HC Deb 19 May 1915 vol 71 cc2308-9

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War if he is aware that a German named Sehmer, who was naturalised shortly before the outbreak of war, is the owner and occupier of Toat Farm, near Pulborough, Sussex, an eminence whence signals can be made to the Channel and to hills commanding an uninterrupted view of Portsmouth; whether Sehmer is a member of the family of that name owning one of the largest armament factories in Germany; and whether these circumstances, in addition to Sehmer's avowed sympathies with the Germans in the War, afford sufficient reason for his internment as a suspected naturalised alien until he offers satisfactory proof of his loyalty?


I understand that the farm in question is occupied by a man named Sehmer. It is not known whether Sehmer is a member of the family owning one of the largest armament factories in Germany, nor has it been reported that Sehmer has sympathy with the Germans in the War. As regards signalling, I am informed that it would be possible, though very difficult, to send messages to the Channel. But the reports that signalling has actually taken place have turned out on inquiry not to be well founded. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister explained on the 13th instant that in exceptional cases naturalised aliens would be dealt with by the advisory body which is to be set up. In these circumstances I can hardly pronounce an opinion as to whether Sehmer should or should not be interned.


Will the right hon. Gentleman take some steps to ascertain whether it is or is not true that this man is connected with the firm in Germany?


Yes, Sir, I will have inquiries made.