§ 42. Mr. Mander
asked the Home Secretary whether he will consider the advisability of authorising commandants of internment camps to give permission on their own responsibility for internees to keep visa appointments at the American and other consulates in London, to pay visits to relatives who are seriously ill, or to receive visits from business associates?
§ Mr. Peake
As regards visits to consulates by intending emigrants, a careful scheme has been worked out which will, I hope, avoid delays, and the operation of this scheme would be hindered rather than helped by leaving to each commandant a discretion to make his own arrangements. As regards visits to relatives who are ill, it is occasionally possible to allow a visit under escort if only a short journey is involved, but often these cases are met by releases under Category 18 of the White Paper. Visits to internees must be governed by a general policy, and for this purpose the system of requiring applications to be made to the Home Office must be maintained.
§ Mr. Mander
Is the Minister aware that a number of internees have lost their boats to the United States owing to the fact that commandants in the camps have no authority to permit them to go to visa appointments without referring to the Home Office? Is not that a matter which ought to be put right?
§ Mr. Peake
I regret to say that there was some delay and confusion in this matter in the early stages of general internment. We have now worked out a scheme with the co-operation of the Consulates and the Central Refugee Cornmittee at Bloomsbury House, which, I think, will work smoothly and expeditiously.
§ Mr. Mander
Is it still necessary for commandants to obtain permission from the Home Office in every case, even where it is obvious that appointments should be made?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
Does the Minister mean that the new scheme has been brought into force and that delays have already been eliminated?
§ Sir H. Williams
Does it cover the case of interned persons who desire to go to the United States before the end of this month and cannot do it while they are interned?
Is the Minister aware that the greatest feeling of bitterness is in the case of those who are going to the United States and who are kept in internment up to the last minute and cannot therefore wind up their affairs? Is the Minister not going to make some change to release these persons a few days before they leave the country?
§ 41. Major Milner (for Mr. Silverman)
asked the Home Secretary whether he will make arrangements to secure that when an alien is released upon medical grounds his interned wife shall be released simultaneously, so that invalids shall not be left without the requisite care and attention?
§ Major Milner
Has an order been given that the wife shall be simultaneously released with the husband?
§ Mr. Peake
Certainly not. The women who are interned are all in either Category A or B. It is obvious that there must be special security grounds for maintaining the internment of the wife, but if the husband is released because he is an invalid or infirm, there is a strong prima facie case for the release of the wife so that she can look after him.
May I thank the hon. Gentleman for that reply, which will give satisfaction to many internees and their wives, and ask whether that practice will 159 happen automatically and that we need not make a special application for the release of a wife when the husband is released because of sickness?