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Mandate And Contracts

Volume 155: debated on Thursday 15 June 1922

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asked the Lord Privy Seal when he will give a day for the discussion of the Motion regarding Palestine standing in the names of the hon. Member for Twickenham and others—["That, in the opinion of this House, Me mandate for Palestine, the acceptance of which must involve this country in financial and other responsities, should be submitted for the approval of Parliament; and, further, that the contracts entered into by the High Commissioner for Palestine with Mr. Pinhas Rutenburg should at once be referred to a Select Committee for consideration and report?"]

I regret that in the present state of Parliamentary business it is quite impossible for me to allot a special day for the discussion of the Motion standing in the name of my hon. Friend. I am, however, arranging for the Colonial Office Vote to be taken on Thursday in next week, and an opportunity will then arise for a discussion on these subjects.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman feel that when a Motion is put down by responsible Members of this House—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"]—this Motion is supported by many Members—asking that a Select Committee should be appointed to inquire into the definite action of one Department of the Government, it is at least desirable, in the interests of the Government itself, that an opportunity should be given of bringing that Motion to the test of the opinion of the House? Is it not quite impossible on the Colonial Office Vote to get any decision of value or to get a Select Committee appointed?

With regard to the latter part of the question, I do not agree with my hon. Friend. Should he wish to raise such a question as to the appointment of a Committee to consider a particular matter, he can do that by moving a reduction of the Vote, and get as clear a decision from the House as by moving a Resolution. Speaking for the Government as a whole, we are undoubtedly anxious to meet attack wherever it is offered, to accept any challenge that is offered, and to afford the House full opportunity for discussing matters of importance. But the time of the Session is limited, and if I am to agree with my hon. Friend that, wherever two or three are gathered together, we are to have a day given for a discussion, we may as well give up all hope of doing any Government business at all, or of ever closing the Session.