HC Deb 09 October 1946 vol 427 cc51-2W
Sir R. Glyn

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) if he is in a position to make a statement concerning the present conditions and future prospects of Gibraltarian evacuees at present accommodated in 10 camps and one hostel in Northern Ireland; and what progress, if any, has been made with the housing schemes at Gibraltar for the accommodation of these individuals;

(2) the cost to the British taxpayer of the maintenance of the 10 camps and one hostel in Northern Ireland at present accommodating Gibraltarian evacuees; and what are the prospects for them to obtain useful work.

(3) how many of the 2,440 Gibraltarian evacuees accommodated in camps in Northern Ireland have, since May, re- turned to Gibraltar; how many are left; and what are the prospects for their return.

Mr. Creech Jones

As regards the present conditions of the Gibraltarian evacuees in Northern Ireland, I have little to add to the answer given to the hon. Member on 15th May. I understand that the main development since that date has been a considerable increase in voluntary activities in the camps, and in particular of youth clubs set up and organised by the evacuees themselves; and that plans are also in hand for an extension of facilities for carpentry and dressmaking.

The future prospects of the evacuees are still naturally dependent upon the progress of the housing schemes referred to in the reply given to the hon. Member on 9th May. There are at present 1,449 persons accommodated in temporary housing in Gibraltar; an increase of 500 since the 15th May. It is hoped that approximately 400 more may be housed in this way by the end of November. As regards permanent building, a tender for 472 flats has been recently accepted. It would not be prudent to attempt to forecast the date at which housing will be available in sufficient quantity for all the remaining evacuees; I hope that it will be possible for a steady flow of repatriation to be maintained, but the possibility must be envisaged that repatriation will not be entirely completed before two years hence.

Three hundred and two evacuees have been repatriated from Northern Ireland since May and there now remain between 2,000 and 2,100 in the Northern Ireland camps and hostel. The current cost of maintaining these evacuees is approximately £250,000 a year, including salaries of the headquarters staffs of the Ministry of Health and Local Government in Northern Ireland. As to the question of the evacuees' prospects of obtaining useful work I would refer the hon. Member to the answer to his Question on this subject addressed to the Minister of Labour.