HC Deb 23 January 1941 vol 368 cc282-4
19. Miss Rathbone

asked the Home Secretary how many women placed by tribunals in Category C are now interned; if they have been reclassified as Category A for reasons of security personal to the individual; was this done by a tribunal and was the changed classification entered on their papers; and, in view of the fact that the classification of these women as Category A seems generally unknown both to the women concerned themselves and to those in charge of them, will he arrange that these women should be re-examined by the Advisory Committee now sitting in the Isle of Man or by some other tribunal?

Mr. H. Morrison

Women classified as C by the original tribunals and subsequently interned fall into two classes—those interned after a review of their case by a Regional Advisory Committee and those interned on specific security grounds by the police in the exercise of the discretion vested in them. Women in the first class, namely, those interned after appearing before a Regional Advisory Committee, are no longer in Category C, but are in Category A or, in some instances, in Category B. Women in the second class of case—namely, women still in Category C who were interned without being examined by a Regional Advisory Committee—number about 100, and I have arranged for their cases to be reviewed by the Committee now sitting in the Isle of Man. I cannot say whether in all cases their papers were endorsed by the police on their arrest for internment. As regards persons interned as a result of examination by the Regional Advisory Committees, I recognise that there may be some cases in which a further review may be desirable for the purpose of considering whether they should be released and enabling men to apply for release under one of the categories set out in the White Paper. I propose to consider what would he the best arrangements for a review in suitable cases of persons placed in Category A by the Regional Advisory Committees, but this review cannot be started until the review of the Category B cases has been completed.

Miss Rathbone

Does my right hon. Friend realise that when women are interned on the advice of a regional tribunal it is generally because the tribunal thinks that there are grounds for suspicion, not that there is any certainty, and in view of the fact that to place a woman in Category A may prejudice her whole future life, will he see that in a case in which there is the smallest doubt no one, whether man or woman, shall lack the opportunity of clearing himself or herself of suspicion?

Mr. Morrison

These matters will be reviewed, and in cases of doubt we will certainly look into them.

Miss Rathbone

May I ask further—

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Lady has already put a long supplementary question.

Miss Rathbone

May I not ask one more question?

41. Mr. Edmund Harvey

asked the Home Secretary whether arrangements will be made for the Advisory Committee to review the cases of those alien internees who have been released on grounds of health; and whether, in the meantime, he can give an assurance that they will not be re-interned when their health is recovered, at least until they shall have had their cases reviewed by the committee?

Mr. Morrison

Aliens released on medical grounds will not be re-interned automatically when their health is recovered, but I could not give an assurance that no such alien will be re-interned without a review of his case by an Advisory Committee, since the interests of national security might require immediate action.

Mr. Harvey

Is the Minister aware that great anxiety is caused to aliens of this description by being visited by the police with a view to seeing whether they are fit enough to be re-interned, and has that "cat and mouse" procedure his approval?

Mr. Morrison

It is not a "cat and mouse" procedure. An alien may make application for release on the ground of ill-health. If he gets better, the question arises whether he should be re-interned. Putting the other side of the picture, there are some aliens in this country who are grumbling very much in the belief that some people who have been released on grounds of ill-health ought not to have been allowed to do so. The criticism cuts both ways. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that I am anxious to be as humane as possible.