HC Deb 15 August 1940 vol 364 cc942-7
57. Mr. Sloan

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that none of the people interned in Barlinnie Prison, Glasgow, has had an opportunity of having his case reviewed before the Advisory Committee, and what steps he proposes to take to have the law administered in this respect?

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir John Anderson)

I am informed that all these men are Italians of dual nationality. I am arranging for a special committee to review the cases of Italians who have been interned as enemy aliens, and who come within the categories of eligibility for release, and I propose to ask this committee also to act for the purposes of Regulation 18B of the Defence Regulations, and to deal with the cases of Italians of dual nationality.

Mr. Sloan

Is it not time that this matter was cleared up, because some of these people, who were born in Scotland, have been in Barlinnie for six or seven weeks?

Sir J. Anderson

Yes, Sir; I am anxious that this matter should be cleared up.

59. Mr. Cecil Wilson

asked the Home Secretary what was the strength of the administrative division dealing with aliens and refugees, respectively, prior to the outbreak of war, prior to 1st May, and at the last available date; how many are men and how many women; how many are attached to transitional and how many to other camps; how many of those appointed since 1st May are believed to be under 40 years of age; and what are the requisite qualifications for this delicate and urgent work?

Sir J. Anderson

As the reply contains a number of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the reply:

The administrative and clerical staff of the Division dealing with aliens and refugees on 1st September, 1939, 1st April, 1940, and 12th August, 1940, was as follows:

1st September, 1939, 121 men, 75 women 196
1st April, 1940, 114 men, 79 women 193
12th August, 1940, 161 men, 92 women 253
It is not possible to distinguish between the staff employed on refugee work and on general aliens work. Of the staff appointed since 1st May, 22 are under 40 years of age, and of this number 16 are under the age of 20. The qualifications for this work are much the same as those required for other administrative and clerical work in the Home Office. So far as possible, use has been made of the services of those with suitable previous experience. None of the staff mentioned are attached to camps. All the staff now at the camps have been appointed by the War Office.

60. Mr. James Hall

asked the Home Secretary whether he has now completed his inquiries concerning the case of Mr. Jakob Felsenstein, No. 75948; whether this man has been deported; and, if so, to what destination, and for what reason?

Sir J. Anderson

Jakob Felsenstein went to Australia on 10th July on the understanding that his wife, Esther Felsenstein, would be given an opportunity to follow him if she were willing to do so and if arrangements could be made for this purpose. She has expressed her willingness to go, but, as stated in the reply given on 13th August to a Question by the hon. Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. Harvey), it has become necessary to defer for the time being the completion of the arrangements for sending the wives of internees to Australia.

Mr. Hall

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that after this man's wife was informed that he had been sent to Australia, she was then informed that he had been sent to Canada? She does not know where he is, whether he is in Canada or Australia; and she cannot take any steps to travel to meet him.

Sir J. Anderson

I cannot understand that statement, because, as I have said, this man has been sent to Australia, and his wife has expressed willingness to meet him there.

Mr. Hall

At a later date she was informed that he had been sent to Canada, and not to Australia.

Sir J. Anderson

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will let me know by whom she was so informed.

62. Mr. Woods

asked the Home Secretary whether he will apply the conditions of release, as set out in Command Paper 6217, to Italian internees, as well as to German and Austrian civilians?

Sir J. Anderson

Yes, Sir, so far as they are applicable.

63. Mr. Woods

asked the Home Secretary whether he will include in the categories of persons eligible for release from internment students below 20 years of age, who have not completed their course of studies and who by completion of their studies will be equipped and able to contribute to the national cause?

Sir J. Anderson

This matter is being considered by the Advisory Committee.

Mr. Woods

As there has been considerable delay and many cases have been held up, will the Home Secretary promise that the matter shall be expedited?

Sir J. Anderson

I hope to be able to make a statement in the next few days.

