5th March last the Security Council decided by eight votes to none, with Great Britain, Syria and the Argentine abstaining, to call upon the permanent members to say how the partition plan could, be implemented and to report back in 10 days. The Government have, therefore, chosen a date right between those two dates of 5th March and 15th March to ask us to approve the Second Reading of this Bill. The present position, as I understand it, is that the United States, the Soviet Union, France and China, with Great Britain abstaining, are now deliberating how this crisis should be handled. In view of such uncertainty, any cautious person might refrain from giving assent to such a Bill at this moment.
However, let us face the situation. I do not believe that further delay and hesitation would be the path of wisdom, since I believe that if we were to delay here, a still further element of uncertainty would be introduced into an already 1266 intolerably uncertain position. if we hesitate to pass this Bill we might, even at this eleventh hour, give the impression that we could be constrained into holding the fort and assuming responsibilities which conflict with the principles which I enunciated at the outset of my remarks and with those laid down by the right hon. Gentleman himself—principles which, I believe, have the support of British public opinion as a whole. Therefore, I consider that we should adhere to the decision to withdraw and should pass this Bill.
I now come to the extraordinary statement of the right hon. Gentleman that if we do pass this Bill we may find a position arising on or after 15th May, in which the United Nations Commission will not have arrived in the country to take over the responsibility and become the successor authority. That is an extremely puzzling situation, and I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman straightaway why he has not included in the Bill the date of 15th May. Would he be ready—and may we have a reply to this?—to accept an Amendment, for example, on the Committee stage that the date be included in the Bill? Is the omission of the date due to the fact that the right hon. Gentleman considers that there will be further delay? Difficult as the situation may be, further delay would, in our view, be disastrous. It would mean further sliding, further lack of decision, further uncertainty and probably further trouble for the unfortunate people on both sides in Palestine. Therefore, I consider that the right hon. Gentleman should have put the date in the Bill, and I trust that from the Government side we can have an assurance before the Debate ends that the omission of the date does not imply any sinister motive of delay on the part of the Government.
I said that despite the extraordinary uncertainty, we must pass this Bill, and we must at the same time press the United Nations authorities to come to realist decisions. This leads me to discuss the present position as it affects Britain and as it affects the general interests of Palestine, and especially the particular interests to which I wish to refer—our troops, our Civil Service and police, our assets, and so forth. Some points appear to be clear in regard to the position of Britain. For example, nothing that the right hon. Gentleman has said today goes 1267 back on what was said at Lake Success on 24th February, that British public opinion—and these are the right hon. Gentleman's own words—… will permit no more expenditure of life and treasure. It will acquiesce no longer in the use of British forces and British lives to impose a Palestine policy which one or other of the parties is determined to resist.It would, therefore, appear, in so far as we can ascertain it in the welter of uncertainty, that the position of Britain as a country acting by itself is certain. But what is Britain's position as a member of the United Nations? Any information which can come our way will be welcomed in this situation, because we do not get very full reports from the other side of the water. It seems clear that at present Britain, as a member of the United Nations, is keeping apart from the discussions on Palestine but, so far as we can ascertain from today's "Times," she is giving the full facts of the situation to the United Nations and the Commission, including, we hope, the fact that whatever may be the outcome, some sort of authority or force will be necessary, except in the miracle of an agreement being reached between the two sides in Palestine.
The question has been raised whether the United Nations is entitled to have a force available to impose partition or any other solution. I understand from the telegram today from America that the Secretary-General has offered the Council legal opinion that it has authority to enforce the partition scheme and to send troops to Palestine even if a threat to peace has not been established. It would be a case of providing an international police force for the maintenance of law and order in the territory for which the international society is still responsible. Certain analogies are drawn in that telegram, from the situation in Trieste. If that be the case, that is a clarification of the situation. I believe that the right hon. Gentleman broadly confirmed that in his remarks, and the right hon. Gentleman who is to reply can probably confirm it himself.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
I would not seek to confirm it. The view which the right hon. Gentleman has read is the legal opinion of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, but I think it was perfectly clear in the meetings of the Security Council that that legal view is not shared by the 1268 majority of its members. Certainly the United States takes quite a different view of the powers of the Security Council for dealing with the implementation of a policy which has been determined by the Assembly.
§ Mr. Butler
Does that mean, in fact, that it is unlikely that any force or strength of any sort will be available either to help put into effect this plan or, in the possibility or probability of this plan not going through, to try to keep the balance in the country and prevent the sort of events occurring which have occurred on a vastly larger scale in India for precisely the reason that there was no force available to prevent such events occurring?
§ Mr. S. Silverman
The right hon. Gentleman has touched upon what we all recognise to be a vastly important matter, and that is my excuse for interrupting. I wonder whether there has been any indication of what is the view of His Majesty's Government on that legal point? Cannot we be told that?
§ Mr. Butler
That is precisely the reason that I asked the right hon. Gentleman the question, and he has sheltered himself by saying that he cannot tell me more than what is the legal opinion of the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
§ Mr. Butler
I should like to press the Government to tell us, either now or later when the right hon. Gentleman replies, what is their opinion on this matter. If we are to have the uncertainty of the right hon. Gentleman's remarks that he is not sure even if the Commission is going to reach Palestine on 15th or 16th May, and then we are to have uncertainty in the minds of the Government as to what is the legal position about the possibility of having any strength there at all to keep the peace—quite apart from the question of enforcing this plan or that, which I do not want to stress because I do not want to make things any more difficult than they are—it seems to me that the House is being put in an intolerable position by the Government in the course of this Debate.
The right hon. Gentleman then touched on the wider issue of what would happen if the situation in Palestine was declared to be a threat to international peace under 1269 the Charter, and he said that that matter had not yet been considered. I wrote down his words. This really is not quite so urgent a question as the one with which I have just been dealing, because if we ignore the first question, let me assure the House that we are going to get a threat not only to the peace of Palestine but to international peace as well, and so the second question, one of international law, will rapidly become academic.
In this connection, if the right hon. Gentleman is replying as I believe he is, it would be interesting for us to know whether the statement of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs on 12th December, in replying to the hon. Member for Luton (Mr. Warbey), represents the final view of the Government. The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs said:When the scheme is finally worked out of what this United Nations force is to be, what its command is to be, and what its obligations are to be, not only in Palestine but as part of the international set-up, then we will take our corner, but to put British Forces under another command in this way in an isolated instance is a thing we are not prepared to do."—[OFFICIAL. REPORT, 12 December, 1947; Vol. 445, C 1396–7.]There are certain ambiguities in that statement and we should be very grateful if they could be cleared up during this Debate. We want to know what Great Britain would do in the event of this question being regarded as a threat to international peace, not as an isolated country, because I believe that is clear from the Government's statements, but in regard to its position as a member of the United Nations.
Let me come to certain specific questions. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the Holy Places. There is a great deal of anxiety about this time-lag, to which he referred, between 15th May and 1st October. We have already, if I may say so, not been impressed by his speech in regard to the interim arrangements he is making for a sort of minor administration to be set up in Palestine during the interim period. It is all very well improving local government, drafting police in, having extra police in Arab villages, but I do not believe such plans will be sufficient to guarantee security, however honourably conceived they might be and however conscientiously the right hon. Gentleman might have worked them out, and this is particularly the case in regard to the Holy Places. We are told there is 1270 to be recruited a non-Arab and non-Jewish police force, and I would like to ask the Government how far they have got in their recruiting, whether the force is going to be an effective one between the dates of 15th May and 1st October, and whether in fact any progress has been made with the recruitment of that force. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman may deal with that.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
There must be some misunderstanding here. After 15th May we have no civil responsibility at all in Palestine or Jerusalem. Under the terms of the resolution, the United Nations Commission takes up authority. It is for them to make suitable provision in regard to security after 15th May. We have repeatedly warned the United Nations over quite a long period that after 15th May the problem will be theirs. What we have sought to do for Palestine as a whole is to create conditions which can assist the peace and make for security when we go, and the United Nations Commission will be able, if necessary, to take over these local councils and forces in order to help to maintain peace.
In the case of the Jerusalem force, that will be a special force recruited by the Governor. That is why we have urged that the Governor of Jerusalem should be appointed immediately and that he should proceed with the recruiting of his security force for the Holy Places. We have also told the United Nations Commission—as it will be their responsibility once the Governor is appointed and until 1st October—that there are available in Palestine non-Palestinians who are prepared to enter a security force for the Holy Places. We cannot do more; it is not our responsibility. We are urging the Trusteeship Council to get this appointment made and this force recruited.
§ Mr. Butler
The right hon. Gentleman has done himself justice in making clear that this is the responsibility of the United Nations, a fact which I was going to mention but which is much better made by the right hon. Gentleman himself. That we accept, and it is quite legitimate, and I am glad the right hon. Gentleman has had an opportunity of making it clear. What has shattered our confidence is the remark in his speech when he said that the Commission might not arrive by the date of 15th May. The Holy Places mean 1271 a great deal to a great many people in this country, on all sides of the House, in all parts of the country, and of all opinions. In the absence of the arrival of the new authority, I do not know how we can have confidence that there can be any security for the Holy Places, and I must press the Government to give us a much more convincing answer on that point, otherwise they will shatter the confidence in the breasts and hearts of many people in this country.
§ Squadron-Leader Fleming
Would my right hon. Friend put the question which the Government refused to answer some time ago? If the United Nations Commission is not functioning on 15th May, who will have the authority to set up these different local authorities of which he spoke? Nobody at all.
§ Mr. Butler
That is precisely what I put to the right hon. Gentleman, and I am grateful to my hon. and gallant Friend for dotting the i's and crossing the t's. It seems to me that this statement in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman has introduced a new situation. I consider that during the remainder of this Debate we must attempt to have a further clarification from the Government on this matter; otherwise confidence will be shattered in the plan of the Government in bringing forward this Bill. I hope we shall get a much more convincing answer than we have had hitherto, and if this were not such a tragic and difficult subject, I should take up a more uncompromising stand on this question.
Consideration of the future of the Holy Places leads me to ask what is to be the position of the British troops. On 11th December the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, said that:Once the Mandate has been terminated, our troops remaining in Palestine will be responsible only for maintaining order in those areas in which they are still in occupation, with the limited object of ensuring that their final withdrawal is not impeded, and that it should be completed in the shortest possible time."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th December, 1947; Vol. 445, c. 1212–3.]He said today that the only measures the troops will take will be to ensure their safe withdrawal. I simply want to ask him, or the Government, when the reply is made, what is the meaning of the phrase 1272for maintaining order in those areas in which they are still in occupationbecause once they start maintaining order, I do not believe they will be able to stop, and I believe there will be ambiguity. I do not believe the right hon. Gentleman intends that there shall be ambiguity, but it is the duty of the Opposition on an important matter like this to attempt to extract from the Government what exactly will be the position of our troops. Is the position as stated, in the limited way, or is it as more broadly stated by the right hon. Gentleman on 11th December? I should like to ask the Government whether they will be able to give us further information about details of the plan of withdrawal or whether they are still governed by security considerations to which reference was made in the Debate on 11th December. May I take it, before I leave this question of the British troops, that in fact they will take no part in the quelling of civil strife?
I want to ask whether a diplomatic representative is to be appointed after 15th May by this country. Are we to have, as in the case of other countries where we have passed a Bill similar to this, a representative of His Majesty's Government, as we have, for example, in Burma? If so, what arrangements are to be made under him for the protection of British lives and property? The Secretary of State did not make very convincing remarks about this matter. He said that in some cases we should possibly get no protection at all. I. should like to ask him what will be the position, for example, of certain concessions which have been granted by the Palestine Government. What will be the position of British citizens, and of their lives and property?
I should like to pay my tribute to the work of the civil servants in Palestine. They have not operated in Palestine upon quite the same scale as they operated in India and, therefore, to a certain extent their position is easier in that they form part of a Colonial service and can be transferred. They have been through a most anxious and gruelling time. I am glad to see that the Bill contains provisions to readjust the position relating to superannuation. I should like to obtain from the Government, if possible, an estimate of the total amount involved. 1273 This is the least we can do to help the civil servants in their present difficulties.
While I am dealing with the civil servants and the police, I would say that we understand that they are to receive generous compensation. According to the terms published on 1st March we consider, without having had detailed knowledge in order to be certain, that the terms are adequate. I should like to ask whether it is proposed, in the case of the police especially, and perhaps in the case also of any members of the Civil Service, to set up the sort of employment bureau which we established in relation to India and Burma with a view to finding them jobs, and, I hope, with similar success to that which has been achieved in the case of India and Burma.
With regard to troops and police, we on this side of the House would like to pay our tribute. Many countries in the world, when they look back upon the history of this matter, will regret the passing of British troops and police, who have a particular characteristic of kindliness combined with firmness which has won them many a meed of praise and laurels. We express our detestation of the outrages, from whichever quarter they have come, and we appeal to people of influence inside and outside Palestine to bring their influence to bear upon this terrible canker of terrorism. I know when I had to deal with this matter, that was the one fear I had. I am sure it is the one fear and anxiety of the right hon. Gentleman.
Those remarks bring me to the last point of detail on which I want to dwell, the question of finance. According to the Financial Memorandum, the obligations of the Palestine Government are to be discharged from funds in their possession. We should like to have a fuller statement about the financial position as it affects that country. Can its obligations be discharged in full? If not, who will be responsible for payment? We shall have substantial demands to make ourselves, for example, for the maintenance of Jewish immigrants in Cyprus, which will be a considerable charge. We should like to know about the loan position. What is the extent of the outstanding Palestine loan? Will the Treasury still have responsibility for this guarantee, if we surrender the Mandate? I understand that the main loan in question today, to 1274 which the right hon. Gentleman referred, is that which was issued in 1942, with interest guaranteed by the Treasury under the Palestine Loan Act.
I have come to the end of the many questions which I thought it right to put to the Government on behalf of the Opposition, in connection with this vital and important Bill. We are all most anxious about the situation. In spite of the uncertainty, one definite service which we can perform is to be certain about our going. We regret that this step has been delayed so long and the consequent horrors that have taken place. One has always hoped that by widening and broadening the issues, whether by a federal solution in the Middle East itself or by bringing this question into the arena of the great nations, we should make a solution possible. Certainly not by narrowing the problem will it be solved.
We therefore support the Second Reading of the Bill, with heavy hearts and in the knowledge that no other course would be wise at the present time. We think it right to ask the Government to make rather clearer than they have done today, certain alarming statements which were made by the Secretary of State. We feel that there must be the least possible suffering upon our departure. We do not want a realisation of the words contained in the 23rd Chapter of St. Matthew:Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.That would indeed be a tragedy.
§ 5.6 p.m.
§ Sir Richard Acland (Gravesend)
In 12 years I have spoken a good many times both in this Chamber and in that which is now being rebuilt; and however indifferently I may have spoken, and however gloomy and menacing may have seemed the situation, to which I was addressing myself, I always personally enjoyed speaking until today. I have never spoken with so much personal unhappiness as I feel on this occasion. It is not a happy thing to have to speak against the policy of this Government. I do not think there is another item of policy on which I would speak against them, but Members of this party have always been allowed to express their views and to put Motions upon the Paper and to vote on issues of conscience. For me, this is one of those issues.
1275 The Colonial Secretary knows what I mean when I say that I have listened to his explanations today, and at other times and at other places in recent weeks, with the same feeling of sick frustration which I remember experiencing when I listened to the explanations given by Foreign Secretaries and by Under-Secretaries of State for Foreign Affairs in Conservative Administrations, as they steadily explained the retreat from the fair and favourable international position of 1931 to the disaster of 1939. I remember the Manchurian situation. Some people say that the present situation is not comparable with it, because the Manchurian situation was a case of simple invasion. I would remind the House of the facts. I will quote from a speech made in 1933 by Lord Simon, when he was reading from the Lytton Report these words:It must be apparent … that the issues involved … are not as simple as they are often represented to be. They are on the contrary exceedingly complicated. … This is not … a simple case of violation of a frontier of one country by the armed forces of a neighbouring country, because in Manchuria there are many features without an exact parallel in other parts of the world.I hope hon. Members will not try to deny the association between the present case and the Manchurian case merely on the ground that the Manchurian case was very simple and this is complicated. Manchuria was also complicated. I remember hearing, or rather reading, a sentence by the then Foreign Secretary in that same Debate, when he said:I think that I am myself enough of a pacifist to take this view, that, however we handle this matter, I do not intend my own country to get into trouble about it."[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th February, 1933; Vol. 275, C. 51 and 58.]That was a sentence which informed the world that Japan could do just exactly what she liked and that we would not take any step to uphold the authority of international law and order.
Then came the Abyssinian affair. I remember a statement from the same right hon. Gentleman, when he said that he would not risk a single British ship even in a successful naval action to defend Abyssinian independence. That was a sentence in which we declared to the world that, so far as Abyssinia was concerned, nothing was going to be done to uphold the authority of international law and order.
1276 Then, on this issue, I remember when the Anglo-American Commission made its report nearly two years ago. It included amongst other proposals one that 100,000 Jewish immigrants should go into Pales-time in quite a short period. I remember the Foreign Secretary—not in this place but at the conference of this party at Bournemouth—said that the arrival of 100,000 Jewish immigrants would require an additional division of British troops, and that he was not prepared to send it. That, I think, was the sentence in which he announced to the world that if ever anything were proposed which the Arabs did not like they would need only to threaten to meet it with violence and it would not happen.
There is something to be said for that as a policy. I would not agree with it, but it is a policy to say we shall never oppose anything which the Arabs want, and never insist on anything which they dislike. That is a policy, and one or two Members of this House have pursued that policy consistently. But it is not a policy which this party as a party or this Government as a Government can sustain. It is not tolerable that this Government should give as a reason for not taking certain action that if they take that action the Arabs will cause trouble; because this party, and almost every Member of the Front Bench now, is pledged to a policy which it has always known the Arabs would dislike a great deal more than they dislike the policy of partition from which we are now running away.
Finally—if I may conclude this sad record of sentences to which I have listened—on 12th December the hon. Member for Luton (Mr. Warbey) interrupted the Foreign Secretary, who gave way to him, so that he could ask, in the middle of the Foreign Secretary's speech:Do I understand … that if the Security Council were to decide that collective enforcement action was necessary in respect of Palestine, this country would not take its share as one of the members of the United Nations?And the Foreign Secretary replied:That is what the hon. Member must understand."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th December, 2947; Vol. 445, c. 1396.]It seems to me that in that sentence we announced to the world that so far as this country was going to be concerned we were not even going to take our part in upholding the authority of international law on this issue, that we were not going 1277 to do anything to prevent a solution from being imposed by force and by violence.
That is all I want to say. I am afraid I may have exceeded the time I promised to take. One separate point. I wonder why the whole House seems to take it for granted that the Arabs are going to win when it comes to violence? If the great world Powers do not intervene on one side or the other, and if this business has to be settled by violence, I offer the prediction that it may take quite a long time, but that in the end the Jews will gain the upper hand because the Jews are much better at organising themselves, much better disciplinarians and more persistent. I think that in the end it will not be the Arabs who get their own way. I merely offer that prediction. We shall see how it turns out.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge University)
We shall see how it turns out. I do not think that in endeavouring to foresee it we need pay very much attention to the strategical prognostications which we have just had. If the hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) had had a very little foresight, he would have been able to foresee the last of those sentences which he has just read so damnatorily; all the previous ones he had already heard or read before he permitted himself to stand at Gravesend in support of the party opposite and of the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary. He does not seem to be awfully good at strategical foresight, and I do not think we need pay very much attention to that part of his remarks.
I think this is a very terrible occasion; one of the most terrible occasions that has occurred in the 13 or 14 years during which I have sat in this House. If the House will forgive me a moment of prefatory egotism, I would observe that I have spoken in every Debate—or my friends have—about Palestine during these years: I think it not unfair to say that we have not said, and that I, particularly, have not said, anything sharp or anything at all avoidable that was by way of criticism of His Majesty's Government in their external aspect; and I do not think we can be accused, or that I can be accused, of having said many words likely to exacerbate feelings in this matter.
