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Sir Robert Hamilton Becomes Under-secretary for Colonies in Succession to Dr. Drummond Shiels: Mr. M

Sir Robert Hamilton has been appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Colonies in the National Government, in succession to Dr. Drummond Shiels, it is officially announced to-day, and Mr. Malcolm MacDonald, the Prime Minister’s son, who was expected to obtain the appointment, becomes Under-Secretary for the Dominions, in succession to Mr. William Lunn.

In the last Parliament, the Under-Secretary for the Dominions acted several times for the Colonial Department during Dr. Drummond Shiels’ absences in Palestine and Geneva and while he was lying ill, after his return from Palestine. At that time, however, the Colonial Secretary, Lord Passfield, was unable to act, being in the House of Lords, while now Mr. Thomas, the Minister of Dominions in the last Government, who is now also Minister for the Colonies, sits in the House of Commons, and will therefore be able to speak there himself on Colonial affairs.

Sir Robert Hamilton, who has been Liberal member of Parliament for the Orkney and Shetland Division since 1922, is an expert on Colonial affairs, having spent twenty-five years in Colonial service. He has been President of the Court of Appeal of East Africa, and in 1918 he was Chairman of the Civil Service Commission. He was responsible for the East Africa Law Reports.

Sir Robert was one of the eight members of the House of Commons who in February 1929 issued the statement announcing the formation of the Seventh (Palestine) Dominion League, the aims of which were based largely on Colonel Wedgwood’s book, “The Seventh Dominion”, with the purpose of “uniting those who seek in the building of Palestine a joint British and Jewish interest”.

Dr. Drummond Shiels, whom he succeeds, was also one of the eight founders of the League, the others being, in addition to Colonel Wedgwood himself, Sir Martin Conway, Lord Hartington, Major J. W. Hills, Commander Kenworthy, and Sir Leslie Scott.

The general public, and not only the uninstructed part of it which stands outside the Zionist movement, the announcement said inter alia, regards this movement solely as an affair concerning the Jews. Those with an antisemitic bias look upon Zionism with a prejudiced though uninformed dislike, an attitude shared with them by that portion of the Jewish Community which fears that successful Zionism in Palestine may react against the interests of Jews who have thrown in their lot wholeheartedly with the Christian countries in which they live and may diminish the completeness of their citizenship in the lands of their adoption. It is claimed by British sympathisers with the Zionist movement that its continuing and increasing success is a weighty British interest altogether apart from the satisfaction of Jewish aspirations. We regard this claim as well-founded. Indeed, we go further. We believe that even if the Jewish Community throughout the world were to be unmoved by any desire to form for itself a national Home in Palestine, it would still be a paramount interest of Great Britain to assist the formation there of such a home for the Jews.

Dr. Drummond Shiels, owing to his official position, did not take any active part in the public work of the Seventh Dominion League, but when it held its first public demonstration at the Central Hall, Westminster, on February 27th., 1929, he sent a message, and Sir Robert Hamilton addressed the meeting, the other speakers being Colonel Wedgwood, Commander Kenworthy and Mr. Joseph. Cowen, former President of the English Zionist Federation and former member of the Zionist World Executive.

After the publication of the Passfield White paper, Colonel Wedgwood in his protest against the White Paper announced that now “obviously the League and friendship is dead”.

When the Government was constituting in September 1929 the Shaw Commission of Enquiry into the Palestine massacres of the previous month, it was at first stated that Sir Robert Hamilton would be the Liberal member of the Commission, but attention was drawn to his membership of the Seventh Dominion League, and it was said that this had debarred him from membership of the Commission, his place being taken by Mr. Hopins-Morris, M.P.

Mr. James de Rothschild, M.P. who was mentioned as Financial Secretary to the War Office, is not included in the new Government, but Sir Philip Sassoon, who was Under-Secretary for Air in the last Conservative Government under Mr. Baldwin, again holds this position, so that with Lord Reading and Sir Herbert Samuel, there are now three Jews in the Government.

Sir Philip is particularly interested in aviation, and has made many important air-journeys, opening up, for instance, the air-route to Baghdad, the city from which, incidentally, the Sassoon family originally came. During the war he commanded a squadron in the Air Force. He was Mr. Lloyd George’s Secretary after the war, and many of the important conferences of allied statesmen at the time of the Peace Treaty were held at his home in Hythe. In 1925, when rumours were going about with regard to Sir Herbert Samuel’s successor as High Commissioner for Palestine, Sir Philip was mentioned in some quarters as likely to obtain the appointment.

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