§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Herbert Morrison)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
The purpose of the Bill is to enable the Secretary of State to order aliens or British subjects detained under the special wartime powers of the Home Secretary to be transferred to the Isle of Man. Enemy aliens are dealt with under the Prerogative and there is no difficulty and no prohibition in ordering their internment in the Isle of Man. There is, however, no provision under the law as it stands whereby other persons who are either British subjects or are non-enemy aliens may be sent outside the United Kingdom. The Isle of Man is, technically, not part of the United Kingdom. Consequently, it is necessary that legislation should be passed for this purpose.
Perhaps I ought to indicate the class of detained persons who will be liable to be dealt with under this Bill. There are, first, the persons detained under Defence Regulation 18B. They include persons who are being detained for acts prejudicial to the security of the State or to the successful prosecution of the war. Some 01 them are persons of enemy origin who are, nevertheless, British subjects. Some have been held to have committed certain actions, and some are persons of whom we are suspicious that in certain circum- 495 stances they might commit actions which are contrary to the security of the State. Many of them were members of the British Union of Fascists, who were detained under Regulation 18B, and as things are, it is not possible to detain them in the Isle of Man. I have said that some of the persons dealt with under Regulation 18B are persons who were held to be of hostile origin or associations. Some of them were originally persons of Italian nationality, but either were born in this country or have become naturalised during their life in this country. Therefore, they are in many cases persons of enemy origin, either Italian or German, and there are some others who are classed as stateless. Thirdly, there are the aliens, not enemy aliens, who are detained under Article 12 (5A) of the Aliens Order. Altogether, ii we take these three classes, round about 1,000 persons are involved.
§ Mr. Morrison
Of the total of about 1,000, round about 250 are aliens held under Article 12 (5A), and therefore presumably the rest, or at any rate the great bulk of the rest, would be British subjects. I want to explain shortly the reasons why this course is desirable. There is, I think, no reason for treating persons of Italian origin who are, legally, British subjects differently from Italians who are not British subjects. The great bulk of the Italian cases concern persons who were associated with the Fascio in this country in some form or another. That does not necessarily mean that they were all conscious or dangerous Fascists. Indeed, what has impressed me in regard to a number of the Italian Fascio cases is that many of those persons joined the Fascio for reasons which had nothing to do with Fascism. In many cases it was in order to get contacts for business purposes, in other cases for social reasons. I am bound to say that the more I learn of the Italian cases the more I begin to think that, while some are dangerous, if the whole world were peopled with Italians— with the exception of a few like Al Capone— it would be a very peaceful world in which to live. There was no conscious harm in many of these people and I have been able to liberate a good many of them. But, none the less, where there is reason 496 for suspicion or apprehension that they are or might be dangerous to the State, they are in a totally different street, and I cannot see that there is any real reason for treating them differently from persons who are, legally, Italians and therefore enemy aliens.
In the case of the Germans it is rather a different story. Germans are different, m fact very different, from Italians and there are not the same number of cases of Germans in which one can take the view which I have just indicated. Then there are some curious cases of persons who are, technically, British subjects but otherwise have nothing whatever British about them. Recently I had before me the case of a woman who came to this country just before the outbreak of the war. She was German by birth, she had lived all her life in Germany and was still in Germany up to a certain date in 1939. In 1939 she married in Germany a person who was technically a British subject but who had lived all his life in Germany. I think the House will agree that there was nothing whatever British about that woman, but, in fact, she was legally a British subject. In a case of that kind I cannot see that there is any less reason why she should not go to the Isle of Man than there is in the case of a person who was not only wholly but legally German. Therefore, the main reason why I want this power is one of administrative convenience. It is a way of treating like with like, as far as persons of alien origin are concerned.
Secondly, the camp accommodation which we have on the mainland will be of use to the War Office for their own purposes, and it would be some convenience to the War Office if we could release that accommodation. Thirdly, we have suitable accommodation existing in the Isle of Man. Over a period there have been a good many releases of aliens from the Isle of Man. Further, it appears to us that control and supervision will be easier in the Isle of Man. It is desirable that we should consider rather modified and special arrangements as to visits and that I shall be quite willing to do. Moreover, the change will enable us to give some people who, while not subject to the full prison r6gime are nevertheless living in prison, rather better conditions which are more suitable to their 497 status as detained persons in certain categories. It will enable us to give them better facilities than we can give them within the physical conditions which must necessarily operate, up to a point, in prison life.
Finally, it is thought that from the point of view of security it would be wiser to have many of these people on the Isle of Man rather than on the mainland. In the case of invasion we should feel rather more satisfied if they were on an island some distance from the mainland and surrounded by water, though near enough to the United Kingdom not to make it undesirable that they should proceed to that island.
§ Mr. Morrison
The outside number that will be dealt with under the Bill at the moment is about 1,000.
§ Mr. Morrison
I am not prepared to give that figure. The purpose of the Bill is as, I have said, one of technical constitutional importance. On the other hand, it is merely designed to remove technical and legal difficulties in the way of making full and effective use of the Isle of man for internment purposes. I think there are advantages all round— advantages to the Government as regards administration, advantages to a certain number of the detained persons, some advantage to the War Office as regards releasing accommodation, and I think there will be advantage from the point of view of security. I therefore hope the House will be good enough to give this Bill a Second Reading.
§ Miss Rathbone (Combined English Universities)
Does the number, 1,000, which the right hon. Gentleman gave, include women refugees as well as men?
§ Mr. Stokes (Ipswich)
Before I deal with the principles involved in what seems to me to be the very dangerous proposal embodied in the Bill, I should like to call attention to one or two remarks made by my right hon. Friend in 498 opening this discussion. Among other things, he said that the Isle of Man was only technically a part of these islands. I would ask him whether 'he really expects the House to accept that statement. I am informed that the Isle of Man is in a very peculiar position. There is not just a mere technical difference which can be very easily overcome by the wish of a member of His Majesty's Government. The Minister and I have had several contests in this House about the integrity of some of the people who have been detained under these Regulations. He went on to imply that a number of these people have actually committed acts which would be contrary to the interests of this country. Of course, one has great difficulty in getting facts out of my right hon. Friend, but my investigations do not show a single case in which it has been proved that a person has acted in a manner prejudicial to the interests of this country.
It is all a matter of suspicion. People may suspect others who belong to one order or another, as likely to be dangerous, as my right hon. Friend puts it, but it would be wrong that it should go upon the records of this House that all or most of these people have committed acts which are prejudicial to the interests of the country. I do not think my right hon. Friend attaches enough importance to the legal rights of these people. He glossed that matter over by saying that it would be more satisfactory if they were detained in the Isle of Man instead of in this country, and that there was not a very great difference between an Anglo-Italian and an Italian and an Anglo-German and a German. You cannot get round the law in that way— or you ought not to be able to. I have never succeeded in doing so in any matter in which I have been engaged with the Law Officers or the courts of justice in this country.
I expect that the Parliamentary Secretary, when he replies, will stress the fact that a writ of Habeas Corpus lies in the Isle of Man. I believe that to be true, but there is no possible means of enforcing it, if the gaoler of the prison or place in which people are detained chooses not to deliver the body. You can ask for the body until you are blue in the face. There is no possible means of enforcing the writ, in the present position of the law in the Isle of Man. The position there is not 499 technically but fundamentally different from that in regard to any other place of detention in this country. I am told that if you wanted to alter the position you would have to pass several Acts of Parliament and to get the Tynwald, the governing body of the Isle of Man, to agree to a fundamental change in the legal standing. There are several actions pending in the courts at the present time on behalf of persons detained in one or other place of detention in this country, on account of the fact that the gaolers, be they at Brixton or elsewhere, are not carrying out the intentions of the law and of this House of Commons when the Regulations were passed. If people find that the punitive conditions, of which several Members of this House have already complained, are continued when they are transferred to the Isle of Man, what possible redress will they have, under the existing laws in that country?
Suppose there is a row between the detained persons in the island, and a detained person gets his complaint heard by the official who is called the Deemster. That official decision is final. There is no appeal either to the House of Lords or to the Privy Council. As the Home Secretary has told us, there are people concerned who are British subjects completely. The dual nationality people are British subjects and have their rights, which cannot be so easily set aside, and definitely ought not to be set aside, especially having regard to the fact that they are in detention and are not in prison for punitive purposes.
