§ VISCOUNT TEMPLETOWN rose to ask His Majesty's Government whether they are now prepared to act upon the Pass-field Declaration in recognition of the Arabs and their rights as a nation; and to move for Papers. The noble Viscount said: My Lords, in asking the Question which stands in my name I do so believing that Great Britain in her long history stands for justice for all races. Persecution either of the Jew or Arab is a doctrine totally alien to all our traditions. I raise the question primarily because it closely affects Great Britain's duties to those who are connected with her, and because the whole position of the Arabs, who are 81 per cent. of the Palestine population, not only affects Great Britain's prestige in world affairs, but in a most vitally significant manner affects the whole Moslem world and our long and honoured relation to it.
§ For the last decade Palestine has been a land of tragedy. It has become the centre of a world struggle. Here our solemn pledges are being put to the test. Are we to honour them or are we to 173 leave the Arabs in the lurch because they are the weaker party? Our own destiny and the future of the Arabs and the Jews rest on the answer to this question. The Arabs have many grievances against us. The strongest is that the Passfield Declaration, which recognised their rights as a separate race in Palestine, only lasted three weeks owing to Zionist pressure on the Government, so I am told. The Arabs have protested and argued since 1918. There have been many serious riots and they have sent five Arab delegations to England. Six Commissions of Inquiry have recommended in favour of the Arabs. They are taxed, they bear the burden of the Budget. The figures are as follows: Police and prisons, £520,468; Trans-Jordan Frontier Force, £176,262; defence, £168,500—or a total of £E865,230.
The fellah is in a pitiful and distressed condition. Thousands of Arabs have been made landless. Here is a cable just received from the Arab Executive; I have it in my pocket. It says:
Government has no statistics for unemployed. Private investigation shows figures over thirty thousand. Unemployed among distressed fellaheen hard to determine.—Arab Executive.
The Arabs are now subjected to the pressure of an immigration against which they have continually protested. In 1933 many thousands of Jewish immigrants entered Palestine, many of thorn of an undesirable type. Against constant Jewish immigration there are 30,000 Arab immigrants who, though men of a sturdy and independent type, are not allowed Palestinian citizenship. I ask the Government how much longer the Arab, with his long tradition of culture and independence, is to be maintained in a position of political inferiority while immigrants from Russia, Poland, and Eastern European countries are admitted to full rights of citizenship. I ask also for a clear statement from His Majesty's Government as to their final intentions. Will they not emphasise the fact that while Palestine may be regarded as a home for the Jews, it will never become a Jewish State? As Sir John Hope-Simpson said in his report, no Jew is allowed to employ Arab labour.
This persistent and deliberate boycott of Arab labour in Zionist colonies is contrary to Article 6 of the Mandate and a menace to the country. The Arabs do
not possess any constitutional means of putting their views on social and economic matters before the Government and, though fulfilling the duties of citizenship, are totally without its rights. In a letter to me received this morning, dated June 26, which with your Lordships' permission I shall read, Lord Islington says:
I regret my health prevents me from attending the House of Lords on Wednesday next, otherwise I should have come to support your Question to the Government as to what policy they intend to pursue in Palestine. If the present policy continues, there can be no hope of a peaceful settlement. In his statement of 1930 Lord Passfield makes it clear that the administration of the Mandate by Great Britain requires stringent and early revision if justice is to be secured to the Arab and Jewish races alike. Since 1930 Jewish immigration has been increased extensively, especially since the German exodus, the result being that the Arab agrarian, dispossessed of land, has seriously increased.
Article 6 of the Mandate directs that protection in their civil rights should be secured to the different races. Unless this Article is given effect to, disturbances will continue to develop and the position of the Mandatory Power will become even more invidious than hitherto.
Some years ago a Motion was carried by a large majority in the House of Lords dealing with the Mandate. If the decision had been given effect to, the position in Palestine to-day might have been different. Lord Balfour, in the course of that debate, and speaking as author of the Balfour Declaration, described the establishment, of a Zionist home as an ' interesting experiment.' The 'experiment' has now been tried for over 10 years. If the Jewish settlement has been a success, equally Arab security has been a. failure. This has proved dangerous both to the Jews and to the Arabs.
The Government is confronted with this extremely difficult task of trying to reconcile justice to the Arabs with a continuance of a Zionist home. Hitherto this has not been accomplished. If the present scheme of administration in Palestine cannot be carried out effectively, it is clear that it requires revision. I trust that the Government will give this subject the attention it demands and that they will act with precision and courage, so that future trouble, which might develop into disaster, might be averted.
I shall give a few figures to your Lordships and will then not trouble you further. The first is a copy of a cable from the Arab Executive dated June 9, 1934, which says:
Arab agriculturists not possessing land estimated thirty thousand families and Arabs dispossessed of land by Jews while not finding other occupation five thousand families.
I will give just one other figure from the Arab Executive. This cable, which is dated June 21, reads:
Government has no statistics for unemployed. Private investigation shows figures over thirty thousand. Unemployed among distressed fellaheen hard to determine.
I beg to move.
§ LORD SNELL
My Lords, I ought to make it clear at the beginning that in what I say to-day I am speaking for myself alone, and my noble friends behind me are not at all committed to what I say. So far as I was able to understand what the noble Viscount, Lord Temple-town, said, it was that the Arabs in Palestine suffered under some very special grievance which had been caused as a result of what had taken place since the time of the Balfour Declaration. The Notice which he put upon the Paper of your Lordships' House was to ask whether the Government is now prepared to act upon the Passfield Declaration in recognition of the Arabs and their rights as a nation. I would not for the world say a word against the Arab people. I have the greatest regard for them, but it is important that your Lordships should begin to consider this question with some sense of proportion, and to ask yourselves whether there has in fact been any grievance inflicted upon the Arab people.
We are asked to consider the rights of the Arabs as a nation. What are those rights in actual fact? Before the War took place, Palestine was not a country in any political sense. It was known to the Arabs themselves, and to the world generally, as the southern part of Syria. When the War occurred the Turks were in alliance with the Central Powers. They had possession of the hills of Judea and they menaced thereby the Suez Canal, which was the commercial throat of the world. It became, therefore, necessary on military and other grounds to dislodge the Turkish forces from the hills of Judea, and it seems strange to assume, after a military campaign had been conducted and the whole land was delivered from one particular menace, that the canal should be handed over again to a danger from which it had just been rescued. There is no doubt that the Arab peoples hoped to found a free Arab nation in Palestine. They say that certain promises were given to them to that end, but promises were made in the War in many ways, and, assuming that, such 176 a promise was made to the Arab peoples and was not fulfilled, they are sufferers in what was a more or less common affliction. We, too, were promised that our country should become a land fit for heroes to live in. It has become a land of slums and of the application of a means test.
