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Commons to Debate Land Ban Wednesday

A motion censuring the British Government for its newly-announced measures restricting Jewish land purchases in Palestine will be submitted to the House of Commons next Wednesday by Philip Noel Baker on behalf of the Labor Party, it was announced today.

The motion bases its censure of the Government on the grounds that issuance of the regulations was in disregard of the League Mandates Commission and the Council and constituted unjust discrimination against the Palestine Jews.

“The House regrets,” the motion states, “that, disregarding the express opinion of the Mandates Commission that the policy contained in the White Paper on Palestine is inconsistent with the terms of the Mandate, and without the authority of the Council of the League, His Majesty’s Government have authorized issue of regulations controlling the transfer of land which discriminate unjustly against one section of the inhabitants of Palestine.”

The last time a Palestine issue came up for debate, the Government won the verdict by the narrow margin of 89 votes. That was May 23, 1939, following issuance of the White Paper setting forth the British Government’s intention of establishing an independent Palestine State in which the Jews would be crystallized as a one-third minority. To obtain the decision, however, the Government was forced to use a three-line whip, making the vote a question of confidence.

How the Government will fare in Wednesday’s vote was a matter of conjecture today, with some observers expressing the belief that many Government supporters will vote with the Labor Opposition.

The political correspondent of the Laborite Daily Herald said the ordinance had aroused intense indignation among parliamentarians of all parties. He said a considerable number of Government supporters were strongly opposed to any policy further weakening the Jewish position in Palestine and probably would vote with the Laborites on the motion of censure.

Meanwhile, announcement of the ordinance was greeted with indignation by leading newspapers, with only one notable exception.

The Daily Herald charged the Government with adding “another first class blunder to the long record of mishandling and vacillation” on the Palestine problem and warned that the ordinance would “increase mistrust all around.”

The Liberal News-Chronicle saw in the measures a possible “new hornets’ nest, declaring: “It is indeed a grave step to override the opinion of a League authority, particularly at a time when there is a widespread feeling that the mandates system offers the best solution of the colonial problem. It remains to be seen whether the new policy will maintain the present state of tranquillity or stir up a new hornets’ nest.”

The Liberal Manchester Guardian, declaring Commons must have been “shocked and astonished” at the land ordinance, said:

“Since almost half of the members voting in Commons condemned the White Paper (of May, 1939), since the majority of the Mandates Commission members declared it a violation of the mandate and since the whole Commission found it inconsistent with earlier interpretations of the Mandate, is not all this reason why nothing should have been done by the British Government without League approval? What has the Government told us since the war began to justify such a step? What is the Government about, to handle national unity in so strange a way?”

Lord Beaverbrook’s newspaper, the Evening Standard, so far is the only paper welcoming the land regulations.

“MacDonald has courageously fought for his policy,” the Standard said. “He is determined to carry it through. Let those criticize him who would like to propose that Britain, fighting for freedom in this hour, be saddled with another Ireland.”

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