I want to ask the Home Secretary to assure this House that neither he nor his predecessor has been guilty— shall I put it? — of transporting to the Isle of Man persons who are really British subjects. I would warn him that the offence is unpardonable, even by the King. The offender is liable to treble costs and not less than £500 damages to be paid to the injured party, and there are further penalties of loss of civil rights, forfeiture of all land, goods, and chattels and of imprisonment during the Royal pleasure. Finally, in very extreme cases, I believe, it is still the law of the land for a breach of this kind to be punished by the offending party having his right hand cut off. I do not wish that deformity to be inflicted upon my right hon. Friend or his predecessor. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why 500 not?"] I do not really dislike my right hon. Friend so much that I wish to inflict it upon him, but I want to draw the attention of the House to the seriousness with which this possible infringement would have been regarded by persons at the time when people really minded whether the Executive kept the law or not. We have reached a position to-day in which we are completely ruled by the Executive. I am aware that certain sections of these people have asked to be transferred. In fact, I have been guilty of writing to the Parliamentary Secretary and urging, at their request, that they should be transferred. I am in complete ignorance of the law and do not know whether or not I was urging them to do something which was to their disadvantage. The Anglo-Italians and Anglo-Germans in a certain camp asked to be transferred to the Isle of Man because they had friends, relations and distant connections there, people who spoke the same language and had the same habits. They are not, by any means, the majority. If the Home Secretary says that he has let most of the Anglo-Italians out —
§ Mr. Morrison
I am anxious to keep my hon. Friend right. I said I had let out a considerable number.
§ Mr. Stokes
I did not wish to impute any wrong statement to my right hon. Friend, who is always strictly accurate in everything he says. On his admission, the majority of these people are inhabitants of these islands and they are descendants of people who have been here for generations. Suppose the Home Secretary refuses to reconsider his decision to press this Bill through the House — and may I say in passing that if he has become so island-minded, there are all sorts of other islands round the coasts of Britain where the difficult legal position which I believe to exist in this case would be avoided— will he assure us that before people are transhipped to the Isle of Man, which is rather a remote place in comparison with the detention camps in this Island, their cases will be properly reviewed? Secondly, in the event of their being so transferred, I should like to ask him whether arrangements will be made for husbands and wives to live together, for I imagine that that may be one of the plums held out to those unfortunate married couples of whom both are condemned?
501 Thirdly, there are, as I have said earlier, several cases pending in the courts. May we have an assurance that the persons involved in those cases will be kept here until they have been heard, because it is quite impossible for their legal representatives to travel to and from the Isle of Man, in order to take evidence, give advice and so on? Fourthly, may we know whether, in the event of some of the detained persons who have not yet commenced legal proceedings desiring to do so, facilities will be afforded to them to be transferred back to this country at a later date, if they desire to bring cases either against my right hon. Friend or against any other member of the Executive?
There is a fifth point which is causing very great consternation among the persons concerned, who, I would remind the House, have not been found guilty of anything and who are in prison, which is no fun for anybody. The one source of pleasure which the detenues have is that, occasionally, their friends and relatives can visit them. If they were sent away to an island, be it the Isle of Man or any other, that would make it impossible for them to enjoy that concession— or right, as it is under the present Regulation— for people cannot afford to travel such long distances. There is serious feeling on that point, although perhaps it does not apply so much to the alien detenues, because they have not so many friends or relations in this country.
Finally, I would like to press upon my right hon. Friend that these people have suffered very considerably under the detention which they have so far endured and I think— and I hope my right hon. Friend will agree— that some words ought to be inserted in the Bill so as not to give him the right to do this against their will. I want an assurance on that point as well, and I feel so strongly about this, and the various other points which I have raised, that unless I get some satisfaction, I shall be tempted to divide the House on the Second Reading.
§ Commander Sir Archibald Southby (Epsom)
I would like to ask my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, or my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General, a question or two about this Bill. I listened with attention to the speech made by the Home Secretary and noticed that he stressed the fact that the 502 majority of people who are to be affected by this Bill are Fascists. He did not mention that any of the detenues belonged to the Communist party, but to whatever faction they belong, whether they are Communists or Fascists, if they are enemies of this State, they ought to be detained for the good and the safety of the State. I confess I am a little tired of always hearing it said that only Fascists or Nazis are a danger to the State. That means nothing at all. So long as any persons are enemies of the State, I desire to see them put out of harm's way.
With regard to this particular Bill, I take it that the only reason why it is necessary is that at the present time it is illegal to remove any British subject from the jurisdiction of the British courts. I imagine that my right hon. and right hon. and learned Friends would not dissent from that proposition. If that is the case, this Bill has been brought in in order that these people, whatever they may have done, may be removed from the jurisdiction of the British courts. Before the House assents to that— and I say again that I hold no sort of brief for any person whose activities or associations have been such as to render him a danger to this country in its present time of trial and danger— I think the House is entitled to be satisfied that not one of these British subjects, by being transferred to the Isle of Man, will lose one jot or tittle of his rights as a British subject under our laws. People are locked up under Regulation 18B and quite rightly so, but that does not mean that they should not possess such rights as are inherent in being a British subject. I would like to have an answer; I think I am entitled to it and I am quite sure the House is entitled to it— I would like a categorical answer from the Home Secretary, "Yes" or "No" to the question: Have any British subjects been transferred to the Isle of Man without their consent? I think we are entitled to know whether that has or has not happened.
§ Mr. Morrison
I do not see any reason why I should answer now. I will reply in due course. I do not know why my hon. and gallant Friend should be egged on to sit down.
§ Sir A. Southby
I think the House is entitled to know before passing this Bill whether, in fact, the Executive have or have not sent any British subjects to the Isle of Man without their consent. It may have been for the benefit of these people to send them there, but that is not the point. If they have been sent, I understand why the Government want this Bill to be passed. But they should not have been so sent if the power to transfer them did not lie in the hands of the Executive, and I think we are entitled to be told "Yes" or "No."
I can understand that it would be infinitely to the advantage of the community that a camp should be established in a place such as the Isle of Man to which all detainees might be sent. I confess that during air raid nights I have had time to spare a thought for those people who are locked up in London gaols, in cells, in the dark. Whatever such people have done, it cannot be a very pleasant experience, and one should bear in mind that these detainees are not convicted persons but are detained for their own and for the State's safety. I agree, as the Home Secretary says, that they should be placed in a locality of comparative safety such as the Isle of Man. It is infinitely more convenient that they should be there. I would assent to the proposition to send them to the Isle of Man, but I should like an assurance that if they are so transferred, they will not lose any of the legal rights which they possess by reason of being within the jurisdiction of the British courts and that, while they are in the Isle of Man, they will retain every right which they would have enjoyed here had they not been so transferred.
I can well imagine that it would be wise to pass this legislation in order to make possible the transfer of these persons, but at the same time I think we owe it to the community as a whole, and not merely to the detainees, to see that no British subject has taken away from him any right which he possesses under the law. In war-time it is, of course, necessary to surrender a considerable number of rights. We have cheerfully acquiesced in that up to now. But there is no doubt that before the House gives its assent to this Bill, it would be acting wisely and rightly if it insisted on the clearest and most categorical assurance that such legal 504 rights as are at present enjoyed shall be reserved for all these people, no matter what they have done or to what party they belong. I heard with interest what was said by the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken about the pains and penalties attaching to the transporting of British subjects in certain circumstances. I think that point will have to be answered by the learned Attorney-General. I do not like Bills which are brought forward, as this has been, under the guise of national expediency and which may take away still more of the rights of British subjects. It may be necessary. In that case, I should assent. But I am not prepared to assent without being told a little more about it.
§ Mr. Wedgwood
I am surprised at the opposition to this Bill coming from the circles from which it does.
§ Mr. Wedgwood
I hope that we shall find nobody in the Lobby against this Bill. The question is, obviously, one of public safety. I do not say that these people who are transferred to the Isle of Man are necessarily dangerous; but some are dangerous. If there are potential Quislings among them, I want them to be in the Isle of Man, where they cannot be rescued in the event of invasion, and not here in Brixton, Wandsworth and Holloway. I am surprised that the Home Office has not taken such power long ago. It is far more important that potential Quislings should be in a safe place, than that their rights as British subjects or as the wives of British subjects should be safeguarded. Surely the hon. and gallant Gentleman remembers the old tag:Inter arna silent leges.When there is a war laws have to go to the wall, and in this case the public safety must come first.
§ Mr. Wedgwood
We see to-day in Yugoslavia what happens when you nurse in your own country people whose views are hostile to those of the democracies.
§ Mr. Stokes
Is it not a fact that the people to whom my right hon. Friend is referring are already detained? We are 505 arguing only whether they shall be transferred to a. place which is under a different jurisdiction.
§ Mr. Wedgwood
They are detained in Brixton. If London falls, they will be the first people to be set free, and to be set in charge of this country. Surely the House realises that we, Parliament, are supreme in this matter. If a crime has been committed by the Home Secretary this Parliament can eliminate it from the Statute Book, and reinstate the rights of the people affected. The Habeas Corpus Act can be repealed by Parliament, just as it was passed by Parliament.
§ Mr. Wedgwood
Certainly not. As far as Mosley and company are concerned, I would deal with them in another way. We cannot possibly carry on this country with a divided allegiance to democracy. This is not a national war: it is a war of religion. Here we have a certain number of people who are opposed to our success: who will do everything they can to secure the success of our enemies. Those people are a danger spot in this community. The further away they are, the better I shall be satisfied that the Government are doing their duty. My only feeling about this Bill is that, probably, it does not go far enough. When we think of the number of our friends—aliens, not British subjects— people who are on our side, and who have been interned in the Isle of Man for over a year without protest, I think that we might worry less about our enemies. Four thousand friendly aliens have been interned in the Isle of Man, of whom 1,800 have now been released.