But let us ask ourselves whether in actual fact promises were made which have not been fulfilled. What the Arabs got out of the War was a great Arab kingdom of immense potentialities and extent, and so far as we can see, what they got did very great honour to their bargaining powers, but it left them, in my judgment, without any real grievance in regard to the position which the noble Viscount has put forward. The problem arose: Were the Jews a nation? They, too, had 14,000,000 or 15,000,000 of people scattered about the world, and they, too, had fought for the Allies. When the statesmen of the world came to consider the problem, they had to ask: Were the Jews a nation? Were they entitled to have a land of their own on which their culture should flourish? Rightly or wrongly—it is not for me here to say—the statesmen of the world came to the conclusion that the Jews were a nation, and that Palestine was the soil on which their nation should be re-united, and they were to go there, as the Mandate says, as a right and not on sufferance. This country was entrusted with the administration of the Mandate. The noble Viscount would suggest that England was alone, that she was in Palestine out of mere malevolence to the Arab peoples. Great Britain is in Palestine by the order of the civilised world to which she is bound to give an account of her stewardship. So we have to remember that the Jewish people were given this little spot of precious land, about the size of the Principality of Wales, whereas the Arabs had their Zion in the vast hinterland beyond the Jordan, and that left them, I repeat, without any real grievance that should impress your Lordships as against the claims of the Jews.
The noble Viscount, in his speech this afternoon, said that the Arabs had been in a very dreadful state for some considerable time, that they were subjected to the evils of immigration by another race, that they contributed the greater portion of the Palestine Budget, and so 177 on. It is sufficient to say that, unsatisfactory as the position of the Arab people may be at this present time, they have made more progress during the last fifteen years than they made in the previous 500 years, and we must remember that whilst they are a lovable, a generous, a brave and chivalrous people they were associated with methods which do not belong to the modern world. Speaking for myself—and I hope the Arabs will regard me as one of their friends—I want them to be free, not merely from Jewish capital, but from the landlords and usurers of their own race. If they would accept advice from one who speaks as one of their friends they would seek association with the Jewish Federation of Labour in Palestine, one of the strongest and one of the sanest organisations in that land, and through co-operation with that organisation their economic condition might be vastly improved.
The noble Viscount spoke about the Passfield Declaration. I cannot go into that this afternoon, but your Lordships are aware, of course, that the Declaration was subjected to very close and prolonged examination, with the result that on February 13, 1931, there was an authoritative interpretation of it issued in the form of a letter from the Prime Minister to Dr. Weizmann. In that interpretation the words of the Mandate were clearly stated. The reference to the rights and position of the Arab people meant that their position was not to be made worse, was not to be jeopardised. It did not mean that there should not be the establishment of the Jewish National Home because that was an important obligation of the Mandatory Power.
But it seems to me that the noble Viscount should have remembered when he was presenting this case this afternoon what the position of the Arabs was before the Zionist movement began to influence Palestine. In my judgment it is simply not correct that the Arabs are in a worse position than they were. They are in a vastly better position. Zionism has not impoverished Palestine. It has enriched it. It has not made the Arabs more subject to the exigencies of poverty. It has given them an assurance which they never previously possessed. We ought to remember that they enjoy a security to-day against those conditions 178 of poverty which no other of the Arab peoples have at this time. We ought to remember, too, that if they are tolerably prosperous to-day that is a result of what has taken place in this terrible decade to which the noble Viscount refers. I do not desire to pose as a prophet before your Lordships' House, but I say that it is extremely likely that had the Zionist experiment not been in operation in Palestine the position of the Arabs during this period of world depression and financial stress would have been desperate almost to the borderland of famine. I very much hope that the Arabs, instead of seeking to stimulate the emotional sympathies of English politicians, will at length accept the fact that Palestine must be a land of two races and settle down to the exploitation of a very great opportunity.
I would wish to say one or two words in refutation of the general statement that the Arabs are in a worse position than they were in an economic sense. The actual facts are that the Arab population has increased out of all proportion in precisely those quarters of Palestine where the Jewish enterprise is most advanced. If you take three of the great towns, Haifa, Jaffa and Jerusalem, you will find that the non-Jewish population in those three great centres has increased as follows: In Haifa in 1922 the non-Jewish population was 18,400; in 1931 it had increased to 34,200, or an increase of 85 per cent. The population of Jaffa in 1922 was 27,400; in 1931 it was 44,200, or an increase of 66 per cent. In Jerusalem the population was 27,600 as against 38,900, or an increase of 43 per cent. If you take the figures of non-Jewish population in those areas not affected by Jewish development, such as Nablus, Hebron and Gaza, you find an increase of only 9 per cent. in Nablus and 8 per cent. in Hebron, while in Gaza there has been a positive decrease. Any of your Lordships who have been in Palestine and have kept in touch with the facts know that one of the problems is that Arabs on the other side of the Jordan consider conditions in Palestine so favourable that they are constantly invading the territory—and even the Arabs are wise enough not to do that if in crossing the Jordan they were going to such distress as the noble Viscount has suggested.
179 I should like to deal with the question of immigration in its present aspects for a moment or two. There has been for long a considerable shortage of labour. Indeed, the prosperity of Palestine is held up to-day because labour is not available for economic processes to be developed. The policy of His Majesty's Government has been, and quite rightly has been, to consider immigration only in relation to the absorptive capacity of the nation. That means, as the Prime Minister's letter to Dr. Weizmann painted out, the economic absorptive capacity. Yet, when as the result of the most careful examination the Jewish people applied for certificates for 24,000 immigrants, only 5,000 were permitted. It was alleged by His Majesty's Government that there had been 9,000 illicit invasions into Palestine of Jewish people. Let us assume that that was so. The fact remains that after these 9,000 people have been absorbed there is still an acute shortage of labour, and that means, if it means anything at all, that to that extent at least His Majesty's Government have miscalculated what is the real absorptive capacity of Palestine. Without in the least desiring to be hypercritical, I cannot help feeling that there has been in Palestinian government a tragedy of inertia and a disregard of a very great opportunity. I hate even for a moment to criticise the administration of the Colonial Office, with which I have worked closely and for which I have the highest regard, but I cannot help feeling that with regard to this matter its record is continuously disappointing—correct, but an uncreative routine, best describes it. I believe, my Lords, that the time may come when we shall have to discuss that matter with considerable frankness.
