§ LORD NEWTON rose to ask His Majesty's Government if, early in September, a petition signed by hundreds of Basque parents of children now in this country asking for the return of their children to Spain was received by the Basque Children's Committee; whether the signatures of the petition were attested by the Apostolic Delegate, by the British Ambassador accredited to the Valencia Government and by the British Consul at Bilbao; and if any steps are being taken to repatriate these children at an early date.
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, in putting this Question, it will be unnecessary for me to speak at any length, because everybody is fully conversant with all the details of this experiment, but some noble Lords opposite who are members of the Basque Committee may perhaps be grateful to me for affording them an opportunity to explain why there has been apparently a considerable delay in repatriating the children to whom the Question relates. The petition which is referred to in the Question is a petition which was signed by, I think, something like 30o parents, and affects about 800 children. This petition was attested by the Apostolic Delegate, by the British Ambassador to the Valencia Government, and by the British Consul in Bilbao, and therefore it appeared to have responsible sponsors. But the reception of this petition was of an extremely tepid character. It arrived here about two months ago—it must be nearly two months ago, because I saw a gentleman connected with it in the first week in September, and we are now in November—but so far as I can see no preparations are being made to repatriate anybody.
§ The first response of the Committee to the petition was, as I have said, of a very discouraging nature. They pointed out that they did not feel absolute confidence in the petition, and they proposed to send out what they were pleased to call a delegation to examine the whole situation—apparently to examine the parents—and also to decide whether the persons who had applied for the repatriation of their children were suitable persons. I observe a letter signed by the noble Earl opposite, Lord Listowel, which appeared in the Daily Telegraph not long ago, saying that they were most anxious to avoid 36 these children being returned into the wrong hands, as they put it—the wrong hands in this particular instance being the parents themselves. This announcement that they were going to inquire into the situation and to satisfy themselves that the parents were really proper persons to whom to return the children suggests to me the conduct of a schoolmaster who, as the holidays are approaching, circularises the parents and says to them: "No doubt you are shortly expecting your offspring, but I think it necessary to warn you that before I return them I propose to make a careful examination with regard to the way in which you conduct your household, and to examine into your behaviour generally, and until I am satisfied I shall take no steps whatever in the direction that you desire."
§ This proposal to send a so-called delegation was, not unnaturally, rejected by General Franco. I say "not unnaturally," especially in view of the very uncomplimentary language that is used about him and his cause by the Committee themselves and by their friends in this country. But, this proposal having been rejected, the Committee advanced another. They said: "We are still not satisfied with this petition, and we propose to refer it to a body of eminent legal gentlemen who will examine it and ascertain whether it is really a genuine production." They probably calculated that these eminent legal gentlemen would take a long time over their task, but, strange to say, these legal gentlemen, not in accordance with the usual practice, set to work very quickly, apparently decided the whole question in two or three weeks, and announced that the petition was perfectly genuine and that steps ought to be taken at once to carry out the request. And they suggested as a beginning that, of the 800 children to whom the petition referred, 500 should be sent off at once or, at all events, as soon as possible. I have heard nothing whatever as to whether that is likely to occur, but I have heard rumours that there are considerable difficulties with regard to transport. I should have thought that if there were no difficulty in transporting refugees from Spain to this country there should be no difficulty in sending them back, but in case there are real difficulties I suggest that these 500 should be sent off at the earliest possible 37 moment in warships. Warships have been engaged in transporting refugees from one place to another, and it seems to me they could not be better occupied than in taking these children back to their homes.
§ What occurs to me, and what has probably occurred to many other simple people besides myself, is the question: Why is it necessary to hold an examination at all with regard to this petition? It seemed to be a perfectly simple proposition. Here are parents asking that their children should be returned to them. Can anybody conceive any reason why there should be any underlying sinister meaning in this application? These children are, to put it plainly, no good to anybody but to their parents. They certainly could not be used for military purposes, and there is no underhand gain to be obtained by their presence. On the contrary, they might be rather unwelcome because they would have to be fed and sustained somehow or other. In these circumstances it is extremely difficult to understand this very considerable opposition to repatriation. I have been wondering what the possible cause of it could be, and I have been wondering whether it is really due to the fact that the Duchess of Athol], who is obviously the leader in this movement, has imbibed so strong an admiration for the Soviet system that she has come to the conclusion that what I may call the family institution is a sort of archaic business which is really no use at the present day and is really an impediment to uplift and progress. Of course, more frequently than any other country, we exercise the right to tell other nations what they ought to do and are extremely fond of interfering in other people's business. Although it may seem an extraordinary fact that we should seriously consider the position and respect the action of a Committee sitting solemnly here to decide whether a certain number of children are to go back to their parents thousands of miles away—although that may seem a perfectly grotesque situation, almost incredible, I am bound to say that within my experience I can recall an almost similar exhibition of eccentricity in this respect.
