HC Deb 19 February 1947 vol 433 cc172-4W
14. Flight-Lieutenant Crawley

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a further statement concerning the future of displaced persons in the British zones of Germany and Austria.

Mr. J. Hynd

Yes, Sir. I propose to circulate a statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT. Meanwhile my hon. Friend may like to know that His Majesty's Government have decided that the ordinary machinery for direction to work will be applied to displaced persons in Germany in order that they may become, so far as possible, self-supporting. supporting. A similar policy is already in force in Austria.

Following is the statement

His Majesty's Government have given careful consideration to this question in the light of progress in repatriation, the prospects of resettlement and the need to reduce to a minimum the cost to the British taxpayer of maintaining the displaced persons.

Our first aim will continue to be to encourage and assist in every possible way the early return of the displaced persons to their countries of origin. For all except those who have really strong personal reasons for not doing so the proper course is to return home. Repatriation is continuing and it is hoped that many displaced persons will still decide to go home. Nevertheless, we recognize that when all these have gone a "hard core" will remain who will not go back in any circumstances. Concerning these, I will repeat the words of the Resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 12th February, 1946, by which we still stand: No refugees or displaced persons who have finally and definitely, in complete freedom, and after receiving full knowledge of the facts including adequate information from the Governments of their countries of origin, expressed valid objections to returning to their countries of origin and who are not war criminals, quislings and traitors, shall be compelled to return to their country of origin. The future of such refugees or displaced persons shall become the concern of whatever international body may be recognised or established.

The General Assembly of the United Nations at its meeting in December last adopted a Constitution for the proposed International Refugee Organisation. His Majesty's Government have indicated their acceptance of this Constitution and their willingness to join the Organisation and it is hoped that it will soon be set up. Nevertheless, there is like to be some delay before it is working effectively and in any case the number of refugees and displaced persons throughout the world is so great that it will be a long time before all can be found permanent homes. We will pursue every opportunity that presents itself to effect re- settlement either in Europe or overseas. Nevertheless, the probability has to be faced that considerable numbers of the displaced persons, at any rate in the British zone of Germany, are likely to remain there for some time to come unless they accept repatriation.

Concerning those in Germany, His Majesty's Government have decided to proceed as follows:

  1. (a) Displaced persons will now be brought within the ordinary machinery of direction to useful work, both in aid of the occupying authorities and in ordinary employment in Germany, so that they may become self-supporting. In so far as they have to live and work within the German economy, they will be protected from discrimination or hostility on the part of Germans and will participate in German social insurance schemes.
  2. (b) The standards of living of displaced persons which in some respects have been higher than those of the German population since the beginning of the occupation over a year ago will in future be brought generally into line with the latter.
  3. (c) Every endeavour will be made to preserve the cultural and welfare organisations of the displaced persons, so long as these do not lend themselves to political activities or act at, a deterrent to repatriation, and all possible administrative precautions will be taken to safeguard their legitimate interests. In carrying out our policy there will be full consultation with the local representative of U N.R.R.A in the British zone of Germany.

A similar policy is already in force in the British zone of Austria.

I propose to have the substance of this statement communicated to all displaced persons in the British zones of Germany and Austria.