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Mr. Norman Bentwich: Alleged in Parliament to Have Been Removed from Palestine Attorney-generalship

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Mr. Waldron Smithers (Conservative) asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies in the house of Commons this afternoon if he would not state what was the reason for the appointment of Mr. H. H. Trusted in the place of Mr. Bentwich as Attorney-General for Palestine, whether Mr. Bentwich will continue in the employment of His Majesty’s Government, and if so, in what capacity.

Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister in reply referred Mr. Smithers to a previous answer to a similar question. (The question which was put by Colonel Wedgwood in the last Parliament on September 23rd. was answered by Mr. J. H. Thomas, who said: You are aware of the peculiar racial and political conditions in Palestine and the difficulties with which the Administration has in consequence to contend. The late Secretary of State (Lord Passfield), Mr. Thomas went on, decided after most careful consideration, for reasons that in no way affected the personal character of Mr. Bentwich, that these difficulties would not be diminished by his retention of the office of Attorney-General. In these circumstances he (Lord Passfield) was anxious that employment for Mr. Bentwich should be found, and offers to submit his name for promotion to a high judicial office in the Colonial Service were made to him on two occasions. Mr. Bentwich made it clear that he would not accept a post outside Palestine and there was no alternative but to retire him on pension. The pension, he added, would date from November 1st.

Was Mr. Bentwich retired because he was a Jew? Colonel Wedgwood demanded. The Speaker intervened, however, and the question was not allowed).

Is it a fact, Mr. Smithers then suggested, that Mr. Bentwich was relieved of his appointment because of his too close associations with the subversive propaganda of the Soviet Government?

No Sir, the Colonial Secretary replied. It was a decision taken previous to my time, but I think there is no foundation for that.

Will the Colonial Secretary make further enquiries (into the charge of associations with Soviet propaganda?), with a view to his future appointment, Mr. Smithers persisted.

Yes, Sir Philip replied. When the question was put on the order paper, he added, I did make enquiries on all that had happened in the past and there has never been any sort of suggestion of that kind.

When the question came up in the House of Commons in September, Colonel Howard-Bury, who is no longer in the House, suggested that Mr. Bentwich should not be given any pension, because he had retired eight years before pensionable ago, but Mr. Thomas returned a terse “No, sir” to the suggestion.

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