§ I remember that just after the War had concluded in 1918 the Government of the day, hounded on by Mr. Horatio Bottomley and the late Lord Northcliffe, assisted by various ferocious lawyers, journalists, and old women, rounded up a number of 38 German residents in this country, men and women, and deported them to Germany. I had some sort of official connection with the business, and to my astonishment, although they deported the German parents to Germany, they refused to allow the children to go, on the ground that they were British subjects. No arguments availed with them at all. They said: "Oh, these children have been so long in England that it would be a positive crime to send them back to Germany whether their parents want them or not. Consider the position of a boy, for instance, who may be of German parentage but who has been in England and has been sent to a public school. He may even have been sent to Eton! Think of the enormity of the crime of sending a boy who has been educated at Eton back to Germany. Parental feelings ought not to enter into the matter at all." We could make no impression on these bureaucrats, but fortunately the Government appointed a Committee on which there were important persons, including some members of the Colonial Cabinets—I remember that the late Sir Robert Borden was one of them—and with their assistance we over-ruled the representatives of the Home Office, and the German children were allowed to go back with their parents to Germany.
§ The same thing may occur again. I do not suppose that the present occupants of the Foreign Office share the views which were held by the Home Office officials in the days of the War. I see the noble Lord who represents the Home Office in his place. Perhaps he can say whether any babies have been born amongst these refugees since they arrived here and, if so, are they entitled to claim British nationality? If no children have been born yet, some may be born, and will they be in the same position? If that is so, it causes an additional complication. I might add that there is a great predilection on the part of Spaniards for British nationality. Those who are acquainted with the South of Spain know it is a frequent practice to resort to the most elaborate means by which children are born on British steamers trading between Gibraltar and the North African coast. Probably most people will sympathise with my view that the acquisition of British nationality by these surreptitious and tortuous methods is not one to be encouraged.39
§ I have almost finished, but there is one point to which I desire to draw attention. Assuming that the 800 children mentioned in the petition are repatriated and escape the embraces of the Duchess of Atholl and her friends, there will still remain the great bulk of the refugees in this country. There are, I believe, 4,000 altogether. That means there will be 3,000 left. What is going to happen to them? It is possible that no application will be made for their return. The prospect therefore is that unless something is done they will remain indefinitely in this country and become a permanent charge upon the Government. I really think it is time that the Government expressed some view upon this particular point. Here we are faced with the prospect of having these refugees indefinitely quartered upon us. What I suggest to the Government—though not for a moment do I think they will agree—is that they should imitate the example of France and fix a date by which they will return all the refugees—all those belonging to the Franco Party to their homes, and those who are attached to the Valencia Government to the same destination as the others have gone who have been recently in France. In conclusion, I might add, that our liability and responsibility with regard to these refugees is definitely less than that of the French, who have repatriated them as fast as they could, because there is no doubt—we might just as well state the point—that whereas we have been absolutely impartial during the war, the French have been nothing of the kind, so that the onus of responsibility lies much more heavily upon them than it does upon us.
§ VISCOUNT FITZALAN OF DERWENT
My Lords, I should like to associate myself with what has fallen from my noble friend. I find myself, I think, in complete agreement with everything he has said, and I hope the Government will give speedy consideration to the appeal he has made and see what they can do to provide transport in some way or other. I have never been able to understand why the Government acquiesced in the way they did in these children coming over to this country. I know quite well that the Government did not give any public money for that purpose, but they did seem to encourage rather than discourage 40 what was done. I think it was a very great pity and a great mistake. It has caused a great deal of ill-feeling in this country. Many of us believe that these children would have been very much better left where they were in Spain, and that the sooner they get back there the better.