I hope that the Home Secretary is taking as much trouble to release our friends as he is to release those who have been accused of Fascism and found not guilty of Fascism. What I hear is that priority in coming before the tribunals is given to those who have been accused of Fascism, particularly Italians, and that the unfortunate German Jews have their cases postponed for the benefit of the others. We have to consider, when putting these Nazis and Fascists into the Isle of Man, that they ought to be separated in those camps from our friends. It is unfair to put a lot of German women—they may be British 506 subjects, who have been brought up in Germany—into the same camp as their desperate enemies, the Jews. I want an assurance that they will not be put into the same camps, where inevitably they will be able to outrage the feelings of those anti-Fascists who are our friends. I am certain that this Bill will go through, and that the overwhelming mass of public opinion in this country is behind it, and in favour of saving us, at all costs, from the danger of any Quislings.
§ Mr. Mander (Wolverhampton, East)
I apologise to my right hon. Friend for the fact that I was not able to be in the House when he was making his statement, but I think I have an idea of what he said. I speak as one entirely in favour, although with reluctance, of the procedure under 18B. Under existing circumstances, it cannot be avoided. It is right that a person so detained shall be placed in such a position geographically that he shall be able to do the minimum possible damage. But these people have some rights; and whatever rights they have should be most carefully preserved. They have the right to go before an Advisory Committee. That is a right under Habeas Corpus. The House would like some assurance—I understand that it has not been given—about the position of such persons under Habeas Corpus. They ought to retain whatever rights they possess under that Act at present.
The other point I want to mention is that I am wondering whether there is room in the Isle of Man for these people. I think my right hon. Friend has said already that there seems to be plenty of room, but I feel rather doubtful about it in view of letters which I receive from persons who are in the Island and were sent to Canada, who after Mr. Paterson's visit were brought back again to this country for release, and who are still in the Isle of Man. The second batch of persons has come back from Canada, and the first thing they have seen on their arrival in the Isle of Man with astonishment is that their friends who came back in the first batch from Canada are there.
I will read one extract from a letter which throws light upon the state of affairs in the Isle of Man at the present time and the possibility of accommodation there. It is one sent by someone back from Canada. and it says: 507Back in England at last! We have had an excellent crossing on a big liner, the 'Georgic,' somewhat different from our journey to Canada on the 'Ettrick. 'Unfortunately it was not a journey to freedom as the majority of us had been anticipating. After Mr. Paterson had seen us in Canada a list of names was published, headed ' List of Internees to be returned to the United Kingdom for release.' Since that list also contained names of people to whom Mr. Paterson had not given much hope—one of whom has actually been released—we had the greatest expectations. We had also read Lord Lytton's speech where he had said that nobody should be returned to the United Kingdom without his release being a certainty. You can imagine our feelings when we met here all our friends who had left Canada before Christmas with equally high hopes.In these circumstances I cannot help feeling that the question of the situation in the Isle of Man from the point of view of accommodation and the release of these people requires very careful consideration in the light of any action which may be taken under this Bill to send over numbers of British persons. I would ask my hon. Friend to be good enough to deal with that point in any reply he may make.
§ Mr. Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
During the last few weeks, travelling backwards and forwards on trains and buses, I have carried with me a little book entitled "For Ever Freedom." It is an anthology, and I observe that the editors are one Josiah C. Wedgwood and another. I wonder whether my right hon. Friend who spoke a few minutes ago, when he comes to publish the second edition of this extremely valuable little book —and I am sure that a second edition will be called for and ought to be called for soon—will be able to find an appropriate corner in which to put the speech that he has delivered this afternoon.
§ Mr. Wedgwood
Defensive freedom comes first. The only safe defensive freedom is to destroy the enemy.
§ Mr. Silverman
I entirely agree, but I find that at the head of the last section of this anthology my right hon. Friend has chosen to put a quotation, which I think we ought to remember, by the late Lord Advocate, which says:Liberty is not the means to higher political ends. It is itself the highest political end.
§ Mr. Silverman
Defend it at all costs, and defend it on behalf of those you hate as you would defend it on behalf of those you love. My right hon. Friend has said something about the treatment of aliens and the transfer of aliens not merely to the Isle of Man but to Canada, Australia and other places. I and the majority of people in this country hold him in the highest honour for the fight he has put up in this House in regard to this matter. Some of us in our humbler capacities have done our best to support him. It may be that some of those who are against my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary in connection with this Bill have not shown so much active support to my right hon. Friend in his agitation. He will not make that charge against me. I have not been lacking in this House and elsewhere on behalf of aliens who have been unjustly treated. I know that some of the aliens treated under Regulation i8b would not show me the same generosity as some of us have been trying to show to them, but that has nothing to do with it.
The two principles on which the liberty of the citizen of this country is founded are that he shall not be condemned except by his peers, and the other, which is a necessary preliminary, is that he shall not be moved from the jurisdiction of courts of his own country. One of these is gone. If a person is detained under Regulation 18B, that is a violation of that principle. It may be a necessary violation; I am not stopping to argue that. I have admitted during Debates which have taken place in this House that in the circumstances in which we now rind ourselves, and having regard to what has happened in other countries, it is vitally necessary that my right hon. Friend and the Executive generally should have some extra-judicial powers. This House has never been reluctant to give those powers, but when the Regulations were first presented this House rejected them because we felt that where a man had been detained, and an immediate emergency had been met by detaining him, then the Executive should have to satisfy the courts that the extra-judicial powers vested in them were being exercised on fair and reasonable grounds.
The Regulations were taken back because they offended against that principle and were reintroduced, after discus- 509 sions in which every party of this House was represented, in a form which was recommended to the Mouse by the then Home Secretary, whom I am glad to see in his place opposite. The recommendation was that the new Regulations did, in fact, give to the detained man an opportunity of a valid appeal to the courts. What has happened since then? By a series of decisions, in which the judicial bench of this country have shown themselves weaker than at any previous period in our history, there is no valid appeal to the courts. It is a mere formality in which the Executive need give no information at all and state no grounds whatever. All that we have achieved by the changed Regulations is a change in the form of the affidavit which my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has to swear if his action is challenged. That is the position. There is no appeal to the courts which is of any value at all. Then comes the second stage. Having deprived a person of any valid appeal to the courts, it is said, "Let us take him outside the jurisdiction of the courts." If a man is detained, if he has no opportunity of fighting for his freedom, I dare say he may feel that it is better to be detained on the Isle of Man than in Brixton Prison.
It is all very well for my right hon. Friend to say that this is purely a matter of administrative convenience. I cannot remember any constitutional fight in the history of this country of which the same thing could not be said. When Charles I imposed ship money, it was said on his behalf, and has been said ever since by historians, that what was important was the principle; it was quite right that people should contribute for the defence of the Realm, and the King had the right to raise the money; it was purely a question of the way in which it was done. When we lost the American Colonies, I suppose there was a good case to be made out for the equity of calling upon them to provide some proportion of the expense of the common defence of the Empire. It is always possible to make out a case of administrative convenience. If there were no question of administrative convenience at stake, no one would bother to introduce Bills of this sort. It is no use, therefore, saying that it is merely a question of administrative convenience.
I should like to press my right hon. Friend on one point that has been raised before. Is this Bill really a camouflaged 510 Bill of indemnity? Is the Bill introduced because the thing which it is intended to render legal has already been done? Time after time the House has been asked to pass Bills of indemnity, and in proper circumstances it has never refused to do so, but there ought to be a full confession and we ought to know exactly what it is that we are being asked to do. I would like also to reinforce what has been said about the assurances concerning the rights of these people. I do not want to receive a purely technical answer. It is no use saying that the King's writ will run if, in fact, the practical difficulties in the way of making it run are insuperable. Can we be certain that if there is an internee who is transferred to the Isle of Man under this Bill, he will not in fact be in a worse position from the point of view of seeking such protection of the courts as is afforded in the matter of his detention? If that is not clear in the wording of the Bill—and I confess that I cannot see any provision for it—will my right hon. Friend, between now and a later stage, insert words to make it clear?
With regard to consent, it would make all the difference if the detained person himself gave his consent to his transfer, although even that would have to be watched with some care. I remember that when we asked questions about transfers to Canada and Australia, we were told that the men volunteered to go. Some of the men who volunteered to go are at the bottom of the sea, and cannot tell us whether they volunteered or not. In other cases, we know that they did not volunteer. But the Isle of Man is nearer than Canada or Australia. If we could have an assurance that no one will be transferred without his consent, that would be a good deal. If we cannot get that assurance, if my right hon. Friend feels that the country will be insecure unless the people now in cells in British prisons are taken to the Isle of Man, whether or not they consent, if he feels that the safety of the Realm depends on their being transported, without their consent, across that little channel, will he assure us that every right they now have will remain to them, not merely theoretically, but that it will be made administratively operative, so that the worst evils of this infraction of what is in fact a basic constitutional principle may be remedied?
