HC Deb 06 June 1940 vol 361 cc979-81
23. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Home Secretary whether British-born wives of aliens, whether interned or otherwise who, in some cases, have never resided outside this country, will be free from the restrictions imposed on their husbands; and what steps he is taking, in view of the fact that many of these wives have been without news of their husbands since they were taken away for internment?

Sir J. Anderson

British-born wives of enemy aliens are exempted in certain circumstances from the requirement of registration with the police, but the restrictions on movement and on residence in protected areas apply alike to all aliens. With regard to the second part of the Question, I understand that there is nothing to prevent husbands who are in military custody from writing to their wives.

Mr. Sorensen

Is the right hon Gentleman aware that there have been numerous cases in which men who were suddenly taken away have not been heard from since their removal, a period amounting sometimes to a fortnight or more; and in view of the grave and unnecessary anxiety which this imposes on their relations, could he not expedite arrangements for the sending of communications from internees?

Sir J. Anderson

These people are in military custody, but I am assured that the arrangements provide all reasonable facilities for communication without delay with the friends of the persons concerned.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Will the right hon. Gentleman make further inquiry into the matter in view of the established facts that a great deal of hardship has resulted?

Mr. G. Strauss

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that at some camps there were general instructions for some days after internees had gone there that there was to be no communication by any internee with any outside person?

Sir Irving Albery

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in some cases anxious wives have sent pre-paid telegrams and have had no reply, and no letter either?

Sir J. Anderson

In view of what has been said I will look into the matter further. It is not my desire that any unnecessary hardship should be imposed, but the House will realise that the arrest at one time of a large number of people must inevitably involve delay in making the best possible arrangement for their comfort and convenience.

Colonel Wedgwood

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is a quite unnecessary hardship, and that though there have been complaints about it for the last fortnight nothing has been done?

28. Mr. G. Strauss

asked the Home Secretary whether any decision has yet been arrived at to provide mixed camps for married Germans and Austrians who are being interned?

Sir J. Anderson

In view of the importance of security considerations, the custody of men who have been ordered to be interned has hitherto been undertaken by the military authorities, while women have been provided for, under arrangements made by the Home Office, either in prison or in billets in the Isle of Man. I am considering whether it would be possible to adopt, as regards certain classes of interned persons, a scheme on the lines suggested by my hon. Friend; but I am not in a position to make a statement on the subject at present.

Mr. G. Strauss

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that for many couples, particularly old couples, it is a very serious hardship to be separated?

Sir J. Anderson

I am afraid that hardship is inseparable from the conditions in which we live at the moment.

33. Mr. Ralph Etherton

asked the Home Secretary whether it is intended to require aliens interned in the Isle of Man and elsewhere to perform work useful to the nation or sufficient to cover the cost of their maintenance?

Sir J. Anderson

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given yesterday to a Question by the hon. Member for West Leyton (Mr. Sorensen).

Mr. Etherton

Will my right hon. Friend consider also making those who can afford to do so contribute towards their own maintenance?

Sir J. Anderson

That is another matter.

Commander Locker-Lampson

Why should not aliens be allowed to work and so cost less to the country?

Sir Annesley Somerville

Does my right hon. Friend consider it right that these persons should be kept in luxurious idleness at this time, at much greater weekly cost than the allowance paid to men with dependants; and is he also aware that there is a very great deal of feeling on this matter in the country, especially among women and among the hundreds of thousands of women who are now doing war work?

Miss Rathbone

Will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that these people are not being kept in luxurious idleness, that they are longing for nothing so much as to be allowed to do active work, in or out of internment and that the hon. Member's suggestion is a cruel insult to apply to them?

Sir J. Anderson

I think that the Parliamentary Secretary made it clear yesterday that it would be the desire of the Department to organise, so far as possible, useful activity that these people can undertake; but when several thousands of women are suddenly taken and transferred to the Isle of Man on grounds of security, it is not possible immediately to make all the arrangements.