HC Deb 27 July 1915 vol 73 cc2133-5
28. Mr. R. MCNEILL

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many alien enemies and how many persons of hostile origin or association have been interned or repatriated since the 12th of July; how many of each of these classes, respectively, are still at large in prohibited areas and in the rest of the United Kingdom, respectively; how many claims for exemption from internment or repatriation have been made; and how many of such claims have been allowed?


The Internment Committee, presided over by Mr. Justice Sankey, has sat on no less than forty occasions since it first met on 27th May last, and, by working very long hours, has been able to report to me today that it has practically finished its work. It has received more than 14,000 applications for exemptions from internment, each of which has been dealt with on its merits. The largest class of exempted persons consist of those who are by race Poles, Czechs, Italians, Alsatians or the like. British subjects have been treated with so much more leniency in Austria and Hungary than in Germany that exceptional consideration has been given to applications for exemption on the part of Austrians and Hungarians.

The figures are as follows: Out of the 14,117 applications for exemption, 7,325 have been refused and 6,092 have been granted. There remain 700 cases which have been considered, but their final decision waits the result of inquiries.

The Repatriation Committee, which is presided over by Mr. Justice Younger, has been devoting itself to its task with equal assiduity, but as this branch of the work was undertaken later, it has not yet completed its labours. Since the present policy was announced, alien enemies, including children, have been repatriated to the number of 6,302. The additional number interned is now 9,325. The internment is proceeding at the rate of about 1,000 a week. About 6,000 remain to be interned, and this process is expected to be completed before the end of next month.

The House and the country are greatly indebted to the two judges and the four Members of Parliament (the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Epping Division, the hon. Member for Peebles and Selkirk, the hon. Member for the Bewdley Division, and the hon. Member for Newry), to Miss Lawrence and Miss Talbot, the ladies who are serving on the Repatriation Committee, and also to the secretaries of the Committees, Mr. Brodrick and Mr. Atkins, and the officials who have worked with them, for the energy and devotion with which they have carried through their most laborious task.


How many of the 6,000 cases which have been granted exemption are Germans?


I made that inquiry to-day. I cannot give the figures at the moment, but the intention is to analyse the figures further, and it may be well to issue a White Paper which will show under different statistical heads how that matter stands.


Out of these 6,000, have a number been granted exemption in order that they might leave the country for America or elsewhere, or in order that they may stay here?


I think in nearly every case they stay here. It is contrary to the policy which the Government has adopted to allow alien enemies to leave this country and go to a neutral State, at any rate if they are persons of military age.

Major-General Sir IVOR HERBERT

Can my right hon. Friend give any idea as to the principle that is adopted with regard to persons of Polish nationality?


Those of Polish nationality in most cases may fairly be regarded as belonging to a friendly race, even though of an enemy State, and we have rather had regard to their friendly race than to the enemy State to which they belong.


When the tables are published, will my right hon. Friend see that men and women are distinguished?

Sir d. SIMON