511 I have no sympathy with Nazis and Fascists. I do not want to help anyone who is not heart and soul with us in the struggle which we are pursuing for the outlawry of Fascism and Nazism throughout the world. I do not know what my right hon. Friend said, but I can assure him that I mean what I say, and that I believe this struggle was inevitable, and that if there is to be a future for the world, we must have victory—victory over those ideas everywhere, and victory over ourselves where it is necessary for that end. I do not want to support anything which embarrasses the Government in that effort. I do not believe that all the excesses of unquestioned administration, unappealable administration, are really helpful to us in that effort. I think that they do much to weaken our unity. I want the right hon. Gentleman to understand, in what I have said, that I do not want to embarrass the Executive where the powers of the Executive are necessary. But, on the other hand, I do not want them to embarrass themselves by assuming powers which are not necessary, or by driving those powers too hard.
§ Sir Irving Albery (Gravesend)
I gather that when this Bill is passed the whole of these detainees will be transferred to the Isle of Man. I wish to bring this point to the attention of the Home Secretary. He has recently announced that among those who have already been before the Advisory Committees he has differed from the recommendations in, I believe, 55 cases. He has assured this House that on several occasions all the information available to himself has also been made available to these Advisory Committees. Yet, in spite of that, in 55 cases he has found it necessary to differ from their conclusions. That is perhaps a little extraordinary, because these committees have been appointed by him, and are composed of persons of responsibility, and persons in whom he should be able to have a big degree of confidence and trust. I rather gather that there are certain conclusions which he comes to, but the point I wish to ask is this: When this Bill is passed, can he tell us whether he is then likely to consider it possible, under the altered conditions of confinement, that a proportion of these 55 persons, where he has disagreed with his own committees, will then be able to have a bigger degree of liberty in the Isle of Man?
512 This legislation was passed in a time of acute crisis, when we were all very much occupied and concerned. I have always believed that the power that was given under that Bill would not have been given, even in a time of great emergency, if Members had been less rushed and had had more time to consider it. Everyone whom I have heard speak has admitted the necessity for the Government having the right to take action under Regulation 18B. What a great many of us most heartily dislike is that a man can be brought before an Advisory Committee, which recommends his release, and a member of the Executive, on his sole responsibility, can go against the advice of the committee and detain the man indefinitely. It seems to me to go against all the cardinal principles of our Constitution. After the first emergency had passed and the Government had had time to investigate the case against people detained and collect all the information they needed, some modification of the present Regulations could have been introduced. I do not see how anyone can possibly approve of the Regulations as they stand. I can understand some arguing that, because we are still in a state of emergency, whatever the Government consider necessary must be accorded without question. I suppose, for instance, if the Prime Minister announced that this Regulation must be kept in force, for reasons which he could not divulge, and on that account he asked the House to keep it in force, the House would assent, but I cannot help wondering whether he would find it necessary to make that statement, whether, being the great Parliamentarian that he is, and one by whom the liberties of the subject and the Privileges of the House are much valued, if he now had time to reconsider the matter and give it his personal attention some machinery would not be found which would adequately safeguard the State without in this manner infringing upon the liberties of the subject and the safety of the Constitution.
§ Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge University)
I think the main point on the Bill has been very clearly put. If I understand it aright, it is the question whether this additional degree of administrative convenience is necessary at the expense of some slight additional loss to the liberty of the subject or whether it is not. That 513 seems to be the main question on this Bill, and I think that the House is clear about it and needs no further exposition from me. There is a question subsidiary to the question so far as this Bill goes, but, with regard to our general situation perhaps more important. Admitting that it was entirely right to facilitate the administrative handling of suspicious characters at the beginning of the war or six months or a year later, the question still remains whether there is not some risk that facilitating administration in that way may tend to inefficiency in the intelligence services. I mean that the easier you make it for the higher executives to put people away and the further you make it possible to put them away without having to get sufficeint information against them to convince a court, or even to convince a confidential committee, the greater is the risk that the higher executive persons will not do all that they otherwise might to improve, strengthen and expedite the work of their intelligence services.
The intelligence services are services which it is almost impossible properly to criticise on the Floor of the House, but the question I wish to lay before the House is: Are we all so sure of the efficiency of the intelligence services in this war, as compared, for instance, with earlier wars, that we feel no qualms in continuing to do things which may make it easy for the Executive to get on vis-a-vis us, with intelligence services not as good as they might be? Where the intelligence services really matter, of course, is not in the relations between the Executive and us, but in the relations they make between the Executive and our foreign enemies. I suggest that that question is not one which any private Member can answer, and it is not one that could cause any private Member to Divide against the Bill, but it is a question which ought to cause every Member to consider very carefully whether the whole question of detention without trial is not one that ought to have much fuller and more candid discussion in this House than it has yet had.
§ Mr. Thurtle (Shoreditch)
I was glad to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman) say that he wished to see more potential Quislings effectively dealt with. He is wholeheartedly in favour of the prosecution of 514 our war effort. I may have the unfortunate infliction of being more suspicious than others, but when I hear people giving that general support to our war effort and to a firm hand with potential Quislings, and then find that every time the Executive with its special knowledge comes before the House with a specific proposal for dealing with those potential Quislings these people oppose those proposals, I begin to wonder whether their general affirmation is worth as much as it appears to be on the face of it.
§ Mr. Silverman
I cannot resist the inference that my hon. Friend, since he began his speech with a reference to me, had me in his mind in the rest of the passage. May I ask him to bear in mind that I have never resisted in this House or elsewhere the Defence Regulations, except in the sense that the overwhelming majority of the House resisted the original Defence Regulations which were withdrawn. When they were re-presented and the vast majority of the House accepted them, I did so too on the assurance of the then Home Secretary that the point which the House as a whole had desired to see met had, in fact, been met. All my criticisms since have arisen out of an uneasy feeling that the point had not really been met.
§ Mr. Thurtle
I did not put the cap on the hon. Member's head. He has put it on his head himself. It is for the House to decide, with such knowledge as it possesses, whether the cap fits or not. I rose mainly to say a word in defence of my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Wedgwood), who was attacked by my hon. Friend on the ground that he was betraying the cause of liberty by supporting this particular Measure. I would suggest that the right hon. Gentleman is quite right in the attitude which he has taken up. All our liberties, not merely the right of Habeas Corpus but all our liberties, are involved in the successful prosecution of this struggle —
§ Mr. Thurtle
—and if we endanger the successful prosecution of that struggle by hampering and thwarting the Executive in steps which it thinks necessary to take we are jeopardising the whole of 515 our liberties. When I hear all these nice legalistic quibbles about whether we should take away this right or that right my mind goes to the people of Norway, to the people of Holland, and peoples of that sort, who were so careful to be tolerant to the Quislingites and did not want to step over the bounds of what was right and legal and proper. I think that if the people of Norway and of Holland could have their time over again they would think they had been rather too indulgent, too generous, too tolerant, and I hope that we in this country will not follow the same course. My reading of the French Revolution tells me that one of the reasons why that great movement for liberty went down in ruins was that you had legalistic Girondins putting up one fine point after another and failing to see the broad issue of liberty which was involved. I fear we have Members of this House who are taking the same narrow, restricted, legalistic view of issues which come before us, and I hope the Home Secretary, convinced, as I am sure he is, of the need for this Measure and for taking a firm line with these people, will not think the views of opposition which have been expressed in this debate represent any volume of opinion in the country, and will accordingly stand firm and see that the Measure as he proposed it goes through the House.
§ Earl Winterton (Horsham and Worthing)
I agree entirely with the first part of the speech of the hon. Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Thurtle), and I am a supporter of the Government in this matter, but really it goes far more deeply than he suggests. It is not a question of legalistic quibbles. It is no legalistic quibble for any hon. Member, whatever his views, Fascist or anything else, to point out that under the existing Regulations a man may be arrested without trial, have his case considered by an Advisory Committee to the Home Secretary, and although that Advisory Committee may find that he is innocent, may yet be kept in prison under the ipse dixit of the Home Secretary. It is no use my hon. Friend making a speech about legalistic quibbling or Members of the Government like the Minister of Pensions cheering that speech when that is not the issue.
516 I agree much more with the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken than with some who spoke before. Do not let us spoil a case by listening to those who have an arriere pensǵe and who make it clear that they are really not concerned about liberty at all. The right hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Wedgwood) always wants these Regulations brought against one set of persons. He is in favour of liberty for everybody except for those with whom he disagrees, and those he would put under the thumbscrews. If that is the standard of liberty we are to have in this House, God help Parliament.
The hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. W. Gallacher) always represents with honesty and sincerity in this House the point of view of the Communist party. Suppose Regulation 18B were directed against the extreme "leftists" in this country, and suppose that Mr. Pollitt or Professor Haldane had been arrested. Would some hon. Gentlemen be so much in favour of the Regulation as they now are? Let us get out of our minds any idea that the Regulations are necessary to deal only with Communists and Fascists. They are very necessary to-day for other reasons. I give credit to the extreme left people who speak, as well as to the hon. Member for West Fife. Instead of being condemned by other hon. Members he should be given credit. Nobody can accuse him of being pro-Fascist.