I desire to conclude by expressing my own opinion, based upon a very close and intensive study of conditions in Palestine, that whilst the Arab people may have grievances they are not greater than those of the working classes of other countries, and that those grievances, whatever they may be, have not been intensified by the endeavour to establish in Palestine a Jewish National Home. In any case, we as a nation have had imposed upon us the duty of the administration of this Mandate. It is not in our choice to do what the 180 noble Viscount has asked. We must either do what we are ordered to do by the Mandate or we must return it to those who gave it. Speaking for myself alone, having got that Mandate I want with all my heart to make it a success—a success which shall do no injury to the Arab people but shall carry out the desire of the nations, made in solemn assembly, to establish a Jewish National Home.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
My Lords, the noble Viscount who introduced this subject raised a number of political issues of a more or less controversial nature. I do not desire to say anything about those issues. I only wish to mention one or two facts about the present labour position in Palestine, which was raised by the noble Lord who has just sat down. I am quite aware of the difficulty of the Mandatory Power in Palestine. As Lord Snell has said, we are not entirely free agents. We have to carry out the terms of the Mandate, which contains so many conditions, some of which appear to be in conflict with others. Consequently that places the High Commissioner of Palestine in a quite exceptionally difficult position. Not only is it impossible for him to please everyone, and in that the High Commissioner is not alone—it is the experience of every administrator, and not even His Majesty's Government can hope to please everyone—but the High Commissioner, in the circumstances in which he is placed, must find it extremely difficult to please any one. There are conflicts of interests which he has to reconcile. I feel that if any man could succeed in that very difficult position and reconcile these conflicting duties, it would be the present holder of that office, for he is a man who has very wide sympathies and no prejudices, who is equally friendly to both the races whose interests it is his duty to watch over, and a man of infinite tact as well as great ability. I am sure that if any man could succeed in that difficult position it would be the present High Commissioner.
One of his responsibilities, and one of the most difficult perhaps of his duties, is to decide annually the extent of the Jewish immigration. It is inevitable that that subject of the immigration of Jews into Palestine should be approached somewhat differently by the Jewish Agency, on the one hand, and by the 181 Government of Palestine, on the other. The object of the Jewish Agency is to find a home for their co-religionists, who naturally look to Palestine as the home of their race, and from that point of view the need for increasing the immigration is greater than ever, because the large expulsion of Jews from Germany and other countries has rendered an unusually large number of these people homeless, and Palestine is the only country to which they can go as of right. In other countries they may receive asylum, but they can only do so on sufferance. There they may or may not be received hospitably, but, as the White Paper of 1922 laid down, the Jews can go to Palestine as of right and not on sufferance. To enable the Jews to found a National Home in Palestine was one of the objects of the Mandate, and is one of the conditions to which, as Lord Snell rightly said, it is the duty of the Mandatory Power to give effect. There are, of course, limitations of that condition—I am aware of them—but the needs of that National Home are necessarily the primary concern the Jewish Agency. The Government of Palestine, on the other hand, have to approach the question from quite another point of view. They are concerned with the welfare of the people of Palestine as a whole, and His Majesty's Government have laid down that the right of immigration should be governed by the absorptive capacity of the country. The High Commissioner has to decide every year how many fresh immigrants the country can absorb. That is his responsibility, and I am quite sure that His Majesty's Government would be very reluctant to override his opinion on such a matter. I am certain they have confidence in the advice he tenders to them on that matter.
At the same time, I am sure that both the High Commissioner and His Majesty's Government would at all times be ready to listen to representations on this matter made to them by persons qualified to speak with authority, and it is in this sense that I venture to use the opportunity afforded by the noble Viscount on the Cross Benches, to mention to your Lordships, thereby bringing to the attention of the Government, certain facts about the present labour situation. I happen to be the chairman of a company which 182 is developing a new industry in Palestine, one in which the Government of Palestine has a very great interest, and since my company employs both Jewish and Arab labour, I speak on this question from an entirely impartial point of view. Our industry is an export industry. All the products which are manufactured at our works on the Dead Sea are sold in foreign markets, but they pass over Palestinian railways and are shipped at Palestinian ports. One of the most urgent requirements for the success of this undertaking is a plentiful supply of labour. As the noble Lord, Lord Snell, has quite rightly said, Palestine is at this moment in the somewhat exceptional position of having no unemployment problem. On the contrary, Palestine is suffering from a shortage of labour. That position was revealed in the late summer of last year. By the end of last year it had become acute, and at this moment it is causing us the gravest anxiety.
Let me give your Lordships certain facts. Seventy per cent. of the cost of production of the company about which I am speaking is incurred in the two items of labour and power. We are, of course, only at the beginning of our enterprise, but already we are employing some 500 workmen, both Jews and Arabs, and we are contemplating large extensions in the near future which will necessitate the employment of additional numbers. It is therefore a matter of great interest to us that not only are we finding it difficult to get new labour but, owing to the abnormal conditions in the country and the great rise of wages in the building industry, our existing labour is being drawn away. For instance, out of 256 Jews in our employment we have in the last ten months lost 132, which is more than 51 per cent. The importance of that is that those men have been in our employment now for three years, and are skilled or semi-skilled men whom we have been at pains to train. Even supposing new men are available, we have to train them in the business from the start; and as the result of this draining of our labour resources the rate of harvesting of our raw material has fallen to one half in each shift owing to the fact that we are now employing men who are inexperienced. But if we are to carry out those new extensions, we 183 shall require not merely the men whom we at present employ, but additional numbers, and in the present circumstances we look around and fail to find them.
There is to-day a shortage of labour, both Jew and Arab, and as I say, it is a matter which is causing us the very gravest anxiety. I speak only for one industry; the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, I have no doubt could supplement what I have said from his experience of another industry, and from all that I can learn, most of the big industries in Palestine are to-day experiencing the same thing. I mention these facts only to show that Palestine is crying out for labour, and not, as was suggested by the noble Viscount, being made to suffer by the introduction of people who are not wanted and who cannot be absorbed. Even judged by the standard laid down by the Government itself, the standard of the absorptive capacity of the country, there is to-day need, and urgent need, not for less but for more immigration. Of course in saying that I am not in any way criticising the High Commissioner. He knows quite well the facts which I have mentioned and I have no doubt that he will bear them in mind when he makes his orders. I have every confidence in his judgment, but it is necessary that the Government, and your Lordships as the matter has been raised here, should know what are the actual facts.
