HC Deb 19 September 1940 vol 365 cc183-4
32. Major Milner

asked the Home Secretary how many files relating to aliens have been mislaid or lost?

Sir J. Anderson

There are about 750,000 of these files, and there are several sections of the Aliens Branch of the Home Office, situated in different localities, to which files have to be sent from time to time. In these circumstances it would be surprising if it did not happen on occasion that a file is not readily available, but I understand that remarkably few are mislaid or lost, though I am not in a position to give exact statistics.

Major Milner

Is it not a fact that some hundreds, if not thousands, of files are lost and cannot be found? What is the position of the aliens to whom those files apply?

Sir J. Anderson

I should be greatly surprised if the numbers are anything like so large as my hon. and gallant Friend suggests. If a file is lost and cannot be found, the particulars have to be reconstructed from other records to which reference can be made, such as those in the hands of the police.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

When a file is taken out cannot a slip be put in its place stating where it has gone? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this simple practice does not obtain at the Home Office?

Sir J. Anderson

I am not prepared to deal with points of office procedure. I am perfectly satisfied that those who are responsible for handling what is an extremely difficult and technical matter are doing everything possible to avoid the inconveniences that must necessarily arise from the enormous increase in the correspondence and the unfortunate fact that the staff have had to be dispersed.

Mr. Pethick-Lawrence

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in certain cases of aliens who were arrested when the matter was in the hands of the War Office, passports and other documents were taken away and have been lost; and that being a serious matter to the aliens affected, will the right hon. Gentleman consider what he can do with regard to it?

Sir J. Anderson

I will, certainly, but the right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that that is rather a different point.

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