HC Deb 27 March 1950 vol 473 cc37-9
54. Mr. Mott-Radclyffe

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many Polish refugees in excess of the 25,000 authorised under the agreement of November, 1949, between the Allied High Commissioner and the Polish Government, have been admitted into western Germany territory since that date; and how many have been turned back on the frontier.

Mr. Ernest Davies

I presume that the hon. Member is referring to the recent transfer of German refugees, via the Soviet zone of Germany, from Poland and the Polish-administered territories of Germany. Although the Allied High Commission had approved the admission of 25,000 selected refugees into the Federal Republic no agreement on their transfer could be reached with the Polish Government, since the latter broke off negotiations. From 3rd March, when the recent transfers began, until 18th March, 1,188 of the German refugees from Poland had been admitted into the German Federal Republic; 1,226 had been turned back at the frontier because they were not among the authorised 25,000.

Mr. Mott-Radclyffe

Can the Under-Secretary say whether or not the Polish Government informed the British Embassy in Warsaw that it was their intention to expel all German citizens living east of the Oder-Niesse line?

Mr. Davies

No, Sir, we have no knowledge of that information having been conveyed to us.

Mr. John Hynd

While everyone must condemn these expulsions, in view of the fact that the German authorities feel impelled to accept these refugees, in the name of humanity, why should the British Government and the High Commission try to turn them back?

Mr. Davies

We cannot allow unlimited numbers of refugees to flock across the border. If we did so, it would put those people already living there into difficulties—and we do not consider that to be fair.

Earl Winterton

Could the hon. Gentleman say whether the International Refugee Organisation has been consulted on this matter? Is he aware that in the days of another Government, the refugee committee, of which I was at one time chairman, put these matters to the international body? Would not His Majesty's Government be saved a good deal of trouble and embarrassment if the International Refugee Organisation were consulted today?

Mr. Davies

In the first instance this was a question of negotiations with the Polish Government. No agreement was reached. The question of negotiations with another organisation is one of which I should want notice.

Earl Winterton

The hon. Gentleman must be aware of the existence of this organisation on which His Majesty's Government are represented.

Mr. Davies

Yes, I am well aware of the existence of the I.R.O. What I suggested was that whether there have been consultations on a specific matter was a question of which I should require notice.

Mr. Eden

Is this not another reason why this organisation should not have been kept in being much longer? Some of us are rather worried at it being wound up. Is this not a further argument for keeping it in being?

Mr. Davies

The right hon. Gentleman is well aware that a High Commissioner for Refugees is to take over in June the residue of the functions of the I.R.O., so that the work will not be wound up, as was originally intended.

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