HC Deb 03 April 1941 vol 370 cc1139-41
12. Mr. Wedgwood

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps have been taken to explain to the Australian authorities in charge of internment camps there the difference between victims of Nazi oppression and pro-Nazi, and to secure special treatment or release for the former?

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Herbert Morrison)

The Australian authorities were given, before the arrival of the internees, such available information as would assist in their classification. As regards arrangements for release, I would refer my right hon. Friend to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to my hon. Friend the Member for North Lambeth (Mr. G. Strauss) on 21st January, and would add that, my representa- tive, Major J. D. Layton, is now in Australia.

Mr. Wedgwood

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that at present the treatment in the camps is on all fours with that of prisoners of war May I ask whether Major Layton has instructions to make a change, or urge such a change, so that there is a distinction between those who are our friends and those who are our enemies?

Mr. Morrison

I can assure the right hon. Member that, if Major Layton sees things which are capable of improvement and adjustment, he will make friendly representations to the Australian authorities.

Mr. Wedgwood

Is it not possible to make it clear to the Australians that here we made a distinction between those who are our friends and those who are our enemies before these people were sent out, and that the authorities in Australia might well follow our example?

Mr. Morrison

Major Layton will be familiar with that fact, and I can assure my hon. Friend that he can rely on his taking suitable friendly action if that is necessary.

Mr. McGovern

Can any of these people make direct representations to the representative who has been sent there?

Mr. Morrison

Yes, Sir. He will be in direct touch with them in the same way as internees are in touch with Mr. Paterson in Canada.

16. Miss Rathbone

asked the Home Secretary whether, in suitable cases and when recommended by the camp commandant, reliable released internees can be allowed to retain, or resume, as salaried employés, posts of a responsible character which they had filled unpaid during internment?

Mr. Morrison

I doubt whether what the hon. Lady has in mind is practicable, but if she will submit particulars of any case or cases in which she suggests that the course indicated might be followed, I will consider the matter.

Miss Rathbone

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the gradual release of the most reliable internees is depleting seriously the services of the camps and the retention of some of these as salaried workers would be very helpful to the commandants in keeping up the morale and exercising a very useful influence on the remaining internees? I thank the right hon. Gentleman for undertaking to consider cases.

17. Mr. Mander

asked the Home Secretary under what circumstances release from internment is granted to refugees from Nazi oppression in Category C conditional on their remaining in the employment of a particular firm; and how many have been dealt with in this way.

Mr. Morrison

Nearly 300 aliens of enemy nationality, whose cases do not fall within any of the categories of eligibility for release set out in the White Paper, have been released under special schemes for employment in work of national importance. These men, being released for special purposes, are required on release to work for a specified employer but may change their employment with the consent of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour.

Mr. Mander

Do I understand that there are no persons who have been released solely on condition that they must remain with a particular employer and cannot change?

Mr. Morrison

They have been released for special purposes on the understanding that they go to work for a particular employer, but they can transfer with the consent of the Minister of Labour. It will be seen that, if aliens are released on certain conditions, it is only fair that we should see to it that those conditions are observed.