HC Deb 16 August 1916 vol 85 cc1839-40
76. Sir W. BYLES

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will explain definitely the present position of Jewish refugees in this country in regard to the military service or deportation Orders; can he give an approximate estimate of their number; will he say whether the Russian Jews now in England are receiving the persistent attentions of the police; whether some have been arrested, others warned, and their publications stopped; and will he make it quite clear before Parliament rises, both for their own information and for that of the police, what are their legal position and remaining rights?


There are approximately 25,000 to 30,000 male Russian subjects of military age in this country, most of them of the Jewish faith. I am not aware that any action with regard to them has been taken by the police, otherwise than in the ordinary discharge of their duty. I understand that in one case a prosecution has been taken against a paper for contravening the Defence of the Realm Regulations, and that the plant was subsequently seized by order of the military authority; and that in one case a warning has been given to the editor of a paper that he was responsible for the advertisements as well as for the text. The present position is that men of Russian nationality, if of military age, may enlist in the British Army, and that no one has been, or is being deported for failure to enlist. I hope to be in a position to make a statement on the matter generally before the House rises.


On what date will the right hon. Gentleman make his statement?


There has been constant communication with representatives of the people affected, and there has been delay owing to that cause, but I hope at the beginning of next week.

79. Mr. KING

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the Foreign Jews' Protection Committee against deportation to Russia, representing 120 organisations, has requested him to receive a deputation; whether the names, addresses, and organisations of the twenty-five members of the Committee have been furnished at his request; and whether this deputation is to be interviewed by him shortly?


I have taken steps to acquaint myself fully with the opinion of Russian subjects in regard to their enlistment in the British Army. I intend shortly to make a statement as to the policy of the Government, and I do not think anything would be gained by my receiving further deputations.


Does the right hon. Gentleman intend to decline the offer of this very largo body, representing 120 different organisations, who want to come to lay their views before him?


I am well acquainted with the case, and among the 120 organisations which it is said are represented by those who are organising this deputation are some which could not in any circumstances be received at the Home Office.