HC Deb 10 March 1943 vol 387 cc638-40
9. Miss Rathbone

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to what extent his information coincides with the reports recently received by the World Jewish Congress that the Nazi massacres of Jewish men, women and children in Poland and elsewhere are continuing on a vast scale, and those received from other sources that great numbers of Poles and Yugoslavs, other than Jews, are also being massacred?

Mr. Eden

The hon. Member will appreciate that it is very difficult to obtain reliable direct evidence. But I regret to say that the information available to me certainly points to the conclusion that the massacre of Jews in Poland is continuing and that considerable numbers of Polish and Yugoslav nationals other than Jews, in addition to members of the other oppressed peoples of Europe, are also being massacred.

10. Miss Rathbone

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what reply has been or will be made to the recently published proposal by the Secretary of State at Washington that representatives of the British and United States Governments should meet at Ottawa for a preliminary exploration of ways and means of rescuing refugees from Nazi persecution whether, in view of the delay this procedure envisages and of the urgency of the problem, he will consider proposing that the meeting in question should be held in London at the earliest possible date and not be merely exploratory; and whether in the meantime His Majesty's Government will proceed with whatever measures of rescue lie within its own competence?

Mr. Eden

I have replied that His Majesty's Government welcome the suggestion for a preliminary informal discussion of the refugee problem between United States and United Kingdom representatives, and as regards the meeting place, we shall be ready to meet the United States representatives at any mutually convenient place. This, as well as the selection of the respective representatives, is under discussion. No time will be lost, and I can give an assurance that His Majesty's Government will in the meantime proceed with whatever measures they have already initiated.

Colonel Cazalet

Will this conference cover every aspect of the refugee problem and not be confined merely to somewhat narrow issues, as was the Evian Conference?

Mr. Eden

Yes, Sir, I should hope it would be wide in its scope.

Mr. Graham White

Does the right hon. Gentleman contemplate that it will be necessary for representatives from this country to proceed to the other side of the ocean, and, having regard to the fact that this matter has been under the most urgent consideration since before Christmas last, will he bear in mind that there is all the difference between time and eternity?

Mr. Eden

Somebody has to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Which it will be, I do not know.

Mr. Silverman

Are we to understand that the proposed conference in Ottawa will deal with the wide and ultimate refugee questions and not merely with immediate and urgent questions?

Mr. Eden

No, Sir, it is to deal with the immediate problems. It is an exploratory meeting between ourselves and the United States.

Mr. Denman

Will the right hon. Gentleman impress upon our Allies the extreme urgency of this matter?

Miss Rathbone

Is it not worthy of consideration that most of the exiled Governments mostly concerned are resident in London and not in Ottawa?

Mr. de Rothschild

Is it not possible that the proposed Ottawa conference will lead to delay and that the problem will not be dealt with in the meantime?

Mr. Eden

No, Sir. I tried to make that plain in my answer. That is the position.

11. Miss Rathbone

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the full text of the British Aide Memoire of 20th January to the United States Government concerning the problem of refugees from Nazi persecution and that Government's reply of 25th February, hitherto published only in abbreviated forms, can be published as a White Paper?

Mr. Eden

No, Sir. I do not consider that it would be appropriate to publish as a White Paper documents dealing with proposals which are still under active discussion.

Miss Rathbone

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the point that the American public have already had the privilege of reading the American Note in full? Is he not aware that the British public should have the opportunity of reading the British Note, especially as our people would mark with satisfaction that the British Note shows at least some sense of urgency in the matter, whereas the American Note shows no such sense?

Mr. Eden

I hope that the hon. Lady will not enter into comparisons which I do not think will help us to get on.