HC Deb 17 September 1940 vol 365 cc128-30W
Sir A. Baillie

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he is aware of the grave dissatisfaction in several parts of the country caused by the way in which a very large number of applications from parents have been turned down merely because the applications which were sent in first were accepted; and whether, in view of the desirability of arranging this limited evacuation on the fairest possible basis, he will, when the scheme is revived, arrange for all applications to be considered and allocated by a balloting system of the most deserving cases on a proportionate county basis?

Mr. Shakespeare

I regret any disappointment felt by parents who did not make application in respect of their children before 5th July. In view of the large number of applications received before that date when compared with the possible amount of convoyed shipping space available, it would have raised false hopes to have kept the lists open. Selection for a particular ship involves many considerations, such as age, balance of sexes, the wishes of the Dominion Governments and whether the children are proceeding to nominated homes. Every possible care is taken to arrange selection on an equitable basis, but I should point out to my hon. Friend that preference is given to children living in the more dangerous areas. For these reasons it is not possible to adopt the balloting system suggested in the second part of the Question.

Mr. Madder

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he will state the present situation with regard to the work of the Children's Overseas Reception Board; and the number of children who have been sent to each of the Dominions and to the United States of America under the scheme up to date?

Mr. Shakespeare

Up to 2nd September inclusive the parents or guardians of 24,130 children were notified that their applications had been approved by the Board. Replies from parents who have completed the necessary formalities cover 13,852 children. As regards the last part of the Question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave on 20th August to my hon. Friend the Member for Farnworth (Mr. Tomlinson). According to present information, 1,469 children sent to Canada under the scheme have safely arrived. There have been no arrivals under the scheme in Australia, New Zealand and the Union of South Africa. The scheme is not yet in operation as regards the United States of America.