HC Deb 17 October 1940 vol 365 cc801-7
24. Mr. Graham White

asked the Home Secretary whether the revision of the cases of aliens in Category B has now been completed; and, if so, with what result?

Mr. H. Morrison

The Advisory Committee is at present considering the cases of category B Germans and Austrians which come within one or other of the categories of eligibility for release. When this part of their task is completed, they will then proceed to reclassify B category cases which have not been previously re- viewed by a regional advisory committee. The Advisory Committee has been at work for only a brief period of some eight days, and, although I am informed that they are making substantial progress, their task is, of course, far from completed.

Mr. Mander

Is there only one Advisory Committee sitting to deal with this matter? Could there not be several committees, so that the work would be done more quickly?

Mr. Morrison

There is only one committee at present. I will consider whether there should be additional committees.

33. Mr. Mander

asked the Home Secretary the number of aliens still interned whose release has been authorised by reason of the fact that they are over 65 years of age and will therefore come within Category 1, of the White Paper; and the number interned whose release has been authorised owing to the fact that they are invalid or infirm and come within Category 3?

Mr. Morrison

I cannot without making special inquiry, which would cause still further delays, give the specific figures for which my hon. Friend asks. The latest available figures show that the release of about 5,200 internees has been authorised, and every effort is being made to reduce to the minimum the period between the authorisation of release and the actual release. Normally this period should not be more than a few days. I may perhaps add that, as regards Isle of Man cases, it may take two or three clays before the letter of authorisation reaches the Island, and it may then take another day or two for arrangements to be made for the alien to travel to his home. I can assure the House that I am most anxious that there shall be no unnecessary lapse of time in giving effect to these decisions.

34. Mr. Mander

asked the Home Secretary the number of persons who have made application for release from internment under Category 19 of the Government White Paper on the ground of their active opposition to the Nazi system; the number that have been dealt with by the tribunal and the number of meetings the tribunal has held; whether all applications sent in are forwarded to the tribunal and to what extent the assistance has been sought, for the purpose of advice and information, of reliable and repre- sentative refugees who were leaders of German political groups; and how many such refugees have been selected?

16. Mr. G. Strauss

asked the Home Secretary how many internees have been examined by the tribunal set up to consider the release of those who have a satisfactory record of fighting the Nazis; and how many have been released?

Mr. Morrison

Any application for release under Category 19, unless it is quite obviously outside the terms of the Category, is forwarded to the Tribunal. Up to the beginning of this week, 135 applications have been received. The Tribunal have held six meetings and have considered 70 cases. In 17 of these cases they have completed their inquiries and sent in recommendations to the Home Office. These recommendations are now being considered, and I shall be able in a few days' time to give my decisions. I am informed that the practice of the Tribunal, whenever they consider it necessary to check the statements of an alien, is to seek advice from any person, whom they regard as reliable, if they think that he could give information which would be of assistance to them, and that they have consulted a number of persons accordingly.

Mr. Mander

Did not the late Home Secretary give an undertaking that reliable and representative refugees would be selected for the purpose of assisting these tribunals, and have such persons, in fact, been selected, and, if so, how many?

Mr. Morrison

I will look into that matter. I am not personally aware of it at the moment.

36. Mr. Glenvil Hall

asked the Home Secretary whether he will indicate the improvements recently instituted in the internment camps for friendly aliens in the Isle of Man and elsewhere?

Mr. Morrison

About 85 per cent. of the interned aliens of enemy nationality are now in the Isle of Man, where the conditions have been reported upon by representatives of the refugee organisations and other independent visitors to be generally satisfactory. Special steps are being taken to provide for the well-being of the internees during the winter months as regards medical care, recreational and educational facilities, social amenities, and so far as is practicable, useful employment. As the hon. Member no doubt is aware, in dealing with these matters I have the assistance of the Advisory Council, of which Lord Lytton is chairman.

Mr. Hall

Will my right hon. Friend still cause inquiries to be made, as my information is that the conditions there are far from satisfactory, that in some cases, for instance, there is one chair between 12 or 15 people, and that in other directions the discomfort is terrible?

Mr. Morrison

I will certainly cause inquiries to be made into the points that my hon. Friend has raised.

Mr. G. Strauss

Will my right hon. Friend particularly inquire into the women's case, as a large number of very serious complaints about the conditions existing there come from those who are being released, and it is far worse than the men's case?

Mr. Morrison

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Price

Can my right hon. Friend say whether any improvement has taken place in the postal arrangements for these internees, as they have been very bad for some time past?

Mr. Morrison

I understand that the postal arrangements have been speeded up, but I am afraid that all of us, whether British or aliens, are suffering from that trouble at the present time.

41. Mr. Wedgwood

asked the Home Secretary whether he will revise the policy of interning anti-Nazi Jews who are friendly to this country?

