Oral Answers to Questions — Refugees

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th May 1959.

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Photo of Mr Fenner Brockway Mr Fenner Brockway , Eton and Slough 12:00 am, 11th May 1959

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what contribution Her Majesty's Government propose to make to the funds of the World Refugee Year campaign, the objects of which include the closing of the camps in Europe and assistance to the Palestinian refugees and the refugees in China and Hong Kong.

Photo of Mr William Ormsby-Gore Mr William Ormsby-Gore , Oswestry

Her Majesty's Government have pledged £100,000 to the United Kingdom Committee for the World Refugee Year.

Photo of Mr Fenner Brockway Mr Fenner Brockway , Eton and Slough

Is this not a woefully pitiful sum, in view of the fact that there are nearly 30 million refugees in one part of the world or another at the present time? If this target is to be reached, it will involve a contribution of 3s. a week for each family in the country. Surely this Government can do more than that.

Photo of Mr William Ormsby-Gore Mr William Ormsby-Gore , Oswestry

I should make it clear that this is not all that we are doing for refugees in this year. Our budget for refugees runs at well over £2 million a year. The object of the World Refugee Year is to try to arouse the conscience of people all over the world to the need to give some support to these refugees, and this sum of money which I have announced is merely a subscription to the committee's fund in the British Isles.

Mr. Dugdale:

Would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that the best help that we could give to the Palestinian refugees would be to persuade the United Arab Republic to settle them outside the camps and then to get U.N.O. to abolish the camps altogether?

Photo of Mr William Ormsby-Gore Mr William Ormsby-Gore , Oswestry

That is a much wider matter than the Question on the Order Paper.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Younger Mr Kenneth Younger , Grimsby

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what contribution Her Majesty's Government will make to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees for the year ending 31st March, 1960; and whether this is more or less than was paid in 1958–59.

Photo of Mr William Ormsby-Gore Mr William Ormsby-Gore , Oswestry

A contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency amounting to £1,928,572 has been provided for in the 1959–60 Estimates, subject to Parliamentary approval. This provision is the same as the sum actually paid to the Agency in the United Kingdom financial year 1958–59.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Younger Mr Kenneth Younger , Grimsby

Is it also the same sum as that promised on the last occasion? Is it not the case that the figure promised last year was larger than the figure in the current Estimates by about £70,000? If that is the case, can the Minister explain why the amount mentioned in the previous year was not in fact paid? Secondly, does he not think it rather ironical that apparently the Government are reducing their contribution to the Palestine refugees to the extent of two-thirds of the amount by which they are increasing their subscription to World Refugee Year? Is that not rather a hypocritical position?

Photo of Mr William Ormsby-Gore Mr William Ormsby-Gore , Oswestry

I will look into the figures which the right hon. Gentleman has quoted. We are always considering the exact state of the budget of this Agency. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, the burden has frequently fallen upon us and the American Government to see that this Agency does not break down altogether. I can assure him that we have always seen that sums are available to keep the work of this Agency going.