HC Deb 26 October 1937 vol 328 cc3-4W
Colonel Wedgwood

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why martial law has not been proclaimed in Palestine; and will he use the British troops stationed in Palestine to prevent further outbreaks of murder and arson?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

The right hon. Gentleman no doubt refers to the delegation of powers to the General Officer Commanding for which provision is made under the Palestine (Defence) Order in Council of 1937. "Martial law" in its proper sense connotes a military regime acting without the sanction of law, such as would supervene only if civil administration completely broke down. Under the Palestine (Defence) Order in Council the High Commissioner has extremely wide powers of making emergency regulations, and he may by proclamation delegate these functions to the General Officer Commanding in Palestine.

I am entirely satisfied with the manner in which the Acting High Commissioner is using the powers under the Defence Order in Council, and I do not consider that the time has yet come for him to delegate those powers to the General Officer Commanding. This view is shared by the military authorities.

With reference to the second part of the question, I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that the Acting High Commissioner and the General Officer Commanding are co-operating on terms of complete harmony in the suppression of murder, arson and other forms of violence and sabotage, and that full use is being made of the British troops available.