HC Deb 23 June 1953 vol 516 cc1678-80
43. Mr. Mikardo

asked the Prime Minister whether he has examined the evidence submitted to him by the hon. Member for Reading, South, establishing that the Mid-Ocean Club in Bermuda, where he is to meet President Eisenhower, refuses accommodation to Jews as transient guests; and whether he will make a further statement.

The Prime Minister

I thank the hon. Member for the information that he has given me, but it does not in my view substantiate the charge that the Mid-Ocean Club discriminates against Jews as such. I am assured that Jews are accepted as members and as guests of the club. A member of the Jewish community who was introduced by another Jew happens to be staying there at the present time. I could furnish the hon. Gentleman with the names, although I do not wish to give undue publicity to private individuals.

Mr. Mikardo

While I thank the right hon. Gentleman for the interest he has taken in this matter and for carefully examining the evidence, may I ask him whether he is aware that an organisation representing 125 tourist bureaux in New York have said that on the experience of these bureaux the club definitely exercises discrimination against Jewish guests? Is he also aware that the club authorities were recently unable to explain why it was that a non-Jewish gentleman applying for accommodation was offered the choice of several rooms while a Jewish person applying for the same accommodation at the same time was told that the club was full? Will he look at the matter again, because I am sure he has been quite inadvertently misled in this affair.

The Prime Minister

The club is a members' club and is managed by the members on their authority. Of course, Christians are not the only ones who sometimes get blackballed. I am assured that there is no inhibition on principle. I have very definite evidence. Some statements have been made. There is a New York travel agency which depends very largely for its clientele upon members of the Jewish community and which presses very much for their inclusion in this club as what are called transient guests. I am assured that there is no discrimination on grounds of racial principle at all, but one can easily see that an organised system of offering membership of the club might give an unfair commercial advantage to the agency concerned.