The Bill is desirable and I support the Home Secretary's administration in this matter. Nobody who has followed the right hon. Gentleman's career would suppose for a moment that he was a tyrant or that he or his predecessor accepted, in the first instance, the principle in the Regulations and in the Bill or that the Bill was brought forward without the greatest consideration and a great deal of heartburning. A right hon. Gentleman who has spent his life at the Home Office, as the Lord President of the Council has done, and another right hon. Gentleman, the present Home Secretary, who has spent his life in administration, cannot like the Bill. No Briton can like the Bill. I defy anybody to get up and say that he likes a position in which a man can be arrested without trial and in which the only means of getting his case heard is a committee of inquiry, the advice of which need not be taken. The only question is 517 whether or not the Bill is necessary. On the whole and in all the circumstances, I think it is. I agree with those who say that it is high time the whole question is given full consideration in order to see whether we can produce a rather better set of Regulations. I will put a concrete question: What is the objection to having a. judicial tribunal, with two or three judges?
§ The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Office (Mr. Peake)
Why should they be tried?
§ Earl Winterton
Is it suggested that if you told the judges that they were to sit in camera and that the evidence would not be published, you could not find three judges of the High Court to whom you could entrust that task?
§ Mr. Peake
If you had three judges of the High Court, you would have a tribunal very similar to the existing advisory committee; the difference would be that my right hon. Friend, who is answerable in the long run to the House of Commons, might have to overrule three members of the Judiciary instead of three members of an advisory committee.
§ Earl Winterton
Why should he have to overrule them? Why are the circumstances so different in this war from what they were in the last war? In the last war this position did not exist to the same extent. There was an appeal tribunal. At any rate, let me put it this way: The number of British subjects arrested during the last war was small compared with the number that have been arrested in this war, and furthermore, a great number of the former were actually tried for serious offences such as treason. The number of British subjects at present detained under Regulation 18B is much larger than the number detained during the last war.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
The Noble Lord is ignoring; one fact. The last war was different from the present war in this respect: there was at that time no political party in this country which had associations with a foreign government— and not 518 only with a foreign government, but with a foreign government or governments with which we are at war. That is a new situation. On the other point, the House has to decide whether it wants to hold the Home Secretary or the advisory committees responsible for decisions in this matter. I think the House wants the Home Secretary to be responsible. That being so, I cannot delegate my powers to any committee, whether of laymen or of judges of the High Court.
§ Earl Winterton
I agree that there is a distinction between this war and the last. Though I do not wish to refer to "old, unhappy, far-off things" I should have thought that the people who were distributing leaflets to try to stop the war during the last war were just as dangerous to the country as some of those now imprisoned under Regulation 18B— at any rate in the opinion of those in the trenches. My only other comment on what the Home Secretary said is this. What chance, in fact, has the House of holding the Home Secretary responsible? Mr. Jones is arrested, Mr. Jones goes before the Advisory Committee, the Advisory Committee says he should be released, but the Home Secretary refuses to release him. What chance has the House of dealing with a case like that? A Question may De asked, and the right hon. Gentleman need not give any reason for his decision. In fact, the Home Secretary is a complete dictator.
§ Mr. Morrison
I am sorry to interrupt again, but the Home Secretary is in a much better position now than he would be if an Advisory Committee or a Committee of Judges had the final decision. In that case the House could do nothing whatever. Now it can do something. If the House is dissatisfied with the general exercise of powers by the Home Secretary, it can challenge him, and it can make inquiries, as indeed it is doing in the Debate to-day.
§ Earl Winterton
I do not wish to pursue the matter further, for I am not an opponent of the Bill— partly because I trust the right hon. Gentleman's administration. But in these days, we do not very often get a full House of Commons. The House this afternoon is obviously very interested in this question, and I think the right hon. Gentleman should have regard to the fact that there is some feeling of perturbation 519 in the minds of many Members, as there has been on the occasion of every Debate on this matter. I say that Members of this House, to whatever party they may belong, do not like provisions of this kind if they can possibly be avoided.
§ Mr. Gordon Macdonald (Ince)
I experienced some perturbation myself when I was told that the hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir I. Albery) doubted whether the Home Secretary should have power to overrule a Committee appointed to make recommendations to him. I think that is the essence of the question with which we are dealing. Should the Home Secretary have such power vested in him or not? I can visualise circumstances, especially during this war. in which, when certain people are detained under these Regulations, a body of Members of this House may combine to try to bring pressure to bear on the Committee, or to bring evidence before them to cause them to recommend to the Home Secretary that the person concerned should not be detained any longer. At the same time, the Home Secretary may have evidence of a different kind submitted to him by others, which he does not care to divulge. On that evidence, he may decide that the detention must continue.
§ Sir I. Albery
The Home Secretary has several times assured the House that all the information that comes into his possession is also placed before the Advisory Committee.
§ Mr. Macdonald
I agree; but he should retain the power to decide on information submitted to him, even though the Advisory Committee may differ from him. We all know that it is people in influential positions who are most dangerous on this issue. You do not find Quislings among the working classes. Emphasis is laid on the difficulties experienced in Holland and Norway, and so on. Who were the Quislings there? Remember that gallant raid on Lofoten. Who were the Quislings found there? I agree that one does not like seeing such a power as this possessed by anybody; but how can you carry on this war without such a power? Is it safe to detain a large batch of these people in Britain when there is the possibility of an invasion? In other countries, these were the people who were liberated to assist the enemy. The Home 520 Secretary is to be congratulated on taking this essential step. We are told by the Noble Lord that this is a great power for the Home Secretary to have, and that the House will be unable to deal with him. This House knows well that in 1924 another Government spokesman did something of which this House disapproved, and this House found a way of showing its disapproval. Sir Patrick Hastings had to face a very severe attack in this House, which resulted in a General Election, and the return of a Conservative Government.
§ Mr. Macdonald
It applies to the power of this House to deal with any Minister who acts in a way of which this House does not approve. That is the only point at issue. No reason has been given why this Bill should not be passed to-day. I can understand the concern of all hon. Members. We never know that we may not, ourselves, be concerned in the exercise of these powers, but I think that they are essential in the circumstances.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Dennis Herbert)
I fear I have allowed hon. Members— and have accompanied them myself — to go down a slippery slope and to get a long way from the Isle of Man. I hope that in future hon. Members will bear in mind that we are not discussing Regulation 18B, but only the question of whether those under detention may be detained in the Isle of Man.
§ Mr. Stokes
Would not the opinions of my hon. Friend the Member for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald) still hold good if some other island were selected, and not the Isle of Man?
§ Mr. Macdonald
Yes, I do not make my support of this Bill conditional upon the selection of the Isle of Man. Any other island would do.
§ Mr. Maxton (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
It is unfortunate, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that you should think it necessary to issue your warning just at the moment when I was making an effort to catch your eye, because the very modest contribution I proposed to make to the Debate was really to call attention to the fact that a large proportion of the matters dealt with were out with the scope of the Bill alto- 521 gether. I agree absolutely with those who have criticised Regulation 18B. I think the Regulation was a bad and a wrong one from the beginning, and 1 would be glad to see the House taking steps to ensure that some method of dealing with these cases, could be found which was more in keeping with British judicial traditions than this one, which really does not differ in any sense from the methods we have so strongly condemned in the Fascist countries. I did not quite get the point of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald) about the Lofoten Islands. The thing that stuck out in my mind about the report of what had happened in the Lofoten Islands was that there was an Englishman walking about there and carrying on his business freely and openly. [Interruption.] I heard the gentleman speaking on the wireless one night and describing the arrival of the British troops. He seemed to be out on the quay to welcome them, and the only stipulation he made was that, if his factory was burnt, the others should be burnt as well. Therefore, it seems possible that there may exist, even under German control, some measure of liberty for those whom we must assume to be, from the German point of view, alien enemies.
The Noble Lord referred to the circumstances of the last war. He seemed to think that there was none of this sort of thing in the last war. There was none of this 18B business, that I can recall, except in the case of the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood). He was seized, with half a dozen others, one night at home in Glasgow and deported to Edinburgh, which, to a Glasgow man, was probably the last possible insult that could be offered him. I made a very modest protest at a public meeting against the breach of the British Constitution involved in that deportation. The Government then did not, as far as I was concerned, make any breach of the Constitution. They arrested me according to proper legal form and tried me properly, passing me through the lower courts up to the High Court. There I was sentenced by a judge of the High Court for Scotland — all done with proper dignity. One felt a sense of satisfaction.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The hon. Member may very soon earn that reprimand which 522 I understood from him he had contemplated addressing to the House and to me.
