Second Schedule. — (Transitional Provisions.)

Orders of the Day — Palestine Bill – in the House of Commons am 12:00 am ar 23 Mawrth 1948.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Mr Hartley Shawcross Mr Hartley Shawcross , St Helens 12:00, 23 Mawrth 1948

I beg to move, in page 5, line 15, at the end, to insert: 3. Any person who, before the appointed day, has been removed from Palestine under the Colonial Prisoners Removal Act, 1884, may be detained under that Act after that day, and the provisions of that Act shall have effect in relation to any such person as if it had not ceased to apply to Palestine:Provided that the following provisions of the said Act shall not apply in relation to any such person, that is to say—

  1. (a) so much of subsection (1) of section eight as relates to the questioning of the conviction, judgment and sentence of a prisoner removed under that Act, and to the remission of his sentence and the ordering of his discharge;
  2. (b) so much of subsection (2) of section ten as enables the Government of a British possession from which a criminal lunatic has been so removed to require his return for trial in the event of his recovery."
The object of this Amendment is to meet the point raised by the new Clause put down in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler), and I am much obliged to hon. Members opposite for calling, attention to the point. The object of that new Clause, which the hon. and learned Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) did not seek to move can, we think, better be achieved by amendment of the existing Colonial Prisoners Removal Act. We think it better to make use of the existing code of law in regard to the removal of Colonial prisoners than to substitute something different. This Amendment to the Schedule will substantially cover, I think, the whole of the ground which was covered by the proposed new Clause, except Subsection (2) of that new Clause, which would have imposed an obligation to bring back all British subjects. As the hon. and learned Member will appreciate, some British subjects are also Palestinian citizens domiciled in Palestine, and they may prefer to remain there. They would not wish to be brought back to this country, and it might not be just to bring them back, and we thought it not right to accept any obligation to bring them back.

1.15 a.m.

Photo of Mr Barnett Janner Mr Barnett Janner , Leicester West

I should like to ask the Attorney-General whether, by this Amendment, he will be able to take men and women who are at present suffering imprisonment, or some other form of incarceration, and who have had no trial at all. It seems to me that it would be a vicious thing to remove people from one jurisdiction to another on the termination of our control when they are people who have never been tried or found guilty of any offence. The order under which they would have been taken would be an order under Palestinian law, and if Palestinian law is to be exercised by or removed to another authority, it seems rather improper that we should take men and women who have been imprisoned in that way without giving them any opportunity at all of standing trial and having their cases properly heard.

We heard in the course of the Debate —and this is an extremely important point, because it affects the liberty of individuals who are entitled to a proper and effective trial, and entitled to proper defence—that there are cases in Kenya and Eritrea where people are imprisoned who have had no trial. They are, we have been told, detained on some ground which has not been explained. I am certain that we should not want to perpetuate an injustice of this nature, particularly after the protracted time the people concerned have been in custody. I ask my right hon. and learned Friend to say that there is nothing in this Amendment to the Schedule, as it is being proposed by him, which would perpetuate this very wrong and bad situation.

Photo of Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller , Daventry

The right hon. and learned Gentleman has said a great deal about the terms of this Schedule, but he has really said nothing about its application. How will this new Schedule be used? He has pointed out that the new Clause which we put down was too wide, but we ought to have a statement as to the manner in which the Government seek to exercise the power which this new Schedule will give them.

As it stands, it means that any person who is now being removed, or who will be removed before 15th May, can be detained to serve the rest of his sentence. What effect will this Schedule have with regard to those detained in Eritrea? The answer, I suppose, will be that they will not be detained after 15th May. But with regard to those convicted of offences of the nature set out in Subsection (I) of the new Clause—those convicted of murder, attempted murder, or assault on any member of His Majesty's forces or any person in the employment of the Government of Palestine, or convicted for carrying arms or explosives—is it the intention that, before 15th May, persons within these categories will be removed from Palestine?

I think that power clearly exists now and up to 15th May to remove them. This Amendment merely provides for their lawful detention outside Palestine after 15th May. We have'had no statement from the Government as to their intention with regard to the removal of persons convicted or imprisoned in Palestine at this time for offences of that nature. I think we should have a statement on what is to be the Government's policy with regard to that, because it should be known that anyone who commits offences of this sort before 15th May will, if he is sentenced to a long term of imprisonment, have in fact to serve it, and will not get his release automatically on that date.

This is of all the greater importance because the Minister of State said, in the Debate on the Second Reading, that the Government had made provision that Jewish prisoners would be transferred to Jewish areas and Arab prisoners would be transferred to Arab areas. I assume, from the fact, that the Amendment to the Schedule now appears on the Order Paper after our new Clause was tabled, that that provision is being substantially altered, and I think we should have the clearest possible assurance that persons convicted in that category of offences relating to British troops and British subjects will have been removed from Palestine before 15th May and may serve the remainder of their sentence.

Photo of Sir Charles Mott-Radclyffe Sir Charles Mott-Radclyffe , Windsor

May I ask what is the position under the Schedule of a Jew or Arab who commits an act of violence against British troops two or three days before 15th May? Clearly there would not be time to bring him to trial, but he might be physically under arrest. Is he to be released before his case is brought to trial, or is he to be taken out of the country pending proceedings?

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

I do not think one ought to pass this quite extraordinary Amendment in silence. As to the point that has been raised by the hon. Gentleman, I take it in any case that this can only apply to convicted persons and not to people detained for security reasons under the Defence Regulations? On the other hand, I know it is extremely difficult and embarrassing to object to this Amendment, because one can so easily be misrepresented as condoning things which everyone condemns. We must take that risk and speak the truth in us as best we can according to our lights: however it may be misinterpreted or misrepresented here or outside.

This is not the first time in British history that, after a period of strife, rebellion, and disorder, changes in jurisdiction have taken place. Within this century it has happened in South Africa, Ireland, India, and Burma; the last three, I suppose, in the lifetime of all of us and the last two in the lifetime of this Parliament. In all those cases terrible things were done. Terrible things have been done in Palestine; terrible things were done in Ireland, terrible things were done in India. All the things done in any of those places were done against the law and were crimes, and many people were prosecuted and convicted, and many of the criminals and perpetrators were sentenced.

I cannot think—I may be wrong—that in any of those similar and parallel cases there has been any such provision as we are contemplating here. If we had had in the Act dealing with the independence of India, for instance, a provision such as this, we would have had, I suppose, many thousands of prisoners to transfer from India. If it had happened in the case of the Act which gave legislative sanction and implementation to the agreement made when the Irish Republic was set up, we would have had many hundreds—and perhaps many thousands —of persons in British prisons for many years. In those cases it was thought improper to do what is being suggested here. We do not know why; or perhaps—let us be frank—we do know why, because in the case of Ireland, ever since one remembers, there were some atrocious things happening on both sides; so much so that it was said by a well-known Liberal that the situation had deteriorated so far that it was becoming very difficult to know which were the atrocities and which were the reprisals.