My noble friend alluded to the balance of something like 4,000 even after this 800 odd are repatriated. I agree with him that that is a very important balance to deal with as soon as possible. My personal interest is chiefly concerned with the 800 or 1,200, or something like that number, who are specially earmarked as co-religionists of my own. We Catholics in this country took no step whatever to encourage the importation of these children here. We thought they were much better left in Spain and we wanted them to remain there. We were not even consulted as to whether they should come here. I know as a fact that our Archbishop, Archbishop Hinsley, was asked to go to the Home Office at a time when Sir John Simon was Home Secretary, and that he was simply told there and then that these children were on the high seas. He had not been consulted as to whether he was willing to do anything for them or not. He was simply told that they were on the high seas, that they were going to be landed in this country, and the Government appealed to him to make proper provision for them. The Archbishop protested that he did not approve of it but, as the children were going to be landed in this country, he undertook to do all he could. So he has and so have the Catholic community as a whole in this country done all they could for these particular children. They have done it and are doing it now to the tune of £500 a week.
In that connection I want to read to your Lordships a cablegram that has been received this morning from China from the Apostolic Delegate there to Archbishop Hinsley. It reads as follows:Hospital and refugee conditions heartrending. Can you secure sorely-needed financial help. Matter immediate. Life death countless thousands. Personally superintending distribution funds.That comes from the Apostolic Delegate in China to the Catholic Archbishop in this country. We shall only be too glad to do all we can in the unfortunate state of affairs in China, and I submit to your 41 Lordships that money is much more required at this moment for China than it is for these children here in this country who ought to be cleared out at once. Therefore I hope that the Government will take some step. If nothing else can be found let a warship be supplied for this purpose. We all know how very grateful we have to be to the Royal Navy for the excellent work they have done already in connection with the removal of refugees and people in Spain, and I do not think it is asking much more to adopt the suggestion of my noble friend that a warship shall be placed at the disposal of the authorities to repatriate these children as soon as possible.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, as a member of the Basque Children's Committee and the National Joint Committee for Spanish Relief, the two bodies which are responsible for the maintenance of these children in England, I think perhaps it is appropriate that I should answer some of the criticisms that have been raised by the two noble Lords opposite. If I might do so, I should first like to reply to one or two of the criticisms contained in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Newton. That would be, I think, the best procedure for me to start from, but I think that after that it might be a good thing if I were to describe, quite briefly, what is the policy of the responsible Committees towards these children. I hope that by doing so I may be able to convince the noble Lords opposite that we have the interests of the children just as much at heart as they have and that we are doing everything we can to promote their welfare and to procure their return to their parents.
In the first place the noble Lord, Lord Newton, said there was some unjustifiable delay between the receipt of the applications of certain parents for the return of their children to Spain and the decision that these children should go back. I do not think that any unnecessarily lengthy procedure has been adopted. The original applications arrived about the middle of September—that is, the middle of the month before last. A small judicial Committee of inquiry was set up, consisting of three distinguished lawyers, in order to ascertain that these applications really came from the parents of the children, and this Committee had to sit and deliver a report. That report had then 42 to come before the Committee and to be accepted or rejected. In point of fact the whole of that lengthy but I think necessary procedure has already been exhausted. The inquiry has been made, the Committee have given their report, that report has been accepted by the National Joint Committee for Spanish Relief, and steps are now being taken for the repatriation of the children directly affected. That has all been done in the course of about six weeks, and I do not think that the reproach of unnecessary delay is one that can be legitimately raised.
The noble Lord, Lord Newton, I fear, misunderstood some observations of mine in a letter to the Daily Telegraph, and I should like if I might to give him the interpretation that was intended, because it raises the whole question of the attitude of the Basque Children's Committee and the National Joint Committee towards the children. In order to inquire into the correctness and exactitude of these applications it was necessary to set up this Committee and find out whether they really came from the parents of the children in order that the children should not fall into wrong hands. The noble Lord, Lord Newton, said that "wrong hands" referred to the hands of the parents. That was not the case at all. The wrong hands were the hands of others than the parents. What we were afraid of was that the children might go back to Bilbao and find themselves not in the hands of their parents but of other people, or that they might find their parents no longer there and that they had not anywhere to go at all. That was the intention of that sentence in the letter to the Daily Telegraph. I am sure that the noble Lord construed it wrongly, thinking that we are not primarily concerned with returning the children to their parents. That, of course, is the fundamental objective of our Committee. We are anxious at the earliest opportunity that they should be able to go back to their homes and enjoy the sort of surroundings in which alone children can flourish.
