HC Deb 12 May 1915 vol 71 cc1648-9

I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether, having regard to the strong public opinion in favour of the strictest supervision of alien enemies in this country, the Government propose to take any action in the matter?


No one can be surprised that the progressive violation by the enemy of the usages of civilised warfare and the rules of humanity, culminating for the moment in the sinking of the "Lusitania," has aroused a feeling of righteous indignation in all classes in this country to which it would be difficult to find a parallel. One result, unhappily, is that innocent and unoffending persons are in danger of being made to pay the penalty of the crimes of others.

From a military point of view, our advisers are of opinion that the steps which have been taken in the way of internment and otherwise have proved adequate for the purpose in view, namely, providing for the safety of the country against actual or apprehended danger, and preventing illicit communication between alien enemies here and their own Government abroad. Everything that has hitherto been done in the way of internment has been done on the responsibility of the War Office and Admiralty, and police registration and supervision is fully enforced in the case of all alien enemies who are not interned.

But the Government are quite alive to the fact that recent events, and the feeling which they have created, make it necessary to look beyond merely military considerations. The Government are, therefore, carefully considering the practicability of the segregation and internment of alien enemies on a more comprehensive scale, and I hope to be able to-morrow to make a more definite statement.


In the event of there being a general desire to-morrow, after the statement is made, that it should be discussed, will the right hon. Gentleman give an opportunity for that discussion?