Menu JTA Search

Published in Palestine

Download PDF for this date

The need for more methodical agricultural development in Palestine was made apparent by the report of Sir John Hope Simpson, Lord Passfield, colonial secretary, declares in a letter to High Commissioner Chancellor, accompanying the details of the Palestine development scheme, which were made public here today in a statement issued by the Palestine government, simultaneously with a similar announcement in the House of Commons in London.

Lord Passfield’s letter points out that a brief outline of the government’s policy with regard to land development and land settlement, was contained in paragraphs 21 to 25 of the White Paper of October, 1930, and was further explained in pagraphs 9 to 13 of Premier MacDonald’s letter to Dr. Chaim Weizmann on February 13th, in explanation of the White Paper.

The colonial secretary explains that the funds to carry out the development scheme will be found by means of a loan which Parliament will be asked to authorize with a government guarantee. “I have already been in correspondence with the Jewish Agency regarding the initial steps to be taken out by the government policy regarding agricultural development and land settlement,” Lord Passfield writes.

“As a result of this correspondence, an outline of the scheme was drawn up in consultation with High Commissioner Chancellor and was communicated to representatives of both the Jewish Agency and the Arab Executive for such comments which they might desire to offer. I have since had an opportunity of discussing the question orally with the Jewish Agency and with High Commissioner Chancellor during his recent visit to England. After all consideration of High Commissioner Chancellor’s views and the comments received from the above quarter, I have approved the revised proposals.”

The details of the development scheme as announced in the House of Commons, then followed.


Yesterday, the Colonial Office announced that Lewis French, a retired official of the Indian Civil Service and former Chief-Secretary of the Punjab, India, has been appointed director of the Palestine development scheme. The scheme, which has been the subject of long negotiations between the Jewish Agency and the British government, was supposed to become operative on July 9, a despatch to this effect having been sent to High Commissioner Chancellor on July 8 by the Colonial Office, together with a covering letter from Lord Passfield, colonial secretary. At the last minute the promulgation of the scheme was postponed.

The first announcement of the scheme was made in the House of Commons on November 17, 1930 by Dr. Shiels, in the course of the parliamentary debate on Palestine. In his statement Dr. Shiels declared that the scheme would provide for the settlement of approximately 10,000 families at an expenditure of not more than $12,500,000 for works of a productive nature, such as irrigation and drainage. He further said that the plan was intended to provide for landless Arabs who may have been dispossessed “as the result of land passing to the Jews” while the balance of the fund to be provided was to be made available for the settlement of both Jews and Arabs.

In a statement to the Mandates Commission of the League of Nations on June 16, 1931, Dr. Shiels gave further details of the development scheme, saying that “a comprechensive scheme of development is called for both in the interests of the Arab and Jewish communities and in fulfilment of the responsibilities which His Majesty’s Government has for the general welfare of Palestine.


Subject to the necessary provisions for control, consultation and advice, the administration of the scheme will be placed in the hands of an officer to be appointed under the title of director of development, Dr. Shiels told the Mandates Commission. he further stated that in carrying out the policy of development the British government had no intention of governing its procedure by any assumptions based on existing estimates of facts and figures but on the basis of a new investigation to be made on the spot by the development authority whose recommendations would be framed in the light of the facts so ascertained.

The director of development, Mr. French, was for 24 years a leading official of the Indian Civil Service. In 1897 he was colonization officer of the Chenab colony. In 1906 he was director of land records and in the following year director of agriculture.

He was appointed deputy commissioner of Shahpur in 1908. In 1910 he was promoted to chief minister of Kapurthala state. After five years in this post he was named special commissioner of the Defense of India Act and later director of land records. In 1906 he was made additional secretary of the Punjab government and in 1918 was promoted to chief secretary. He resigned from the Indian Civil Service in 1921 after having been financial secretary of the Punjab government.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund