HC Deb 01 August 1944 vol 402 cc1140-1
10. Mr. Edmund Harvey

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Economic Warfare whether the attention of the Government has been drawn to the offer of Admiral Horthy to permit Jewish children to leave Hungary in cases in which neutral countries are willing to receive the children; and whether assurance will be given to neutral countries willing to accept these children that provision will be made for a corresponding increase in food supplies to be allowed to reach them through the blockade.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Economic Warfare (Mr. Dingle Foot)

Yes, Sir. His Majesty's Government have been informed by the International Red Cross of the offer referred to in the Question. As regards the second part of the Question both His Majesty's Government and the United States Government have always been anxious to facilitate the reception in neutral countries both of Jewish children from any part of Axis Europe and also of children from enemy occupied countries. On a number of occasions, particularly during the past year, assurances have been given to certain neutral Governments that if schemes of this kind could be arranged, His Majesty's Government and the United States Government would sanction the importation of additional supplies through the blockade over and above the normal blockade quotas which such countries are permitted to receive through our controls. Since receiving the communication from the International Red Cross to which I referred, His Majesty's Government have informed these Governments that our offer of increased imports holds good in this particular case. I understand that a similar assurance has been or is being given by the United States Government.

Mr. Harvey

Has any neutral Government indicated willingness to receive these children?

Mr. Foot

We have not yet had time to receive an answer to this particular communication but it is only fair to say that certain neutral Governments, notably those of Switzerland and Sweden, have always shown considerable willingness to receive refugees from Axis Europe.

Mr. Quintin Hogg

In view of the specific terms of the alleged offer from Admiral Horthy, would not the hon. Gentleman consider conveying through the appropriate channel the acceptance of these terms, so that any children exported from Hungary will be accepted?

Mr. Foot

The offer, of course, was communicated to us through the International Red Cross and we have replied to the International Red Cross saying that, as far as this part of the offer is concerned, we are perfectly willing to do everything in our power to see that these children are evacuated as rapidly as possible.

Earl Winterton

Is it not a fact that it always has been possible to put these children into neutral countries? The difficulty has been to get them out of the other countries.

Mr. Foot

That is correct. It has not been the fault of neutral Governments that evacuation schemes have not operated long before this. In every case, it has been the reluctance of the occupying authorities, or the Nazi Government, to let the children go.