However, at the end of some years of a situation of that kind, peace was made and a new regime and a new jurisdiction was set up. Both countries, Ireland and this country, honoured the agreement which was reached, gave it sanction and implemented it. I doubt very much whether this country lost anything by not transferring in 1920 the prisoners in British military hands in Ireland as a result of what the Irish euphemistically called "the troubles." Perhaps, looking back on it 28 years afterwards, this country has reason to be proud of its generosity in the matter; but, pride or not, all would recognise now that it was a wise provision and that it did not hinder the future welfare of either country or the future relations between them. Obviously that view was taken in India. Why not have taken it here?

I said, when I began this speech, that it would be capable of misrepresentation. I hope, nevertheless, it will not be misrepresented. I think I have said enough on the Floor of the House to show that I regarded, then and now, many of the things done in Palestine as horrible, a shedding of innocent blood in a cause in which I believe and which I hold to be a good cause, a right cause and a just cause. I wish that cause had not been so stained with innocent blood, and I do not want to say anything or do anything that would condone that in any way.

I know that what I am saying may be misrepresented by some people. I ask the Government, and I ask hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, to consider whether what they are asking the Committee to do in this matter is really wise. Better, surely, to allow it to be said that at the end of the struggles, revolutions, and frustations of all kinds, the end was a clean and final end. Let it not be said that in this instance an exception was made and that the end was continued on foreign soil, in alien lands, in strange prisons, years and years after the events which gave rise to these crimes.

Everyone who has spoken in these Debates since the matter of Palestine went to the United Nations has spoken of the sadness of the occasion. Well, let us not add to it. I do not think that any side in all these disputes of the last few years has had very much to be proud of, or very much that will be remembered with cheerfulness in the years to come, whatever happens as a result of what we are doing. I still think that, difficult as these matters are, and difficult as is the state of public feeling on these matters, it would be better to follow precedents which have proved to be wise and sound.

Photo of Mr Hartley Shawcross Mr Hartley Shawcross , St Helens

I shall not attempt to express any final conclusion on the points which have been raised in this discussion, although I can assure my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) that the matters to which he has referred will be given careful and, indeed, sympathetic consideration. Dealing, first, with the matter raised by the hon. Member for West Leicester (Mr. Janner) and also, I think, by the hon. and learned Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller), the Amendment deals only with the case of convicted persons, and does not cover detainees. So far as detainees are concerned, it is not intended to detain them after our jurisdiction in Palestine has come to an end, or at any rate after our troops have finally withdrawn from Palestine. We should not contemplate releasing them at a moment when they could endanger the safety of our troops. When that moment has passed we do not intend to detain them.

The position with regard to convicted persons is, of course, different, and persons who before 15th May commit crimes against the law of Palestine, or persons who have already been convicted of committing crimes against the law of Palestine, cannot safely assume that they are going to be released on 15th May. They certainly will not be released at any time when they could endanger British troops or civilians or property remaining in Palestine till 1st August. The whole problem of the ultimate disposal of convicted prisoners who are at present detained is forming the subject of discussions with the United Nations and very much must, of course, depend upon the result of those discussions and very much must depend upon the question whether, as in the case of Ireland, and in the case of India, referred to by my hon. Friend, some other régime, some new régime, is established and does take over from us. The matter will have to be considered, and a decision reached, in the light of those discussions and of that eventuality.

As to the point about crimes committed in the last few days before 15th May, the position will be that such criminals will be held in custody by the Commander-in-Chief and dealt with by him in virtue of the military powers which he will possess in connection with the withdrawal of British troops.

1.30 a.m.

Photo of Mr David Renton Mr David Renton , Huntingdonshire

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman give an assurance about one important matter? Can he give us an assurance that all British subjects of United Kingdom origin, who must be a very small number, will be evacuated from Palestine by 15th May?

Photo of Mr Hartley Shawcross Mr Hartley Shawcross , St Helens

We rather hope that that may be so, but there may be some who are of United Kingdom origin who intend to become Palestine citizens and be domiciled there. That kind of case has to be considered, but we hope to achieve the result which the hon. Member has in mind.

Amendment agreed to.

Schedule, as amended, agreed to. Bill, as amended, to be reported.

Bill reported, with Amendments; as amended, considered.

Motion made, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."

Photo of Mr Arthur Jones Mr Arthur Jones , Shipley

I have it in Command from His Majesty to acquaint the House that he places His prerogrative and interests, so far as concerns the matters dealt with by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament.

1.33 a.m.

The Attorney-General (Sir Hartley Shaweross):

I want to take the opportunity of dealing with three points with which I intended to deal at an earlier stage of the Bill, but I missed the opportunity which I ought to have taken. I was asked whether in Clause 2 (4) the words "sufficient evidence" meant "conclusive evidence." They do not mean that. They are intended to mean prima facie evidence. The word "sufficient" has to be put in to meet Scottish law. I hesitate to express an opinion on Scottish law, but the general rule is that two witnesses are required to prove any point. So far as the English law is concerned, the phrase is intended to mean that the evidence will be sufficient in the absence of anything further. If there is further evidence the certificate may be rebutted.

In regard to Clause 2 (5) I was asked about the expression "Dominion" with particular reference to Ceylon. We have not defined the definite constitutional status of any of the countries named in the Clause. All we have done is to say that for the purpose of this Bill they shall be regarded as Dominions. That, of course, is not intended to affect in any way their exact constitutional status. I was also asked whether the word "Admiralty" in the Amendment to Clause 2 (4) was the appropriate term. The Interpretation Act defines the term as meaning the Commissioners or other members of the Board of Admiralty. These were the three points that I under-took to clear up.

I do not intend now to prolong the discussion that we have had on this matter by more than a few minutes. We have had a very long examination of our general policy in regard to Palestine, but this Bill is essentially a machinery Bill and the House will probably take the view that, once the matter of policy is accepted as something which has, unhappily, been forced upon us by the march of events over which we have had no control, the machinery provisions contained in the Bill are no more than the circumstances necessitate. These machinery provisions have been examined in detail and I do not propose to traverse that ground again. Nor shall I seek to canvass the general question of policy, but in the course of that discussion some things have been said, perhaps unnecessarily, which reflected on the administration. Harsh things have been said but I am not going to seek to suggest that sometimes mistakes might not have been made or that sometimes, in particular cases, things might not have been done which fall short of the high standard that we should expect. But I think it is right, in parting with this Bill, to express the thanks of His Majesty's Government and the gratitude of the House, and, I am sure, of the whole country, to the British Forces, the British Civilian administration in Palestine and to the High Commissioner. They have, all of them, discharged their duties under conditions of quite unexampled difficulty, often in circumstances of considerable public danger, and they have discharged them with great restraint and with conspicuous courage. They have maintained what we like to think are the best traditions of our country and it is right that on this occasion we should express our gratitude to them.