Mr. Morrison

As my hon. Friend knows, substantial numbers of persons have been and are being released under the existing arrangements, and whatever decision may be reached as to the future policy in this matter, it would not be right to base this policy on a distinction between Jews and others. Any categories of eligibility for release ought to be applicable to Jews and non-Jews alike.

Mr. Wedgwood

Will my right hon. Friend take an early opportunity to revise the policy under which they are interned?

Mr. Morrison

That matter is being pursued, and, needless to say, I am consider- ing the very point that my right hon. Friend has put. As a number of administration, however, it is a quicker operation to get them in than it is to get them out, because there must be individual examination in each case, but I can assure my right hon. Friend that I am very anxious to act with all speed, and I am taking all practicable steps in that direction.

Mr. Wedgwood

Will my right hon. Friend allow me to see him on the question and discuss with him the various cases and categories?

Mr. Morrison

I shall be very pleased.

Mr. Thurtle

May I ask my right hon. Friend that in any changes he may make in this connection, he will not do anything that will jeopardise the national security?

Mr. Morrison

My hon. Friend may be quite sure that I shall not.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Will my right hon. Friend consider applying to refugees who have no political record of activity, but who are, nevertheless, definitely known to be anti-Nazi, the same principles and methods as are applied to those who are political refugees?

Mr. Morrison

These points will be kept in mind, but it must be the case that the responsibility rests upon the Home Secretary not to release from internment unless he is satisfied there is cause to do so, and, whether I like it or not, there must be individual consideration. While I am very anxious that this shall be accelerated and that there shall be no undue delay, I really must be careful that people who ought not to be at large are not released?

9. Mr. Wedgwood

asked the Home Secretary whether the Jewish C aliens, who were sent in error to Canada and Australia, have the option of being returned to this country or set free?

Mr. Morrison

The Governments of Canada and Australia agreed to receive certain internees for safe custody, but neither Government is prepared to accept them as immigrants, except in accordance with the immigration laws of the Dominion. Accordingly the release of such an internee does not mean that he will be free to live in the Dominion; it necessarily means that he is brought back to this country unless he is released to emigrate to another country.

Mr. Wedgwood

Am I to understand that those who were shipped in error will have the option of being brought back here?

Mr. Morrison

If they were shipped in error, they will have the option to return to this country, but, of course, facilities will have to be granted by the Dominions, and possibly in the case of Canada by the United States.

Mr. Wedgwood

Are we to understand that all the statements in the past by the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor were incorrect? Are we to understand that these people were shipped hastily and it was not meant to include C aliens but only A and B, that that is scrapped now and under the new administration these people are also to be sent away?

Mr. Morrison

I am not sure that my right hon. Friend is right, but, if cases emerge where there was an error and they ought not to have been sent abroad, I will give the most favourable consideration to facilitating their return to this country.

10. Mr. Wedgwood

asked the Home Secretary when it is proposed to release Walter Sulke, a Jew aged 17 years, from Peversil alien camp in the Isle of Man, in view of his age, and of the fact that two applications have been made by Mrs. Porter, of Letchworth, a British-born subject anxious to take care of him?

Mr. Morrison

This bov's release was authorised on 14th October.

15. Mr. G. Strauss

asked the Home Secretary whether he has received any recommendation from the Aliens Advisory Council regarding the establishment of mixed camps for internees; and whether any steps have now been taken for their establishment?

Mr. Morrison

The answer to the first part of the Question is in the affirmative. As regards the second, I have nothing to add at present to the information which the Parliamentary Under-Secretary gave to my hon. Friend on the 10th instant.

Mr. Strauss

The matter has been under consideration for about three months.

Mr. Morrison

Yes, but at the same time the policy of release has been under consideration for the same period.

21. Mr Mander (for Mr. Wilfrid Roberts)

asked the Home Secretary why the German clergymen who are followers of Pastor Niemöler have not been released from internment?

Mr. Morrison

I am unable to identify the individuals referred to, but on the facts stated it would seem to be open to them to apply, if they so desire, for release under Category 16 or Category 19 of the White Paper. Any such application would be carefully and sympathetically considered.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

Will the right hon. Gentleman remember that Pastor Niemöler was a follower of Hitler in other ways than religion?

Mr. Morrison

It is dangerous to settle these things by classifications of this character. I really must examine individual cases.

22. Mr. Mander (for Mr. W. Roberts)

asked the Home Secretary whether there are still any alien internment camps in which the internees are not permitted to have their family photographs?

Mr. Morrison

I think the hon. Member may be referring to censorship rules enforced in all camps, which allow photographs of a personal or domestic character to be sent to an internee, but require, for security reasons, that they shall be unmounted. I am not aware of any other restriction on family photographs.

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