§ 14. Mr. HUNT
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the fact that there are thousands of German and Austrian aliens in employment as well as unemployed, he 267 could see his way as far as possible to fill up with British subjects during the War the places now held by German and Austrian aliens, and place all unemployed alien German and Austrian males over fourteen years of age in concentration camps?
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. McKenna)
It lies with employers rather than with me to arrange for the filling of places vacated by aliens. I am arranging for the confinement in concentration camps of alien enemies whom the authorities have any reason to think likely to be dangerous, and am organising other arrangements for dealing generally with destitute aliens.
§ Mr. HUNT
If the right hon. Gentleman does not take some action of this sort will there not certainly be during the War thousands of British working men and their families reduced to starvation, whilst thousands of aliens will be getting employment at good wages? Surely there ought to be something done to prevent that state of affairs?
§ 15. Mr. HUME-WILLIAMS
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware of the number of Germans still in this country; and whether he will give directions that, instead of being registered and so adding to the work of the police, they shall be treated as Englishmen are treated in Germany, namely, kept in confinement if they are of fighting age and deported if they are not?
§ Mr. McKENNA
As I stated to the House yesterday, I have not yet collected the figures of alien enemies in this country. The registration of these per sons is necessary both for the purpose of securing their proper supervision and for facilitating their confinement when necessary or their deportation if and when this is possible.
§ Lord CHARLES BERESFORD
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is 268 a growing feeling of irritation against those Germans in this country who are suspected of being spies, and whether there is also a feeling that the measures taken by authority are far too lenient; and is he aware that in places like Portsmouth there is a suggestion of making vigilance committees to take the law into their own hands, and does he not think such action as that would be deplorable?
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
Will the right hon. Gentleman kindly answer the first part of the question? Where irritation does exist such action may occur unless the Government take more stringent measures.
§ Mr. McKENNA
Of course, I speak naturally with great reticence upon the subject, but a very large number of unfounded rumours have been circulated in regard to the dangerous action of German spies and other ill-disposed persons. I think it is only right that the House should be informed that no evidence of actual malpractice has come to the knowledge of the police, and consequently, in the absence of any such evidence, it certainly would be premature to take action of the kind which the Noble Lord suggests.