§ Mr. Maxton
The result was a proper trial in the courts of law, and I cannot see why it could not be applied now to these Regulation 18B cases, unless there is insufficient evidence. There is evidence sufficient to make one feel that something ought to be done for these fellows. I think it is asking too much that we should allow the Executive to continue shutting up men on suspicion, although the Executive admits there is not sufficient evidence to secure a conviction in a court of law, or even to formulate a charge. I think the whole thing was done not in a moment of panic but at a time when the Government decided to be very effective and strong and all that sort of thing. They were influenced by happenings on the Continent; they were afraid that those happenings might be duplicated here. Well, in so far as I have travelled throughout the country during the war period, meeting people of all sorts who have no enthusiasm for the prosecution of the war, I say that there was never any chance of the happenings on the Continent being duplicated here, and there is not now.
We ought to have got past all this Fifth Column panic that has brought about this type of action. If there is a really genuine case against some of the people interned, then bring them out of their internment and put them before a court of law which can impose the drastic penalties which the law allows. But if there is no case or if there are doubts, it is the practice of this land that the benefit of any doubt should be given. Let us take the risk of these men going free. I do not associate myself with those who are opposing this Bill because they are in opposition to the general treatment of Regulation 18B cases. I am a supporter of this Bill. I remember that the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) shared confinement with me for 12 months. He and I were side by side as comrades in arms. I believe it is the only time in our long acquaintanceship that we have been on really, decently friendly terms. I am perfectly certain that after I had done about six months in a Scottish prison, if I had been offered the alternative of going to the Isle of Man particularly about this season of the year and if I felt that by taking that option I 523 would not be letting down my principles in any way, I would have voted for the Isle of Man rather than Calton Gaol.
I have been in Brixton and seen some of the Regulation 18B men in gaol there. I do not know whether they are protesting against this Measure or not, but if they are objecting to transference I think they are ill-advised. I would recommend them to take all the opportunities offered to them in this Bill and hie themselves to the shores of the Isle of Man rather than continue languishing in Brixton Gaol. One of the things that makes a prisoner's lot tolerable is the opportunity to see his friends and while that might not occur so frequently in the Isle of Man, I hope that some opportunity will not be denied to people on the mainland to visit the island, see their folks there and the conditions under which they live. I hope, too, that opportunities for letter-writing and other means of communication will be on the freest scale and that in no way will those sent to the island lose their normal legal rights by going there rather than to any other place of internment.
§ Mr. Stokes
Would the hon. Member still hold that view about the desirability of going to the Isle of Man if the person concerned lost his legal rights by so doing?
§ Captain W. T. Shaw (Forfar)
The Under-Secretary of State seemed to think that there would be no difference between the Advisory Committee and a judicial body composed of three Judges, as was suggested by the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton). I submit, however, that there would be a very great difference, for the reason that not a particle of sworn evidence is given before the Advisory Committee. The right hon. Gentleman obtained these powers by holding out the Advisory Committee as a body that would conserve the rights and liberties of these people, and in my opinion he would not have got the powers if he had not led us to believe that the Advisory Committee would be a safeguard.
In connection with this Bill, I want to ask whether the people who are to be sent to the Isle of Man are to be allowed to volunteer. Are they to be given the same 524 option as was given to the aliens who were sent to Canada and Australia? Are these British subjects to be given treatment similar to that which was given to the aliens who were sent to Canada and Australia? Is their position, when they go to the Isle of Man, to be better or worse than in this country? For instance, what will be their position with regard to the conditions laid down in Command Paper No. 6162? The conditions of these people in this country have been very bad, some of them having been in solitary confinement for 18 or 19 hours a day for months. From what I have heard, the conditions of prisoners of war in Germany are in many instances better than wore at one time the conditions for people detained in Brixton Prison. I hope the Government will see that the conditions in the Isle of Man are not worse than they are at Brixton. Will visiting justices look after the rights of these people who, after all, are British subjects? They are not all political Quislings, for example. The hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern (Captain Ramsay) has a war record which compares favourably with the record of the Home Secretary and his predecessor. He fought right through the last war. He was in the retreat from Mons, fought in all the battles up to 1916, when he was severely wounded, and now he has sons fighting in this war. If one looks at the hon. and gallant Member's past record, it compares very favourably with the records of some of the right hon. Gentlemen sitting on the Front Bench to-day. He did not have a "cushy" job at the Home Office, and he was not a passive resister or a conscientious objector.
§ Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)
I want to refer to something that was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary and some of the remarks of the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton). The Home Secretary said that this war is different from the last war, and that in the last war there were no parties associated with foreign Governments. Of course, that was not the fault of the Home Secretary. It arose out of the fact that the movement had not developed in any country sufficiently far to form a Socialist Government. Had there been a Socialist Government in any other country during the last war, the Home Secretary would have been a mem- 525 ber of the party, which was associated directly with that Government through the Socialist International. Then, of course, there is the possibility of people being associated with an enemy Government in time of war. If there is any such association, then it is true that it would be a fit subject for the courts, and the courts would very effectively deal with it. There is no one who had greater concern and doubt about these Regulations than had the Home Secretary before he was Home Secretary.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I think that I had better confine the hon. Member to the Ruling I have given, and ask him to keep to the Bill.
§ Mr. Gallacher
I quite agree that it is time I came to the Bill; but I felt it was necessary to say a word or two about something which was referred to by the Home Secretary. In approaching this Bill, I want it to be understood that I am all the time for the masses of the people of this country, and that I am against the ruling classes, the wealthy landowners and capitalists who are the potential Quislings, as in Bulgaria, Yugoslavia or any other country. First and last, and all the time, I am for the working classes, and I do not want any illusions created by the Noble Lord, or anyone else, that 1 stand for anything else. The hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) has spoken of the advantages of the Isle of Man as compared with prison. I think he has spoken mistakenly, because the worst prison in Europe was the prison that we were in at Edinburgh—the Calton Gaol. But I would have preferred at any time to have been in the worst prison, because always the prisoner desires to be as near as possible to his own home. That point must be taken into consideration here.
It raises another matter, a matter which was touched upon by the hon. Member for Bridgeton, which, I think, he dealt with in the wrong way. On one occasion I raised the question of prisoners being allowed to visit their friends, instead of their friends visiting them. It was treated with a certain amount of hilarity when I proposed it, but later on the then Home Secretary introduced a modification of that proposal, whereby prisoners who were confined in the South of England, and whose homes were in the 526 North, were to be confined to the nearest prison to their home. I want the Minister to take this into account when considering the question of transferring people to the Isle of Man. I was at a concentration camp the other day, and when I arrived there were several women there who were visiting friends. They had to travel the day before from Edinburgh and Glasgow to Liverpool, and they had to spend the night in Liverpool and go through a terrible "blitz" At 2 o'clock the next day they were allowed in to see their friends. It meant putting up another night at Liverpool and travelling back to their homes on the following day.
Here you have a situation where it is proposed to send people to the Isle of Man. Their homes may be in London, Edinburgh or Glasgow. Is it to be suggested that, if the Minister takes the responsibility for transferring them to the Isle of Man, their friends have to go to all that cost and loss of time in order to spend an hour or so visiting them? I want the Minister to consider this very seriously. One of his predecessors introduced the system of transferring prisoners from, say, Parkhurst to Durham if their relatives were in the North of England. I ask him if he will take into consideration the possibility of transferring these interned people somewhere near their own homes, so that they can have the fullest opportunity of visits with the least expenditure and the least trouble to their friends. In view of the fact that there is no charge and no court decision, these are cases where the experiment should be immediately tried of giving them week-ends off to visit their friends. I was always against the Regulations, as can be understood, but I can see no reason why the experiment should not be tried.
There is another point that I want to raise. I find when I go to the concentration camps that there is a very great tendency for these people to degenerate. One thing that we experienced in prison was that you had a regular job to do. You went out in the morning for exercise and then went to a workshop of some kind. Regular work served the purpose of maintaining a measure of morale. You have great crowds of men confined in camp, with barbed wire all round them, with nothing useful to occupy their time. What sort of life is that for human beings? Every consideration should be given to 527 the problem of occupying their time so as to maintain their standard of fitness and the highest possible standard of morale. If these two suggestions were adopted, it would make it much easier finally to liberate these men and get them into useful employment.
§ Mr. David Adams (Consett)
There is no question that if this Bill passes into law, it will mean a substantial increase in the power of the Home Secretary. In time of war the House does not begrudge excessive powers rather than powers which are too small to the Executive of the day, and if we can be assured by the Home Secretary that the proposals in the Bill have certain protective clauses, it ought to receive the consent of the House. The power which the Home Secretary has to seize British subjects in these islands and to incarcerate them without charge or trial is of an extraordinary character and is an entirely non-British type of justice. I am one with those who contend that the time has come when we ought to review the question whether it is not possible to bring these detainees under trial. When the Regulations were passed it was reasonable that we were expecting an invasion and were uncertain as to the general temperament of the population To-day no such situation prevails, and we are entitled to ask the Home Secretary whether he cannot see that some guarantees are made in this direction.
