May 26, 1937 British Restrict Jewish Immigration to Palestine

There is some mystery regarding the policy which has governed Jewish immigration since the rebellion.  In April 1936 the half-yearly labour quota was 4500.  In November 1936 it sank to 1800, and in May 1937 it sank again to 770.  The policy is supposed to be governed by the economic absorbic capacity of Palestine to absorb new arrivals.  It is difficult to believe that economic capacity to absorb has sunk in one year to one-sixth of what it was in April 1936.  There are no visible signs in Palestine of such a sudden change.  The Jews asked that the half-yearly quota for May 1937 should be 11,500 immigrants, but as a race they are not shy about asking for things. 

The matter has been raised by question in the House of Commons in May 1937, but the answers of the Secretary of State for the Colonies (e.g. William Ormsby-Gore) leave it still in doubt whether the economic capacity of the country to absorb remains the determining factor, or whether the will of the High Commissioner now decides the half-yearly quota.  In replies to a number of questions on the subject the Secretary of State said on the 26th of May:  “There has been no change of policy, and in fixing the Schedule at this figure the High Commissioner had been guided solely by the usual criteria by which he assessed the economic absorptive capacity of the country.”  Then, after answering two more questions, he said:  “It was clearly laid down in the Mac Donald letter of 1930 that every six months it is the responsibility of the High Commissioner to fix the number under the Schedule.” 

Source:  Simpson, H.J.  British Rule, and Rebellion. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood & Sons Ltd., 1937. (pp. 311-313)