Before I answer these Questions, I believe that the House would like me to convey its sense of deep and sincere grief at the news of the sudden death yesterday of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. He was a devoted servant of the cause to which he had dedicated himself with so much enthusiasm and ability.
Her Majesty's Government agree about the need for the rapid completion of resettlement work on behalf of refugees. We have already contributed £80,000 this year to the High Commissioner's Fund, and have promised to contribute a further £20,000 if contributions in 1956 reach the sum of 3·25 million dollars. Her Majesty's Government are considering whether the state of the Fund as set out in the High Commissioner's Annual Report warrants any alteration being made to the latter arrangement.
I should first say that we associate ourselves with the expression of very deep regret at the death of someone whom many of us knew and the value of whose work we also knew. It has come as a great shock to many of us to hear of this announcement.
In view of the very small contributions we are making, particularly at this moment, could we not, as some expression of our feelings, agree to make a much larger contribution to try to get this matter cleared up, a matter which was so much the life work of the High Commissioner?
Of course we shall do all we can, but I should like the hon. Gentleman to note that I myself saw Dr. Goedhart not many days ago and he fully appreciated our difficulties, just as we fully appreciated what he wanted done. We shall do what we can.
It is a well-known fact that this fund is seriously short of money for the job which it has undertaken. As the Treasury must have allowed for the extra £20,000 to which my noble Friend has referred, can he not make that £20,000 contribution to the fund which has been established on a national scale by the United Nations Association?
With respect to my hon. Friend, I do not think that that is quite a realistic way of looking at it, but we shall do what we can, and we are considering the matter of the £20,000 now.
In associating my right hon. and hon. Friends with the deep regret which we all feel at the loss of Dr. Goedhart, whom many of us knew as a resistance leader in the war and as a delegate of the Netherlands before his United Nations post, cannot the hon. Gentleman in some sense regard the £20,000 as a tribute to Dr. Goedhart, as my hon. Friend suggested, to speed up the liquidation of this war-time problem—because that is what it really is—which is nearing its end and which relatively only a small amount of money could put right quite quickly?
I appreciate what the right hon. Gentleman has said, but, if I may put it like this, it is not necessary for some sort of tragedy like this to happen for us to do all we can to help in this matter, and we shall do so.
While appreciating the value of this particular activity, will my noble Friend bear in mind that this country cannot do all the paying and that we do a great deal of paying in many directions in this part of the world already?
In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible moment.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will instruct Her Majesty's representative on the United Nations to support the proposal of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees that the interest on the unused capital sum voted by the United Nations for the permanent settlement of Arab refugees from Palestine shall be diverted to the United Nations Refugee Fund.
No, Sir. There is no unused capital sum voted by the United Nations for the permanent settlement of Arab refugees. According to a recent estimate of the Director-General, the balance of all funds in the hands of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency now stands at approximately $13 million, all of which will be required for operations within the next few months.