§ MR. COURTNEY () Cornwall, Bodmin
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is now in a position to make a statement as to the three Dutch subjects of Her Majesty, formerly in custody at Simonstown, who were removed to a district where martial law had been proclaimed, and as to whom a writ was issued by the Supreme Court 1412 calling upon their custodian to show cause why they were so detained.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Mr. J. CHAMBERLAIN,) Birmingham, W.
The three men in question were sent to Cape Town among a large number of prisoners of war after actions at Graspan and Enslin. They were regarded and treated at Cape Town as prisoners of war. They subsequently applied to the High Court for their release on the ground that they were British subjects arrested on their farms, and that they had not taken up arms against the Government. This was the first intimation that the military authorities at Cape Town had that the men were not ordinary prisoners of war, but British subjects arrested on suspicion of aiding and abetting the enemy. They were accordingly sent back to the district in which they were arrested, and which is under martial law, in order that the charges against them might be investigated on the spot. On these facts the High Court, on 8th February, issued a writ of habeas corpus returnable on 12th March, in order to give time for the military authorities at Orange River to inquire into the case. The result of the inquiry is not yet reported. The military authorities have accepted service of the writ.
§ MR. COURTNEY
Can the right hon. Gentleman say if the military authorities referred the question to their legal adviser at home?