HC Deb 02 March 1953 vol 512 cc11-3
28. Mr. Grimond

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the latest figures for refugees from Eastern Germany; and what further steps are being taken to deal with the problems created by this influx.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

Since my hon. Friend's reply to the hon. Gentleman on 4th February, it is estimated that between 35,000 and 40,000 refugees have arrived in West Berlin in February. The present rate of evacuation to Western Germany is about 750 a day. It is planned to increase this rate to 30,000 a month as soon as reception facilities in the Federal Republic permit. Her Majesty's Government have been in touch with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and we have asked the German Federal Government to suggest what useful assistance we could render.

Mr. Grimond

While thanking the Minister for that answer and welcoming the effort by Her Majesty's Government, may I ask whether he does not think the time has come to reconstitute through the United Nations some agency for taking care of these refugees, removing them out of Berlin and, if necessary, resettling them?

Mr. Lloyd

That is another question.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Is it not of great importance that there should be an international agency dealing with this matter and, if necessary, that international funds should be raised, with Her Majesty's Government contributing, in order to deal with a problem which may be of tragic importance to German democracy?

Mr. Lloyd

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has been taking a very great interest in this matter and working out a scheme in consultation with the German authorities to deal with certain aspects of the matter.

Mr. Noel-Baker

But has he any funds to help?

Mr. Lloyd

He certainly has funds, to which Her Majesty's Government have made a contribution.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Does the assistance which Her Majesty's Government propose to offer to the German authorities include an invitation to take a proportion of these refugees into this country?

Mr. Lloyd

I believe that it does not.