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Volume 466: debated on Monday 27 June 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many stowaways have arrived in the United Kingdom in each of the last three years from West Africa and West Indies; how many were repatriated; and whether since this problem is causing the shipping companies grave concern, he will take steps to ensure that all stowaways are immediately repatriated.

The number of stowaways from British Colonies in West Africa or the West Indies who arrived in the United Kingom in 1946, 1947 and 1948 were 246, 429 and 440. There is no power to deport a British subject who arrives in this country, whether as a stowaway or otherwise; and I cannot say how many of the stowaways have voluntarily left the United Kingdom. The only effective way of dealing with the problem is to tackle it at the ports of embarkation: owing to the conditions under which ships are loaded, this is often difficult, but my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for the Colonies and the Minister of Transport, in consultation with the shipping companies, will continue to take all possible measures to prevent stowaways from boarding vessels in colonial ports.