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Children (Removal)

Volume 465: debated on Wednesday 1 June 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what reports he has had from the British representative at the General Assembly of the United Nations as to whether officials of the International Red Cross have been granted visas by the governments of the countries concerned, to enable them to visit kidnapped Greek children and arrange for their repatriation, in order to ensure that the resolution of the United Nations Assembly is carried out; and if he will cause inquiries to be made into this matter.

A preliminary report has been submitted to the United Nations by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the League of Red Cross Societies on the question of the Greek children removed to other countries. Copies have been placed in the Library of the House. The report shows that while delegates of the International Red Cross had at that date already visited Greece, Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria and had carried out investigations in these three countries, facilities for the entry of delegates had not been furnished by the Governments of other countries sheltering Greek children. It has, however, been subsequently learned that the Yugoslav Government has granted these facilities.

On a point of Order. This matter has been brought up on many occasions in connection with Questions, and I want to ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether it is permissible to ask a Question which makes an allegation against other nations and uses a phrase which the Minister, quoting from the official document of U.N.O., carefully avoided? There is no official accusation anywhere of kidnapping.

Can the hon. Gentleman tell us whether the position is that, so long as two of the Governments refuse to co-operate with the International Red Cross and to allow their officials to have visas, these children will be permanently removed from their parents, year in and year out? Is this not a gross crime against humanity?

May I ask the Minister why he used the word "sheltering" in his answer which suggested that they are being protected whereas, in fact, they have been kidnapped?

As progress is now being made on the subject by the Red Cross Societies, I think we should go ahead with it and try to keep out the political side.

Will the hon. Gentleman draw the attention of hon. Members opposite to the film showing the life of these children in Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, which is available in London and which is being shown by the Council of Greek Democracy at the Crown Cinema on a date which the Under-Secretary could no doubt give?

Would the hon. Gentleman assure the House that in the view of His Majesty's Government at least, the right place for these children is with their parents?

Can my hon. Friend say whether the report of the International Red Cross Committee actually furnished the evidence that the children had been kidnapped?

It is only a preliminary report dealing principally with the question of access to the countries concerned.

Is it not the case that none of the countries referred to has such an industry as kidnapping, and that kidnapping is peculiar to America, from which Eisler succeeded in escaping?