Secondly, I should like to say that we must hope that these changing and unhappy circumstances in Palestine may prove, in the end, to be no more than an episode in the history of that country and that after this present ordeal, bitter and unhappy as it undoubtedly is, Arabs, Jews and Christians will learn to live, as sooner or later they will certainly have to live, in peace. We cannot seek to impose any particular solution upon them by force. But all the good offices of this country will remain available in promoting a peaceful and an agreed solution of these problems. We shall leave Palestine with sorrow and disappointment. Twenty-five years ago we started out with high hopes of being able to bring our Mandate to success and to lead Palestine to self-government. In that, unhappily, we have failed, but let no one forget the great advances and the great achievements that have been made in the course of our 25 years of administration there. There have been mistakes from time to time in the policy that has been pursued, but our administrators are entitled to leave Palestine unashamed of what they have done there in the past 25 years. We shall leave the country regretting that we have not been able to bring our achievements there to their full fruition, but hoping that those who go after us, the United Nations it may be, the Jews and the Arabs and the Christians, certainly, will succeed in bringing the work that we have done to its full and successful fruition.

1.40 a.m.

Photo of Hon. Oliver Stanley Hon. Oliver Stanley , Bristol West

I certainly do not, at this late hour of the evening, and especially within the very rigid limits of a Debate on Third Reading, wish to cover the vast field of this Palestine question. I should like to associate myself with what the right hon. and learned Gentleman has said with regard to the debt that we have owed now for over 20 years to those people who have served our country, whether'in the Armed Forces or in civil employment, in most difficult circumstances and through great danger. I was very glad to hear the tributes which have been paid during the course of the Debate today to the behaviour, particularly of the troops, in the difficult times of the last few years. I should like to add, from my experience of those who worked in the civil administration in Palestine, an equal tribute to them. They went through, and they go through, much danger, as do the troops; they have as much, from one side as the other, to stretch their nerves and try their tempers, as do the troops; and they have preserved, as have the troops, courage, calmness and patience through all these difficulties.

Secondly, I should like to reinforce what the right hon. and learned Gentleman has said about what we have done in Palestine in these 20 years. It is quite true that the end is indeed an unhappy one, but I am not prepared to agree that the end we have reached, or are reaching within a few weeks, has been wholly forced on us by events. I believe we might have made ourselves not the servants, but the masters of events, but now is not the time any longer to discuss that. We leave in sorrow and sadness with all our hopes of 20 years unfulfilled, but do not let the world assume that because our high hopes have been frustrated, we have not in these years brought to the people of Palestine many benefits and many lasting monuments. Many of these benefits were conferred, and many monuments built, in spite of the handicaps imposed on those who wished to help by the very people they wished to help.

No one in this House can foresee with any clarity what is, in fact, going to be the situation in that unhappy country when the events for which this Bill is the preparation have taken place. I feel I must say—I do not know whether other hon. Members share the view—that the whole of this Debate has taken place in an atmosphere of complete unreality, that we have been talking as if the events of the last few days had never taken place, and as if the Resolution of 29th November was still something on which we could build.

Photo of Hon. Oliver Stanley Hon. Oliver Stanley , Bristol West

The hon. Member says that. Does he really believe it? Well, I leave him with his beliefs, which, I am afraid, he will find will very shortly be disappointed.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

While it is a rather insecure foundation on which to build, I should have thought it better to build on an insecure foundation than on no foundation at all.

Photo of Hon. Oliver Stanley Hon. Oliver Stanley , Bristol West

The difficulty is that when the insecure foundation disappears one may find himself with nothing, whereas there is a possibility, at any rate, of putting something in its place. Does the hon. Member really think that in existing circumstances there is any chance of doing anything which this Bill envisages, or of doing anything on what it is based, of being able on 16th May to hand over to some settled form of successor Government under whom all these things can be carried out, and to whom everything can be quietly left? I am afraid that I cannot share that optimism.

I do agree that the decision taken by the Government in the circumstances that face us now—the decision to leave Palestine on r5th May and have the troops out by 1st August—is the only one we can take. I believe that we ought not to let any circumstances change us in that determination, and that I understand to be the pledge given to the House today by the Government. But, I cannot say that I regard that decision with any happiness, or that I can forecast, for the time after that decision has become effective, anything but an unimaginable reign of chaos and terror in the land which we are going to leave.

1.48 a.m.

Photo of Mr Ian Mikardo Mr Ian Mikardo , Reading

I will detain the House for only a few moments, and will not attempt to discuss the wider issues which lie behind this Bill. Indeed, even within the terms of a Third Reading debate, I thought the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley) and the Attorney-General had some difficulty in avoiding repetition of what was said on Second Reading. We have had a long Committee stage—much longer than most of us expected, and much longer than was desired by those who have the onerous and not always pleasant task of managing the business of the House. But I think it ought to be said that that long Committee stage was not without value, and that the application which the whole Committee showed in the task of improving the Bill was not without results. The Amendments which brought explanations, and in some cases the assurances that were given, do leave the Bill a better Bill at the end than it was at the beginning—which is, of course, the object of a Committee stage. That view may not appeal to those hon. Members who expressed themselves so indignantly in the corridor a few moments ago, and whose major desire is not that this House should pass good legislation, but to get home to their beds, but I am sure it is a reasonable one. With diffidence, as one who has occupied the House during these two days, I think I may be permitted to say that hon. Members on all sides of the House have cause to congratulate themselves on the spirit in which these proceedings have been conducted. We can only express the hope now that, dark as the prospect in Palestine appears to be, out of the darkness there will come some ray of hope, and that some solution will be found which at the moment appears to be beyond us.

1.50 a.m.

Mr. Mott-Radelyffe:

I agree with both right hon. Gentlemen who have spoken that it would be quite wrong if this Bill were to receive its Third Reading without tribute being paid—a sincere and deserved tribute—to the conduct of British troops and officials in Palestine during the past 20 years throughout all the vicissitudes and changes of policy on the part of His Majesty's Government. I very much doubt whether in the circumstances the troops and officials of any other nation would have conducted themselves with such restraint, such efficiency and such dignity as our troops and officials have done. I must admit that I think the discussions we have had today on Committee stage of the Bill have been misleading, because there has been throughout these discussions the assumption there would be a successor authority to whom to hand over.

Hopes have been expressed about the possible employment of civil servants by that successor authority, but I would remind the Treasury Bench that there is not really a great deal of time with which to play. There are only six weeks between now and 15th May. To express at this late stage vague hopes about the future employment of certain civil servants after 15th May is running the time factor very close indeed. On what practical or common-sense basis is it seriously estimated that there will be any effective successor authority after 15th May. When partition was the policy of U.N.O., the successor authority most probably would have been two separate States at civil war with one another.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

Partition is not the purpose of this Bill. It seems to me that we have decided to withdraw on 15th May and that ends the matter. The future is not for this Bill.