1278 I can no longer be sure that such moderation of language ought even to be attempted. Because we are now confronted with a situation which is due, not wholly to right hon. Gentlemen opposite, but which, as it now stands, is very largely indeed due to right hon. Gentlemen opposite, both since they have been in office—and they have had the powers and pleasures and perquisites of office for two and a half years now—and also, as the hon. Member for Gravesend has reminded us, for a long time before they were in office. They then did everything that men not in office could do to prepare the situation with which we are now confronted. And the situation with which we are now confronted is such that nothing can be done that will not be wrong; the most that can be hoped is that it may, perhaps—looked at afterwards—turn out to have been a little less wrong than, possibly, something else would have been.
That is the situation in which we are now landed, and in that situation we have brought before us this Bill at very short notice. It is a short Bill. The Lord President of the Council is a little apt to say, when complaints are made that the House has not had full opportunity to study and discuss a Bill, "This is a very little Bill." The difficulty of understanding a Bill does not depend on the number of pages which it covers. This Bill is one which it is extremely difficult to understand. I am glad to see that the Attorney-General is here, and I hope he intends to expound to us the probable legal effects of it later. I once myself had a very little amateur learning in this matter of indemnities and immunities. It is an extremely difficult part of law or history to understand anything much about. We have not had time to study the Bill properly, to look up books, or to consult such more expert friends as we may have outside the House.
We are confronted with a Bill of which, I make bold to say, nobody in this House—unless, perchance, it is the AttorneyGeneral—nobody in this House could reasonably expound the probable effects. Not one. I do not now propose to endeavour to give the answers to all the legal questions that might be raised. I do not even propose to take the trouble to indicate very accurately and fully the questions which I think ought to be put; but I hope the House will bear with me 1279 if, for three or four minutes, I try to indicate some of the questions the omission of which on Second Reading in this House may seem to some of us, to use the words of the hon. Member for Gravesend, "sickeningly frustrating." The termination of His Majesty's jurisdiction is itself not so simple as it might appear. Is His Majesty entitled to terminate his jurisdiction unilaterally?
§ The Attorney-General (Sir Hartley Shawcross) indicated assent.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
Is the Attorney-General certain in law and morals? What is the effect of that on the jurisdiction that then comes in? Not the United Nations. Obviously, the United Nations are not the successors in title to the League of Nations. Nor did we get all the authority we had in Palestine from the League of Nations for exercising power, because the Mandate when it came was largely bogus, and we exercised power in Palestine for years before there was a Mandate. At least it is not obviously ridiculous to suggest that possibly if the Mandate can be brought to an end by one party—as certainly trustees could not do in private life——
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Might I interrupt the hon. Member? I am not sure whether I heard him correctly. Did he say that the Mandate was very largely bogus? If so, are we then to understand that when his party was in power during all those years their performance of their obligations under it was also bogus?
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I do not propose to explain what my party has or has not done about this. I have explained my views about it on every relevant occasion in this House. My views have never been exactly dictated by the leaders of my party, and the hon. Member could have heard them if he thought them worth listening to, and if not he will find them if he looks at HANSARD.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
He will find that too in HANSARD if he looks it up.
If you and I, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, were trustees for the Colonial Secretary's daughter we could not just announce that we were not going to have any more 1280 duties or obligations after 15th May. It the Attorney-General is quite sure that it is perfectly plain that this hitherto unprecedented act is wholly legitimate and has effects which he understands, is he perfectly sure that there is not something to be said for the view that that re-raises the legal situation as it was before the Mandate, when we were in Palestine as the occupying Power, by the same title by which we are in Germany now? I am not endeavouring to argue about it. Then—prohibits the bringing of any action in respect of acts done in good faith and in the course of duty.That is not from the Bill but from the Explanatory Memorandum; but it is slightly simpler language I think. What possibilities, if any, of subsequent legal law suits, civil or criminal, does that leave? Upon the face of it, laymen in the House might suppose that it leaves none. But I do not think that can be quite the right answer. Whatever be the right answer, I am quite sure that this House ought to know it.
When this Bill receives the Royal Assent, if it does, what is then the status at international law of Palestinians, of those who till recently, for almost all foreign intents and purposes, were British subjects? Is it not a horrible thing that His Majesty's Principal Secretary of State should have brought this Bill before us and made a Second Reading speech about, I will not say the abandonment, but the relinquishment of two millions of His Majesty's subjects without a word to try to explain to us the subsequent international rights and status of what had been His Majesty's subjects? As the Attorney-General did not appear to hear what I said, my words were: without a word to try to explain to us the relinquishment of these His Majesty's subjects, without a word of explanation to show what is to be then their international status. We ought to know. It is quite ridiculous that this House should discuss the Second Reading of this Bill without knowing that; and it is quite contemptible that one of His Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State should have thought it possible for the House to discuss the Bill without knowing that.
We were told just now that the appeals before the Privy Council will be finished by—was it 1st August or 15th May?
§ Mr. Pickthorn
The reason why they cannot go on, the reason why this Bill ends recourse to the Privy Council, is because the Privy Council—as its name implies—is not, in form, a court of law; it advises His Majesty, who then takes executive action. Since His Majesty has announced that he is not going to take any further executive action within these territories, Privy Council jurisdiction would no longer by relevant. The Attorney-General will correct me if I am wrong; I think I am putting it fairly, if in non-legal language. Very well then. When the Secretary of State tells us that these suits before the Privy Council will be completed by 15th May, does he mean that by 15th May His Majesty will have given—to all intents and purposes and effects, as much as he would have done a year ago—the executive orders upon advice tendered by the Judicial Committee. Is that what he means? If not, his explanation of the date to which Privy Council jurisdiction will go on was extremely misleading. There are many more similar questions which I could ask. I hope I have asked enough to indicate the sort of questions which an admittedly very cursory reading of this Bill raises in at least one layman's mind.
Now I want to indicate why I think these questions important. First of all, it is the most absurd devaluing of democratic or Parliamentary procedure that we should discuss a Bill of immense and incalculable consequences without having had these things explained to us. I shall not be a bit abashed if I am told that all my questions are unnecessary, or that all the answers I may have appeared to indicate are wrong. That will strengthen my argument. My argument is that, just as any kind of economic planning becomes more and more nonsense as the currency gets less and less current, so similarly any kind of Parliamentary Government becomes more and more a contemptible parody as the House is increasingly asked to give decisions on the greatest matters when it is well known that there cannot be 50, 20, perhaps not even 5 per cent. of the House understanding what it is to which they are giving assent.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
If the hon. Member who seems to be amused can explain the Bill 1282 clearly, and its probable legal effects, I shall be the first to congratulate him.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
No, I was not; I should not.
The second reason why questions of this sort appear to me important is that we are going an awfully long way, not only to devalue Parliamentary procedure and democracy below the point of parody, but also to devalue the United Nations below the point of parody. There came a moment when it was said that the League of Nations was midsummer madness. That may have been the wrong way to put it; perhaps it should have been said sooner, or perhaps not till liter, or perhaps in different language, or perhaps not from the lips from which it fell. But it is perfectly plain that any kind of organisation purporting to direct the use of physical compulsion, especially in international matters, must at some point, of either ineffectiveness or disrespectability, be disallowed, be written off. It is true that there has always got to be a certain amount of wishful thinking in the early management of any international concern. We have to pretend, for instance, that the League of Nations has really gone a little further than it has all the time, until, we hope, the point when it is a reality—rather like teaching a child to swim or to ride a bicycle; but if the pretence is excessive one never does teach the child to swim: it is drowned first.
What point have we reached about the United Nations now? What is that point after the Colonial Secretary's telling us about the extreme partiality with which these things have been done? At the time of the last Debate we had on Palestine, I ventured to suggest that there had been some "log-rolling" and horse-coping, and that really the United Nations results were not such as it was possible for anyone accustomed to decent methods of government by discussion to treat with respect. At that time such a view was rather howled down. But now the Colonial Secretary has been saying very much the same thing. I can give hon. Members a list of American papers in which the whole thing is written off as—if the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) will forgive me—almost wholly 1283 bogus. How far are we making this more bogus than ever, when we are doing what we are doing now, assuming as an authority to be handed over to something about which we do not hide our sense of its ineffectiveness?
Do not think that I can be scored off by being asked: "What would you do better?" I am not in a position where I can possibly say that I would do better. I am in a position where I am entitled to try to show what the faults are, especially when I remember the right hon. Gentleman's almost joyousness or relief, at least, on the last occasion, although I do not think he is so nearly joyful, so relieved, now. If Imperialism means an external power acting in accordance with its own political and strategic fears or hopes—and that it what the right hon. Gentleman has attributed this decision to, both here and in America—in disregard of the evil effects which may happen to the natives of the country concerned, then the Imperialism that came from strength was nothing in effect of human misery compared to the Imperialism which we are now seeing here coming from weakness.
The next question I should like to ask is about the date. I am inclined to think that the dates now fixed must be accepted and adhered to. But I ask right hon. and hon. Members opposite to consider this: that we should not have been tied by any logic to sticking to these dates today because we agreed to them in December, or upon an earlier occasion, not tied because the whole argument then was for handing over to something. What is there to be handed over to now? Suppose that all the United Nations supply forces, what forces will they be, and to do what? Who supposes that this is going to lead to anything that can be ordered government in Palestine?
On each of the last two or three occasions when we discussed this, I asked the right hon. Gentleman to put beyond any question the cleanness of our hands in having done everything possible to remove the argument that Zionist immigration into Palestine must be allowed on humanitarian grounds, of sympathy for the unfortunate Jews from Europe. Over and again we have begged for that, and I particularly have asked for it. More than once we have had some kind of assurance 1284 from the Treasury Bench. If the United Nations were united about anything, could they not have been united in offering asylum? And so that argument could be taken away, these two questions, which should never have been tied up together, could thus be clean separated. The first question, which is the Zionist question, is whether it is or is not right for Britain, or the United Nations, to exercise military force to compel a long-settled society to permit immigration without having any control of its quantity and quality. The other question is what ought to be done as a matter of human pity for such Jews as are miserable and homeless in and around Europe. Let us get and keep these two questions apart. Which nations have promised that they will take x thousands for the next y years? And if none of the nations have made such promises, have they refused requests from the right hon. Gentleman that such promises should be given? And if so, why is it that there have been no such promises?
What is the responsibility of the United States? What is supposed or known by His Majesty's Government to be the next intention of the United States Government about this? I will not say that the United Nations has become midsummer madness. I desire as long as it is kept alive all the optimism in the world with which one can reasonably and decently persuade oneself that it is alive, in the hope that one day it may become really effective. But that it is wholly ineffective in this business, is quite plain. Incidentally to that—one small point to which, perhaps, we may have an answer: the chairman of this Commission of five is a Czech. What sort of Czech? Is he still in good standing with his union, so to speak, or is he on the way out?
I do not think that anyone can honestly maintain any longer there is any hope that anything humanly effective is going to be done in Palestine by the United Nations in this matter. If there is, someone on the Treasury Bench should quite clearly demonstrate it, and if there is not, that should quite clearly be put on record from the Treasury Bench. On either of these two hypotheses we should be told what the Government think and hope from the United States; whether they hope for co-operation from the United States inside the United Nations, or whether they hope for co-operation 1285 from the United States outside the United Nations. These are the things which we ought to be told clearly. None of us should be reproached if we say that this Bill is a horrible and terrible Bill, or if we say that we will not take the responsibility of opposing it, neither do we wish to take responsibility of voting for it; or if we say that the descent of events which has led to this Bill has scrawled and blotted the most lamentable page in the Imperial history of this country.
§ 5.38 p.m.
§ Mr. John McKay (Wallsend)
I believe that we are all democrats in this House, and that we wish to do what the British people want done. There is no doubt that one of the things the British people want is to get our people out of Palestine. I do not go into all the details of the arguments on both sides. Sometimes these arguments have been good, and sometimes they have been bad and indifferent. What I am concerned about are the arguments used by our own people. We in this House want to guard the reputation of our people. We, who represent an elected body, want to indicate to our people that there is some real unity in our Government. Because of the criticisms which have been made by hon. Members who support the Government, I want particularly to indicate my attitude towards this question. When we preach British democracy to our own Government as a national body, and when we begin to preach democracy internationally, or, in other words, ask people to work together as a body and accept a majority decision, we have to be consistent.
Criticism is being levelled at the Government that they have not been prepared to co-operate in carrying out the decision which has been made by the United Nations Assembly. If an international body, recognised as a body to deal with such matters, takes upon itself responsibility for a decision, the question arises not so much of whether one unit of that body has been enthusiastically loyal and co-operative, but of what the international body itself has done? What is the attitude of that international body to the decision which has been made by itself? If we want to criticise, are we doing the right thing by concentrating that criticism on one unit——
§ Mr. McKay
No, I wish to continue with my speech. The first essential of any international body is, surely, that it can command respect, that its history is such that it has a reputation for implementing its decisions. If we have not got that spirit within the international body we cannot expect much enthusiasm from the various units which go to make up that body. Apart from all that, when an international body makes a decision on a matter of vital importance, the criticism against that decision should be levelled not at this Government, which is only one unit in a mixed crowd, but at the body which has made that decision. If that is done we shall get nearer to the root of the actual problem.
Most people know that the problem is the weakness within the international body itself—antagonism and lack of cooperation—which was expected to bring peace to the world. Because of the suspicion and lack of enthusiasm the criticism must be levelled at that source. The organisation which we look to to prepare the way for implementing its own decision is the international body itself. While the Government have been attempting to prepare for the ultimate implementation of the international body's decision, they have been faced with an obstacle. The great question in the world today in connection with Palestine is not whether the Government will solve this problem, but whether the United Nations organisation will solve it?
Having passed a resolution, what was then required in addition? Hard work and enthusiasm within the international body itself in preparing the way for the implementation of that decision. Until there is implementation of that decision by a force which can keep apart the two opposing sides—Jews and Arabs—there is bound to be conflict. Knowing that we would be withdrawing from Palestine, and that a conflict between Arabs and Jews was inevitable, it was the duty of the international organisation to prepare the instrument of power so that its own decision could be implemented. They have not done it. Such a force does not exist. Is there any indication that one will be forthcoming? After hearing all the critics and the points of view of our own 1287 people, I am satisfied that the Government have done all they can. The great weakness is not within this Government; it is to be found elsewhere, and that is the place to which criticism should be directed.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Hopkin Morris (Carmarthen)
This is not an occasion to review the history of Palestine, and little can be said in regard to future developments. Perhaps the less said about that the better. The Bill, itself limited in scope, is really a sad Bill in the history of this country. We entered Palestine nearly 30 years ago as the mandatory Power with high hopes. We found it had a population of 750,000 and was a backward Ottoman province. There were no highways, and it was riddled with disease, but, despite all the difficulties, and the great obstacles, in the last 30 years the population has increased from 750,000 to something like two million. Today Palestine has the necessary equipment for a modern civilised State.
That is a great achievement, a magnificent achievement by this country, made in the space of 30 years, and one of which we might well be proud. It must be a matter of great regret for every Member of this House that at the end of that 30 years, with all that work to our credit, we are faced with this Bill, and that the best offer we can make in the terms of the Bill is to withdraw from Palestine. It is a great tragedy, not only to Palestine, but to the world, that this withdrawal has to take place. The party opposite cannot escape responsibility for what has made this withdrawal necessary. They cannot forget that they fought the last General Election with wholesale pledges to Jewry, and Jewry has legitimate claims to make about those pledges. It was a great misfortune that they were made, and today they have recoiled on the heads of the Government Front Bench.
If there were any chance of a settlement in Palestine, there would be no demand for this Bill, but there is no likelihood of a settlement. Can anyone believe that the proposal put forward by the United Nations for partition is one which will secure peace, or provide a workable solution to which we can look forward when we have gone out? What is to be the end? No one knows. Perhaps it is 1288 idle to speculate at the moment, and perhaps also the less we speculate in this House the better. One thing is clear—that, failing an agreement between the Jews and the Arabs, there was only one thing for us to do. That is to give up the Mandate to the United Nations. Because of that, but facing the tragedy, I reluctantly support the Measure.
§ 5.54 p.m.
§ Mr. S. N. Evans (Wednesbury)
The hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hopkin Morris) is quite wrong about the Labour Party. The Labour Party never committed itself to a Jewish State. It committed itself to the idea of a Jewish National Home under restricted immigration. I cannot agree that something which was practicable 10 years ago is enforceable today.
§ Mr. Evans
I listened with great interest to what I felt was a very brilliant speech by the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn). I thought it a superb Parliamentary performance. He referred to the Americans and to the fact that we would like to know what they are going to do. I was particularly intrigued at that because it has to be remembered that Palestine has been the football of American internal politics far too long. I am not prepared to agree that the sons and husbands of my constituents should be the cannon fodder of an American presidential election. We have had too much of that.
There is concern, and we understand it, about the effect of the Government's attitude on U.N.O. prestige. U.N.O. prestige had taken a severe battering before this became a live issue. No organisation which has had its decisions unilaterally vetoed on 20 occasions can any longer pretend to be an effective political instrument. It has great and important tasks to perform in the economic field, but I do not think we serve either ourselves or history well by pretending that U.N.O. at this moment is an effective political instrument. This problem might well have been solved a long time ago, but for White House irresponsibility. There was every sign that an accommodation might have been reached at the time when the White House threw the 100,000 for immediate entry. into the arena.
1289 I have considerable sympathy with the Foreign Secretary in the situation in which he now finds himself. I would like to know the nature of the force it is proposed to put into Palestine to enforce what I regard as quite unenforceable—partition. I believe partition is as dead as a door nail, but let us pretend for a moment that it is not, and that some force is to be applied to enforce it. I wish to know the nature of that force. We have had 100,000 men there for a long time, yet we have not succeeded in preventing serious loss of life and damage to property. I want to know the nature of the force it is proposed to send in. I have an uneasy feeling that some people would like to send a couple of platoons of Costa Rican light infantry and half a squadron of Dominican Dragoon Guards and who believe that after that, the baby would be ours.
I support the Government's decision to stay out of this, at any rate until there is some clarification, because, once we accept the principle that partition must be enforced, the United Nations will turn round and say, "You are the people on the spot, and therefore best fitted to enforce it. What are you going to do then?" I think the Government have been quite logical in this matter, and I am very pleased that they are going to stand firm. I think the hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) wants to interject.
§ Mr. Crossman rose——
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)
I am not objecting to the hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Cross-man) getting up, but I deprecate the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans) inviting hon. Members to get up.
I should like to express my thanks to my hon. Friend for his chivalry, and the only reason why I interject is that "Stand firm" is a somewhat strange description of a total and absolute abdication.
§ Mr. Evans
This is a considered decision which has the full backing of 95 per cent. of the British people.
1290 I would like to turn for a moment to the circumstances in which the ad hoc committee of the United Nations Organisation arrived at this majority decision because it is interesting. Mr. Kermit Roosevelt describes it as follows:Exerting all possible political and economic pressure, the Zionists took the fight into their own hands. Six countries which had indicated their intention of voting against partition were the chosen targets. Haiti, Liberia, the Philippines, China, Ethiopia and GreeceIn the event all abstained. Commenting on what many would regard as a most discreditable episode, in addressing to American Council for Judaism, Mr. Carrol Binder, an eminent American editor, said this:What right had the United States to use its economic and political power to compel weak but none the less sovereign States to act contrary to what they believed to be their national and the world's interests for the furtherance of the domestic political interests of the Truman Administration?The recent history of Palestine is not quite as clear-cut as some of my hon. Friends on these benches would have us believe and, if the opportunity presented itself now to take the decision again, I believe a very different decision would be arrived at. I was a little disturbed when the Minister spoke in somewhat ambiguous terms, which provoked an interjection from the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) about what would happen if the United Nations Organisation had not created the instrument to take over at the time we were due to go out. Quite frankly, I do not think that is our business. We have made our position quite clear, and any sign of indecision now can only encourage people who still hope that we shall bear the burden of imposing partition. I hope, therefore, that there will be some clarification of that tonight. I do not think this is an occasion for long speeches. I think the Government have arrived at a courageous decision in a very unpleasant matter, and they are entitled to the support of all right thinking citizens.
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ Sir Peter Macdonald (Isle of Wight)
The hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans) at the outset of his remarks told the House that the Labour Party at no time made a pledge that they would solve the Palestine problem——
§ Mr. S. N. Evans
If the hon. Member will allow me to interrupt, I did not say that. I said the Labour Party had never at any time pledged itself to the idea of a Jewish State.
