HC Deb 21 October 1942 vol 383 cc1957-8
32. Mr. Lipson

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has considered a petition which has been sent to him against the drastic cut in the allowances to evacuees from Malaya who are now in New South Wales; and what action he proposes to take in the matter?

Mr. Harold Macmillan

I have been unable to trace any record in the Colonial Office of the receipt of the petition mentioned by my hon. Friend. I understand, however, from a communication which he has sent to me, that the allowances to which he refers were Civil Liability awards which were authorised by the Malayan Governments before the fall of Singapore. The payment of these awards was discontinued some months ago because they were completely out of scale with the allowances for which other classes of evacuees from Malaya were eligible and it was felt that there was no justification for continuing them to only a relatively small proportion of the people who had lost their homes and means of livelihood in Malaya. The allowances now being paid are at rates, decided upon in consultation with the Australian authorities, designed to afford assistance on a scale, mutatis mutandis, comparable with that granted by the Assistance Board in this country. As regards the last part of the Question, I am glad to say that a Far Eastern Relief Fund has now been set up, initiated by a generous contribution from the Lord Mayor's Empire Air Raid Distress Fund, in order to enable people with special family or other needs who have lost their means of livelihood owing to Japanese aggression to receive assistance supplementary to that which can be provided from public funds. The address of the Fund is Malaya House, 57, Trafalgar Square, W.C.2.

Mr. Lipson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the cost of living in New South Wales is very much higher than in this country, and in view of the fact that many of these people have lost everything and are suffering great anxieties about the welfare of their relatives who have been left behind in Malaya, cannot further consideration be given to this matter?

Mr. Macmillan

Certainly, I will look into it again, but I must remind my hon. Friend that the assistance is in accordance with Australian scales for those residing there and not in accordance with English scales. The Australian scales are higher than the English scales.