§ 6.20 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, I should not have been presumptuous enough to address your Lordships after such a short time among you had it not been that I feel, with very many others 519 of my fellow countrymen, that this is a matter in which the honour of our country has, over a number of years, been somewhat jeopardized. It seemed to me rather unexpected, as I listened to the Very eloquent observations of the noble Lord, Lord Altrincham, early in the afternoon, that while he very properly drew attention to the difficulties, and to the violence during recent weeks and months, in Palestine, not once so far as I was able to gather, did he mention the White Paper of 1939 or the Land Regulations Ordinance, which followed it a couple of years or so later, and the other grievances which the Jewish population in Palestine have been labouring under all these years. Perhaps it was a significant thing, but to me and to very many people in this country, that White Paper is just one of the milestones along the route by which the Government of that time brought this country, in respect of its foreign policy, to the nadir of its history There were Abyssinia, Spain, Munich and the White Paper.
I think on an objective analysis it would be difficult to decide whether Munich or the White Paper brought us the lower. There is this to he said for Munich, that in one way or another the Government of Czechoslovakia was induced to submit but, while the White Paper departs just as much from the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate, the Munich settlement departed from the treaties which this country had solemnly concluded with Czechoslovakia. The Jewish people and the Jewish nation who were the beneficiaries of the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate had never in any sense agreed to the abrogation of the rights which, as Lord Samuel has pointed out, had become theirs as a matter of right under International Law. It is not to he wondered at that these people in Palestine and their co-religionists throughout the world feel very hotly about these things.
Many of us had been looking forward with confidence since the General Election, in which the people expressed an unhesitating verdict both as to the temper and conduct of foreign policy in the years before the war started, to a new era and a new declaration on the part of His Majesty's Government. We have not looked in vain because in the statements which have been made on behalf of His 520 Majesty's Government, one fact does emerge, a fact of the very greatest importance —that America has been brought into the solution of this very difficult problem. It seems to me that that is a contribution—perhaps the greatest contribution—which statesmanship has yet made towards the solution of this problem. America is not only one of the greatest and most powerful communities in the modern world—many would say she is the most powerful—but also, since the dreadful events of the last ten years in Europe, the great centre of the Jewish community, whether we measure in numbers or influence. To have brought in America to the solution of this problem obviously redounds highly to the credit of His Majesty's Government. I am quite sure that if Jewish communities through the world and in Palestine can be persuaded that this Commission which is going to be set up is going to be unfettered and given a completely free run from the start and is not to be hampered by the terms of the White Paper, the Jewish people will look forward with confidence and with a determination to carry through the recommendations it may make.
The Jews have placed their trust in the Balfour Declaration and in the Mandate. The Jewish people are a great commercial people, as arc we ourselves and our American cousins over the seas. They know, as we know, that business is based on implicit confidence in the pledged word and they have relied upon that pledge given by His Majesty's Government in the Balfour Declaration. Over the years to which Lord Samuel has referred, into the early thirties, that pledge was carried out and Jewish immigration into Palestine was unrestricted, and on the basis of it that wonderful progress to which Lord Altrincham, Lord Samuel and other noble Lords have referred, was made. It was not until there began to be signs that the Declaration was going to be departed from that these troubles began to arise in Palestine. It seems to roe that the reaction against the Declaration of His Majesty's Government which has occurred in Palestine and has occurred among Jewish communities over the world, can be explained in that it did, perhaps, appear that the White Paper of 1939 was regarded by the Government as operative and that there might be some sort of a suspicion in the minds of those 521 people that the Commission which was to be appointed Would he appointed to work on the basis of the White Paper, the Land Regulations and ether Acts of that kind, being maintained in force. If we could disabuse their minds of this and make it quite clear to them, as indeed should be clear to them on a careful reading of the declarations which have been made, that the hands of the Commission will not in any way be tied by the White Paper but that the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate still stand, I think it would be of value. After ail, the obligation is in the end, after this Commission has reported, as indeed the declarations made clear, upon the Government of this country to carry out the undertakings which it gave right back during the heat of the last war.