Photo of Sir Charles Mott-Radclyffe Sir Charles Mott-Radclyffe , Windsor

As a number of statements had been made by the Secretary of State on the assumption that we should hand over to a successor authority, I thought it would be in Order on Third Reading to refer to the possibility of no such authority being there.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

The hon. Member may speculate on who it might be. It might be Timbuctoo or anybody. It is not within the purview of the Third Reading to speculate on the successor authority.

Photo of Sir Charles Mott-Radclyffe Sir Charles Mott-Radclyffe , Windsor

I thought that rather misleading statements had been made which might give rise to misconceptions as to who the successor authority might be after 15th May, because partition has been dropped, and no one knows what form the proposed trusteeship may take.

Having paid tribute in this House to the conduct of the troops in Palestine during the past 20 years, we should also, I think, send them a message of sympathy in advance in respect of the circumstances in which they will have to operate between 15th May and 1st August. As I conceive it, they may have to watch violence being committed by Jews against Arabs and vice versa without being able to intervene, however great the provocation, because they are covered by no indemnity, except in certain hitherto unspecified areas which are to be retained by British troops during the period of evacuation. I think that is a most regret-able state of affairs for any British soldier. After 15th May there will be no law and order, probably no valid currency and perhaps very little food. It would have been better if the Government had prepared the public for that sorry state of affairs instead of indicating that the house would be made ready for the incoming tenant.

1.54 a.m.

Photo of Mr Frederick Cocks Mr Frederick Cocks , Broxtowe

The passing of this Bill, though very necessary, is a sad and melancholy affair. For 25 years members of all parties and the leaders of all parties have supported His Majesty's jurisdiction in Palestine for the purpose, amongst other things, of establishing the Jewish National Home. The members of my own party—the Labour Party—have been pledged up to the hilt to that cause. In fact, nearly every Member of the present Government who has been in the party for some years has been personally pledged to the Zionist cause. One of those who was pledged most deeply is the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, who, in a very eloquent speech, moved a resolution, at a Labour Party conference, and said that he felt it would be a great day if such an experiment could be brought to a successful end. Altogether, resolutions in favour of the establishment of a Jewish National Home have been passed by eleven annual conferences of the Labour Party. In December, 1944, in London, not seven months before the general election, a declaration urging the unrestricted immigration of the Jews was moved by the Prime Minister himself, and carried.

Photo of Mr Frederick Cocks Mr Frederick Cocks , Broxtowe

I thought it was in Order for me to speak of the atmosphere in which this Bill has been formulated, what it has done, and how it is inconsistent, to some extent, with the declarations which have been made by those who have brought in the Bill.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

That would be in Order on Second Reading, but I am not quite sure that it is relevant on the Third Reading.

Photo of Mr Frederick Cocks Mr Frederick Cocks , Broxtowe

I bow to your Ruling, Mr. Speaker. I am very sorry that I am not able to say, quite shortly, what I feel so deeply about this matter. The learned Attorney-General did say that the Government had been ruled by events. But it seems to me—and I hope this is in Order —that when the Assembly of the United Nations adopted a policy which gave far less than we had always demanded, the Government could have ignored its decisions and have made it almost impossible for those decisions to be carried out.

I listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, the Colonial Secretary, this afternoon, and I would like to point out two things. First of all, we are continuing to supply the Arab States with arms, although they have made clear their intention to oppose partition by force immediately we leave the country. In the words of one of them——

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

The hon. Member must not discuss administration. Supplying the Arabs with arms is not in this Bill.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. I take it that it is in Order on the Third Reading of a Bill to discuss the subject matter of the Bill as the Bill stands at the time of the Third Reading, assuming that the Bill were to be enacted and put on the Statute Book in its present form.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

I understood that we were Bill as it is, quite or even in the resolutions of United apart from what happens afterwards.

Photo of Mr William Warbey Mr William Warbey , Luton

Further to that sword of Gideon and David, and Judas point of Order, Mr. Speaker. The Bill Maccabaeus. If it comes to that, I hope does, I think, in its existing form, cover they will hold their own in their struggle the period not only up to 15th May, but with the Arab sheiks and the ex-Mufti. the period from 15th May until the final I hope they will establish a strong and withdrawal of British troops from flourishing State in which Jewish and Palestine. Would it not further be in Arab workers will prosper side by side in Order to discuss the situation during the Period while the British troops are being withdrawn?

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

But how far does the Bill go into the administration in that period? I gather that it does not refer to it, or refers only to a limited existence up to 1st August.

Photo of Mr Frederick Cocks Mr Frederick Cocks , Broxtowe

I do not strive by any ingenuity to get in what I would like to say against your wishes, Mr. Speaker, or against the Rules of Order; and so I will leave out of my speech remarks I would have liked to make. I must reserve them for another occasion. I would like to conclude with something which, I think, is in Order. The Lord President of the Council, speaking in this House on a previous occasion, appealed to hon. Members opposite to take their courage in both hands, to put the honour of their country before narrow matters of party, and to bring all the pressure they could to prevent His Majesty's Government from doing anything they ought not to do. It is, perhaps, a little late to appeal to the honour of our country. Certain people take Falstaff's view of honour. Falstaff said: What is honour? A word.… Who hath it? He that died o'Wednesday.… Therefore, I'll none of it. This Bill was read a Second time, I think on a Wednesday, and this morning, too, is a Wednesday. We cannot vote against the Third Reading today because we want our troops withdrawn at the earliest date. But some of us who do not take Falstaff's view think that there is lasting shame inflicted on the honour of our land. When the Bill is passed, and when we have withdrawn, I am afraid that the chaos which will ensue —the chaos which has been prophesied —will strike this House in a terrible way. So far as the Jews are concerned, they will cease to put their trust in the pledges of Secretaries of State, or even in the resolutions of United Nations. One becomes more and more inclined to the defence of the sword; the sword of Gideon and David, and Judas Maccabaeus. If it comes to that, I hope they will hold their own in their struggle with the Arab sheiks and the ex-Mufti. I hope they will establish a strong and flourishing State in which Jewish and Arab workers will prosper side by side in that ancient land which has long been a subject of the world's debate.

2.2 a.m.

Photo of Mr David Renton Mr David Renton , Huntingdonshire

I would disagree with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Brostowe (Mr. Cocks). As an Englishman, I am not ashamed of what history may write about our dealings in Palestine. I do not think the failure of the experiment is in any way due to our people, or to our faithful servants who have done their best out there. It has not been the failure of the indigenous Jews, or of the early Jewish colonists, or of the Arabs. It is the result very often of inflated ambitions, and, sometimes, of false leadership.

