HC Deb 06 August 1941 vol 373 cc1925-6
6. Mr. Cary

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any statement to make to the House about the efforts of the Foreign Office to obtain the release of persons of British nationality who are still detained in enemy-occupied countries, particularly those who, at the outbreak of war, were completing their education at various continental universities?

Mr. Eden

The release of civilians of British nationality who are still detained in enemy or enemy-occupied countries is largely a matter of reciprocity. Since it is contrary to the policy of His Majesty's Government to release enemy subjects of military age, no steps have been taken to secure the repatriation of male British subjects, who at the outbreak of war were completing their education at continental universities. While His Majesty's Government and the German Government are in general agreement as regards the repatriation on a reciprocal basis of other classes of civilian subjects, it has, unfortunately, so far been found impossible to arrive at any understanding as to the route by which repatriation should take place. The refusal of the German Government to agree to the grant of a safe conduct for any ship carrying civilians to or from the United Kingdom has rendered progress, for the time being, impracticable.

Mr. Cary

If a suitable route could be discovered, would it then be possible to obtain the release of elderly persons?

Mr. Eden

Yes, Sir, that is exactly the purpose we have in mind.