London (Dec. 3)
Col. Howard Bury asked yesterday in the House of Commons whether the Colonial Office was aware that the Palestine Agricultural Bank. whose capital had been raised by taxes from Arab peasant farmers, had been abolished by the Palestine government, and whether it could give the reason for this action, since it impoverished the Arabs, compelling them to sell their land to the Jews at a low price.
Paling, the Labor whip, replied that the Palestine branches of the Ottoman Agricultural Bank had been liquidated in 1921 because the affairs of these branches had been found in a very involved condition, and when the British military authorities took over the administration they found it necessary to make loans from other sources. Accordingly, continued Paling, they made arrangements with another bank for a fund. The amount so provided in 1919 and 1922 totalled over half a million pounds. In addition to these loans, others were made in 1927 and 1928 to cultivators in areas especially affected by bad seasons.
The Secretary of State declared that he was unaware of any general impoverishment which compelled the sale of land at unreasonably low prices.