HC Deb 09 October 1940 vol 365 cc365-6
32. Miss Rathbone

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has reconsidered the question of setting up a tribunal or commission before which aliens detained in prison, whether as war refugees or under security orders, can plead their case and produce evidence as to their reliability; and whether, if no new tribunal is thought necessary, the advisory committee, of which Mr. Norman Birkett is chairman, can be strengthened so that, sitting in sections, it can deal with these cases?

The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Peake)

My right hon. Friend has for some time past had the advantage of the advice of an inter-departmental committee, presided over by Sir Francis Lindley, in considering certain cases of the type referred to in the hon. Member's Question. My right hon. Friend proposes to reconstitute this committee, and to enlarge its scope, so that it will be available for the consideration of all such cases as may be referred to it by my right hon. Friend.

Miss Rathbone

In view of the fact that there are several hundreds of these cases, probably about 800, and that most of these persons have been in prison for between two and four months, does the Minister think that one tribunal is sufficient? Will he make it large enough for it to be able to sit in sections and to deal rapidly with these long-delayed cases?

Mr. Peake

I think we had better see how we get on with the committee which we propose to set up.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

Will the Minister remember that there is a rising feeling on this matter, which may burst its banks if something is not done?

Mr. Peake

That is the reason why we have adopted the procedure of establishing this committee.

37. Mr. Harvey

asked the Home Secretary the numbers of aliens released from internment under each of the categories named in the White Paper, up to the latest convenient date?

Mr. Peake

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer to a similar Question which I gave yesterday to the hon. Baronet the Member for the Barnstaple Division (Sir R. Acland).

Mr. Harvey

Does that answer show that the great majority who have been released have been released on grounds of age or sickness, and comparatively few on the grounds that they are doing important work?

Mr. Peake

That answer shows that the total number whose release has so far been authorised is about 4,600. My right hon. Friend declines to give separate figures for each category, because it would be misleading at present to split up the figures in that way.

Mr. Harvey

Is there a hope that at some suitable date in the future the figures for the different categories will be given?

Mr. Peake

I hope that at some future date it will be possible to give the figures in the form asked for by the hon. Member.

Mr. Wedgwood

Is it not a fact that a very large proportion of those released are those who were interned for Fascist sympathies, and not Jews?

Mr. Peake

No, Sir.