§ Sir P. Macdonald
All right, I will accept that, but I am quite convinced that he knows that at the last Election he and practically every Labour candidate said that the Labour Party had a policy for Palestine—[Interruption.] I accept that from hon. Members themselves who told us that on more than cite occasion when they fought the last Election. They had a policy for Palestine. I had a Labour opponent myself who made great play with that issue, because he had served out there in some capacity during the war, and he convinced quite a lot of people that if the Socialist Party was returned to power, the Palestine problem would be solved.
§ Sir P. Macdonald
There is no question but that the right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) committed his party during the Election, and I myself have heard the Foreign Secretary say in this House that he staked his whole political reputation on solving the Palestine problem. This is two and a half years after their entry into office, and the pledge they gave was that a solution would be found, and then they asked for unrestricted immigration into Palestine. It is hopeless to argue with people who, one day, will make a statement like that, and the next day will run away from it. I am waiting with interest to hear the quarrel within the party and the speeches of those who support the Amendments on the Paper. I am quite convinced that they are alive to the pledges given by their party.
I support this Bill inasmuch as it carries out the policy advocated by the Leader of the Opposition over two and a half years ago; that is, that unless we could get agreement between Arabs and Jews in Palestine, we should clear out. It has taken the Government two and a half years to make up their minds to carry out that policy. I hope that whatever may happen in the Councils of U.N.O., or elsewhere, this Government will not recede from that decision to clear out on 15th May. I can foresee a great deal of pressure being put on them within the next 1292 two months to remain there and hold the baby, but I sincerely hope that will not happen. Also I would like to know why the date has been left out of the Bill, because I thought there was no doubt about the date on which the Administration was to come to an end in Palestine, and as this Bill is to carry out that policy, I hope the date will be included during the Committee stage.
There is one aspect of this abdication—and that is all it is, whatever hon. Members opposite may say—this scuttle from Palestine——
§ Sir P. Macdonald
All right, abdication, if hon. Members prefer that. There is one aspect of it which disturbs me profoundly, and that is that after 15th May our troops will be left behind until August. Our troops have been in Palestine to support the Administration, and during the last two years they have had the most unpleasant task ever imposed on any troops in our history. To be in occupation trying to hold the balance between two warring parties, being shot at by both sides and with the knowledge that there is a weak Government at home without a policy behind them, is a most impossible situation for any army. I have some experience of being in an army of occupation. Even though we had a military government behind us, it was not a pleasant position, and how much more will it be so in the case of our troops in Palestine after 15th May. It is proposed to leave these troops in Palestine after 15th May with nothing but a vacuum behind them, because there is nothing, so far, to take the place of the Palestine Government, as the right hon. Gentleman has just told us. They will have to hold the sidelines whilst civil war is going on inside the country.
We are told the reason why we cannot get out of Palestine sooner is because of the stores. I do not accept that story, because the Government now have had six months to get those stores out, and they will have another couple of, months before the 15th May. I am convinced that if Field Marshal Montgomery made up his mind to get the troops and the stores out of Palestine before 1st August he would do so. He was able to move much larger forces during the war, and if 1293 he wanted to move all the stores in Palestine he could easily do so long before the date in question. Every Member of this House who represents a constituency in which there are parents of sons who are serving in the Forces in Palestine feels very unhappy at the realisation that they will be left behind after our administration has gone, to be shot at from all sides with no Government to look after them or support them.
This is a very unhappy occasion in the history of this Parliament. We have had 25 years of administration in Palestine which certainly has been a credit to this country. We went in there with the highest possible hopes of creating a home for the Jewish people, and we did everything possible to carry out that pledge until this Government came in, pledged to indiscriminate immigration, and the situation got out of hand. Now we are in the unhappy position of having to abdicate our responsibilities. The United States, I am sorry to say, will not accept any military responsibility for Palestine at the present time. I am told that they are arguing behind closed doors with Russia as to what further steps are to be taken. I can tell the United States that if they are not prepared to send troops to Palestine, the other partner, Russia, will be there because she has already got a strong Fifth Column there. About a year ago when I was speaking on this subject in this House, I pointed to a report of a Committee of which I was a member and which had visited Austria. That report told what we had found during the course of our investigation on the Estimates. I do not mind repeating now what I said then, because it was a thing that ought to be brought home to this House and to our American friends. In the displaced persons camps in Austria we found several thousands of young Jews on their way to Palestine.
§ Sir P. Macdonald
They were young men and women of military age, and they were brought there from Russia.
§ Sir P. Macdonald
They came across the frontiers of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, and they had D.P. passports and 1294 money and clothes provided. They were put into trains and taken to the American zone, where they were placed in these camps until they could be passed on to Palestine. The reason why these people happened to be in our zone in Austria was because they had so many in the American zone and the American general asked our authorities to relieve him of some for a few months. That is the type of so-called displaced persons who were en route to Palestine, and who are there now. They were all trained Communist soldiers, and certainly they were of military age. That is the Fifth Column waiting today for our departure from Palestine. They are well established and they are well trained and well equipped. It amazes me that the Government of the United States——
§ Sir P. Macdonald
—who have been so sensible to the dangers of Communism should have been so stupid as to overlook this fact, because it has been brought to their notice more than once. I am not going to attack the best friends we have at the present time, especially after the White Paper that was issued yesterday, and which shows how much we must depend on the Marshall Plan. The fact remains that that situation has been mentioned more than once in this House, and that blindly, or for some reason that we cannot understand, the American Government, for some time with the connivance of the Russian Government, have been sending people into Palestine who are trained Communist troops.
§ Mr. Edelman (Coventry, West)
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that a similar canard was circulated about the Jews in the Cyprus camps, and that Sir Godfrey Collins, the Commissioner for camps in Cyprus, denied that there were, in fact, Russian Communists amongst the Jews who were detained there?
§ Sir P. Macdonald
They probably would not admit they were Communists. They came from Russia, and they had all been serving with the Russian Army during the war. They were Polish Jews from Eastern Poland.
§ Mr. Edelman
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that a few moments ago he said 1295 they were Russian Jews? Now he says they are Jews from Eastern Poland.
§ Sir P. Macdonald
I was telling the House how they happened to be there. [Interruption.] I know that hon. Members opposite do not like this a bit. These men were Polish Jews who came from Eastern Poland, and when the Russians occupied Eastern Poland these young men and women were sent back to Russia. They served in the Russian Army or they worked in the Russian zone. Since the war they have been taken out of the Army and have been sent to Austria en route to Palestine.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I am sure the hon. Member would not wish to deceive himself and certainly he will not deceive anybody else. Does he not know that almost all the Jews in the displaced persons camps came from Poland, and that that country was divided, one half being occupied by the Germans and one half by the Russians?
§ Mr. Kenneth Lindsay (Combined English Universities)
I, too, have been to the camp in Austria, and I interviewed a very large proportion of the Jews in that camp. They are Poles who actually fought with Russia, but unless the hon. Member can give some good reason to show that they were also Communists he should not say so. We knew that some of them were driven out of Poland, but there was no proof so far as our investigations went, that they were Communists.
§ Sir P. Macdonald
I do not know what were the investigations of the hon. Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. K. Lindsay)——
§ Sir P. Macdonald
There is something sinister about this migration from Russia, which is so short of manpower today—sending young men from her own country to Poland and across the frontiers of Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia en route to Palestine. Why send them?
§ Sir P. Macdonald
I am just giving this as a warning, because there is no question about it, as soon as we pull out of Palestine the Russian Fifth Column is going to take over. I am not enthusiastic about the Bill, but it is one which we must support. I look upon the Amendments as the expression of a family squabble, and I hope that we on this side will take no part in it. It is a squabble between certain sections of the Labour Party, and they must fight it out among themselves.
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Benn Levy (Eton and Slough)
The hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Sir P. Macdonald) began by discussing what was or was not the declared policy of the Labour Party before it came into office. He immediately found himself in a welter of assertions, cross-assertions and contradictions. The hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hopkin Morris) was on surer ground, and raised no dissent when he said in general terms that the Labour Party, before it came into office, aroused certain expectations for Palestine Jewry, which had not been fulfilled. The only point on which I must differ from the hon. and learned Member is that he deemed our attitude before coming into office to have been wrong and our attitude since coming into office to have been right. I take a diametrically opposite view. I think that we have been consistently right on this issue as a party until we departed from the established party policy. Nevertheless, it must be admitted that for the last two and a half years the Foreign Secretary has been busy blocking and disappointing expectations which Palestine Jewry legitimately entertained of a Labour Government, with the inevitable results of bloodshed, chaos and ignominious evacuation.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I do not know whether this is a fair interruption, but if this assertion is to be made about one ornament of the Treasury Bench, is not the Minister directly responsible going to make comment on it?
§ Mr. Levy
The hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) not content with having spoken himself, now seeks to dictate to the House who shall interrupt and when. Really this is going a little far even for the hon. Member. I was saying that the results of this change of policy is as I have described it. All 1297 the bold words and all the celebrated skill as a negotiator of the Foreign Secretary, all the wiles and calculations and ability of Foreign Office and Colonial Office experts—all that these efforts have produced is a distraught land where once hopes of a renascence ran so high; a land racked with mistrust, intransigence, hatred and fear, a few dead men, an incipient war and a diminution of British prestige. Was this the result for which the Foreign Secretary pledged his reputation?
I do not, however, want to dwell upon the past. The lost lives cannot be restored, nor the broken homes and hearts mended. What of the present and of the future? What are we doing to repair the disaster and to salvage peace? A year ago we threw in our hands. We passed the responsibility quite rightly to the United Nations. I make no complaint of that. Matters had developed to a point of insolubility where we had no other course. But having failed ourselves, one would have thought that we would have done everything possible to help U.N.O. to succeed. Did we really want a solution or did we want to perpetuate the tragic status quo? That question has to be asked, because again and again we have declared that we were unwilling to cooperate in the implementation of any plan that is not acceptable to both parties. If that means anything at all, it means surely that we would only co-operate in a settlement freely negotiated between the parties. But the Foreign Secretary himself has said that there is no possibility of such a settlement. On 18th February, 1947, he said:The discussions of the last month have quite clearly shown that there is no prospect of resolving this conflict by any settlement negotiated between the parties."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 78th February, 1947; Vol. 433, c. 988.]It appears, therefore, that the condition of our co-operation is one which we knew beforehand could not be fulfilled. Can that be regarded as co-operating with the United Nations Organisation.
Yet these are the grounds on which we have refused to facilitate the difficult task of U.N.O.'s Commission in the way they have asked. We have refused to transfer the reins of authority to the U.N.O. Commission progressively, by stages, as we have been asked. We have refused to allow the establishment of Arab and 1298 Jewish Councils of Government, as we were asked; or of Jewish and Arab militias, as we were asked; and we have refused even to allow the Commission to enter Palestine at all until a bare fortnight before we ourselves lay down the Mandate. That last refusal, above all others, is guaranteed to make the process of transference pure chaos. Is that cooperating with the United Nations organisation?
We have refused all this on the ground that it is our sole responsibility to maintain law and order, which we are not doing, and to protect the frontiers from aggression, which we are not doing. In short, we have refused on the grounds that we cannot do what in fact we are not doing unless we retain undivided control.
§ Mr. Crawley (Buckingham)
Is my hon. Friend suggesting that at this moment U.N.O. is asking that we should introduce Arab and Jewish militia and leave it to the Commission to take over from there?
§ Mr. Levy
If I am asked whether U.N.O. has suggested that, my hon. Friend will know quite well that U.N.O. has suggested precisely that. To the best of my knowledge U.N.O. has not withdrawn that suggestion. I had mentioned the question of undivided control, but I understand that we have not even got that, because the most astonishing document has come to my attention, which I would like to read to the House. This is a communication, which was made to the United Nations Palestine Commission by the mandatory Power, on 9th February:A report has been received from Jerusalem to the effect that it is now definitely' established that a second party of some 700 guerillas entered via Djamiyeh bridge on 29th January. It is understood that the band dispersed rapidly among the villages of Samaria and there is now in that district a force of not less than 1,400. Although this force is dispersed, it remains cohesive and"—it is the following words to which I wish particularly to direct the attention of the House—is increasingly exercising considerable administrative control over the whole area.That seems to me to be a most astonishing admission. It appears, therefore, that we can share control with Arab marauders but not with the United Nations Commission.
1299 All these refusals are gravely important, above all for one reason, a reason which some of us tried to indicate in an Amendment on the Order Paper, namely that they tend to undermine the United Nations organisation.That this House, while welcoming the Government's decision to terminate the Palestine Mandate on 15th May and to withdraw all British troops from Palestine, declines to give a Second Reading to the Palestine Bill, while the Government pursues a policy in respect to Palestine which undermines the authority of the United Nations organisation.I do not want to argue the purely legal pros and cons of that case, partly because they could be interminable, but mainly because I maintain that our obligations to the United Nations organisation are much more than merely legalistic, and that the spirit is in this case really much more important than the letter. We would all admit that the Russians have done U.N.O. no service by their excessive, though perfectly legal, use of the veto. It would be equally true that we would do the United Nations no service if we, in our turn, made its decisions inoperative, it is true without incurring the odium of using the veto but by a stubborn non-co-operation. In that case we should be equally culpable and could not escape censure on legalistic grounds.
It is both our duty and our interest to make U.N.O. work and, therefore, to establish constructive and not erosive precedents. I say to my right hon. Friends the Foreign Secretary and the Colonial Secretary, let not Palestine be to the United Nations what Manchuria was to the League of Nations. We have been told again and again, and I welcome it, that support for U.N.O. is the cornerstone of our foreign policy, and we had hoped that that was true. Yet here we are continuing to supply arms to countries who have openly avowed their intention of using those arms for the overthrow of U.N.O. decisions. Is that co-operating with the United Nations organisation? Surely this is an acid test of our sincerity? I know perfectly well that there is a conflict of loyalty between our treaty obligations to these Arab countries and our obligation to promote the authority of the United Nations, but if we are forced, as it appears we are, to choose the lesser of two evils, we must choose the temporary suspension of the supply of arms, 1300 and if necessary the negotiation of amended treaties.
There are certain people who like to call themselves realists, and they would perhaps maintain, privately if not publicly, that what I have been saying ignores the hard realities of the situation, which are oil and strategy. They would say that principle is all right in its proper place but that its proper place is not in policy but in perorations. But even on the grounds of expediency what in the world are we accomplishing? Suppose the calculation is that, if we carry out the kind of so-called non-intervention which was so effective in Spain and similar results are achieved and Palestine Jewry is extinguished, as Republican Spain was extinguished, shall we really have benefited? Shall we really be any further forrarder? We shall have lost the support of those who during the war were our loyal friends and helpers in order to appease those who at the same time were either our open enemies or our unreliable and treacherous Allies.
§ Mr. David Renton (Huntingdon)
Having seen something of both sides taking part in this war, which was two and a half years ago, I am deeply shocked at the hon. Member's strong words. I feel he may wish to modify them. There are many witnesses in all our three Forces who know perfectly well that many Arabs and many Jews gave faithful service to the Allies. The hon. Member's generalisation is not a fair one.
§ Mr. Levy
I certainly agree that generalisations can be too sweeping, and that there were gallant exceptions among the Arabs. But perhaps the hon. Member would allow me to quote from a report from "The Times" of a meeting at which the Foreign Secretary spoke. "The Times" report says:Mr. Bevin paid a tribute to the Mercantile Marine, a tribute which was loudly cheered, but when he referred to the generosity, hospitality, and help of the Arab population in the Western Desert, there was ironical laughter.That speech aroused ironical laughter at the Albert Hall at an 8th Army meeting to celebrate El Alamein. I am satisfied to rest my allegations on the testimony of that ironical laughter.
§ Mr. Renton
It is perfectly true, and no hon. Member would contest this, that the Arabs in the Western Desert did not make a very special contribution to the war, and no doubt the men of the 8th Army were perfectly justified in enjoying themselves when they were mentioned, but there were many other Arabs who were formed into organised forces, who would have been included in the hon. Member's generalisation, which he may wish to modify.
§ Mr. Levy
I have already modified it, and I think the hon. Member's second intervention was therefore not really very necessary.
I was trying to understand what even on the grounds of expediency could be the argument in favour of the Government's policy. I was suggesting what the hypothetical realists might say. But I must ask whether they would seriously maintain that we can rely on the gratitude and loyalty of the Arab States in future as our safeguard in the Middle East? Do they really suggest that the slender hope of acquiring the loyalty of the Mufti and of Fawzi Al Kawukji and the rest of them is to be the sheet anchor of our economic and strategic security? Of course they suggest nothing of the kind. The realists have another calculation up their sleeve. It is that, by supporting the feudal sheiks of the Middle East against the masses, we can ensure that interested loyalty. If that indeed should be the policy of a Socialist Foreign Secretary, I hope that he will have the courage to lay it before the party conference this summer and test it there.
I would conclude with one short quotation. It is from a speech by a Socialist politician whom I think everybody in this House respects. He said:Those of us who have seen the great achievement of the Jews on the spot have realised that the key principles of our great movement have been worked out by the Jews. The Jews are asked to end their experiment because our own Government is unable to secure order, is unable to restrain the Fascists, is unable to check the bandits who come in from outside.The speaker was the present Colonial Secretary. He made that speech in 1939. Plus ça change, plus c'est la méme chose. It was delivered at the Labour Party conference, and he was speaking to a resolution condemning the Tory policy in Palestine. That resolution 1302 was passed with only two dissentient hands raised, and I should not be surprised if both of them belonged to my hon. Friend the Member for the Forest of Dean (Mr. Philips Price). I wish to ask one final question. What would have been the attitude of our party this afternoon if we had been in opposition?
§ 6.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Harold Roberts (Birmingham, Handsworth)
From the speech of the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Levy) it is evident that he and his friends propose to vote against this Bill, but I shall not be one of those who will follow them. This is certainly a melancholy occasion, but I dissent entirely from the suggestion, which appears to be in the minds of some people, that it is in any way an occasion for national shame. It was instructive to hear the hon. Member for Eton and Slough point out that the Socialist policy has been right throughout, except during the time when the Socialists have been in power, when it received his unqualified condemnation.
I was also interested to hear the parallel drawn by the hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) when he said that this was a case analogous to the melancholy history of Manchuria, Spain, Munich and so forth. Apparently, he feels that never again can he enjoy the pleasure of taunting the Tories with their defaults in policy because now the Government are committing an equally shameful one. I suggest to him, and to the hon. Member for Eton and Slough, a more hopeful explanation, and one which I hope is not full of party rancour. It is that parties who are not in power, who have not had any great experience of power, should not think that their policies and programme are all good, and impute all that goes wrong in this wicked world to the demerits of their opponents who reside in high places. Notwithstanding their paper programmes and their ideologies, when they come to occupy high power they are capable, in the domain of foreign affairs, of learning by bitter experience, and of realising that 1303 there is, after all, something to be said for the British point of view. The carpings and the attacks which this country continually receives do not conclude the argument.
It was pretty generally understood several months ago that the general sense of this House, and certainly of the country, was that we are to leave Palestine, and that we are not prepared to shed more blood, and incur more obloquy in trying to do our duty there. How then can anyone logically vote against a Bill which implements that decision? The Bill is imperfect, and doubtless full of difficult legal problems which will require extreme care in Committee. But I would say to the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) that, imperfect though it may be, it may well have to remain imperfect because, when we are outside the domain of positive law where there are no true internal sanctions verging on the well-defined sphere of international law, in circumstances to which I think history affords no precise parallel, the most we can hope for the Attorney-General and his fellow labourers is that they may produce a Bill as little imperfect as may be. I myself would not venture to ask for more.
The arguments that have been put to us are, in effect, that it is an act of abdication and an act of cowardice. We have nothing to be ashamed of. We have been for a generation in Palestine, and the result of the brutal ill-usage which we have inflicted on the subject population is, as has happened all over the world—that the subject population have thrived very well upon it. The population of Palestine has risen from about three quarters of a million to a million during that time. The country has been vastly improved. The same may be said of some other parts of this globe from which we have lately retreated. I suppose it is rather old-fashioned in these days even to read Rudyard Kipling. But was he altogether wrong when he talked about the rewards which those who assumed the white man's burden would incur—the enmity, odium and attacks from those whom they benefited?