A generation ago, there were Liberals who played a prominent part in the opening phase of this chapter of Palestinian history. The only Liberal in this House tonight is, however, myself—one who, like my hon. Friends, has tried to combine the two great traditions of Liberalism and Conservatism; and, having attempted a blending of that kind, I only wish we could have increased that blending of the Jewish and Arab characters which I have seen taking place in my three years' military service in the Middle East. I have hoped that blending might have had more natural growth, with happier results; and I hope that, one day, that may be possible.

But to return to the Bill, I would say merely that I join with the two right hon. Gentleman who opened this Third Reading Debate, that this was our only alternative. It is a matter for sorrow, but not for shame. The Government, and the people, have been placed in a great dilemma; a dilemma which made them have to take the choice between, on the one hand, having our sons and brothers killed in Palestine for a cause in which we had already done our best, and, on the other hand, abandoning the struggle. It was a difficult choice to have to make. It was bound to be painful, but I think the step we are taking is one which, in practice, we cannot avoid.

2.5 a.m.

Photo of Mr Barnett Janner Mr Barnett Janner , Leicester West

I do not propose to detain the House long. I know the House 'will pardon me for making some comments, as for the last 25 or 3o years it has been my privilege to watch what has been happening in Palestine generally and in particular from the point of view of the Zionist cause. I have always let the House know the standpoint I was taking.

It is a great tragedy that the termination of our mandatory interest in Palestine should be such as it is. I had hoped that when a Bill of this nature was to be brought before the House it would have been one in whin we should have felt pride, in the knowledge that the important trust placed in our hands as the mandatory Power had been carried to its logical and proper conclusion, and that the men and women who had shown such public pride, spirit and strength in building out of the desert soil something worth while would have been able to establish their State with the help and guidance of, and perhaps as one of, the Dominions of the British Commonwealth.

During the war through which we have recently passed, many Jewish men and women from that neutral country, Palestine, gave their lives in order that the Allied cause should prosper. Over two million Allied troops passed through Palestine, where their wants were attended to; they were given every assistance. That little neutral country provided food, sustenance, clothing, and munitions and a thousand and one other things necessary to preserve and protect the Allies in the Middle East. It was to that very Haganah which has been spoken of so much recently that the Allies turned to protect Palestine for the Allied cause when Rommel was practically at the gates of Palestine. I wish we had been able to treat those Allies in the same manner as we have endeavoured to treat other allies. I cannot understand, and never have been able to understand, why those comrades in arms, men and women from our country and other Allied countries who fought side by side with Palestinian Jews and Jewesses, should not have been able to maintain that splendid relationship after the war.

There have been misunderstandings on both sides but it seems hard that those who did build in the way I have referred to should now be confronted with a position in which, by a Bill of this nature, much of what they have created and the assets they have produced, should be taken from them. They are placed in a position where enemies, not the Arabs who live in Palestine—Arabs with whom they were getting on extremely well—hut irresponsible Arabs from surrounding countries are coming into Palestine and endeavouring to wipe them out. They will not be wiped out. The Jewish people have withstood buffetings of this kind for many centuries. They will establish their State in Palestine, and I think the time will come when this Bill will be regarded as having been a black day in our history. I trust it will be relieved in time by a proper understanding between the Jewish National Home—the Jewish State and our country which will endure for the benefit not only of both countries, but of the world as a whole.

I am sorry if I have to some extent transgressed against the Orders of the House in talking in this way. I know that I have often spoken with emotion about this matter. It is because I have seen what has happened in Palestine and I know how every visitor has come back from Palestine with wonderment at what is being produced in that land. I hope that with the aid of the United Nations organisation, as I am sure with the honest determination of the Yishuv, that is, the Jewish Settlement, the Jews will be able to live a peaceful life not only for themselves, but with their Arab neighbours, and that there will be re-created in the Middle East a magnificent Jewish State. I hope it will work side by side with an Arab State in warm co-operation and frustrate the designs of those who for many years have attempted to keep the two peoples apart.

I sincerely hope that in the time intervening between now and r5th May we will do our utmost to allow these Jewish settlers, who have taken into their fold so many of their kith and kin who have been persecuted—these remnants of the destructions of 6,000,000 people, to work and have the opportunity of preparing to build up their State in peace and that we shall not deter their work.

2.13 a.m.

Photo of Sir Toby Low Sir Toby Low , Blackpool North

I can quite understand the feeling with which the hon. Member for West Leicester (Mr. Janner) has addressed the House. If I have any particular emotion on this subject at this time it is an emotion which the hon. Member will also understand—one that concerns the position of our men—military and civilian—who have been there during the last two years and who are still yet to remain. I have felt throughout the discussions on this Bill during today and yesterday a great unreality. I have felt all along that too many of us have been discussing the Bill as if the announcement which was made in the U.S.A. last week had never been made at all; and, furthermore, as if the plan that had been proposed by the Assembly on 29th November had been almost implemented already.

Really that is not so and we are, as my right hon. Friend has said, facing a period of chaos in Palestine so far as we can see. The chaos with which we are concerned in this Bill and on the subject of which I want to detain the House for a short while is a chaos that will, in my opinion, exist in Palestine between 15th May and 1st August or some such other time when our troops, and any officials with them, may leave the country.

Now, as I see it, during that period there will be no settled authority in Palestine at all, with one exception—that of our Commander-in-Chief or local commanders in the various areas in which our troops may be. Although this Bill, and the statements of Ministers, make it quite clear that our troops, wherever they may be, will have no obligations for the maintenance of law and order—and, indeed, any action they may take for anything other than their own protection, and arrangements for their own withdrawal, are not covered by any indemnity under the Act. Only action taken for their withdrawal and own protection are covered, other actions are not. Although we have said that, and we have been arguing on that basis, and we have a Bill now to be read the Third time on that basis, have we not forgotten that there are moral obligations which appeal to British troops wherever they may be, and that we can never escape from these moral obligations, particularly, as I am sure the House realises, we are the only troops in the area?

It is inconceivable that any other troops except, possibly, Russian troops, could arrive in the area between 15th May and 1st August. One has only to look at the statements in the United States and other countries about their present position. It is absolutely inconceivable that any troops other than our own should be in that area in that interim period from 15th May to 1st August. I cannot part with this Bill myself without saying, as I feel most strongly, that we are deceiving ourselves if we consider that our troops can escape from moral obligations of the sort mentioned earlier by myself in connection with the Holy Places, and, mentioned by my right hon. Friend, too, in connection with the life and safety of individual citizens of Palestine in the immediate neighbourhood of these troops. I hope that the Government will give consideration between now and the final stages of this Bill before it becomes law to face that situation. We cannot, as I have said before, deceive ourselves by thinking that the only obligations facing ordinary British citizens in uniform—the British troops—will just be legal obligations.