Finally, the noble Lord suggested that these committees were partisan, that they criticised General Franco and supported very vigorously the Valencia Government, and that therefore they were anxious to delay the return of the children. I think I interpret the noble Lord's criticism correctly. At the same time, he suggested 43 that our Chairman, the Duchess of Atholl, had been so saturated by subtle communistic influences—although what they have to do with the Valencia Government I do not know—that she was now hostile to the institution of the family and therefore wished to separate Spanish children from their parents for as long as possible. These Committees have no political bias whatever; they are purely humanitarian. They have been working to succour non-combatants in Spain, to succour the wounded and, in this particular case, to assist these children who were in danger of being blown up by bombs and of suffering very acute starvation if they had remained. That is why I think the reproach that we are partisan, or in favour of the Valencia Government, or hostile to General Franco in our capacity as members of the Committee is without foundation. I am perfectly certain that the noble Lord, Lord Newton, would resent the suggestion that it was his partiality to one side or the other, perhaps to General Franco, that prompted his attitude towards the return of the Basque children to their homes. I do not think that criticism of political partiality is one that can be legitimately used on one side or the other.
Very briefly I should like to assure noble Lords opposite and the Government that we have fundamentally the same objective at heart. We are morally and financially responsible for these children and we are taking the place of their parents for the time being, with the result that we naturally desire that they shall be returned to their homes at the earliest possible opportunity. It is an exceedingly heavy responsibility, after all, to be responsible for three or four children. It is a far more onerous responsibility to be responsible for three or four thousand, and it is one which would readily be laid down by those who are discharging it. It is also a very grave financial responsibility of which we would exceedingly gladly be relieved. That is why we are so anxious that, at the earliest possible moment, the children may be returned and restored to their respective parents. At the same time, we have naturally to make absolutely certain that these children do not fall into the wrong hands in the sense that they do not find themselves without anyone to look after them or in the hands of people who might not treat 44 them well. That is why we had to scrutinise so carefully the list of applications that reached us in the middle of September. I should like to point out to the noble Lord, Lord Newton, because it forms part of the Question on the Paper, that this list was not vouched for by the British Ambassador to the Valencia Government for by the British Consul at Bilbao. It was vouched for by the Apostolic Delegate, whose good faith we naturally respected, but who we were quite certain would have found himself incapable of investigating each of these 447 applications in detail and in person. That was what made inquiry by a perfectly impartial judicial body a very necessary step.
The result of the inquiry was embodied in a report which stated that 387 out of the 447 claims seemed to be perfectly authentic. The Committee decided to accept the report and to set about organising the return of 500 of these children as soon as possible, provided that General Franco allowed two representatives of the Committee to accompany them—which was a recommendation of the Legal Committee of inquiry—and that those representatives of ours were satisfied that they really went home. Therefore negotiations are already under way for the repatriation of the first contingent of this batch of children. So far as the remaining children are concerned—the other 3,000 still in this country—our attitude and our procedure will be exactly the same. We are simply waiting for perfectly authentic applications from their parents saying that they want them to go home to their address in Catalonia, if they are refugees, or in the Basque country. As soon as we receive these applications they will be acted upon. Let me assure the noble Lord that in view of the fact that parents do not like to be separated from their children any longer than is absolutely necessary, there can be little doubt that as time passes more applications will be received. That, I feel certain, is the solution that is most desirable from the point of view of the children and of the Government which naturally does not wish to entertain these strangers indefinitely on British soil. That is the policy of the Committee. I think it is one that has at heart the ends and objects which noble Lords opposite set out to achieve in regard to the 45 children and I think it is one that has the approval of the Government.
My Lords, I had no intention of intervening in this debate, but I should like to ask the noble Earl, if he can do so, to adumbrate on behalf of the Committee for whom he is speaking the steps that the Committee will take or are likely to take when dealing with children whose parents will never be found—not at all an improbable matter.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I do not know whether I am in order in intervening a second time in this debate, but if I may do so with your Lordships' permission, it will be only to answer the question which has been addressed to me. Of course the position is one that I think would be clear under any legal code. If the parents are not available, if they have been killed in the course of the fighting, then the guardians of these children or the next-of-kin would clearly be the responsible persons with whom our Committee would deal.