When I bear in mind particularly the sort of thing I read in "Palestine Affairs" which is issued, I understand, from New York, when I find that every 1304 action of His Majesty's Ministers is subjected to attack, and when all doubtful points appear to be resolved against them, I say that, for myself, I have had enough. I am sick and tired of this country being in the position of being made to carry the weight and burden, and our young manhood being murdered. If any attempts are made by our troops to defend themselves, they are reviled. This is being done by citizens of a nation which will take no part whatever in the implementation of the policy that this House decided. We had had enough some time ago, and I agree that His Majesty's Ministers should do no other than implement that decision in the Bill that is before us. That it is perfect, no one pretends; that it is necessary will be the overwhelming opinion of the country; that it is a matter for regret, all will agree; but that it is in any sense a matter for shame, for blushing or repentance on the part of the people of this country, I strenuously deny.
§ 6.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Warbey (Luton)
I beg to move to leave out from "That" to the end of the Question, and to add:this House declines to give a Second Reading to a Bill which, in making provision with respect to the termination of His Majesty's jurisdiction in Palestine, fails to make provision for the independence of Jewish and Arab States in Palestine as provided by the United Nations decision, for the orderly transfer of such jurisdiction to the United Nations Commission, or for consequential and connected matters.There is a second Amendment on the Order Paper:That this House, while welcoming the Government's decision to terminate the Palestine Mandate on 15th May and to withdraw all British troops from Palestine, declines to give a Second Reading to the Palestine Bill, while the Government pursues a policy in respect to Palestine which undermines the authority of the United Nations Organisation.I think it will be shown, before this evening is out, that hon. Members who have put their names to the second Amendment will support the first, not only in their speeches but, unless the Government are able to announce a sudden and dramatic reversal of their policy, also in the Division Lobby. This is a reasoned Amendment for the rejection of the Bill. We do not oppose that part of the Bill which makes provision for the termination of British jurisdiction in Palestine. I think I can say that all who are criticising the policy of the Government on 1305 this matter are entirely agreed that the decision to terminate the British Mandate in Palestine and to withdraw British troops is absolutely right and necessary. In fact, I would go even further and say that it is intolerable that our troops should continue to be exposed to the dangers and difficulties to which they are being exposed at present. It would be for their good, and probably also for the good of the Jews and the Arabs in Palestine, if this whole process could be speeded even faster so that the transfer was earlier than the date given by the Government. If we cannot provide for an orderly transfer of our authority, we should call in the Palestine Commission, get out as quickly as we can, and give at least a fair chance to those who may have the terrible job of fighting it out in Palestine. While we remain there, as has already been shown by my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Levy), and as I hope to show also, the situation continues to deteriorate and the scales continue to be weighted against those who support the decision of the United Nations, and in favour of those who are opposed to that decision, and who have threatened to upset it by force.
Therefore, we accept gladly the termination of British jurisdiction in Palestine. But this Bill provides for the end of our jurisdiction and for absolutely nothing at all to replace it. It leaves behind a complete vacuum after our authority has been withdrawn. It provides for no transfer to a successor régime. It provides for no handing over of property, and makes no provision for citizenship and other matters appropriate if we are to make an orderly transfer to a successor authority. In effect, what this Bill says is, "We clear out of Palestine and après nous le déluge." That is the situation which it creates. We are not asking that the Government should take the sole or major responsibility for implementing the United Nations decision regarding Palestine. We accept the point of view of the Government, that it would be entirely wrong to place the major responsibility upon this country; but we say that we have a part responsibility which we cannot evade if we are loyal to the United Nations.
The Colonial Secretary, this afternoon, rightly reminded hon. Members that the Government have accepted this decision of the United Nations. I have a feeling 1306 that that is sometimes too often forgotten by some hon. Members. The Government have accepted this decision. In fact, to use the words used by my right hon. Friend and also by the Foreign Secretary when that acceptance was announced, it was accepted as the decision of the court of international opinion. The Foreign Secretary even went so far as to say that this decision had been placed on the Statute book of the great world organisation. One cannot use language of that kind, one cannot use language which implies that this decision has the force of international law, and then run away entirely from one's responsibilities, or from any responsibility, for helping to see that that law is carried out.
The United Nations did not provide that the British Government, the mandatory Power, should accept the main responsibility for implementing the decision. On the contrary, it placed the main responsibility upon the Palestine Commission. It is the Palestine Commission that is required to carry out the various specific recommendations necessary for implementing that decision. But what it did ask—and I am sure my right hon. Friend would agree that it rightly asked—was that Britain, as the Mandatory Power, should facilitate the work of that Commission, should help it to carry out this work, and should do nothing to delay, hinder or obstruct the work of the Palestine Commission.
The substance of our complaint against the Government, and our reason for moving this reasoned Amendment, is that the Government by their policy, as reflected in this Bill, instead of helping to make possible the work of the Palestine Commission and the implementation of this decision, have delayed and frustrated the work of the Commission and the decision of the Assembly. I am sure that hon. Members would agree that when people say they accept a decision, and accept it as being equivalent to international law, they also mean that they intend to do what is necessary in order to see that it is carried out. The General Assembly said that certain things were necessary. They have already been referred to this afternoon. Perhaps the most essential point was stated in paragraph B (2) of Part I of the Plan of Partition drawn up by the Assembly. That said: 1307The administration of Palestine shall, as the mandatory Power withdraws its armed Forces, be progressively turned over to the Commission which shall act in conformity with the recommendations of the General Assembly, under the guidance of the Security Council.Therefore, the Palestine Commission was to take over the administration of Palestine, and as soon as possible it was to set up Provisional Councils of Government for the Jewish and Arab States. As soon as possible, it was to create militias to defend each of these States, and those militias were to act under its authority. In Section 13 the whole position is made clear as to the transfer of authoritywith a view to ensuring that there shall be continuity in the functioning of the administrative services"—which, after all, is what we are concerned with—and that, on the withdrawal of the armed Forces of the mandatory Power, the whole administration shall be in charge of Provisional Councils and the Joint Economic Board, respectively, acting under the Commission, there shall be a progressive transfer from the mandatory Power to the Commission of responsibility for all the functions of government.That is the whole set-up envisaged by the General Assembly—the limitation of the frontiers, the setting up of the Provincial Councils for each of the two new States, the creation of militias to defend those States, and on top, exercising the responsibility for administration on behalf of the United Nations, the Palestine Commission.
What we were required to do was simply to make it possible for the Palestine Commission to do its job. A fundamental requisite for its doing that job was that it should go to Palestine as early as possible; yet, in fact, what did the Government do? They refused to allow the Palestine Commission to go to Palestine, even when the Palestine Commission urgently requested them to do so, and there is no doubt at all about the attitude of the Palestine Commission upon this question in its first report to the Security Council. The Commission said:The Commission does not find satisfactory the suggestion that the Commission should not go to Palestine until approximately a fortnight before the termination of the Mandate.It went on to say:The full implementation of the Assembly's recommendation requires the presence of the Commission in Palestine considerably in 1308 advance of the transfer of authority from the mandatory Power to the Commission.It went on to describe the enormous task that has to be carried out in Palestine, which has been rightly stressed by my right hon. Friend, and it pointed out that it could not make an orderly transfer of functions and carry out all these tasks unless it was there in good and sufficient time to make the necessary plans. Yet, we have persisted in this refusal.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Butler) called attention to a very important and serious statement which was made by my right hon. Friend in the course of his speech today. The Colonial Secretary had been talking about our negotiations with a prospective successor authority, and he went on, later in his speech, to say that a situation might arise in which the Palestine Commission was not able to take over jurisdiction in Palestine on 15th May; in other words, a situation might arise in which a complete vacuum and chaos would result, with no provision, apparently, made for such a situation by the Government. I want to point out that, if the Government had carried out the terms of the Assembly resolution, if it had acceded to the request of the Palestine Commission, instead of any danger of a hiatus on 15th May, the Palestine Commission would by now already be in Palestine and beginning to do the job which it was asked to undertake by the Assembly. In fact, it is the British Government which has prevented the Palestine Commission from going out there and starting to do its job.
It may very well be said that now the Palestine Commission is beginning to get worried about what would happen if it should go out there. The Palestine Commission is beginning to turn to the Security Council, and so on, but what is happening in the meantime? In the meantime, the Government, through their official representatives, have been repeatedly intimidating that Commission and threatening it with what would happen if it goes to Palestine, pointing out to it all the dangers that will arise if it should try to carry out the task which has been entrusted to it. This is what Sir Alexander Cadogan told the Commission on 21st January:The Government of Palestine fear that strife in Palestine will be greatly intensified when the Mandate is terminated, and that the 1309 international status of the United Nations Commission will mean little or nothing to the Arabs in Palestine, to whom the killing of Jews now transcends all other considerations.Mr. Fletcher-Cooke, of the United Kingdom delegation, told the Commission:The view held by the Government of Palestine is that the arrival of the Commission will be the signal for widespread attacks by the Arabs both on the Jews and on the members of the Commission itself. In addition, some 62 per cent. of the present Government staff in Palestine are Arabs, and there is reason to believe that none of these will be willing or able to serve the Commission. The Arabs have made it quite clear, and have told the Palestine Government, that they do not propose to co-operate with or assist the Commission, and that, far from it, they propose to attack and impede its work in every possible way.He then said:We have no reason to suppose that they do not mean what they say.No word of condemnation; on the other hand, every attempt to build up this picture of the great threat which the Arabs are holding out to the United Nations and the Palestine Commission, every effort to magnify Arab threats of violence, which are condoned by the Government and which they do nothing to oppose.
I see that the Colonial Secretary shakes his head. How is it, then, that there are Arab forces perpetually crossing the frontiers into Palestine? How is it that there are, as the Under-Secretary told me last week, 5,000 armed Arab troops which had crossed the frontiers into Palestine?—and more have come over since. How is it that Fawzi Kawukji, who led the Arab revolt in 1936 and fought against us in the last war, is able to cross the frontier into Palestine, to come over with arms and considerable armed forces in military convoys, set up a military headquarters in Palestine, and organise a civil administration? All this is happening, and yet, when we ask Questions about it in this House, we are told that the High Commissioner for Palestine says he has heard a local rumour to this effect, although it is published in the whole of the British Press and although this gentleman is receiving Press correspondents at his military headquarters inside Palestine.
What are we doing to stop this hostile incursion into Palestine? What are we doing to protect Palestine against the Mufti? We maintain that we must have undivided control, and that is why we say that we cannot have the Palestine 1310 Commission there. We say that we must remain solely responsible for defending law and order and for defending Palestine against aggression. Well, are we doing it? On the contrary, as we know, law and order are not being maintained in Palestine. There is virtual civil war in Palestine and on the frontiers of Palestine, constantly being increased by the Arab invasion.
That is the situation today, not only inside Palestine but outside. The Arab States, which have openly declared their readiness to flout the decision of the United Nations, to use force to upset that decision and to use force even against a United Nations Army—these Arab States receive every encouragement from the British Government. Have we protested to them? How many public protests have we made? I asked that question, and my right hon. Friend was not able to reply. As far as I know, we have made only one public protest to an Arab State against these incursions. That was on the first occasion, and, as far as is known to Members of this House, there has not been one since. Have we stopped sending arms to these Arab States? Have we informed them, and made it absolutely clear to them, that we regard their attitude as wrong, as contrary to the United Nations, and as one which we are not prepared to tolerate or assist?
On the contrary, by retaining our military missions and by continuing to send arms, we give them every encouragement to go on with their hostile attitude. We encourage the Arabs; we discourage those who fear the violence of the Arabs. We build up this picture of the violence of the Arabs, and all the time that these threats to international peace and security are taking place in Palestine, we sit back on the Security Council and say nothing about them.
In his speech, my right hon. Friend referred to the question of a possible breach of international peace and security. He said that the Security Council had not even considered the question of a breach of international peace and security. I do not know whether he is acquainted—he must be—with the speech of the American delegate to the Security Council made on 24th February. Referring to the report of the Palestine Commission on the security problem in Palestine, the American delegate said: 1311It reports facts which, if accepted or substantiated by the Security Council, would appear to lead to the conclusion that a threat to international peace is present in that situation.There is no mistake about that language. He went on to say:The information which is officially before us, as well as unofficial reports from Palestine, indicate that a major security problem is involved.It should be remembered that the reports, or some of the reports on which these statements were based, were reports supplied to the Palestine Commission by the mandatory Power itself.
I want to ask why we have not reported to the Security Council those breaches of the peace which are constantly taking place in Palestine? Why have we not invoked their aid in Palestine if our 80,000 troops there are unable to protect the frontiers against hostile invasion? I think it is clear from all these matters—from our negative attitude on these matters and from our positive weighting of the scales on the Arab side, from our refusal to take any action which would assist the Palestine Commission to get on with the job and create some authority in Palestine—that what we are doing is to create a situation in which, by the time 15th May arrives, there will be not only a vacuum, not only a blank sheet, but a sheet on which terrible deeds will be written in blood.
That is the situation which is liable to be created, and that is why we move this reasoned Amendment; that is why we ask hon. Members to support us in the Division Lobby. This will be only the second occasion in this Parliament on which I shall have voted against the Government. I do not like voting against the Government, but on this occasion I shall do it with a good conscience, because, if there is one aspect of Government policy in which I have had firm faith and belief, and of which I have been proud, it has been the Government's declaration that we intend to make the United Nations the core and centre of our foreign policy. It is because we are failing to do that on this Palestine question that I shall record my vote against the Government.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
I beg to second the Amendment.
1312 During the last two years I have, from time to time, inflicted upon the House speeches on this subject, and I have always had occasion to be grateful for the way in which those speeches were received, even by those who did not agree with them. Perhaps that is not true of my speeches on other subjects. Therefore, I do not propose to take up the time of the House in dealing with the general subject. The House will know that I am one of those who believe that this effort of the Jews to take a displaced people to a deserted land and to recreate both, not by arms and not by force, and not by the exploitation of the labour of others, was an endeavour of which no man, no Jew, no Socialist and no Englishman need be ashamed. That was always the view of this party.
Where are we today? There is one thing on which we are now all agreed. The Government have always said that they would do nothing about Palestine policy except on the basis of agreement. There is one thing about which everybody is agreed—Jew and Arab in Palestine, Jews outside Palestine, this country as a whole, this House as a whole, and, as far as I understand, the United Nations' decision, the world as a whole—and that is that we had better bring the thing to an end and get out as quickly as possible. About that, everyone is in agreement. This Bill, which, in a way, is designed to enable that to be done, is being opposed, not because any one of us is against terminating the Mandate on 15th May, and taking out every British soldier as soon as he can be got out, but because of the way in which it proposes to do it.
There are two ways in which it could be done. One way in which to terminate our jurisdiction in a country is to do as we did in Burma. We could pass a Bill to provide for the independence of the country and for the handing over to the Government of an independent country of our jurisdiction, and of the function of government, State property and everything else that goes to make up the whole fabric of an organised community. It is not suggested that, in this case, it can be done so simply and directly as that. But there is another way in which we can do it. We can just go out and not bother. We can say, "We wash our hands of this and of everything connected with it. We go away, and we take no 1313 responsibility at all for what we leave behind. We make no provision of any sort or kind for any successor authority. We make no provision for the status of the land, no provision for the status of the people, no provision that any law of any kind shall be valid or operative in the country, no provision for any organised society of any sort, and no basis of authority."
Such a Bill would be one to legislate for chaos, and that is what this Bill does. To do this thing in this way is deliberately and of set purpose to create anarchy. I want to know from the Government whether that is their intention. Do they wish to leave chaos and anarchy behind them? Is it part of their policy for Palestine to take away their jurisdiction and to make sure that there shall be no jurisdiction left behind? I hope somebody will provide answers to these questions, because I am not alone in asking them. Do the Government accept the decision of the General Assembly of the United Nations? If the answer is that they do accept it, will they tell us what they mean by "accepting" it? What does the word "accept" mean? I accept for myself that it does not mean "implement." It does not mean "impose by force." It does not mean "take the responsibility ourselves of resisting by force attempts by force to prevent it coming into operation." But even though it does not mean "implement," it must mean something. What does it mean?
My right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary—and I know he will forgive me if I refer to him, without bitterness, as my old Zionist colleague and friend—said in his speech that partition is impracticable and unworkable. Does he mean that? Surely we are entitled to know. We cannot accept what we think is impracticable and unworkable. We cannot say, "I accept this, short of implementing it myself, I will be loyal to it short of implementing it myself, I will co-operate with whatever authority tries to bring it about," and at the same time and in the same breath say, "The thing is impracticable and unworkable." Which is it? My right hon. Friend did not always think that partition was impracticable and unworkable.
§ Mr. Silverman
Does my right hon. Friend wish to disagree? I thought he said it, and a great many of us thought he said it.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
What I said was that there were several aspects of the resolutions passed by the Assembly on 29th November which were unworkable and impracticable.
§ Mr. Silverman
I apologise. I am greatly relieved and very grateful, and I think my right hon. Friend ought to be grateful to me for giving him the opportunity to clear up an ambiguity which I am sure was not confined to me alone. We now have it from him that he does not think that partition is impracticable or unworkable. Is that right? [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] We ought to know, because the Government have said time after time, within a connotation which they have not defined and which I think some day they must define, that they accept this decision. When they say, "We accept it," does that mean, "We think it can work and we will do our best, short of implementing it ourselves, to make it work?" Is that what they mean? Is that the Government policy? [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] Why at this time of day should the House of Commons be left to ask these questions? Why have not all these matters been cleared up long ago? Since we have not had the answers yet, are we not entitled to them now?
I say to my right hon. Friend, either he must accept the scheme as practicable and workable, and loyally accept it in that sense, or he ought to have told the General Assembly, "Do anything else you like, but do not do that, because it cannot be done." I have offered several times to my right hon. Friend to give way if he likes to intervene, but until he denies it, I think we must accept it that I am right in saying that in his opinion, at any rate, the scheme is practicable and workable and that the Government accept it. We shall go on thinking that until somebody denies it.
On that basis, what in the world does this Bill mean? Clause I says that on the appointed day—and although my right hon. Friend knew the appointed day, he would not put it in his Bill; I do not know whether any significance is to be attached to that—our jurisdiction 1315 in Palestine comes to an end. When it comes to an end, what is left? Until the Mandate there was no Palestine. Palestine was part of a Turkish province, and the only jurisdiction that Palestine as such in modern times has ever known is the jurisdiction of the Palestine Administration under the general authority of the Colonial Office and this House. If that comes to an end, then there is nothing left. What law is left? What law will run in what court in Palestine when our jurisdiction comes to an end and nothing takes its place? If bridges or trains are again blown up, or people murdered, against what law will those responsible offend if our jurisdiction comes to an end and we provide for nothing to take its place?
My right hon. Friend spoke about extending and building up local authorities in the meantime. On what are they based? What will be their authority to go on exercising any kind of jurisdiction in any of the towns of Palestine? As I understand it, authority at present is derived solely from the Palestine Administration. When their jurisdiction comes to an end, so does all law and order for all purposes in Palestine, unless we put something in its place. What becomes of the status of Palestine? At the moment we know what its status is. It is a British protected territory under a Mandate from the United Nations. That comes to an end on the appointed day, which we are told is to be 15th May. What then under international law is the status of Palestine—a no-man's land in which no one has authority, or in which all have equal authority? Are there any frontiers after your jurisdiction comes to an end? If on the one side Jews immigrate, will that be against the law, and if so, against what law? If on the other side the armed forces of the Arab States come in, against what law will they offend, your jurisdiction having come to an end and nothing having been put in its place?
§ Mr. Silverman
Let us not be led away by what, after all, was a verbal slip. I am sure hon. Members agree that we should adopt a responsible attitude to this problem. I ask again, if the jurisdiction of whoever is responsible today comes to an end on 15th May, and if on 16th May the armed forces of the Arab state cross the Jordan frontier, against whose laws will they offend? It is a question that ought to be answered.
§ Sir P. Hannon
Surely, the right hon. Gentleman, in the course of his speech this afternoon, made it clear that the responsibilities and duties to which attention has been called by the hon. Gentleman opposite will devolve on the United Nations Commission. From his speech it seems to me that the United Nations take charge of these responsibilities.
