London (Dec. 2)
Does the Government propose to proceed with the guarantee of a loan to the Palestine Administration for the purpose of the Development Scheme in connection with Agriculture, Mr. Barnett Janner, the member of Parliament for Whitechapel, who is Honcrary Secretary of the Parliamentary Palestine Committee constituted last week to watch over the interests of the Jewish National Home in Palestine, asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister, in the House of Commons to-day.
In reply, the Colonial Secretary referred Mr. Janner to the answer which was given in the House to a similar question on September 23rd.
(The statement referred to was made in the last Parliament by Mr. J. H. Thomas, the Secretary of State for the Dominions, and at that time also for the Colonies, in reply to Mr. Fenner Brockway, Chairman of the Independent Labour Party, who is no longer a member of the House. Mr. Brockway wanted to know whether it was still proposed to ask Parliament to guarantee a loan of two and a half million pounds for the relief of agriculture in Palestine, and if so, who would administer the Scheme which the loan was intended to facilitate.
The projected loan, Mr. Thomas said, is for development purposes, the details of which are under investigation. The question of asking His Majesty’s Government to guarantee such a loan does not arise at the moment, but will be further considered in due course in the light of the general financial situation. The scheme, if and when approved by His Majesty’s Government, Mr. Thomas went on, would be administered by the Director of Development in Palestine – Mr. Lewis French -. When Colonel Josiah Wedgwood, Vice-Chairman of the Parliamentary Palestine Committee, pointed out that a large part of the money involved in the Scheme was for the purchase of land in Palestine from the Arab classes, Mr. Thomas replied that all these questions will be raised at the moment when the money is necessary).
May we have it, Colonel Wedgwood put in to-day, that there will be no commitment under this head without the House being informed?
I think, Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister replied, the position is that Parliamentary sanction is required before a loan is granted. If that is so, the whole matter will come before the House for consideration.
When Mr. Janner asked whether in considering this question, the contents of the letter read by the Prime Minister announced in Parliament (Mr. MacDonald’s letter of authoritative interpretation of the Passfield White Paper, addressed to Dr. Weizmann), will be kept under consideration, the Colonial Secretary replied in the affirmative.