The question has been asked: Where is this great immigration going to stop?" Palestine is a small country and it cannot be expected that hundreds of thousands and oven millions of Jews will be allowed into this small country to swamp its civilization. I have never seen it suggested that immigration on that vast scale should be permitted. When President Truman suggested the figure of 100,000, which, after all, is only quite a small percentage of the present population of Palestine—and which anybody who has studied the economic possibility of that country would admit to be perfectly capable of absorption provided the immigration is conducted over a sufficient period—that figure was well received by the Jewish community. That figure would certainly do a tremendous amount to relieve the difficulties of Jewry in Europe at the present time. Can one wonder, when one looks at the problems existing in Europe at the present time, to which the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, has just drawn attention—a situation which is only less desperate than it was under the Nazis—that the beggarly number of immigrants allowed under the White Paper of 1939 is completely unsatisfactory to the Jewish people? If one looks at it in the light of these facts—although it may be quite impossible to justify the violence which has been taking place, as the noble Lord, Lord Altrincham, said—it becomes quite understandable, and one ought not to condemn out of hand what occurs in this way, however damnable it may he, without trying to 522 understand the position as it appears to the people in Palestine itself.
After all, it was not the Jews who started the violence. Looking back over the last fifteen years—over the period before the war—to which the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, has drawn attention, one had a constant recrudescence of violence going on throughout that period. At the end of that period, what happened? The Government, in effect, capitulated to those very people who had been carrying on the campaign of violence. Is it to be wondered that the young and excited Jews who saw what the Arabs obtained by their methods of violence should think there may be something in it? They have built up this wonderful prosperity which everybody who has seen it remarks upon as being one of the finest efforts of modern civilization. They see it endangered after making a great contribution to the war effort of the Allied Powers. I think the noble Lord, Lord Altrincham, might very well have drawn attention to the fact that, whereas the Jews out of a comparatively small population raised something like 30,000 men as a contribution to the war effort of the Allied Powers, the Arab total, I think, was something under 10,000 out of their very much larger population.
§ LORD ALTRINCHAM
I presume the noble Lord is referring only to Palestine and not to the Middle East as a whole?
§ LORD CHORLEY
I am referring to Palestine, and I understand those figures are accepted. After all, the Arab population of Palestine is given as a million or over, and that of the Jews as something like 500,000 or 600,000, so that their contribution is obviously an outstanding one. It seems to me that this is a matter of principle, and that the great danger that power politics will be allowed to intrude themselves, and that is what the Jews arc afraid of. They have seen this country in the years immediately before the war yielding to power politics. They see the Arab League—and. they are surrounded by these Arab States—bringing every pressure to bear that they can possibly use, both here and in America, and they begin to wonder whether the Commission will be influenced by power politics again. When India and the Mahomedan and Moslem populations of the Near East are mentioned as a reason why the obligations undertaken by the 523 Balfour Declaration should not be carried out, they feel that power politics are, after all, ruling. If that is so, it is a natural inclination on their part to take a hand in power politics as well. We must try to persuade them that this is not going to be so, and that the Commission will, as I have said, be completely unfettered and able to reach a proper decision on the basis of all the facts—economic, social and political—as they exist in Palestine at the present time.
The Arab populations of that part of the world did very well as a result of the First Great War. They had been ground down under the heel of the Turks. Anyone who has studied the works of travellers in those parts immediately before the First World War must realize the terrible conditions under which the populations there lived at that time. As a result of our efforts they have these independent kingdoms which have been given the opportunity to make progress in the art of civilization. Why should they grudge to the Jews, as the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, said, this small corner of Palestine? They are not even asking for the whole of it for themselves.
It seems to me that this trouble, as are so many troubles of the modern world, is largely based on economic difficulties. For nine or ten years, while capital and population were pouring into Palestine and the country was growing rich, there was very little difficulty, but the Arab landowners began to awaken to the fact that they had to pay very much higher wages than before. Wages at the beginning of the Jewish settlement in Palestine were something like a shilling a day. They doubled, trebled, and quadrupled, and went even higher. The Arab landlords and the rich Arabs began to realize that this was a menace to their old ways of living, and it was from that time that this nationalism began to be fomented, as it has so often been fomented before. It is a heady wine and goes easily to the heads of people, as it did in Palestine over the years immediately before the war. As the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, pointed out, the workpeople themselves, the ordinary men in the factory, or the ordinary men in the field, have not been altogether taken in in this way. We find these workpeople carrying on as before and doing their best to settle down and 524 to live quietly and honourably together. If left alone, they would certainly do so.
