HC Deb 13 May 1948 vol 450 cc2253-5
8. Mr. Skeffington-Lodge

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether in order to give Germans the opportunity to see something of the British way of life, he will now permit visits by Germans to friends in this country; and what arrangements will be made for payment of fares and for transport.

Mr. Ede

Yes, Sir. Visas will be authorised in suitable cases to enable Germans to pay short visits to relatives or friends in this country. All the expenses of the visit must be borne by the prospective host, who should send the intending visitor a letter of invitation showing that maintenance and accommodation are available for the period of the visit; this should be produced when application is made in Germany for the visa. An exit permit must be obtained from the occupation authorities before the visa can be issued. The prospective host must make his own arrangements for transport through a travel agency, and the visitor will not be entitled to any priority of travel. These facilities for visits do not modify in any degree the current restrictions on immigration.

Mr. Skeffington-Lodge

While expressing my keen appreciation of that answer, may I ask my right hon. Friend to whom these intending visitors should make application for visas?

Mr. Ede

In the British zone to the burgomaster, in the French or American zone to the nearest British Passport Control Officer or Consul, and in the Russian zone to the British Passport Control Officer in Berlin.

Mr. Sorensen

Do these arrangements start forthwith; will my right hon. Friend indicate if there is any limit to the time for which visitors may come to this country; and can all questions relating to ration cards be suitably met at a local food office?

Mr. Ede

Obviously the last part of the question is a matter for the local food office. Applications for these facilities can be made straight away. As far as the length of visit is concerned, for adults the time will have to be limited, but for persons of school age and young persons an extended visit can be arranged if satisfactory reasons for desiring it can be given.

Mr. Scollan

Is this not a contradiction of the policy of the Government in allowing people only £5 when they leave the country, because they can now bring a German friend over here for probably six weeks or two months, which will cost a great deal more than a visit to Germany?

Mr. Ede

Yes, but that money would be spent inside this country. I am not responsible for sending people out of this country, to any large extent; but I am responsible for the terms under which they come in.

Mr. Wilson Harris

Did the Home Secretary indicate or imply that the whole cost of travel must be borne by the host in this country?

Mr. Ede

What I said was that the prospective host must make his own arrangements for transport through a travel agency, and the visitor will not be entitled to any priority of travel. Who pays for it is no concern of mine.

Wing Commander Hulbert

Has the Home Secretary the concurrence of the Russian authorities in this matter?

Mr. Speaker

That is another question.

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