HC Deb 31 January 1945 vol 407 cc1433-5
13. Mr. Kenneth Lindsay

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in what European countries U.N.R.R.A. is at present permitted to operate; and where it is actually operating.

Mr. Law

As the answer is long, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following in the answer:

Under the U.N.R.R.A. Agreement and the Resolutions of the U.N.R.R.A. Council, U.N.R.R.A. can only operate fully and freely after the termination of the military period, and it can only operate in liberated territories at the request of the Governments concerned. U.N.R.R.A. has, however, at the request of the military authorities, and acting as their agents, already sent a relief mission to Greece. This mission has been collaborating with the military relief organisation for some time past, and plans are being made for its expansion. It is hoped, moreover, that U.N.R.R.A. will shortly be enabled to start operations on its own account and on an increasing scale in other Balkan countries. The Greeks, Yugoslavs, Poles and Czechoslovaks have all expressed a wish to receive U.N.R.R.A.'s help, particularly in the matter of supplies, and plans are being made for the despatch of supplies as soon as shipping and other similar difficulties have been overcome.

U.N.R.R.A. also has in hand a limited programme for relief work in Italy, as provided for by Resolution No. 58 of the U.N.R.R.A. Council at Montreal, and an U.N.R.R.A. mission is already in that country making preliminary arrangements. The Governments of France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Norway have expressed their wish to receive U.N.R.R.A. liaison missions, and such missions are already established in Paris and Brussels. These and other Governments have also asked U.N.R.R.A. to undertake, under the control and direction of the military authorities, the work of caring for and repatriating their displaced nationals in Germany. U.N.R.R.A.'s arrangements for dealing with this problem, as agents of the Anglo-American military authorities, are well advanced and the training of the necessary personnel has been proceeding for some time.

On the other hand, it is not anticipated that the West European Governments will find it necessary to invoke the aid of U.N.R.R.A. for the actual provision of supplies which they expect in most cases to be able to procure and pay for themselves.

14. Mr. Lindsay

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the conditions prevailing in France, Belgium and Luxembourg, he can explain the division of responsibility between the Supreme Military Authority and U.N.R.R.A. for obtaining and delivering supplies; what supplies are in the hands of the military authority; and what amount has been distributed.

Mr. Law

U.N.R.R.A. is not responsible for the importation of supplies into France, Belgium and Luxembourg. The responsibility of the military authorities was indicated in the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary on 17th January to my hon. Friend the Member for Penryn and Falmouth (Mr. Petherick). As regards the last part of the Question, I am advised that large quantities of relief supplies have been imported by the combined United Kingdom-United States military authorities during the liberation of these countries; but that, as these include operational reserves, it would not be in the public interest to disclose tonnages.

Mr. Ivor Thomas

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the fact that U.N.R.R.A. is not operating yet in any of the liberated countries in Europe considerably disturbs those who hoped very much from the great talents of this organisation?

Mr. Law

I think my hon. Friend does not perfectly realise that it was never intended that U.N.R.R.A. should come into operation in the field in Europe until what is called the military period had terminated, but I hope that very soon it will be possible.

15. Mr. Lindsay

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the urgent need of bringing relief supplies to the liberated areas and the social and political consequences of failure to satisfy those needs, he will reconsider the terms of reference and executive responsibility of U.N.R.R.A.

Mr. Law

His Majesty's Government are fully alive to the importance of the question to which my hon. Friend refers. I do not think, however, that the solution of the problems involved would be facilitated by any attempt at this stage to revise the U.N.R.R.A. Agreement and the U.N.R.R.A. Council Resolutions which constitute U.N.R.R.A.'s terms of reference.