§ Mr. Silverman
I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his friendly and helpful interruption. I have heard my right hon. Friend's speech, and I listen to as many of his speeches as I can. I always enjoy them, and they have great authority, but they have not the force of international law. If that is what he means, it should have been in the Bill, and that is my objection to the Bill; the whole objection on which this Amendment is founded is the failure to put into the Bill—as could and should have been put into the Bill—something to show what my right hon. Friend had in mind as to what would remain as the law of the country, in some sense or some form.
The United Nations organisation, with all its faults and inadequacies, is doing its best very quickly with a job we, at any rate, have resigned after some 30 years, and did not in the way they dealt with it leave the questions unanswered that this Bill leaves unanswered? They provided for the interregnum, a series of recommendations, leaving it to Great Britain to say that they would go out, and on what date, and then providing a series of steps for the transfer of partial power, culminating in the end in the transfer to the United Nations Commission on the 1317 day our jurisdiction ended and ensuring that some jurisdiction should continue.
The amazing thing is that in this Bill neither the United Nations nor the United Nations Commission on Palestine ever appear at all. Not one word of them. Not one word to show there ever was a Mandate. Not one word about the League of Nations. Not one word about the United Nations decision. That is why I say to the Government: "Do you accept this decision or not, because this Bill will be taken all over the world as evidence that you reject it and are prepared to sabotage it?" I am not saying that my right hon. Friend wants to do that. I am saying that, in fact, that is what the Bill will do, and all over the world everyone will say it is the policy of the British Government, or of the British Foreign Secretary, because this is the personal policy of the British Foreign Secretary. They will say: "This man never wanted partition; he had not the courage or the guts to go to the United Nations and say so; he kept out and said nothing, but everybody knows he never wanted it. Since the United Nations have decided it, in spite of that fact, so long as he retains the power he will do nothing to help and this Bill is the evidence of that."
§ Sir P. Hannon
I hope the hon. Member will forgive me if I interrupt again. I hope the hon. Gentleman will not exercise the faculties of his imagination too far. He is making a speech tonight which may make great difficulties all over the world, and may arouse many difficulties in the United States of America, and I would suggest that the hon. Gentleman should restrict his observations in making any comment or criticism on the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary.
§ Mr. Silverman
I hope the hon. Member will do me the justice of recognising two things. On this subject I always try to speak with a sense of responsibility, and it would be an impertinence to say anything I do not mean when I address the House. I believe there is great danger in what I am discussing, as suggested by the hon. Gentleman, but the danger does not lie in what I say. I do not think I am listened to with such rapt attention as all that in America; sometimes I wish I were.
The danger arises in whether what I am saying is true or not. If it is not true, what I say will do no harm. If it is true, 1318 this Bill ought to be taken back and a new Bill presented, precisely in order to avoid those dangers. Everyone will say we are doing this in the most uncooperative way possible—we are doing this deliberately because we do not want this policy to work, yet there is no other policy. Nobody was able to suggest to the United Nations, difficult as this solution is, that there was any other policy. No one who has ever looked at this problem has ever thought that, in the end, there could be a solution other than this solution of partition.
I beg the Government to take this Bill back today and to bring in a new one which will make clear to the world that they accept their responsibility under the United Nations. It is the best thing for Palestine, and the best thing for this country, but it is also the best thing for the world. This is the first occasion in two and a half years, since the end of the war, that the United Nations has been able to reach an agreed decision—virtually a unanimous decision—about a point which really does matter in the end to the peace of the world. We ignore it, we belittle it, and we cast doubt upon its validity, and we refuse to co-operate with it—not at the peril of Palestine, nor at the peril of this country, but at the peril of the peace of the world.
§ 7.37 p.m.
§ The Attorney-General (Sir Hartley Shawcross)
Most unhappily, no statute passed by this Parliament can solve the problems which have been so eloquently discussed by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), nor is it within the power of this country to avert some of the dangers to which he has referred. This Bill is a machinery Bill, intended to implement the policy to which the Government have been forced, and which has already been discussed more than once in this House.
It may be of assistance to the House if I intervene at this stage to discuss, not that policy—a policy to which the Government are compelled by the force of circumstances firmly to adhere—but the machinery by which this Bill seeks to carry it out. May I say at the very outset of my remarks how much I agree with the sincere and useful speech of the hon. Member for Handsworth (Mr. H. Roberts), particularly when he referred to the legislative aspects of this matter. 1319 This is not a perfect Bill—of course, it is not. We are dealing here with a matter of the greatest complexity, of a wholly unprecedented kind, and we cannot hope in a statute of this sort to produce a perfect answer to all the problems that may arise.
I will endeavour to deal with some of the legal points that have been raised. Dealing with them, I am profoundly conscious that it would be a rash man who would attempt to arrive at any final conclusion in regard to some of them. It would indeed be a rash man who attempted to express any final view about a matter of English law before it had been concluded by the highest court in the land. It would be an even rasher man, in the existing state of international law, who attempted to express any final view about the rules of international law; but it would be the ultimate height of folly to attempt to lay down, now, the law in regard to matters which are wholly without precedent in the international field, on facts and circumstances all of which have not yet fully developed. With that caveat at the beginning, I will try to the best of my ability to indicate to the House the view I have formed about some matters raised in the course of the Debate.
The first point, which was raised by the senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) was the question whether we can, as a matter of law, terminate our jurisdiction in Palestine. That question does not cause me the same difficulty as arises in connection with some of the other points. In my view, there is no doubt at all as to the legal position. I am not talking of the policy and I am not discussing the merits of the matter. There is no doubt that we are legally entitled to terminate our Mandate. There is, as far as I know, no rule of international law and no rule of municipal law which would compel us to continue the expenditure of British blood and British treasure upon an attempt to carry out a Mandate which has become completely unworkable and which, by the common consent of the United Nations themselves cannot now be brought to the fruition which was originally contemplated. Even if it were the case, as it certainly is not, that the Mandate is a kind of international statute or contract, giving rise to enforceable obligations, the complete frustration of the 1320 object contemplated by the Mandate would certainly relieve us of our obligations in the matter.
We have attempted to discharge our task and we have exercised our jurisdiction, arising under an English statute, the Foreign Jurisdiction Act, 187o, to the best of our endeavours. The task has been impossible of accomplishment and we must now, reluctantly, lay it down, in the hope that others will succeed where we have failed,ֵ Till hope createsFrom its own wreck, the thing it contemplates.So much for that matter, on which there can be no doubt that we are entitled to do by this Bill that which we are seeking to do.
I was asked by the hon. Member for Cambridge University, and by my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne, what will be the international status of Palestine after our withdrawal. That is certainly a much more difficult matter, and is not one upon which it is possible to express any final view. Palestine clearly will not be an independent sovereign State and for some time, at least, it will not have an independent government, assuming, as we must assume, that it has a government at all. If the United Nations is able, as we all hope it will, to exercise effective control, then Palestine will become an area entitled to legal recognition in international law as a legal entity under the control of the United Nations and held in trust with a view to its development, according to the wishes of the United Nations.
If, most unfortunately, the United Nations Commission does not succeed in its task and if then the Jews and the Arabs, faced as they would then be, by the dread alternative, do not find some accommodation between themselves and do something which no Act of this Parliament can ever do, establish for themselves their own form of government and make their own arrangements in Palestine, the position in that unhappy country will be that it would no longer have any de jure government or be entitled to recognition in international law. Until things had developed and had settled down, and some new organisation had gained power, the ultimate legal status of Palestine in international law would have to be suspended and wait upon the development 1321 of circumstances and facts. That is all that one can say about that position.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Many of us are shocked and alarmed at what my right hon. and learned Friend has just said. He made no reference whatever to the United Nations Commission's plan to set up two independent States in Palestine. He did not mention that at all. Suppose that a Jewish Government emerged in a part of Palestine. Would we recognise it at all? Would that affect the status of the country or not?
§ The Attorney-General
I hoped that in what I had said I had covered that point. I have to be short because I have not much time. If the United Nations Commission succeeds in exercising effective control which establishes, or leads to the establishment of, two separate States, those two separate States will undoubtedly secure international recognition; but whether those two States can be established depends upon the measure of effective control which the United Nations are able to exercise in the matter. It is not a thing with which we can deal by passing an Act of Parliament here. It depends upon the success which attends the efforts of the United Nations.
§ Mr. Mikardo
Will the Attorney-General allow me to interrupt? I do not want to delay him, but I wish to get as much benefit as I can from his intervention. The second of the two possibilities he mentioned is that the United Nations does not succeed in getting the two Governments going and that there is no de jure government. What would be the position, in the view of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, of the nationality of people, at present Palestinians and ranked as British citizens with British passports? What would happen to their nationality; and, whatever his answer is, why could not that matter have been included in the Bill?
§ The Attorney-General
We did not think there was any need to deal with the question of nationality in the Bill. I think that the position is fairly clear. It is not the case, as my hon. Friend the Member for Reading (Mr. Mikardo) suggests, that the present inhabitants of Palestine are British subjects; nor will they be dispossesed of any nationality which they at present enjoy when we lay 1322 down the burden which we have hitherto borne of giving them the protection, but not the nationality, of the British Crown.
§ Several Hon. Members rose——
§ The Attorney-General
I would like to give way, but if I did give way upon every Committee point which hon. Members wish to raise, I should be preventing other people from having an opportunity of speaking on policy, as I believe they wish to do. The present position of the inhabitants of Palestine is that they are citizens of Palestine and they will continue to possess the various nationalities which are attributed to them by reason of their parentage or their place of birth. Neither those who have immigrated into Palestine illegally in recent years, nor those who have always been there, enjoy British nationality by reason of that fact. All that we are doing, in the policy that we are following, is to remove from them, reluctantly but inevitably, the privileges which they have hitherto enjoyed as British-protected persons.
So far as the law in Palestine is concerned, the position will be that the existing law will continue in operation. How far it will do so must, of course, depend——
§ The Attorney-General
If my hon. Friend would allow me, I was just about to deal with that point. How far it continues in operation will depend upon what, if any, authority takes over the effective Government of Palestine when we leave. If the United Nations Commission is able, as we hope, to take over effective control of Palestine with a view to implementing the United Nations policy of establishing two separate States, the existing law will remain in operation until they change it or amend it.
§ Mr. Silverman
I really do apologise for intervening again, but it is to point out that my right hon. and learned Friend has missed the point of my question. When I asked how far it could operate, I was not dealing at all with how far it can be made effective, but with the point of validity. If the jurisdiction under which a law was enacted comes to an end, how does that law persist?
§ The Attorney-General
That is not a good point. It is a well-established rule 1323 of international law and it is one which we can say with confidence is fairly well established, that the laws of a country which has been ceded, or abandoned, continue, in the presumption of international law, to be those which existed at the time of the cession or abandonment. That is the legal position. Whether these laws are enforceable or not, of course, depends upon the existence of some state of government to give effect to them.
I come now to a quite different matter. I have to deal with these points in rather a disjointed way. I come to the question of the abatement of appeals to the Privy Council. The Privy Council hope to dispose of all appeals lodged before the presentation of the Bill, before 15th May. So far as appeals which may be commenced—if any be commenced—hereafter are concerned, no other provision is possible in law than that which we are seeking to make in this Bill. Neither His Majesty's Government nor the United Kingdom Parliament will be in a position to enforce either the recommendations which the Privy Council might make on such appeals or the original decisions which are appealed against. It would, therefore, be just as inappropriate for the Privy Council to entertain those appeals and pass upon them as it would be for the courts of any other country, not having any constitutional association with Palestine, thereafter to attempt so to do.
Now I come to the provisions of Clause 2 (2), which may at first sight appear to be open to criticism as giving something in the nature of a blank cheque to British officers and British soldiers, enabling them to commit all manner of illegalities, and preventing recourse to British courts in regard to them. In truth, that Clause is not of such far-reaching effect, and to quite a considerable extent it involves no more than a clarification of what we believe would, in any event, be the existing law after we lay down our responsibility for Government on 15th May. It is perfectly true, of course, that more normally Parliament would not wish to pass a Bill of Indemnity until after the event. and with knowledge, if not of all the particular cases which were going to be covered by it—and in the case of general Acts of Indemnity like the one passed in 1920, there was, of course, no knowledge of all the particular cases that would be 1324 covered—but with knowledge, at any rate, of the general circumstances.
But we must not close our eyes to the immense practical difficulties of the present situation. In the last few weeks before we relinquish our powers of Government, and in the period immediately thereafter, all sorts of emergencies and difficulties may arise. There may be—one hopes there will not—but there may be an exacerbation of the many acts of violence which are occurring now. There may, of course, be decisions required to be taken, all sorts of action required, for which the existing law and existing regulations and existing practice make no kind of provision at all. In those circumstances we really cannot expect officials, performing their duty in circumstances of great anxiety and great stress, to weigh with nicety the exact legal position before they take the action which the circumstances seem to require. There will be times in which officials must be encouraged to act, in good faith, certainly, and in accordance with their duty, but with firmness, and without trying to get counsel's opinion beforehand as to whether what they are doing is strictly in accordance with existing law or not.
That is why we have thought it right at this stage to introduce this provision into this Bill. Those officials, acting in these unprecedented circumstances, have got to do what good sense requires at the time, provided they do it in good faith. They have to be told now that they will be protected, and will not be exposed to any personal liability. We must not allow them to be paralysed by the uncertainties of the law, to which the complicated and unprecedented circumstances are most likely to give rise. That is all this Clause does. It does no more than, I am quite certain, this House would wish to do by a general Act of Indemnity passed in the ordinary way. Indeed, in the Clause, particularly in Subsection (4) relating to certification by a Government Department, we have adopted the very language used in the Act of 1920.
I just add this point. I said that this Clause, very rightly, does no more than clarify what will be the legal position when we lay down responsibility for Government. It is the existing law that, where an action is brought by a foreign subject in respect of acts done by British 1325 soldiers or officials on foreign territory, which were done on behalf of the Government, or adopted by the Government after they were done, the defence of Act of State is a complete bar to any claim to damages that may be made. It is also the existing law, as a matter of international law, that, where we have Forces in occupation of foreign territory, it is recognised that they are entitled to do that which is necessary for their own safety and protection, and that what they do in the course of those duties on foreign territory is not justiciable in the courts of this country or any other country.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller (Daventry)
Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman say that in the areas which our troops occupy the Commission will have no responsibility for administration or no jurisdiction?
§ The Attorney-General
I am putting the position, of course, in the worst possible case, where there is no ordered form of Government in existence; not a state of war, but troops in occupation of foreign territory in which there is, in fact, no settled form of Government. If, as we hope, the Commission are able to establish some form of government and accept responsibility they would, no doubt, have jurisdiction in those areas.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
This is a very important point. Assuming that the Commission will, in fact, operate as the Secretary of State for the Colonies said, it means that over the whole of Palestine after 15th May the Commission will be responsible for administration, maintenance of law and order, and enforcing the law. Then it follows, does it, that we still exercise an overriding jurisdiction for the preservation of the safety of our troops?
§ The Attorney-General
I apprehend that we shall be compelled to do whatever it is necessary to do to preserve the safety of our troops. That would be the paramount obligation of our Commanderin-Chief. As one hopes may be the case, if the Commission is able to exercise an effective jurisdiction, it would not be necessary for our troops to do anything which was not in accordance with the local law. No question of claims arises at all unless something is done which was not in accordance with the law. In that 1326 case the defence of Act of State would not arise.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
So a British civilian or British soldier in such areas as we occupy will be subject to two different kinds of jurisdiction, the British-exercised jurisdiction and the jurisdiction nominally exercised by the Commission? In spite of the indemnity that is provided in this Bill, he could be held liable for acts he commits under the law exercised by the Commission?
§ The Attorney-General
That is, of course, always the position of British troops in any foreign country. They will be liable to the law of that country. They will also be liable to British military law. That does not involve a novel position. I do not think it has raised a difficulty before, and we must hope that it will not raise a difficulty in this case. British soldiers are obliged to obey their orders in whichever country they may be, whatever the circumstances may be. Whether they expose themselves, by so doing, to a breach of the local law is a question one can determine only by looking at the local law. It is a well known problem of which the hon. and learned Gentleman, with his experience, must be aware. I cannot possibly say what effects are likely to arise in regard to it.
Those are the problems which, I think, were raised specifically in the course of the discussion. My hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne said we might have provided for that point. No doubt we might; I am not quite sure how we would provide for that particular point. No doubt, there are a hundred and one points that will arise in the course of our withdrawal from Palestine, some of which might be anticipated now, and some of which we cannot possibly anticipate now. We cannot attempt to provide in detail for every kind of difficulty which may arise in the course of this withdrawal. All we can do in this short Bill is to lay down, broadly, the main legal principles which we think it necessary to enunciate. We do not say that it is a perfect Bill; we do not say that it covers every point that may possibly arise. What we have sought to do is to put before the House a Bill which implements the policy on which His Majesty's Government are decided.
§ 8.1 p.m.
§ Major Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
I do not propose to follow the learned Attorney-General, except to ask him one question, which arises out of a reply to a question asked originally by my hon. Friend the senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn), when the Attorney-General said he was satisfied that we had a perfect right to give up our Mandate. Is he also perfectly certain that the Mandate was still valid after the demise of the League of Nations? It seems to me that if the validity of the Mandate itself was not made quite clear after the demise of the League of Nations and the coming into being of the United Nations, then there is a case to refer to the International Court of Justice to find out whether or not the Mandate was still valid after the demise of the League of Nations. That question, of course, was raised in the proceedings of the Special Commission on Palestine, and the United Nations, for reasons best known to themselves, refused to refer it to the International Court of Justice. That seems to raise a very important point of international law for the future. If we have the right to give up our Mandate now, have we always the right to give up something which we are not quite certain was legal in the first place? That is really what the argument boils down to.
I turn now to the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Luton (Mr. Warbey) and seconded by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) who I am sorry to see is not in his place, because towards the end of his speech he made what I thought a very dangerous statement, to which my hon. Friend the Member for the Moseley Division of Birmingham (Sir P. Hannon) drew attention. I want to make it quite clear that if this Bill is to be given a Second Reading tonight, as presumably it will be, let it not be assumed by anybody inside or outside this country that that means we either approve or disapprove of the United Nations' recommendation. This Bill is to enable our troops to get out of Palestine. I maintain—for all I have said about it in the past, and in the last Debate—that the Government are perfectly right in introducing this Bill to tidy up the getting of our troops out of Palestine.
1328 What I shall always be surprised at is what the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne said during an interchange of views with the Secretary of State for the Colonies. He was virtually arguing—from the Zionist point of view, I suppose; he usually speaks from that point of view—precisely the opposite point of view from that which I argued in the last Debate on this subject, when I said that we should not have come out straight away, and that this partition plan would lead to chaos. I said that last time, and for that reason I came out most forcibly in saying that I felt we should make clear to the United Nations that this decision was a rotten one, and should ask them to think again. We said that we were leaving and, as the hon. Member for Wallsend (Mr. McKay) said earlier in the Debate, we must be consistent, or at any rate try to be. We have said that we are leaving, and I only hope that His Majesty's Government will not go back on that now. I hope that whoever winds up the Debate will say whether or not it is the intention of His Majesty's Government to put the date 15th May into the Bill and if not, why not. That is most important, and I agree with any hon. Member who makes that demand.
Tonight, I am at one with my right hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) on this particular Bill. Hon. Members who have done me the courtesy of listening occasionally to my speeches, or reading what I have said, will know that my views on this matter are fairly extreme, because I believe that Zionism is a menace to world peace; and I believe that we shall never have the right—and this Bill admits it officially on behalf of the British people, for the first time—and no country will ever have the right, to say to another people: "You have got to take in a certain number of people from somewhere else, whether you like it or not." Palestine is an Arab country. We, under the duress of the first world war, were bamboozled —there is no other word for it—into allowing the Jews, the Zionists, to go into Palestine. I said enough in the last Debate about the leaders of Zionism for me to leave the matter there.
Now we are faced with a situation—and I agree with the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment to this extent—where 1329 we are coming out of Palestine and leaving behind us a complete vacuum. There is no question about that. How much are right hon. Gentlemen on the Government Front Bench responsible for that? I think they bear good deal of that responsibility. Since they have been in office they have been not only inactive, but far too silent on this matter. I agree with the Government decision to get out now, and to cease taking any further action in Palestine after the appointed day.
