HL Deb 06 May 1964 vol 257 cc1236-318

2.51 p.m.

BARONESS ELLIOT OF HARWOOD (on behalf of the Viscount Astor) rose to call attention to the problems of refugees, disasters and international assistance; and to move for Papers. The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I deeply regret the absence from your Lordships' House of the noble Viscount, Lard Astor, this afternoon, and also the reason which prevents him from being here. Noble Lords will feel as I do: a very deep regret at the death of his brilliant mother. Many of your Lordships were very great friends of her. It is with some hesitation that I take his place to-day, because I am no longer actively engaged in refugee organisation in the United Kingdom. Since my chairmanship of the World Refugee Year Appeal, I have actually withdrawn from the continuing organisation. But Lord Astor, I am glad to say, has been and still is Chairman of this continuing organisation, and has done a great deal to keep the voluntary organisation together and to keep the needs of refugees in the minds of the public.

However, in spite of the fact that I am no longer a member of a committee here, I have kept in very close touch with one section of the work for refugees—namely, that of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in the Middle East. I have twice—once in 1961, and again this year—been to the Middle East and seen the work that is being done by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. I visited many of the camps and saw many of the activities that are the result of the money raised during the World Refugee Year. So, if I may, before I talk about the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the work he does in all the refugee areas other than the Middle East, I should like to say one word about the Middle East.

Here I cannot praise too highly the work that is being done at the present moment by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. They are faced, as we all know, with a very difficult problem indeed; a problem which is, of course, in large part political, but one which is also very human. I do not propose to deal with the political side of this problem; I am concerned only with the United Nations Agency and the work that they are doing there.

After the three years that passed between my first visit and my visit at Easter, I was enormously impressed by the improvement in the conditions under which those refugees living in the camps are being cared for. There is much better sanitation, much better schools, better training facilities and better chances of employment for young trainees, and all this has been done by the staff and organisation of U.N.R.W.A. They have trained refugees to run the camps, to take responsibilities, and to look after themselves in a way for which I have nothing but praise. All this is being done at really a very low cost: £13½, million, or 38 million dollars. The average expenditure per head per year on refugees is only £12 4s.; a daily expenditure of what amounts to 8d. a head. When one sees what is being achieved with so little money, one realises that it is really nothing short of a miracle. What I am particularly interested in is the fact that so much of the money goes in practical work which is of a permanent character. In fact, 40 per cent. of what is spent by the Agency is spent on what I call permanent solutions for these refugees in their training.

When I was raising money for the World Refugee Year, I said to Dr. Davis, who was then the head of U.N.R.W.A., that I hoped he would spend as much as he possibly could on the technical training schools, on the technical assistance that could be given in the training of young Arab refugees, and, above all, would do something for young women, for the girls in the camps, because in a Moslem country, as I am sure your Lordships will appreciate, it is difficult to get things done for girls. Dr. Davis has started in the U.N.R.W.A. organisation some ten training centres, taking about 4,000 trainees a year, but it was only after World Refugee Year that a girls' training centre was established.

I visited this centre at Ramullah, which is quite close to Jerusalem, in Jordan, and there I met an excellent headmistress, a Mrs. Mufti, and saw a splendid technical training college for girls which really rejoiced my heart. Because, for the first time in this place some 600 young women are being given training in no fewer than nine different professions, of which nursing and nursery nursing, teaching, secretarial work, home economics and a great many other subjects form part. I could see the enormous success that was attending this project, and saw that they could well do with more than one, since the number of young women who are applying for this training far exceeds the number that can be taken in.

I visited, also, other technical training colleges. I went to see the teacher-training colleges where young Arabs are fitting themselves for training. Some of them are being trained in other parts of the world. I was very impressed by a scheme which is being run by one of the oldest of technical training colleges there—a college at Kalandia near Jerusalem. They have an arrangement with Sweden whereby the Swedish Government train a certain number of young Arab technical men in Sweden. Some of them become absorbed in Sweden and remain there; others, of course, return and get work either in the Arab States or in other parts of the country.

I realise that this is helping only a very small part of the problem, but until there is some permanent political solution I think U.N.R.W.A. are doing a most valuable job. I hope that the Minister who is going to reply will consider this matter, because at the next meeting of the General Assembly in New York in 1964 the need to continue the mandate of the Commissioner General for U.N.R.W.A. is to be discussed. So I most earnestly urge on the Government to vote for another five-year extension of the Commission, which is really essential.

I do not think it is necessary for me to stress in your Lordship's House the danger to peace inherent in this situation in the Middle East. Any war, however limited—and it is doubtful whether it would be limited—would cost the nations multiple millions. The small amount of money involved in keeping U.N.R.W.A. working is, I think, far the best investment for peace that we can make today.

Then, to turn from the Middle East, the position in Europe is, I think, very encouraging. Co-operation between the British Government and the voluntary organisations is now very well established. The Committee which we set up at the end of World Refugee Year to continue the co-operation established in that successful period has continued, as I have said before, under the able chairmanship of my noble friend Lord Astor. This is very important indeed, and I hope that this co-operation will extend to the international Agencies of the United Nations. The International Red Cross also are interested in this whole problem, and I believe that at a later stage in the debate the noble Lord, Lord Inchyra, who is head of the British Red Cross, is going to tell your Lordships something of this co-operation.

In Europe the number of refugees in camps has been reduced from 35,000 in 1961 to 1,900 this year. That is a considerable decrease. Also, figures are available for the out-of-camp refugees. There are still 32,600 refugees out of camps, but this figure also compares favourably with that of 215,000 in 1959. In fact, in four years the number of out-of-camp refugees settled has reached 215,400, and much of this is the direct result of World Refugee Year.

Of course, with this small number remaining we come down to very difficult cases, but the High Commission has enlisted the services of a very remarkable Australian, Dr. Jenson, whose work in finding solutions to these problem cases has been beyond praise. He has undertaken intensive case work with these remaining refugees, and is having a considerable success. But we have got to continue to support Dr. Jenson and not cease in our efforts until a solution has been found for these remaining cases. Not only are these difficult individuals, but there are families and children who must be given a proper chance in life; and we must thank those countries, of which Great Britain is one, who have accepted what are now called the problem families or the Jenson cases. Over and above these remaining cases, a letter I have from the High Commisisoner's office states the less encouraging fact that every year about 10,000 refugees come into Western Europe from other parts of the world. Therefore, there is still a continuing problem of refugees.

There is one other problem which my noble friend Lord Astor asked me to mention, and that is the question of compensation of victims of Nazi persecution. Nineteen years after the war this matter is still unsettled. We must recognise that the German Government have already paid a considerable sum in regard to this problem. They have, in fact, paid £1,900 million, but there are still a number of uncompensated cases. The German Ministry very courteously informed the Committee that they were drafting a new Bill on this subject, and that they would send it to the British societies for their comments. When the Bill came this year, the societies felt that there were still some unsatisfactory features, and a memorial, signed by leading Members of both Houses of Parliament, as well as distinguished representatives of many other walks of life, was presented to the German Ambassador this year. I should like to stress that the signatories of the memorial were all friends of the new Germany, who desire, as we all do, that the scars of the past may be healed; but if these victims of Nazi persecution, who are now getting on, spend their last years uncompensated and die poor, it will leave a legacy of distress. We hope that the German Government, by the new Bill that they are going to put forward, will heal the scars of the past, and that a new era may be made possible by prompt and generous action by the German Government in this matter.

If I may pass from Europe to the East, to Tibet, considerable progress has been made in dealing with the plight of the Tibetan refugees in India. The Government of India has now invited the good offices of the High Commissioner for Refugees and a Consultative Council composed of the voluntary organisations helping these refugees to meet monthly in Delhi so that they can co-operate with each other, with the Government of India and with the Indian Committee; and the British voluntary societies express their thanks to a distinguished former member of the Government of India, Sir Olaf Caroe, who has taken the chairmanship of our sub-committee on Tibet and whose visit to India on our behalf did much to secure this helpful development.

To pass from India to Hong Kong, there, although the refugee problem is of an astronomical nature, international help and Government grants from this country are extraordinarily effective. The key continues to be to secure for Hong Kong overseas markets for her produce. Without such markets, no amount of charitable help could prevent a catastrophe. But the Government of Hong Kong is dealing with this matter in a most practical and efficient manner.

From Hong Kong we must go to Africa. There are about 150,000 refugees in Rwanda, as well as something like the same number in the Congo. The High Commissioner and the voluntary societies are making massive efforts to provide both emergency relief and final settlement in these matters. The need, according to the High Commissioner, is to prevent the develop- ment of what he calls "refugee mindfulness", by encouraging, and even sometimes forcing, self-support among those refugees. This requires the presence of United Nations' representatives and also of representatives of the great voluntary societies in our country—societies such as Inter-Church Aid, the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief, the Save the Children Fund and others—who are working on development to help these refugees.

There is an exceedingly interesting project of settling 13,000 Rwanda refugees in Tanganyika, which has the support of the Prime Minister and the Government of Tanganyika. This will cost 600,000 dollars, but it will be a most valuable project, and I hope that Her Majesty's Government will help. I read in the Press to-day that 700,000 refugees have now left the Sudan and asked to be taken into Uganda. This puts the total number of refugees coming into Uganda from the Sudan at the present moment at 60,000. This is a very large number, and means a big charge on the High Commissioner's resources. We are all deeply concerned to-day, too, with the problems in Cyprus. We do not know what the outcome of these problems may be, but the High Commissioner may well be involved in helping with refugees from that unhappy country.

These problems to which I have tried to refer, problems in Africa and in other parts of the world, remind us that, in spite of all our efforts—and our efforts have been very successful—a refugee problem still continues in the world. I believe—and I hope Her Majesty's Government will agree with me in this—that it would be catastrophic to reduce the High Commissioner's present budget, and that we must envisage expenditure on the present level for quite a long time ahead. Unless we do that, my Lords, we risk allowing a backlog of a hard core of refugees to build up in Africa and Asia in the same way as they did in Europe and the Middle East, with equally catastrophic results and which cost far more to settle in the end and involved a gigantic effort, such as the World Refugee Year was in 1961.

My Lords, refugees are created both by human catastrophies and natural disasters, but the problems are basically the same. A mass of people suddenly requires food, clothing, medicines and shelter; and then later requires to be resettled. We have now set up in Britain an Emergency Disaster Committee of the five big voluntary societies, with the Chairman of the Standing Conference representing the interests of smaller societies and with representatives of the relevant Government Departments to increase co-operation in both sorts of emergencies.

The Red Cross has accepted the leadership of this Emergency Committee. This Committee had its first test with the disaster resulting from the Skopje earthquake. When you know that it is Lord Inchyra who will be in charge of this Committee, I am sure your Lordships will realise that we shall have a most efficient leadership. It is our duty in Britain to set our house in order and to encourage British Societies to exchange information as to what each is doing to solve these problems. We are glad to say that this co-operation is being created on an international scale and it will include organisations under the United Nations, the leading non-governmental organisations, such as the International Red Cross, the World Council of Churches, the Catholic organisations, the Jewish organisations and any of the other organisations set up to deal with the problem. We promise that whatever is done on the international level will be given full co-operation by the British societies.

My Lords, in general we are increasingly trying to seek final solutions as well as to give emergency relief. That was the whole philosophy of the World Refugee Year. That is also the philosophy of the Freedom from Hunger Campaign, ably led by the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr. There is also the United Nations Development Decade, who are equally interested in the future of these many organisations. But in the carrying out of the permanent solutions new problems have arisen. For instance, are the problems of India and Africa so big that they can be solved only by Governments? There is some truth in this idea. These problems can in the end be solved only by international and governmental action.

But I feel that the voluntary societies will always play a part in this work. In the first place, voluntary societies can act more swiftly than governmental and inter-governmental organisations. They can make experiments which Governments cannot do; they can succeed or fail—and sometimes they must fail. That leads the way to further action, because success is also pervasive. So I think that the support which is given by the voluntary organisations in these problems is of primary importance. This is the view of Her Majesty's Government, because they have supported the United Nations' Resolution encouraging voluntary bodies to take a great part in this work of permanent solutions. So in the last ten years it is true to say the work of these societies has changed to some extent from providing emergency relief to helping to make permanent development.

But, my Lords, here comes a problem. Consequent upon our British voluntary bodies having entered into long-term commitments for agricultural experiments, reclamation, land development and many other such forms of work. and the Government having given encouragement, the whole basis of this work from the voluntary organisation side is now threatened by, not exactly a decision, but rather the threat of a decision by the Charity Commission that work of this kind does not fall within the ruling relating to covenants and other forms of subscriptions made by private individuals to societies of a charitable nature.

This has caused a great deal of difficulty, unhappiness and uncertainty among the voluntary societies. In a recent Report, the Chief Charity Commissioner discussed these problems. His remarks on the need for appeals to be clearly defined and the need for a proper accounting system for money spent overseas were, in fact, warmly welcomed by the responsible societies. But the Chief Charity Commissioner expressed his opinion that to support what should be the responsibility of overseas Governments in the way of public works is an illegal use of charitable funds.

The societies immediately arranged a meeting with the Charity Commissioner. He was most courteous, but he could relieve none of them of their anxieties at that time. Accordingly, a meeting was held with the Leader of the House, as this was clearly a matter in which not only the legal position of the societies had to be coped with but also one in which the Government had to bear in mind whether it was to torpedo the efforts of Inter-Church Aid, the Save The Children Fund, Oxfam and all the other societies. I should like to ask the Minister who is to reply to-day to give us a statement about this tax position. It is very worrying for the voluntary societies and for those who subscribe to them; it is hampering the collection of money and the splendid use to which that money has been put. So I hope the Minister will be able to make some reassuring statement, so that the great work which the voluntary organisations wish to do can be carried out.

My Lords, these problems of refugees and of developments are great and often intractable, but I think we can be proud of the British effort. We have seen the spontaneous and generous response of the British people to the World Refugee Year and now to the Freedom from Hunger Campaign. This is a response which proves that we are not just selfishly enjoying the benefits of the affluent society but are anxious to share it with others less fortunate. This is proof, if proof were needed, that the contribution of Her Majesty's Government (which, as we all know, is money provided by the taxpayer) has on this occasion the wholehearted support of the people. I hope it will encourage the Government not to cut their contribution to the High Commissioners but to support the renewal of the mandate of his Commission for U.N.R.W.A. and also to support those other activities which are carried on by the United Nations High Commissioner. I beg to move for Papers.

3.18 p.m.


My Lords, we all regret, as did the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, that the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, was unable to move this Motion. We regret it because he has moved Motions on this subject repeatedly, and we all know he is a long-standing, enthusiastic supporter of refugee work. But I am sure your Lordships will agree that he could have found no more able and eloquent substitute than the noble Baroness. Her speech not only showed great sympathy for refugees but displayed her wide knowledge, from personal experience, of the work being done for refugees, both in this country and in other parts of the world.

I am particularly grateful to noble Lords and Ladies opposite, if I may regard the initiative as being a joint one, for drawing your Lordships' attention to this problem, because this country has a high reputation to maintain, a reputation second to none in the world, in regard to its concern for refugees. We can all take pride in the fact that the idea of World Refugee Year was conceived here, that we were the largest donor among the nations that contributed, and that our contribution was nearly half the total sum received from all over the world by the United Nations High Commissioner from private sources.

We cannot rest on our laurels without losing them. Memories are short, and four years have passed since World Refugee Year and we need to be reminded. For that reason, we are most grateful for the initiative that has been taken on the other side of the House. But, in spite of all that has been done by voluntary societies, such as the organisation to combat world hunger and the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief, and in spite of all that Governments have done through the United Nations in the years since the war, these destitute and homeless people are still with us in their thousands and, having no country of their own to turn to, they must still rely for their very existence on the good will of ordinary people like ourselves all over the world.

