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Political Refugees

Volume 466: debated on Monday 4 July 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that a statement about political refugees, made by a Military Government spokesman in Germany on 10th May, 1949, is open to misinterpretation; and whether he will clarify the position.

On 10th May a British Military Government spokesman made the following statement:

"Soldiers of the Soviet Army or other Soviet citizens who cross inadvertently or without wrong intent into the British zone and who wish to return to the Soviet zone will in future, as in the past, be returned without delay. We expect reciprocity of treatment in the case of British soldiers or civilians who may stray into the Soviet zone. Persons, whether soldiers or civilians and whether citizens of the Soviet Union or of any other country, who seek political asylum in the British zone of Germany will not be forcibly repatriated. In this we are governed by the long-standing British tradition of granting political asylum to all who genuinely seek it regardless of race, nationality or creed."
This statement seems to me perfectly clear. I am informed, however, that the statement was published only in part in certain German newspapers, and this circumstance may have given rise to that misleading idea of our policy to which my hon. Friend refers.