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Volume 320: debated on Monday 22 February 1937

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The following question stood upon the Order Paper in the name of Mr. H. G. WILLIAMS:

39. To ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is prepared to have a further inquiry into the constitutional relationship of Palestine to the United Kingdom, having regard to the fact that the Colonial Office, by extending to Palestine treaties entered into by the United Kingdom and foreign countries, recognise Palestine as part of the British Empire, while the Treasury, by declining to extend to Palestine the Imperial preference provisions of the Finance Act, 1919, treat Palestine fiscally as a foreign country?

In putting this question may I raise a point of Order? This question, which concerns two Departments of State, was addressed to the Prime Minister, and I observe that on the Order Paper it is addressed to the Secretary of State for the Colonies. The transfer was made without my knowledge.

The question was transferred to the Department which has the information.

I do not think that any useful purpose would be served by such an inquiry as my hon. Friend suggests. Commercial treaties between the United Kingdom and foreign countries are in appropriate cases applied to Palestine, with the concurrence of the Palestine Government, in virtue of the fact that under the Mandate His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom are entrusted with the control of the foreign relations of that Territory. This circumstance does not, however, affect the juridical difficulties which, as has been explained on previous occasions, stand in the way of the extension to Palestine of the benefits of Imperial preference.