HC Deb 12 June 1940 vol 361 cc1253-4
22. Commander Sir Archibald Southby

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will prohibit the use of wireless-receiving sets in camps occupied by aliens or enemy prisoners, in view of the fact that such sets could be used to receive information, and instructions broadcast, either in code or in plain language, during transmissions from enemy radio stations?

The Financial Secretary to the War Office (Mr. Richard Law)

Wireless sets in alien and prisoner of war camps are prohibited.

23. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will issue instructions that internees shall be able to communicate with their relatives or legitimate friends within 24 hours of internment; whether he has now inquired into the cause of the undue delay in permitting such communications; whether he is aware that internees who have had experience of Nazi concentration camps, prisons, or maltreatment, appreciate the more humane treatment they are now receiving; and whether, by maintaining this superior British tradition and practice, he will counteract the false assumption of a section of public opinion that indiscriminate hostility to aliens and refugees is a patriotic necessity?

Mr. Law

As was indicated by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, in answer to Questions on this subject on Thursday last, the arrest at one time and at short notice of a large number of persons has made it impossible to arrange for immediate postal facilities, and, until the internees can be sent to permanent camps, I fear that cases of delay are inevitable. But every effort is being made to avoid any unnecessary hardship in this or any other respect.

Mr. Sorensen

Can these internees now communicate with their friends within a reasonable time at least after being interned?

Mr. Law

Every effort is being made to expedite such communications.

Mr. Stokes

Would it not be possible to issue to all these internees a standard postcard, as was done in the last war, which they can send to their relatives immediately upon internment, so that their relatives may know that they are all right?

Mr. Law

I will pass that suggestion on to my right hon. Friend.

Mr. G. Strauss

Is the hon. Member aware that there was a standing prohibition against internees communicating with anybody outside?

Mr. Law

However that may be, there is no such prohibition now.