The question of whether increasing liquor consumption in Palestine is stirring resentment among the Arabs, whose religion forbids them to partake of intoxicating beverages, provided an interesting interlude in the House of Commons, with J.H. Thomas, Colonial Secretary, rejecting demands from a member that issuance of liquor sale licenses in the Holy Land be halted.
The exchange began when Dr. Salter asked Mr. Thomas whether he was aware that reduction of license fees since Jan. 1, 1934 had resulted in a large increase in production and sale of liquors.
Mr. Thomas replied he was unaware that liquor sale was resented by any large section of the Palestine population, adding that the number of retail liquor licenses was limited.
Said Dr. Salter: “Is he aware of the numerous complaints that have been made by the Mohammedan community to the High Commissioner in respect of this matter?”
Replied Mr. Thomas: “No, I am not aware of that and I am not aware that there is any danger in connection with the sale of intoxicating liquor. On the contrary, the figures he refers to are about one-third of 1930, notwithstanding the increase in the population.”
Interpolated Ernest Thurtle: “Can he say whether this wine is both good and cheap wine?”
Mr. Thomas: I am sure if he will consult Dr. Salter and taste it, they will be better judges.” (Laughter)