London (Jun. 29)
Since the Prime Minister’s letter to Dr. Weizmann the Palestine Government had now to employ a number of Jews in all Government contracts and the rate of wages paid to the Jews is higher than that paid for the same work to the Arabs, who have in addition to work longer hours, and would the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies look into the matter, Colonel Howard-Bury (Conservative), the leader of the pro-Arab group in the House of Commons, asked in the House of Commons this afternoon.
The words used in the Prime Minister’s letter, Dr. Shiels replied, were: “With regard to public and municipal works falling to be financed out of public funds, the claim of Jewish labour to a due share of the employment available, taking into account Jewish contributions to public revenue shall be taken into consideration”. That is the policy, he said, which the High Commissioner is engaged in carrying out. Lord Passfield is fully satisfied that he will do so with due regard to all relevant considerations including those relating to wages, hours of employment and standards of output.
Is Dr. Shiels aware, Colonel Howard-Bury pursued, that this is the first time in history where similar work is being paid for according to the religious beliefs the worker professes, and will he put a stop to this very undesirable precedent?
Would it not be advisable to raise the wages of the Arabs? a Labour member interjected.
The difference in the economic standard of the two races, Dr. Shiels answered, is one of our difficulties, and we are pursuing sympathetically the objects which have been indicated.
In view of the fact that it is the policy of the Colonial Office to secure equality of status, Mr. Fenner-Brockway, the leader of the Independent Labour Party, put in, will not the Colonial Under-Secretary do it by raising the Arab standard to the Jewish standard, rather than reducing the Jewish standard.
That is certainly the object that we desire, Dr. Shiels replied.