Perhaps I may finish what I have to say on a note of anxiety about the future of Jerusalem. Again I can only deal with the period between 15th May and 1st August. It has always been to the honour of this country since 1918 that we have had the responsibility for the protection of Jerusalem and the Holy Places, the centre of three great religions. Are we really now saying that from 15th May, though we may be near and in a position to give protection, we are going to do nothing at all to protect the centre of the three greatest religions in the world? I cannot believe that, and I cannot believe really that any right hon. Gentleman sitting there believes it. So long as there was hope of a settled administration in Jerusalem, then it might have been all very well to make a statement such as that. But is there really any hope now of any settled authority in Jerusalem itself during this period? I must say to the House that I am most sincerely anxious about the position in Jerusalem and about our honour before the world in what we are doing in deciding, as we appear to be deciding, just to leave the Holy Places to what may happen regardless of any action we might be able to take.

2.20 a.m.

Photo of Mr William Warbey Mr William Warbey , Luton

The Attorney-General described this Bill as a machinery Bill. If it is an example of streamlined, modern machinery, then I can only say I prefer a Heath Robinson contraption, because it is a thing of scattered and disparate pieces tied together with bits of string. In that respect it reflects the situation out of which it springs and with which it attempts to deal. The general purpose of legislation is to create order out of chaos. Perhaps for the first time in Parliamentary history, and certainly in the history of this Parliament, we have a Bill which legislates for creating chaos out of order. That may be inherent in the situation, but certainly nothing that the Government have been able to tell us during any stages of the Bill has given us the assurance in any sense that they have any conception of what will happen after 15th May other than that there will be chaos, confusion and uncertainty in which—and here I share the apprehension of the hon. Member for North Blackpool (Mr. Low)—British troops may inevitably be very deeply involved. I would urge upon the Government that every possible step should be taken to hasten the withdrawal of the British troops from Palestine, and to see to it that the interim period between 15th May and the final date of their withdrawal is as small as possible, so as to reduce to the shortest possible time the impossible situation in which they will be placed.

The Colonial Secretary on this occasion has been engaged in fighting in the dust and heat of the battle, and in an arena marked out by other contestants who have not been present, except for short interventions like that by the Foreign Secretary. He has been a little unhappy and one can sympathise very deeply with him in his position. All of us feel that this is certainly a melancholy occasion. In fact, there is almost an atmosphere of a funeral ceremony about this Third Reading and it is appropriate that that should be the case because of what we are doing in this Bill. By passing the Third Reading of this Bill, whatever may he rightly said of the ability, efficiency and devotion to duty of those who have served in Palestine, we are burying 25 years of British administration in Palestine, burying 20 years of Labour Party pledges to the Jews, burying some part of the honour of this country, and along with other great Powers, if we are not very careful, burying also the United Nations' organisation. The only hope that one can see out of this melancholy situation is that whatever the great Powers may do, there may arise in that small territory from all factions men with courage, vision and magnanimity who may gradually with great pains rebuild order out of the chaos that others have created.

2.25 a.m.

Photo of Sir Henry Legge-Bourke Sir Henry Legge-Bourke , Isle of Ely

This Debate has rung with the words "melancholy," "funereal" and "sombre." They are certainly words which have a great bearing on the discussion we have had today. But I would like to touch on one point which, I think, is affected by this Bill but which has not been discussed in its earlier stages. That is the matter of the Imperial War Graves Commission, because there are in Palestine some war cemeteries which are at the moment controlled by the Imperial War Graves Commission.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

That has nothing to do with this Bill and the administration of Palestine. Reference to the Imperial War Graves Commission is quite out of Order.

Photo of Sir Henry Legge-Bourke Sir Henry Legge-Bourke , Isle of Ely

With very great respect, under the Bill with which we are dealing, any casualties in Palestine during the period 15th May to 1st August will, I understand, be buried in the Imperial War Graves Commission's cemeteries. I have a letter from the Secretary of State for War telling me that very fact and I did want to draw the attention of the House to the matter, because it seems to me that it is most important that if there should be fatal casualties between 15th May and 1st August—one hopes that there will not—they should be looked after in the interests of their relatives in this country who are extremely concerned about the matter. That is all I have to say.

2.26 a.m.

Mr. Grossman:

I am one of those who think that most of the Debate has gone into the realms of pure illusion and wish fulfilment, and I do think that on Third Reading we should recog- nise the fact that we are legislating for chaos and deceiving ourselves with phrases. This Debate has had a curious history. It was just possible for various persons to believe during the Second Reading that there would be someone to whom to hand over Palestine. But by the time we came to the Third Reading, we must all have known that there was nothing and nobody to whom to hand over, except chaos, death and famine. This remarkable change has occurred between the Second and Third Readings, but it has not altered the contents of the Bill. I want to suggest something else which has happened which has changed the situation. On the Second Reading we could still believe that we had the major responsibility for the catastrophe. But by the Third Reading it has been shown that another great Power has surpassed us in the speed with which it has failed to carry out the obligations which it has taken on. It may bring us some small consolation that whereas it took us two years, from 1937 to 1939, first to accept, and then to reject, partition, it has taken the Americans only a few months to do the same thing. The problem which confronts us is the period 15th May to 1st August, the crucial period of indemnification.

We have talked of the danger of a breakdown, but there will not only be chaos, there will be starvation. Consider Jerusalem. How will it be provided with water, electricity, gas, oil and other essential services. How will wheat for the country be imported? For all these Palestine was dependent on the British administration. When we are talking of this word "chaos" it is not merely a vague word, and the troops we are going to have to withdraw from Palestine—and here I agree so much with the hon. Gentleman, the Member for North Blackpool (Mr. Low)—will find it impossible to keep within the terms of indemnification. To take another instance, in the city of Haifa we will have the whole port under our control with a mixed population of Jews and Arabs living within the line of the British troops. Are we going to be in no way responsible for these people? They will have no government, and inevitably we are going to take responsibility outside that envisaged in this Bill. Any soldiers with moral sense will have to look after these people. Are our British troops going to leave Jerusalem seeing the flames of the mosque behind them? Is that literally what we mean to do? It is what the Government are telling us.

I find it difficult to believe that the occupants of the Front Bench have actually envisaged the situation which is going to occur in these three months. I am not proposing a solution, but giving a warning to the House that I do not believe that the Bill squares up to the problems facing our unfortunate soldiers between r5th May and 1st. August. I hope that the Government will not feel that by this piece of legislation they have absolved themselves from the responsibility of facing these problems in advance and having a clear policy. I have been horrified at the illusion that we shall be out by 15th May. We shall only be out by 15th May in the legal sense, such as can be employed by an Attorney-General, but a Colonial Secretary and a Foreign Secretary should deal in moral and political definitions.