It is unfortunately so often the case that this question of immigration is discussed from a political point of view. There are those who have a political object in representing that there is no need for any more immigration of labour. I have seen assertions made, always with a political motive, over and over again that there is no labour shortage in Palestine and that there is no need for further immigration; and on the other hand, also with a political object, it is often asserted that the country could easily absorb all those who want to go there. I have no political motive whatever in bringing before your Lordships' notice the facts which I have stated. I merely say from actual experience that there is to-day a shortage of labour in Palestine which is becoming serious, and I hope that His Majesty's Government will not allow themselves for any political considerations to fail to regard the true economic interests of Palestine.
§ THE MARQUESS OF READING
My Lords, it was my misfortune, owing to my having to attend a Committee in your Lordships' House, not, to be present to hear the noble Viscount who moved the Motion which is now before your Lordships, and I do not desire to take part in a political debate, especially to-day. All I desire to say, having regard to the terms of the Notice, is that, as I suppose, His Majesty's Government will reply to the noble Earl—of course they will use their own language with regard to it—that the rights of Arabs and Jews are to be regulated by the terms of the Mandate. There may have been interpretations of that Mandate by Declaration, into which I do not want to enter; I am perfectly content to leave this matter in the hands of the Government. But I have heard what fell from the noble Earl who has just spoken, and I have heard also (though I was not present) of what my noble friend Lord Snell said, and I desire to emphasise as strongly as I can what has fallen from them with regard to the shortage of labour. So much has already been said upon it that I do not wish to go into particulars. I am speaking now entirely apart from the political aspect, and am merely regarding the economic aspect of affairs in Palestine.
I have had an opportunity of discussing the question with important persons in industry in Palestine who have just returned from there, and who are very seriously concerned about the condition of things owing to the shortage of labour, affecting both the Jewish and the Arab population. It cannot be considered that this is to the advantage of the Arab population, inasmuch as, according to all that I am told, the rates of wages have gone up quite considerably, and apart altogether from that, there is disturbance of the economic conditions which is really very serious. What has been attempted in Palestine very largely, certainly amongst those who are interested in the Jewish population, is the development of agriculture. I could give instances which show quite clearly what is happening there: the temptation to go into the towns and the higher wages paid in agriculture occasion real disturbance. I am making this statement with knowledge and experience, as I am suffering from these conditions in my capacity as chairman of the Palestine Hydro-Elec- 185 tric Corporation and in connection also with Imperial Chemical Industries, which have developments in Palestine. So I am very well aware of the conditions. I do not want to press the noble Earl further to-day than to beg of him to do everything that is possible to avoid what otherwise will be serious economic trouble in Palestine. Fortunately, under the Mandate, during this period of great depression Palestine has managed throughout to continue fairly prosperous, and during the last year or two there has undoubtedly been a great increase in the prosperity of the country. All this will be very seriously changed if the present conditions continue. Houses have to be built, works have to be constructed, and industries to be started, and those developments which should take place are stopped because of the shortage of labour.
I have the greatest confidence in Sir Arthur Wauchope, the High Commissioner. I had the advantage of seeing him and talking much with him when in Palestine, and I think that we in this country have every reason to be proud of the work which he has attempted to do in Palestine. Ha has done that work with due regard to the Mandate and to the high character of the administration for which this country is famous, and every credit should be given to him. But for some reason he does not seem to regard this question of labour shortage as serious enough to induce him to make some new development at the present time. I really am unable to understand why that is so. Perhaps the Government will tell us, and t hope that they will take every possible step, in discussing the matter with the High Commissioner, to remove this shortage of labour and thus enable the prosperity of Palestine to continue.
§ LORD LAMINGTON
My Lords, the noble Marquess opposite and the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, have changed the discussion to economics rather than policy. It is satisfactory to know that there is room for labour still in some parts of the world, and no doubt the High Commissioner, who has the very difficult task of determining what amount of immigration ought to be allowed, will try to ease the situation if the shortage continues. I should like to know what other races besides the Jews are to be allowed to enter freely into Palestine to 186 get employment. I am informed that about 30,000 Arabs scattered about the world at the present time are more or less denationalised, and they cannot get into Palestine except on very stringent conditions. If there is a shortage of labour I hope their claim will be considered, and that they will be allowed to enter.
A remarkable letter by a Mr. Rosen, a Jew, appeared in The Near East and India magazine, which is a very good production from a literary point of view. He thinks that the indiscriminate immigration which has been allowed into Palestine is a great mistake, and he refers to some of the subversive organisations which are allowed. He asks why these organisations, the Blueshirts and the Brownshirts and others, are allowed, and he says that meetings of these organisations are held openly condemning British rule. "It is regrettable," he says; "that they dislike their pre-War brother almost as much as they do the Arab." The pre-War brother referred to is the Jew who was already there prior to the War. Apparently he has not got such a high opinion of these immigrants into Palestine as the noble Marquess has. He says:On the whole the original settlers remain on very friendly terms with the Arabs and have endeavoured to see eye to eye with them. Many Orthodox Jews eye prefer Arab friendship to those of their new compatriots, and I do not wonder.I hope that whatever restrictions there may be on the immigration of labour which is necessary for the development of Palestine will be removed, so that this shortage can be overcome. It has been very well advertised this afternoon, and I should imagine that there would be a great demand to take a share in the increasing prosperity of Palestine, which is the cause of this shortage.
But, after all, the Motion on the Paper refers to the Passfield Declaration, and apparently the noble Lord, Lord Snell, gives the go-by to that; he pays no attention to the advice given in the Declaration, but refers to the letter published by the Prime Minister in 1931. That practically cancelled the idea of the granting of a Constitution to Palestine owing, I understand, to the dislike which the Zionists feel to taking a share in the Constitution of a country in which they would not have a majority. That, I understand, was the reason given at the 187 time for the Prime Minister's action. The noble Lord, Lord Snell, referred to the benefit that had accrued to the Arabs from the Balfour Declaration. That may be quite true. According to a pamphlet by Mr. Cohen—I dare say a copy was sent to the noble Lord as well as to me—at least £50,000,000 have been forwarded to Palestine since the Palestine Declaration. No doubt that has been an enormous benefit to all those who live in Palestine—chiefly, of course, to the Zionists, but no doubt a certain amount would percolate to the Arab population as well. I would not deny that. What would happen if these beneficent supplies of money were to cease to pour into the country I am not quite so sure. Perhaps they will not cease. Perhaps the various Jewish Agencies throughout the world will always be ready to contribute largely to the welfare of their compatriots in Palestine. But still there is a certain risk that some day or other they may find themselves stranded for lack of money.
