HC Deb 29 February 1916 vol 80 cc876-8
49. Mr. ASHLEY

asked the Prime Minister whether the advisory committee appointed by the Government to investigate the cases of British subjects imprisoned by the Home Secretary, without trial or any charge being made against them, have any power to insist on release if they consider innocence is established?

The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Herbert Samuel)

The Prime Minister has asked me to reply to this question. The committee have no occasion to insist on the release of the interned persons to whom reference is made. Their recommendations have invariably been acted upon.


Are we to understand from the right hon. Gentleman that, without any curb, he can imprison British subjects without any charge and for any length of time?


That does not arise out of the question, but the circumstances are not such as the hon. Member suggests.


May I ask what course there is for these prisoners?


The question is irrelevant.

55. Mr. ASHLEY

asked the Prime Minister whether the advisory committee which deals with the cases of British subjects imprisoned by administrative order of the Home Secretary was appointed by the Government and can be dismissed by the Government?


The Prime Minister has asked me to reply. The Committee was appointed by the Government, and could no doubt be dissolved by them, but the Defence of the Realm Regulation which deals with this matter provides that any representations which may be made by a person affected shall be duly considered by an Advisory Committee which shall be presided over by a person who holds or who has held high judicial office. If there were no such Committee there could therefore be no internment orders. I would add that there is no question of dissolving a Committee which has carried out its difficult work with such scrupulous regard both to the safety of the country and the rights of individuals.


Is this Committee any curb on the right hon. Gentleman?


I hope I do not require any curb. Cases are referred to them for advice, and in all the cases referred to them their advice is always acted upon.


Why should there not be an application to the judge in public?


That is a matter for debate.