HC Deb 07 March 1939 vol 344 cc1904-5
36. Miss Rathbone

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has considered the possibility of establishing as a unit of the British Army a foreign legion, on the analogy of that in France, open to men of all nationalities or national minorities, in sympathy with ideals of democracy and freedom?

58. Lieut.-Colonel Macnamara

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will consider the possibility of raising a military unit open to refugees of other countries who are admitted to this country?

The Secretary of State for War (Mr. Hore-Belisha)

The establishment of a unit of the nature suggested has been considered, but it is not thought to be an advantageous course.

Mr. Flemings

Is there anything to prevent refugees from joining the ordinary units of the British Army?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

There are certain circumstances in which some of them can join.

Mr. Mander

Would it not be possible in a foreign legion to recruit a large number of Germans who do love democracy and freedom?

Lieut.-Colonel Macnamara

Without necessarily opening all units to refugees who are in this country, would not this be a convenient temporary measure in the case of refugees who have reached this country?

Lieut.-Commander Agnew

Is it not the case that in the French Foreign Legion men can become soldiers if they are physically fit, and that there is no question of any political opinion arising? Is not that the best way in which to recruit men for the military forces?

Miss Rathbone

Are there not a large number of most seasoned and experienced soldiers in Europe who are refugees, and if France can make use of them, why cannot we?