The refugee problem is not only just as serious as it has ever been in the past, including the years immediately after the last world war, but it is just as certain, I feel, to be with us for a very long time. The stream of refugees would go on flowing, even if every refugee in every country to-day could be resettled with a home and a job immediately. So long as we have big wars, small wars, civil wars and racial, religious or political persecution, we shall have their victims escaping to safety wherever they can find refuge.

I am sure that this debate will serve a very useful purpose if it does two things: if it reminds the British public of the extent and urgency of the refugee problem, and if it convinces the Government that Members of your Lordships' House, on both sides and in all quarters, are anxious that they should not relax the efforts they have made on behalf of refugees and in certain directions should do rather more than they are doing at the present time. After all, refugees have certain disadvantages. They have no votes, and Parliamentary time is much more fully occupied by Government Business in another place. Therefore, surely this is one of the occasions when your Lordships' House is performing its most useful function, when it can supplement what is being done elsewhere without repeating it.

What is the broad picture of the refugee situation to-day? Although I admit that I have much less skill in drawing it than has the noble Baroness, I think that she will agree with me—though I hope that she will say so if she does not—that in Europe there has been a very substantial improvement since the war. In Asia Minor, the situation will regard to Arab refugees is still very serious indeed. In Asia, there are some bad patches, to which the noble Baroness referred. But I believe the greatest deterioration has taken place, and is still taking place, in Africa. In this respect, my view is supported by the fact that the High Commissioner for Refugees, in budgeting for the current year, has budgeted to spend more in Africa than in any other continent.

In our last Foreign Affairs debate, I ventured to draw your lordships' attention to the most burning refugee problem in Africa—the plight of the Tutsi tribe, who have fled from Rwanda to neighbouring countries in that part of Africa. I am not going to weary your Lordships by repeating what I said then. I would only give some figures, which I think are the latest figures, to show the size of this problem and how many people are involved. There are, I believe, 42,000 of these Tutsi refugees in Burundi, 12,000 in Tanganyika, 36,000 in Uganda and 60,000 in the Kivu province of the Congo.

Those are very rough figures. It is always difficult to count anything very accurately in Africa, and the counting of refugees is one of the more difficult statistical exercises, which would be difficult in any country. But to take the rough total, there are 150,000 homeless and destitute people who have taken refuge in neighbouring countries, which are themselves extremely poor. Of course, the African Governments in these countries are doing their best to assist, but they cannot really cope single-handed with this vast influx of destitute neighbours. The United Nations need funds for immediate relief and resettlement very urgently. They are the only source of assistance to which these people can turn.

I very much hope that the Government will regard this refugee situation in Central Africa as an emergency situation, and will make a special contribution to the work of the United Nations in relation to the Rwanda refugees, apart from their annual contribution to the High Commission. I would make one reference to the annual contribution of Her Majesty's Government, following the footsteps of the noble Baroness. I believe that the annual contribution for 1964 has not yet been decided, so that perhaps this is a particularly appropriate moment. I understand that we gave £200,000 last year and £100,000 the year before. I should like to think—and I am sure that your Lordships will agree with me—that at a time when our national income is expanding, as it is, we should spare a small fraction of this increase for the benefit of those people outside our own country who are in greatest need. And the need of none is greater than that of refugees. I hope that whatever the Government decide to give will be worthy of the traditional British attitude to refugees and will show that this, at any rate, is a field in which Britain can still lead the world.

I am particularly glad that the noble Baroness, with her experience of the Middle East, has drawn our attention to the fine work of the United Nations Relief and Works Organisation for the Arab refugees who came originally from Palestine. The noble Baroness avoided the political issue and I will not comment on it, but we are bound to recognise the political situation as a matter of fact. We are bound to recognise that relations between Jews and Arabs make it most unlikely that we shall be able to find a political solution, and most likely that about 1 million Arabs will still continue to be unable either to return to Israel or to settle permanently on Arab soil.

I endorse most wholeheartedly the plea made by the noble Baroness that the Government should ask the United Nations to renew the mandate of this invaluable Agency when it expires next year. I also hope that the renewed mandate will be not for a short period of time, but for a period of not less than five years. I am very glad that the noble Baroness made that point, because I think it is an extremely important one. Without having a reasonable period of time, it is quite impossible for an Agency of this kind to do the forward planning that is needed, both to serve the refugees and to make the most economical use of the funds with which they are entrusted.

I should like to turn now from the general problem (I hope your Lordships will forgive me if I do this, but I think that at any rate I shall be saying something that is not likely to be said by anyone else, difficult though this is in a debate of this kind) to a particular aspect of the refugee problem, not by any means the most important—I admit that straight away—but of special importance to this country and the Commonwealth. I refer to the problem of political refugees who come to this country from Commonwealth countries. Their position at the moment is highly unsatisfactory. It conflicts with one of the traditional freedoms of this country—namely, the right of political refugees from other countries to asylum here; that is to say, to freedom from persecution as long as they are on British soil.

A principle in which we all believe is that a man should not be sent back to his own country if he is wanted for a political offence, provided that he refrains from political activity directed at his own Government while he is in this country. I need hardly remind your Lordships that our reputation for freedom in the nineteenth century was largely due to the fact that we gave asylum to political refugees from all the European despotisms. They came here; they claimed the right of asylum, and we gave it to them. In this century, writers, scientists and ordinary people flocked to this country from the rule of Hitler and of Mussolini, and many of them are living here still. This is a great British tradition. But we are in danger of losing it, because we have failed to alter our law so as to give the citizens of Commonwealth countries the same right of asylum as foreigners.

To illustrate this proposition, I should like to remind your Lordships of the case of Chief Enahoro, which was of such importance—and it shows the strength of British public opinion on this matter—that just about a year ago it occupied discussion in another place for four days. Perhaps I may be allowed briefly to recapitulate the facts of the case. Chief Enahoro was wanted by the Nigerian Government for a political offence. Her Majesty's Government decided to extradite him because, being a citizen of a Commonwealth country, he did not have the right of asylum under British law which foreigners have. If he had been a foreigner he would have had a right of asylum here. Since his extradition he has been convicted by the Nigerian courts and is now serving a long prison sentence.

Her Majesty's Government had a very strong case in law. Their contention, which I think no one denied, was that under the Fugitive Offenders Act, 1881, there was no provision prohibiting the return of a fugitive from any British territory or Commonwealth country if the offence with which he was to be charged was a political one. There is no such provision in that Act. What the Act does is to give the courts in this country, and the Home Secretary, the right to exercise their discretion in the case of a man charged with a political offence. What they have to do is to decide whether a man will have a fair trial and not receive an inhuman or unjustly severe sentence if he is sent back; that is to say, if he is extradited, whether he will be treated in what we regard as a humane and reasonable manner.

This means that the law, as it stands, obliges British courts and British Ministers to pass judgment on the administration of justice in Commonwealth countries. I cannot imagine anything more damaging to Commonwealth relations than a position of this kind. Of course, this is exactly what happened in the case of Chief Enahoro. This discretionary provision of the existing law is surely another powerful argument in favour of revising the law. An unfavourable judgment—if Her Majesty's Government had taken the opposite view in this case—would do unheard of damage to our relations with the Commonwealth country concerned. I cannot help wondering whether, if the Enahoro case had gone against the Nigerian Government, Nigeria might have left the Commonwealth, and we should thereby have lost the largest, most powerful and influential country in Africa. So long as the law remains unchanged we are placed on the horns of an intolerable dilemma whenever a Commonwealth country applies in our courts for the release of a political offender. We have the choice either to surrender our proud tradition of political asylum, or to offer a gross afront to one of our Commonwealth friends and neighbours.

This is not a theoretical asylum. It cannot be said that because no case has cropped up in the last year it will not happen again. This sort of thing may confront us again at any moment. We are all aware that the system of government in some of the new Commonwealth countries has already resulted in opponents of the ruling party seeking refuge abroad and being afraid to go home. So long as the law remains unchanged, another Enahoro case, with its inevitable consequences both for British public opinion and for the Commonwealth, could crop up to-morrow.

Her Majesty's Government agree that the law, as it stands, is unsatisfactory and that some alteration should be made. But the point that was made when this matter was debated a year ago was that nothing should be done without consultation with Commonwealth countries; and, of course, we should entirely agree with that. I will not weary your Lordships with an extract from the record of what the former Prime Minister, Mr. Macmillan, said in the debate, but I know the noble Earl opposite will agree that he gave the undertaking that Commonwealth countries would be consulted immediately with a view to getting their agreement to some alteration in the law. This is absolutely the right procedure.

We are just as anxious as the Government that Commonwealth countries should agree with whatever we want to do. But it was just over a year ago that the former Prime Minister said he would start discussions with other Commonwealth Governments. Three weeks ago I asked the Government whether these discussions had been brought to a conclusion, and the noble Duke, the Duke of Devonshire, told me that they were still going on. It seems almost unbelievable that our High Commissioners in Commonwealth countries, who received their instructions about a year ago, should still be unable to ascertain views, one way or the other, of the Commonwealth Governments to which they are accredited. I can only say that it shows that the Government have no sense of the urgency of completing these discussions.

These things can be done quickly. When my noble friend Lord Attlee was Prime Minister, we completed the discussions with the Government of India, which resulted in the division of British India between India and Pakistan, and an independent Constitution for these two new countries, within four months. Where there's a will, there's a way. What is lacking in the present Government and the present Prime Minister is the will to see this thing through. I really do not know—at least, so far as my knowledge of what has happened recently goes—any worse example of the weakness and ineptitude of the present Government than their failure after this long period of time to bring these discussions to a conclusion.

What I would suggest, if the Government are still bogged down in these discussions at an official level, is that when the Prime Ministers' Conference takes place in July they should take the initiative in putting this matter on the Conference Agenda. I should like the noble Earl to reply to this question, if he will, at the end of the debate. I have not given him notice, and I do not suggest he should answer it immediately, but he will have an opportunity between now and the end of the debate to consult his advisers. I am sure that if in the end we find that other Commonwealth countries do not agree, they will appreciate our right to legislate, without their concurrence, on any matter we consider equitable and in the best interests of the Commonwealth. That is exactly what they would expect to do if in our position.

I very much hope that in raising this British aspect, and only a limited aspect, of the refugee problem I have not given the House the impression of losing sight of the wood for the trees. That was not at all my intention. My main plea to the Government is exactly the same as the plea made by the noble Baroness, that the Government should treat the refugees with a statesmanlike policy, and a generous policy at the same time.

3.41 p.m.


My Lords, with your Lordships' permission, I hope to make a few winding-up remarks at the end of this debate, and I rise now for only a few moments so that I may give an immediate reply to the question about the Charity Commissioners which my noble friend Lady Elliot of Harwood raised towards the end of her speech, because I thought it might economise time and perhaps be helpful to some of your Lordships who were going to speak if the Government's view about this matter could be stated early in the debate.

Some of the voluntary organisations which Lady Elliot of Harwood has in mind have expressed concern that the charitable nature of their activities may be questioned as a matter of law. From the Government's point of view, we think it is very important that the springs of charity, which are very wide and deep in this country, should not be impeded by any needless apprehension about the rigidity of the law on this matter. Charity law in England and Wales has evolved over a great many years, and I think its principles are widely understood. But, of course, the application of those principles to particular circumstances may sometimes pose questions of some difficulty. It would not be right for a Minister to make pronouncements on the position of any particular charities, or to indicate whether the object of any appeal is, or is not, charitable according to law. That is a function which Parliament has entrusted to the Charity Commissioners and, within their field of interest, to the Inland Revenue. Their function is a semi-judicial one and their decisions, of course, may be tested in the courts.

Your Lordships will have seen that the Charity Commissioners themselves offered some guidance in their Report for 1962, when they pointed out that appeals to enable charities to play their part in the fields which my noble friend and the noble Earl opposite have been discussing should be confined to charitable purposes, and should state accurately what their purposes are. The money collected must then be devoted to those purposes, because those who administer the charities are in the position of trustees of the money which is given, and they must apply it in accordance with the intention of the giver.

I understand that the declared objects of the charities which are operating overseas are usually expressed in terms sufficiently wide to cover the whole range of projects which have hitherto been supported, but not quite always. It is sometimes difficult to decide whether a particular project on which money is to be spent is charitable or not, and to assist them in applying the law in these difficult cases the Charity Commissioners and the Inland Revenue have sought legal advice. They have now got it, and I understand that both the Charity Commissioners and the Inland Revenue believe that it will enable them to regard the great majority of the projects which have come to their notice so far as falling within the charitable field, and also within the trust purposes of the charities concerned.

It would, of course, be necessary for them, in consultation with the charity concerned, to go into the facts of any particular case, and to go into the trust instrument, if need be, in order that they may be satisfied. If any charity feels in any doubt about the charitable nature of the project it has undertaken, or wishes to undertake, it will be well advised to get in touch with the Commissioners, who will, I am sure, give all the help and advice they can.

The suggestion has been made by my noble friend that, in view of the encouragement which the Government have given to voluntary societies to devote their resources to work overseas on a more extensive scale than they hitherto have been doing, the Government should secure, if necessary by a change in the law, that no impediment should stand in the way of this laudable object. As your Lordships know, there is no statutory definition of "charity" The question of whether we should have a statutory definition was very fully debated during the course of the preparation and the passage through Parliament of the Charities Act, 1960, which modernised the whole of our charity law. The conclusion which was reached, with general acceptance, I think, was that there was no reason to change the existing law, and that there would be serious disadvantages in enacting a fresh statutory definition. That still remains the Government's view.

Of course, the law must always be able to protect donors who subscribe to charitable objects against any possible misapplication of the money which they have subscribed. But I am assured that any charity which is anxious, in good faith, to play its proper part in this great work of aid for those in need and distress overseas, need not feel that it will be obstructed; and that if there should be any need for an alteration in the objects for which a charity is established so as to remove doubt in borderline cases about its power to undertake particular projects within the field of charity law, then the Charity Commissioners will be prepared to give all the assistance they can.

My Lords, as there are so many of your Lordships who wish to take part in this debate, I will only add that I think the Government substantially agree with all that has been said, both by my noble friend Lady Elliot of Harwood and by the noble Earl opposite, except, perhaps, for the noble Earl's suggestion that we have been dragging our feet about getting an agreement with the Commonwealth concerning the law of extradition. We do not want there to be any unnecessary delay. I would put it to the noble Earl that it takes two to make an agreement, and there are a great many countries in the Commonwealth. Although, as he rightly said, we have in the last resort the right to legislate by ourselves, it would surely be preferable to get agreement if we can.

But in general I agree with the rest of what the noble Earl said. We are grateful to the noble Baroness for raising this Motion, and although she may no longer be engaged actively in this work we shall never forget her really magnificent performance in World Refugee Year, when she led the voluntary organisations of this country in raising the unprecedented sum of £9 million, which was the largest amount raised in any of the 97 countries which took part.

I will leave the other matters which she and the noble Earl mentioned—U.N.R.W.A., the German victims and Africa—until winding up at the end. We all deplore the modern 20th century inhumanity which seems to make it impossible for peoples, who somehow managed to live in the same country through the Dark Ages and the Middle Ages, to do so now, and we all agree that we should combine in our endeavour to mitigate the suffering which is caused by this inhumanity. My noble friend particularly asked about continuance of the U.N.R.W.A. High Commissioner. We voted last year for the United Nations High Commissioner to go on for another five years. The U.N.R.W.A. Commissioner had only a period of two years, which expires in June. We will certainly vote for his continuance. Whether the period will again be two years I cannot say.

As a Government, we have contributed since the war no less than £200 million altogether to the work of helping refugees. We have given more than any other country except the United States; and that applies in particular to U.N.R.W.A. The amount which we have given is very large in relation to that which the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, mentioned of £100,000 in 1962. He acknowledged that we had doubled that in 1963, after strong requests to do so in your Lordships' last debate, to which I had the honour of replying. We will certainly listen to all that is said in your Lordships' debate to-day. I think it is right that we should mention the fact that we have done more than any other country except the United States, but I should also, in particular, like to pay a tribute on behalf of the Government to all the voluntary organisations, the Churches and the other institutions, who are playing an indispensable part in this work of humanity and mercy.

