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Refugees (International Action)

Volume 393: debated on Tuesday 2 November 1943

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asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the British delegates to the International Relief Conference intend to urge the formation of a supreme economic council to co-ordinate the different policies of the eight combined boards for the purpose of simplifying negotiations with other international bodies in process of formation or contemplated?

I have been asked to reply. I fear that it would hardly be within the competence of the Council of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration to put forward such far-reaching proposals as those indicated by my hon. Friend.

Seeing that there is a prima facie case made out for the co-ordination of these Boards, could not some other action be taken to see whether such co-ordination could be effected?


asked the President of the Board of Trade what will be the relationship between the Inter-Governmental Committees on Refugees and the Repatriation Committee of the United Nations Relief and Reconstruction Administration which will be set up at the forthcoming International Conference on Relief; and whether it is intended that the League of Nations Commission for Refugees shall be invited to co-operate with both?

The Executive Committee of the Inter-Governmental Committee on Refugees has recommended that, in order to avoid overlapping the proposed United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration should be responsible for maintenance of refugees in areas where it will operate, if it is prepared to undertake this task. The recommendation is down for consideration at the international conference on relief about to assemble in the United States. I cannot anticipate the results of their discussion, but from what I have said it will be clear that the question of co-ordination is receiving all due attention. In regard to the League of Nations High Commission for Refugees, I would point out that co-ordination is already assured by the fact that the High Commissioner is also Honorary Director of the Inter-Governmental Committee.

Would the right hon. Gentleman also indicate whether the Com- mission as such apart from personnel will be co-ordinated in some organic way?

I think that is a matter which might be considered. It must be remembered that the Inter-Governmental Committee have only recently been set up. They are already getting on with their job and doing it very well.

Would the right hon. Gentleman correct something in the statement he has just made? The Committee has not only recently been set up, it has only recently had its duties extended.

Yes, that is so. There was a recommendation from the Bermuda Conference that the mandate of the Inter-Governmental Committee should be extended and that the Inter-Governmental Committee should be called together for the purposes of carrying on their functions in accordance with the extended mandate.