HC Deb 20 February 1941 vol 369 cc271-4
56. Miss Ward

asked the Home Secretary whether notes of the questions asked and the answers given during interrogations by the Advisory Committees of persons detained under Regulation 18B are supplied on request to the interested parties?

Mr. H. Morrison

A shorthand note of the proceedings before the Committee is taken for purposes of record, and for the assistance of the Committee, if required, in considering their report. It is not supplied to the person detained or his advisers.

Miss Ward

Would it not be possible for the questions and answers to be sent to the appellant?

Mr. Morrison

No, Sir; I think it would lead to delay in the functioning of this organisation, which I am anxious should move with all possible speed.

Sir W. Davison

Is the decision of the Advisory Committee communicated to the applicant? I understand that the Committee's decision is not communicated.

Mr. Morrison

No, Sir, it is not communicated; and nobody has any right to say what the decision is. The decision is communicated to the Home Secretary, and the responsibility is the Home Secretary's.

Miss Rathbone

Would the right hon. Gentleman assure us that the Home Secretary's decision is communicated, because we get many complaints that it is not communicated to the appellant?

Mr. Morrison

I doubt whether there are many cases of that kind. Great improvements have been made in procedure; and between the Home Secretary's decision and the actual release there is very little delay. It is a little unfair to make suggestions that there is generally delay of weeks and weeks between the Home Secretary's decision and the release.

57. Miss Ward

asked the Home Secretary in how many cases dealt with by the Advisory Committees under Regulation 18B adjournments were recommended for further inquiries to be made; how many adjourned cases remain to be finally decided; and in how many of these cases was the decision of the Advisory Committee reversed?

Mr. Morrison

Information as to the number of cases in which the decisions given by me on cases which have been investigated by the Advisory Committees do not accord with the committees recommendations is given in the monthly report presented to Parliament. In many of these cases, points arise during the hearing of the objector's representations on which a committee may think it right to make further inquiries, and these inquiries may or may not lead to an adjourned hearing; but it would be a laborious business to examine all the records of the procedure of the committees, and I do not understand what purpose would be served by this expenditure of time and labour.

Miss Ward

Can my right hon. Friend say how many adjourned cases are now under consideration?

Mr. Morrison

Not without notice. I would point out that our desire to get these matters dealt with expeditiously will be hampered by insistence on statistics which are not really material.

61. Mr. Thurtle

asked the Home Secretary the reasons for the detention of John Mason under Defence Regulation 18B?

Mr. Morrison

I decided that this man's detention must be maintained because I was satisfied that he was involved in attempts to slow down war production. As my hon. Friend knows, if the Home Secretary has reasonable cause to believe that a person has been recently concerned in acts prejudicial to the public safety or the defence of the realm, or in the preparation or instigation of such acts, the Regulation places on him the responsibility for the detention of such person, and it would not be right for me in such cases to give particulars of the information in my possession, which must frequently be of a confidential character.

Mr. Thurtle

Has this man's trade union made representations to my right hon. Friend on the subject; and, if so, with what result?

Mr. Morrison

Yes, Sir; an approach was made to the Home Office by the executive council of the Amalgamated Engineering Union, and they were seen by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State. Subsequently, the following statement appeared in the "Amalgamated Engineering Union Journal" of November, 1940: Following questions and answers from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Home Office the executive council were satisfied that the member's internment had not arisen out of his trade union activities, but was solely connected with his activities on behalf of a political party of which it was alleged he was a member. In view of the evidence available after examination of the answers given to the Executive Council by the Parliamentary Secretary, it was deemed inadvisable to pursue the question of the member's release from detention

Mr. T. Smith

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that this man has had every facility for his case being examined by the tribunal?

Mr. Morrison

Yes, Sir, and I personally examined all the relevant papers before I decided that it was right that detention should be continued.

Mr. Gallacher

Is it not the fact that there is no specific action that can be charged against this shop steward, and that the actual cause of his arrest was his activity as a member of the Communist party?

Mr. Morrison

I have already stated that I have maintained the detention because I was satisfied that he was involved in attempts to slow down war production. I cannot add to that.

44. Mr. Granville

(for Mr. Loftus)asked the Home Secretary whether in the case of a serving sailor, soldier or airman interned under Regulation 18Bthe commanding officer of his unit is consulted before he is arrested or invited to appear and give evidence before or furnish the Advisory Committee with his opinion?

Mr. Morrison

Before any person is detained under Regulation 18B—whether he is or is not a member of His Majesty's Forces—the Home Secretary must be satisfied that the conditions laid down in the Regulation are fulfilled, and for this purpose he must have adequate information on all relevant matters; but it would not be right for me to fetter my discretion by making an announcement that in certain classes of cases information will always be obtained from certain specified sources. The responsibility rests on me to obtain such information as is necessary and proper for the purpose of the particular case. Similarly, when objections are made to the Advisory Committee discretion must be left to the committee to decide what evidence they will hear. All I can say is that in all these cases account is taken not only of adverse information but of any information that may be favourable to the suspect.

Mr. Granville

Is not a member of His Majesty's Forces subject to court-martial or military trial?

Mr. Morrison

In this matter, if he is dealt with under Regulation 18B, he is dealt with subject to my jurisdiction.

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