HC Deb 20 March 1940 vol 358 cc1960-1
18. Sir A. Knox

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many Jews and how many Arabs, respectively, have enlisted in Palestine for service overseas since the war began?

The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Malcolm MacDonald)

Since the war began 1,709 Jews and 392 Arabs have enlisted in Palestine for service overseas. These figures include the Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps already in France, which contains 742 Jews and 306 Arabs.

Mr. T. Williams:

Will the right hon. Gentleman say why he could not give the House the figures when they were asked for last week, and since there are two Jewish volunteers to every one Arab, does not that definitely prove the loyalty of the Jews to this country?

Mr. MacDonald

The reason why I did not give the figures last week was the reason I gave in answer to my hon. and gallant Friend's Question, which was that the exact figures were not available in this country, and I had to get them from the High Commissioner. With regard to the second part of the Question, nobody doubts the loyalty of the Jews to this country, and we very greatly appreciate it. We appreciate the help we are getting from both the Jews and the Arabs in Palestine.

Mr. Williams

May I ask—

Mr. Speaker


Mr. Williams

On a point of Order. Statements have been made, presumably officially, that there were 700 members of the Auxiliary Pioneer Corps which left Palestine for France. The right hon. Gentleman now intimates that there are about 1,100 members of that Corps, and surely I am entitled to ask the right hon. Gentleman who was responsible for the first so-called official statement of 700 compared with the 1,100 to which he has referred?

Mr. MacDonald

I am afraid I have not seen the official statement to which the hon. Member refers, and I very much doubt whether it was official. The figures I have given are the accurate figures of the unit serving in France.

Mr. McGovern

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us how many M.Ps. have volunteered for service?