HC Deb 30 November 1948 vol 458 cc1784-5
4. Mr. H. Hynd

asked the Minister of National Insurance under what authority 11,000 Poles are receiving free maintenance in camps and hostels of the National Assistance Board; how many others are receiving assistance allowances from the Board; what are the qualifications for receiving this assistance; and what is the total cost.

Mr. J. Griffiths

These hostels are provided under Section 3 of the Polish Resettlement Act, 1947. The number of allowances to Poles outside these hostels is estimated at about 1,000. These allowances are payable according to need under the National Assistance Act, 1948. The total net cost of this provision is at present about £1 million a year.

Mr. Hynd

Why should they be given free maintenance? Does it mean that although those Poles are now out of uniform, the taxpayer is still having to pay almost as much money to keep them?

Mr. Griffiths

The free maintenance is provided under the Polish Resettlement Act which is not Departmentally my responsibility. Under the National Assistance Act, any resident in this country is entitled to apply for assistance and to receive it on the terms laid down by this House.

Mr. Scollan

May I ask the Minister if it is not, in his opinion, a disgrace to this country that we should be carrying 11,000 able-bodied people at a time when we are crying out for workers?

Vice-Admiral Taylor

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware of the great debt of gratitude we owe to the Poles for the assistance they gave us during the war?

Mr. Tolley

Will my right hon. Friend make inquiries about the many complaints which are being received from displaced persons of British origin who are enjoying similar accommodation but are being charged heavy fees while they know that these people are living upon the British taxpayers free? It is causing great indignation and there should certainly be an investigation made into it.

Mr. Griffiths

My responsibility is for the Assistance Board, whose responsibility it is to provide assistance in accordance with the Act to anybody who applies for it and who is in need.