Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Commerce. – in the House of Commons on 5th December 1927.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will undertake not to give away the concession for the Dead Sea minerals without first informing the House of the conditions and terms of the concession?
There is no question of giving away any concession for the extraction of various mineral salts from the waters of the Dead Sea. Negotiations are proceeding on behalf of the Palestine and Transjordan Governments with a view to safeguarding the interests of these Governments under any concession which may be granted. It would Dot be either practicable nor in accordance with precedent that the terms and conditions should be published before signature.
In view of the extremely valuable nature of this potash concession, both to this country and the world in general, and to the fact that Germany has a monopoly of potash, cannot the right hon. Gentleman take the House into his confidence first before giving this away?
There is no question of giving this away, and it is not mine to give. The negotiations are on behalf of the mandatory Governments of Palestine and Transjordania, and the question of the possible relations to the German monopoly will be borne in mind. So much exaggeration has taken place about these deposits, which are not only potash, that I must enter a word of caution in regard to them.
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether we are to understand from his answer, in which he brackets Palestine and Transjordania, that the royalties which presumably will be derived from the sale of this potash will go to the Trans Jordanian and Palestinian Governments? If so, in what shares, and will this Government get any contributions from these royalties?
I really must ask for notice of that question, but I think it is premature, as negotiations have not gone very far. I certainly cannot go into the question of respective shares.
Is not the Transjordanian Government the Emir Abdullah?
No, the Transjordanian Government is the Government of the mandated territories, and its rights have to be preserved. The theory is that the frontier between Palestine and Transjordania lies somewhere down the middle of the Dead Sea.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether negotiations for the Dead Sea salts concessions have been undertaken with Mr. Novomeysky or with Major Tulloch; and what are Mr. Novomeysky's qualifications?
Negotiations are proceeding with these two gentlemen jointly. Mr. Novomeysky is an engineer with experience in the separation of mineral salts by evaporation; and he has for some time been carrying out experimental work on a small scale on the shore of the Dead Sea.
Is it not a fact that besides being a distinguished engineer and chemist, Mr. Novomeysky is a Palestinian subject and therefore a British-protected subject?
May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman is aware that the real anxiety in this country is not as to the names of the people who are to get this concession, but that the concession should remain entirely in British hands?
In making this concession, will the right hon. Gentleman make sure that the terms are such that the potash will come to this country, and not, as in the case of Nauru Island phosphates, where we find the money and other people get the phosphates?
Is it not a fact that all the negotiations are going through with Mr. Novomeysky, and that Major Tulloch is taking no part whatever in them?
No; I am told that is not so. The meetings between the Crown Agents who are acting on behalf of the Palestinian Government have been attended by Major Tulloch and Mr. Novomeysky.
Instead of having the names as we have got them here, cannot we get back to the Macleans and Mackenzies who gave you all the salts you wanted?