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Prime Minister's Statement

Volume 237: debated on Thursday 3 April 1930

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(by Private Notice) asked the Prime Minister whether he is now in a position to make a statement in respect to policy in Palestine?

His Majesty's Government will continue to administer Palestine in accordance with the terms of the Mandate as approved by the Council of the League of Nations. That is an international obligation from which there can be no question of receding.

Under the terms of the Mandate, His Majesty's Government are responsible for promoting "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."

A double undertaking is involved, to the Jewish people on the one hand, and to the non-Jewish population of Palestine on the other; and it is the firm resolve of His Majesty's Government to give effect, in equal measure, to both parts of the Declaration and to do equal justice to all sections of the populations of Palestine. That is a duty from which they will not shrink, and to the discharge of which they will apply all the resources at their command. The report of the Shaw Commission, which is in the hands of hon. Members, covers a wide field. The Commission was appointed to consider the immediate causes of the deplorable disturbances of August last, and to suggest means of preventing a recurrence. In endeavouring faithfully to carry out the terms of reference, the Commission must have found it difficult to draw lines very rigidly. The Government is now studying the various recommendations of the Commission with a view to dealing with the immediate causes of the outbreak and to preventing a recurrence, and is in consultation with the interests concerned. I wish it to be understood that this statement includes the immediate provision of the police forces required to secure civil peace under existing circumstances.

I think the Prime Minister has gone as far as he could at the moment and I think his statement will be received with satisfaction by the House. I presume that in due course, when the Government have had an opportunity of further consideration, opportunity will be given to the House for discussion.

As a matter of fact, we are in active consultation now with all the parties concerned, both in Palestine and those who are available for conference here, and no time will be lost to amplify the statement that I have been able to make.

I should like to associate myself with the declaration of the Leader of the Opposition with regard to the statement of the Prime Minister.