HC Deb 26 June 1941 vol 372 cc1093-4
25. Lieut.-Colonel Sir Cuthbert Head-lam

asked the Minister of Health how many refugees are in North End House and what proportion of them are children; what is the annual cost of renting the premises for the refugees and their attendants: what is the annual cost of feeding them by contract; what are the wages of the attendants; and how many attendants are employed there?

Mr. E. Brown

There are 273 adults and 77 children under the age of 14. The rental compensation under Section 2 (1) (a) of the Compensation (Defence) Act, 1939, is estimated at £3,040 per annum. In addition, a payment at the rate of £800 a year is made by the Ministry of Works and Buildings to the owners in respect of the heating of the premises. A contribution in lieu of rates, which is estimated at £2,150, will also be payable to the local authority. On the present basis of expenditure, the annual cost of feeding the evacuees and staff is estimated at £17,400. The number of staff employed is 10, and their wages amount to £2,000 per annum. In addition, arrangements have been made with the London County Council whereby they undertake the medical care of the evacuees. Women's Voluntary Services also do welfare work for the evacuees.

Sir C. Headlam

Can my right hon. Friend explain how he justifies the bringing of evacuee women and children into London at a time when he is doing his best to get women and children in London to go into the country and is advising them to stay there?

Mr. Brown

First of all, I do not bring them to London. I would point out that these are evacuees from the Rock of Gibraltar. There are some thousands of them, about 60 per cent. do not talk our language, and they have entirely different habits. I do not think that there has been a more difficult job in the whole war than the successful management of this problem.

Captain Cunningham-Reid

Would not these evacuees be of more use in the country, and would they not certainly be safer there?

Mr. Brown

The answer to that lies in the explanation I have already given, that we are not dealing with people talking our language or having our habits. These people have been brought thousands of miles from their homes, and we are responsible for them, and I say that anybody who surveys the difficulties of the problem and knows the facts would say that this problem has been handled wisely and well.