What I do not agree with is that His Majesty's Government should remain silent. If they really believe that this partition will not work—and the hon. Member for Nelson and Come drew that out of the Secretary of State for the Colonies this evening—[Interruption] it was a very half-hearted "Yes," if it was a "Yes" at all—surely they have a voice with which to say to the United Nations what they think ought to be done. Is it necessary that they should wait now and see what the United Nations will do? Whether or not the Security Council decides there is a threat to peace—and I maintain there is a threat, and has been the threat of war for some time—if His Majesty's Government, after all their long years Of experience, and with all the many experienced people they have to give them advice on this matter, cannot produce to the United Nations a solution, or say what would be necessary to make partition work, they are failing in their obligations to the world.
I cannot possibly support this Amendment, because I am against partition as an answer. I cannot possibly support this Amendment for that reason, nor could I support the other Amendment standing on the Order Paper, for the very good reason that I do not consider it is our responsibility to take action now. I am referring to the Amendment which states:That this House, while welcoming the Government's decision to terminate the Palestine Mandate on May 15th and to withdraw all British troops from Palestine, declines to give a Second Reading to the Palestine Bill, while the Government pursues a policy in respect to Palestine which undermines the authority of the United Nations Organisation.I believe that this is the responsibility of the United Nations. What I say to the Government is that they should tell the United Nations that, if they want to make partition work, they will probably 1330 have to treble the number of troops in that country. They will have to do it by force; there is no other way, nor is there ever likely to be. I say that the Government, by the promises they have given, have exacerbated the position since they have been in office. They have been completely devoid of any intentions either of implementing the policy they said they were going to put into operation at the time of the Election, or of taking action to keep the peace in Palestine. A great deal of responsibility lies upon their shoulders for the present chaos.
Are we ever to find ourselves in a position where all our people, or 95 per cent. of our people, feel that we should unshoulder some of our responsibilities and yet stay and keep that responsibility? We are a democracy, and pray God that we may remain so. We have to obey the will of our people, and there is no question but that 95 per cent. of our people say we ought to be out of Palestine. I pleaded the other case in the last Debate, but the Government stood by their decision to go. I say let them stand by it, and let them go on standing by it. Let us realise that this is no glorious withdrawal. The Government may be very good at putting out more flags, but they are all white ones.
There is one glorious thing about our leaving Palestine, and that is the glory of the action of the British troops in that country during the last 28 years. Never has a job been more difficult. Practically every soldier who has been to Palestine has known perfectly well that the policy he was trying to implement was unjust and quite impracticable. Nevertheless, he has done his job as a soldier—this applies also to the Royal Air Force and to the Navy—and as a servant of the Crown to the best of his ability. Let them not be ashamed of going out. It is not they who should be ashamed, but those people who have sent them there and have kept them there, and those people who, by their shillyshallying and their inability to see what was just, have made their lives dangerous and often completely intolerable.
If the Government can do nothing else, they ought to give a civic welcome in every city to these men who have been in Palestine. These men ought to be given a welcome as great as any returning victorious Army. They deserve it. I can 1331 only say that the Government deserve my censure, although I shall support this Bill tonight.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Thomas Reid (Swindon)
My hon. Friend the Member for Luton (Mr. War-bey) suggested that the Government are being disloyal to the United Nations unless they take a hand in implementing the decision of that organisation. In spite of what the Attorney-General has said about the difficulties of international law, I should like to draw attention to a few points in the Charter of the United Nations. Section 14 says that the Assembly which dealt with this matter may recommend measures for the peaceful adjustment of any dispute. Section 4 says that members of the organisation shall refrain from using the threat of force or from the use of force against the integrity or the independence of any State. And yet this Assembly of the same organisation is proposing to interfere with the integrity of and to disintegrate a State. I certainly say that is immoral, probably illegal and certainly unjust.
The Assembly may make recommedations. The Government say that they will not necessarily accept the recommendations, and they are not bound to accept them. The South African Government recently refused to accept such recommendations in regard to South West Africa, and no one has been able to prove that they acted illegally in doing so. What all Governments must do is to accept decisions of the Security Council, but in this case the Security Council has as yet given no decision. So far, our Government have done nothing wrong in relation to the United Nations. There has been no decision by U.N.O. as a whole. There was, however, a recommendation by the Assembly, which has very properly been sent as a recommendation to the Security Council, but the Security Council has made no decision on that yet. If our Government should reject a decision of the Security Council, then it must quit U.N.O. As regards the recommendation of the Assembly, we know that it is a matter of public knowledge that the State which was largely responsible for that decision is America. An American party got this unjust and disastrous recommendation passed in order to win the next election. That we all know is true. That is an additional reason why our 1332 Government are not bound to implement that wicked decision which was not made on legal or moral grounds.
My hon. Friend the Member for Luton suggested that we should take a hand in implementing the decision, and that we should make it possible for the Commission to function. I do not think that it will be possible for the Commission to function, even if they ever go to Palestine, because the Assembly, by its wicked decision, has set the whole of Palestine aflame, with the possibility of setting the whole of the Middle East aflame. I do not know how the hon. Member thinks it is possible for us to make it possible for the Commission to function. He also suggested that we should let in the Commission before 15th May. If that is done, we know that the balloon will go up, and that we shall then be left to carry the baby. We shall have let the Assembly turn Palestine into chaos, and we shall be left there to keep order. It cannot be done. If this decision of the Assembly is accepted by the Security Council, and the United Nations try to enforce it, I predict—and my predictions on this subject since I came to this House have all proved to be realised up to date—that we shall then have war which will last 1o, 20 or 5o years. The Arabs will not submit so long as their sovereignty is to be taken away from them.
I was a member of the Partition Commission. We sat for six months on this job, and we decided then that partition was utterly impracticable on every ground, strategic, economic, fiscal and other grounds, and, I would add, on moral grounds. It is quite unworkable. The reason I am opposing the Assembly's Palestine policy is because an unlawful, immoral and disastrous decision was made by the Assembly. The matter must be remedied by the United Nations organisation. The Security Council must refuse to accept that recommendation and U.N.O., through the Security Council or otherwise, must find a new solution to the problem. The solution which has been suggested will be disastrous to the Arabs and Jews and to Britain. I will repeat what I have said before: I am a much better friend to the Jews, as they are now beginning to realise, than the political Zionists. I wish I could persuade them to use their influence to get this recommendation of the Assembly rejected.
§ Mr. Lever (Manchester, Exchange)
I understand that my hon. Friend, who is supporting the Government, believes that the Assembly decision was wicked and immoral. Will he tell the House what he would do if, as a loyal member of the United Nations, he accepted the decision and intended to implement it short of providing troops with which to do so?
§ Mr. Reid
I have been against partition or the setting up of a Jewish State for the last 10 years. I take no responsibility whatever for what the Government have done. What I suggest should be done now—and what I have said on this subject since 1938 has been vindicated—is to give independence to a Palestinian State. We promised the Jews a national home, and that has been set up; we promised the Arabs independence in Palestine and the Mandate envisaged independence after a period of trusteeship. That is the solution which I recommend to the United Nations organisation, and until that solution is accepted and adopted by U.N.O. there is no chance of a settlement of any kind in Palestine.
§ 8.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lindsay (Combined English Universities)
I rise to support strongly my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid). I think this is one of the saddest days in the history of this country and of the British Empire. We must share a good deal of the responsibility for what has happened. I have supported the Government on very many occasions, but I do not support them, and never have, on their Palestine policy. In fact, I think they have had no policy at all for the past two and a half years. Anyone who was in Palestine 18 months ago could see that chaos was coming. My hon. Friend the Member for Swindon knows far more about this matter, and what he has said in the past has been largely borne out.
The tactlessness of the Government's policy has been one of the chief things about it. I was in Palestine when the Transjordan Pact was made, which, at that time, quite rightly, offended a great many of my Jewish friends. Failure to do anything for the first year, before the Colonial Secretary was in office; failure to bring together Jews and Arabs who were, almost for the first time, united on 1334 a great many issues, especially economic issues during the war—these mistakes were made. The situation was getting steadily worse. Nobody went out to Palestine. I sat here with my late colleague, Miss Eleanor Rathbone, when the Foreign Secretary said, once again, that there was to be another Commission. She threw up her hands in despair, and nearly intervened, but thought that it was useless. Because the Government would not make up their minds after all the Reports, there was to be another Commission, this after the Peel Commission and all the abuse which was poured on Mr. Malcolm MacDonald [An HON. MEMBER: "And rightly."]. That may be, but the more one reflects on it now, the more one sees that this Government are making the same mistakes.
There was the White Paper decision, on which I, as a member of the Government, abstained from voting—not a popular thing to do. That was clearly based on strategical considerations and the possibility of a forthcoming war. Now I detect the same kind of considerations. Nobody mentions strategy or oil, yet it is quite clear that these considerations have very heavily weighed with America. In America there could be found in hotels one group of people backing the Arabs, and all their interests, and, in other hotels, people backing the Jews. The decision reached by the United Nations—I was at Lake Success—reflects very little credit on the working of international machinery. We could see the chaos coming.
Now we have a Bill which is simply a "clear-out-at-all-costs" Bill, a "washour-hands" Bill. It is not a question of policy at all. I plead with my right hon. Friend, with his record in Colonial affairs behind him, to take a fresh initiative. His attitude in America was one of painful rectitude; at any rate, it was clear-cut. There was no mistaking where he stood; we were not going to back up a policy of partition. I have never believed that partition is possible. I may be in a minority. I am in a minority with Dr. Magnes and others who believe that if we had worked for a Palestine State, and put some energy into it, especially during the last two and a half years, we could have changed the situation. I believe that it is not too late. I am thinking of the great work of the 1335 Jewish agricultural settlements in Palestine, which are now being guarded by soldiers, and many of which, I dare say, are now going to ruin. I am thinking of the 25 years' work that our officials have put in there; I am thinking especially of what they have done for education. I remember Arab villages, which collected thousands of pounds to build schools, while all that could be seen were vast barracks from one end of the country to the other. When I think of the record of our own officials, and the good will which was in Haifa even three years ago—I addressed a meeting of 5o per cent. Arabs and 5o per cent. Jews in Haifa—I do not believe that we can give up, that we can wash our hands of this matter.
There does not seem a great deal in this Bill; it is simply a machinery Bill for getting out of Palestine. It has been said that 1oo per cent. of our people are in favour of our troops getting out. I believe that is true, but that does not mean that we have no further responsibility in Palestine. There is a great deal, quite apart from Jerusalem itself, for which I should have thought we have some responsibility. I make an earnest appeal to the Colonial Secretary, to the Foreign Secretary, to the Prime Minister and to the Government to get together with the President of the United States and take a fresh initiative before a Holy War, which will never end, ensues as a result of present policy.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Ivor Thomas (Keighley)
After reading this Bill no one will be able to say that British policy towards Palestine has been determined either by oil or by strategy. It is clear that whatever the strategical advantage of Palestine, or the importance of oil supplies, all that has been ignored and His Majesty's Government are determined to cut our commitments in that country, which have cost us so much in blood and treasure. My hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) failed to get an answer from my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary on the question of whether the United Nations scheme was practicable and workable. I hope that I do not rush in where an angel has feared to tread if, in my position of greater freedom, I give my answer that the United Nations scheme of 29th 1336 November is quite unworkable. Whatever emerges in Palestine this much is quite certain, that the scheme of 29th November cannot be carried out. What was that scheme? I quote from its heading: "A scheme of partition with economic union." It would no doubt be possible for the United Nations Commission to hand over nominal responsibility in the Jewish State to a group of Jewish leaders. They are tumbling over each other for the Cabinet posts in that State. But what is certain is that no Arabs will be prepared to accept responsibility from them, and, therefore, the Arab State will not come into force, and the scheme of economic union will not come into being. Therefore, the United Nations scheme of 29th November cannot be carried out
Suppose it were practicable in that sense of the word. There is no means by which such a political scheme could be enforced. It may be a defect in the Charter, but it is certainly the case that there is no provision in the Charter of the United Nations for the forcible carrying out of such a political scheme. That is a discovery which the United States, in second thoughts, has made, and I believe it has quite rightly made. In reply, the Secretary General of the United Nations has, on legal advice, rested himself on the example of Trieste. I submit that there is no example there at all. The scheme for Trieste was agreed, although with much hesitation, it is true, but it has not had to be carried through forcibly, and it provides no parallel for what is now proposed in the case of Palestine.
The only circumstances in which the Security Council are entitled to use force, and then only in a defined manner which cannot be carried out owing to the fact that Article 43 has not yet been fully executed, are if there is a threat to the peace. But the situation in which we find ourselves is that there will be a far greater threat to the peace if an attempt is made to carry out the United Nations scheme than if it is abandoned. There will certainly be fighting in Palestine. There is fighting in Palestine, and as one who has been there even more recently than my hon. Friend the Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. K. Lindsay)—I have been there in the past few weeks—I say to my hon. Friends who have put their names to these Amendments that they are playing with fire.
1337 The hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid) has said that the Middle East is aflame, and that is no mere metaphor. If what is proposed by my hon. Friends is carried out, we must then face the more grievous and most lamentable consequences in the Middle East. I beg them to desist from their actions. We are told that in the interest of the prestige of the United Nations we must go through with all the consequences of this decision. Is that the case? I believe that the United Nations will suffer far greater loss of prestige from an attempt to carry out this decision than from its abandonment. The damage that can be done has been done already. Great damage was done on 29th November, both by the manner in which the vote was reached, and by the lightheartedness with which it was embarked upon, without any thought of the consequences.
The Colonial Secretary warned the United Nations time and again, and Sir Alexander Cadogan did the same, but their warnings were repeatedly ignored. That damage has been done and cannot be undone. I speak as one who, in certain circumstances, as the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary well know, would have been prepared to support, with certain conditions, a scheme of partition. But of all the schemes of partition that I have seen, the one drawn up on 29th November is quite the worst. The United Nations then made a grievous mistake. Because it was impossible, so they said, to have a bi-national State in Palestine, they tried to create two bi-national States. Could absurdity go further? I submit that their best course in the interests of the United Nations is to retrace their steps, and I am bound to say that the Security Council appear to be doing that as rapidly as their legs will carry them.
There will be fighting in Palestine; it has already begun. In such circumstances what will a wise man do? He will not throw fuel on the flames, but he will try to limit the fighting in Palestine as much as possible by seeing that no outside help in persons or arms gets there, and eventually, after a period in which there will certainly be something approaching chaos, it may be that wiser counsels will prevail. The present leaders may have changed, and it may be possible to reach that accommodation between Jews and Arabs in Palestine which has hitherto eluded our best efforts. I have the utmost 1338 confidence in the Foreign Secretary in this matter. He pledged his reputation on solving this problem, and his words have been held up against him. Now I think that I can discern dimly how his pledge is going to be redeemed. I think that the United Nations should be grateful for the manner in which he has consistently pointed out the dangers in their policy. This is a melancholy day, but we have nothing to be ashamed of in our Palestinian record. The administration in Palestine, in my opinion—and I have had some experience—is collectively the finest body of men gathered together in the Colonial Service. The Palestine police is another remarkable body of men, and we have a national duty towards both the members of the administration and the Palestine police. I am happy to think that the Government have accepted that duty and are carrying it out.
§ 8.37 P.m.
§ Sir Patrick Hannon (Birmingham, Moseley)
I rise to endorse everything that has been said by the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Ivor Thomas) about the quality, the character, and the spirit of self-sacrifice of our civil administration in Palestine, and, above all, of our troops and fighting men. I sympathise with the Secretary of State for the Colonies. He has had a most difficult task to perform, and his speech this afternoon covered a great deal of ground, but, he did not make clear to the House what is to be the situation in Palestine in the interregnum between when the Mandate ceases and some form of administrative machinery is created to govern the country. I foresee in these difficult times in Palestine not merely chaos and anarchy, but murder and bloodshed. I was sorry to hear the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid), who speaks with such authority on this matter, talk about the war extending over a long period of years. I hope that his prediction will not be sustained by the facts. Any hon. Member who followed the speech of the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon and heard the subsequent speeches must realise that the position in Palestine will have repercussions all over the world.
In his speech this afternoon, the right hon. Gentleman spoke about the special form of administration that will be created to deal with the Holy Places in Jerusalem. I tried to get from him—and I apologised 1339 for interrupting at the time—some definition of how it was proposed to create that administration; how its personnel was to be recruited; what were to be the functions of the Government and what were to be its relations with other administrations in Palestine, both Jew and Arab.
The Christian community and the Jewish community throughout the world retain a profound respect for Jerusalem as the foundation of their great religions. They will be equally concerned about the safety of the Holy Places in Jerusalem. When the Minister of State replies to the Debate I would like him to tell the House how far he sees it possible, in the future, under the protective administration which is about to be provided under this Bill, for the Holy Places of Jerusalem to be kept, within the limits of possibility, free and secure. Their freedom and security must make an appeal to the whole world and the whole of modern civilisation. It would be sad to think, whatever be the outcome of this great change of administration in Palestine, that the one place in the world to which Christians, Jews and Moslems have turned for generation after generation should be desecrated and turned into a place of warfare in the future. I hope that some assurance will be given to the House that e very conceivable step will be taken to safeguard Jerusalem in the future.
§ 8.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Delargy (Manchester, Platting)
I wish, in three minutes, to support the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Luton (Mr. Warbey). Before I do so, I would remind my hon. and right hon. Friends on this side of the House that I speak as one who has in the main consistently supported the foreign policy of His Majesty's Government. I speak also as one who did not approve of the solution which was arrived at by the United Nations. I still prefer a federal State to a partition State, and even had I been favourable to partition, I would still have deplored the manner in which that decision was reached, a procedure which did nothing to enhance the prestige of the United Nations. Nevertheless, the decision to partition Palestine was taken, the decision that Britain should surrender the Mandate, and that a Special Commission be sent to Palestine.
1340 However much we disapprove of that, the decision is there, and there was no other. That being the case it was surely our duty, as one of the most important members of U.N.O., and also as the Power on the spot, to do everything we possibly could to make the transition as smooth as possible. We did not do that. Indeed, it seems to have been the policy of His Majesty's Government merely to defeat a policy with which they themselves did not agree from the start. So, when we come to leave in May, there will be nothing to take our place. Nothing is ready—no council of Governments, no international police force, no executives, no Jewish or Arab militia. There is absolutely nothing whatever to prevent the chaos and bloodshed which, in the opinion of everyone who has spoken in this Debate, is absolutely inevitable.
It is precisely because I believe that we are largely to blame for the almost certain catastrophe which is to follow that I wish to register a firm protest, and, if called upon, I will go into the Division Lobby to register my protest.
§ Major Beamish
The hon. Member spoke of the fact that there is no international police force. Would he tell the House what international police force he had in mind?
§ Mr. Delargy
I cannot say what international police force I had in mind. We have always been given to understand in this House that a force would be established by U.N.O. It was never properly defined; unfortunately, it was always spoken of vaguely. But since we have our obligations to U.N.O. we should have assisted in establishing such a force.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Crossman (Coventry, East)
In listening to this. Debate many besides myself must have marked the contrast between the spirit of the Debates on the Second Readings of the Government of India Act and the Government of Burma Act and this sad Bill. In the case of India and Burma we could be proud of a great achievement of policy, which was recognised by the more farsighted Members on the other side of the House. Today, whatever are our differences of view about Palestine, there has been almost universal realisation on both sides of the House that the words of the 1341 senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) are not an exaggeration. This is a terrible Bill, not for what is in it but for the very fact of its inevitability and what it implies.
To my mind it implies the end of 10 years of drift with regard to our Palestine policy. Both sides of the House fully share in this catastrophe. Indeed, it is divided into two halves. Just 10 years ago the Peel Commission proposed partition. There was an Arab revolt, there was a concession made to Arab force, and the disaster began. Now we are back again with yet another recommendation of partition, and another surrender to Arab force, and there are dupes who believe that that will be the end of the matter. We might look at the history of how the Tories found that paying Danegeld did not pay, to realise that by doing it a second time we shall get the same result.
