HC Deb 08 November 1944 vol 404 cc1347-8
32. General Sir George Jeffreys

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether, in view of the movement to bring Servicemen who have been overseas for years back to their wives and families in this country, it is possible to make some better arrangements to ship the wives and widows now waiting here back to the Dominions and Colonial countries of their origin, there to rejoin their families.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Owing to the heavy demand on our shipping resources for military needs, only a limited number of berths are available for the transport of the dependants of Servicemen to the Dominions and Colonies. The berths available are allocated by my Department to the High Commissioners for the Dominions and to the Colonial Office, and these authorities decide, in accordance with an agreed system of priorities, to whom the berths shall be given. I am grateful to my hon. and gallant Friend for calling attention to the matter, and I am glad to assure him that every effort will be made to increase the number of berths available in the early future.

Sir G. Jeffreys

While thanking my hon. Friend for his answer, may I ask whether he is aware that a considerable number of these women are stranded in this country and that some are without means, their husbands having left them here? Will he do all he possibly can to increase the number of berths available for them?

Mr. Noel-Baker

Yes, Sir. When I received my hon. and gallant Friend's Question, I called for the numbers, and they were much larger than I expected.