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Macdonald Refuses to Modify Palestine Entry Rule for Aged Refugees

Refusal to relax in any way the severe restrictions on Jewish immigration into Palestine contained in the White Paper was voiced in Commons today by Colonial Secretary Malcolm MacDonald.

Eleanor Rathbone, Independent, had asked that elderly refugees be admitted outside the regular quota. “There would not result any growth in the Jewish birthrate in Palestine,” she urged, “nor economic competition, nor financial burden for the state, nor military threat to the Arabs.”

MacDonald’s negative was categorical. “I cannot contemplate any modification of the policy regarding immigration set forth in the White Paper.”

“Is the Colonial Secretary aware,” Miss Rathbone persisted, “that the Jewish colonies are faced with the cold choice of bringing in aged persons faced with destitution and misery, or bringing in young adult immigrants who would be of economic value to the colony? And would what I suggest not do something to consolidate world opinion?”

MacDonald countered: “All these considerations and many others were borne in mind when we decided on this policy.”

Tom Williams, Laborite, interposed: “Does not the suggestion in question by Miss Rathbone in no way vitiate the general immigration policy? Will not the Colonial Secretary reconsider his policy for the first year, as these aged people would not be a burden on Palestinians or Arabs?”

MacDonald replied: “The suggestion would involve modification of the policy decided on and in my original answer I said I could not contemplate any such modification.”

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