HC Deb 12 March 1947 vol 434 cc1310-1
10. General Sir George Jeffreys

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the position as regards the repatriation of Gibraltarians evacuated during the war period to the United Kingdom; and what is the present housing situation in Gibraltar.

Mr. Creech Jones

Of the some 12,000 Gibraltarians evacuated to the United Kingdom over 9,000 have been repatriated. The remainder are being repatriated as accommodation is made available for them. A party of 115 is leaving on 15th March. With regard to the second part of the Question, new housing is needed in Gibraltar primarily to provide for the evacuees still in the United Kingdom, of whom there are about 3,000. Since the end of the war 155 temporary houses and 183 converted Nissen huts have been completed, and 45 more Nissen huts are under construction. Twenty-four permanent houses have been completed, and work has begun on a building contract for 472 flats. It is estimated that the completion of this programme will enable all those Gibraltarians who wish to return to do so.

Sir G. Jeffreys

Can the Colonial Secretary say when it is expected that these people will be able to return? Is it not possible to accelerate the rate of provision of housing accommodation in Gibraltar, bearing in mind the fact that at no time has the accommodation of the inhabitants of Gibraltar been on a very lavish scale?

Mr. Creech Jones

Building arrangements in Gibraltar are going ahead as fast as possible. We shall, as accommodation becomes available in Gibraltar, transfer some of these people from Northern Ireland.

Sir Ronald Ross

Can the Minister say how many of these unfortunate people, after three or four years, are still left in Northern Ireland? Will it soon be possible for them to be removed to Gibraltar?

Mr. Creech Jones

There are still just over 2,000 in Northern Ireland, and it may be that some of them will not be able to return for about two years.

Squadron-Leader Donner

Is there any evidence to show that they do not all wish to return to Gibraltar?

Mr. Creech Jones

I understand that the majority are anxious to return, and that many are not very happy about the climate in Northern Ireland.

Lieut.-Commander Gurney Braithwaite

Can the Minister say whether accommodation in Gibraltar normally occupied by civilians is now being released by the Services?

Mr. Creech Jones

The military authorities have done their best to release all possible accommodation in order to get back as many evacuees as fast as possible.