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Volume 440: debated on Wednesday 16 July 1947

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Agrarian Reform (Draft Ordinance)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many farmers will be partially expropriated according to the draft ordinance for agrarian reform circulated as an appendix to C.C.G. letter ZAC/ D(47)37 of 4th June, 1947; which German authorities or interests have been consulted; and whether any objections have been lodged against the adverse effect on food and timber production which it will cause.

It is estimated that between 2,000 and 3,000 farmers in the British zone would be expropriated on the basis of the provision of the draft ordinance referred to in the question. The Zonal Advisory Council in the British zone has been consulted. The reply to the last part of the Question is that an adverse effect is not anticipated and no objections have been received.

Does the hon. Gentleman really expect the House to believe that smallholdings on this poor land will produce the same result as on bigger farms? Also, has he considered how to maintain timber production and supplies if the forestry areas are cut down in this drastic manner?

Yes, Sir, certainly these things have been very carefully considered, but there are other factors, such as more intensive cultivation. Taking the thing as a whole, we do not expect a fall in production.

What agriculturists have been consulted apart from the Zonal Advisory Council?

When the matter was first referred to the Zonal Advisory Council, the Council contained representatives of farmers, trade unionists and so on. The present Zonal Advisory Council consists of representatives of the political parties but they are free, and are indeed urged, to consult such outside interests.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make available to Members copies of the Draft Ordinance of Agrarian Reform for the British zone of Germany.

Are we to be told on which date the Draft became available and whether the making of it available to Members of Parliament was already decided, or was it not until the Question was put on the Paper?

Russian Child (Application)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what reply he has made to the request from the Soviet Foreign Ministry for the release of seven-year-old Victor Mukhamedov whose address is c/o Welfare Office Kindergarten, Klingenberg, Germany, and his return to his mother Mme. Maria Mukhamedova; and what steps are being taken to fulfil this request.

This matter is already being investigated, and a reply will be sent as soon as a report is received from the British authorities in Germany.

While thanking the Minister for that answer, may I ask whether he would consider investigating further charges that a number of other Soviet children are concerned in this matter? Would he investigate this matter at the same time?

I will certainly investigate it, if the hon. Member will send me information. In the case we are investigating now, may I say that the matter was not drawn to my attention by the Soviet authorities. We acted on our own initiative, as the result of Press reports in Germany.

Poland (Arrests)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why he recently sent a letter of protest to the Polish Government regarding certain arrests; and if he will make a statement.

My right hon. Friend has not sent any recent note to the Polish Government protesting against arrests.

Possibly my hon. Friend has misread reports in the Press to the effect that we have asked our Embassy in Warsaw for information on this question. That is not the same thing as a protest to the Government.

Has the hon. Gentleman any information with regard to Mr. Puzak, Secretary-General of the Polish Socialist Party, and one of the most respected political leaders in Poland, and to five other Socialists whose names I shall give him?

With regard to the last supplementary question about the Polish Socialists, can my hon. Friend say why he has not already dealt with the matter?

We asked for information. I am well aware that these reports have caused anxiety among my hon. Friends. My right hon. Friend has made it clear on other occasions that he deplores political arrests.

Would the Foreign Office consider exercising discretion and sending a similar letter to Greece in regard to the recent arrests?

Jewish Refugees' Camp, Aden


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the cost of the camp established for Jewish refugees in Aden and by whom it is borne; how many people live in the camp; and what steps have been taken to persuade them to return to the Yemen.

The cost of£1,700 a month is borne by the Jewish Organisation which maintains and administers the camp. Certain services, such as water, are provided free by the Government of Aden. There are about 1,700 people in the camp. The King of the Yemen has undertaken to restore to Yemeni Jews returning from Aden, their pre-existing status and rights, and arrangements were made to provide free transport and subsistence money on the journey for those willing to return. One thousand, one hundred have returned to the Yemen under this scheme since its inception in the latter part of 1946, and the movement continues.

Jamaica (Unemployment)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the present number of unemployed persons in Jamaica; and what steps are being taken to relieve unemployment in this Colony.

With regard to the first part of this Question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for South-East St. Pancras (Dr. Jeger), on 5th March this year. No fresh information has since been received from Jamaica, but I am again consulting the Governor, and will let him know. With regard to the second part of the Question. I would refer to my reply to a similar Question by my hon. Friend the Member for East Harrow (Mr. Skinnard) on 18th June.

Has nothing been done since 5th March to relieve unemployment, and to attract men to the cement industry in Jamaica in view of the large number of young men who are discontented and unemployed?

That is a completely unwarranted assumption from my reply. If the hon. Member will turn to the reply I gave on 18th June to the hon. Member for East Harrow he will see that the Government of Jamaica are fully alive to the gravity of the problem in Jamaica.

In this connection will my right hon. Friend look at the scheme for the suggested re-settlement of Jamaican ex-Service men drawn up by a Jamaican Royal Air Force officer, which has been sent to him?

Yes, and there is a scheme already in operation for ex-Service men. In the reply to which I referred I gave information in regard to that matter.

Palestine (Bubonic Plague)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, if he will give the latest information about the outbreak of bubonic plague in Palestine.

From the start of this outbreak on 26th June, up to 15th July, 15 cases were treated, only one of which was fatal. Heavy and widespread infection amongst the rat population is reported, but energetic measures have been taken, and no new cases have been notified since 8th July.