HC Deb 09 September 1914 vol 66 c558

asked the Prime Minister if the Government has yet any information as to the number of Belgian refugees in this country, and if the Government has yet considered the question of making a Grant from which to relieve them?


I have been requested to reply to this question. As many of those who have come to this country from the seat of war have means of their own and travel as ordinary passengers, it is not possible to state the number of refugees. The War Refugees Committee and the Local Government Board have been in touch with some 3,600 persons coming from Belgium, for all of whom temporary accommodation, and for some more permanent hospitality, has been found. In addition, a very large number have been met at the railway stations. There are, however, some thousands of persons in Belgium, from the towns of Louvain, Malines, Liege, and elsewhere, whose homes have been destroyed and for whom the Belgian Government, on account of military exigencies, are unable to provide.

In answer to inquiries from the Belgian Government, His Majesty's Government have offered to these victims of the War the hospitality of the British nation. Arrangements have been made for their transport and for their temporary accommodation at hostels in London. The War Refugees Committee, who have rendered very valuable service hitherto, have consented to co-operate with my Department in their reception and distribution. A large number of offers of private hospitality have already been received by them. I am now communicating with some of the Local Representative Committees for the Prevention and Relief of Distress, situated in places where distress has not yet appeared and seems improbable, asking each to arrange for temporary hospitality for a small number of these refugees. The Government trust that many individuals throughout the country will be ready to join in offering an asylum here until conditions in Belgium enable the refugees to return.