Defer Final Action on Palestine Council; Commons to Debate Issue

Final action on the proposed legislative council for Palestine will be held up until the House of Commons has had an opportunity fully to debate the question, it was announced in Commons today by Colonial Secretary J.H. Thomas.

Yielding to insistent and repeated demands of Members of Parliament, Mr. Thomas declared that the issue would be fully aired during the debate on budget estimates for the Colonial Office.

The Colonial Secretary’s statement, the first official indication that establishment of the council would be delayed, was made in answer to a question by Sir Percy Harris. He informed Sir Percy that there was unlikely to be a final decision on the council before Commons was given an opportunity to discuss it.

Previous statements by Mr. Thomas and by Lord Plymouth in the House of Lords indicated that the British Government, with the full backing of the Cabinet, would proceed with establishment of the council without delay. Lord Plymouth had declared that failure to proceed with the council would lead to serious unrest and might shake the confidence in Palestine in the Government.

Replying to a series of questions fired at him by Commoners, Mr. Thomas told W. Lunn, Laborite, that he didn’t feel that sending a Royal Commission to Palestine, as suggested in the House of Lords, was justified. The commission had been proposed by Lord Lytton, who said the body could take evidence on the spot and report the possible development of self-government in the Holy Land.

Mr. Thomas further stated that no further steps on the council would be taken pending receipt of High Commissioner Wauchope’s report on the reception given the proposals by Palestine leaders. Jewish leaders in Palestine unanimously rejected the proposals when made last December. Arab leaders are divided on the council, not all of them having replied officially to the proposals, although a majority of them are favorably disposed providing certain modifications are made.

Replying to a question by T. Williams, Laborite, as to whether the Government would reconsider its stand after receipt of the Wauchope report, Mr. Thomas said the Government would be guided by the High Commissioner’s views.

Asked by Captain Victor Cazalet, Conservative, whether sending the proposed Royal Commission to Palestine Would be contrary to pledges made by the Government, Mr. Thomas replied that the Arabs would probably so consider it.

To a query on whether the legislative council would be empowered to discuss the League of Nations mandate and questions of land and immigration, Mr. Thomas replied that the mandate would not be subject to its consideration and the other questions would remain within the jurisdiction of the High Commissioner.

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