HC Deb 20 June 1940 vol 362 cc222-3
15. Mr. Riley

asked the Home Secretary the approximate number of refugees from Nazi persecution in Great Britain who have been classed in category C, and why some of the refugees in this category have been interned; what are the reasons for interning some of these category C refugees and not others; and whether such interned refugees will be entitled to have their cases re-examined?

Sir J. Anderson

Approximately 52,000 Germans and Austrians were classified as refugees and placed in Category C. On 11th May I ordered the internment, as a measure of military precaution, of all male Germans and Austrians in a coastal zone on the east and south-east coasts and Category C males in that zone were interned in pursuance of this general direction. In addition, I have authorised chief constables to arrest for internment any German or Austrian in Category C about whose reliability the chief constable feels doubt from the point of view of national security. As my hon. Friend will appreciate, in present circumstances any general review is out of the question, but this point will be kept in mind for consideration when circumstances permit.

Major Sir Philip Colfox

Would it not be much better to intern all foreigners?

Mr. Riley

Is it not the case that many of these refugees are being interned without any reason given?

Sir J. Anderson

That is perfectly true, and when it is represented to me that as a matter of military necessity action should be taken, my desire must be in the present circumstances to take that action unless there are overwhelming arguments to the contrary. With regard to the Question of the hon. and gallant Member, I have been going on the principle of doing first things first. If we try to do everything all at once, there is a danger of leaving undone those things which ought to be done.

Sir Ralph Glyn

Does the answer of the right hon. Gentleman mean that in every case where a chief constable has requested that action should be taken in any one of these 32,000 cases, permission has been given to the chief constable to act?

Sir J. Anderson

That is really a different question. The answer to it is that chief constables have discretion to take into custody enemy aliens in regard to whom they may feel some doubt.

Mr. J. J. Davidson

Has the right hon. Gentleman a list of the things to be done first and then of the things to be done after the things to be done first have been done?