HC Deb 13 May 1915 vol 71 cc1797-800
26. Sir R. COOPER

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the approval of the German people of the use of poisonous gas and the poisoning of water supplies, he is aware that the presence of a large number of alien enemies at large in this country constitutes a grave danger to a large proportion of the lives of British citizens; and will he forthwith intern or deport all alien enemies, whether naturalised or not?

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Mr. Tennant)

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is making a statement to-day which will, I think, cover this question.

46. Sir A. MARKHAM

asked the Prime Minister whether, seeing that the armed forces of the German Government, acting on the instructions of their Government, have deliberately murdered numbers of British women and children, and in view of the feeling in this country against persons of German parentage being allowed to remain in this country now or after the War, and to prevent rioting, will he deport forthwith to Germany all persons of German parentage, whether naturalised or not, interning those liable to military service till the end of the War?

49. Mr. R. MCNEILL

asked the Prime Minister whether he will provide an early opportunity for the House to consider the Motion standing in the name of the hon. Member for the St. Augustine Division of Kent? [That the restrictions placed on the liberty of Alien Enemies resident in the United Kingdom are insufficient under existing circumstances to secure the safety of the country.]

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Asquith)

In answer to these questions I must refer to the statement which I shall make later.

54. Mr. KING

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that there is interned at Handforth Camp as an alien enemy a youth, whose nationality is doubtful and can only be technically German since he has not resided in Germany since he was six months old, who took steps long before the outbreak of War to become a naturalised British subject, and after the outbreak of war desired to enlist; and whether there is any tribunal before which this young man, or others in similar conditions, can state his case and have an opportunity to prove good will?


It is permissible for any interned alien to state his case either to the commandant of his camp or direct to the War Office, when it would receive attention. The case of the youth mentioned in the question was fully dealt with by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary in the answer he gave on the 11th instant, and this hardly appears a suitable occasion for extending the benefit of the doubt, if any such doubt in fact exists.

55. Mr. KING

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether the Secretary of State will advise such remission of the sentences passed at Douglas upon German soldiers who escaped from custody as will render them consistent with the sentences passed at Chester upon German officers for a similar offence?


I cannot, on the information afforded, identify the cases to which my hon. Friend refers. No German soldiers are or have been interned at Douglas.


asked the Secretary for Foreign Affairs if Germans, either naturalised or not, are allowed to leave this country for Germany except in exchange for a British subject interned in Germany?


My right hon. Friend has asked me to answer this question. Except in the case of the specific exchange of Consular officers the issue of permits to leave the United Kingdom to women and children, men under the age of seventeen and over the age of fifty-five, and ministers of religion and doctors has not depended on personal exchange. The permits have been granted in accordance with the agreement with the German Government, which was that all persons of these classes should be allowed to return.


May I ask was a man like Major Bruno Schmidt-Reder, who was let out of an internment camp, exchanged with anybody?


I do not think so, but perhaps the hon. Member will give me notice.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman a more general question: Whether persons at military internment camps are allowed to go back without being exchanged?


It depends whether they come under the definition of being men under the age of seventeen or over the age of fifty-five, or are ministers of religion or doctors.


Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of making an exchange compulsory in all cases?


It is not a question of exchange, because all persons of those categories are allowed to depart from this country or from Germany.


No, no!


That is what I understand is the condition, and if the agreement has not been carried out I must refer the hon. Gentleman to the Foreign Office. I have no knowledge of it.