Issued by the colonel secretary Lord Passfield (Sidney Webb) in October 1930, the Passfield White Paper was a formal statement of British policy in Palestine made in the aftermath of the 1929 Arab riots.
The issuance of the White Paper in October 1930 followed the publication of the Hope-Simpson Report earlier that same month which recommended severely limiting Jewish immigration. That report had been recommendation of the Shaw Commission to conduct an investigation into the possibilities for future immigration to Palestine and to clarify unresolved questions concerning the British Mandate for Palestine and the Balfour Declaration.
Contrary to Zionist claims, the White Paper stated that the development of a Jewish National Home in Palestine was not considered central to the mandate. However, the paper claims that the British did intend to fulfill their obligations to both Arabs and Jews, and would resolve any conflicts that might surface as a result of their respective needs.
Although not considered central to the mandate, the White Paper did commit the British to continuing their support for a Jewish National Home in Palestine. The paper's tone, however, was decidedly anti-Jewish. Several Jewish institutions were severely criticized, among them the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor) and the Jewish Agency. Both the Histadrut and the Jewish Agency promoted Jewish employment of only Jewish labor. Like the Hope-Simpson Report, the Passfield White Paper found this policy damaging to the economic development of the Arab population.
The White Paper also devoted some attention to the issue of agricultural development. According to the paper, there was simply not enough cultivable land to support new immigrants. Jews who had purchased considerable tracts of land would be allowed to develop them, but would thereafter need to secure permission of the British authorities before acquiring additional land. When determining whether or not to grant a particular request for land, the British would look at unemployment levels of both Arabs and Jews.
As a result of the Passfield White Paper, Jewish immigration was limited to a much greater degree. Vigorous protests on the part of Jewish organizations worldwide and British opponents of the paper led to yet another clarification of British policy as formulated in the MacDonald Letter. In it, Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald wrote to Chaim Weizmann that he would encourage further settlement while at the same time safeguard the interests of other groups in Palestine.