HC Deb 10 June 1915 vol 72 cc358-61

asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been called to statements made in the Central Criminal Court on the 12th May, in the trial of one Edmund Sauer, that there were many hotels in London which still employed German waiters, and the Recorder's remarks that it seemed a very alarming thing that a foreign waiters' club should be allowed to exist in Wardour Street in the heart of London; and what steps he has taken in order to dissolve the institution?


I saw a newspaper report of the remarks made by the Recorder at this trial, and have consulted the Commissioner of Police in the matter. He informs me that the club in question is the London branch of the Union Ganymede, an International Association of Hotel and Restaurant Employés, that the secretary is a natural born British subject, and that the club is well conducted and has been of great assistance to the police since the outbreak of war.

28. Mr. KING

asked the Home Secretary how many alien enemies have been interned and how many repatriated, in pursuance of the policy announced in this House on 13th May?

29. Mr. MORTON

asked whether any steps are being taken and, if so, what steps, for the internment of alien enemies of military age, either naturalised or un-naturalised, many of whom are still at large and trading in the City of London and elsewhere?


asked what progress has been made with the segregation and internment of alien enemies and the repatriation of those above military age; and how many alien enemies are still at large in the Metropolis and in the prohibited coastal areas?


The Prime Minister announced that, as soon as the naval and military authorities provided the necessary accommodation, alien enemies who are adult males of military age would be interned, subject to exemption in special cases being recommended by advisory bodies of a judicial character which it was proposed to set up. Men over military age, and also women and children were, in suitable cases, to be repatriated. Immediate steps were taken for internment as rapidly as the accommodation provided by the military authorities permits, and this process is continuing. Repatriation is being carried forward concurrently. Down to the 5th June last, 3,339 additional males have been interned, and 2,274 additional persons have been repatriated, making a total of 5,613. Since then the total has risen to over 6,000, but I cannot give a precise figure later than 5th June. The additional number interned completely fills all the accommodation the military authorities have yet been able to provide, but I am informed by the War Office that this accommodation is being increased with all possible dispatch from week to week.

The figures for alien enemies of military age in the Metropolitan area are, in round figures, as follows: Germans, 9,000; Austro-Hungarians, 4,000. All enemy aliens resident in the City have been interned. In one case an Austrian has been for special cause released. Others trading in the City, but resident elsewhere in the Metropolitan area, are included in the figures for the Metropolitan area. I stated on 3rd June the appointment and the composition of the Advisory Body. It has already held a number of sittings, and is now at work. A separate Advisory Body has been appointed for Scotland. I am informed that the Advisory Body has already considered 1,309 applications for exemption: exemption has been granted in 159 of these cases, and has been definitely declined in 657 cases. In the remaining cases they have called for further information. No alien enemies of any age or either sex are permitted to be at large in any prohibited area save in exceptional cases decided upon after consultation with the military authorities. These exceptions amount in the coastal areas referred to to 592 men, 2,134 women. As regards suspected persons who are not alien enemies, the House is aware that existing powers did not wholly cover such cases, and I stated yesterday that an Order in Council to cover such cases was being obtained. Under this Order in Council it will be possible, subject to proper safeguards and where the defence of the realm requires it, to deal with this class of case.


Might I ask whether those figures do not indicate that it would take about seven months to complete the internment of the number of aliens we know of, and whether the Home Office could not take steps on their own account, without the War Office, to get some adequate means of internment?


I do not think the figures indicate that; it depends upon the rapidity with which additional accommodaton can be provided, and I have every hope that it will be provided at an increasingly rapid rate.


May I ask whether the proceedings of the Advisory Body are open either to the Press or to the public or to the friends of the alien enemies themselves?


The hon. Member should give notice of the question.

31. Colonel WALKER

asked the Home Secretary whether he will communicate with the Secretary of State for War with the object of taking over the encampment for 40,000 troops which has been erected in Kummel Park, Abergele, near Rhyl, North Wales, so that immediate accommodation can be found for the aliens still at large?


I will draw my Noble Friend's attention to this suggestion.


asked the Home Secretary whether he has given permission for six German alien enemies, prisoners who have been interned, to be released for the purpose of working at Thorne Colliery; whether any cash guarantee has been given to the Government by the colliery company employing these Germans as a guarantee of their fidelity to this country; and whether Lord Kitchener sanctioned these men being so employed?


I know nothing of this. If the hon. Baronet will give me privately the names of the men to whom he refers, I will make inquiry.

56. Mr. KING

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that there are interned as alien enemies young men of friendly disposition towards the cause of the Allies, that some of these speak imperfect or no German, have non-German names, and are ready to enlist in the British Army; and whether advantage will be taken of such cases, after due inquiry and possibly guarantees from respectable persons, to increase the number of fighting men?


The rule is that aliens are not allowed to enlist in the British Army. This rule applies to all aliens—even those of the Allied nations. The enlistment of alien enemies is therefore not to be comtemplated, and there is nothing, I am glad to say, in the military situation which makes resort to such a questionable expedient worthy of an even momentary consideration.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Continental countries have followed the practice which is suggested in my question?


Of enlisting alien enemies?