I suggest that, while it may be quite true that the problem of all the Jewish people in Europe cannot be solved by Palestine, nevertheless, it is essential from the point of view of these Jewish people that they should have a National Home in Palestine. To try and find them a National Home on the heights of British Guiana or the sandy wastes of Australia has no historical meaning to them. Their National Home is obviously in Palestine, which, as the Royal Commission pointed out, is linked closely to them by historical associations. The Jewish people are among the half-dozen great nations which have made outstanding contributions to the civilization of the world. It was, perhaps, the first nation of all to acquire a feeling of nationality. In these times, when so many troubles are brought upon the world by excesses of nationalism, we perhaps overlook the enormous contributions made to civilization and culture through nations and their national States.
The Jews, going right back into the early days of history, seem to me to be one of the first peoples to have developed the feeling of nationality, Renan, in one of those illuminating passages which occur so often in the works of the great French historian, once said that a nation is a soul. I think that is what we have got to realize about the Jewish people and the Jewish nation; that they are a soul, an immortal soul, and that while their physical body may have been dispersed and flung into every corner of the world their soul has continued to live. Their soul has continued to have its home in the land of their ancestors, where the great prophets brought religion to its first really high pitch of idealism, and to which that soul has been, through all these years of the dispersion, looking for its return. That soul will go marching on. It is for us, in this country, to see that its abode is made secure to it.
§ 6.41 p.m.
My Lords, before I proceed to the main subject of the debate, I should like, if I may, to express the warm congratulations of the House to the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, for the very thoughtful and sincere speech which he has delivered this afternoon. The noble Lord, if I may say so, 525 showed a very fine courage in tackling so very delicate a question as Palestine at his first attempt, but he certainly got through his ordeal with flying colours, and I hope we shall very soon hear him again.
I do not intend to intervene in this debate at any great length. For one thing the ground has already been covered very fully, first by the noble Lord, Lord Altrincham, who, as your Lordships know, has lately returned from the post of Resident Minister in the Middle East and speaks with an authority I could not possibly command on recent events in that area, and afterwards by the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, and others. Moreover, in any case I do not personally believe that this is an occasion for a very detailed discussion of the Palestinian problem. The value of this debate, as I see it, is that it enables noble Lords to express that broad approval, which I believe exists in all parts of this House, of the new initiative which has been taken by His Majesty's Government. This is not a Party question, this question of Palestine, and I think it is most desirable that it should be made clear to the world that that is the case.
When our approval has been expressed, there is little more that we can usefully say about the future of Palestine at the present stage. The noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, who gave us such an extremely interesting speech this afternoon, is, of course, in a rather special position. Not only has he been himself High Commissioner in Palestine, but he has made, as was clear from his remarks this afternoon, a lifelong study of this question. He speaks with very great authority, and it is perhaps justifiable for him to venture on to controversial ground. But for most of us, I repeat, this is no time for airing our own views about that country, and I think that is also the opinion of Lord Altrincham. That was the reason why he did not go into the past—not because he had no views on the matter. I think it is only fair to my noble friend to say that, in view of what the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, said in his speech just now.
This question, this thorny, difficult question, is again what I may call sub judice. The appointment of a joint Anglo-American Commission has been announced, and that Commission, I take it, in due course will present its report 526 to the two Governments concerned. I imagine also, though I am not quite clear about this from the statement of the Foreign Secretary, that the report will be published. At any rate, I take it some statement will have to be made to Parliament, and that will provide us with an opportunity for a full discussion. In the meantime, I feel the less we say the better. The Commission, as we all know, has a very difficult and delicate task, and it will not be made easier if we all begin to take up positions before it reports. Moreover, I do not think it is very much use our criticizing various details of a scheme which has in fact been already agreed by our own Government and the Government of the United States. It would clearly be useless for us to try to get an alteration of that scheme so late in the day as this. But if Parliament in this country is going to impose upon itself, as I think it should, a self-denying ordinance, I think we have a right to ask that others, in this country and the United States and Palestine itself, should exercise a similar restraint. We may fairly ask this, especially of those most immediately concerned; that is, the representatives of the Jews and of the Arabs.