The difficult and serious question to my mind is the deep feeling of hostility which prevails among the Arab population against this great influx of Zionists. It is not a racial question. The Jews and the Arabs lived in perfect harmony together before the Balfour Declaration. As I have shown from Mr. Rosen's letter, there is still a great feeling of friendship between those two races, but it is the political aspect of the matter which concerns the Arabs. They fear that they are going to be submerged or handed over to Jewish or Zionist domination. How are they to be freed from this terror, which is an honest terror though it may be uncalled for? Whatever benefits they may receive from the influx of Zionists and their money, they dislike the idea that their land may be taken away from them. In that connection I may say that in the Report of 1930 it is distinctly stated that there is no more land available to be handed over to Zionist agencies. It is definitely stated, on page 16 of the Report, that at the present time and with the present method of cultivation there is no more land available for settlement by new immigrants. That ought to be one of the tests regulating the number of people who are allowed into Palestine, this question of the land which is available for them. Jewish Agencies go in for a more intensive cultivation, and they 188 have more land in reserve, but still there is a limit to the number of people who can be settled on the land, and it ought to be known to all Zionist organisations that the Government of Palestine do not consider that there is any more land for agricultural settlement. If that was the case in 1930 it must be still more the case to-day.
I think the British Government and those who have been exercising control in Palestine, from Sir Herbert Samuel downwards, deserve great credit for having preserved peace among these two rival peoples. It speaks well for our system of administration that this should be the case, but I think there are anxious moments before us if something is not done to free the Arab from the idea that he is to be subject to a great influx of Zionists and thereby possibly lose what he considers to be his proper supremacy in the country. The position of a referee even in the field of sport is not free from danger, and I do not think our position is free from danger in Palestine. I met the other day someone who had been for many years in Palestine, not in a political capacity but from philanthropy, and he told me that things are getting very serious indeed. The feeling was intense on the part of the Arabs that we had neglected their interests. The Zionists on the other hand, are, we know, getting very much annoyed indeed because we do not allow a larger amount of immigration. It is very difficult for the Government to maintain an equal balance of rights as between the two conflicting parties, but I think every care ought to be taken that there is not unrestricted immigration by Jews in the future whereby the fear which is now disturbing the Arab mind will be intensified.
§ LORD MELCHETT
My Lords, this matter has been very thoroughly discussed and I should not venture to intervene were it not for the fact that I returned from Palestine only four or five weeks ago. So far as the question of the high feeling in that country is concerned, I have been very intimately connected with Palestine, and I say without fear of contradiction that feeling at the moment is a good deal better than it has been for many years. That is due principally to two reasons—first of all, the excellent administration of the present High Commissioner, and secondly, the 189 fact that when prosperity comes to a country it is usually the case that people interest themselves rather less in politics and concern themselves rather more with their own individual affairs. That is briefly the position I found in Palestine when I was there a few weeks ago.
Of course this is a subject which one can attack from many different points of view. It has been very largely and widely discussed already, but there are one or two points which I still think need to be mentioned. One of them is the point raised by the noble Lord who has just spoken—namely, that there is no more land available. That is a very fallacious notion. Enormous quantities of land are available, and in any case the Hope-Simpson Report, with which I never agreed, stated there was no more land available on the basis of the present cultivation by the Arabs. These methods have now ceased to be standard. All aver the country you find the Arabs adopting very modern methods of cultivation and becoming up-to-date in a surprising way. Perhaps it is not altogether surprising in view of the fact that agricultural schools have been founded in the country which are teaching the Arab his job, and it is interesting to note, as evidence of such good feeling as exists between the two peoples, that the principal Arab agricultural school was erected with Jewish money.
I do not wish to embark on the political aspect of this question, but I wish to reinforce what has been said in regard to the shortage of labour. I also have had experience, commercially and from the agricultural point of view, of the grave embarrassment we are suffering at the present moment because of the shortage of labour. A company founded by my father embarked on very large scale orange-growing, and there we feel the effect of the shortage of labour very seriously. I went round the country and saw most of the large industrial undertakings, and the story was the same everywhere. People move from one works to another. They move round because people are offering higher wages at the next works, and a man goes off and takes this wage and someone else comes along and replaces him. Thus you have a general disturbance. The High Commissioner has the difficult task of deciding how long this will last. I clearly admit it is a difficult task, but so far 190 as I can see, and my opinion is shared by those who were with me on this occasion, there is no prospect of this activity diminishing for some years. There is an immense, an incalculable, amount of work to be done, and for my part I do not see where the people are coming from to do it unless there is a rather larger amount of immigration.
I know the High Commissioner is extremely just and extremely fair in his consideration of the matter, but there is a limiting factor which struck me when I was there, and that is that a country cannot expand at more than a certain rate. There are certain natural obstacles to the general development of every service, whether it is the Civil Service, the Medical Service, or even a commercial company itself. It cannot expand at more than a certain rate, but whether the rate at which the country is expanding to-day is anything like its maximum, I doubt. I think it could expand a good deal faster, and I see no prospect of the gloomy prediction coming true that the rate of progress is likely rapidly to diminish. There were many people three or four months ago—those also connected with the Government—who did not believe that the present prosperity would last. I am sure that that view will be falsified. Every part of the country you go to you find new undertakings about to be commenced. I think it is true to say that Palestine is now on the eve a great developments, and it would be a great mistake to believe that it has reached its peak.
§ THE EARL OF HAREWOOD
My Lords, I must apologise for addressing you on this subject as I was not able to be present when the noble Viscount who initiated the debate was putting before your Lordships the considerations which he has urged on His Majesty's Government. But I should like to say a word or two on a question which has already been dealt with by two noble Lords relating to the land in Palestine. Although I fully recognise that the question of more labour is of the greatest importance to the various industries, it is very difficult to conceal from oneself the fact that the greater the amount of Jewish immigration that takes place, the greater will be the amount of land which is acquired by them from the Arabs. Two hundred years ago we had in this country a 191 peasant population which was attached to the land by part proprietorship, and the same exists to this day to some extent in Palestine. Parliament was pleased during the eighteenth century to pass a number of Acts to enclose common lands which practically divorced the peasant population of the country from the land, and we, within our own memories, have at last begun to realise that it was not all gain when we enclosed the common lands and divorced thereby the peasantry from ownership of the land. I very greatly fear that the same thing is going to happen in Palestine in a different way.
