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Illegal Immigrants (Cost)

Volume 436: debated on Wednesday 30 April 1947

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the total number of Jews now accommodated in the camps at Cyprus; what is the cost of these camps to date; how much does it cost a month to administer them; for what number of persons were these camps originally designed; what steps it is proposed to take this year to accommodate the increasing flow of Jews to Palestine; and whether the executive and legislative councils have made any representations to His Majesty's Government on these matters.

The total number of illegal Jewish immigrants now accommodated in the camps in Cyprus is 14,434. The estimate of £1,900,000 given in my reply to the hon. Member on 17th December as the cost of the camps up to 31st March, 1947, has proved to be excessive, but I am not yet in a position to give an exact figure of expenditure up to that date. The cost of administration for the numbers now in the camp is approximately £45,000 a month. In addition £50,758 has been spent up to date on local purchases for welfare purposes. The camps were originally designed to accommodate 10,000 persons, but have since been extended. His Majesty's Government have under constant review the provision of accommodation to meet the number of arrivals expected. No representations on these matters have been made by the Executive Council to His Majesty's Government.

Would the right hon. Gentleman say how much of this expenditure falls on the taxpayer here?

In view of the fact that this figure of 14,000 is very much below the figure of 100,000 which every investigating authority has fixed as the figure which can be permitted to enter Palestine without affecting the political and economic balance, would it not be cheaper for Palestine and this country to allow these 14,000 people into Palestine now?

That raises the whole problem of illegal immigration which is a different question from that on the Order Paper.

Could the right hon. Gentleman say whether this cost includes the cost for the British soldiers who have to guard and administer these camps?

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Palestinian Jewish settlers themselves are prepared and anxious to help these people to regain their moral and mental status and are prepared to pay in order to see that these people shall be restored in this way? Will he take steps to give them the opportunity of doing that?

I am fully aware of the point. As I have said, the supplementary questions now put to me relate to the whole problem of illegal immigration which is apart altogether from the problem of the camps in Cyprus.

Are illegal immigrants given a priority for legal admission into Palestine over the women, orphans and children still remaining in camps in Europe?

There are admissions of 750 a month which form part of the quota for Palestine.