Anyone who has occupied the post of Colonial Secretary for however short a time, as I have, must know how violent are the passions which this Palestinian question arouses. At any time an explosion may occur, and I take, it that the situation has never been more combustible than it is to-day. In particular, I would support most warmly what was so well said by the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York this afternoon about the dangers of violent propaganda. Propaganda which would be perfectly legitimate in normal circumstances might, under present conditions, very easily light a spark and the whole country would go up in a blaze. Were that to happen the whole value of this Commission, which has been prepared with so much care, might be destroyed before it ever sat at all.
Above all, I would appeal, if I might, as a friend, to the leaders of Zionist thought, who have so much influence all over the world, to restrain counsels of violence on the part of their more extreme supporters. Even during the war, as your Lordships know, speeches were made, both here and abroad, which were calculated to inflame opinion in Palestine.
527 Bitter attacks were made on His Majesty's Government, on the Palestine Administration who loyally carry out the decisions of His Majesty's Government, and even on individuals, and we already know the dreadful fruit of those speeches: the assassination of Lord Moyne, the attempted assassination of Sir Harold MacMichael, and the slaughter of police officers and constables who were only attempting to do their duty and to maintain law and order for the benefit of the community. And this inflamatory propaganda is still going on. I should like to quote to your Lordships one or two of the things which are being said. On November 2 the Palestine Post used the following words—
Was it November 13? Then I have got the wrong date, but I can verify it. I have the quotation here and it reads as follows:It would be idle to deny that the acts of sabotage on Wednesday night were a signal that Jews have gone over from defensive to offensive action. The aggression against communications, police patrol launches and the Refineries cannot be claimed solely as measures undertaken to assert and protect the rights of Jews to enter and settle in this country. These acts of desperation represent a new if not unexpected step in the defiance which the Jewish people were driven to proclaim once it became clear that the White Paper, far from being revoked, was to be continued in force by the statement the Government was yesterday expected to make in the House of Commons.Those words, however moderately phrased, amount to a direct condonation of acts of violence. Moreover, they do not represent the position as I understand it.
The Government statement which I have read, as your Lordships have, with great care, does not, so far as I can see, disclose an intention permanently to continue in force the policy of the White Paper. As your Lordships know, I did not support the White Paper when it came before Parliament, and experience has shown, at least so I believe, that it provides no solution to the present difficulties. I think it is fair to say what the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, did not say—namely, that the responsibility for the White Paper rests not only on the Government of the day but on both Houses of Parliament, who approved it.
528 Throughout his speech he referred to it as the act of a very weak Government; so far as I can remember, when he was discussing the White Paper he never at any period mentioned Parliament.
But both Houses passed it. As I understand the position, it is not the intention of the present Government necessarily to tie themselves to the policy of the White Paper. At least, that is how I read the Foreign Secretary's statement. Their aim is to allow the whole position to be examined anew. That seems to be perfectly justifiable in view of the various developments, political and economic, which have occurred since the last report on that country, and in view of the changes in the conditions of the Jews both in Europe and in Palestine itself. After all, as the Motion itself states, the two are very closely linked. Surely it is not unjustifiable to suggest that the terrible events of the last six years justify a new inquiry into this complex problem.
May I give one more quotation? There was a report in the Manchester Guardian of December 6 of an interview between Reuter's Correspondent and a spokesman of the Hagana in which the spokesman said:We shall be ready to sacrifice our lives to fight a policy which condemns us to a living death.What a travesty does that statement represent of the bustling, flourishing community in Palestine. We have just heard how the population has gone up from 60,000 to 600,000. Surely that would be a very unexpected rush, if the country were such a hell as this gentleman describes. One cannot help feeling that statements of that kind, which are I know made under the stress of great emotion, are less than generous to this country.
