HC Deb 23 May 1940 vol 361 cc293-7
19. Colonel Burton

asked the Home Secretary whether the order for internment of enemy aliens applies to females as well as males?

Sir J. Anderson

Hitherto I have not felt it necessary to order the wholesale internment of female enemy aliens or of any class of them, although I have not hesitated to order the internment of individual German or Austrian women where there were grounds for suspecting their attitude and disposition to this country. The whole question whether any and, if so, what further measures are required in present circumstances is receiving close attention.

Sir T. Moore

Is not the female of any species generally more dangerous than the male?

Colonel Burton

Can my right hon. Friend tell us how many women have been interned and how many are still at large?

Sir J. Anderson

I cannot give numbers without notice.

23. Mr. Parker

asked the Home Secretary what arrangements have been made for the internment of enemy aliens; whether it is proposed to release any of them in the near future; and, if so, on what conditions?

39. Miss Rathbone

asked the Home Secretary whether, and how soon he hopes to review the cases of those aliens who have been recently interned, not on individual grounds, but under a general order; and whether particular attention will be given to the cases of men employed by employers urgently needing their labour and to the cases of youths undergoing training or education?

Sir J. Anderson

I have ordered the internment as a measure of precaution, of all male enemy aliens aged 16 to 60 (except invalids and the infirm), throughout Great Britain, who are classified as "B," and of all male Germans and Austrians of the same age group in the coastal counties from Nairn to Hampshire. In taking this action I had contemplated that the general position would be reviewed as soon as circumstances permit; but I am afraid that, having regard to the paramount considerations of national security, there can be no question at present of individual review except possibly in the type of case referred to by the hon. Lady the Member for the English Universities (Miss Rathbone) or where release can be shown to be definitely and directly in the national interest.

Mr. Parker

Can arrangements be made to allow men who are interned to communicate with their wives?

Sir J. Anderson


Miss Rathbone

In view of the fact that letters now take such a long time to get through and that many of these people are anxious, may I ask whether the censorship of letters of internees can be hastened?

Sir J. Anderson

I will certainly look into that matter.

Colonel Wedgwood

Is it possible to allow these internees to have work to do which may be helpful to the country, in order to show that they are on our side? Also, will it be possible to allow the wives of these internees to go with their husbands?

Sir J. Anderson

These are matters of detail which involve problems of organisation, and the action taken in the last few days will have to be allowed to work itself out before these ideals can be approached.

Sir Ralph Glyn

Why has the age limit of 60 been fixed? Is it really supposed that people over 60 years of age cannot be harmful or helpful?

Sir J. Anderson

No, Sir, but some age limit must be fixed. I would like the House to realise that the purpose of this action is not only to ensure that there shall be no way in which anyone shall have a chance of doing harm, but also to break up any organisation which may be in existence. The action is directed to that end.

Sir R. Glyn

Does that mean that if it is proved that someone over 60 years of age is better locked up he will be kept in internment?

Sir J. Anderson

I think the House will realise that from the outbreak of war the policy of the Government has been to take no risks and to put under restraint and, if necessary, intern, any person with regard to whom there is reasonable cause to think that he may be a public danger.

Mr. Higgs

Is consideration being given to scientists who hold key positions and Class C certificates?

Sir J. Anderson

If the hon. Member will look at my answer he will see that I refer to the possibility of releasing people whose release can be shown to be definitely and directly in the national interests.

Vice-Admiral Taylor

How many people in category B are interned?

Sir J. Anderson

They have all been interned.

Mr. Sorensen

Will the Home Secretary give special consideration to Class C certificates in the case of those people who have been living on the coast and who would not have been interned if they had been living elsewhere?

Mr. Crowder

Will the Home Secretary consider the possibility of sending some of these internees to the Dominions if the Dominions are willing to take them, and thus avoid congestion in this country?

Sir J. Anderson

I must be allowed to deal with one problem at a time and I am dealing with the most urgent aspect of this problem.

28. Captain W. T. Shaw

asked the Home Secretary how many male enemy aliens between the ages of 16 and 60 have been interned and whether any exceptions have been made in the categories already affected; whether it is his intention to intern all enemy aliens, men and women alike; and whether the women in the categories, where males have already been interned, have had any restrictions put upon them in respect of the use of cameras?

Sir J. Anderson

I presume that my hon. Friend refers to the male aliens interned in pursuance of my recent directions. According to the latest returns available, these number some 5,000. The only persons in the categories referred to who were exempted from internment were the invalids and the infirm. As regards other categories of aliens, certain further measures are being taken but I cannot make details known in advance. As regards the third part of the Question, all women in Category B are subject to the special restrictions which inter aliaprohibit the use of cameras.

Captain Shaw

How many enemy aliens are there in this country who are unaffected by the Orders already made?

Sir J. Anderson

Perhaps my hon. and gallant Friend will put a Question on the Paper so that I can give him an exact reply.

Captain Shaw

Does not my right hon. Friend consider that if all enemy aliens and many aliens who have been naturalised were interned, it would increase the feeling of security among the British people and so tend to increase their output?

Sir J. Anderson

That is a question of opinion.