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Vietnamese Refugees

Volume 972: debated on Monday 22 October 1979

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asked the hon. Member for Wokingham, as representing the Church Commissioners, how many homes the Church Commissioners are providing for Vietnamese refugees; and in what locations; and what is their policy for providing further help and advice.

The terms of reference of the Commissioners, like those of other charitable bodies, are strictly limited and do not, by statute, extend to the provision of free housing or other services for refugees, however sympathetic individual Commissioners may be.

I am most grateful for the answer given by my hon. Friend. Is he aware that London church members are pressing local authorities to provide accommodation for the boat people? Will he therefore consult his colleagues, the Church Commissioners, to see whether accommodation can be made available for letting at reasonable rents to the boat people in the London area, thus leading the way and perhaps setting an example to other landlords?

The amount of suitable accommodation available in central London is less than is commonly supposed, and there are very great pressures on it. However, in the light of my hon. Friend's representations I shall gladly have an examination made to see whether any contribution can be made to what I quite understand is a human problem.