I am coming to that. I am not making an attack on one party rather than the other; I am quoting some of the more outstanding examples that I have in fact read. Statements of that kind come as a very severe shock to many in this country who have worked night and day to alleviate the lot 529 of the Jews at the moment of their greatest persecution. I think, if I may say so, that the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, exercised commendable restraint in what he said this afternoon; but he did say there had been a weighting of the scales on the part of the Palestine Administration against the Jews. That is a charge I have often heard before at the Colonial Office. It is not, so far as I know, supported by any evidence and I believe it to be utterly without foundation. I want to say this afternoon, quite clearly and unequivocally, that never, whilst I was at the Colonial Office, did I find a trace of anti- Jewish bias either among the officials of the Colonial Office itself or among the officials of the Palestine Administration: On the contrary, I always found that they did their utmost throughout, under conditions of very great difficulty, to hold a fair balance between the interests of Jews and Arabs, as they were bound to do under the terms of the Mandate. I would remind the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, who spoke this afternoon and who, if. I may say so with all deference, took a slightly biased view, that under the Mandate there is a dual responsibility on the Mandatory to treat Jews and Arabs equally and fairly alike.
I may say that as Lord Samuel actually read those words it seemed to me to be rather unnecessary for me to repeat them. I quite accept that that is so, from both the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate.
No doubt the difficulty of harmonising the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate has been one of the main causes of the trouble in this unhappy story. From some of the statements which are being made, one might almost get the impression that it is not Germany but this country which is the real enemy of the Jews. I would say there is no nation—I think we can say this without smugness—which has a finer record so far as the Jewish people have been concerned. We have been their protector in fine weather and foul. If it had not been for us, this great Zionist experiment, to which numerous noble Lords have paid well-deserved tributes this afternoon, would never have taken root at all and become the flourishing plant that it is. Moreover, in the days of the war which is just over, at a time hen our own people were going 530 hungry, we took in many thousands of Jewish refugees into British territory.
I thought the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, was hardly fair on that point when he said that we only touched the fringe of the problem. That is perfectly true; we could never get beyond the fringe of the problem, and we only had a limited amount of food ourselves. However, I think we managed to make a real contribution, and in the circumstances a remarkable contribution. Moreover, it should not he forgotten that, after the fall of France, had it not been for the British Armies in the Middle East Palestine would have been overrun by the Germans, the Jewish people would have been delivered to a fate too horrible to contemplate, and the Zionist experiment would to-day be at an end. Surely, at this moment of victory, we deserve the gratitude and not the attacks of Jews in Palestine and throughout the world. Lord Chorley has said that British honour has been jeopardized: but I do not believe that that will be the verdict of history.
It may seem that I have perhaps spoken rather too strongly. But I hope your Lordships will forgive a measure of indignation on the part of one who has always worked and will continue to work for a fair deal for the Jewish people. The Jews have suffered so terribly during recent years that surely there is no one who would wish them to receive less than justice. But in my view that does not justify irresponsible statements of the type I have quoted, which can only further embitter the situation. It was only yesterday— I expect your Lordship read the article in The Times—that a special correspondent stated "Many Palestinian Jews are crazed with suffering,"—that is suffering in Europe—" many are crazed with the effect of propaganda." Let all take note of those words; I believe they are a stern warning against irresponsible speech.
Fortunately, my Lords, I believe that this extremist view to which I have referred is not shared by the vast majority of Jews. I would not for one moment suggest that the responsible leaders of the Zionist movement in this country condone a campaign of incitement to violence or hostility to 'Britain. I know from contacts I have had with them—and I learnt to know and respect them when I was at the Colonial Office—how utterly they 531 abhor such courses. I know, too, how difficult is the position of those who have to urge counsels of moderation in cases of this kind. But I would appeal to them, especially at this moment, to declare and to continue to declare their strong condemnation of the things which are being said, and to do their utmost to ensure that this dangerous inflammatory campaign shall be brought to an end. It is, after all, our duty to, maintain law and order in Palestine, and we shall not shrink from it. Your Lordships may have read some wise and statesmanlike words by Dr. Magnus, the head of Jerusalem University, reported in The Times on December 7, in which he roundly condemned violence in all its forms. I hope that is an example which will be widely followed by other responsible leaders at every possible opportunity in Palestine and outside.
