HC Deb 14 September 1915 vol 74 cc6-9
1. Mr. KING

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War what organised efforts are being made to utilise the labour and services of such interned alien enemies as are willing to do work in the making of munitions or other remunerative industrial work?

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

No organised effort has been made to employ aliens as distinct from true prisoners of war. My hon. Friend will probably be aware that aliens cannot be forced to work. They are, however, in some cases, employed locally, as in the erection of huts at Eastcote and the Isle of Man, but there is little money available for expenditure by local authorities on road construction and such work. Aliens are also employed in some cases on hay-making, tailoring, shoe-making, clerical work, and on repair work under the direction of the Royal Engineers at places of internment. For this work they receive payment. It has been suggested, I believe, that there is some prohibition by the German Government against interned aliens undertaking work, but I know no foundation for such suggestion. Subject to the limitations I have indicated, there is every desire to make use of the time and labour of interned aliens in every possible way. The proposal to employ aliens upon the production of munitions of war would not, I apprehend, find general favour either in this House or in the country; and in any case it would be a question for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Munitions.


Is my right hon. Friend aware of the efforts which are being made by our Allies to utilise the labour of prisoners in a productve way, and has he made inquiries of the Foreign Office or through the usual channels that we may profit by their experience?


Yes, all those matters have been taken into consideration and we have made those inquiries, and I have indicated in my answer that we are endeavouring to utilise the services of prisoners in the manner suggested.

16. Mr. KING

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will state how many female alien enemies have been repatriated; how many have been granted exemption from repatriation; how many, if any, have been interned; and what lines have been followed in dealing with the property of repatriated persons?


From 14th May to 10th September inclusive, 4,460 female alien enemies over the age of eighteen and 2,924 children under the age of eighteen have left the United Kingdom. Separate statistics as to the sex of the children have not been kept. Up to the 13th September, 3,176 female alien enemies have been officially notified that their applications for exemption from repatriation have been granted. In a large number of other cases the Advisory Committee has recommended exemption, and these are being dealt with as quickly as possible. No women have been interned as prisoners of war. Arrangements have been made by which, on application being made, property in this country belonging to an alien enemy who is returning to her own country can be placed in the custody of the Public Trustee.

17. Mr. KING

asked the Home Secretary if he will say what lines have been followed in dealing with the property of interned alien enemies; whether in any camps interned persons are allowed to purchase clothes, books, meals, or other things from outside; whether any money or cheques or cheque books are permitted to interned alien enemies; and whether he can say whether British policy in these matters is on similar lines to the treatment of the property of British citizens interned or otherwise resident in Germany and Austria-Hungary?


The property of interned persons remain theirs, subject to the provisions of the Aliens Restriction Order in regard to prohibited articles such as motors, cameras, etc. The purchase of clothes, books and other things from outside is allowed subject to censorship and supervision. Money is required to be deposited with the commandant or in a camp bank, and may be drawn upon as needed; cheques may be drawn for reasonable purposes, but cheque books must be in the custody of the camp authorities. Judging from the information available, British policy in these matters is more lenient than that in force in Germany or Austria-Hungary.


Are these interned alien enemies allowed to get English gold and, if so, would not notes be good enough for them? Are they allowed English sovereigns?


I should think not.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say why we show more leniency in this country than we are shown in Germany?


I do not think we can take Germany as a standard.