London (May. 10)
Without calling upon Counsel for the Crown, the House of Lords (Lords Tomlin, Warrington, Thankerton, MacMillan and Wright) unanimously dismissed to-day at the adjourned hearing the appeal of the Jewish National Fund with costs.
Their lordships came to the conclusion that the courts below were right in holding that there could be no exemption here on the ground of either religious or charitable objects.
When the proceedings were reopened to-day, Mr. Norman Bentwich further addressed their lordships on behalf of the company, on his submission that the order of the court of appeal was wrong and ought to be reversed, because the act of the company was a religious one and for the advancement of religion.
He cited a number of cases having reference to gifts made for the benefit of different particular people and particular towns, etc., or for particular purposes, and maintained that in the present case the object was the taking of Jewish people back to their own country and giving them a fresh start there. This was a public purpose for the benefit of the Jewish people.
Lord Tomlin said that as Counsel was putting it, might have the effect of sending people back who did not want to go, because as he was putting it, it would be universal.
At the conclusion of Mr. Bentwich’s address, which had occupied the whole of Monday and part of Tuesday, Lord Tomlin said: “Thank you, we are much obliged to you for your argument”.
Mr. H. Infield then followed on the same side, and was referring to the proposed repatriation of poor Jews, when Lord Thankerton remarked that one way of doing it was by giving them a lease and taking a rent from them.
Lord Tomlin, formerly Mr. Justice Tomlin, who presided, said the section of the Act under which it was claimed that exemption should be granted were:
(a) from tax under Schedule A in respect of the rents and profits of any lands, tenements, hereditaments, or heritages belonging to any hospital, public school or almshouse, or vested in trustees for charitable purposes only; Provided that any assessment upon the respective properties shall not be vacated or altered, but shall be in force and levied, notwithstanding the allowance of any such exemption;
(b) from tax under Schedule C in respect of any interest, annuities, dividends or shares of annuities, and from tax under Schedule D., in respect of any yearly interest or other annual payment forming part of the income of any body of persons or trust established for charitable purpose only, or which, according to the rules or regulations established by Act of Parliament, charter, decree, deed of trust, or will, are applicable to charitable purposes only, and so far as the same are applied to charitable purposes only;
LORD TOMLIN SAYS HE ACCEPTS FULLY COUNSEL’S ARGUMENT THAT IT IS OF VERY ESSENCE OF JEWISH RELIGION THAT THERE SHOULD BE RETURN TO PROMISED LAND: STILL CLAIM MUST FAIL: OBJECT OF FUND WAS NOT TO DO SOMETHING IN ITSELF RELIGIOUS
His lordship then described the formation and objects of the Association in detail, and said it was connected with what was known as the Zionist movement. The Memorandum of Association of the Company set forth that among its objects were to purchase, take on lease, or in exchange, or otherwise acquire any lands, forests, rights of possession and other rights, easements, and other immovable property in the prescribed region (which expression shall in this memorandum mean Palestine, Syria, any other parts of Turkey in Asia, and the Peninsula of Sinai) or any part thereof, for the purpose of settling Jews on such lands. Then followed a number of objects of various kinds, giving very wide powers, including carrying out many works of public utility, embracing that of mining and power to borrow money.
His lordship pointed out that the area covered by the Company was much more extensive than that of the Promised Land referred to in Genesis. It was put forward by Counsel that there were many Biblical commands of the religion which could not be performed except in the Promised Land, and that it was of the very essence of the religion that there should be return to the Promised Land, and that he accepted fully; still he thought the clai of the Company to exemption from Income Tax must fail. The object of the Company was not to do something which was in itself religious.
JEWISH NATIONAL FUND ARTICLES OF ASSOCIATION TO BE AMENDED IN VIEW OF JUDGMENT: MR. NORMAN BENTWICH REMAINING IN LONDON TO COMPLETE THIS TASK: NO LOSSES TO FUND EXCEPT LEGAL COSTS AND DECISION ON PRINCIPLE WAS DESIROUS
The Jewish National Fund, the J.T.A. is informed, brought its case as far as the House of Lords in order to ascertain the opinion of the highest judicial court, so that it should be in a position to consider whether it is necessary to amend its Articles of Association, to prevent similar difficulties arising in future.
Mr. Norman Bentwich is remaining in London to complete this work of amending the Articles of Association.
No actual losses to the Jewish National Fund will be involved in respect of the payment of the income tax, beyond the legal costs of the action, it is stated, and the Jewish National Fund was anxious to obtain a decision on the question in principle.
The income intended to be brought into charge to income tax by the assessments appealed against consisted of interest for four years ending 5th. April, 1925, on Â£32,000 Consolidated Stock owned by the Fund, and representing donations to the Association which were invested in accordance with the provisions of the Memorandum of Association.