What I have said about the Jews applies, of course, as the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, said just now, equally to the Arabs. Any form of incitement to violence, by whatever party, is to be deplored and reprehended. I could not agree with Lord Chorley that we owe nothing, or very little, to the Arabs. I believe that we can count the Arabs among our best friends. They have shown this in the last war, and I hope that they will show it on the present occasion. If the Arab States were to refuse to agree to some measure of Jewish immigration in the interim period, as is proposed in the Government scheme, I believe that they would make a very great mistake, and that they would have to bear their share, and a grave share, of responsibility for any deterioration of the situation which might occur. If I have concentrated rather on the Jews this afternoon, it is because I regret to say that their propaganda has undoubtedly been both more insistent and more violent during recent months.
What is surely most needful if a solution of this problem is to be found is not to stoke controversy up but to take the emotional heat out of it, to try to look at the problem coolly and objectively, What is the use of our continuing to bandy amongst ourselves accusations of breaches of faith? The truth is very well known to anybody who has taken the trouble to face the facts. The decision to bet up a National Home for the Jews, 532 whatever that decision meant, has faced the world, and particularly Great Britain, with a problem of infinite complexity. That problem is to harmonize the aims and aspirations of two mutually mistrustful communities and weld them into one nation. It is an immensely difficult and delicate task.
Nor has the problem, in this particular case, been made any easier by the fact that it cannot be confined to Palestine itself. Behind the Palestinian Jews there are marshalled the Jewish communities in every country. Behind the Palestinian Arabs stands the whole Moslem world. Although Palestine is such a small country, only 14 miles in length, the Palestinian problem is international, in the fullest sense of the word. Ever since we accepted the Mandate, nearly thirty, years ago, successive British Governments have been engaged in trying to solve that problem with the maximum of fairness to all concerned. Up to now we have failed. No doubt we have made mistakes, and, it may be said, bad mistakes; but nobody can say that we have not done our utmost to carry out our trust. Now we have come to the conclusion, wisely as I believe, that this is a problem which cannot be solved by one nation alone. We have called into counsel the United States, whose cooperation we warmly welcome, and we intend later, I understand, to bring the matter before the United Nations. What will be the result of this new initiative we do not, of course, yet know, nor whether it will lead to a solution any more satisfactory than those which have gone before. None of us would wish to commit ourselves at the present stage. But we must all wish to give the Commission a fair chance. That is in the interests of the Jews, in the interests of the Arabs, and in the interests of the whole world.
The consequences of a failure of this initiative are too horrible to contemplate. A conflict between Jews and Arabs would solve absolutely nothing. It would throw the Middle East into turmoil, and leave a legacy of hatred which would take centuries to heal. It is not to be expected, and I hope that we shall not delude ourselves into expecting it, that an ideal solution can be found. There will have to be give and take on both sides. This is a task which will require the highest statesmanship on the part of the leaders of Jews and Arabs alike. Let them show 533 that statesmanship, now and in the difficult months to come, and they will earn and deserve the gratitude of the world.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR, (LORD JOWITT)
My Lords, when I heard that we were going to have a debate on Palestine and the Jewish question, I confess that I was rather apprehensive. I was apprehensive because I realized how dangerous and how critical the present position was, and how necessary it was that every word that was uttered should be carefully weighed in the balance. This, however, has been a remarkable debate. We have had a series of really well-in formed speeches by people who know their subject. It has been remarkable, too, in that we have had a most delightful maiden speech by my noble friend Lord Chorley, and a passage in the speech of the most reverend Primate which I thought most moving. I believe, with him, that Anti-Semitism is a beastly thing, the Mark of the Beast. I believe, with him, that there is some danger of that Mark being seen and felt to-day.
It has been a remarkable debate in that for the second time running when we have discussed foreign affairs I have found myself in complete agreement with the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, who made a speech which so entirely satisfied the position of His Majesty's Government that there is really nothing further for me to say. I agree entirely with him that this matter is sub judice at the present time. This is a topic on which in the past I have taken part in some controversy; yet at the present time I do not feel that it would be fitting for any member of the Government to say a single word which could be misunderstood by either side. I have therefore very little to add to what my noble friend the Leader of the House said when he announced the appointment of this Committee on November 13.