The buying up of land in Palestine may not yet cause very serious alarm, and the amount of unemployment which is occasioned to those Arabs who are displaced from the land is not so far very great, but it is no good waiting until the evil has occurred. It is much better to face it in order to avoid it if it is possible to do so. Surely it would be better, even though immigration is allowed on some considerable scale, that something should be done in order to prevent the Arab proprietor from losing his interest in his land, especially the peasant proprietor. I venture to ask the noble Earl who will answer for His Majesty's Government whether it will be possible for him to give us some assurance that care will be taken to safeguard the interests of the peasant proprietor. Would it not be possible, for instance, to impose upon all land which has been bought from Arabs a special tax, which would be imposed by order of the High Commissioner, in order to cover the cost of maintaining unemployed Arab peasants, and to exempt from such a tax the land that still employed as many peasants as formerly lived on the land?
I make that suggestion because it is, as your Lordships know so well, the fact that many of the Jewish cultivators of the land occupy their land on the condition that they employ only Jewish labour. Further than that, the great immigration of Jews which has taken place in the last few years has imported with it certain labour organisations which are used not, as I should think all labour organisations ought to be used, in the interests of labour in general, but in the interests of sectional labour—that is to say, Jewish labour organisations will picket a Jewish orange grove which attempts to employ Arab labour and pre- 192 vent the Arab labour from going to be employed upon it. This is going on side by side with an outcry, which was very much in evidence during the past spring, for more labour in picking oranges. Although, as I am well aware, it is a fact that more labour is wanted in Palestine, it seems to me that the labour which exists there should at any rate be given a chance of being used before any louder cry is made for more labour to be imported.
Your Lordships no doubt are bombarded, as I am, with a great deal of literature on this particular question. Only this morning I was sent a pamphlet which contained the following sentence, which I think is rather important:It is significant that the increase of the Arab population has taken place most notably in those districts which lie in the immediate neighbourhood of Jewish settlements.That is quite true. The reason is very simple. The Jew is not a builder, not a bricklayer. The Arab is a very highly skilled bricklayer. Therefore, wherever Jewish settlements are made, Arabs congregate there in order to earn a living by building for Jews. That reminds one of the story of the hedge sparrow and the cuckoo. The house is being built, and the Jewish population is being nourished in it, but I am not sure that the ultimate advantage is going to be to the poor hedge sparrow who has built the nest and nurtured the inhabitants thereof. I desire, if I might do so, to appeal to His Majesty's Government to give us some assurance that steps will be taken to safeguard the Arabs, and to prevent them from losing those lands which they at present own.
May I say that I hope that nothing I have said will be considered in any way to be anti-Semitic, because I have no such feelings in my own mind? I have made two visits, at an interval of six years, to Palestine, and the development which has taken place in that interval has been quite phenomenal and beyond all belief. I fully recognise that development is due to the influence of the Jews and the example which they have given to the Arabs who are already cultivating the soil. I should also hope that nothing I have said will in any way be considered to be an attack upon the High Commissioner of Palestine, because I am quite 193 sure that no man could fill that office with more courage and with greater success than he does. He has indeed, I believe out of his own resources, supported one experimental farm which it is hoped will be the key to the solution of the whole of this difficulty in Palestine. It is an experimental farm on the high and stony ground of Palestine. Your Lordships know that both fertile land and high and stony land exist in Palestine. It does seem to me that if things go on as they are doing at present it will not be long before the whole of the very fertile valleys will fall into the hands of the Jews, and the Arabs will be driven to cultivate the high lands. If an experimental farm is established and succeeds in discovering a way in which a livelihood can be made on the high and stony ground by the Arabs, apart from keeping goats, which is now a common practice there, then I think that a solution will be found, and that increased Jewish immigration will be able to be allowed. In the meanwhile, until a success has been made of that experimental farm, or others similar to it, I hope that His Majesty's Government will be able to give us an assurance that the land of the Arab peasants will be safeguarded.
§ LORD DANESFORT
My Lords, there is one point in connection with this matter to which reference, as far as I know, has not been made to-day. That is the question of the future Constitution of Palestine. There is undoubtedly a great deal of serious anxiety on the part of the Arabs of Palestine as to their future. I read myself from time to time Arab papers, not in the original but in what, I presume, is a correct translation, and I find that amongst other causes of anxiety undoubtedly there is this anxiety about the Constitution. The noble Lord, Lord Snell, very properly paid a high tribute to the Arabs. He said they are a lovable, a brave and a generous people. That is a high tribute but I think not too high. It would be most unfortunate if any pledges or promises which have been made to the Arabs in Palestine were in anyway departed from or not carried out. Upon this question of the Constitution I should like to refer for two or three moments to what has been called the Passfield Declaration and I would ask His Majesty's Government whether they adhere to the policy laid down in that Declaration, which was made as recently as October, 194 1930. You will find the statement on pages 13 and 14 of the White Paper.
References have been made in the White Paper to the demand of Arab leaders for a Constitution which would be compatible with the mandatory obligations of His Majesty's Government, and the White Paper says, on page 13:It is … the considered opinion of His Majesty's Government that the time has now come when the important question of the establishment of a measure of self-government in Palestine must, in the interests of the community as a whole, be taken in hand without further delay.Then the White Paper deals with some of the history of the question and on page 14 there is this statement:They [His Majesty's Government] have decided that the time has arrived for a further step in the direction of the grant to the people of Palestine, of a measure of self-government compatible with the terms of the Mandate.What I want to ask His Majesty's Government is what steps have been taken during the period of nearly four years since that statement of the policy of His Majesty's Government was made. If, as I understand to be the case, no real steps have yet been taken for the establishment of that Constitution for which the Arabs are very anxious, I should like to ask whether the Government can give any assurance that the question will be taken up as soon as possible, in consultation, of course, with the Jewish people as well as the Arabs.
My final word is this. I think it is important that we in this country should do all we can to meet the legitimate demands of the Arab people in Palestine that their rights under the Mandate should be respected and rigorously observed. In our great Empire there are many peoples of the faith of Islam. The Arabs are Moslems. If we could be said to have broken faith in any degree, if we could be said not to have respected the rights of the Arabs in Palestine, we should suffer gravely in prestige not merely among the Arabs in Palestine but among the whole of the Moslem subjects of His Majesty throughout the world.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (THE EARL OF PLYMOUTH)
My Lords, this debate has shown that there is considerable divergence of opinion as to how Palestine should be 195 governed and administered. The actual wording of the noble Viscount's Question was somewhat vague in character and I, therefore, took the liberty of writing to ask him what specific points he was going to raise. He was good enough to reply to me and to indicate a certain number of points with which he was going to deal, but so far as I was able to understand him he only dealt with a very limited number of them. This question of the administration of the Mandate in Palestine and germane matters has been dealt with this afternoon from almost every conceivable point of view, and it is in consequence very difficult for me to extract the salient points from the debate and to deal with them at all effectively. Nevertheless I shall attempt to do so to the best of my ability.
