HC Deb 28 November 1949 vol 470 cc772-3
51. Mr. Skeffington-Lodge

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is the approximate total number of refugees now in Western Germany who have come from the Eastern Provinces; and how far his records show the number of these who have arrived for political and for economic reasons respectively.

Mr. Mayhew

The approximate total number of German refugees from the Soviet zone and from former German territories who are now in the territory of the German Federal Republic is 8£ million. I am making inquiries in Germany on the second part of my hon. Friend's Question and will write to him.

Mr. Skeffington-Lodge

Is my hon. Friend aware that a large number of these people are a prey to Nazi and nationalist propaganda, which he should watch and try to guard against, so far as its spreading is concerned?

Mr. Mayhew

Several statements have been made on the subject. It is a difficult question.

Mrs. Leah Manning

Can my hon. Friend distinguish between those who come from former German territories and those who come from the Soviet zone? I think he gave a lump figure.

Mr. Mayhew

I gave the figures last week for the refugees from the Soviet zone.

Earl Winterton

Does not this question show the need for the establishment of some permanent body, such as the Inter-Governmental Refugee Committee, with which I was associated? Is it not necessary to continue the I.R.O. on a permanent basis, as at the present time refugees all over the world come under different bodies? Is this not a matter of primary policy?

Mr. Mayhew

This question is not solely an international problem. It is also, to some extent, a German responsibility. As far as the emigration of these people is concerned, I agree it is an international problem, and we are considering it.

Mr. Eden

Is it not a fact that the I.R.O. is due to come to an end next year? Ought that not to be considered well in advance with a view, I hope, to seeing that its work can go on?

Mr. A. Edward Davies

Is any progress being made in getting some of these people into other countries, as they are very unhappy people and eight and a quarter million is a considerable number?

Mr. Mayhew

It is, of course, a desperately difficult problem, but we also have the great problem of re-settling displaced persons, of whom we still have hundreds of thousands, who must be regarded as having a priority over German citizens. We do not, however, deny the importance of the problem.