LONDON (May. 12)
Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain announced in the House of Commons today that the British Government was prepared to offer the fullest facilities in British Guiana for any settlement decided upon by refugee organizations.
If trial colonization recommended by an Anglo-American commission of experts proved successful, Mr. Chamberlain said, the Government was prepared to facilitate settlement over the whole of the interior “insofar as that may be practicable,” but excluding the coastal belt.
Expressing the hope that settlement would start in the autumn, the Prime Minister pointed out that the financing of the experimental colonization must come from private sources. He said, however, that the British and the Guiana Governments would cooperate in the matter of personnel and organization.
The prospect of large-scale settlement, Mr. Chamberlain emphasized, must depend largely upon the possibility of industrial development. He said a large measure of local autonomy and adequate representation in the colony’s Government would be granted if a large new community were established.
Mr. Chamberlain asserted that the Government would be ready to give sympathetic consideration to any proposals for settlement, reserving, however, control of general services such as security, communications and revenue.
Mr. Chamberlain’s statement, made in writing in reply to a question by Laborite Tom Williams and circulated among members of the House, expressed the hope that it would be possible to find industrial employment for the refugees, care being taken to preserve the rights of aboriginal Indians. It continued:
“His Majesty’s Government recognize that the success of any scheme of large-scale settlement requires the provision of arterial communications. If the prospects of development are good and capital is forthcoming adequate for the needs of large-scale settlement and bears a reasonable proportion of the cost of providing suitable communication between the interior and the coast, they (the Government) will be prepared to provide such communications to meet the needs of the community.
“In brief, His Majesty’s Government would be prepared to facilitate the settlement of refugees in the whole of the interior of British Guiana insofar as that may prove practicable, the coastal areas being excluded because that area is already occupied and must be reserved for the needs of the existing inhabitants.”
Intergovernmental Refugee Committee circles welcomed the statement as encouraging, pointing out, however, that it means there will be no direct or indirect financial support, in the preliminary stages. Financial circles here are now considering the financing needs of the projected settlement, with the possibility that a separate corporation will be organized to finance and direct the project.
It is believed that measures to implement the Guiana commission’s report, such as the necessary preliminaries and the first actual settlement, will be undertaken by the Refugee Settlement Corporation, plans for which were approved at the last session of the Intergovernmental Refugee Committee.
Refugee circles here are disappointed that the Guiana commission’s report did not hold out hopes for immediate large-scale settlement. Zionist circles declared the report proved that Guiana could not take the place of Palestine as the largest factor in solution of the refugee problem. The Manchester Guardian declares editorially that Guiana has not furnished a solution to the Jewish refugee problem nor to the Palestine problem and gives no reason why the Government’s new Palestine policy should not be examined strictly on its merits.