HC Deb 11 February 1947 vol 433 cc180-1
20. Mr. Francis Noel-Baker

asked the Secretary of State for War when he expects to complete the demobilisation of the 58,000 Polish troops still in uniform in this country; by what headquarters these troops are now administered, and how many Polish staff officers and other ranks, respectively, are employed in those headquarters.

Mr. Bellenger

The rate of discharge from the Polish Resettlement Corps depends on the rate at which members of the Corps can be absorbed into civilian life. As has previously been stated the intention is that this process should be completed in two years. The Corps is administered by the War Office through command headquarters and no Polish officers or other ranks are employed either in the War Office or at command headquarters for this purpose.

Mr. Noel-Baker

But is my right hon. Friend aware that this Question does not refer to the Polish Resettlement Corps as such, but to those troops who have not yet got into it? This figure was given by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and refers to Polish troops who have not yet entered the Resettlement Corps but are still under Polish Army discipline.

Mr. Bellenger

In view of the way my hon. Friend put his Question, and the number he quoted, I took it that his Question dealt with those in the Polish Resettlement Corps, but if he would like to put down another Question, I will try to give him an answer.

Mr. Walkden

Can the right hon. Gentleman inform the House of the classification of these members of the Polish Resettlement Corps? Are they regarded as members of an Armed Force, or as prisoners available for industrial purposes in this country?

Mr. Bellenger

In so far as they have to be kept under some discipline, they are regarded as members of an Armed Force under the War Office. As for being available for work in this country, yes, they are, if suitable work can be found for them.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the manpower crisis calls. for a rate of assimilation of these men in something less than two years, and is he seriously suggesting to the House that he is prepared to acquiesce in this queer policy in view of the general situation?

Mr. Bellenger

No, I think the noble Lord has misunderstood my answer. I said that I hoped the whole of the Polish Resettlement Corps would have been disbanded or dealt with in two years, but of course the whole process of finding them occupation, either abroad or at home here, is going on all the time.

Mr. Austin

Will my right hon. Friend give a categorical assurance that there is no ultimate intention of using these men as a foreign legion in Germany, as envisaged by the Leader of the Opposition yesterday?

Mr. Bellenger

Yes, Sir, I can give that assurance with the very greatest ease.

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