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Concessions Palestine (Mr Rutenberg)

Volume 154: debated on Wednesday 31 May 1922

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asked the. Secretary of State for the Colonies by what authority the High Commissioner for Palestine granted a concession for important public works in Palestine to Mr. Rutenberg; what efforts or inquiries were made by the High Commissioner to discover British engineers who could command the capital necessary to carry through the work in contemplation; what are the names of the capitalists in the United States who are finding the necessary capital for Mr. Rutenberg; and is the High Commissioner empowered to grant concessions to foreigners without consultation with His Majesty's Government?

As regards the first and second parts of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the full statement made in reply to a question by the hon. Baronet, Member for Twickenham (Sir W. Joynson-Hicks), on the 7th November last. As was then explained, Mr. Rutenberg has not yet received the concession referred to; but an agreement was concluded with him in September, 1921, under which, provided he succeeds in forming a limited liability company with adequate capital within a period of two years from that date, the concession will be granted to the said company on application. This agreement was concluded under the authority of His Majesty's Government. No such company has yet been formed, and I am consequently unable to give any information as to the source from which the capital is to be provided. With regard to the last part of the question, the High Commissioner is not empowered under present conditions to grant concessions of any kind without the prior approval of His Majesty's Government.