HC Deb 12 June 1941 vol 372 cc319-20
33. Mr. Vernon Bartlett

asked the Home Secretary whether he will consider the advisability of issuing passes valid for some months to enable alien seamen employed in the Mercantile Marine to travel freely in the country on behalf of which they are risking their lives?

Mr. H. Morrison

I am anxious that all proper facilities shall be given to these alien seamen who are giving the same service and facing the same risks as our own men, and from time to time, as a result of experience and after consultation with the Ministry of War Transport and the Allied authorities concerned, modifications of the scheme of control have been made for this purpose. The most recent concession is the waiving of the requirement under which a foreign seaman serving in the coastal trade had to report and obtain permits before landing and embarking. Further, the police and the immigration officers have been instructed to grant all reasonable exemptions to foreign seamen from the restrictions on travel. It is, however, essential in the interests of security that some control of the movements of members of the crews should be maintained, and for this reason I regret that it is not practicable to adopt my hon. Friend's suggestion.

Mr. White

Is my right hon. Friend aware that up to within the last day or two there has still been considerable variation in the practice and policy of the various chief constables, and is nothing to be done to even out these differences and make the matter more uniform?

Mr. Morrison

We have given general advice which we hope is followed, but there may be, of course, differences of view taken in certain localities. I think that this is the only way in which I can administer these regulations, but if my hon. Friend will let me have particulars of the kind of cases that he has in mind, I shall be very happy to look into them.