HC Deb 27 June 1940 vol 362 cc593-5
39. Mr. G. Strauss

asked the Home Secretary what action has been taken in regard to the Spanish refugees who had been serving with the French Army in Flanders and were evacuated to this country from Dunkirk; and what use it is now intended to make of their services?

Sir J. Anderson

A number of men stated to belong to French labour companies and claiming to be Spanish citizens have recently arrived in this country. As they were not in uniform and possessed no papers, they were detained as a measure of security pending inquiries. These inquiries are now proceeding, and a decision will shortly be reached as to their disposal.

Mr. Strauss

Is it a fact that many of these men who have been serving with the French army have in fact been put into prison and treated as prisoners? Further, will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that many of these men are the brave men, referred to by the Prime Minister, who fought against Fascism?

Sir J. Anderson

If temporary action is called for as a measure of security, the only means at my disposal is that of imprisonment.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Will the right hon. Gentleman clear this matter up as quickly as possible, in view of the fact that these men are known to be volunteers who recently risked their lives for the Allied cause?

Sir J. Anderson

The trouble is, as I said, that these men had no uniform and no papers. These inquiries must be made, but I can assure the hon. Gentleman that they will be made as expeditiously as possible.

41. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Home Secretary whether French refugees are subject to the same inquiries, certification and restriction as other refugees; what progress is being made towards organising and co-ordinating offers of work and service made by refugees of all nationalities affected; and whether he will appoint a special committee to deal with this problem and the valuable results that might accrue from refugee service?

Sir J. Anderson

French war refugees, on their arrival in this country, are subject to the same control as refugees of other nationalities. As regards the second and third parts of the Question, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour is considering in consultation with the other Ministers concerned, the best arrangements for finding employment for refugees of all nationalities. As at present advised, I do not think it is necessary to appoint another committee for this purpose.

Mr. Sorensen

Seeing that already a number of scientific workers who are refugees have been released, could not other refugees who are workers, but not necessarily scientific workers, be released on the same basis?

Sir J. Anderson

I am making arrangements to review this case as speedily as possible, but when the numbers run, as they do, into tens of thousands it is a matter of considerable difficulty.