§ THE EARL OF DENBIGH
My Lords, I had not intended to take any part in the debate when I came down to the House. Having regard, however, to what Lord Newton has said about the difficulty of understanding the reason for bringing all these children over here to this country, I must say that I regard it, and I believe a great many others regard it also, as all a part of that specious and cunning propaganda which has been put up by the Red Party in Spain and echoed by their friends in this country for the purpose of confusing the minds of the British people, which they have done in a very successful way. The propaganda which has been carried on has misled the British Press, and the British Press to a very large extent, with the exception of a few noted journals, has, I do not say willingly but undoubtedly, merely misled the British public. The consequence is that you find responsible men now going about saying what a friend of mine said the other day in the House of Commons, a Conservative Member who has been there for many years. He calmly said to me: "It seems to me that one side in Spain is just as bad as the other; it is six of one and half-a-dozen of the other." He thereby showed his complete ignorance of how the business 46 began. That is the whole crux of the matter.
It is most important to remember that General Franco and his Party, who are called and should never have been called rebels, are no doubt rebels to a certain extent. But they are rebels against what? Against the grossest form of misgovernment and tyranny that ever was known; against gross and wilful murder of the cruellest description, and against an attempt to extinguish all the religion in the country: the burning of churches and the murder of priests, nuns and everybody connected with religion. No doubt they are rebels against that, and they are rebels by force of arms as the only means of rescuing the people of Spain from this Government which was behaving in this way. If only people would realise more the way in which the trouble began in Spain, they would have less sympathy with the present so-called Government over there and would realise the enormous importance of this propaganda. I should like to see direct encouragement given to General Franco. I sincerely hope he will win. There will be a very poor chance for Spain in the future if he does not. I hope, certainly, that the Government will consider favourably Lord Newton's request to find transport on one of His Majesty's ships for these children back to Spain. The telegram which was read out by my noble friend Lord FitzAlan shows the enormous need that exists in another part of the world. It is impossible for us to finance everybody like that.
§ LORD ALLEN OF HURTWOOD
My Lords, like the other speakers I had no intention whatever of taking any part in this discussion, but I think it would be a profound misfortune if our varying opinions with regard to the conflict in Spain were to be allowed to cut across this problem, which is really a very poignant and human problem concerned with the welfare of children. I happen to belong to none of the Committees which have been set up to deal with the subject. I have taken no part whatever in any of the agitation concerned with it. When, however, the noble Earl who has just sat clown said that he could understand the reason that caused these children to be brought here, he seemed, if I may venture to say so, to show an extraordinary lack of imagination for what is an extraordinarily poignant and human problem.
47 I only rise, however, to make one point in connection with what has fallen from the lips of the noble Earl, Lord Listowel. If I understand aright his observations on the report of the Legal Commission, he has done himself an injustice. I have the report of the Commission here in my hand. He stated that the Legal Commission had recommended that these first 500 children, when they return, should be accompanied by two impartial representatives—if you may use that word "impartial" of any person who is a representative—of the Committees which have dealt with this question. I think, however, that to leave the case at that would do it an injustice. What the Legal Commission did recommend was that these children should be accompanied, not merely by two representatives of the Committees which have to deal with the subject, but also by Father Gabana, who is the representative of the Apostolic Delegate serving as a representative on the other side. Thus the Legal Commission, in asking permission for the first batch of children to be accompanied by representatives to deal with the restoration of these children to their homes or guardians, made a recommendation in favour of their being accompanied by representatives of both sides. That, I venture to think, is a very much wiser recommendation than the particular interpretation put upon it by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, if I may venture to elucidate what I think was a misunderstanding by the noble Lord on the Cross Benches: I did not mean to imply that the Legal Commission did not recommend that a representative of the Catholic Church should accompany the children. I simply mentioned the fact that it did recommend that representatives of our Committee should go with them. It was, I think, a misunderstanding by the noble Lord, for whose words I am exceedingly grateful.
§ LORD ALLEN OF HURTWOOD
If I may venture to suggest it to the noble Earl: if he desires to obtain any sympathy or support from some of my noble friends on the other side of the House, it would have been wiser to point out that the Legal Commission desired that the Committees other than his own Committees should be represented, when he wished to explain that it was his Committees 48 that were to be represented. In conclusion, I only wish to say that I hope that when the representative of the Government speaks, he will realise that to many people in this country who are taking no part whatever in this political controversy the whole subject of refugees is becoming a very grave post-war problem. Nationals who have no motherland are to be found in many parts of the world, and they come not only from countries of the Left, but also from countries of the Right. I only wish that there was to-clay in this country a man of the moral authority of Nansen who could continue to handle this tragic kind of problem with the understanding, the sympathy and the administrative skill that Nansen brought to bear upon these and similar matters.
