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Relief and Works Agency (Refugees)

Oral Answers to Questions — United Nations – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd July 1957.

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Photo of Dr Edith Summerskill Dr Edith Summerskill , Warrington 12:00 am, 3rd July 1957

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the United Nations Relief and Works Agency has now received enough new pledges and payments to allow it to operate without cutting its services to the refugees.

Photo of Sir Allan Noble Sir Allan Noble , Chelsea

The latest monthly report showed that additional pledges of just over half-a-million dollars had been made since January this year, but that over two million dollars of pledges for the current financial period were still unpaid.

Her Majesty's Government have recently had conversations with Mr. Labouisse, the Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, and I understand that certain of these pledges are now being paid up, but that even so the funds at his Agency's disposal are not sufficient to enable the planned programme to be carried out in full. The Director has therefore made certain deferments and economies which in his opinion do not seriously affect essential basic services of the refugees.

I cannot say what other countries intend to do, but my right hon. and learned Friend announced to the House on 16th May the payments which Her Majesty's Government proposed to make in the twelve months beginning 1st July, 1957. The Director has also been informed that we are prepared to make available an additional 200,000 dollars in this period.

Photo of Dr Edith Summerskill Dr Edith Summerskill , Warrington

While thanking the right hon. and gallant Gentleman for that answer, may I ask whether he is aware that the amount U.N.R.W.A. had to distribute was 6d. per refugee per day? Will he give an undertaking that the United Nations contribution will be the maximum that we have hitherto given?

Photo of Sir Allan Noble Sir Allan Noble , Chelsea

I do not think that we could be accused of not being forthcoming in this matter, because, as I think the right hon. Lady knows, the United Kingdom and the United States between them have contributed over 90 per cent. of the Agency's income up to date. I had some talks with Mr. Labouisse and I fully agree with the right hon. Lady on the importance of this position.

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

Where countries have not paid their contributions, which are so essential for carrying out the programme in connection with refugees, do we broadcast over our information services to the countries that are falling down on their pledges? A little propaganda to these people, to stimulate them to do their job as well as we are doing it, might be effective.

Photo of Sir Allan Noble Sir Allan Noble , Chelsea

I do not think that would be a matter for Her Majesty's Government. It would be a matter for the United Nations.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

Whilst appreciating the absolute necessity of continuing to provide funds for services to refugees, may I ask the right hon. and gallant Gentleman what steps the Government are taking to deal with the question of refugees on a permanent basis, bearing in mind that these refugee services can never be anything more than rough first-aid and ultimately there will have to be a permanent settlement of the refugees and that until that is achieved the situation is good neither for the refugees nor for anybody else?

Photo of Sir Allan Noble Sir Allan Noble , Chelsea

Her Majesty's Government are, of course, fully aware of that position and attach great importance to it, but I do not think that the hon. Member would expect me to answer that point in reply to this Question.