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Oral Answers to Questions — Refugees

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th July 1959.

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Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby South 12:00 am, 27th July 1959

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that the Inter-Governmental Committee for European Migration has arranged to move 46,000 refugees from Europe to countries overseas during the year 1959; that the Committee estimates that it will have a deficit on this programme of $350,000 to $400,000; and whether Her Majesty's Government will make a contribution during World Refugee Year to this work.

Photo of Commander Robert Allan Commander Robert Allan , Paddington South

Her Majesty's Government are aware of this intended movement and of the deficit that may result. Although we are not contributing to the European programme as such, we have sought to allocate a substantial proportion of our contribution to World Refugee Year funds to the Far Eastern Migration programme.

Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby South

Since this movement of 46,000 refugees from Europe is, perhaps, the most significant and important single activity of World Refugee Year, would it not be right that the Government should make a direct contribution since they have sponsored the year?

Photo of Commander Robert Allan Commander Robert Allan , Paddington South

As I say, we have asked that a substantial proportion of our contribution should be allocated to this object, but our resources are already fairly heavily committed.

Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby South

May I press the Joint Under-Secretary? Are we making any direct contribution towards this movement of refugees from Europe by the Inter-Governmental Committee?

Photo of Commander Robert Allan Commander Robert Allan , Paddington South

No, not directly. We are seeking to allocate a large proportion of our contribution to the World Refugee Year Fund to the Far Eastern migration programme of this Committee.

Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby South

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what sum of money Her Majesty's Government propose to contribute to the funds of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees during World Refugee Year, in addition to their regular annual contribution to his budget.

Photo of Mr John Profumo Mr John Profumo , Stratford-on-Avon

Her Majesty's Government have pledged a contribution of £200,000 to the United Kingdom Committee for the World Refugee Year, and of this sum the Committee have been asked to allocate £50,000 to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby South

In view of the fact that £200,000 is a one-thousandth part of the sum we spend every year on military research to improve our weapons of destruction, do the Government think that this is an adequate contribution to a once-for-all effort at solving the refugee problem by means of World Refugee Year?

Photo of Mr John Profumo Mr John Profumo , Stratford-on-Avon

I am sure the right hon. Gentleman realises, although it does not appear so from his supplementary question, that what we are giving is over and above what we normally give as a contribution, and I think it is generous.

Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby South

The whole House is aware that the Government give some £100,000 a year, a very small contribution, and, of course, more to the Arab refugees, since we have, all of us, the greatest responsibility for what has occurred in Palestine from 1920 until today. Is that an excuse for giving so miserably small a sum to the Refugee Fund as £200,000?

Photo of Mr John Profumo Mr John Profumo , Stratford-on-Avon

I do not think the right hon. Gentleman means what he is saying. I cannot accept that. This is the responsibility of a responsible nation, not only of this Government, but of everybody concerned. No other Government is giving more than we are. We are proposing to give £2 million to the work of the Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.