HC Deb 18 May 1916 vol 82 cc1643-4
19 and 20. Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS

asked the Home Secretary (1) whether the police at Scotland Yard received repeated warnings as long ago as August and September last year of the treasonable character of the Voight restaurant; why it was that it took eight months to put an end to this place; and (2) whether he has had reports made to him from the same source as the reports regarding Voight's restaurant in reference to nearly a score of other German shops and restaurants in London; and, if so, what steps he has taken or proposes to take in regard to them?


I will answer these questions together. The hon. Member is mistaken in thinking that the police have received warnings which they disregarded. The premises in question were under continual observation by the police from the outbreak of war, and were searched as early as August, 1914. It should be borne in mind that the law does not confer power to intern persons who, as in this case, are British subjects, though of German origin and naturalised, unless there is some definite ground of suspicion, supported by evidence sufficient to satisfy the judicial Advisory Committee that internment is advisable. It was not until recently that evidence was obtained on which action could be taken under the Defence of the Realm Regulations against certain of the frequenters of the place. This evidence was obtained as the result of police observation and inquiry, and was not furnished from any outside source. The allegations made to the police with regard to various other shops and restaurants have been carefully examined. Action similar to that taken in the case of Voight's restaurant will be taken in other cases if circumstances should arise which justify such action.