3.53 p.m.


My Lords, it was my privilege for the major part of the month of April to lead a party of Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land. The opportunity to study the problem of Palestinian Arab refugees at first-hand was too great to be missed; and, with the co-operation of the High Commissioner and many officials of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, I was enabled to meet refugees, to talk with them and to see something of the many projects which have been devised for their assistance and encouragement. It is to the problem as it exists in Palestine that I shall confine myself. Before I say anything else, I should like to express my deep gratitude to the High Commissioner and many members of his staff for their unfailing kindness and courtesy, and to pay my tribute to the splendid labours of this devoted band of men and women.

There are approximately one and a quarter million refugees in the Middle East. About half of this number, some 650,000, are in Jordan; about 325,000 are in the Gaza Strip; and the balance are divided between Syria and the Lebanon. The total figure on January 1, 1964, showed an increase of 38,491 over the previous year because the rate of immigration and resettlement is exceeded by the excess of births over deaths among the refugee population. Despite this, there was a slight decrease in the total number receiving rations, which had fallen from approximately 881,000 to 879,000. Current policy is now not to place further children on the ration rolls except to the degree that other persons are removed from the roll. If U.N.R.W.A. rations and care were withdrawn there is no doubt at all that there would be added to the great hardship, squalor and poor conditions in which most of the refugees are living, the burden of severe privation and, in many cases, actual starvation.

I talk of rations. What does this mean? U.N.R.W.A.'s budget permits of the expenditure of £10 14s. per registered refugee per year; that is to say, approximately seven pennies per person per day. Of this money, 40 per cent. is spent on relief, 15 per cent. on health, 40 per cent. on education and 5 per cent. on social welfare. What the rations mean is a monthly allocation of 22 lb. of flour, 1⅓ lb. of rice, 1⅓ lb. of various pulse foods, just over 1 lb. of sugar, ¾ lb. of fat or oil, and a piece of salt; no meat, no fish and no fruit. It is an allowance of 1,500 calories in the seven summer months, and 1,600 calories in the five winter months. There are extra rations for pregnant women, nursing mothers and for cases recommended by the doctors. Until now each refugee has also received one blanket in every three years. This has now become one blanket in every four years. There is also an allowance of 2½ pints of kerosene a month for heating. Who could live on such a diet? The fact is that each refugee family has to fight for itself what is called the "battle of the gap", the gap between what is provided for them and the basic necessities of life.

There are many who would reply at once that they should work and not live on relief. Work, yes: but how? They are peasants and they have no land. The lands in which they now live are lands of unemployment. More than one-third of the total population of Jordan, over one-quarter of the population of Gaza, and one-tenth of the population of Lebanon and a smaller percentage of the population of Syria are refugees. Nearly one in six of the total population of these four Middle Eastern countries are refugees. And they are not countries of modern and growing indusstry; they are countries endowed with infertile soils, immense water problems, peasant herding and farming, and very little industry.

If we take Jordan as an example—and it is to be noted that there are important differences in the situations of each of these countries—50 per cent. of the total labour force are engaged in agriculture, 30 per cent. in urban employment and 15 per cent. are unemployed. It is a remarkable thing that the refugees get as much work as they do. Among them, unskilled workers secure some employment at about 5s. a day. semi-skilled workers up to about 10s. a day. About 40 per cent. of the refugee labour force manage to get work for between 60 and 90 days of the year; a far smaller percentage are in permanent work. How the rest manage to live no one knows.

The fact is that U.N.R.W.A. has done well in relief, but not nearly so well in the provision of work or completely resettling. These are problems which have no solution on the terms which now exist. The provision of relief work has proved to be too costly. Money was not voted for long-term projects of water conservation, land use, irrigation and so on indicated in the Economic Survey Mission for the Middle East, of 1950. There has been some emigration, mainly to the United States, Canada, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand, but the total figure for the six years ending June, 1963, did not exceed 200,000 persons. Serious attempts are now being made for vocational training, and I myself visited the vocational training centre at Kalandin, where facilities are available for training 392 persons, and the Ramullah Training Centre for girls. I also visited centres for training health workers and pharmacists. The work that is going on in these centres is beyond all praise.

It is important that it should be noted that this is a field where, because of strict limitation of funds, only the surface is being skimmed. I was told by the head of the training school that in the whole of Jordan there is only one garage where a Jaguar car can be repaired. There is a grave shortage of skilled mechanics, as there is of engineers and technical personnel of all kinds at all levels. Certain Swedish firms have recently opened three-year courses for refugees as motor mechanics, part of the training being done in Sweden. This is something which provides great benefit, not simply to the individuals concerned but to the whole economy of these Arab countries. I have with me a letter from a boy who has gone overseas to learn. This is his letter to his instructor: From the country of calm and sound organisation I send you sound and true greetings. It is difficult to express in writing our gratitude for the sincere services you have rendered to us by teaching us to lead the proper way. You have been a brother, a friend, and a father to all of us. I am proud of extending the news of my success in Sweden. This has come through your hearty efforts and those of the instructional staff, particularly those of Mr. Salloum whose instruction has proved our attainment of the same standards as those of our colleagues from this country of advanced industry and "high standards"— that is Sweden. I shall always cherish the memories of my time spent in the Centre, which is a large house accommodating many fathers and brothers. Please convey on my behalf my best wishes and regards to all the brother instructors and colleagues. To every ambitious trainee I wish all the good luck to have the opportunity I had of seeing the Western world. Your obedient son, Ragheb Hasan El-Ayyeh. There is warning and encouragement in these lines of the young Ragheb Hasan El-Ayyeh. As young Arabs grow up in idleness and poverty they will be the more prone to war; as they grow up in the technical skills they so deeply desire with the aid of the West the more will they be disposed to peace. If British industry and British trade unions could see this as a great task for the furtherance of peace, the gain to the whole world would be immense. That is something which both industry and the trade unions must see.

The truth is that the majority of the refugees do not want to emigrate. Why should they? What they really want is to return whence they came. But the immediate reality we have all to face is that there can be no hope for them save in the total development of the whole bloc of Middle East countries, where there is space for all, but where there will be work for all only when there is economic development and expansion.

Time does not permit to go into the details of health centres, schools, youth centres, and other projects that I visited. None of the ones I saw was run by foreign experts, but by refugees themselves. They meet immense need bravely and skilfully and develop a self-sacrificing co-operation which is a joy to see. School children donate their coppers to help plant trees in their playgrounds, to build shelter from the scorching sun; poverty-striken villagers provide money to help build their own post office or their own little pleasure garden. With their own hands, I watched them, building their mosque. In one school in the region of Jericho there is a photograph on the wall of the staff and pupils of the Queen Elizabeth School for Girls in Barnet. The girls of this school have collected £400 to help this particular Arab school at Jericho, and have financed an expedition of the headmistress of that school to Britain, both to be the guest of the school in Barnet and to take educational courses here in Britain. This is the kind of imaginative gesture which schools and church groups throughout the country could well follow.

Tribute must also be paid to the British Red Cross, the International Red Cross and the many Christian and other organisations which have done so much to help in this tragic problem.

Faced with a problem so immense, of course there are difficulties and shortcomings. People die and their names are not removed from the ration rolls; material is not always used for the purpose for which it is donated. But problems like these are minimal and the authorities are aware of them and do their best to face them. The overwhelming problem which the conscience of mankind must face is not this; it is that 25,000 young people per year are growing up with nothing to do in any discernible future. You cannot prostitute the human spirit in this way without reaping a terrible reward.

Already this year the acceptance of further schemes of vocational training were made contingent on a 5 per cent. reduction in relief, a cut which I regard as appalling. Just think, 7d. per day on food and a 5 per cent. cut! These schemes need more money, not less, and it should be realised that the amount paid for these purposes by Her Majesty's Government and by other Governments is a modest contribution indeed towards the peace of the Middle East, in which we are so deeply and so intimately concerned.

But this, I venture to think, is a minor matter. Before long a decision is to be taken as to the whole future of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. Will it continue after June 30, 1965, or not? I beg that Her Majesty's Government will stand resolutely within the counsels of the United Nations for its continuance. To interfere with it at this point of time would result in an enormous increase of human suffering and, because it would be the end of the moral authority of the United Nations in the Middle East, might make war almost certain.

I have already said that there is no real future for so many of these unhappy people unless there is a major development of Middle East economics. Here is the real challenge to us and to the Western world. Project after project has been tabled by United Nations Agencies and rejected for budgetary reasons. I regret this for many reasons, not least for the reason of self-preservation, for wise preventive action is often the best means of defence. Possibly some diminution of armaments expenditure, even the price of one nuclear bomb, would begin the road by which alone this problem could be solved, and would make a major contribution to the peace of the Middle East and so to our own security and defence. Here I think is a challenge to the Government, a challenge to all the United Nations and a challenge to all Christian people.

It would be wrong to finish without facing the bitter reality that, in the immediate future, this particular problem of human suffering is a political one. The refugees demand return to their previous homes; they demand compensation. But even if Israel were to offer compensation it would be refused because its acceptance would imply a settlement. One refugee school teacher said to me, "We are here for a long time; we are here till Arab unity is accomplished. Then we shall push Israel into the sea." While I was in Jerusalem the King of Jordan came there to say that the Arab League had agreed on this subject and Jordanian Palestine was to be made a base for the restoration of the whole of Palestine to Arab possession. For this, said the King, he would give his blood.

On the other side, the Government of Israel—I saw some of its representatives—says that it sees the human problem, but it cannot admit into its country 1¼ million potential fifth columnists. Behind Israel and its formation stands the whole historic iniquity of Christendom and the savage and relentless persecution of the Jews in Europe. Here is a problem before which I think we must be quite humble. But, perhaps because I speak as a Christian, I cannot abandon the hope that Jew and Arab, these two ancient Semitic peoples, will one day inhabit the land together, will live in peace in those ancient lands of the Bible which are wide enough and fair enough to hold them both. Till that day comes it is our solemn duty, with the rest of the United Nations, to hold the peace—and to give aid, to give aid, for now is the time.

4.11 p.m.


My Lords, though I am an inferior clergyman I have upon a previous occasion taken it upon myself to congratulate a right reverend Prelate on his maiden speech. This afternoon it falls to me to do so by custom, and I am glad to take this opportunity because I share with the right reverend Prelate who has just spoken the conviction that politics and religion are not things to be kept in separate compartments, but much the reverse. I am sure we all value greatly this first contribution that the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Southwark has made to our debates. I hope we can look forward to seeing him on many future occasions on these Benches. I think I know him well enough to say that, whether we look forward to it or not, his contributions on those future occasions are quite certain to be searching, trenchant and almost certainly most controversial.

The noble Baroness who introduced this debate on behalf of my noble friend Lord Astor has already reviewed some of the changes, developments, setbacks and achievements which have occurred in this field since we considered this matter in the context of World Refugee Year in 1960. As the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has said in a recent report, it was not until after 1955 that it was possible to offer much more than emergency relief to refugees. It is only since then really that the plight of refugees has begun to be effectively tackled in the wider context of international aid and development.

What the right reverend Prelate has just said illustrates the importance of tackling these problems more and more in that wider context. The wider terms of the Motion to-day, calling attention to the problem of refugees, disaster and international assistance", reflect this change of approach. In these last four years, while the original relief work has certainly had to be carried on and has continued to meet each fresh disaster and each fresh refugee problem as it has occurred, while the approach has switched in emphasis to deal in turn with such things as the earthquake in Skopje, the refugees in Rwanda, the flood disasted in Langarowe and the cyclone in Pakistan—while all this has continued, as it has to do, and as it will always have to do, there have been developing, further back as it were, new and more sophisticated plans, and more sophisticated structures to embody these plans, for tackling human need in greater depth and with longer-term measures and projects.

I have just made a short list of some events—birthdays, really, which illustrate this trend. For instance, we had in 1960 the birth in this country of our own Overseas Development Institute. We had the creation in 1961 of the Department of Technical Co-operation; also, in the same year, the change in emphasis when the O.E.C.C. became the O.E.C.D. In 1961, following upon World Refugee Year but with a quite different emphasis, we had the beginning of the International Freedom from Hunger Campaign, with its climax in this country in 1963 when we last discussed hunger. Finally, as the noble Baroness mentioned, we have the formation of this Disaster Committee. Those are only samples, among many others, which reflect a general awakening and a widening of public concern and interest throughout this country and the well-to-do nations of the world.

I see all this as the equivalent on an international scale of that which in this country first led to the pioneer social reforms of the 19th century. I see it as the equivalent to the climate of thought which was crystallised, for example, in the findings of the Royal Commission on Poor Law Administration in this country in 1906, and to the great public debate which followed it. I see these changes as the counterpart, on an international scale, of the trends which led in this country, to the flowering of our National Health Service, our National Insurance schemes and our welfare services after the war.

Your Lordships may feel that to talk like this is to be fanciful; that it is wishful thinking. On the other hand, let us look at some of the facts which I believe give weight to this conviction—a conviction which, I hold, is widely shared. There are, I believe, a number of signs that we are living at the dawning of an international social conscience that is determined to establish sturdy, flexible and effective means of ensuring that food, work and homes are more justly shared among mankind than they are at the present day: the determination to bridge the gulf between the two worlds in the way in which we bridged the gulf in this country between the two nations.

May I take four examples to illustrate the strength of this determination? We have heard recently a good deal about the Voluntary Service Overseas. It is only six years ago, in 1958, that a Member of this House first mooted this project in the pages of the Sunday Times. This year, only six years later, we have 300 school-leavers and 500 graduates giving a year of their life to serve overseas in grappling with some of the problems which we are debating to-day. The V.S.O. is only one sample of many others like it that I could have quoted. Take Oxfam, for instance, only just coming of age—21 years old, but now already a national institution: Oxfam, which harnesses the care and compassion of people in this country for human need overseas to the tune of £2¼ million per annum; which, with many other older and more established organisations copes with hunger, homelessness and disaster all over the world, both with immediate relief and with helping with longer-term solutions.

I notice particularly, among the faster growing features of Oxfam, the support that they get in regular, sustained, covenanted gifts. This is the support of people who are receiving from Oxfam Headquarters regular monthly bulletins of what their money is being used to do. It is the support of people who are combining their giving with an understanding of the problems they are dealing with.

Take the churches. The Churches' Inter-Church Aid and Refugee Service is far and away the largest department in the World Council of Churches, which the Churches operate in common. Christian Aid Week, which takes place at the end of this month, is by a long way the greatest single combined operation which the Churches of this country stage together. By this means, year by year, they lay the whole range of human need before the public at large, they demonstrate some of the means used to tackle it, and invite public support to help. This single annual enterprise by the Churches, engaging the active support of about half a million people in a single week, evokes a public response of around £700,000.

This readiness, shown by these two examples, this eagerness to grapple with human need outside our own shores, is by no means confined to this country. In fact, in some respects we lag behind others. In France, for instance, where, after their experience in Algeria and Indo-China in the past decade, one might expect a rather jaundiced attitude towards the less developed and less fortunate countries, we find aid running at the very high rate of something like £10 per head per annum, compared with an equivalent figure in this country of around £6. These are rather crude figures and if the Government have better or more accurate ones I shall be happy to be corrected, but I believe this to be roughly right.

In Holland the scale of international assistance in relation to their resources is even more impressive and striking. I believe it is more than double the 1 per cent. of gross national product advocated by the United Nations for the Development Decade. I read in the January Bulletin of the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees a graphic account of a recent campaign in Holland in support of a number of refugee projects in Turkey and in Greece. For this nearly one million dollars was raised, and in this case much of the success was due to the wholehearted and imaginative co-operation of the Dutch television, radio and press services, which sent correspondents to the problem areas and built up programmes and articles in support of the campaign at home.