Palestine is held under Mandate from the League of Nations, and I can only repeat what has often been said before, that His Majesty's Government intend to carry out the Mandate both in the spirit and the letter, as indeed successive Governments have done ever since we accepted that Mandate. The policy which His Majesty's Government have decided to follow has been set out from time to time in a number of public documents many of which have been referred to during the course of this debate. The most important are the White Paper of June, 1922, the White Paper, or the Passfield Declaration, of October, 1930, and the Prime Minister's letter to Dr. Weizmann of February, 1931. As I think has already been pointed out, it is necessary that these two latter documents, the Passfield Declaration and the Prime Minister's letter to Dr. Weizmann, should be read in conjunction with one another. If your Lordships look at the first paragraph of the Prime Minister's letter you will see that in that paragraph the Prime Minister says:This statement will fall to be read as an authoritative interpretation of the White Paper on the matters with which this letter deals.I can say nothing new this afternoon. I can only repeat what has been said by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies on innumerable occasions in another place and outside, that the Government have no intention of departing from the policy stated in those documents and they see no necessity for making any further ex- 196 planatory statement in connection with the matter.
A large number of questions have been raised this afternoon. May I be allowed to deal first with the one which was raised last—that is, the question of a further constitutional step in Palestine? As your Lordships know it has not been possible to establish a Legislative Council in Palestine for various reasons, and therefore both the Arab and the Jewish populations are on the same footing in so far as they lack constitutional representation at the present time. But, as your Lordships are no doubt aware, an attempt was made as far back as 1922 to establish a Legislative Council in Palestine with twelve unofficial representatives. Very largely owing to the refusal of the Arab population to co-operate, that had to be abandoned. Since then the Arab leaders have refused—I think I may put it in that way—two further opportunities of co-operating in some form or another in the government of Palestine. The first was the proposed reconstitution of the nominated Advisory Council, but with membership conforming to that proposed for the Legislative Council, and the second was the proposed formation of an Arab Agency.
I can only refer once again to the White Paper of 1930, in which the Government announced quite distinctly their intention to set up a Legislative Council generally upon the lines of that which was indicated in the earlier statement of 1922. As a result of that the High Commissioner, in November, 1932, informed the Permanent Mandates Commission at Geneva that steps would be taken towards the formation of such a Legislative Council when the new local government Ordinance which was then in preparation was actually in working order. He expressed the hope that the proposals which he would make would be accepted by the leaders of both Parties in Palestine, and he added that these proposals would necessarily contain definite safeguards: firstly, so that in no circumstances could the peace and security of the country be endangered in any way, and secondly, so that the carrying out of the Mandate would not be in any way hampered. That local government Ordinance—I think it is actually called the Municipal Corporations Ordinance—has now been enacted and elections are taking place. I can only say that it is 197 the intention of the Government to proceed on the lines which have been adumbrated. Naturally the whole matter requires the most careful consideration, and it will be necessary for the High Commissioner to discuss the whole subject with representatives of all communities in Palestine. I am afraid that it is not possible for me to go any further on this point this afternoon, and I cannot indicate at this stage the actual composition of the proposed Legislative Council, but at any rate I think I have made it clear that it is the intention of His Majesty's Government to proceed on the lines indicated.
A number of other matters have been dealt with. Perhaps the most important of these is the subject of immigration. Both the noble Marquess opposite and the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, made weighty contributions to this debate, and they both paid, as indeed nearly every speaker this afternoon has paid, the very highest tributes to the High Commissioner, Sir Arthur Wauchope. I should like to take this opportunity of associating myself as closely as possible with those tributes and expressing my opinion that he has in extremely difficult circumstances carried on his work very fearlessly and without prejudice on either side. The noble Earl and the noble Marquess made reference to the question of immigration and to the shortage of labour in the country. I think the noble Earl said that there was at the present moment no unemployment in Palestine. That is not strictly correct. According to the information which is at my disposal, there are at the present moment, or rather there were at the end of April, 400 Jews and something like 14,000 Arabs unemployed.
§ THE MARQUESS OF READING
Will the noble Earl kindly tell us where he gets those figures from? Are the figures from the High Commissioner?
§ THE EARL OF PLYMOUTH
I understand that that is so. I am not absolutely certain upon the point, but I believe that it is so.
§ THE EARL OF PLYMOUTH
And 14,000 Arabs. I am confirmed in what I said, that those figures are provided by the High Commissioner. It is well known upon what principle immigration into Palestine has been regulated in the past. It has been made clear time after time that the admission of immigrants into Palestine must be determined by the economic absorptive capacity of the country, and the immigration laws and regulations have been based upon that policy. It has equally been made plain by my right honourable friend that it is the High Commissioner who is the best judge of that economic absorptive capacity, and that he must be given full discretion in the administration of the immigration laws. I can assure your Lordships that in coming to his decision the High Commissioner gives full weight and full consideration to the figures which are submitted to him by the Jewish Agency. These figures are gone into very carefully, and it is only after the fullest consideration of the representations which have been made to him by the Jewish Agency that the High Commissioner finally arrives at his decision. I should also say that the High Commissioner has made it plain that in making his decision he feels it his duty to consider not only the present conditions in the country but future possibilities as well.
I frankly admit that the position in the country now is perhaps an abnormal one. There is a tendency for labour to be drawn from the country towards the towns owing to the very high rates which are now paid there, but it is absolutely essential that the High Commissioner should not only take into consideration the present situation—that is his view—but that he should also consider and give full weight to what he believes may be the possibilities of the future. I can add this in connection with that particular subject, that a proposal for a statistical office in Palestine has recently been approved and funds for its establishment are to be provided this year. We hope that this will enable the Palestine Government to form a more accurate conclusion as to the extent of unemployment and the other factors upon which the economic absorptive capacity is to a large extent bound to depend.
