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Forces (Repatriation)

Volume 414: debated on Monday 15 October 1945

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs it he can state the percentage of Poles in the Armed Forces in Britain, Germany and Italy, who expressed, under the recent plebiscite, a desire to return to Poland.

No plebiscite has in fact been held. Facilities have, however, been given to any member of the Polish Forces to come forward and volunteer for repatriation to Poland. The offer is still open. So far the following percentage has volunteered:

United Kingdom, 33 per cent; B.A.O.R., 1 per cent; A.F.H.Q., 14 per cent.; Middle East, 4·5 per cent., giving a total, 17·9 per cent. Out of the 207,000 Poles in the Armed Forces under British control, 37,060 have so far volunteered to return.

In view of the very small percentage who desire to return to Poland, can the Minister say what is the Government's policy with regard to the future of those who do not desire to return?

I have already given an answer to that question and, at any rate, this process is not yet completed.

Is there not a most savage and unscrupulous propaganda being carried on among these Polish soldiers to persuade them not to go back, and is not lie upon lie being told to them about conditions in Poland?

So far as His Majesty's Government are concerned, that is not the truth. We have made it plain in the House that we consider that Poles should return to Poland when they leave this country, and get the assurances which were given to His Majesty's Government.

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether there is any significance in the considerably smaller percentage of those who want to return, among those now serving on the Continent of Europe, who are perhaps now seeing things with their own eyes?

Can the hon. Gentleman say how long this offer will remain open?