65. Mr. Ammon

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that Herman Podolsky, a category C alien, resident in this country for several years, has been interned, and had to leave his business in Camberwell, and that his two aged parents, refugees from Nazi persecution, who know no English, are placed in grave difficulties, and cannot get into touch with the internee; and whether this man, whose character can be vouched for by several Members of Parliament, may now be released, that he may be an asset instead of a liability to the nation?

Sir J. Anderson

I have made careful inquiries and regret that I can find no ground for treating the case of this alien as coming within any of the existing categories in the White Paper.

Mr. Ammon

Has the right hon. Gentleman been able to trace this man?

Sir J. Anderson

Yes, Sir.

Mr. G. Strauss

Does the Home Secretary not think that this is an excellent ground for enlarging the categories?

Sir J. Anderson

I have just said that I hope to be able to make a statement on that matter in the next few days.

66. Mr. R. Gibson

asked the Home Secretary whether he will extend No. 15 of the categories of persons eligible for release from internment, contained in Command Paper 6217, so as to include spinsters who have, or have had, a British born or naturalised brother serving in the British Navy, Army, or AirForce?

Sir J. Anderson

The proposed extension would not serve any useful purpose, since no woman placed in category C has been interned except on security grounds personal to herself, and in such a case the mere fact of having a brother serving in His Majesty's Forces would not be sufficient to justify her release

67. Mr. Rhys Davies

asked the Home Secretary whether Italian internees are to be treated on similar lines to German and Austrian internees?

Sir J. Anderson

Yes, Sir. The conditions in internment camps are the same; and, as I stated on 23rd July, the arrangements for exemptions and releases will extend—so far as applicable—to Italians.

Mr. Davies

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that there are Jewish refugees who have fled from Fascist persecution in Italy?

Sir J. Anderson

Yes, Sir, I have that in mind.

68. Mr. Granville

asked the Home Secretary the number of enemy aliens who have been interned from the staff of the Dorchester Hotel, London; and the numbers of Swiss, Italian and German nationality still employed by this establishment?

Sir J. Anderson

I am informed that, among a staff of 487 persons, there are 26 Swiss, 10 Italians and one German. The German is a refugee, aged 16, whose father is serving in the Pioneer Corps; and of the 10 Italians one is a woman and the other nine have lived in this country for 25 years or more. Two persons of enemy nationality who were formerly members of the staff have been interned.

Mr. Granville

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Ministers of the Crown are in residence in this hotel? Can he say whether departmental documents and dispatch boxes are sent there; and does he think that that is desirable, in the interests of national security?

Sir J. Anderson

I do not think that that arises out of the Question.

70. Mr. Wilson

asked the Home Secretary why Roland Hulka, a Czech refugee, has been imprisoned in Strange-ways gaol, Manchester, since 8th June; and why, as a friendly alien, he has not been placed in an internment camp?

Sir J. Anderson

This man is detained in the interests of national security. Persons of non-enemy nationality have not as a rule been placed in internment camps with persons of enemy nationality, but I hope to arrange in due course for their transfer to a special camp.

Mr. Wilson

Will the right hon. Gentleman explain how it is that this man, having on his police registration the words "Friendly alien of Czech nationality," has been interned?

Sir J. Anderson

As I explained, he was interned on security grounds peculiar to himself.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Has any specific charge been made against the man himself?

Sir J. Anderson

Not necessarily a specific charge in the sense of a criminal charge, but there are specific grounds for the internment of this individual.

Mr. Shinwell

What is meant by "on security grounds"? Does it mean that internment is intended to protect the person concerned?

Sir J. Anderson

The hon. Gentleman will understand, I think, what is meant by "security grounds" if he will refer to the Regulations under which action was taken.

75. Dr. Morgan

asked the Home Secretary the present whereabouts of Frank Bascombe, who, in May this year, was arrested and detained in Brixton Prison; whether he is still in prison or sent overseas or transferred to a camp; and what are the grounds of his detention?

Sir J. Anderson

This man is a native of Barbados, who came to this country for the first time after the outbreak of war, having lived in Germany for 14 years. He has been detained on security grounds and is at present in Stafford Prison.