In the most difficult period of its history Palestine is going to be ruled in certain areas by British armies, preparing for withdrawal, and I have heard no word from the Front Bench which shows a realisation that just by saying and doing things here in this House, one does nothing to help the boys out there. Are these politicians going to be wiser in these three months than they have shown themselves in the previous three years? I sincerely hope so for the sake of the good name of this country. These three months are going to be a taxing time. I had always hoped that despite disasters, such as we have had before in South Africa and Ireland, the Palestine story would end with a supreme act of statesmanship such as occurred in our relations with those other countries. But this is now impossible. To atone for the failure of us politicians I can only hope that our soldiers will withdraw with decency and honour. If they can do that they will save something of our name.

2.34 a.m.

Photo of Mr Hugh Delargy Mr Hugh Delargy , Manchester Platting

I agree wholeheartedly with the hon. Member for North Blackpool (Mr. Low). I hope that in the intervening period something will be done to safeguard the Holy Places, and I can speak with some emotion because I believe that I am the only member present of the Church which organised the Crusades, the Church of Godfrey de Bouillon, of Richard I, Saint Bernard and Saint Louis. Nevertheless, the modest life of any person in Palestine is of far more importance than the Holy cities, and the greatest theologians of my Church will agree on that point. Because I believe so many lives have been jeopardised, as well as the Holy cities, by our failure in Palestine, I cannot rid myself of some feeling of guilt because I belong to this Parliament and support this Go,Ternment, and I am sorry tonight that we are discussing the worst Bill this Government have presented to this House.

2.35 a.m.

Photo of Mr Michael Foot Mr Michael Foot , Plymouth, Devonport

I do not dissent from any of the opinions that have been expressed on this side of the House during this Third Reading, and I do not think that any apology is needed for maintaining this Debate at this late hour, because I agree with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Platting (Mr. Delargy) that this is one of the most important Bills that has been presented to this House. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have referred to moral obligations, and one hon. Gentleman has said he is not ashamed of what the House is doing by the passage of this Bill. I must confess that I am ashamed of what the House is doing. One of the pledges I gave when I was elected was that we should support, by the best means we could, the establishment of a National Home for the Jews in Palestine, and I believe that the passage of this Bill is in many respects a betrayal of that pledge.

Some of us on this side do regard this Debate as being one of importance for this House, and for the party which we represent in it. I would like to join with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley), who referred to those who have served in Palestine during the past 20 years. But there are many present in Palestine who have served there for the purpose of building a Palestinian State. They have worked with Jew and Arab to build a Palestinian State. Their hopes are betrayed tonight, as the hopes of many of us are betrayed. Therefore, I think it right that we should pay tribute to them. But I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) that we must face the fact of what this Bill proposes. We are pro- posing to the British people that we should clear out of Palestine, leaving chaos behind us, and I cannot recall any Bill which has ever been presented which has embodied such a proposition.

If it were proposed that we should clear out of Austria, or Germany, Nigeria or the Gold Coast, or any other area in the world which we control, if we said, "We propose to clear out of this area, and leave chaos behind us, and leave no proposals how this area should be governed and controlled in future," I believe this House would condemn it. But it is a most curious situation about Palestine that this House is prepared to pass a Bill saying, "We shall clear out of Palestine, we shall leave chaos behind us in an area which is of profound strategical importance to the rest of the world, we shall go out of this area and not make any pronouncement about the kind of conditions which should exist when we leave." I do not believe that is going to happen.

We are going to vote on this Bill tonight. I was not here when the Second Reading was voted on, but I would certainly be prepared to vote against the Third Reading. But I believe that when this event occurs, and when we are presented with a situation that the British Government must abandon all control over this vital and strategic area of the world, I believe some sudden change is going to take place,. some such change as we have seen take place in Washington in the last few days. Somebody is going to discover it is impossible to leave the whole of the Middle East in chaos. A great decision is going to be made by the British Government. The right hon. Gentleman, the Colonial Secretary, is going to come down and make a speech defending the new situation as convincing, or perhaps more convincing, than the speech he has made today. I believe that is the situation and we are passing a Bill which is irrelevant. It is not going to last for two months. It is a Bill which hears no relation either to the Palestinian situation, or the European situation or the world situation. It is going to be torn up and I think it is time that some of us began to face the situation.

I am not claiming that I have been right about this situation or right about the Palestinian proposals in the last two or three years. I made a speech some months ago in the House in which I said I believed it was right that we should clear out of Palestine. I do not argue with my hon. Friends on this side of the House who still maintain that point of view. But I think it worth considering, in view of the United States decision and in view of the whole changed situation, whether it is not the best course for the British Government, even at this late hour, to say we should maintain the Mandate.

I think it is even worth considering that, because the other alternative I fear is that we shall see a terrible battle in Palestine between Arab and Jew. One side would win, but I do not know which. There will be a terrible battle and even at this late hour it would be a good thing for the British Government to consider whether they should make a proposal to the Government of the United States jointly to govern Palestine during these three or four months. There will be no government in Palestine, over a large part of the Middle East, if this Bill is passed. I think it is a dangerous situation in the present state of affairs that we should say there shall be no government over this vital area of the world during the next six or eight months we have to face. Therefore, although that is a course which is contrary to arguments I myself have used in this House, I think it is still a matter which the Government should consider.

In any case, I think this Bill is a Bill which will not last. It means nothing. It is irrelevant to the present situation. It was irrelevant before the United States Government made its pronouncement and it is even more irrelevant today. It was irrelevant, first, because the British Government were unprepared to accept what was submitted by the United Nations. It is irrelevant today because they have not considered what is submitted by the United States. For these reasons, I say it is a bad Bill. It is an unthought-out Bill. I am sure it is a Bill of which most of the right hon. Gentlemen who sit on the Front Bench are ashamed, because in fact we could have done something far better in Palestine. We could have built something far better on what had been achieved by all who had worked there for twenty years. If we had put through a partition in 1945 on our own basis, on the basis of our own policy, I am sure if we had done that we could have achieved something in Palestine. Instead, we have retreated and retreated and retreated, and found no safe place for all our retreats. I would appeal to the Government to abandon the advisers who have persuaded them to pursue this course over the last two and a half years and consider whether there is not some brave and decisive course which they can now take to cut through all the confusion that has been caused by this policy.

