HL Deb 11 December 1956 vol 200 cc843-4

2.09 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will supply adequate air and sea transport to take the number of Hungarian refugees, notified to them by responsible organisations connected with the relief of such refugees from Hungary, to the Dominions and Colonies willing to receive them; and if they will provide such transport free of cost.]


My Lords, I am sure that your Lordships will wish me, on your behalf, to express the sympathy and admiration of this House to the Hungarians who have shown such incomparable sacrifice and bravery throughout their terrible ordeal. Her Majesty's Government wish to do all they can for those who have made their escape. So far, some 11.000 have reached these shores and arc being given food and shelter and clothing, and are being made as welcome and as comfortable as lies in our power. Your Lordships will realise that the sudden increase of immigrants has necessitated a great deal of emergency organisation and improvisation, and the first requirement has been to deal with urgent needs. In this, as usual, the voluntary organisations have risen magnificently to the occasion and have met the demands which the situation has made on them.

We are now setting about finding out what individual refugees want to do. Some wish to stay in this country and some will want to go farther afield, either to some foreign country or to another part of the Commonwealth. So far, the Canadian Government have declared their readiness to provide free transport for all Hungarian refugees wishing to go to Canada, and have set no limit to the number to be admitted. Australia will take up to 5,000 New Zealand up to 1,000, and South Africa up to 500. When we know the size of the problem, we will consider what further steps are needed in respect of journeys to other Commonwealth countries, and we are in touch with the representatives of these Governments.


My Lords, arising out of the Question, can the noble Earl say whether Her Majesty's Government will be prepared to urge the United Nations to declare that their member nations will offer sanctuary and succour to all women and children, invalids and old people, so long as the attempted domination of Hungary by Russia continues?


My Lords, I very much hope that all members of the United Nations will feel that there is an obligation on them to help these people in their misery, so far as possible.


My Lords, may I say that we on this side of the House welcome with great sincerity the statement which has been made by the noble Earl about what the Government are doing? As seems likely from his statement, it may be that there are certain other avenues which have to be followed, but we welcome very much indeed what has been done by the Government in regard to this very serious and appealing matter.


My Lords, may I take the opportunity of thanking the noble Earl for his extremely courteous and considerate Answer to my Question.