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Volume 388: debated on Wednesday 31 March 1943

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has a reliable estimate, respectively, of the number of Jewish and political refugees from Poland and elsewhere who escaped before the war; the number who have escaped since then; the number of Polish Jews who have died since the beginning of the war through Nazi treatment; and the expenditure to date of His Majesty's Government in respect of assistance to refugees?

As the answer is long and somewhat detailed, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Is any indication given in that report of moneys or guarantees offered to neutral Governments to cover the needs of refugee women?

On that point I must ask my hon. Friend to await the publication to which I have referred.

Will the OFFICIAL REPORT say what definition of "refugee" is used, since the word is rather vague in its connotation?

I think that the OFFICIAL REPORT will do its best to answer the Question, which is very complicated.

Following is the reply:

I am not aware of any Polish people having left Poland as refugees before the war. After the invasion of that country there was a very considerable movement of refugees in various directions. For further details I might refer my hon. Friend to pages 3 to 5 of the Report issued in 1942 by the League of Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, a copy of which is in the Library of the House. As regards information in the possession of His Majesty's Government regarding the number who have escaped since the war from Poland, I can only refer to the figures of Polish refugees already or in the process of being received in the British Empire excepting Palestine; exclusive of all Poles who have joined the Armed Forces, the number is approximately 32,234. No differentiation is made between Jewish and other Polish refugees. In Palestine the total number of refugees who have entered between 1st April, 1939, and 18th February, 1943, is approximately 39,227. The number of refugees from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia in this country at the outbreak of war was approximately 78,000. Since the outbreak of war 66,000 refugees from enemy and enemy-occupied countries have come into the United Kingdom.

It is obviously impossible to state the number of Polish Jews who have been murdered by the Germans in Poland since September, 1939, but the figure has been put at above 1,000,000. The expenditure to date by His Majesty's Government in respect of assistance to refugees from 1st October, 1939, amounts to £1,210,000. This does not include the expenditure incurred by the Ministry of Health as no separate record is kept of cost falling on this Department in respect of accommodation and support of alien as distinct from British refugees.