I say all this just to make one point. I believe that we need to reckon now with a rapidly widening and deepening desire among people everywhere still more thoroughly to come to grips with all that has been set before us once again by this debate. It is up to all of us to move on with the greatest despatch to build up services on an international scale at least as generous, effective and comprehensive as the social services which we have come to have and to enjoy in this country. The need is certainly there, I believe the means are there, and the will to use them is there. As our children might say, it is up to us to "get with it": to pray, to think, to plan and to work towards the day when there is no one without food to eat, work and to do and a home to live in.

4.25 p.m.


My Lords, at a time like this, when we are all conscious of the refugee problem which is brought home to us day after day in our newspapers, it is apt that we should have a debate of this kind. Those of us who have been to refugee camps feel impelled to make a contribution because we cannot forget the plight of those miserable people, helpless and homeless, whom we saw.

I find myself to-day a disappointed person. I listened first to the noble Baroness, whose efforts in Refugee Year quite rightly have been applauded by speaker after speaker. She did a wonderful job in raising more money—£9 million—than was raised in any other country. Having heard her opening speech, I sat back and thought, well things are better. Then I heard the right reverend Prelate make his maiden speech—I congratulate him on it and on his forthright manner; and, if I may dare say this in the presence of his superior, we rarely hear this forthright approach from that Bench, and it was rather refreshing to-day—and I found it most difficult to reconcile his speech with that made by the noble Baroness, although I recognise, of course, that the noble Baroness dealt particularly with the Girls' Training College, and not with the detailed way of life which was dealt with by the right reverend Prelate.

I cannot forget—and I have mentioned this on another occasion when we had a debate on refugees—the occasion when I went to that camp eight or nine years ago, and in the scorching heat and the dust watched a tragic band of children being treated for incipient trachoma. The doctor was there treating these children, everting their eyelids, and I went near, as I thought I might give a hand. But the doctor turned away from me, showing quite clearly that he regarded me very unfavourably, since he identified me with the plight of the refugees. I presented a target for his professional wrath. He projected all those pent up frustrations which symbolise the attitude of the refugees.


What camp was this?


It was the camp by the Dead Sea in Jericho, the one the right reverend Prelate spoke about; I think it is the biggest in the Middle East. I fully understood his pent up feelings. Those small children were being subjected to treatment for a disease which was entirely preventable if they had had a chance to live under better conditions. The doctor knew this and I knew it, and his indignation was too great for words. Then I saw the squalor; I saw those appalling huts in which there were seven, eight and nine people sleeping. I enquired about the calories they were taking, because that is our only test of nutrition, and was told that calorie consumption was very low. I enquired about the ration books and heard that they were not surrendered after the people died because bodies were hidden in the hills.

I had formed the opinion, on hearing the noble Baroness's speech, that after nine years everything had changed. I have a feeling that the noble Lady was perhaps not shown everything, because I think she would agree with me that those two speeches cannot be reconciled.


My Lords, I did not want to interrupt the noble Lady, but I would point out that I did go to the same camp, which is called Aqabet Jaber. I went there originally three years ago. Then all the hutments the noble Lady had been speaking about had been replaced by little breeze-block or mud houses, and the conditions were very much better then. Now the houses are better still. There is much better sanitation, there are now shops and streets and people trading with each other, and so on. I know that the right reverend Prelate is quite right in saying that there are vast numbers of people who do not get employment, but what U.N.W.R.A. has done in this particular camp—and there are others too, but I went to this one in particular, because I had been there on an occasion before—is nothing short of a miracle. They have a Y.M.C.A. and a Y.W.C.A., they have schools and clinics, and the things which the noble Baroness saw when she was there ten years ago simply do not exist at all now.


I am glad to hear that. I am very glad to hear that they have got modern sanitation, and that the ghastly slops that were collected at 4 a.m. every morning from the people in the huts have all disappeared.




Then the extreme squalor which I saw then is no more. I am very pleased to hear this from the noble Lady, and I feel that I can continue my speech along those lines. It is no doubt very difficult for the right reverend Prelate to believe that nine years ago things were infinitely worse than anything he saw recently. It is the kind of thing that left such an impression on one's mind, that one came away so ashamed because one could not do anything. After that I went to visit camps in the Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, and there one learnt at first hand the full, miserable import of the word "refugee".

I have had an opportunity since last year of meeting Dr. Flack, the medical adviser who is in charge of U.N.R.W.A.'s medical services, who came through London, and Doctor Davis, the former Commissioner General of U.N.R.W.A., before he returned to the United States. It was some comfort to learn from them that 30,000 young refugees, reaching maturity each year with no prospect of a normal working life, had had their lot eased to some extent. I am rather anxious to know to what extent it has been eased, and whether the institutions that the noble Lady saw, particularly those for girls, are anything more than a prototype. We must have prototypes, but we should like to know just how far they have gone.

I understand that the expansion of general education and vocational and teacher training is now well established, and that U.N.R.W..A. is making a special effort to improve the quality of teaching in its schools by setting up an in-service teacher training institute. That is quite new. But I could not quite understand why on earth they did not use earlier the material they had in the camps to get instructors and teach potential teachers. Could we know how this is developing and whether there is an adequate supply of instructors and equipment? When I was there there were not even enough books. It seems a dream, and noble Lords may not believe it, but I saw children standing round at both ends of one book, so that some of them looked at it with the print upside down. That was their only opportunity of getting near a book. I should like to know whether they have everything that is necessary now, because surely all these wonderful people who are helping would make even bigger contributions if they knew that these children were denied books.

However, it seems to me that the major problem for refugee youth is prolonged unemployment, with the consequent risks of demoralisation. I am told that, with the fund from the World Refugee Year, the Agency expected by the end of 1963 that there would be ten teacher training centres and ten vocational training centres. The noble Lady mentioned ten teacher training centres, but I did not hear her mention ten vocational centres. Are they actually in being? We all know about politicians, and the fact that people talk about plans and planning for the year to come. We were promised these things, but are the ten institutes for teachers and the ten for vocational training in being? We were also told that they would be able to turn out 2,500 trained youths a year. Were they turned out last year, or is this pie in the sky?

Although I have read the material very thoroughly, I find it difficult to assess the real rate of progress. Could we know what percentage of girls and boys—I should like to have the sexes separated, because, with the noble Lady, I welcome this change in approach to women in the Middle East—receive vocational education compared, let us say, to the percentage five years ago? In so many of the documents we are given numbers; and numbers, of course, convey very little when one is thinking in relative terms.

We read these days of the deterioration of the situation in the Middle East in relation to the Western countries. Practically everybody who has spoken has said he has no intention of dealing with the political problem. My Lords, this is a political assembly. Are we really helping the situation if each and every one of us refuses to grasp this nettle, and simply says, "The time will come when everything will be all right and the peoples of the Middle East will be living together again"? In my opinion, these refugee camps constitute a canker which erodes the whole region. I realise that the instances I have put are concerned with symptoms of a condition, and not with the fundamental cure. I would remind the House that the impartial arbitrator who was called in many years ago was the United Nations Organisation, and it recommended treatment and a prescription.

The Commissioner General—and I think everybody recognises that Dr. Davis has done extraordinarily well in the Middle East—has thought it necessary recently to remind the world of what the United Nations Organisation recommended. He repeated again that we should find means of carrying out the provisions of paragraph 11 of General Assembly Resolution 195, which recommended repatriation or compensation of the Palestine refugees. It has been said that this is impossible. I believe that the time for this has come, when there are in Israel fine men and women of vision, of understanding, who would welcome support from this country, and who believe that more of these people should be returned. We are told (and the noble Lord who has just spoken has said this) that Israel has said, "These people would be subversive and they would be a fifth column." I would say that not all of them would be prepared to return. I do not agree that if they were offered compensation they would all refuse—not at all. These men and women are all like ourselves and they want a home. If they find that they have money to settle elsewhere they will do so.

I am firmly convinced that these things should be said, and that we are not aiding Israel or the Arabs by running away from the problem and simply saying that we have no intention of dealing with the political aspect of the refugee problem. The noble Lord said—and I agree with him—that finally Arabs and Jews will live together as they have in the past, very happily. But we are not helping. All we are doing is propping up this refugee service, which becomes more dangerous to the Middle East with every year that passes. These young men and women listen to the radio, they think for themselves, and they are aggressive by instinct as all young people are. They have been fed with the stories of the past, and the problem is not going to be solved by just having debates in which we say nice words about the people who are helping in the refugee camps. I believe that it is only when the United Nations directions are observed that this tragic problem will be resolved.

4.40 p.m.


My Lords, I wish to refer, quite briefly, to one particular point which was mentioned by the noble Baroness in moving the Motion and which has been mentioned in, I think, one or two subsequent speeches, and that is the question of arranging for better and more effective co-operation and collaboration between the various voluntary societies in this country and elsewhere which are interested in the question of international emergency relief. This is, of course, a matter in which the British Red Cross Society, of whose Executive Committee I have the honour to be Chairman, is very much concerned, and that is the reason why I am venturing to intervene in the discussion this afternoon.

I should say straight away that when I speak of international emergency relief I am thinking of short-term emergency help to the populations or countries which have been stricken by some sudden disaster, whether it be a disaster brought about by natural causes, such as an earthquake or a flood, or whether it be some sudden emergency, such as the influx of refugees due primarily to political factors.

The aid to be given in such cases varies, of course, according to the circumstances. It may be medical assistance or supplies, or it may be help to prevent the spread of epidemics. Sometimes it is emergency supplies of food or clothes; at other times, what is wanted is tents and blankets and temporary shelter. In short, what I am speaking about is first-aid action in an emergency. I am not referring to the longer-term work, such as the rehabilitation and resettlement of refugees, or the planning of agricultural development and re-afforestation, or the rebuilding and reconstruction of villages or schools. In fact, my remarks will be directed entirely to the question of disasters, and not to the problem of refugees. This is not, I hasten to say, because of any lack of sympathy on my part or, even more so, on the part of the British Red Cross Society in the question of refugees, but simply because that matter has been far more eloquently dealt with this afternoon by others, and because it is perhaps just worth while saying something about disasters, for they have a habit of cropping up at very short notice.

The British Red Cross Society have, of course, always taken a very active interest and part in the problems of emergency relief in the case of overseas disasters. We were actively engaged in the relief work which followed up the earthquakes in Morocco, in Yugoslavia and in Iran during recent years, and at this very moment we are engaged, at the request of the Government of Uganda, in giving what help we can to provide medical assistance in connection with the influx of refugees from Rwanda. We have, as a matter of fact, two medical teams in that area at the moment, and we have recently received a request from the Uganda authorities for the despatch of two further teams to deal with a fresh influx of refugees, this time from the Southern Sudan.

But, as has been said this afternoon, there are several other voluntary societies in this country who have been, and are, very active in the same field, and there is an obvious risk of overlapping, and possibly some waste of effort. So far, therefore, as the British Red Cross Society are concerned, we should certainly be very much in favour of any steps which can be taken to ensure close and effective co-operation and collaboration between all the voluntary societies in this country. Such co-operation is obviously highly desirable from the point of view of the recipient country, if only to ensure that there is no duplication of effort and that the help given from abroad takes the form which is most suitable to the circumstances of the time. Equally, co-opera- tion is very desirable from the point of view of the donor in this country, who naturally wishes to be assured that the money which he has contributed is being spent in the most useful fashion and with the greatest measure of economy.

There are certain difficulties in the way of such co-operation, because there are differences between all these various voluntary societies—differences in organisation, differences in methods of raising their funds, differences, to some extent, in their objectives. For example, we in the British Red Cross Society, as I think I have already made clear, are primarily concerned with first-aid operations—the provision of medical assistance, and so forth—whereas some of the other voluntary societies feel able to extend their activities rather further into the longer-term field of rehabilitation or reconstruction.

Some of these voluntary societies are also able to concentrate nearly all their efforts and nearly all their funds on their activities abroad, whereas the work of the British Red Cross Society overseas is only a part, although a very important part, of its general activities. As your Lordships know, those activities consist very largely of a major effort in this country in the relief of suffering and distress and in the training of individuals in first-aid and nursing.

There are also other differences of approach and method. Inter-Church Aid, for example, in its activities abroad operates largely through the World Council of Churches, while the Red Cross has very close links with the League of Red Cross Societies in Geneva and with the various national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies throughout the world. In this connection, I might say that in our activities the Red Cross have found that in nearly every case the most efficient way of sending aid abroad, or of ensuring that the aid which is sent abroad is put to proper use, is to work through the existing authorities or societies in the recipient country. In most cases that may be the local Red Cross or Red Crescent society; in others, it may be the local government authority. By and large, we have always found that the best thing to do is to make the maximum use of the local authorities and the local societies, if only because that is usually the most acceptable method to the Government of the foreign or overseas country concerned.

But the mere fact that there are these differences of approach between the different British societies, I think and my society feels, makes it all the more desirable to ensure that there is the closest measure of collaboration between them in this question of relief for overseas disasters. There is, as a matter of fact, already a very considerable measure of collaboration. There is a constant flow of information between the main societies about developments abroad. For example, such information is being exchanged about the present very unhappy situation in Uganda. Furthermore, some of the societies, notably Oxfam, The Save the Children Fund and War on Want, have during the past twelve months most generously channelled very considerable sums of money through the British Red Cross Society for expenditure on overseas relief.

As the noble Baroness has said, a further step has been taken quite recently by the constitution of a committee called the Disaster Emergencies Committee. This consists of representatives of the five societies, Oxfam, War on Want, Inter-Church Aid, The Save The Children Fund and the British Red Cross Society, with representatives of the Government Departments most immediately concerned. The noble Viscount, Lord Astor, to whose initiative the foundation of this Committee was to a large extent due, is also a member in his capacity as Chairman of the Standing Conference of the British Organisations for Aid to Refugees. This Committee, I should explain, is in no way exclusive. It is entirely possible to include any other organisations or societies as and when they may be appropriate. It is quite informal; it does not possess any executive power; it can only advise the constituent societies. But it provides a very useful channel for the exchange of information.

It enables the representatives of the societies to reach an agreed estimate about the seriousness of any particular disaster; it makes it possible for them to consider and decide what form any assistance from this country might most usefully take. It can also make recommendations as to which of the various British societies are in the best position to supply that aid. Sometimes, of course, the aid takes the form of supplies or medical personnel; sometimes it takes the form of foodstuffs; but, more often than not, what is most wanted urgently is actual money to enable necessary supplies and foodstuffs to be bought on the spot. We hope to be able to carry this process of co-ordination further; but bearing in mind the various differences in organisation and approach of the different societies, and remembering and respecting their very natural desire to maintain their independence, I think this is a process which will have to proceed carefully and must not be pushed too fast.

That is all very well so far as this country is concerned. But there is an equal, perhaps even greater, need for co-operation on the international front. To some extent, of course, that co-operation already exists in the shape of the machinery of the League of Red Cross Societies at Geneva. This is, so to speak, the United Nations of the Red Cross movement. It has a highly efficient staff in Geneva and is in direct and constant touch with the various national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies all over the world. It is, therefore, in a position to collect and pass on to the various Red Cross societies immediate information about any disaster which may occur abroad. It can also advise as to the form in which any urgent assistance can best be given. It can express an opinion as to the extent to which the local authorities or local Red Cross societies may or may not be able to cope themselves with the emergency; and it can suggest that help should be given from such-and-such a country rather than from another. In fact, it acts as a co-ordinating agency and, to a large extent, prevents overlapping and waste of effort.