I pass now to the question of land, which has been referred to by a number 199 of speakers this afternoon, and more particularly by the noble Earl who sits behind me, Lord Harewood. The noble Earl has made an appeal to the Government that some assurance shall be given to the effect that the position of the Arab cultivator will be safeguarded. I can only, I think, explain to your Lordships what his position is at the present moment. As your Lordships know, a Protection of Cultivators Ordinance has recently been enacted and is now in operation. It is perfectly true that there was some considerable delay in putting it into operation, but I am glad to say that as the result of certain amendments which were made, the machinery has now been set up. In March it was reported to us that the Commissions which were set up under that Ordinance were sitting two days a week and that the settlement of cases which came before them was proceeding rapidly. That Cultivators Ordinance enacts that any Arab who is likely to be disturbed as the result of land passing into the hands of the Jews shall have secured to him, either on the actual property where he was a tenant or somewhere reasonably near, sufficient land to keep himself and his family.
It is perfectly true that a certain number of cultivators who have established their claim to a subsistence area are compounding their rights for money. It is clearly a fact that a certain number are doing that, and in consequence there are a number not taking advantage of the provisions of this Ordinance who are in a position to do so; but I venture to say that this is an evil against which no legislation can really provide. It is impossible to deal by legislation or even by administration with that knd of situation, because it is impossible to trace these people. They sell their right or claim, or whatever it may be, and go away into the towns, and it is impossible to keep track of them or to trace them in any way. So far as the actual proprietor of the land is concerned I can only say this, that even if it were practicable to make provision against proprietors selling their land, the Government have never regarded themselves as under any obligation in this particular matter. In another place my right honourable friend a short time ago said this:The Committee will readily appreciate that there is a very clear distinction between the tenant occupier and the owner—an owner who sells his land freely at his 200 own desire and a tenant who becomes dispossessed on the sale of land by a landlord even if he receives compensation. The two are in a different category.I think your Lordships will agree with the view there expressed. I think the Government in Palestine have, by enacting this Ordinance, taken a measure which will to a considerable extent do away with the evil which does exist, and that it is not, in the present circumstances, possible for them to take any further drastic action at the moment.
Then we had the question of Arab labour on Jewish land referred to, and it was stated that the strong Jewish labour organisation was picketing these Jewish lands or farms in order to prevent Arab labour being employed upon them. It is perfectly true that the Jewish Federation of Labour demands that none but Jews shall be employed either in picking, packing or transport, whereas I understand that the Jewish Farmers Federation, which is another body, regard such a policy as uneconomic, and unjustifiable on political grounds. The High Commissioner received a representation from the Jewish Farmers Federation last December with regard to this particular matter; that is, the intimidation of Arab workers by pickets organised by the Jewish Federation of Labour. As a result of these representations the High Commissioner recommended that certain amendments should be made in the Prevention of Intimidation Ordinance with a view to making peaceful picketing permissible only where the issue arises from causes unconnected with the race, religion, or language of employees. The Secretary of State approved this proposal in principle. That legislation has now been enacted, and it is therefore hoped that it will be effective in that particular direction.
There were one or two other points to which I wanted to refer before I sat down, but I think I have dealt with the majority of the broad points which were raised. As I have said, it is very difficult in a debate which has ranged over so wide a field to pick out salient points to which attention ought to be directed, but I think I have dealt with the major points raised this afternoon. I can only conclude what I have to say by repeating that His Majesty's Government intend to maintain the policy which has obtained ever since we accepted the Mandate of Palestine, and that they intend to the 201 best of their ability to carry out that Mandate without fear or favour or prejudice.
My Lords, perhaps before the noble Viscount winds up I might make one comment, with your Lordships' leave, on what the noble Earl has said. It certainly was, I think, very satisfactory to hear that His Majesty's Government not only stand by the original White Paper, but, I was pleased to hear, by the Prime Minister's letter of the following February as to rights. As a certain wing of the Government is becoming prominent I feared that that might be another part of the policy of the National Government to be thrown overboard. However, that is reassuring. I would like, if I may, to make two comments on the statement made by the noble Earl with regard to the question of unemployed Arabs in Palestine. Your Lordships have heard from three noble Lords associated with important enterprises in Palestine—Lord Reading, Lord Lytton and Lord Melchett—what your Lordships must have heard again and again, that there is this acute shortage of labour. Then tie noble Earl, speaking from information no doubt supplied by his Department, states that there are 400 Jews unemployed, a comparatively negligible number, and 14,000 Arabs unemployed. Yet we hear that enterprises are actually held up by the shortage of labour.
There must be an explanation of this apparent discrepancy. It seems to me, after talking to Lord Snell, who has wide knowledge of this country, and from what I have also heard for myself, that probably the explanation is this, that these are Arabs who have drifted in from the other side of Jordan, or from Syria, or who are Egyptians, who have come in, as they can do, without passports and without being subject to regulations at all, and in very large numbers indeed. The numbers that have come in from Trans-Jordan alone between the years 1921 and 1931 are 110,000, and the number of Jews who have come in at the same time is 132,900. The noble Earl said there was need of a bureau statistics, and that that want is to be supplied. I hope that one of its first tasks will be to find out whether Bedouins who have come in on the chance of work are responsible for these 14,000 unemployed Arabs.
202 Another point was about the picketing of certain Jewish estates to prevent the employment of Arab labour. That was, of course, a fact, and the reason is that the Jewish labour organisation in Palestine, and in many of the districts also Arabs belonging to the same trade union, object to Jewish employers engaging cheap Arab labour, partly in order to keep up the general level of the standard of living of the people as a whole, and partly for the very good political reason that they do not want to see in Palestine a plantation policy, where you have one race with capital, the employers, presently to become absentees, and another race, the Arabs, working on the estates at a low remuneration. That would be most undesirable in this country with our experience of colonisation in other parts of the world. I thought that those noble Lords who have great sympathy with the Arabs would have supported the policy of preventing the exploitation of cheap Arab labour brought in from the country districts outside Palestine at a very low rate of wages. That, I believe, is the explanation of picketing. None of us likes to see picketing and industrial strife, but there is another side to it.
My Lords, there is only one question I want to ask His Majesty's Government, and that is whether they are prepared to publish the McMahon correspondence. I hope I am not out of order in asking that question. It is one of the points I suggested I was going to raise.
§ THE EARL OF PLYMOUTH
It is one of the points which the noble Lord said he was going to raise but he did not do so, and therefore I omitted to make any reference to it. It is really rather a long story, and I can only say that His Majesty's Government are not prepared to publish that correspondence.
I am not satisfied at all, but there is such diversity of opinion that I ask permission to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.