No General Stoppage of Immigration to Palestine Shiels Tells Commons

There has been no general stoppage or prohibition of immigration to Palestine but owing to a misunderstanding, the schedule of 3,300 persons had been approved by the High Commissioner for the six months period ending September 30 which included the 950 persons whose admission has been sanctioned with the advice of the Colonial Office.

This was the reply of Dr. Drummond Shiels, under-secretary for the Colonies today in the House of Commons to Sir Archibald Sinclair’s question of “isn’t it contrary to the terms of the Mandate that the government should stop immigration? On the other hand if the economic capacity of Palestine is insufficient to absurb 3,300 immigrants why did the High Commissioner grant them?”

Dr. Shiels also pointed out that the British government had taken the position that in view of the criticism in the Shaw Commission’s report and the subsequent mission of Sir John Simpson it was desirable that pending the receipt of Sir John’s report further arrivals be in the meantime restricted. Accordingly, he said, it had been decided to confine the issuance of certificates for the present to 950 but no certificates had been cancelled nor has any final decision been reached regarding the labor schedule covering the whole period up to next September.

The situations on which the demands for certificates were based, Dr. Shiels explained, were works of a temporary nature. “We have been attempting to carry out the policy of the 1922 White Paper of allowing immigrants to Palestine only in accord with the economic capacity of the country.” Dr. Shiels said that the present restriction should be interpreted as “ordinary discretion” so that “we should not be accused of having made mistakes that the Commission says we made in the past”. He pointed out that about 2,000 people would be affected by the restriction but he said there was no reason why they should be ultimately affected.

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