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Refugees (Visas)

Volume 388: debated on Thursday 1 April 1943

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asked the Home Secretary whether the possibility of instituting a system of block visas for refugees has been considered by His Majesty's Government and will be tried sooner than lose any chance of saving persecuted Jews?

A system of block visas would not be of any assistance in helping refugees to escape from enemy or enemy-occupied territory. As regards refugees who have already escaped to neutral territory, the difficulties are not due to the administrative arrangements for granting visas and would not be removed by an alteration of those arrangements. The question whether some representative should be authorised to distribute blocks of visas among applicants would only arise if it were first decided that there should be a policy of wholesale admissions to this country during the war of fresh classes of alien refugees.

Does the Home Secretary seriously maintain that if neutral countries know that blocks of visas are available for refugees to enter this country from enemy-occupied countries, that will not encourage them to admit more refugees?

Are we to infer from the answer that, in spite of the declaration of 17th December, it is not my right hon. Friend's intention to admit any kind of refugee to this country who was not admissible under the Regulations of his Department as they existed before that date?

As my hon. Friend knows, discussions are about to proceed on international action, and the Government are unable to alter their policy in advance of those discussions.


asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the bad effect on the morale of men in alien companies of the Pioneer Corps and on other men and women doing valuable war service, of refusals to rescue their parents from danger by admitting them to this country, he will, pending a general revision of the present regulations for visas, relax these regulations to the extent of granting visas to parents in such cases where there is no individual reason to the contrary?

I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the replies which I gave to the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson) and the senior Member for the English Universities (Miss Rathbone) on 18th March, to which I have nothing to add.

Does that mean that the right hon. Gentleman is not prepared to consider any individual cases, however hard they may be?

I am often considering individual cases, and many individuals have been permitted to come into this country.

As the Home Secretary has said that we must wait for international action, is he aware that the United States regulation visas long ago anticipated ours in this respect and that the reuniting of severed families is one of the principal objects of the United States regulations? Cannot we follow the example of the United States in this matter?


asked the Home Secretary whether the present regulation permitting the granting of visas to wives of men serving in the Forces or doing valuable war work for ourselves or the Allies will be extended to the husbands of women similarly occupied?

If the circumstances of an alien woman in this country are analogous to those of an alien man whose wife is allowed to join him, I would certainly give sympathetic consideration to any application for the admission of such a woman's husband.