HC Deb 16 August 1916 vol 85 cc1862-3
73. Mr. G. LAMBERT

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if his attention has been drawn to the residence of alien enemies at Buckfast Abbey, Devon; whether members of this community capable of bearing arms have been allowed to return to Germany; whether the censorship of letters, etc., is exercised by a naturalised German; and, if so, whether he is satisfied that the national security is in no way jeopardised by the residence of these alien enemies under the conditions now imposed?


As my right hon. Friend will be aware, only a proportion of the monks at Buckfast are of enemy nationality. Frequent inquiries have been made in regard to them since the War began, and it was decided, after consultation with the Chief Constable of Devonshire, that it was not necessary to remove them from the Abbey, but strict conditions have been imposed in regard to their movements. Three women, and three boys under military age, were allowed to return from the Abbey to Germany in 1915, in accordance with the international agreements. No men of military age have been allowed to return. The correspondence of the monks is supervised by the Abbot, who is a naturalised British subject. I understand that he is a native of Württemberg of French extraction. Any letters sent out of the country are also subject to the usual postal censorship. I have asked Sir Louis Dane and the hon. and gallant Member for Knutsford, who, as the House is aware, are considering the cases of alien enemies allowed to remain in prohibited areas, to make further inquiries.


Is it not a fact that the Abbot is allowed to roam about the country without any objection?


I cannot answer that without notice. He is a naturalised British subject.

77. Major HUNT

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to the fact that five Austrians were turned out of their employment at the Commonwealth building in the Strand by the British working men employed there; can he say whether the Government had advised the firm to employ these Austrians, as stated by the sub-contractor; and, if so, whether it is the intention of the Government to recommend the employment of enemy aliens?


I find that five Czechs who had been employed on the building mentioned were withdrawn by their employers on account of their fellow workmen having taken exception to their presence. No recommendation of these men for employment has been made by my Department; but I may remind the hon. and gallant Member that the sympathies of the Czech race are regarded as generally favourable to this country, and Czechs have accordingly been given favourable consideration in the matter of exemption from internment. It is desirable that being at liberty they should be able to earn their living.