I have heard a great deal today to the effect that, "Well, it is not really our fault; the whole thing was impossible." It is fair to recall that there were two great opportunities which this Government failed to take. I believe that the first four months after this Government came into power were months in which a golden opportunity was presented for a settlement not only of the Palestine problem but of Anglo-Egyptian relations. I believe that under the full glory of that victory, when the Arabs were somewhat defeated by having backed the wrong side, if we had taken the opportunity we could have imposed a solution of the Palestine problem, and we could have negotiated a satisfactory treaty with the Egyptians, which would have led to other similar treaties with other members of the Arab League. That opportunity was not taken, and in history opportunities do not return.
Then came the second best, the opportunity, which was presented by the Anglo-American Commission, which provided, to the astonishment of the Commissioners, a unanimous Report. Looking back at that Report I must say that if it had been accepted and implemented by the British Government, despite the failure of the Americans to support it, we should not be as badly off today as we are. Of course, there were excuses for not doing it. President Truman was not prepared to do anything. But we would have been wiser, 1342 on our own responsibility, to have implemented that Report in its short-term recommendations and to have immediately referred the long-term policy to U.N.O. which, I think the hon. and learned Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) will agree, the members of the Commission expected that the Government would do. We waited, a disastrous year in which relations deteriorated in Palestine. Why this Bill is tragic and terrible is because there is now no alternative to total withdrawal, to abdication, to going away and knowing that chaos will follow—for I think that hon. Gentlemen are not deceived by the legal figments of this Bill.
Hon. Gentlemen know perfectly well that we are not leaving behind us, to use the words of the Colonial Secretary, a new tenant or, if hon. Members prefer to put it another way, the new tenant is chaos. That is the new tenant to whom we have to hand over, to whom this House of Commons is assigning an area where for 25 years people have had the privilege of having British passports and of living under the protection of the British Crown. It is ridiculous to talk about there being anything glorious or successful about this. If we call that successful we are only deceiving ourselves. The rest of the world knows perfectly well that this is not success but a tragic and a dismal failure.
It is fashionable to look back after the event and to say that we should never have embarked upon the Balfour Declaration or upon this great experiment. I am not one of those who decry the vision of the great men of all parties of those days who saw, in the coming of the Jews to the Middle East, a possible solution of the relationship between Europeans and Arabs in that area, who saw that these people, if they came, if they developed the soil, if they brought their technical achievements with them, might get a better relationship with the Arabs than the oil magnates and the, soldiers that the rest of the nations were exclusively sending to the Middle East. But not only the vision was sound. The achievement was miraculous, the achievement of the British, the Jews and the Arabs in Palestine. Never let us forget that it stands out in the Middle East as the only area where Arabs go to school and learn to use tractors. Do not let us think that it was all our doing. It was 1343 we, and the Arabs, and the Jews working together in a tiny fringe of the Middle East, who created a tiny microcosm which might have spread over the whole of the Middle East and maintained the British name and power in the Middle East and sown the seeds of a new civilisation. That was no mistake, and no mean vision. I do not think that Balfour and Lloyd George and Arthur Henderson were less wise than some of their successors. They have been failed by those who came after them.
I would pay a tribute to the Palestine officials. They were not a perfect body of men. The Palestine Police, for instance, has its very seemy side, but I shall never forget certain outstanding members of the C.I.D. Oh dear, if only sometimes they had been listened to by the politicians. Of the Army I am thinking in particular of two generals whose magnificent conduct during the last two years has, on countless occasions, prevented more friction and bloodshed, and who have set an efficient example of how Englishmen should behave under intolerable conditions—conditions which no soldier or civil servant should be submitted to. They maintained law and order without any policy at all, and despite every difficulty under the sun set by the absence of a clear decision in London. That did not happen for the first time under the Labour Government. It has been going on since 1937. We drifted for ten years and so we come to the catastrophe that meets us today. We are faced by a breakdown of Anglo-Jewish relations in Palestine and elsewhere. Anglo-Arab relations are equally threatened. We have not won the friendship of one side; we have lost the friendship of both and we have gained the hatred of both.
Of course, it is not all our fault. There are four parties, the Arabs, the Jews, the Americans and the British. We can quite easily blame the American attitude. But I often wonder, if there had been three million Jews in London, whether some of the members of the Government might not have taken a slightly different view of the situation. Politicians are human, and it is a pity to throw stones, especially for a party which has made electoral promises. The Jews and the Arabs also have made tragic mistakes. No one on this side of 1344 the House has been keener than I have to warn the Jews of the dangers of terrorism, and other hon. Members have agreed. The more we care about the Jews the more do we warn them against terrorism. In the second place, I would repeat to the Jews the warning I gave them in the last Debate, that anybody who says they do not need an international police force is a criminal. The last chance of good Arab-Jewish relations is if law and order is imposed by an international authority. It is difficult to blame the Arabs. Most of them cannot read or write. But it is a regrettable fact that the Arabs are headed by a war criminal, the Grand Mufti, who was responsible, with Himmler, for planning the gas chambers. His second in command, Fawji, was first in Iraq during the war, organising a revolt against us, and then in Berlin, assisting the Mufti. But we were the mandatory Power. We have the major responsibility, and we should not try to avoid it by saying it is some one else's fault. We are not a great nation any more if we do not take our responsibilities and admit our failures when they occur.
Now we have got to go. I would say only this to the Government. In going, let us try and go decently. Let us try and see that these last weeks make some atonement for the last nine years. I would make two suggestions, the first is cooperation with U.N.O. I thought that the Colonial Secretary made a very laboured attempt to suggest that all had been sweet and that we had done all we could to cooperate with the United Nations Palestine Commission. Surely, it is clear from everything he said that we have set conditions which would make it impossible, under any circumstances, for any Commision to establish its authority. We give them 14 days in Palestine, and then say: "Law and order ends, and there you are, all by yourselves to substitute for law and order." If that is co-operation and making their life easy, what would making their life difficult be?
The second point is that we have immense influence with the Arab League. Are we using that influence with real determination to prevent them feeling that they have the right and that they would not be wholly out of favour with us if they were a little active in Palestine? I have listened to some answers to Questions today, and on previous occasions, both by 1345 the Minister and by the Parliamentary Secretary, and I was reminded of the time when the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) used to stand up and make the same stone-walling arguments about Italian troops in Spain —" We have not heard of them, we have no reliable information." I would suggest that "non-intervention" on the Spanish War plan would be a very undignified way of leaving Palestine. We would need a good deal of subservience before we agreed to that being perpetrated. People may say: "We must give up all these principles because it is expedient for us to do so." But we do not win the respect of the Arabs by our policy in Palestine. The Arabs believe that we brought the Jews to Palestine and if we permit them to be massacred we shall be considered weak by the Arabs. The Arabs are not used to that way of treating friends, and I do not think we shall gain the respect of the Arabs by doing that sort of thing. We cannot end our responsibility by an Act of Parliament.
Nobody has mentioned Haifa. There will be a thin red line of British troops round Haifa. It is right in the middle of the Jewish State. On 15th May comes the end of the Mandate. What happens to the Haifa refineries? Are we going to sail away and watch them go up in flames. Are we going to depart in the middle of a Jewish-Arab war and do nothing about it? I would like to know what is actually going to happen? Are we going to find, after all, a Chanak situation developing in which we cannot get out? I suggest that we need peace in Palestine as much as the Jews and the Arabs. We need a solution which will enable our troops to withdraw. It is stupid to believe that we can get out by making a decision to withdraw and passing a Bill.
One hon. Member said we must show unity and that it is a terrible thing for hon. Members to criticise the Government about Palestine. I would say that unless some hon. Members, both on this side and on the Opposition side of the House had said things which have been said tonight, tomorrow British prestige would be a great deal lower. Unless we maintain the reputation of this country for free criticism, we have not a leg to stand on in attacking Russia for the absence of it. Anyone who has any integrity will vote for this Amendment. [Interruption.] 1346 What I mean by integrity is keeping promises. We have no leg to stand on in accusing others of totalitarianism—if people here do not get up and say something, when they find things going on which they think to be improper and unjust—whether rightly or wrongly. If we do not get up and say what we think we have not got a democracy, and we shall not have the respect which a democracy deserves.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller (Daventry)
The hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) signed, as I did, just two years ago, a Report upon Palestine, and I must say that I find myself in agreement with a great deal of what he said at the beginning of his speech this evening. I do not agree at all with his final observation. Indeed, it seemed to me that his speech contradicted itself. He started by saying, "Let us accept the inevitable; we must go; the Mandate must be ended." Then he said that only those who believe in integrity could vote against this Bill which would result in continuing the Mandate and not giving it up. Perhaps I may be a little bit dense after sitting here for the greater part of the day, but I must confess that I do not follow the logic of the hon. Member's conclusion.
I agree with him, and with so many other speakers in this Debate, that this is the end of a chapter, or indeed a period, an end which is inglorious and disappointing, where if we look round to see in what we can take glory and pride, we find that we can only take pride in the efforts we have made to achieve the object, and glory in the conduct of British troops and British civilians in Palestine in the performance and fulfilment of their duty. But apart from that, this is a terrible and disappointing occasion. Under this Bill our rule of Palestine will terminate on 15th May, and our jurisdiction will end with that country under the shadow of war, with the threat of destruction over all that has been achieved both by Jew and Arab under the cover of our administration. I agree with the hon. Member for East Coventry that a tremendous lot has been achieved by both communities, and our administration has played no small part in their achievements.
We leave that country now with Jew and Arab in bitter animosity. How 1347 different were our hopes. Did we not hope that when the time came to give up our responsibility we should leave with Arab and Jew living in peace, friendship and prosperity? How different is the reality. How far removed from reality, if I may say so, were so many portions of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary. We discuss this Bill tonight against the background of the decision of the United Nations for partition, and while the permanent members of the Security Council are considering the implementation of that decision.
Amidst the haze of controversy and of so many speeches, one thing emerges clearly. It is that this country has no alternative but to give up the Mandate. We on this side of the House think that, in the way things have turned out, it is right that we should give up the Mandate. Therefore, we shall not oppose the Second Reading of this Bill.
Great Britain has done her share—indeed, more than her share. I take the view that we should have given up the Mandate before now. If we had done that, the decision of the United Nations, the attitude of America, would not have had to be determined in a year of a Presidential Election. What has been gained by the delay in giving up the Mandate? I do not agree with the hon. Member for East Coventry in one respect. He said that there were two opportunities of securing a settlement since the General Election of 1945, the first within the first four months of the formation of the Socialist Government. There may have been that opportunity, I do not know; but then he said that if Great Britain had sought to implement our Report alone without American support then, again, settlement might have been effected. I do not agree with him. I do not think that it was at all possible for Great Britain to implement that Report by herself in the face of the activities which we know go on in America and elsewhere, and the attacks made upon this country from those sources.
This Report could only be carried out—and I believe that it could have been carried out—by the united efforts of the United States and the United Kingdom. There I disagree with the hon. Member, but I say that when this Report 1348 was not accepted in its 10 points by President Truman, then was the time when we should have referred the matter forthwith to the United Nations and given notice in advance of a date when we should give up the Mandate.
Why was that not done? I feel that would have been the right policy. I consider that the reason it was not done was because of a combination of obstinacy and of misplaced optimism, and the refusal on the part of His Majesty's Government to believe that the Socialist Party could fail to secure agreement between Jew and Arab when nearly everyone with a knowledge of the situation in Palestine thought that agreement was impracticable and impossible to obtain. What has been gained by that delay? What would have been saved if that delay had not occurred? British lives, British prestige, would have been saved. It would have been a great advantage to this country if that course had been taken. It would greatly advantage the country if the Government did not so often delay in taking the advice of my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) which he gave on this matter. [Laughter.] it is no use laughing. The right hon. Gentleman gave advice on this matter two years ago. I suggest that his advice on foreign affairs is worthy of consideration.
This Debate has covered a wide range. Rather to my surprise we got from the hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) a journey to Manchuria; but really the speeches can be divided into two categories. First, there have been the attacks upon the Government by those elected to support this Government. I appreciate their difficulty in refraining from attacking the Government on a number of occasions. It is a temptation to which I have often fallen—but not tonight. Second, there have been the speeches made with a feeling of deep anxiety and concern, searching for information from the Government, information which, so far, has not been forthcoming. I hope that in the endeavours of the right hon. Gentleman to meet the attacks made upon the Government by their supporters, he will not omit to give the information which is so anxiously desired.
The attacks, and I do not propose to spend much time in dealing with them, have taken two forms. First of all, the 1349 accusation of a breach of pledges by the Government—pledges given by the Socialist Party before the last election. Of course, that is indeed embarrassing, and I think there can be no doubt that these pledges have not been fulfilled. It would ill become any Member of the party opposite in the circumstances, however, to suggest that any other country was using Palestine as a pawn in domestic politics. There is one serious result, in my view, from these pledges which we cannot ignore. We refer to it in this Report which the hon. Member for East Coventry signed, and in which we said:When the war ended and a Labour Government came to power, the White Paper still remained in force. The Jews, who had expected an immediate fulfilment by a Labour Government of the Labour Party programme with regard to Zionism, felt a sense of outrage when no change of policy occurred. Bitterness reached a new peak of intensity, and the position of the moderates became almost impossible.I think that these pledges had played a very great part in making it difficult to secure a peaceful settlement in Palestine.
Then there are those who say that they will vote against this Measure, on the grounds stated by the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Levy), that the Government have not facilitated the United Nations. Of course, if their votes were to be successful, it is worth considering what the effect would be. It would be that the Mandate would continue—[HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] Yes, indeed, Under this Bill, the first Clause provides that the jurisdiction of His Majesty shall be given up on 15th May.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
The hon. and learned Member surely appreciates the very great difference which has always been attached in this House to a plain vote against the Second Reading of, a Bill and a vote for a reasoned Amendment. That is why we have a reasoned Amendment, so as not to have attributed to us the interpretation which the hon. and learned Gentleman is putting upon our actions.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
I have read the reasoned Amendment, and I shall leave it to the right hon. Gentleman opposite to deal with the reasons advanced. I am entitled to point out to the House what would be the effect of a vote against this Bill resulting in the rejection of the Bill. It is a point which we on this side of the House have had 1350 to consider. We have had certain criticisms to advance with regard to the conduct of the Government, but the effect of declining to give this Bill a Second Reading must be that His Majesty's jurisdiction in Palestine is not terminated on 15th May.
§ Mr. Warbey
Will the hon. and learned Gentleman allow me? Surely, the effect of the Amendment, if it were carried, would be that the Government would be refused this Bill, and would have to produce another, which would take into account the decisions of the United Nation's?
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
I say that the effect of this Motion to reject this Bill would be that a Bill for the termination of the Mandate would not be carried. [An HON. MEMBER: "They could bring in another one."] I am not answering for the Government. So far as we are concerned, the effect of voting against this Bill would have that consequence, and we are not prepared to vote that the Mandate should carry on, that British rule and British administration should be continued in Palestine, when it is not wanted by either Jew or Arab in that country. We are not prepared to vote that the Mandate should go on, and that British lives should continue to be lost——
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
That will be the effect, in my opinion, of voting for the rejection of this Measure, whatever the ingenuity of the argument. Though we have criticised this Bill, we cannot vote for that. The vast mass of the people of this country, in my belief, want the Mandate terminated, want our people to leave Palestine and want these great sacrifices and burdens which we have borne terminated at the earliest possible moment. I would point out, in this connection, that it is a recommendation of the United Nations that the Mandate should be terminated as soon as possible;, and, if this Bill is not carried, then those who vote against it in trying to secure that it is not carried will be flouting the United Nations.
§ Mr. Mikardo
I am sure the hon. and learned Gentleman would not want consciously to be unfair to those who support 1351 the Amendment, but he is being unfair, in view of the fact that everybody who has spoken in support of the Amendment has agreed on the desirability of ending the Mandate by 15th May, if not sooner, and that, in fact, there was no different view on that point expressed in the House all day.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
That seems to make the conduct of hon. Members in voting against the Bill even more remarkable than it appeared before. But I propose to leave it to the right hon. Gentleman to deal with this point; it is not really within my province. I only express my own view and wish to explain the reasons which prompt me not to support their action in seeking to secure the rejection of this Measure.
I now come to the other part, the desire for information. All sides of the House are concerned with what will happen after 15th May. The right hon. Gentleman was really not at all clear or satisfactory in his speech with regard to that. He has given us no information as to why the date of 15th May is not in the Bill. I fear that the omission of that date may open the door to increased pressure on His Majesty's Government to postpone the date of our departure. I hope we shall be told by the right hon. Gentleman when he replies that he will accept an Amendment to put into the Bill "not later than 15th May" with regard to the surrender of the Mandate. If he does not do that, then I hope he will at least give us an explanation of why he is not prepared to accept that important Amendment.
One thing must now be clear. It is that some force is required in Palestine after 15th May, not just for the enforcement of a policy, but for the maintenance of law and order. The real question for decision at this moment—which is no doubt being considered across the other side of the ocean—is where is that force to come from, and who is to provide it? That is the vital question affecting the Palestine problem at the present time. I should have thought the possibility of training, organising and transhipping to Palestine by 15th May an international force of the size required solely for the maintenance of law and order was extremely remote. If there is no prospect of securing the presence of that force in Palestine at the time when our juris 1352 diction ends, then it seems to me that increasing pressure will be put on us to try to maintain order pending the arrival of some force after 15th May. I hope the Government will make it clear that, under no circumstances—they have already said so, and I hope they will take this opportunity tonight of saying it again—will we yield to any such pressure, and that under no circumstances—and it will be an unpleasant policy to which to adhere—will our troops intervene to save Jewish or Arab lives outside the area which we occupy after 15th May, because that is the conclusion which follows from the Government policy. If after that date there is complete disorder, I think it will be a direct consequence of a decision made as to policy without sufficient regard to its implementation.
The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State said proudly that we should leave the legal position straight, and that we should leave the house in order for the incoming tenant. That was an expression which I am sure he regrets. But is it really a matter in which we can take much pride, that the legal position should be left straight? Probably the legal position was perfectly straight when the Roman Empire collapsed. I should have thought that was little cause for jubilation. But the Secretary of State really did not make the legal position clear, and it was only when we had the intervention of the Attorney-General that the point which I consider of great importance was made clear to me.
I had thought from what the right hon. Gentleman said on 11th December that we were going to maintain law and order and be responsible for the areas which we occupy after 15th May. Today we are told, quite rightly, that there is the inherent right of exercising such force as is necessary to protect one's own troops, but we are also told by the Attorney-General that quite apart from British people exercising these rights for protecting British troops and for securing our withdrawal, the whole of the areas we occupy will be subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission, so that operating within those areas there will be two systems of law.
I should have thought it would have been much more satisfactory if we could have arranged with the Commission that in the areas which we continue to occupy 1353 our writ alone should run. In any event, is there not a great deal to be said now for announcing what zones we shall occupy after 15th May? There may have been security reasons against referring to them in December. Do those reasons exist today? Is there not something to be said for letting British civilians and civilians of other nationalities in Palestine know that if they get into these areas they will be at least within areas which British troops will be occupying after 15th May? Is there not something to be said for declaring in advance that if violence takes place between Jew and Arab in these areas there will be British intervention? I should have thought there would have been.
In that connection I want to know if the Holy Places, in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, will be included for any time within that zone. One of the most important statements which the right hon. Gentleman made in moving the Second Reading was in relation to the gap between 15th May and 1st October when, apparently, the Holy Places will be left without any protection whatsoever. That is a prospect which no Christian can view with any degree of equanimity, and I hope the Government will give a lead on behalf of the Christian world.
What is the legal position with regard to prisoners? What is to happen to the Jews and Arabs who within recent months have been sentenced for crimes of violence against British troops, civilians and property? Some of them may have been given life sentences or long terms of imprisonment. On 15th May are they all to be released? Should not there be in this Bill a provision to ensure that they will serve their sentences, if necessary outside Palestine? Unless we can get some assurance on that important point, any terrorist will know that no matter what sentence of penal servitude a court may impose, he will only have to serve it up to 15th May.
I view the Second Reading of this Measure with sadness and sorrow—sorrow at the prospects in Palestine. The first essential if peace is to be maintained in Palestine is the presence of some third force. If we have any third force, international or from another country, then any solution becomes possible. But no solution, whether it be cantonisation, partition or in any other form, becomes possible except with force, unless we can 1354 secure agreement between Jew and Arab. There is no ingenuity of thought which can find an easy way out, and no easy way that skill and cleverness can devise.