However, although this goes on all the time—and it goes on very efficiently —at present it covers only the Red Cross world; it does not cover the many voluntary organisations in other countries which are interested in this question of helping in international emergencies of this kind. Nor does it cover the specialised Agencies of the United Nations such as the High Commissioner for Refugees and the Food and Agriculture Organisation. It seems to us highly desirable that some steps should be taken to bring all these organisations, official and unofficial, or, at least, the more important of them, into some system of co-ordination and co-operation. But we must bear in mind the undesirability of setting up some new piece of machinery just for the sake of creating a new toy; and we must remember the importance of making the maximum use of the existing and well-tried machinery of the United Nations Agencies and the League of Red Cross Societies.

I understand that a meeting was very recently held in Geneva between the representatives of the United Nations and the League, with a view to discussing just this problem. I do not know what the outcome of this discussion was, or, indeed, whether the discussion has yet been finished. But so far as the British Red Cross Society is concerned, I would hope that some practical results may emerge, and would certainly wish these negotiations well. I hope that Her Majesty's Government would also view these developments with favour.

4.58 p.m.


My Lords, I do not want to follow many of the arguments that have been made about the problem of the refugees of the world, and particularly those in the Middle East. What I want to do is to follow up some of the thoughts of the noble Lord, Lord Inchyra, because I, too, have been connected with the work of the Red Cross Society for a long time, though in a more humble capacity than the noble Lord who has just spoken. It has been suggested in the past that there might be some new central body to deal with emergencies—say, something working under the United Nations—which would be an official body to deal with these problems. For the moment, I am not talking about the refugee problem but about the disasters, which is the second point mentioned in the Motion we have before us. If some official body were appointed to do this relief work, I do not think the work would be done so efficiently as it is now, because the Red Cross have had a long experience and are able to supply voluntary relief when an emergency occurs, thereby anticipating Government or more official action.

When a flood or earthquake disaster occurs, two points arise. The first is to supply immediate relief to cope with hunger, disease, lack of clothing, sanitary arrangements, et cetera. The second is to provide long-term rehabilitation and reconstruction, so that the normal standards of living can be restored. The former has to be done with the utmost speed possible. The second requires a comprehensive agreement, thought out calmly and quietly.

Why I think that the first can be better done by a voluntary society than by some Governmental or official agency is that it must be done quickly. The trouble about official agencies is that they not only tend to be expensive to administer, but also work slowly, being governed by regulations and rules which are not really flexible. Another reason why we should encourage the voluntary societies to do this sort of work is because, if we do not do that, it is quite likely that the well of voluntary kindness will dry up, and I think that that would be a catastrophe for mankind in general. I am associated closely with two charitable organisations and I am surprised to find what an enormous amount of money comes in to them, because people realise that they are bodies which are worthy.

The trouble about a Governmental organisation is that they cannot act promptly. When they can come into action, they work extremely efficiently, but the one thing they cannot do is to act promptly when a disaster occurs. Where Government can assist is in supplying such things as helicopters, landing craft, shipping space for supplies and stores and suchlike things. Another point, however, is that it is difficult to get long-term relief work done, if support is not forthcoming from the Government of the country where the disaster occurs.

One point about the Red Cross is that it has become a very satisfactory clearing house for information about the work of voluntary bodies, and I think that a good deal of the money and work of these other bodies has been channelled through the Red Cross. I should like to see something of the same sort being done by the League of Red Cross Societies in Geneva, so that all relief could be canalised via Geneva, because the Red Cross have enormous experience and a great amount of skill, and I am sure that they would do this work far better than any other body would.

I think it would be an advantage if a representative of the United Nations were attached to the Red Cross—I believe they have someone attached in Geneva and in New York—so that they can assist in getting the relief required organised in the proper way. It is important that they should be advisers and that the actual work should be done by the local people. That is one of the reasons why I think the Red Cross has its great reputation. People know that the Red Cross workers do the work on the job themselves and do not leave it to Government Departments and other official bodies. I shall be very interested to know what the Government's reply will be about the suggestion that something more might be done to encourage the Red Cross Society to form a world clearing house for relief.

5.7 p.m.


My Lords, there was a time when automatically people who professed a faith gave one-tenth of their incomes, in cash or kind, for the alleviation of distress of others, and it seems sad, because we are more affluent to-day, that people seem to have mislaid that idea completely. I feel that your Lordships do not want to discuss the collection of money, but would rather like to think for a moment about what our responsibilities as a nation really are. As several speakers have said, our name has stood high throughout history, not only for providing a place in this country for people but, much more important, for giving them an opportunity to merge into and become part of the body corporate of the country.

I have visited refugees in most parts of the world—in Germany, in the Middle East, in Hong Kong and in Korea. And, like other speakers, I feel that once one has seen the amount of tragedy there is, one can never stop recognising the amount of work one ought to do in order to be able to help. One has to think to-day not only of the registered refugees, but also of the out-of-camp refugees, unlisted and very often unknown. As the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, said, they are not only helpless but homeless—and, I would add, something even more serious, they are hopeless. To my mind, this is the worst thing of all.

We in Great Britain believe in trying to help other people and to achieve this we have always had recourse, in the first place, to appealing to the emotional reactions of the people of Great Britain. Their natural impulse is first to open their purses and cheque books. But we must face the fact that that is only the beginning and we must not rely on that for all the strength. In addition, we must think of how we can keep the interest of those who are helping, how we can keep the support of the individuals.

Here I think we must examine what we as responsible people feel is needed in such appeals, so that they are handled with safeguards for the public. Surely what we need to examine is the vast undertaking of settling and absorbing these tragic people, not only in Great Britain, but throughout the world. In our own country we do not want collections of non-British people living in our midst. It has always been our habit to show human kindness and understanding so that we can help them to attain the object of their coming here, which is ultimately British citizenship.

I do not see how we can attain this or anything else unless at every stage we safeguard our own people against the dangers that are to-day dominant in anything to do with cash. We teach our children to count the change they receive when they pay a bill. We, as housewives, constantly check that measure is good and that the weight given to us is correct. Those of us who are responsible for handling the emotional gifts of other people have a very real responsibility towards those donors for the commodities we are handling; and the responsibility is a moral as well as a financial one.

I am convinced that it is wrong to undertake a great piece of work which has as its final objective relief of suffering, or any other sort of relief, only to find subsequently, because of commercial advantage or professional advice, that the ultimate value of donors' contributions is very much lower than it should be due to extravagance in the collection. In this country we have as watchdogs the Charity Commissioners. It is important that people who, out of the kindness of their hearts, give money to help their fellow creatures should have some guarantee that it is spent as it is meant to be, and I am sure that every one of your Lordships would agree with me that societies which invite people to send them money should never lose sight of this point.

To-day, for the first time in your Lordships' House, I am speaking without declaring any interest whatsoever. I speak not as a member of a service or representing any organisation; I have the temerity to speak as a responsible human being with years of experience as my qualification. I contend that much harm is done by persons of eminence and repute giving their names in support of organisations, committees or undertakings of which they know nothing. I have often been told when I have queried friends and acquaintances on this subject, "Oh, but old So-and-so is on it". And when I have queried "old So-and-so", his answer has been exactly the same. The lending of names to appeals for charitable causes should be done only with the utmost care, except when the lender is prepared to take responsibility for such causes. Often what is intended to be an endorsement of the excellence of the purpose is taken to be a guarantee of the excellence of the administration, and this is not at all the same thing. I honestly believe that people should not give their names to organisations unless they are really conversant with the make-up of such organisations and really participate themselves in the activities of the undertakings.

I have often taken the names of people I know well from the headed paper or the list of patrons on appeals I have received and subsequently asked them who the chairman of the organisation is, what the aims of the particular society are and so on, and always I have received the same answer: "But I only gave them my name". The reason the name has been asked for, my Lords, in the first place is to use it to strengthen the appeal; to give substance to the backing; to convince others of the worth of the society. Surely, to give one's name is tantamount to backing the cause as well. I say this in support of all that has been said before. The Chairman of the British Red Cross Society has put forward a strong and important case, and all of us who have worked many years in these fields must feel that these points are safeguards which back the strong appeal of the noble Baroness who opened the debate, and who has put us all under an obligation to her for having aired a matter about which we all feel strongly.

I specialise in this type of work, my Lords, and I am deeply troubled by the very few who mislead in a field where the very many are real in their aims and dedicated in their objects. Such people do harm, both nationally and internationally, by misusing the emotional and the natural reaction of good and generous people in order to further unworthy aims. I feel it is our responsibility to safeguard our public. British law, we often complain, moves extremely slowly; but, equally, we believe it moves extremely justly. We must obviously, in the first place, be careful within our own country that money given for a cause is used for that cause in its entirety. We must be equally careful that grants made by trusts to other bodies, whether at home or abroad, are grants made for purposes within the terms laid down by the trust deed of the trust. We must, above all, be sure that grants of British funds for work in other countries are made to the appropriate internationally recognised body. I am sure we all believe that reports on how money collected in this country is spent, whether at home or overseas, should be true and real reports. I welcome the steps which I understand some societies are taking to secure a system of inspection on the spot; and I think we should all encourage the efforts of the Charity Commissioners to bring all societies up to the standard set in this regard.

I am known as a protagonist of simple action, and I am afraid I am also known as one who is always anxious to do away with red tape; but I am confident that safeguards must exist to protect the generous giver. The Charity Commissioners were right to draw attention to the new situation that has developed, and the need for trustees of the various charities to remember that they are accountable to the public for what they spend on their behalf and to be careful in this direction. I believe that the great majority of ordinary people who give to the various organisations for overseas aid do so because they think that their money will be used directly to ease someone's distress; and, thank goodness! this is what usually happens. If you are moved to compassion to help a starving child because your heart has been stirred by a specific appeal, you might be less generous if you thought your contribution was going to be diverted to some other endeavour. And even so, it is necessary that the other endeavour be well within the terms of the original appeal.

I feel that we want to look at this whole question with the broadest of outlooks. I am quite convinced that there is nothing we can do which would be too much. I should like to support the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, in a firm stand in regard to asking, and indeed supplicating, for the range of the mandate to be long term. I should also like to ask, not only that we renew the mandate, but that we once more have the courage to give an example to the whole world by deciding on a bigger contribution than we have given before, to show others that what we do to-day they may perhaps copy to-morrow.

5.20 p.m.


My Lords, I must begin by apologising to the House, and particularly to the noble Marchioness, for being absent so long this afternoon on duties that perhaps could be described as international and Parliamentary. For that reason, and because of my habitual fear of differing even in emphasis from the noble Marchioness, I hesitate to say one word which might seem to be not quite identical with what she has said.

I am bound to say that I am one of those who lend their name quite freely to good causes. Many people come to me and ask whether I would help with this good cause or that. If I am to be censured, I must accept it, but I am afraid that when I know the person extremely well, and know the extent of their idealism, I say, "I haven't any money, energy or time, but you may have my name." If that is wrong, I am afraid I err in the company of a great many noble Lords, because it is sometimes the only service we can render. In general, I think the noble Marchioness was absolutely right in what she said.

I know that many of us, wherever we sit, will wish to join in the tributes that must already have been paid, when I was absent, to the right reverend Prelate on his maiden speech—surely a most powerful maiden speech, indeed the most powerful speech we have listened to in this House for many a day. I knew that this would be so, but I realise, as we all must, that a great force for all the causes of idealism and distress has been added to us with the coming of the right reverend Prelate.

I do not want to repeat what has been so well said by other speakers with much stronger qualifications, but I should like to echo fervently the last two points made by the noble Marchioness at the end of her remarks (and I know that other speakers have taken that view) on the need for renewing the mandate, if possible, for five years; and I join in the call for a much bigger contribution from this country to the High Commissioner's Office. I am not quite clear whether anything is known, so to speak, or suspected, about our intended contribution. I gather not up to the present; nothing official has been said. But it seems a shocking thing—and I am not now talking about the Middle East, but about the rest of the world—that our total contribution from the Government is £100,000, although last year it was £200,000 as an exception.

I gather that Oxfam, to mention only one body—and I do not want to single them out more than others, but we know they are very worthy people, as are other voluntary bodies—raised £358,000 in 1963, which is more than three times the ordinary contribution of the Government. So this contribution of £100,000 I think is almost worse than nothing. It is almost insulting. It is as though great trouble had been taken to arrive at the maximum figure, and we decided that, for some reason, we could afford just £100,000 and no more. I think this is disgraceful, and I hope that before the debate ends the noble Earl will hold out better hope than that.

I will now turn to one important aspect of the refugee problem, and one only, but one in which I should like to join in spirit, if I may, with the right reverend Prelate, in stressing what may be called the Christian, or, to use the fashionable word, the Ecumenical attitude of all those who are working on the Christian side to help refugees. Wherever I go among my own Communion, I find an absolute disregard of parochial or sectarian considerations, although there are, of course, special responsibilities. In saying that, I do not mean that anything that Catholics try to do is confined to helping Christians. For example, there is a school for the deaf near Beirut, run by my Communion, which includes boys nearly all of whom are Moslems. I know all this work is being conducted without reference to the nationality or the religion of those whom it is sought to help, but simply in accordance with the need.

I want to deal briefly, but clearly, with one problem in which I know noble Lords are interested and which I feel may be dealt with later by the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, when he winds up for our side. I confess to being worried, and more than worried, about the position of some—I stress the word "some"—victims of Nazism who have not yet been compensated and whose distress is still great. The German people can point, not unreasonably, to what they, through their Governments and voluntary bodies, have tried to do for those who were persecuted on grounds of race, religion or ideology—and at first sight noble Lords might think that I have covered almost everybody.

Even in those cases, which are the majority, and, indeed, in all cases, it can be argued that no financial compensation, no material compensation, can be sufficient. Yet in another sense each generation of Germans is surely entitled to be judged, not on what their fathers did, but on what they themselves do or try to do. By that test, taking them generally, I would say that the present generation of Germans have no reason to be ashamed. The Germans have made serious efforts to discharge their responsibilities towards those who were persecuted on grounds of race, religion and idealogy. Compensation can be paid in these cases for loss of life, loss of freedom, injury to health or property, injury to business prospects, and interference with education. There is also a hardship fund available without any ceiling for claims not covered by these causes.

But those groups do not represent the whole of the population who were persecuted. If you take the victims who were persecuted on the grounds of nationality—some in Germany, and some in other parts of the world—the only benefits allowed are the right to claim for loss of health, although since 1960 a special fund of 45 million Deutschmarks has been handed over to the High Commissioner for Refugees to meet the claims of the heirs and also claims for loss of freedom. But that fund is quite inadequate for the purpose. I fear that the new draft law will—I was going to say do nothing, but that is perhaps not quite right; it will do practically nothing to improve the situation and, in some respects, it will make matters worse. It includes the following paragraph: A compensation claim in accordance with Part I shall only exist if the earning capacity of the injured party is still reduced, on the date of the decision, by at least 25 per cent. and is unlikely to improve substantially. This apparently means that if the victims who were arrested in their teens, after years in concentration camps and hospitals happen to be only 20 per cent. disabled when their claim is finally decided, they will get nothing at all. That is, I honestly believe, the correct interpretation.

It also appears—and I have made inquiries upon it—that the inadequacy of the law is intensified by the serious shortage of the staff who are supposed to be dealing with this problem. Claims are dealt with by an office called the B.V.A. in Cologne. There are only two doctors in this office to review all the cases and prepare reports. An old man of 73 was recently told officially that his claim could not be considered for another four months, and possibly longer, in view of the congestion over medical reports. So, on the one hand, there is the very unsatisfactory law, and, on the other hand, there is the total inadequacy of the staff in numbers. I will not go into further details this afternoon; it may be that the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, will speak about the matter again. I would only make the general point (and there are many detailed points which could be made) that it would be better to base a system of compensation on the degree of suffering, which should surely be the principle, rather than on the particular category into which the victim of the persecution falls.