The proposal in the Bill is to remove without consent to the Isle of Man those who are detained in this country. Will the Home Secretary advise us whether they will be placed without the jurisdiction of the British courts or not? Although they are not at the moment to be brought to trial, they may on a subsequent date be brought to a court. If no such undertaking is given, the House ought to be dubious about extending this power to the Home Secretary to deport persons to what is virtually a foreign country and to remove them from the possibility of visits by their friends for reasons which the Home Secretary has not given us in a sufficiency. Are our prisons too full or too uncomfortable? Why should the Isle of Man be selected for this purpose? To make this selection and at the same time to add to the hardships of the detainees is not extending the justice for which we are supposed to be fighting
§ Mr. A. Bevan (Ebbw Vale)
I should like to ask the Under-Secretary to reply to the suggestions made by the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher). It would appear that by transferring people to the Isle of Man we are putting poorer prisoners under a greater disability. Richer prisoners will be able to receive visits from their friends, but poor prisoners will be in almost complete isolation. All their mail will be severely censored, and they will not be able to have consultations with their friends which might enable them to formulate appeals. That isolation is an important point which the Home Secretary might take into account. If it is not possible to enable the prisoners to be transferred temporarily to prisons where they can be visited, would it be possible for travel vouchers to be given at intervals to enable the friends of poorer prisoners to visit them? After all, these men have not committed any offence. All that has happened is that they do not agree with the Home Secretary.
§ Mr. Bevan
If the right hon. Gentleman taunts me, I will go a little further, because he is on the weakest possible ground, If he will beg my pardon in this matter, I will not go on. I was not attempting to be offensive, but as far as we know at the moment these men have committed no offence against the law. That is the fact, is it not? They are political prisoners of a most exceptional kind. They are political prisoners who have committed no offence, and therefore are entitled to exceptionally good treatment. Surely that is not a controversial point. They are under preventive detention, and we ought to be jealous that they should be treated with the greatest possible leniency and moderation.
I suggest, too, that the second point made by the hon. Member for West Fife is an important one, that some reasonable occupation should be provided for these people. Enforced idleness over years 529 is a terribly demoralising thing. I have not had a very long period of imprisonment myself, only a short one, and I found it quite intolerable. It is a most frightening thing, and that is why I am always careful to behave in the presence of the Home Secretary. I beg and implore him to look very carefully into this matter. We have all had representations from the Isle of Man asking for some kind of work. Suggestions have been made about taking over a large acreage of land and allowing them to cultivate it. Many of them are good cultivators, accustomed to that sort of work. If the Under-Secretary will say that he will give sympathetic consideration to these points, I know it will meet with the approval of the Home Secretary, because he does not like to see large numbers of men kept idle at the expense of the State. If these two conditions are granted, it does not seem to me that the Bill is a serious invasion of the rights of the citizen. At any rate, it is a small invasion compared with the major invasion made by Regulation 18B, which cannot be discussed now.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Peake)
The Debate has ranged more widely than the somewhat narrow and careful drafting of the Bill was intended to make possible and we have at times strayed a little from the narrow path set out in it. I would make two general observations about the use of emergency powers by my right hon. Friend, without entering in detail into the matter contained in the Regulations. Nobody could wish more heartily than my right hon. Friend, myself and all the officials of the Home Office who have to deal with these emergency powers cases, that these powers were not necessary. They place an appalling burden of responsibility upon the shoulders of my right hon. Friend. Orders have been made under Defence Regulation 18B in some 1,729 cases. Every one of these Orders, at the time it is made, and again on appeal to the advisory committee, has to come before my right hon. Friend personally and to have his personal consideration. Hon. Members can therefore well understand that nobody dislikes the necessity for these powers more than does my right hon. Friend.
Secondly, I have been at the Home Office since before the war and I have seen two Home Secretaries in office since the 530 war commenced. Not one hon. Member in this House would accept the position of Home Secretary and remain in it for 24 hours in time of war unless powers of this kind existed. When known and suspected enemy agents are at large in this country it would be impossible to accept the responsibility of allowing these persons to remain at liberty when the nation is in so much danger.
Coming to the Bill, I would first observe how different the atmosphere in this House is now from that which existed in July last year, when, with a good deal of approval from different quarters of the House, such liberal-minded Members as the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) and the hon. Member for North Lambeth (Mr. G. Strauss) suggested to the then Home Secretary that the proper course to take with persons detained under Regulation 18B was to send them to one of the Dominions or Colonies. The very moderate proposal to send them some 50 or 60 miles over the sea to the Isle of Man has met with a certain amount of criticism. This Bill is only an enabling Measure. In his opening speech, the Home Secretary did not say that it was his intention, immediately the Bill was passed, to transfer all the Regulation 18B cases to the Isle of Man.
§ Mr. Peake
I am coming to that point. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Wedgwood) regretted that we had not taken powers similar to this long ago. He thought we had been too slow in bringing forward this Measure. Of course, the reason is that each person detained under Regulation 18B or under Article 12 (5a) of the Aliens Order has the opportunity of going before the Advisory Committee, and it would be absurd to transfer people to the Isle of Man only to bring them back again to have their cases examined. We were therefore awaiting the results of the Advisory Committee's examinations before taking any decision to transfer any internees to the Isle of Man.
I should like to give hon. Members figures of the classes of persons with whom this Bill may deal if it is applied to their cases. I observed just now that detention orders had been made under Regulation 18B in the cases of 1,729 persons. Of those 1,729 we have now re 531 leased almost precisely half, that is to say, 863. There remain detained at the present time under Regulation 18B 866 persons. Of those 866, 394 are persons of hostile origin, namely, either German, Austrian or Italian. It is perfectly clear that the proper course in the majority of those cases is to put them into internment alongside those persons who are of their own true nationality— not their legal nationality, but their nationality of origin — and it is therefore clearly desirable that at any rate these 394 persons should be transferred to the Isle of Man.
§ Mr. Silverman
Will the hon. Gentleman say whether he proposes to maintain the distinction between pro-Fascist and anti-Fascist, pro-Nazi and anti-Nazi groupings?
§ Mr. Silverman
I am afraid I have not made myself clear. There may be persons of hostile origin who are not hostile persons. I take it that the persons to whom my hon. Friend is now referring are those in regard to whom the Secretary of State is satisfied that they are of hostile associations?
§ Mr. Peake
They may be put in a camp entirely by themselves. We have a large number of camps in the Isle of Man and we can set aside one of them for these people. In regard to the remainder, there are 133 persons who are detained because they are either of hostile associations or have been recently concerned in acts prejudicial to the defence of the realm, and the balance of 339 are persons detained under Regulation 18B (1, a), that is to say as members of an organisation which is subject to foreign influence or control 532 That at any rate will give the House a picture of the class of persons with whom this Bill will deal.
§ Earl Winterton
This is the first time I have heard that phrase in regard to being members of an organisation subject to foreign control. Why should not all the members of Fascist bodies be included?
§ Mr. Peake
Because there are two conditions to Regulation 18B. First a person has to be a member of such an organisation, and secondly my right hon. Friend has to be satisfied that it is necessary to exercise control over him. I thought the House would be pleased to have this summary of the present figures of those detained under Regulation 18B. There are, in addition, some 240 aliens, of either Allied or neutral nationality, detained under the Aliens Order. After they have been before the Committee, it seems perfectly reasonable that, generally speaking, they should be transferred to the Isle of Man, although there may, in exceptional cases, be good reason for keeping persons in this country. The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) and the hon. Member for Bridget on (Mr. Maxton) raised the questions of visits. That is the only respect in which I think there would be any drawback to detainees being transferred. In respect of all other considerations, they will undoubtedly be better off in the Isle of Man than in this country. In regard to employment, for example, huge numbers of enemy aliens have been released from the Isle of Man during the past six months. I think the total number, including a small number who have gone to Canada or Australia, is about 13,000. It is clear that there will be scope for employment for persons of British or non-enemy alien nationality transferred to the Isle of Man. There are, in fact, works schemes of a substantial size coming into operation at present. But as regards visits, there may be some disadvantages. We shall certainly bear in mind the points made by my hon. Friends, that there may be poor or desti 533 tute persons whose positions will be aggravated in that respect by transference.
It is obviously impossible to undertake that we will transfer persons to the Isle of Man only on their own desire. Their own desires may change from time to time. We are taking this step not only for the personal comfort of the people detained, but also for administrative convenience. As my right hon. Friend pointed out, the military require all the camp accommodation in this country for prisoners in the event of an attempted invasion. From a Home Office point of view, it will be much easier to control these camps properly if they are all situated in the Isle of Man and not separated all over the country.
§ Mr. Peake
We are fully alive to this problem, and will bear the matter in mind. I have been asked a number of specific questions by hon. Members. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Epsom (Sir A. Southby) asked for two different assurances, one that these persons will not lose one jot or tittle of their legal rights under British law by being transferred, and the other that no British subject has been transferred to the Isle of Man without his consent. I will deal with the second point first. This also answers the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman), who suspected that this Bill was a Bill of Indemnity in disguise. There is, as far as I am aware, and as far as my advisers at the Home Office are aware, no case of a British subject who has been transferred illegally to the Isle of Man.
§ Mr. Silverman
Will the Minister say what he means when he says "illegally transferred"? We would like to know whether any British subjects who were originally detained in this country under Regulation 18B have been transferred to the Isle of Man?