What of the future? I do not know whether reconsideration of the question of partition might lessen the tension. I cannot regard reconsideration in itself as an admission of bankruptcy of statesmanship, but I do hope that perhaps the Arabs may come to realise the unity of the Jews throughout the world on this matter. I also hope that the Jews in Palestine—and I think there are certain signs of it—may come to realise the strength of the Arab opposition. If they do, even at this late hour, I feel there is a possibility, remote though it is, that if they realise the terrible alternative that confronts the country in the absence of a force to maintain law and order after 15th May, if they realise what will follow, there is a very faint chance that something might be done to avoid the consequences which I think everyone who has spoken in this House tonight so sincerely deplores. The responsibility of the United Nations is heavy, and I would like to conclude with this quotation from "Omar Khayyam":The Stars are setting, and the Caravan Starts for the Dawn of Nothing—Oh, make haste.
§ 9.27 p.m.
The Minister of State (Mr. McNeil)
This is a subject which has divided this House sharply and not always impartially and, therefore, it is to be expected that people will commit themselves with extreme sincerity—as I am always anxious to admit to some of my friends, with whom I disagree—to slightly extravagant language. I might be pardoned for saying to my hon. Friend the Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) that, of course, there is always a difference between sincerity and self-righteousness.
Most speakers today have avoided the extravagances of language frequently associated with such deep motivation and I hope, too, not to fall into that error. The hon. and learned Gentleman put two points to me, one of which I thought had already been dealt with by my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General—the point concern- 1355 ing our Forces, and our personnel of all kinds, being responsible in the last stages of the withdrawal to two sets of laws. I am sure that it would be desirable, if possible, to avoid that, but I am assured it is by no means unusual and it has, in fact, happened quite recently in various areas which we have been occupying or where we have been discharging a rôle.
A much more serious question was when he asked me to say what would happen to the prisoners. I have not a note beside me, but I am quite clear in my recollection that this naturally has been discussed with the Commission, and we have made provision that Jewish prisoners would be transferred to Jewish areas and Arab prisoners to Arab areas. It surely would be plain that the authorities who follow on in those areas would, in their own interests, ensure that their State was protected by retaining in prison the people they thought——
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
Does the right hon. Gentleman seriously suggest that an Arab prisoner, handed over to the Arabs after attacking British soldiers and being sentenced to serve, say, 15 years penal servitude, would be retained by the Arabs for the duration of that sentence?
I am suggesting that if there are responsible authorities taking over, as we hope, they will be alive to the responsibilities and to the dangers. [Interruption.] It may be the view of the Opposition that when, if ever, they take over Government they will instantly release people who in their view may embarrass them.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
That was not the point. As this is an important matter, perhaps I may put it another way. Is the right hon. Gentleman seriously telling the House that after 15th May Jewish terrorists who are now serving sentences, or who may be sentenced before 15th May, will be handed over, for instance, to the Jewish Agency?
I cannot say more than I have already said. It would obviously be courting trouble, it would be exceeding all our obligations on the subject, if we transferred the Jewish persons to the areas which the Arabs are scheduled to take over.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
I can answer that question easily. We should adopt the course we have suggested in the past, that those sentenced for criminal offences should serve their sentences, if necessary, outside Palestine.
The hon. and learned Gentleman, of course, is on a subject on which he has already made a reputation, and I have no doubt that his law is better than mine; but I should be surprised to learn that this Government would have powers to bring Palestinian citizens to these islands, to our prisons, to complete their sentences here. At any rate, these discussions are proceeding with the Commission, and the Commission, of course, are the people who have to assume the next stage in authority. We shall be anxious, as far as is consistent with our powers, to meet their wishes upon the subject. We have shown concern with everyone else on this subject, but we cannot continue to embarrass ourselves, and to take highly unusual steps which would need additional powers, to complete a story which we really are willing to leave behind us.
The right hon. Gentleman knows that we have at all times been anxious to face up to our responsibilities in defending these gallant men, and in pursuing the people of either side who attack them.
The main questions discussed in the Debate have turned, from the opening speech onwards, on the two related subjects of the maintenance of order internally and the possible threat to peace externally. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) put those points to me. The two questions are related in law, but they are quite distinct in administration. As I understand it, Mr. Trygve Lie has said, in effect, that the Security Council has a 1357 right to deploy a police force to maintain law and order in a territory—which in this case is Palestine—over which the United Nations' instrument is exerting its authority. Senator Austin, however, on the other hand, has said something very different. He has said that his Government, as they interpret the facts of the Charter, think the Security Council would be empowered to provide a force if there were a danger to peace, but, presumably, not to deploy such a force for the maintenance of internal order.
It is true also, I should admit to the House, that the committee of four permanent members, set up as the result of the deliberations of the Security Council, have asked us whether in our view the Palestinian situation is a threat to international peace. On both these subjects, the internal and the general subject, we have offered no opinion. We have withheld our opinion because, as my right hon. Friend has said from the beginning of the negotiations, it was essential, because of our best endeavours having been previously suspect, that we should, as it were, remain above the battle and not commit ourselves to opinions upon these subjects.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Is my right hon. Friend really saying that the Government would be taking sides in this issue by offering an opinion, (a) on the question of fact whether or not there was a threat to peace, and, (b) on the question of law whether or not a police force would be right to operate?
My hon. Friend knows very well that an opinion upon that subject does not depend upon fact, but upon an interpretation of fact.
It depends upon an interpretation of fact, whether it is a politician, a judge or a soldier who is making the decision. Indeed, before the Security Council, we shall probably see different Governments and different peoples giving different interpretations to the same set of facts. At any rate, if the Security Council does not behave in that fashion this time, it will be for the first time. Therefore, His Majesty's Government have instructed our permanent representative to indicate to the Committee of Four that we will supply any facts in our pos- 1358 session which they want in order to try to arrive at that decision, but that we will not attempt an interpretation of those facts.
§ Mr. Warbey
Will the Minister answer the question which I put to him: Do the Government intend to report to the Security Council the breaches of peace which have occurred by Arab incursions into Palestine, as a matter of fact and not of opinion?
My hon. Friend knows, and the House knows very well, that on whatever questions have been addressed to us on this subject, either by the Commission, the Assembly or its Committees, or by the Security Council, we have returned a full factual answer. However, later I will deal with another point which my hon. Friend made upon this subject.
I was asked by the hon. and learned Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) if I could give some details about the state of our withdrawal, particularly in relation to Jerusalem. I am told that for security reasons it still is important that I should not attempt to give any details in reply to that question.
It is perhaps relevant at this point to address myself to the question asked of the Colonial Secretary, as to what he meant by saying that we would maintain order in the area which we occupy between 15th May and 1st August, and the allied question in regard to his statement that we would take no part in quelling civil disorder. It would seem to me that the answer has already been made plain. The fact is that after 15th May we will take only such action and such steps in the maintenance of law and order as are necessary to facilitate the completion of our withdrawal. There is the principle which we will attempt to apply to this business of internal order. Obviously, it is impossible to draw a precise line, but that is the principle and kernel of our intention.
The House will appreciate, as more than one hon. Member pointed out, that if we depart from that intention and principle we shall find ourselves involved in an infinite regress. If we permit ourselves to become involved in further responsibilties of that kind for the affairs of Palestine after 15th May we should find ourselves increasingly entangled. I have no doubt that some 1359 of our critics and some of those who have from time to time urged that we should evacuate would be greatly relieved to see us entangled in such a fashion. We must now extricate ourselves, or Palestine will continue for an indefinite period to drain away our resources and to lead us from crisis to crisis without hope of final settlement.
I was asked about the non-insertion of the date of termination of the mandate in the Bill. I am told by my right hon. Friend that if we are pressed in Committee on this, we will accept an Amendment after the fashion suggested. This non-insertion in the Bill simply means that we had hoped to leave ourselves a little leeway, so that if things had gone smoothly we might have come out a little sooner—a special form of words in the Bill would have met that case. The non-insertion of the date in the Bill does not mean in any way that the Government are departing from the principle which they have laid down again and again in this House and in the negotiations in New York, that our Mandate must terminate not later than 15th May.
I was asked one other point about the position of British subjects and property concessions inside the country after the termination of our Mandate, and of our proposals for representation. I think it is plain that we should have as good a title as any other member of the United Nations to demand of the Commission, in that interim period, that they should attend to our interests as far as lies in their power. But, in addition, we have made draft plans for representation inside the territory. Perhaps I may be excused from going into details on that just now, because much will depend on how the situation unfolds. The House may be assured that, most properly, His Majesty's Government will continue at all stages to be concerned for British subjects and British property inside the State or States.
One detailed question was asked about concessions. Members will find in the United Nations plan, in the section dealing with finance, that concessions granted before 15th May remain valid and are quite clearly provided for.
The hon. Member for Moseley (Sir P. Hannon), together with other Members, asked very pointedly and understandably 1360 about the position in Jerusalem and in the area of Jerusalem. The Government, of course, share the concern which has been voiced on all sides of the House on this point. Our representative on the Trusteeship Council has been pressing and continues to press and to urge the importance of the early appointment of a governor for this area. Again, we have not suggested any names because it seems better to us that our intentions should not be suspect. Our representative has tried to push this subject forward on the Trusteeship Council. When appointed, the Governor will have power to organise a non-Palestine police force so as to ensure the safety of the city and of the area.
From many places. We have already indicated to the Security Council that British members of the Palestine Police Force, splendid and courageous fellows, are already prepared to volunteer for that job. Meanwhile, we have encouraged conversations, which are already proceeding, between representatives of the various communities in Jerusalem with a view to proclaiming a truce in the city itself.
§ Sir P. Hannon
What sort of contact will be maintained between the new administration in Palestine and the two States formed out of the reconstruction of Palestine, with the administration in this country? What kind of influence can be exercised by the Western nations with a view to securing the safety and welfare of Holy Places during the development of Palestine?
The hon. Gentleman will remember the scheme which we have upheld in principle, to make the city and area of Jerusalem and Bethlehem an international concern. There will be no peculiar relationship between it and the Government of this country, but the Government are represented on the Trusteeship Council. It would be, as I am sure the House would agree, an international concern, not at the mercy of any one Government or of any one section or faction in a Government.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
What happens if the Commission do not arrive in Palestine by 15th May, which was a contingency referred to by the Secretary of State?
I prefer to address myself to the point in relation to Jerusalem. We must proceed on the assumption that the Commission will get there. It is a tricky, difficult and involved legal question as to what the next step would be if they did not, but we are planning our activities on the assumption that they will get there. In relation to Jerusalem we feared that we might not have a non-Palestinian police force recruited under a governor in time. We therefore pursued these conversations, hoping that there would be a truce. Any one looking at this matter now will agree that in view of the shortness of time the safety of the city, with all its associations, will depend on the behaviour of its 200,000 inhabitants. There are two small police forces, but they are not co-ordinated. There is a Jewish and an Arab police force, and there is still the possibility of a truce. It is the responsibility of the citizens there. That, I fear, must be our main hope at the moment.
The main charges laid against the Government by those who moved and supported the Amendment were really twofold. It has been suggested that in our partiality we have sought to impede the implementation of the recommendations. That is not true. No one has offered any evidence of any deliberate act to frustrate or impede. It has been explained again and again to the House that His Majesty's Government laid down certain conditions from the beginning, seeing that it was only if agreement took place that we could take part in implementing it. We have said again and again that we could not be partners to seeking to enforce a solution on Palestine.
One of my hon. Friends, I am sure in an unguarded moment, made a cruel and quite unjustified reference to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. He said that everyone knew that my right hon. Friend was against partition. That is not so. That is neither true of him nor of the Government. What my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary said at the beginning of these negotiations was that what we sought was the basic condition which we knew could alone contribute to success, that was agreement.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Will my right hon. Friend say in plain terms now, the United Nations having recommended partition without any advice either way from us, do His Majesty's Government accept that or reject it?
I am sure that if I were in the witness box my hon. Friend could make a mess of me. There is no ambiguity about the attitude of His Majesty's Government—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] There is no ambiguity, there is dissatisfaction because I will not reply to a question with "Yes," or "No." But it is a question which it has not been possible for 30 years to answer with "Yes" or "No."
There is no ambiguity about the attitude of His Majesty's Government. From the first, my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary laid down the conditions under which we would take part in implementation. What my hon. Friends around me have been asking is not for implementation but for enforcement. If a solution could have been enforced in Palestine, we should have been in a position to achieve such a solution, at the time before the United Nations was in operation. We know, however, from our extensive, bitter and sad experience, that a solution cannot be enforced in Palestine. That is a quality, a characteristic of failure, not of solution. If enforcement is to be sought then it will be a failure.
We know that it is easier to recover from the dreadful effects of international war than from the more dreadful and pursuing effects of civil war. Those who, in my submission rashly, urge enforcement at this time, are not the friends of Jewry, or of the Arabs, or of Palestine or of the United Nations. They are seeking to burden all these four elements with enduring, crippling, sharp and bitter conflict such as we have seen in Spain, which we can see in China just now and which is the essential condition of continued difficulty in Greece. Therefore, His Majesty's Government. reflecting upon their experience, considering the facilities at their disposal, have made it plain that if there were agreement, and only if there were agreement, would we take part in implementing such proposals for Palestine.
The other criticism is that we have been less than a good member of the United Nations by our behaviour. That is not true and cannot be sustained. Indeed, I 1363 can point to our activities in the Trusteeship Council, where we have been pushing on and urging the other people to move. Consider the situation just now. It is not we who have left the Committee of permanent members divided sharply into two factions. It is not we who have forced the Security Council to the other methods. It has never been we who have refused information or facilities to the Commissioners, or, at an earlier stage, to the Committee.
My hon. Friend the Member for East Coventry, whose knowledge of this subject I would not attempt to match, used a cruel and mischievous phrase when he suggested that our attitude towards Palestine had been like the attitude of a previous Government towards non-intervention in Spain. There is no parallel at all. Surely, the story of Government after Government in this country has been not of non-intervention but of intervention, in terms of people, of sacrifice and of funds which no other country would have attempted to carry. Grants in aid, leaving aside our military expenditure altogether, represent some £13,740,000. Our loss of life, which is a different kind of calculation, is great. There must be few hon. Members who are not experiencing in their own constituencies the results, not of our non-intervention, but of our continued, dignified and noble intervention in this sad country of Palestine.
The hon. and learned Member for Daventry said that he disagreed with the
§ Member for East Coventry, and he reproached us for not throwing up the Mandate, when President Truman repudiated the recommendations of the Anglo-American Committee. Is it to be counted the fault of this Government that at that time we made one more effort to find an award, to find a settlement, to find agreement, after all our efforts, all our spending and all the endeavours and experiences of valiant British men and women in Palestine?
§ Those who vote against this Bill tonight, and they will be few, certainly cannot be voting because Great Britain has not done enough in Palestine. We have failed, and we must confess our failure. Beyond doubt when the historians come to look at our record of administration in Palestine, they will find many errors, and I hope that they will learn from those errors. But when mandatory administration takes place in other territories, as I hope, and believe it will, the people responsible for such administration will come back again and again to look at the disinterested, farsighted and, in many ways, noble behaviour of British subjects who have sought to discharge that Mandate in Palestine which we now formerly relinquish in this Bill.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 240; Noes, 3o.1365
|Division No. 92.]||AYES.||[10.0 p.m.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Brown, George (Belper)||Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.||Brown, T J. (Iace)||Durbin, E. F. M.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Burden, T. W.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Callaghan, James||Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)|
|Attewell, H. C.||Champion, A. J.||Evans, Albert (Islington, W.)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Chetwynd, G. R||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)|
|Ayles, W. H.||Cluse, W. S.||Evans, John (Ogmore)|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Cobb, F. A.||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)|
|Barstow, P. G.||Coldrick, W.||Ewart, R.|
|Battley, J. R.||Collindridge, F.||Fairhurst, F.|
|Bachervaise, A. E.||Colman, Miss G. M.||Farthing, W. J.|
|Belienger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)||Fernyhough, E.|
|Benson, G.||Corlett, Dr. J.||Fiercher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)|
|Berry, H.||Crawley, A.||Follick, M.|
|Bevan, Rt Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Cripps, Rt. Hon. Sir S.||Forman, J. C.|
|Bevin, Rt. Hon. E. (Wandsworth, C.)||Daggar, G.||Fraser, T. (Hamilton)|
|Binns, J.||Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T N|
|Blyton, W. R.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||Ganley, Mrs. C. S.|
|Bottomtey, A. G.||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Gibbins, J.|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Gibson, C W.|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Diamond, J.||Gilzean, A.|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Dobbie, W.||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Donovan, T.||Gooch, E. G.|
|Gordon-Walker, P. C.||Mann, Mrs. J.||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Grey, C. F.||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Grierson, E.||Marshall, F. (Brightside)||Soskice, Sir Frank|
|Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Mathers, Rt. Hon. George||Sparks, J. A.|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)||Mellish, R. J.||Stamford, W.|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden||Messer, F.||Steele, T.|
|Gunter, R. J.||Middleton, Mrs. L.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Guy, W. H.||Mitchison, G. R.||Stokes, R. R.|
|Hale, Leslie||Moody, A. S.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil||Morley, R.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Hamilton, Lieut.-Col R.||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Stubbs, A. R.|
|Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Symonds, A. L.|
|Hardman, D. R||Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Hardy, E. A.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.)||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Harris, H. Wilson||Mort, D. L.||Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Moyle, A||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Haworth, J.||Nally, W.||Thomeycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Kingswinford)||Naylor, T. E.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Timmons, J.|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)||Titterington, M. F.|
|Hobson, C. R.||Oldfield, W. H.||Tolley, L.|
|Holman, P.||Oliver, G. H||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G|
|Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Palmer, A. M. F.||Viant, S. P.|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)||Pargiter, G. A.||Wadsworth, G.|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Pearson, A.||Walker, G. H.|
|Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Perrins, W.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Poole, Cecil (Lichfield)||Watson, W. M.|
|Irvine, A. J. (Liverpool)||Porter, G. (Leeds)||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.)||Price, M. Philips||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Proctor, W. T.||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Jay, D. P. T.||Pryde, D. J.||West, D. G.|
|Jones, Rt. Hon, A. C. (Shipley)||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Wheatley, John (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)||Randall, H. E.||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Jones, J. H. (Bolton)||Ranger, J.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.|
|Keenan, W.||Rees-Williams, D. R.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Key, C. W.||Reeves, J.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.||Reid, T. (Swindon)||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Kinley, J.||Rhodes, H.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Kirkwood, Rt. Hon. D.||Richards, R.||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J.||Roberts, A.||Williams, R. W. (Wigan)|
|Lee, F. (Hulme)||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)||Williams, Rt. Hon. T (Don Valley)|
|Leonard, W.||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Leslie, J. R.||Rogers, G. H. R.||Willis, E.|
|Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Royle, C.||Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Lyne, A. W.||Sargood, R.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. H|
|McEntee, V. La T.||Scott-Elliot, W.||Woodburn, A.|
|McGhee, H. G.||Sharp, Granville||Woods, G. S.|
|McGovern, J.||Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)||Yates, V. F.|
|McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St. Helens)||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|McKinlay, A. S.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|McLeavy, F.||Simmons, C. J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES|
|MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Skeffington, A. M.||Mr. Snow and|
|McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)||Mr. George Wallace|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Field, Capt. W. J.||Piratin, P.|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Janner, B.||Platts-Mills, J. F. F.|
|Baird, J.||Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Bramall, E. A.||Lever, N. H.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|Cocks, F. S.||Levy, B. W.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Collins, V. J.||Lewis, J. (Bolton)||Vernon, Maj. W. F.|
|Comym, Dr. L.||Mack, J. D.||Wilkes, L.|
|Cove, W. G.||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)||Zilliacus, K.|
|Grossman, R. H. S.||Mikardo, Ian|
|Delargy, H. J.||Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Edelman, M.||Orbach, M.||Mr. Warbey and|
|Mr. Sydney Silverman.|
Question put, and agreed to.
|Bill read a Second time.|
|Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House, for Monday next.—[Mr. R. J. Taylor.]|