HC Deb 21 December 1934 vol 296 cc1533-4W
Lieut.-Colonel TODD

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, upon what terms the Lake Huleh concession has been transferred from an Arab group to a Jewish group; and what is the personnel of the Jewish group?


The following is the statement issued by the High Commissioner for Palestine after an interview on the 1st December with the officers of the Arab Executive in JerusalemThe first concerns the Huleh Concession, and I wish to say a few words on that; subject to prevent any chance of misunderstanding. Since I first came to Palestine I have been most anxious that drainage and development should be undertaken in the Huleh on sound lines and on a large scale, for two chief reasons:

  1. (1) Round Huleh more sickness and suffering are caused by malaria to more people that in any other district in Palestine.
  2. (2) When the area has been drained many thousands of dunums will be made available for cultivation on a fertile soil under greatly improved health conditions.

The original Concession was granted in 1914, and I am sure the Concessionaires were anxious to carry out the necessary work, but twenty years have passed and they have been unable to raise the very large sums needed to carry out the necessary work. The Concessionaires have the approval of Government in transferring their concession to another group for four principal reasons:

  1. (1) The new group has much larger funds at its disposal; consequently drainage and anti-malarial work will be started within a reasonable period.
  2. (2) The old Concessionaires were obliged to set apart 10,000 dunums for local Arab cultivators. Under the new Concession Government has insisted that as much as 15,000 dunums shall be set apart if this be found necessary for the local cultivators.
  3. (3) Under the new Concession, unlike the old, the major drainage and major irrigation works of that area will be carried out without any expense to the cultivators.
  4. (4) I attach no blame to anyone, but during the last twenty years very little drainage has been achieved.

As High Commissioner I think that it is for the good of the country that there is now every prospect that about 40,000 dunums of marshy land, of little value at present to anyone, will be drained and made available for cultivation: that the economic position of local Arabs will be improved: that malaria will be greatly reduced, if not wholly eradicated, with the best results to the health and happiness of the inhabitants of that district."

The actual purchasers of the Huleh concession are the Palestine Land Development Company; but I am not in a position to say what is the composition of the group which the company is forming.