§ Mr. Peake
The answer to that is a categorical "No," and as far as my hon. Friend's point is concerned, that this Bill was intended to be a Bill of Indemnity, I can only say that his training as a lawyer must have been singularly lacking in some respects if he thinks that a Bill drafted in this form could have a retrospective effect to excuse the Government for past mistakes.
§ Mr. Peake
With regard to the first question of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Epsom— I think the point was touched upon also by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes), as to proceedings in our courts here, it is open to any person, whether he be detained in this country or in the Isle of Man, to initiate proceedings in the courts here. As far as the rights of habeas corpus are concerned, with which my hon. Friend opposite seems to be mainly concerned, I am advised that a person detained under Regulation 18B and deported to the Isle of Man under this Bill could apply for a writ of habeas corpus either in our courts here or in the courts of the Isle of Man. He would have either method or both open to him. I understand that it was thought that a writ of habeas corpus issued from here could not be enforced in the Isle of Man by the authorities of the courts in this country, because there was no gaoler whom they could compel to produce the body of the person concerned to the courts here. If that technical difficulty exists— and it appears to be a very abstruse point of law and practice— I can give the unqualified assurance that, if the courts of this country authorised the issue of a writ of habeas corpus for the body of a person to be brought before a court in this country, my right hon. Friend would do everything in his power to bring the body back to this country.
§ Mr. Silverman
Would the hon. Gentleman look at the last part of Clause I of the Bill? My right hon. Friend may be 535 a very bad lawyer, but we all have to do our best. After providing that a person detained may be detained in the Isle of Man, it goes on to say:and while so detained, and while being removed … shall be deemed to be in lawful custody.That might exclude even such remedies as he has under Regulation 18B in this country.
§ Mr. Peake
No, Sir, those words are precisely similar to the words contained in Regulation 18B, and if those words were not included in this Bill or in the Regulation, anybody detained by my right hon. Friend under these emergency powers could immediately apply for habeas corpus and obtain his immediate release. In order to succeed in habeas corpus proceedings where detention takes place under the Regulation, a person will have to satisfy the court that the Secretary of State had no reasonable cause to believe the matters set out in the Regulation.
§ Mr. Stokes
Before the hon. Gentleman leaves that point will he, between now and the time when the Bill comes before the House again, go further into the legal position because I am assured by a competent authority that what he is saying will not lie?
§ Sir A. Southby
In other words, my hon. Friend undertakes to bring back one of these persons if the processes of the law in this country require his presence?
§ Rear-Admiral Beamish (Lewes)
Can my hon. Friend hold out any hope that a family interned in the Isle of Man will be able to live together if they wish to do so?
§ Mr. Peake
My hon. and gallant Friend has raised that point at Question Time 536 once or twice. It is a matter of very great difficulty. Here you have a married man who is detained under Regulation 18B and his wife and family are at liberty. He is compulsorily separated from them by administrative action. On the other hand, you have the case where both the husband and wife have been engaged in matters which make their detention necessary. Is it right to put those who are open to suspicion under Regulation 18B in a better position than people concerned in a case where only one of the two parties has been engaged in activity which has led to his or her detention?
§ Mr. Pickthorn
The whole argument for all these Regulations hitherto is that there is no criminal issue to be tried, and therefore no punitive element.
§ Mr. Peake
These cases are not quite on a par with those of aliens in the Isle of Man. The aliens who will be reunited will, in the first place, be those who are carefully selected and mostly over a certain age. These Regulation 18B cases are very exceptional; they are cases of persons detained on security grounds, who my right hon. Friend thinks must be under control. They are not comparable with aliens in Category C.
§ Mr. McGovern (Glasgow, Shettleston)
Take the case of a husband and wife who are both interned under Regulation 18B. Are they ever allowed to meet?
§ Mr. Peake
If the hon. Gentleman had followed this matter he would have known that two months ago or more we arranged meetings— fortnightly meetings I think— between husbands and wives who had been detained. The length of these meetings is to be extended from half-an-hour to one hour. My hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Sir I. Albery) raised the question of the 55 cases in which my right hon. Friend disagreed with the advice of the Advisory Committee, and he 537 asked whether these people could be given more favourable treatment in the Isle of Man on that ground. Obviously, that would be impossible. My right hon. Friend must treat cases where he has disagreed with the Advisory Committee on exactly the same basis, as regards conditions, as the cases in which he has agreed with the Advisory Committee.
§ Mr. Bevan
Does the hon. Gentleman appreciate how repugnant it is to the psychology of the House and the country to treat prisoners in the way in which his last statement suggests? Husbands and wives are brought together now for half an hour, and by an extraordinary stretch of generosity, the hon. Gentleman says that the period is to be extended to an hour. Does he realise that these people are not prisoners, and that this is not lenient treatment; that it is silly, childish, eighteenth-century treatment?
§ Mr. Peake
These persons are detained on security grounds. These visits have been arranged with considerable difficulty. We have had to collect all the married men into one prison in London in order that the visits might be made. It is clear that if these persons are transferred to the Isle of Man, it may be very much easier to arrange for more frequent visits and for visits of longer duration than can be arranged in this country. I should have thought that the hon. Member's point, instead of being a point against the Bill, was a point in favour of it.
§ Mr. Peake
I think I have dealt with all the points that have been raised in the Debate. The Measure is intended for the greater comfort of the persons who, unfortunately, have to be detained, and it is also intended for the administrative convenience of the military authorities and the Home Office
§ Mr. Bevan
1 want to put one question to the hon. Gentleman. In answer to a question by one of my hon. Friends, he suggested that if there were any doubt as to whether a person who had been transferred to the Isle of Man could be produced in a British court by a writ of habeas corpus, the Home Secretary would give a guarantee to the House that he would in fact produce the person if such a writ were issued. Does not the hon. Gentleman realise that there could be no clumsier way than that of framing legislation? It is no protection to a citizen—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Colonel Clifton Brown)
I would remind the hon. Member that he has exhausted his right to speak.
§ Mr. Peake
I do not fully appreciate the point which the hon. Member has made. The hon. Member for Ipswich said that there was no constitutional power in the courts in this country to obtain the presence over here of a person detained in the Isle of Man. If there is no such constitutional power, no Amendment of this Bill will create it. What I explained to the House was that there was grave doubt on this whole matter. It is a constitutional issue about which the Attorney-General has no very clear or definite views. He advises me that a writ of habeas corpus may be applied for and obtained, either in our courts here, or in the courts in the Isle of Man. What is doubtful is whether a person detained in the Isle of Man can bring any action for the failure of the authorities to transfer him to this country. My right hon. Friend has given an unqualified assurance that if that situation were to arise, or if that difficulty looked like arising, he would see that that person was brought back to this country from the internment camp.
§ Earl Winterton
Surely it is an astonishing statement to say that the Attorney-General cannot answer the question? 539 Surely he must know how the law stands on the subject? If it is necessary to-make an amendment of the law, why cannot it be altered in this Bill? Another point I wish to ask is, whether the Committee of Privileges have power to require the authorities of the Isle of Man to allow the attendance of a Member of this House. We had the case of the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern (Captain Ramsay) — and I speak as a member of the Committee of Privileges— where we served an order requiring the appearance of the hon. and gallant Member. Shall we have that power if an hon. Member is deported to the Isle of Man?
§ Mr. Silverman
There may be no difficulty at all. I understand when my right hon. Friend introduced the Bill he thought there were no difficulties. If there is a difficulty, however, it is whether there is any authority in this country which can be brought to bear upon the custodians of the internees in the Isle of Man, and whether there is any authority which these custodians in the Isle of Man will have to obey. If such powers can be exercised, they can be exercised under this Bill, but if they cannot be exercised the undertaking is invalid.
§ Mr. Peake
There is no practical difficulty of any sort or kind. This is purely a theoretical question. These persons are under the control, in the Isle of Man, of the Home Secretary, and he can have them brought back to this country any time he pleases. The theoretical point 540 which has been raised deals with the case of persons who are not in the hands of my right hon. Friend, but in the hands of the Manx Government.
§ Mr. Stokes
Will the Minister deal with the point about those people who are at the present moment conducting legal actions against the Government concerning their detention? Will they be treated reasonably and left here until they have finished? May I also ask whether in subsequent cases persons will be brought back to this country if they wish to take action?
§ Mr. Peake
It would not be right for me to give a pledge that anyone will be kept here indefinitely, or brought back at any moment, merely because they have initiated some trifling procedure in the courts of this country. If their presence is required for the purposes of the processes of law— whether it is in any court, or in a Committee of this House, which requires their presence in this country— my right hon. Friend will see that they are brought back.
§ Mr. Mander
Is it not possible, between now and the Report stage, to consider the advisability of conferring with the Government of the Isle of Man, and reaching some legal agreement which would not leave the matter to the political option of the Minister in this country, but would give these persons a legal right to come back?
§ Question, "That the Bill be now read a Second time," put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House, for the next Sitting Day— [Major Dugdale.]