HC Deb 25 May 1916 vol 82 cc2266-7
16. Sir A. MARKHAM

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to a statement made by the Recorder at the Central Criminal Court, when charging the grand jury on 2nd May, stating that it was deeply to be regretted that the Government permitted Germans to change their names under deed poll during the War in order to conceal their identity when many of them were ready to betray this country; and whether, having regard to the experience of the Recorder in dealing with crimes committed by Germans, the Government purpose taking any steps to prevent naturalised Germans from changing their names during the War?


I stated, in answer to a question on the 10th instant, that the statements reported to have been made by the Recorder do not represent the facts. No Germans have been permitted by the Government to change their names since the War began, with the exception of twelve persons, almost all of whom were British born women, German by marriage only, and now widows or separated from their husbands. As regards change of name by British subjects, I have nothing to add to the answers already given by my predecessor, the Attorney-General and myself.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the German, Russian and French Governments refuse to allow any naturalised subjects to change their names unless they can show to a Court of Law that it is in the public interest to do so; and is he aware that a large number of naturalised Germans continue daily to change their names?


I was not aware of that fact in regard to the countries mentioned, but I will make inquiries.


Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that Germans are changing their names and that no action is being taken to stop it?


Not German. They are all British subjects of German origin. There is no restriction upon them, and no restrictions could be imposed under the Aliens Restriction Order, because they are exempt from its provisions.


Can the right hon. Gentleman not bring in legislation?


I am not convinced that any case has been made out for legislation.