I should like, however, to tell your Lordships how this Committee is to be constituted. I should like to emphasize —and this answers to some extent the question which was put to me by Lord Chorley—that the Committee is to be completely free arid unfettered. It is not to be tied to a White Paper or to anything else; it is to go out and examine the whole of the facts and to come to its own conclusions. For that reason we thought it desirable that our side of the Committee 534 should be led by a distinguished Judge, who is accustomed to weigh evidence; and Mr. Justice Singleton, of the King's Bench Division, will be the British Chairman. No doubt for the same reason Judge Joseph C. Hutcheson, of the Fifth Circuit Court of America, will be the American Chairman. We have in addition Dr. Frank Aydelotte, who is the Director of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, and American Secretary of the Rhodes Trust. We have Mr. Frank Buxton, Editor of the Boston Herald, Mr. W. P. Crick, Economic Adviser to the Midland Bank, Mr. R. H. S. Crossman, Member of Parliament for East Coventry, Mr. Max Gardner, former Governor of North Carolina, Sir Frederick Leggett, until quite recently Deputy-Secretary of the Ministry of Labour and National Service, Dr. James McDonald, former High Commissioner for Refugees, Major Marnningham-Buller, Member of Parliament for Daventry, Lord Morrison, one of the more recent recruits to your Lordships' House, and the Hon. William Phillips, former American Ambassador in Rome.
The only other thing which I should like to say is this. Since we have been accused of appointing this Committee in order to procrastinate and gain time, I want to make this statement. His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and the United States Government wish to urge on the Committee the need for the utmost expedition in dealing with the subjects committed to them for investigation, and request that the Governments-may be furnished with their report within 120 days of the inception of the inquiry. The procedure of the Committee will be determined by the Commit, tee themselves, and it will be for them, if they think fit, to deal simultaneously through the medium of sub-committees with their various terms of reference.
I was asked some questions by the noble Lord, Lord Altrincham,—and may I say that I quite agree with what he said. We have got to rely upon our police and cur soldiers out there to deal with what might very easily become a very difficult and delicate situation. Therefore, we must see that they are properly treated and properly looked after. The position with regard to pensions and so on is that the revised scale of pensions, pay and emolu- 535 ments was carried through in April, 1942, but since 1942, of course, the position has again changed, and to meet increasingly difficult conditions as the war progressed the pensionable expatriation allowance and the housing allowance were raised in July, 1944, while increased allowances to meet the cost of living became operative as from January 1 of this year. But I know that my right honourable friend, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, has continuously in mind the special difficulties of the Palestine Service and the question of salary scales. I was asked a question with regard to the casualties at the present time. Dealing with the British police, the position is that since the beginning of 1944 casualties have been fourteen killed and forty-eight wounded or injured. With regard to the Palestinian police—and I do not distinguish between Jews and Arabs—in 1944 seven were killed, and in 1945 two were killed. In 1944, five were wounded, but as I have not armed myself with the figure of wounded for 1945, I cannot give that to the noble Lord.
Now your Lordships know, of course, of the scope of the Committee, and what they have to inquire into. I agree, of course, that Palestine is, in one sense, a separate and independent problem. It would have emerged at the present time if there had not been this horrible treatment of the Jews by Hitler. On the other hand, Lam certain that we were wise to enlarge the scope of the Committee, to ask them to consider, in the first place, the remedial measures we can take in Europe—the practical remedial measures —so that the Jews in Europe are enabled to live free of discrimination and oppression. I am convinced that the Jews still have an important and, perhaps, even an indispensable part to play in Europe itself. But, apart from that, the next question they have to consider is emigration. New opportunities must be found for the Jewish people, and those opportunities cannot be found only in Palestine. But Palestine, at the same time, is the land to which many of these persecuted Jews turn with anxiety and hunger. And all nations, not only the Arabs, have to make their contribution to the solution of the problem. Then, of course, the Committee will consider Palestine in relation to its poltical, its economic and its social conditions, 536 their bearing on the question of Jewish settlement and on the well-being of the people now in Palestine, so that they can propound a solution, not, I should suppose, a final solution, but one which may carry us through years to come and may lead to a final solution, which we shall put forward to the United Nations Organization.