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
My Lords, I should first like to remind noble Lords that this question has been discussed in this House on a previous occasion and my noble friend Lord Dufferin, replying for His Majesty's Government at the end of May last, explained the whole history and facts as to how these Spanish children came over to this country. I need not go into all those particulars again, beyond reminding my noble friend who has asked this Question that the National Committee set up the Basque Children's Committee as a separate organisation to look after the children, and the primary responsibility for making arrangements for the repatriation of the children rests with both those Committees. It is up to them to find any means for returning these children by sea back to Spain, and I hardly think it is a suitable case in which one of His Majesty's warships should be used for that purpose.
The Department which I have the honour to represent has been keeping in touch with the situation, and has been informed that early in September Father Gabana, representing the Apostolic Delegate in Bilbao, arrived in this country, bringing with him lists of names of children which had been prepared in that town, embracing requests made for the return of about 800 of these children to Spain. As the noble Earl who spoke from the Opposition Benches has said, these lists were not attested or vouched for in any way by either the British Ambassador at Hendaye or by the Acting 49 British Vice-Consul in Bilbao. It was at the beginning of October that the National Joint Committee and the Basque Children's Committee invited Sir Holman Gregory, Mr. Theobald Mathew, and Mr. R. R. Ludlow to advise them upon three questions: (1) the repatriation of Basque children now in England; (2) the applications which had been made for the return of the children to Spain; and (3) the consultation of all concerned, and in particular Father Gabana, the representative of the Apostolic Delegate in Bilbao.
The report of these gentlemen, which was presented on October 26 to the two Committees which had sought their advice, recommends that all the Spanish children now in Great Britain should be returned to their parents or relatives or guardians as soon as can conveniently be arranged, and it proceeds to suggest the successive steps which should be taken for putting this plan into execution. On that same day a joint meeting was held of the National Committee and the Basque Children's Committee to consider the report of the Commissioners, and those Committees passed a resolution, which I will, with your Lordships' permission, read. It says:In the expectation that the necessary permission will be forthcoming for the Committees' two representatives to accompany the children as suggested by the Commission, and subject to the representatives being able to assure themselves that the children are returned to their respective parents or guardians, the Committees will put in hand immediately the necessary arrangements, so that at the earliest moment practicable 500 children whose parents it is agreed desire their return, may be sent back to Bilbao. If it is decided, for practical reasons, to send the children back in more than one detachment, the first will leave immediately permission has been given by the de facto Government for them to be accompanied by the Committees' supervisor.I am informed by the Foreign Office that it is asking the British Ambassador at Hendaye to approach the Government of General Franco with a view to securing his approval for the return of the children to Bilbao in accordance with the recommendations of the Commissioners, and although a reply has not yet been received, I hope that a favourable one will shortly be forthcoming.
Now, my Lords, Lord Newton raised a question concerning individuals who might have come over from Spain with these children and have given birth to 50 children in this country. I am advised that so far as my Department are aware we have no knowledge of any such event occurring, but I hope that the rumour that I have heard that if such an event should occur the noble Lord, Lord Newton, will accept the responsible position of godfather, is quite without foundation. I think that is really all the information that I can suitably give to your Lordships. The matter is primarily one for the Joint Committee and for the Basque Children's Committee, and upon them rests the responsibility of removing these children from this country and returning them to their own native country of Spain.
§ LORD NEWTON
My Lords, it is only with your Lordships' indulgence that I can say a word in reply, but I cannot refrain from expressing my extreme disappointment at the noble Earl's statement. It is all very well to say that His Majesty's Government are not responsible. It is impossible for them to disclaim all responsibility, because if they had not given their consent these refugees could never have landed in this country. Of course what will happen is that after a time private benevolence will dry up, there will not be funds to pay for these unfortunate refugees, and of course His Majesty's Government will be called upon to provide for them. Yet the Government will not entertain a suggestion that the easiest means should be adopted for repatriating them. The Government must face the fact that before long they will have not 800 but 3,000 on their hands, and yet the noble Earl asked the House to believe that they are not responsible for them. It is not my responsibility either, but I feel certain that before very long noble Lords on the Front Bench will be obliged to sing a different tune. The responsibility will be brought home to them, and somehow or other they will have to find a solution of the difficulty.