HC Deb 06 April 1939 vol 345 cc3008-10W
Miss Rathbone

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the impossibility of dealing adequately with the refugee problem out of voluntary funds, and as at the end of February there were less than 20,000 refugees in this country, he will introduce legislation 10 secure for the benefit of refugees in general, and preferentially for those from Czecho-Slovakia, the recoverable portions of the £6,000,000 promised to the former State of Czecho-Slovakia?

Sir J. Simon

A statement on this subject will be made during the course of to-day's Debate, and I would ask the hon. Member to await this statement.

Mr. Price

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that private persons who are willing to take refugees into their families are being asked to guarantee £50 for re-emigration purposes; that this is causing strong feeling and may have the effect of preventing refugees from obtaining temporary homes; and whether he will take steps to remedy the matter?

Sir S. Hoare

When application is made to the Home Office for the admission of a refugee to this country with a view to temporary residence here and subsequent emigration, it is necessary that the Home Office should be satisfied that means for his emigration will be available. The question how the money for this purpose will be provided is a matter for the voluntary societies and charitable individuals who are arranging to help the refugees, but I understand the financial position of the voluntary organisations dealing with the majority of the cases is such that if they are to accept responsibility for additional cases they must find guarantors who will be prepared to make provision for the expenses of emigration.

Mr. Boothby

asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been drawn to the events which took place at Croydon Airport on Thursday, 30th March, arising out of the arrival of 12 Czech refugees; and whether he will take steps to prevent a recurrence of such episodes?

Sir S. Hoare

Yes, Sir; 12 Czechs arrived at Croydon Airport late in the evening of 29th March having flown from Poland via Denmark. They were with-out adequate means of support and had no plans for their future, and the voluntary societies having had no opportunity of investigating the circumstances of these people and of considering whether they could properly be included among those selected for admission to this country did not feel able to accept responsibility for them. Accordingly it was felt that it would be contrary to the policy of admitting selected cases to give these people leave to land, and it was decided that they must be sent back to the country from which they had come, which I would point out to my hon. Friend was not Germany but Denmark. Subsequently, however, one of the voluntary organisations decided to accept responsibility and leave to land was granted. As holders of Czech passports have since 1st April been required to obtain visas, it is unlikely that any similar case will recur, but anxious as I am to give sympathetic consideration to any applicants who have special claims on the hospitality of this country I feel bound to repeat the warning I have already given that persons who are anxious to get to this country should not think that they can count on preferential treatment merely because they manage to reach a port of arrival here.