§ 1. Captain Ryder
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many aged and disabled refugees will remain unprovided for when the International Refugee Organisation closes down; and if he will urge that the total disbandment of the International Refugee Organisation be postponed until these persons are provided for.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Ernest Bevin)
It is not possible to make a close estimate of the actual numbers involved. They will, however, be so small that it would be uneconomical and unwise to maintain international machinery indefinitely in the hope of eventual resettlement.
§ Captain Ryder
Can we have an assurance that these people will not be left entirely to their fate, but will be turned over to a responsible authority which will look after them?
§ Lady Tweedsmuir
Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that a great number of these people do not at present qualify for refugee status? Is anything being done to try to come to a decision as to the legal status of a refugee?
§ Sir Peter Macdonald
The International Refugee Organisation has been maintained by dollar currency. Who is to be responsible for the maintenance of these people in the future? Will it be carried on on the same principle as I.R.O.?
§ Major Legge-Bourke
Are any approaches being made to the countries that are neighbours of Israel to see if the Arab refugees can be looked after?
§ 13. Captain Duncan
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the approximate number of refugees from Communist-governed countries in Western Europe; what action is being taken to find work for them; and whether the International Refugee Organisation will be maintained until they have all been suitably settled.
§ Mr. Bevin
Approximately 238,000. All are eligible for resettlement by the International Refugee Organisation and resettlement schemes are being carried out, mainly in the United States and Australia. The I.R.O. are, I understand, confident that they can repatriate or resettle 200,000 of these. It is proposed that the resettlement activities of the I.R.O. should continue after 31st March, 1951, when the Organisation is due to be wound up.
§ Earl Winterton
Is it not somewhat of an anomaly that the winding-up of this organisation should even be contemplated when the original Inter-Governmental Committee for Refugees, which was formed largely on the initiative of President Roosevelt, had to deal with a problem of infinitely less magnitude than the refugee problem of today? Will the right hon. Gentleman give serious consideration to whether there should not be a continuing body responsible for all refugees?
§ Captain Duncan
What form will the organisation take which will carry on the resettlement after I.R.O. is wound up?
§ Lady Tweedsmuir
As there are far more than 200,000 expelled people from the Eastern zone who are, in fact, refugees—I believe the total amounts to about eight million people—would the Foreign Secretary, in view of the great seriousness of the situation, particularly as it affects Germany, make representations that the High Commissioner working under U.N.O., who, I understand, is to take over the activities of I.R.O., shall have his powers greatly extended?
§ Mr. Bevin
I should not like to give a definite answer. I will look into the whole problem afresh. I am afraid that with regard to a lot of these refugees who are being moved about we shall have to adopt several different kinds of methods. Some of them must secure absorption in the countries where they find themselves.
§ Mr. Grimond
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether additional funds will be made available to the High Commissioner from the Governments concerned, over and above those now needed for I.R.O.?
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman
Can my right hon. Friend say whether the definition of a refugee for this purpose is the same as the definition applied in the years to which the right hon. Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) referred?