2.45 a.m.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

I rather think that if I were to attempt to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot) in the very interesting speech he has just delivered, I would find myself very soon in conflict with the Chair. At this time of the morning I would wish to avoid that. The learned Attorney-General, in his contribution to the Third Reading Debate, said that this was a machinery Bill. I do not take that view. No doubt all the Clauses after the first Clause are machinery Clauses. Upon whether they are good machinery or bad machinery, I do not propose to dilate now. After all, we have spent the last two and a half days considering the details of the machinery. But Clause 1 is not a machinery Clause: it is a matter of policy. It is Clause I which declares that the Mandate under which this country has exercised authority in Palestine for nearly 3o years shall, on 15th May, or at any rate, not later than 15th May, come to an end. In spite of all that my hon. Friend has just said, we must look at this Bill in the light of that fact. I do not oppose the Bill. I have supported it throughout, and I would support it again in view of the way things have developed. I do not think that this was inevitable, but as things have developed during the last two and a half years, I think that it is much the best thing for this country, and for the world, and for Palestine, for the Government to hand back the Mandate and to terminate their jurisdiction.

I would add only the hope that the Government will be able to take their troops out of Palestine even before 1st August. When we have done that we will have brought the Mandate to an end. But we will not have brought to an end the requirements, the obligations. or the troubles, which made us assume the Mandate in the first place. Many speakers during this Debate have suggested that our Debates in the last two and a half days have been unreal and irrelevant, in that they have taken place in an atmosphere divorced from realities. Some of the speakers have mentioned some of these realities. I hope I shall not be out of Order if I mention another.

The need for the re-creation of a Jewish nation living in a Jewish national home was conceded more than 3o years ago, and is not now, I think, disputed by any responsible person. If it were necessary, and the world conceded it to be necessary, in the early 1920's, it can hardly be said to be less necessary in the late 1940's. A good deal has happened in the interval. One of the realities which we have ignored, and which this Bill ignores, is the fact that there are a few hundred thousand—not more—people surviving in Europe, living still—two and a half years after the end of the war—in displaced persons' camps who have nowhere to go. These are the immigrants to whom an hon. and gallant Gentleman referred in one of our debates earlier today. The existence of those people—still in those camps, with no hope, no future, no policy—is a reality which we have ignored. It is that reality which we admitted to be true in 1920.

The need for a re-creation of a Jewish national home has been admitted; the recreation of Jewish nationhood, and the right to live as other nations and the right to take in their own. Sir, the conflict in Palestine has not been a racial conflict as so many people say, between Arab and Jew. It has been more a piece of litigation about land, and it has frequently been said in this House—and I would not dissent from it—that the conflict has not been between right and wrong. It has been a conflict of right and right; a conflict between rights created by His Majesty's Government; a conflict about rights created by Great Britain. I do not know what the true legal or judicial conclusion may be about the conflicting promises. But promises were made to the Jews, and they have built soz…me 3o years' history on them; and other promises were m0061de to the Arabs who have relied on them for something like a generation, and when people in this House talk with pride of what has been done, one can remind them, without re-opening old sores, that neither the Jews nor the Arabs were responsible for these conflicting promises in Palestine. They were made by Great Britain, and if Great Britain could not fulfil them, Great Britain should have remembered that at the time.

If the need for a Jewish national home is greater today than ever before, that need will have to be served. In an interjection in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley) I said that some, at any rate, must build on the United Nation's decision of last September. They have to build on that or perish. If people must build or perish, they build on such foundations as they can find. Although others may undermine the foundations, and because they themselves have failed, them seek to overturn them, those who must build or die will build upon them. They must do so. They will be reinforced in so doing by remembering that it is now conceded apparently everywhere that the only possible way in which any kind of rough settlement could have been done to the conflicting claims was a partition scheme. There is nobody who has ever looked at this problem who has ever come to any other conclusion. Neither on this side of the House nor on the other has there really been any other conclusion. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol has said repeatedly that during his time at the Colonial Office he came to the conclusion that partition was the only possible way. The United Nations came to it too. The decision of the United States over the weekend to cease to back it is not founded upon any lack of belief in justice or rectitude but merely on inability to implement it by force. I do not regard this as a matter of complete despair. It is not a matter of which anyone could be proud, but I think the Jews will seek to serve their leeds constructively and with the same courage and vision which has inspired their efforts in the last 30 or 40 years, and in the hope of being able to do that with the sword perhaps in one hand and the plough-share in the other.

2.56 a.m.

Photo of Mr Tufton Beamish Mr Tufton Beamish , Lewes

Many questions have been asked and remain unanswered in this Debate and I am not going back over them, but I think it has been an unsatisfactory Debate. I have listened with amazement to some of the biased though nearly always sincere speeches made by hon. Members opposite particularly those who are Zionists, but they have done well to underline the fact, which has not been underlined from this side, of the broken pledges of the Party in power. I have always thought that the solution to the Palestine problem has constantly been bedevilled by the confusion of two issues. The first, the world issue, is the tragic situation of the Jews in Europe to which reference has been made; and the second, the particular problem of Palestine which is surely a local problem. I hope a solution will be found in the future by facing up to the problem now from this standpoint.

The question of illegal immigration is of the utmost importance if our withdrawal from Palestine is to be successful. That has not been touched upon during the Third Reading Debate. As the Government know, British troops will be in Haifa until they finally withdraw. It is my information, and I expect the Government can confirm it, that plans on an ever-increasing scale are being made to enable Jews in larger and larger numbers to enter Palestine.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

We cannot, on Third Reading, discuss the situation in Palestine. We must stick to the Third Reading and not to the administration of Palestine and what is happening from day to day.

Photo of Mr Tufton Beamish Mr Tufton Beamish , Lewes

I thought that as British troops were to be in Palestine and are there now and are naturally responsible for the control of illegal immigration until 15th May, I would be in Order.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

No, I think not. That is quite outside the Third Reading. It is a problem of administration and not anything to do with the Third Reading of the Bill.

Photo of Mr Tufton Beamish Mr Tufton Beamish , Lewes

I am sorry I was out of Order. I have never ceased to marvel at the ingratitude of the Zionists. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), and other hon. Members during the Third Reading have spoken unashamedly, and rightly so, from the Zionist angle. I would draw their attention to the fact that in 1918 there were a great many less than 100,000 Jews in Palestine. Today the figure is something in the nature of 630,000. If that is not a complete honouring of the pledge given in the Balfour Declaration I do not know what else could be considered to be so.

I had hoped to refer to a number of other matters but I shall probably get out of Order again so I will not. I am particularly anxious to have the opportunity, as one of many other hon. Members on this side of the House who have served in Palestine, of paying my tribute, as many Members have paid theirs, to our officials in Palestine and to the conduct of the Army and police in Palestine. Many Members opposite frequently seem to overlook the fact that the maintenance of law and order in a country of that nature where feeling runs so high is a highly skilled and dangerous job involving great risks and great discomforts, and I certainly would like to pay my tribute to the way in which those duties have been carried out. I believe that no other country could have administered Palestine and maintained law and order with greater efficiency and greater tolerance. I cannot disguise the fact that I look on the future in Palestine with grave anxiety, but I would, none the less, express the hope that the future of Palestine will be a prosperous and happy one in spite of the present dark outlook.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.