In regard to that United Nations Organization, I come to a very interesting point touched upon by my noble friend Lord Strabolgi, when he suggested that Russia might have been in the inquiry. Of course, it is so much easier, if you are pressed for time—the limit being 120 days in this case—to have a mixed Commission with one language. But let me point out that while consideration of the solution will be the responsibility of the body which will carry out the inquiry, all nations will have the responsibility of pronouncing upon its findings. The Trusteeship Council is expressly charged to deal with the question of mandated territories. of which Palestine is one, and that, therefore, is the solution we have taken. I think, on the broad lines of it there is nobody in any section of this House who thinks that we have any alternative.
There is no doubt that the situation in Palestine is disquieting, and I should be failing in my duty if I did not use grave words. There is no doubt that extremist leaders on both sides are attempting to influence the opinions of their own people along lines of force. There is a growing propaganda campaign which is trying to vilify the use of force by the Mandatory Power, and to encourage the use of force by their own adherents. It is inevitable, if one side preaches the use of violence to its supporters, that that engenders exactly the same thing amongst the supporters of the other side, who also are led to think that violence is the way out of the difficulties. We must say, clearly and categorically, that we cannot, and shall not, allow ourselves to be deflected from our course by threats or by resorts to violence. It is our plain duty to see that law and order is maintained, and that duty we shall carry out. But I do pray that better counsels may prevail, and I would make—and I hope my words will carry—an urgent appeal to both sides in this controversy.
Let those who think that this problem can be solved by resort to force, by resort 537 to violence, think again. We know now what war means—a ravaged countryside, homesteads destroyed, young men and young women—and younger and older people too—killed and maimed. And then, when it is all over, how arc you one iota nearer a solution of the problem? Shall we be any nearer a solution when we no longer hear the wings of the angel of death? Surely there is a better way. Is it not possible that the Jews who have suffered such terrible torment, should once more prepare to lead the world towards a better way. It would indeed be a strange irony if, of all the people in the world, it is the Jews who are going to lead us from our new vista of United Nations dealing with things by consent and by compromise, back to violence.
I cannot believe it. Equally are the Arabs who stand on the threshold of a new country, who have so much to gain and so much to look forward to in the future, going to frustrate our hopes in the building of a new world through the United Nations Organization, and resort to violence and force? I would beg both sides, both Jews and Arabs, and further than that, all sections of the community who have any influence in this problem, to stop this vile propaganda, a propaganda which is so likely to lead to the deaths of people who are not themselves guilty. I beg of them to stop and to use their influence to try to effect a solution of the problem in the only way which it can be effected—namely, by consent, by compromise and by good will. The tragedy of the Jews is a world tragedy. We must ask Jews and Arabs and all other men of good will to help us find a solution.
It is said against us that this is a mere device to secure more time. The passage which I quoted to your Lordships asking for a report in one hundred and twenty days gives the lie to that suggestion. We urge expedition. We realize that the problem is one which brooks no delay. It is said that our solution loses sight of the world problem, the aspirations of Zionism, because we are too taken up with the immediate needs. The immediate need is so great, the position of the Jews is so terrible, that we must have regard to these factors, but we shall not forget the wider issues in our determination to find a satisfactory solution. I have no information on what my noble friend Lord Strabolgi asked me about, the treat- 538 ment of the Jews in Poland. I am not prepared to say anything about it, but, with him, I hope it is not true.
That is the problem. I believe it is a profoundly good thing that in this problem, which is a world problem, the United States of America and ourselves should be working together. After all when we had to defeat Hitler's hordes we worked together, fought together and laboured together. Now that we have to restore the scattered fortunes of Hitler's victims, let us work and let us labour together. I have been very careful in what I have said to express no opinion what-soever as to the rights or wrongs; the whole matter will he open to the Committee. They will decide what to do. They will decide quickly and, having decided, they will submit a solution which we shall submit to the United Nations Organization.
§ 7.25 p.m.
§ LORD ALTRINCHAM
My Lords, I will riot detain your Lordships at this hour except to thank the noble and learned Lord Chancellor for the information he has given me and to express my great satisfaction that some improvement has been made in the cost of living allowances as from January this year. I hope that the situation will be eased because I believe that the hardships being undergone by the public services are still there. For the rest, may I associate myself with what my noble friend Lord Cranborne said as to the atmosphere which we wish to create around this Commission and may I also associate myself with the eloquent speech which the Lord Chancellor has made? I beg leave to withdraw.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.