My Lords, I hope that I shall never say a word in this House, or anywhere else, which can be remotely construed as anti-German. I would much rather be mistaken for a pro-German—and I often have been, without resentment—than an anti-German. When I first went to Germany in 1947, as a British Minister, at a time when the Germans were without food, money or Government of their own and were physically broken, I told the young Germans, amidst considerable public criticism in this country, "You are absolutely right to be proud of being German." Since that time the German people have on the whole exceeded the expectations of their warmest friends in making democracy work, in rebuilding their country and in making a contribution to international affairs; but that does not mean that the Germans, any more than the rest of us, are beyond criticism. Occasionally it is the duty of a friend to offer clear criticism. I can only hope that my words on this subject this afternoon will have some small effect in assisting those in Germany who are striving to remove the last stains on their honour, and to undo, so far as it lies in human power, the tragic events of the past.

5.32 p.m.


My Lords, my noble friend Lord Astor, writing to me before this debate, asked me to say as much as possible about the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in particular, and Palestine refugees in general. My task has been made infinitely easier by the magnificent introductory speech of my noble friend Lady Elliot of Harwood, and also by the speech of the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Southwark, which has received universal acclaim.

It remains for me, however, to take up a challenge, if I may call it that, from the opposite Benches, delivered by the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, when she said that nobody dare grasp the nettle. It would be a foolish man to grasp it too hard, but I will grasp it at least gingerly and will address myself to certain political aspects of this very complicated problem. In doing so, I hope to approach it in the same manner as the late Lord Birdwood did when he said that he was bi-partisan. I hope, equally, that no remarks which I make in this House will be construed as being overtly partisan to either side. Having said that, I speak from small experience in these territories, having served for some time in a humble capacity for two organisations, notably Oxfam.

There can be few groups in history who have been called to suffer such affliction and distress as the Palestine refugees, and they feel to-day, and they continue to feel, a profound sense of injustice and despair at the inability of the United Nations to find an equitable solution to their problem. Combined with this is a bitter resentment at the loss of their homes and livelihood. Of course, we are all too well aware of the intensity of political feeling which surrounds this problem. In fact, it would be true to say that it is the nexus of the Middle East conflict of our time.

To pass on to the great humanitarian work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency without mentioning the political background at all is, I feel, to evade the issue because the two are so inextricably linked. The refugees staunchly maintain their right to return. In support of this plea they cite paragraph 11 of the General Assembly Resolution No. 194(III) which allows for repatriation or compensation. I am sure it is known only too well to your Lordships, so I need not quote it. This Resolution was adopted on December 11, 1948, and has been reaffirmed at each subsequent session since then; but it still remains unimplemented.

The attitude of the Israeli Government is, I think, best demonstrated in the words of its delegate Abba Eban at the United Nations in a speech in 1957—and I quote his words: Unless we understand how this problem was caused, we cannot rightly judge how it may be solved. The responsibility of the Arab Government is three fold: theirs the initiative for its creation; theirs the onus for its endurance; theirs the capacity for its solution. But I believe it to be true to say that there is abundant evidence that the Israeli Government deliberately incited Arabs to flee from their homes by the use of radio, loudspeaker vans, whispering campaigns and armed force. Official recordings of Jewish broadcasts monitored by Anglo-American experts are in the hands of the British Museum.

Let us not forget that 75,000 refugees were driven from the towns of Lydda and Ramle at bayonet point in circumstances described in a book by Ethel Mannin called The Road to Beersheba. There is an abundance of evidence from eye witness accounts. Equally, the Dier Yassin massacre of defenceless Arabs by Irgun men on April 10, 1948, played an enormous part in the psychological warfare of expulsion. The official Zionist expressions of shock and denunciation, disclaiming responsibility for this outrage, followed the pattern used by the Jewish Agency in 1946 over extremist atrocities against British personnel, as the White Paper on Palestine issued in 1947 documented to the hilt. It was the identical technique: prior secret agreement that Irgun and Stern should carry out the atrocity, but public denunciation by the Jewish Agency. I would not presume to offer conclusions to all this, but I find it increasingly relevant in my mind that those among us who condemn apartheid in South Africa yet support Israel over this issue and say that these refugees should simply be resettled, have a very serious moral issue to face.

Let us pass on to the non-political aspect, the great humanitarian work of U.N.R.W.A., about which so much has been said. We have heard that the present mandate is to draw to the close of its life in the late summer of 1965. I would join with all those previous speakers who would seek that it would be renewed for at least five years. It is vitally important that this should be so for a number of other reasons, notably budgetary considerations, because it is so extraordinarily difficult for the Agency, which suffers under the severe handicap of having to place contracts and of engaging its staff, to be placed in this position of not knowing of its future existence on more than a year-to-year basis.

It is very pleasing, as a representative of a voluntary Agency, to hear Dr. John Davis's forthright welcome of the fact that vocational training was the voluntary agencies' initiative—the Y.M.C.A. and Y.W.C.A. blazed the trail. The three-year courses for metal work, upholstery and carpentry which have proved so successful for boys, and the considerable activities such as child welfare for girls, have been, I think, an astonishingly useful part of the vocational training programme. There were fears when it started that the girls would have difficulty in getting jobs on completing their courses, but I am glad to say that these fears have proved groundless, as over 80 per cent. of them obtain jobs within a very short time of graduating.

Let us not forget also that the benefits of vocational training spread a good deal wider than the actual graduates concerned. Among the family, perhaps four or five people might benefit from the skill of one individual. I think there is an astonishing difference, which has been witnessed by all those who have recently been to the Middle East, between the morale of those who have not undergone training and those who have. I think the testimony of that letter read out by the right reverend Prelate has given us a very good idea of that. In closing my remarks I would urge the Government to continue their support, to increase their support, to both the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

5.40 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord who has just spoken said that he was non-partisan. His speech, however, reminded me of the Southern colonel in the United States who went into a New York publishing office and said he had brought the manuscript of an impartial history of the American Civil War, written from the Southern point of view. My noble friend Lady Summerskill also raised the question of the Arab refugees, but in rather more moderate terms. I had the pleasure of meeting her during her Middle East tour, and I agree that one should not shirk the political aspect; one should do everything to try to get the Arab States and Israel to find a solution of what everyone admits is a great human problem.

I have lived in Palestine and now Israel for the last forty-six years, and I was actually in Jerusalem as a member of the Colonial Service when the Arab refugee movement started. It is still very difficult to determine the exact causes. Whatever they were, I see very little possibility of any solution. Something has been done to reunify families. I personally have always been in favour of readmitting up to 100,000 Arab refugees, and at one time the Israeli Government made such an offer, but it was not taken up, on the grounds of "all or nothing"; and the offer has since been withdrawn. I see very little hope of further progress.

I am more hopeful, however, of the developments in another part of the world which were mentioned by the noble Baroness who instituted this debate, and that is in Hong Kong. I visited Hong Kong last year and saw something of the remarkable resettlement of 300,000 Chinese refugees in the Northern Territories. This was largely started by a single family of wealthy residents of Hong Kong, the Kadourie family, and the costs are now shared between them and the Hong Kong Government. One of the remarkable features is the insistence on self-help. The refugee family is given a pile of stones, and with them they build their own house. A number of very ingenious new methods of settlement at very low cost have been adopted. There is hillside farming. Roads to enable the peasants to take their goods to market are always a problem. That problem has been solved by building cycle tracks about 18 inches wide, on which the peasants cycle their loads to market, without the expense of building motor roads. I think that Hong Kong is a remarkable achievement in a British Crown Colony, and worth further study by all interested in the long-term settlement of refugees.

5.45 p.m.


My Lords, I propose to confine myself to a few remarks on natural disasters, which to some extent will underline what my noble friend Lord Inchyra said earlier this afternoon. Natural disasters seem to occur all too frequently. I do not know whether there is any statistical record of them over the last 50 years, but it may be that nowadays they attract more publicity than they did in the past because more interest is being shown in underdeveloped countries, many of which are situated in areas susceptible to earthquakes, volcano eruptions, cyclones and floods.

Some countries maintain at least a skeleton organisation to deal with the consequences of the disasters which afflict them, but rarely are these arrangements sufficient to deal with the dire situations in which a large number of people find themselves when they are afflicted by sudden and unpredictable disasters which destroy, totally or partially, their homes and property. There results an immediate problem and a long-term one. The latter is essentially a matter for the Governments concerned to put right, albeit with aid from international agencies. The immediate problem is at once more urgent and one requiring aid from whatever sources are available.

Frequently the local services have entirely broken down and thousands of homeless people need to be provided with shelter, food, clothing, medical aid and human sympathy. The organisation which is recognised as the one which is best suited to provide this aid is the Red Cross. There are national Red Cross Societies, or their equivalent, in almost every country, and the League of Red Cross Societies in Geneva maintains a permanent relief department through which requests for or offers of aid are channelled. The department receives such a request from a national society, on average, every six weeks. The department has an annual budget of under £250,000, but in the last ten years it has channelled nearly £40 million pounds for disaster relief in about 50 countries. In this country the British Red Cross Society has a standing organisation with experienced people on its staff or at call, while emergency stores are kept ready in warehouses.

There are, of course, other organisations, such as the Order of St. John, Oxfam, War on Want, and the Save the Children Fund, who are concerned with relief work overseas and who wish to make their contribution when a natural disaster occurs. This is catered for by the Red Cross being the recognised channel to administer the assistance these societies can offer. As we have heard this afternoon, there are arrangements for close co-operation and co-ordination of effort as a result of which overlapping is reduced to a minimum.

Some disasters strike a chord of public sympathy, and thousands of people wish to play some part in offering practical help. A notable example was the case of the severe earthquake in Iran two or three years ago, when, as a result of an appeal broadcast by the B.B.C., the British Red Cross Society received over £400,000 contributed by some 200,000 people.

From time to time the suggestion is made that the responsibility of providing aid for natural disasters should not rest with the Red Cross or any other voluntary society but should be vested in international agencies of the United Nations. But the Red Cross has a great fund of experience in this kind of work, which it first undertook twenty years before the United Nations was established. There are many people who have great knowledge of what is required in situations of this sort and who are doubtful whether anything more effective or efficient than the present arrangements could be established. International official agencies are often notoriously expensive and tend to be slow and inflexible in their operations. Moreover, the International Red Cross maintains close relations with the United Nations Agencies, and this arrangement could hardly be bettered.

The relief which voluntary bodies can give is primarily in the nature of emergency aid, anticipating and supplementing Governmental action. They are less concerned with the medium or longterm measures which are needed to repair damage and to lessen the risks in the future, which mainly are the responsibility of Government. Emergency aid must be applied quickly, must be untrammelled by red tape and must be administered economically. To replace a voluntary agency by an official body would frustrate those who wish to feel that they have made a personal contribution, and might dry up the well of human kindness and com- passion that is such a striking feature of the aid which is given so generously whenever occasion arises and which, transcending political differences, makes a valuable contribution to international relations.

5.50 p.m.


My Lords, this debate has gone exceedingly quickly. This, however, is not, I think a result of over-familiarity with the subject. It is true that we have previously debated refugees, I believe on no fewer than four occasions in the last four to five years, and in these debates a quite extraordinary knowledge and experience has been brought to bear. Indeed, of the speakers here probably only the noble Earl who is going to speak for the Government and myself have not been directly involved in visiting refugee camps. Undoubtedly my noble friend Lord Longford has lent his name, as he pointed out, to many suitable refugee causes; and, regardless of whether or not he knew them to be good, we know that he is a trusting individual.

I think we all greatly enjoyed the speech of the right reverend Prelate, a most distinguished maiden speech, if I may say so. We know that we can expect force and humanity, and, indeed, love from anything he says; and of course he brought a great deal of knowledge to bear from his recent visit. It is always customary to say that we shall look forward to future speeches from maiden speakers. But I hope that he will take part in our debates often, because there are many subjects, social affairs and others, on which he will have a lot to contribute.

What was striking in the debate, even in the last three speeches, was the width of experience. My noble friend Lord Samuel made a regrettably short speech—because we know how much he knows on this subject, being fresh from Palestine—and, if I may say so, a moderate speech in reply to the equally knowledgeable speech of the noble Lord, Lord Sandys, who attempted to grasp a nettle. I shall refer to that subject myself, because I think we should grasp this particular nettle, or at least try to do a little more than we have done in the past.

I, too, with the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, am sorry that the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, was not able to open this debate. I should like to pay my tribute to him. I have worked with him on many refugee matters, and it is quite striking how much he personally has contributed in time and effort and, indeed, in money. I think it ought to be appreciated, because I think it is not realised how much he has done. But, of course if anybody else had to take his place it could not have been better taken than by the noble Baroness. The drive and energy, at times almost terrifying, that she brought to World Refugee Year, are only to be expected from somebody who we know was, during the recent cold spell, riding around the Lowlands of Scotland taking hay to refugee animals.

Clearly, she has kept her knowledge and experience up to date, although there was a certain possible point of controversy between her and my noble friend Lady Summerskill, in regard to which I must confess I found myself rather more on the side of the noble Baroness opposite. I was proposing to give certain facts and figures in reply to my noble friend, and perhaps then the Government would be prepared to act as arbiter on this matter between the noble Baroness opposite and my noble friend Lady Summerskill, in regard to which I shall be making a particular suggestion relating to the effectiveness of the U.N.R.W.A. operations to which this country makes some big contributions. I will leave that just for the moment and make some general comments on the situation.

I think the right reverend Prelate will agree with me when I say that, although there is continuous ground for much sorrow and regret at man's inhumanity to man, there are also grounds for pride and thankfulness in regard to man's humanity to man. This is nowhere more true than in regard to refugees. While the refugee tragedy continues, it is worth noting that it is not, except possibly in the case of the Arabs, necessarily the same refugees who are concerned. This does not make the total position any better, but it does, I think, the individual position.

There is little doubt that the World Refugee Year and the tremendous effort which was put into it, and which was so striking in this country, went a long way to break the back of certain particu- larly acute problems. I do not think I need go into this matter, because the noble Baroness covered pretty fully the situation with regard to European refugees and the clearing of the camps. This has shown such vast improvement that I am only sorry that we never seem able quite to get rid of that last little bit: there is always a remnant in a camp somewhere. It may be that this remnant will always be particularly intractable.

Here again, I would appeal, as have noble Lords on other occasions, to the Government to be particularly understanding and generous to those particularly hard cases who, on health or mental grounds, or grounds of social undesirability, cannot find a home anywhere. It is a distressing thought that one might have to take to a country refugees who would immediately find their way into prison or into hospital. But, of course, the problem of criminal refugees is no less acute because they are refugees. There are a few such people. I do not want to give the impression that there are a lot. This is one of the matters to which the High Commissioner has been directing some attention, and it is interesting that there is organisation available, of a kind that I am sure my noble friend Lord Longford would approve, for dealing with and helping refugee prisoners when they come out of gaol in a particular country. This is only one small aspect.

The most encouraging thing is that the European situation has greatly improved. When we look outside Europe, of course we see a considerable number of new refugee problems, some of which scarcely existed at the time of our previous debate, and certainly did not exist at the time of the World Refugee Year. My noble friend Lord Listowel has referred to particular ones: the problem of the Sudanese, and particularly the problems (this is a matter on which the noble Lord, Lord Twining, would know so much) that have arisen in East Africa. It is quite clear that continued support for the High Commissioner for the many operations that come within his field will have to go on; and it is a matter for gratification that at least his mandate has been renewed until, I believe, 1968.

We have successes to report. Some of the refugees, at least on paper, have been wiped off the refugee map—the Algerians, the Togo refugees, and others. But their place has been taken by the Tibetan refugees, and I recently read a most distressing report, prepared by Mr. Kelly, a member of the High Commissioner's staff in this country, on his visit to Nepal. Here one finds repeated exactly the same story—unsatisfactory camps, illness, all those diseases to which a refugee situation is so prone, and the apparent impossibility of finding a satisfactory solution without a political solution. By determination, and above all by expert help and by the energies and the money of devoted people, a great deal can be done to ameliorate the situation; and even in regard to Tibetan refugees progress is being made in some degree of settlement.

