HC Deb 21 February 1916 vol 80 cc407-10
23. Mr. W. THORNE

asked the Home Secretary whether, on 11th February, a well-to-do man named Hermann Gabriel, of 35, Disraeli Road, Forest Gate, was charged at West Ham Police Court with failing to shade an extremely bright light in his house at 9.20 p.m. on 31st January last, the night of the air raid on this country; that the defendant pleaded guilty, and was fined £5; if he is aware that at the Police Court the defendant stated that he was an unnaturalised German, and that without asking the Home Office had sent him an exemption from deportation; and if he will now order Gabriel to be interned or deported, and state the reason why this enemy has not been restrained by the Home Office when the liberty of harmless working-men aliens has been interfered with?


It is not the case that this man was exempted from repatriation without application on his part. He made an application in July last, which was considered by the Advisory Committee, who recommended that exemption should be granted. The man came to England in 1864, and has lived here ever since. He married an English woman, has five British-born children, and he is now sixty-five years old. Nothing was known against him by the police. I think the Committee were right to advise his exemption; but Germans who are permitted to continue to live in this country in spite of the state of war, and who are allowed, in view of exceptional circumstances, to remain free from internment, must at least observe scrupulously the regulations made for the safety of the people. I take a serious view of the offence of which Hermann Gabriel pleaded guilty, and which is correctly described in the hon. Member's question, whether the offence were committed through ignorance or not, and I have given directions for his internment.


asked how many alien enemies remain uninterned or unrepatriated; and whether the policy of the Government with regard to internment of all male alien enemies of military age and the repatriation of others remains as defined by the late Secretary of State in June, 1915?


Under the term "alien enemies" are included a large number of Czechs, of Slavs from Prussian and Austrian Poland and from Southern Austria, of persons of French race from Alsace and Lorraine, of Italian race from Trieste and the Trentino, of Armenians, and of women of British birth who have married alien enemies. Among them are about 1,500 persons over seventy years of age. Including all these, except the British-born wives, the latest figures of uninterned alien enemies in Great Britain show a total of 12,446 males and 10,500 females. The answer to the last part of the question is in the affirmative.


Will the right hon. Gentleman say how many of these aliens there are exclusive of these exceptional classes?


I cannot say quite. But the majority of them would come under the description I have given.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say how many of these alien enemies are in Norfolk and Suffolk?


I must have notice of that question.


If I put down a question will the right hon. Gentleman be able to differentiate these aliens?


To some extent. I do not think it is possible to give complete figures, but I will do my best if the hon. Gentleman puts a question down.

27. Mr. McNEILL

asked the Home Secretary how many applications for exemption from internment have been heard and decided since the 1st August, 1915; and in how many of such cases has exemption been granted?


Since 1st August 2,076 applications for exemption from internment have been dealt with. Exemption was recommended in 1,211 cases, and refused in 865. The 1,211 exemptions included some 600 men of friendly races under the rule of enemy Governments; and a considerable number of men whose sons were serving in the British Army.

28. Mr. McNEILL

asked the Home Secretary whether any alien enemies or persons of hostile origin or association have been temporarily or permanently released from internment in the last six months; and, if so, will he explain the reasons for their release?


The releases which have taken place in the last six months have been for the most part those of persons recommended for exemption by the Committee, but interned before the decision was known, to which may be added some persons vouched for as being of friendly race and some citizens of neutral States who had found their way into the camps, and were released as soon as the fact of their allegiance was established. Temporary releases for two or three days or a week have been granted by the Home Office on a very few occasions for private reasons of the most urgent kind, such as to see a dying wife or child.


Will the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to give the numbers? He will observe I have asked for them.


No, Sir; the hon. Member did not ask for the numbers.


Is there any record kept at the Home Office of the reasons why alien enemies are released or interned?


Yes, certainly. Every case of release is most scrupulously gone into in detail, and unless it comes within well-defined categories it comes before me personally.


asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that there are still a large number of uninterned aliens in the neighbourhood of many military camps; and whether he will consider the desirability of making the neighbourhood of all camps prohibited areas?


If the hon. Member will be good enough to furnish me with the facts on which the first part of his question is based, I shall be glad to have them investigated. In view of the large number and wide distribution of the military camps, the adoption of the suggestion in the latter part of the question would be attended by great administrative difficulties.


If I give the right hon. Gentlemen information with regard to a particular camp will he make inquiry?


I shall be very glad indeed to have it.

80. Mr. M'NEILL

asked whether any prisoners of war have been released temporarily or otherwise for the purpose of being married?

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

Since June, 1915, when it was decided that only in the most exceptional circumstances should an interned alien be permitted to marry, there have been two marriages of aliens interned in camps under the control of the War Office, but in neither case was the alien released from internment for the purpose. In the one case the alien left the camp temporarily under escort for the purpose of being married, and in the other the marriage took place in a building inside the camp.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say why it was allowed?


I believe one case was at the instance of the American Ambassador. He was marrying an American subject. I do not know about the other case.