HC Deb 19 January 1949 vol 460 cc149-50
41. Mr. Piratin

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many Polish children are in the Western Zone of Germany; what steps are being taken to repatriate them; and how many were repatriated during 1948.

Mr. McNeil

The figure on 31st August, 1948, was 43,748 in the British zone. Almost all of these are with parents, but the total includes approximately 130 "unaccompanied" children, that is orphans and children whose parents have not yet been traced. Children are repatriated only with the consent of their parents or legal guardians, except for unaccompanied children, who are repatriated on the authority of the Military Governor, and for whom repatriation is recommended and authorised unless it is considered to be contrary to the interests of the individual child. The task of tracing children is being continued by the International Refugee Organisation with every possible assistance from the zonal authorities. During 1948,926 accompanied and 109 unaccompanied children left the British zone for Poland.

Mr. W. J. Brown

Can the Minister tell us how many Polish citizens in the last two months have been forcibly moved from Poland to the interior of Soviet Russia?

Major Guy Lloyd

Can the Minister say how many of the parents of the children referred to have disappeared since Russia's so-called liberation of Poland?

Mr. Usborne

Who actually decides whether it is in the interests of the child concerned that he be repatriated or not?

Mr. McNeil

The legal decision is taken by the Military Governor; no one else can take it. I should make it plain that the Military Governor is advised by the Welfare Board of the International Refugee Organisation.

Mr. S. Silverman

Does the child have any say in the matter?

Mr. Piratin

Is there a representative of the Polish Government on the Welfare Board to give advice?

Mr. McNeil

I should think that it is unlikely. My recollection is that the Polish Government, for reasons no doubt acceptable to themselves, refuse to join this international organisation.

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