HL Deb 24 May 1922 vol 50 cc659-60

My Lords, I beg to ask His Majesty's Government whether, according to the latest census returns, the population of Palestine consists of 77 per cent. Moslems, 11 per cent. Christians, and 10 per cent. Jews; and, if so, whether the Government cannot guarantee that this proportion will be maintained in the Legislative Council. From an answer which I received in this House a fortnight ago, it would appear that the members of the new Legislative Council of Palestine are to be allotted, not in accordance with the numbers of the electorate, but with the number of voters who actually go to the poll. I venture to think that this introduces a new and perhaps a dangerous doctrine with regard to the policy of representation, and it would be more desirable if members were allotted to constituencies in the ordinary way.


My Lords, I do not quite know what my noble friend means by "the ordinary way," but I am informed that the figures in his Question are substantially correct. As to the second part of his Question, namely, what guarantee the Government can give that the proportion of citizens defined by their religious convictions will be maintained in the Legislative Council, he put that question ten days or a fortnight ago, and I have nothing further to reply to it. I cannot guarantee that the political obligation will correspond with the religious conviction of that community. I would add that the details of the proposed Electoral Law are still under examination, and no further statement on the subject can be made at present.