HC Deb 23 May 1940 vol 361 cc288-92
26. Sir George Broadbridge

asked the Home Secretary whether, for the purposes of home security and having regard to what has happened in certain neutral countries, it has now been decided to ban all Communist and Fascist societies and, if necessary, to intern their members?

32 and 35. Mr. Mander

asked the Home Secretary (1) what action he proposes to take with reference to the Fascist organisation known before the war as the Imperial Fascist League, its members giving the Nazi salute and wearing the swastika badge, now replaced by the St. George's Cross; and whether he is aware that this organisation is circulating pamphlets and a weekly news sheet entitled "Weekly Angles" from the Angles News Service, 56, Crogsland Road, N.W.1, occupies the same headquarters as did the Imperial Fascist League and that its activities are contrary to the national war effort;

(2) what action he proposes to take with reference to the British Council for Christian Settlement in Europe and the British Peoples Party, of which Lord Tavistock is chairman, to which are attached former members of the Nordic League and the Link; and whether he is aware that these bodies conduct propaganda of a defeatist and pro-Nazi character and are working contrary to the national war effort?

Sir J. Anderson

All these matters are receiving the attention due to them in present circumstances, but it would be contrary to the public interest to announce beforehand the steps which are being taken to deal with any persons whose activities are calculated at the present time to impede the national war effort.

Mr. Mander

Is the Home Secretary aware, and will he bear in mind, that the British Council for Christian Settlement in Europe has as its secretary Mr. John Beckett, who was associated before the war with Mr. William Joyce, better known as "Lord Haw Haw?"

Sir J. Anderson

I will bear that in mind.

Mr. Levy

Does the right hon. Gentleman intend to suppress the publications for which these particular societies are responsible, and which are now being sold or given away in various parts of the country?

Sir J. Anderson

The question of publication is rather a different one, and I should like to see it on the Order Paper. The House knows that new regulations were made last week.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Will the right hon. Gentleman take special steps to find out whether any of these organisations are receiving funds from abroad, and when he has the information will he publish the sums and the sources?

Sir J. Anderson

I have been giving close attention to that matter for some time and I shall certainly consider how I can best make available the information I have.

27 and 40. Colonel Wedgwood

asked the Home Secretary (1) what steps have yet been taken to intern pro-German British or Irish subjects in Great Britain, especially members of the British Union of Fascists and Irish Republican Army;

(2) whether, as the Irish Republican Army are suspected by the police of putting a bomb in a British transport, he proposes to take steps to eliminate citizens of Eire and other Irish suspects from this country?

Sir J. Anderson

As regards members of the I.R.A., in addition to a large number who have been convicted and are serving long sentences, Orders have been made under the Prevention of Violence (Temporary Provisions) Act for the expulsion of 167 persons. Full use will continue to be made of the provisions of that Act. I should add, however, that the police have no information to confirm the suggestion made in the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's later Question. As regards other British subjects, Regulation 18B of the Defence Regulations was last night amended by the addition of a provision enabling me to order the detention of members of organisations which have had associations with the enemy or are subject to foreign influence or control and may be used for purposes prejudicial to the national security.

Copies of the amending Regulation are available in the Vote Office. Under these new powers I gave instructions last night for the detention of a number of persons whose names will be made known as soon as the orders have been carried out. This action has been taken because of the danger that the organisations of which the persons concerned were leading members might be used in the execution of acts prejudicial to the security of the State, and not on account of any opinions held or expressed by them or on account of their propagandist activities. It is not to be assumed that the action taken this morning under these new powers represents finality. Further action must and will be taken as circumstances may require.

Colonel Wedgwood

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for his reply, may I ask him whether, in view of the fact that 167 people have been deported, he is taking steps to prevent them and others coming back?

Sir J. Anderson

That is very carefully watched, and I am satisfied that the watch that is kept is sufficient.

Mr. Maxton

Did I hear the right hon. Gentleman use the word "detention" in connection with these Orders? Do I take it that this means that these men will not be brought for trial at any time? May I ask further whether the hon. and gallant Member of this House has been arrested as one of this particular group?

Sir J. Anderson

No, Sir. The hon. and gallant Member for Peebles (Captain Ramsay) was taken into detention under Regulation 18B in the form in which it stood before last night's amendment. The other persons concerned are being taken into detention under the amended Regulation. The Orders direct that these persons should be detained in the circumstances that are set out quite clearly in Regulation 18B, and all the supplementary provisions of the original Regulation 18B will apply to action taken under the amended Regulation

Mr. Maxton

Does this mean that the hon. and gallant Member will not be tried or charged with any specific action?

Sir J. Anderson

This is a precautionary measure. The hon. and gallant Member, like others who have been taken into detention under Regulation 18B, will have his right to make representations to the Advisory Committee?

Mr. Maxton

May I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether any question affecting the Privileges of this House is involved in this matter?

Mr. Speaker

If the hon. Member had any question of Privilege which he wanted to raise, it should have been raised immediately after I read the announcement from the Home Secretary. If anybody wishes to raise any question of Privilege at some other time, it would be necessary for a Member to put down a Motion on the Paper and for the Government to afford time for it.

Mr. Maxton

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House whether he does not think this is a matter of sufficient importance to allow some time when the implications of it may be discussed here?

Sir Percy Harris

Could not this matter be raised on the Adjournment?

Sir Henry Morris-Jones

Is not my right hon. Friend aware that the House as a whole is completely satisfied that he is doing his work properly?