HC Deb 31 October 1916 vol 86 cc1497-8

asked the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs whether any arrangements can or have been made to enable British women and children now detained in Belgium to return to this country; whether he has any information as to the detention of Mrs. James Alfred Ashley and her two sons, aged five and two and a half years, in Brussels since the outbreak of war; and whether he will consider the possibility, by exchange or other means, of securing their repatriation?

Mr. JAMES HOPE (Treasurer of the Household)

A considerable number of British women and children have been allowed to leave Belgium in the past and have been enabled to do so by the provision of special trains arranged through the good offices of the United States Legation at Brussels. Since November last, however, no such facilities have been allowed by the German authorities, "who now refuse to permit the departure of British subjects of either sex from Belgium. Every effort has been made to secure the repatriation of Mrs. James Ashley and her children, but hitherto without success. A strong protest has recently been made against the detention in Belgium of British women and children.


How many are there now?


I am afraid I cannot say without notice.


Is it possible to prevent the expatriation of German women from this country back to Germany until British women who are in Belgium and in France are repatriated too?


I shall be glad to bring that suggestion before the notice of the authorities.