HC Deb 09 July 1946 vol 425 cc204-6
2. Mr. Martin Lindsay

asked the Secretary of State for War the estimate of the number of officers and other ranks of B.A.O.R. who will avail themselves of the proposed facilities to have their families in Germany; and by how much it is estimated this number would be increased if these facilities were extended to include those who would have only six months more to serve in that country instead of 12 months.

Mr. Lawson

A census taken by B.A.O.R. in April, 1946, showed that 2,035 officers and 3,246 other ranks wished their families to join them in B.A.O.R. and had a year or more still to serve there. I cannot say whether these figures accurately represent the position today; new figures should be available in a week or two, when the applications under the scheme have been received. It would be impossible, without a further census, to estimate the effect of reducing the service qualification to six months.

Mr. Lindsay

Is the Minister aware that there is very strong feeling on this subject both in the B.A.O.R. and in the Control Commission, and that it is just those officers and men who have less than one year to do who have been separated for the longest time from their families? Cannot the Minister look into the matter again, and, in view of the fact that it is only a matter of some 2,000 families, see whether he cannot extend this to those men who have between six months and one year to serve?

Mr. Lawson

I would like to treat the men in this area with the greatest consideration. One has a good deal of sympathy with anyone who wants to have his family there, but I think we had better get the plan going to see how it works out, and then we will be able to take a proper measure of the situation.

Mr. Lindsay

Will not those men have been demobilised by that time?

General Sir George Jeffreys

Can the Minister say whether any, and if so, how many, families have actually gone out under this arrangement, and will he accelerate the process?

Mr. Lawson

None yet, but my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary is to make a statement on this today.

17. Mr. Rhys Davies

asked the Secretary of State for War how many German families it is intended to compel to vacate their homes to make room for our troops and their families; and if he will give an assurance that those families shall not be rendered homeless thereby.

Mr. Lawson

It has been necessary to refer this question to B.A.O.R. for local investigation. As soon as their report is received, I will write to my hon. Friend.

Mr. Rhys Davies

Can I be assured that no German families will be compelled to vacate their homes and made absolutely homeless in the process?

Mr. Lawson

Well, one would not deliberately cause inconvenience to these people, but they have caused us a little inconvenience.

Earl Winterton

As this is a matter of some importance, upon which opinions may differ on both sides of the House, can we not have information given to us publicly about it?

Mr. Lawson

It may be necessary to inconvenience the Germans. I do not know. The point I made in answering a Question upon this matter, I think a week ago, was that we must have all our people together, and for that purpose it may be possible that some of the other people will be inconvenienced and may have to leave their houses. I have not the information for which the hon. Gentleman asked.

Mr. Rhys Davies

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the four Foreign Ministers are trying to pacify Europe? Will he attune his administration to their policy?

Mr. Lawson

Yes, Sir, but I think——

Mr. Speaker rose


The following Question stood upon the Order Paper:

68. MR. GEORGE B ROWN, —TO ask the Secretary of State for War, whether he is now in a position to announce a firm date for the commencement of the scheme to enable wives and families of members of B.A.O.R. and the Control Commission to join their husbands.

At the end of Questions

The Financial Secretary to the War Office (Mr. Bellenger)

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, and the permission of the House, I would like to give the answer to Question 68, as my right hon. Friend, in an answer he gave, said that I would make a statement on this matter. Yes, Sir. The scheme will start on 29th August, and a small advance party of wives, representative of all ranks, will be despatched about two weeks before that date to check the adequacy of the preliminary arrangements and to assist in the reception of the main body at all main family stations.

Mr. W. J. Brown

Has either the Minister or the Financial Secretary been out and had a look at the actual conditions prevailing in Hamburg at the present time? If they have, do they think it is a desirable place to allow these wives and children to go to just now?

Mr. Bellenger

I have not been out to Hamburg recently, but I have been out to other parts of B.A.O.R. territory, and it may, perhaps, be of some assurance to the hon. Member and to the House to know that the Commander-in-Chief in Germany, and the Army Commander, and all the Service Departments, have agreed that from a security point of view it is desirable that wives should go as soon as possible.

Mr. Frank Byers

Can the hon. Gentleman say when we may have a statement on the educational facilities which are to be provided for the children?

Mr. Bellenger

I do not think that that arises on this Question.