It is particularly tragic that these refugee situations tend to arise in countries which are least able to cope with them. This is true of the Middle East; it is true of Africa; it is true of Nepal. Immediately after the war it was true of Austria and Germany. Therefore the necessity for strong support is all the greater. My noble friend Lord Longford suggested that the Treasury grant of £100,000 a year—and we do not know whether we are going to get it—for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is a contemptibly low one. It is difficult to assess what is the right figure. I think it was the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, who on a previous occasion, when defending the record both of the British Government and of the British people, pointed out that by many standards we had done very well.

We ought not to be too self-condemnatory, except in so far as we ought to be self-condemnatory of the failure of mankind including the British. But £100,000 is still nothing like enough, and I would appeal to the Government—and I know they will not be able to say anything to-day—to consider helping the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in his particular activities, which are on such a vast scale of responsibility and on which it is not right for quite so much reliance to be placed purely on voluntary help. I do not propose to go into arguments whether people should support these things by voluntary grant or whether it should come out of the taxpayers' pockets. This is a difficult issue, but is something on which, none the less, the British taxpayer ought to be prepared to pay more than he does. This is not to deprecate the efforts which are already made, and we must remember that the £100,000 is very small when compared with the £2 million which we give to U.N.R.W.A.

In relation to U.N.R.W.A., I should like to refer to one or two of the points that have been made. My noble friend Lady Summerskill was a little concerned as to how far the money which had been raised in World Refugee Year had gone to the causes for which it was intended, and whether the necessary U.N.R.W.A. training centres had been set up. I cannot recall that it was actually estimated, but certainly by 1964 there should be ten U.N.R.W.A. vocational centres working. Looking at the figures which are available on this matter—and it is often worth while reading the Report of the Commissioner-General—one can see the steady increase in these centres and the fact that the great majority of them have been opened in the last two or three years. There is quite a striking improvement.

But what I do not know is the extent to which they have done more than scratch the problem. One sees pictures of fine buildings and reads of the great increase in the output of what are called graduates—not graduates in the sense of university graduates, but technically-trained young men and women. None the less, it seems that the money here has been put to very good effect, and I should certainly be interested to hear the noble Earl comment, if he has the facts. I do not know how right it is to ask Her Majesty's Government to answer for the Commissioner-General, but I am sure the noble Earl will do his best to help us in this matter.

I should like also, like the noble Lord, Lord Sandys, to follow the invitation of my noble friend not to ignore the political solution. Year after year we are told that there can be no solution, and year after year we are compelled to accept it. I remember this very subject being debated in 1959—and I was reminded of this by my noble friend Lady Summerskill—and was minded to look up what my noble friend Lord Silkin said then. His words were [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 214, col. 765]: I have no authority to speak for any particular country, but I have no doubt that Israel herself would be prepared to make a substantial contribution to a solution. Indeed, I understand that she has offered to do so unconditionally—not conditional, that is, upon the settlement of the general question. It may be that there is no easy solution, but it is clear that at the moment it is the politics of the situation, the politics of Israel and the politics of the Arab countries, which are perpetuating this ghastly and intractable problem.

I would again stress that I am not trying to be like the Southern Confederate colonel to whom my noble friend referred. I looked at the contributions which had been made and noticed that Israel had made a contribution to U.N.R.W.A. about eight or nine years ago. No doubt for good reasons, among them the fact that she had her own refugee problems, since that contribution a few years ago there has been no further contribution. I agree strongly with my noble friend that we ought to see whether there ought not to be some renewed initiative in the political field which would go towards solving this problem. Even if there is not, we ought not to turn aside from facing it.

I should like now to turn back again to the question of Government support. Last year we complained to the noble Earl about the purchase tax which was levied on the special gramophone record to raise money for refugees. That was an all-star gramophone record, on which the Government collected £10,000 in purchase tax. I do not doubt that there are all sorts of good practices and reasons in the Treasury and elsewhere why those records cannot be exempted, but it looks extremely mean. This is not a matter on which knowledge is confined only to this country; I have heard it from other countries. I am wondering whether the Government cannot find a way to remit the tax; whether they might not get round the difficulty by making a slightly larger grant than the £100,000, which is what I think we can reasonably expect. They might even push it up to £110,000. They would then solve their problem, and would not break these admirable Treasury precedents.


We did put it up to £200,000 last year.


My Lords, we know the noble Earl put it up to £200,000, and it was at that time, when we knew it had gone up to £200,000, that we asked him to remit this. That increase to £200,000 was for particular purposes. But I am encouraged to believe that perhaps it is not too much to hope that the Government will put it up to £200,000 this year, in which case the noble Earl will never hear this gramophone record repeated again.

My Lords, this is a very sore spot and there is really no strong excuse. This is not the fault of the Charity Commissioners. At this point, may I say that we are very grateful to the noble Earl for the explanation that he gave. It is obviously one that we shall have to examine, but it seems all right. At any rate, when the noble Baroness comes to reply I shall be interested to hear what she has to say on that subject.

One of the interesting sides of the debate to-day was the extent to which we branched out more widely into this field of disasters. There was a conflict of view between the noble Lord, Lord Inchyra, and the noble Lord, Lord Amulree, on the extent to which co-ordination is necessary. I may say that I was wholly with the noble Lord, Lord Inchyra, in this matter. It seems to me that there is the greatest need of co-ordination. One gets a most astonishing impression from the newspapers at the time of disaster. There are 50,000 blankets flown out by one country. For all I know, a situation may arise in which a disaster area is overwhelmed with blankets but has no mosquito nets and no food. Surely, the good will that is being shown in this country should encourage us to see that the same good will—because the whole of this activity is essentially based on good will—is reflected in the international field. Of course, there is no better body to sponsor and lead in this matter than the International Red Cross. When the noble Earl comes to reply, perhaps he can give us some information on any progress that has been made in the international field. I believe that the Government themselves have taken something of an initiative in the Economic and Social Committee of the United Nations, and certainly we would encourage them in their efforts in this direction.

I hope we shall have a further reply from the noble Earl on the subject of those rather specialised refugees who might come to this country from Commonwealth countries. This is a subject on which we are all extremely sensitive. We are all afraid of saying anything, or indeed of doing anything, which is damaging to the Commonwealth. But my noble friend Lord Listowel, in, I think, an extraordinarily clear and interesting speech, made a case which in my view must have convinced the whole House. I would press the Government and say that it is really better, if they cannot get agreement—and I appreciate the difficulties—to go ahead and introduce the necessary amendments to the law, because at any moment now we may be confronted with another deeply embarrassing situation.

The Chief Enahoro case was a particularly difficult one. It was very embarrassing not only to the British as a nation, but particularly to Her Majesty's Government, who of course ran into very severe political trouble. While, quite clearly, reasonable discussion must take place, I think the Government need to make up their minds to introduce the necessary legislation—not in two years' time, because of course they will not be there to do it, but preferably before the end of this Session. This is one contribution that the Government can make in the months that still remain to them.

There is one other aspect of the refugee problem to which I should like to refer, and that is the problem—and it is the classic problem—of legal status and the application of the various Conventions. If one looks through the publications of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, one finds constant reference to Conventions, some of which have been ratified by one group of countries, some of which have been ratified by another. Indeed, this whole problem of ratification of international Conventions is getting more and more acute. It seems that we almost need a special agency of the United Nations to co-ordinate ratification, because a lot of countries are brought together, they agree to a Convention, and then they all go off and forget about it.

Her Majesty's Government are perhaps a little better in this respect, but not much better. Here they usually get saved by the bell, because they prevail on some private Member in one House or another to introduce a Bill as a Private Member's Bill to give effect to some ratification. But this is not applicable in many cases, and I am just wondering whether it would be worth while for some special study to be made of this problem of ratification of Conventions, particularly in the refugee field. It is an aspect of the complications that arise out of greater international co-operation.

There is still, of course, this acute problem of our relations with, and our responsibilities to, those who have suffered at the hands of the Nazi régime. On previous occasions the noble Earl has argued that the British Government have no locus in regard to those to whom, in our view, the German Government still owe a responsibility. I have previously argued that under the Bonn Agreement they still had the right to intervene, and they suggested that this was primarily a matter for the High Commissioner. The fact remains that the High Commissioner does still think that the Allied Governments concerned have a right to intervene. But, if they have not, then I would agree with my noble friend Lord Longford that we should use every occasion to make clear—speaking as friends of the new Germany—that there are matters on which we are still greatly concerned.

An important Bill was passed in 1956, the Bundes Entschaedigungs Gesetz, which regulated the position of national persecutees. But, as my noble friend said, it is quite absurd that those persecuted on grounds other than race or religion, but who suffered in exactly the same way—and this applies predominantly to Polish citizens who suffered in Nazi camps—should be treated on a different basis. I realise that in talking about another country we cannot, perhaps, use quite as free language as we do to our own Government. I would only say that it is a matter for concern to those of us who regard ourselves as friends of Germany that the situation still appears to be so unsatisfactory; in particular, that there have been such delays in paying out even the compensation that has been made available. This is a matter which is of very great relevance to the refugee situation. It is a matter which I know gives great concern to people in certain groups of refugee organisations over here, as well as in the High Commissioner's office.

My Lords, we are once again very grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood. It is clear that it is well worth while our taking a periodic look at this situation. It is also clear that progress is being made, but not of such a kind—because humanity as a whole does not progress fast enough—that we shall be able to dispense with debates of this kind. I think it would be a message from this House, certainly to the Government, that we expect them to do a bit more. It would certainly be a message from this House to all those who are engaged in this field that we are grateful and that we admire their works—and, of course, this applies especially to those who have devoted so many years, both in voluntary organisations and in international organisations, to a cause which has troubled the world for so long.

6.20 p.m.


My Lords, before the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Southwark leaves to take his Confirmation Service at Streatham, as I understand he has to do in a few minutes, I should like most warmly, on behalf of all your Lordships, to add my congratulations to him on his admirable and most interesting maiden speech. When the right reverend Prelate complained that in the whole of Jordan he could find only one garage where a Jaguar could be repaired, he may perhaps have given your Lordships the impression that he was seeking a rather higher standard, both of luxury and of speed, than we usually associate with the Episcopal Bench. But his account of the pilgrimage and of the conditions which he and his companions witnessed in these refugee camps in Jordan and Palestine was not only very moving but of great value to us in considering this question.

He also did right, I think, to end up by pointing out that the question there is very largely a political one, and that even if these refugees could be taken back to Palestine or absorbed, as many of them might be, into the countries in which they have taken refuge, they would not be allowed to do that because they have to be kept there for the sake of a political spectacle, which makes the thing even more tragic than it otherwise would be. I hope we shall often have the pleasure of hearing the right reverend Prelate again.

When we last discussed this subject about eighteen months ago, as the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, has reminded us, a good deal of our interest was still centred on the final winding up of the European refugee problem, which I am glad to say is now not so acute or so urgent as it has been since the war and was until recently—and, as the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, has said, I think we might say the same about the Algerian refugee question, which also took up a good deal of our attention then. I think that the subjects to which your Lordships have given your principal attention this afternoon are the entirely new refugee situation which has arisen in Central Africa; the question of victims of Nazi persecution, on which the noble Earl, Lord Longford, and the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, both asked that I should say a word; and, of course, U.N.R.W.A.—the, I hope not eternal, but up to now continuing, question of the Arab refugees.

I think we referred in a subsequent debate, not on refugees but on hunger, to the beginning of this problem of Rwanda refugees, to which the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, called attention, and to which the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, also devoted part of his speech. It is estimated that 20,000 people have left Rwanda this year, most of them to go into Burundi and a large number to go into Uganda. That brings the total number of refugees from Rwanda in neighbouring countries to about 150,000.

A representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees visited the area for several weeks, and on the basis of his reports the High Commissioner has prepared several projects for the resettlement of these refugees in Burundi, in Tanganyika and in Uganda, in co-operation with the Governments of those countries. He also plans to spend a substantial proportion of the funds available to him in 1964 in that part of the world; and his Executive Committee, of which the United Kingdom is a member, has already authorised him to spend 100,000 dollars to take care of the immediate needs of refugees and to do the preparatory work necessary for resettling them later in the year. Those resettlement plans, which involve the expenditure of 780,000 dollars, including the money already authorised, will be submitted to the High Commissioner's Committee at its Eleventh Session, which begins on the 18th of this month.

The Government welcome these plans as a valuable humanitarian venture, and as a contribution to the stability of the area. We also acknowledge the efforts of those Governments in the area which are co-operating with the High Commissioner and assisting with the resettlement of the refugees and the efforts of voluntary societies, and we hope that the High Commissioner will be authorised to carry out these projects during the present year.

The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, particularly asked if we could not make some special financial contribution to this. He said he did not expect me to say whether we could or what it would be. The High Commissioner has proposed schemes, as I have said, to cover the immediate needs of these refugees in 1964. The Government approve of these schemes, and will pay close attention to the Executive Committee's discussions on them, in particular to the question of finance. That is all that I can tell the noble Earl at this moment.


My Lords, I welcome what the noble Earl has said, but I hope he will say something more about finance before he sits down. I think that many speakers would wish him to do so—that is, about the Government's contribution to the High Commissioner for Refugees, which, of course, covers the work to which he has just referred.


In general, yes. Both the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, and the noble Earl, Earl Longford, have again brought up the question of the Bonn Convention, on which I remember the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, spoke during our last debate on this subject. Of course, by separating out in the Settlement Convention the question of compensation for sufferings inflicted by the Nazis from general war damage claims, which are normally dealt with in the context of a Peace Treaty, the Allies were able to ensure that a great many people—millions of people, in fact—including large numbers of refugees who would otherwise have had to wait for a Peace Treaty, were able to benefit from the Federal Compensation Law, in which the Germans subsequently carried out their obligations under this chapter. The noble Earl, who had personal experience of this in his Ministerial capacity after the war, has expressed the view that they have done so willingly and generously. They have, I believe, paid out some 23 million marks, or over £2,000 million, by way of compensation.

Her Majesty's Government have great sympathy with the difficult circumstances of all refugees, and it was for that reason that in 1960 we encouraged the signing of an agreement with the United Nations Commissioner for those who had been persecuted on the grounds of their nationality. But these were not matters in which we could make official representations (as the noble Lord has acknowledged) to the Federal Government, because Her Majesty's Government have no locus standi now to intervene in domestic German legislation or in the case of a bilateral agreement between the High Commissioner and the Federal Republic.

What we have done is to make known to the German authorities that strength of feeling in this country about the refugees, and to express the hope that the view of the refugee societies will be given proper, sympathetic consideration by the Germans. In a matter so much charged with emotion as this there are bound to be complaints about individual groups of victims of persecution; but we should not lose sight of the fact that the Germans have done an immense amount to atone for the iniquities of the Nazi réegime.

As for the question of British victims of Nazi persecution, that, of course, is another subject. I know my noble friend is anxious to hear more about that. So far as we can say anything—and Her Majesty's Government's present concern is to reach agreement with the Federal German Government at the earliest possible moment so as to remove this long-standing source of friction between the two countries—noble Lords will be aware from a statement made in another place by the Foreign Secretary that further negotiations on the subject of bilateral agreement have been under way since last October. These are inevitably complicated negotiations, but they are being conducted, I think, expeditiously, and certainly in an atmosphere of good will. By their nature they must, of course, be regarded as confidential, and I can only assure the House that Her Majesty's Government will make a statement as soon as an agreement is reached.

Now I should like to congratulate your Lordships, if I may, on the, I am afraid, unwonted but welcome brevity of the speeches in our debate this afternoon. I am trying to emulate this; but so many speakers have concentrated the burden of their remarks on the problem of the Palestine refugees and U.N.R.W.A. that I must say a further word about that. The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, particularly required my attention in order that I might, as he said, "arbitrate" between the slightly different views which he thought had been expressed on this subject as between the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, and the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill. I should like to give Lord Shackleton one very humble word of advice. Never intervene in a disagreement between ladies. It will only lead to trouble if you do. And let the noble Lord try to remember what happened to Paris who got involved in a difficulty of this kind. But what I will do, to the best of my ability, is to try to give you briefly as many of the facts as seem to be relevant to this question.


