HC Deb 23 November 1914 vol 68 cc772-3

asked the Prime Minister the name of the German company to whom the Crown leased the Channel island of Herm in 1889; the object of such tenancy and the nature of the business carried on by the company; what is the length of the term, the premium paid (if any), and the annual rent; was the sub-lease of the mansion house and grounds granted with the consent of the Crown; the name of the sub-lessee and what are the restrictions which he and (or) the company impose upon British excursionists; whether he is aware of the purpose for which the company and (or) its tenant used the island, and what such purpose in fact was; what number of persons are employed in such undertaking; has there been any recent official Government survey of the island, and, if so, is there any reason to believe that the lessees have constructed any works of a military character or concrete bases upon which siege guns can be mounted to dominate the surrounding islands, the coast-line of France, or the adjacent channels; and, if not, whether he will have such survey and inspection made immediately, in view of the experience of Mauberge and elsewhere in France?


The Prime Minister has asked me to reply to this question. The name of the company is the the West Bank Liegnitz, Limited. I have no information as to the business carried on by the company. The lease is renewable every 21 years, at the tenant's option, on payment of a fine of £42. It has been in existence a great many years, and has passed through many hands. It was last renewed in 1905. The annual rent is £14. The consent of the Crown was not obtained for the sub-lease of the house and grounds, and does not appear to have been necessary. The sub-lessee is Prince Blucher von Wahlstatt. The public are only allowed to land by consent. In practice, a steamer is allowed to call once a week; a fee of sixpence a head is charged. Visitors are confined to one road. The island is used for farming and residential purposes. Twenty-five persons are employed, of whom twelve are British, and the rest alien enemies, four being males. The island was visited and thoroughly inspected immediately after the outbreak of War, and a further inspection is now being made by the military authorities. No military preparations have been discovered. The island is occupied by a detachment of British troops.