My Lords, may I interrupt? I am not sure that the noble Earl's classical illustration is wholly appropriate; but I will just leave it there.


My Lords, I am glad it is sinking in. I will leave it to germinate in the noble Lord's mind.

The number of refugees is slightly increasing. There were 1,228,000 at the beginning of this year, which was an increase of over 38,000. Of course, part of that is due to the fact that they are continuing to increase in the refugee camps. Their children are marrying and having more children and they are all being brought up as refugees. That is part of the tragic aspect of this problem. Between 600,000 and 700,000 of the registered refugees are in Jordan, 283,000 in the Gaza Strip and the remainder in Syria and The Lebanon; 497,000 of them are living in camps. A large proportion are receiving rations, but not all. Some are working and are self-supporting. As the right reverend Prelate said, their rations consist of flour, pulses, sugar, rice, oils and fats, which provide 1,500 calories a day in summer and 1,600 a day in winter.

As for shelter, there is some doubt as to how great the improvements have been since the noble Lady remembers going there. There has indeed been a great improvement since that time; but there is still a great deal to be desired, because there is not nearly enough improved accommodation; there is a great deal of overcrowding. All the tents in camps have been replaced by either traditional mud huts or concrete constructions. A family generally has one room of about 9 feet or 10 feet by 12 feet or 15 feet, which means a great deal of overcrowding, particularly because children have sometimes grown up and married and continue to share their parents' rooms.

There is a large and varied programme of social welfare designed to alleviate distress and correct the moral ill-effect of idleness. It includes training in artisan skills and domestic arts and crafts, particularly sewing; and there is a distribution of cloth donated by voluntary agencies. There is individual assistance in finding employment; there are youth activities and community development. U.N.R.W.A. maintains 103 static health centres and 11 mobile clinics. It has more than 2,000 hospital beds at its disposal. There have not been any major epidemics during the last year. Emphasis is laid upon preventive medicine, health education, environmental sanitation and experienced care, including supplementary feeding for expectant and nursing mothers and their children.

As for the educational training programmes, they are mainly designed to prepare the refugees for earning their living. Six years' elementary education is provided for all; and further education for as many as possible. Last year there were 398 U.N.R.W.A. Schools with nearly 150,000 pupils, and another 54,000 refugees pupils attending other schools. U.N.R.W.A. also is sponsoring between 500 and 600 refugees students in Middle East universities, and the budget for general education in 1964 was nearly 9 million U.S. dollars. Our share of the cost of U.N.R.W.A.'s current year allocation to education was increased by 5 per cent., but our contribution to rationing cost was reduced accordingly. This emphasises the importance we attach to this educational progress and shows the emphasis that is laid on vocational training, too.

Mention was made of the greatly expanded programme under the guidance of Dr. Davis, the former Commissioner-General. There are now nearly 4,000 people being trained in vocational training centres, with more than 1,000 graduates leaving each year. Most of them will be skilled craftsmen, although a growing number are trained to a higher level. This programme not only means giving the refugees a livelihood but also contributes to the economic development of the Middle East as a whole. As for teachers, U.N.R.W.A. teacher-training is also being expanded. By the year after next, it is expected there will be a yearly output of 375 teachers trained on fairly modern lines, and a further 250 teachers trained in the prevailing traditional systems of the area.

Originally, U.N.R.W.A. was meant by the General Assembly to carry out a programme of works for the economic rehabilitation of the refugees; and while plans for various large-scale projects have been drawn up over the last sixteen years none has been put into effect, because of the opposition of the Arab Governments and of the refugees' spokesmen to any projects likely to diminish the rights of the refugees either to repatriation or to compensation. Therefore, U.N.R.W.A. activity in this field has had to be confined to the provision of small loans and grants to individual refugees designed to help them to become self-supporting.

The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, and other noble Lords said that we ought to face up to the need for a political solution. Of course, there is no doubt that a political solution would be the best one, if we could get it, and we ought to have it in mind as the most desirable end. The United Nations General Assembly set up a Palestine Conciliation Commission in order to search for a political solution a long time ago, and every year the General Assembly has adopted unanimously a resolution which Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live in peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity should be made good by the Governments and authorities responsible; and instructs the Conciliation Commission to facilitate the repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of the refugees and the payment of compensation and to maintain close relations with the director of the United Nations Relief for Palestine Refugees and through him with the appropriate organs and agencies of the United Nations. That has been reaffirmed every year by the United Nations General Assembly, but very little progress has been made in this task by the Commission so far.

The United States Government have promoted various initiatives in searching for a political solution of the refugee problem. So far they have not been successful. The most notable recent one was the mission of Dr. Joseph Johnson to the Middle East in 1962, which was followed up with talks between the United States Ambassadors and the Governments to which they were accredited, but I am afraid that the Arab Governments have since found it necessary to deny that such talks ever took place. They are all terrified of admitting that they may be willing to consider a political solution. So far, these initiatives have foundered on Arab insistence that the 1,200,000 refugees must all be permitted to return to Israel. That is the ground on which they base their objection. The Israel Government argue that in practice it would impose on them an impossible security problem, but they are ready to pay compensation.

In default of a political solution, which I agree is the most desirable thing, what can we do to ameliorate the situation? I think that the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, was a little more generous than the noble Earl, Lord Longford, about what the British Government were doing. If I may say so, the noble Earl is never really happy unless he is accusing us of being mean about something. It is particularly ungracious of him in a way, because last year he pressed us to double our contribution of £100,000. We did double it and now he says that we are mean to give that £100,000 which, for some exceptional reason, was doubled last year. Surely we must relate our contribution to the needs of the position. I agree that these are great, but the noble Earl never seems to mention the fact that we have given £29 million to U.N.R.W.A., more than anybody else except the United States, and that our annual contribution is very nearly £2 million—£1,928,000 to be exact.

We believe that, in particular, the educational programme on which much of this is spent is vital to the welfare of the refugees and to their future. We have pledged ourselves to continue this contribution in the coming year, and we have allocated from this sum a larger proportion for education and training. We shall continue in future to support this vital work of helping the refugees, and we very much hope that other countries which at the moment are subscribing only limited, or even token, sums to the work of U.N.R.W.A. will be prepared to support this deserving cause with gifts more proportionate to their resources and thus help to solve the financial problems which the Agency faces.


My Lords, I can assure the noble Earl that my feelings towards the Government are not only those of criticism, but also those of curiosity. Could the noble Earl tell us when he is going to make an announcement on this, and what is now holding up the announcement?


My Lords, I could not tell the noble Earl last year, but we did make an announcement, which I think was quite pleasing to the noble Earl. But I cannot do these things "off the cuff" at this Dispatch Box, in the middle of a debate, and I am sure that the noble Earl does not really expect me to.

The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, talked, I thought very rightly, of the need for the association of this help with economic development, because, by spending money on development in the Middle East and elsewhere, we are helping the refugee problem. We are engaged in the provision of technical assistance to most of the countries where refugees at present reside, which is contributing to their economic development. That is particularly true in the case of Jordan, to which for several years we have provided substantial interest-free development loans. This year we are lending Jordan £700,000, free of interest, for development purposes, and by doing that we are indirectly making a substantial contribution towards the future of these refugees, because sooner or later a great many of them will have to be absorbed into the economy of the country. Our help has been particularly devoted to the field of exploring and exploiting the water resources which are so essential for the progress and development of agriculture.


My Lords, before the noble Earl leaves the financial position, our concern is that most other Governments have announced what their contributions are. The United Nations High Commissioner, who has to budget, clearly needs to know, and there is some concern. Normally we would expect the Government to be well up in these matters and I cannot believe that the noble Earl did not expect to be asked this question. I realise that he may not be able to give an answer, but I hope that he will be able to convey our feelings to his colleagues.


My Lords, I understand the noble Lord's anxiety about this. I would remind your Lordships again, because I did so in our debate in the last Session, that our total contribution to the whole of the refugee problem since the war has been £200 million, which I think is a fairly substantial contribution for a country even of our resources. I understand that my noble friend Lady Elliot of Harwood also has a few figures to give in the course of her remarks, and I would conclude by thanking her for giving your Lordships the opportunity of this very interesting and useful debate.


My Lords, may I ask whether I could have a reply to the question I asked the noble Earl earlier this afternoon? Will he be good enough to ask the Minister to consider the desirability of taking the initiative in putting the amendment of the Extradition Act on the Agenda of the Prime Ministers' Conference, if a settlement has not been reached at that time?


My Lords, I have already told the noble Earl that I agree with him that we have in the last resort a right to legislate ourselves. He agrees with me, l think, that it would be much better if we could get Commonwealth agreement. Having regard to the number of Commonwealth countries and the time which many of them like to take in considering these matters, I do not think we should yet give up hope of agreement; nor do I think it is particularly unlikely that agreement will in time be reached.


With great respect, the noble Earl has not answered my question. I think he will agree that, if our debates in this House are to have any value, we are entitled to expect that our views will be reported to the responsible Minister. That is all I am asking him, and I hope he can say, "Yes" or, "No".


No, my Lords. The views expressed by your Lordships are recorded in the OFFICIAL REPORT and they are always brought to the attention of the appropriate Departments.


May I interrupt?


No, not now. I am not going to add anything to what was said by my noble friend the Duke of Devonshire when he replied to the Question on this subject a week or two ago. But I have no doubt that the noble Earl's hope that this may be considered at the Commonwealth Conference will be taken note of.


My Lords, may I appeal to the Leader of the House? I am not asking the noble Earl whether or not I am entitled to hope that my views will be considered by responsible Ministers. I am simply asking him whether he will report my view, if not to the Prime Minister (and I think it should be to the Prime Minister, because he is the Minister engaged in drawing up the Agenda of the Conference), then to the Foreign Secretary, with a request to the Foreign Secretary to pass my views on to the Prime Minister. I hope the noble Earl will give me a reply. I do appeal to the noble Lord the Leader of the House to support me in the view that this is the normal procedure of your Lordships' House.


Of course I will do that. But the noble Earl is really too modest. What he has said will be taken note of and reported in all the right quarters, and it does not need the intervention of a junior Minister like myself in order to bring these things to anybody's attention. However, I will certainly do what he wants. If I may say so, it is rather redundant to have all this talk about what would happen in any event.


I am grateful to the noble Earl and should like to thank him. I should also like to apologise if I have appeared rather irascible, which I do not often do.

6.53 p.m.


My Lords, I think this debate has been one of great interest. I have listened to all the speeches. I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, that they have had the merit of being short, and I do not propose to take up too much time in my reply. I should like to thank those Members of your Lordships' House who have so kindly taken part in the debate, and to say that I think they have all made interesting contributions. I was most interested in the maiden speech of the right reverend Prelate, and if his impressions of what he saw are different from what I saw, that is the nature of things. I have been there once before and he has not, and I suppose it strikes one more forcibly the first time than it does when you see, as I saw, that a great deal of improvement has taken place in the camps.

I should like to thank the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, for the interpretation of the charitable nature of voluntary funds which he gave us to-day; that is to say, that the Charity Commissioners' interpretation of a charity fund seems to cover all that we want. I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Swanborough, that it is important that the voluntary societies should be very careful and strict in the way they interpret either their trust deeds or the principles on which their money is distributed. As long as they do that, that will probably cover the question as to whether or not their funds can be classed under the Charity Commissioners' administration.

I thank all noble Lords who have urged the Government to continue their support for the new mandate which will be needed for the General Commissioner for U.N.R.W.A. This will be discussed at the United Nations this year, and I think I am right in saying that the Government show every intention of supporting this. 1 would support noble Lords opposite who have asked for a decision on our contribution to the High Commissioner for Refugees. I hope the Government will not delay that any longer, and that the contribution will be as generous as it was last year.

The noble Baroness, Lady Summer-skill, asked me one or two direct questions about U.N.R.W.A. and in the interval I have refreshed my memory about one or two things. The noble Earl, Lord Dundee, has given her one or two answers, but as the questions were directed to me I will supply her with the answers she asked for. First of all, with regard to training centres, in 1959 there were two training centres only, one in Gaza and one in Jordan. Each had a capacity of 200 and were for boys. In 1964 there are 10 training centres. Eight of these are new and the capacity of the two existing ones has been doubled; they now take 400 instead of 200. There are, in all, 4,000 places in these training centres for young people, of whom roughly 3,400 are boys and 600 are girls. There is only one centre for girls, but U.N.R.W.A. hope to build a second one if they can get the money.

One of these 10 training centres is purely for teacher-training; three are mixed, with teacher and vocational training, and six are entirely vocational. Their distribution is 4 in Jordan, 2 in Lebanon, 2 in Syria and 2 in Gaza. There is also a new educational institute for the in-service training of teachers. There are 3,000 teachers in the elementary schools who are not professionally qualified, and the training for the additional qualifications for these teachers is being taken by correspondence and by visual aid techniques through this institute which is in Beirut.

I think the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, gave the figures about elementary school education. Nine years of schooling is available to elementary schoolchildren. Not all take advantage of this, though a great proportion do. One of the big developments in recent years is that whereas before so much education was for boys only, now there has been a great increase for girls and the numbers are almost 50–50. After nine years, about half the children go on to secondary schools, and they get another three years' education in that way. The noble Lady referred to books for schools. I understand there is no lack of school books. There is, however, a lack of science equipment. This is largely due to lack of funds and U.N.R.W.A. are very much hoping to remedy this. They have one or two portable scientific sets which they take from school to school.

There are 30,000 young men and women who reach maturity every year and there is room in the U.N.R.W.A. centre for 4,000 of these. But of the remaining 26,000, some go to other training centres run by the World Federation of Lutheran Churches, by the Y.W.C.A. and the Y.M.C.A.; some go to training centres helped by Arab Governments, and some, with secondary school training only, go straight into jobs. A small proportion will, and do already, go to universities, either in Beirut, Damascus, Cairo or Amman. I hope this answers some of the questions put by the noble Baroness.


My Lords, may I thank the noble Baroness? I understand that while I was at tea two noble Lords tried to stir up trouble between us. I want to assure the noble Baroness that I am not conscious of it.


My Lords, I think the noble Baroness and I will not quarrel on these subjects.

I was interested in what the noble Earl said about the political aspect of these problems. I feel, like everybody, that if only one could get a political solution a miracle would be achieved. I was interested in the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel. I wish he had spoken longer, because nobody knows more about it than he does. I share, in many ways, a great many of his views and those of his father, whom I had the privilege of knowing well.

We have heard a great deal about Arabs and the Arab refugees, but we have not spoken, as some of us would perhaps have liked to do, about the astonishing developments in Israel, and the saving of millions of refugees from the Ghettos and the horrors of Nazi Europe which has been done through Israel. One must not forget these things, which are written on the pages of history and cannot be obliterated. I think one must remember that there are tremendously strong cases on each side. I cannot forget, too, that in World Refugee Year I had the support of all the Jewish organisations in this country. They gave most generously, knowing perfectly well that a vast proportion of the money would go to the Arab refugees and to refugees throughout the world nothing to do with their own race and their own problems. We are very much indebted to them for what they did during those years.

The problems of Africa have been raised, and again this is a new problem from the point of view of the High Commissioner for Refugees. He will have to meet refugees from the Sudan, the Congo and the great African States, which are a big and new complication. There, again, I think this is another reason for supporting him as fully as we can from the point of view of money and help.

I do not want to make another speech. I hope I have answered the questions which were put to me. I should only like to say how grateful I am to all for their kindness in taking part, and for the expression of their views, which has been of great interest. I am sure Her Majesty's Government will pay attention to what we have said. I have the greatest faith in the Government, and I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.