HC Deb 22 May 1941 vol 371 cc1591-2
71. Major Lloyd

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he has any statement to make as to the position of Wing-Commander the Duke of Hamilton in relation to the arrival in this country of Rudolf Hess?

The Secretary of State for Air (Sir Archibald Sinclair)

When Deputy-Führer Hess came down with his aeroplane in Scotland on 10th May, he gave a false name and asked to see the Duke of Hamilton. The Duke, being apprised by the authorities, visited the German prisoner in hospital. Hess then revealed for the first time his true identity, saying that he had seen the Duke when he was at the Olympic Games at Berlin in 1936. The Duke did not recognise the prisoner and had never met the Deputy-Führer. He had, however, visited Germany for the Olympic Games in 1936, and during that time had attended more than one large public function at which German Ministers were present. It is therefore quite possible that the Deputy-Führer may have seen him on one such occasion. As soon as the interview was over, Wing-Commander the Duke of Hamilton flew to England and gave a full report of what had passed to the Prime Minister, who sent for him. Contrary to reports which have appeared in some newspapers, the Duke has never been in correspondence with the Deputy-Führer. None of the Duke's three brothers, who are, like himself, serving in the Royal Air Force, has either met Hess or had correspondence with him. It will be seen that the conduct of the Duke of Hamilton has been in every respect honourable and proper.

Major Lloyd

Can my right hon. Friend enlighten the House in regard to what action was taken to intercept Hess's aeroplane; and is he aware that his answer will give the greatest possible satisfaction to the many friends of the Duke of Hamilton in many parts of the country, and not least in the Royal Air Force and in the county of Renfrew?

Sir A. Sinclair

The reply to the first part of the question of my hon. and gallant Friend is that every effort was made to intercept the aeroplane in which the Deputy-Führer came to this country, and, indeed, at the time when he baled out one of our night-fighting Defiants was hot on the trail of his aeroplane.

Mr. Batey

When the Minister says that there has been no correspondence between the Duke of Hamilton and Hess, are we to understand that the report in the Press was wrong that Hess had written a letter to the Duke of Hamilton before coming to this country?

Sir A. Sinclair

I cannot speak as to whether or not Hess wrote a letter to the Duke of Hamilton; I can only say that no letter from Hess to the Duke of Hamilton has reached the Duke or any responsible authority in this country.

Mr. Garro Jones

Is it possible for the right hon. Gentleman to give any clue as to why Rudolf Hess should have picked on the Duke of Hamilton?

Sir A. Sinclair

I cannot account for the motives of Rudolf Hess.

Commander Locker-Lampson

Was not the Duke of Hamilton a Member of this House and honoured very greatly, and is he not a very gallant pilot?

Major Vyvyan Adams

Does the Secretary of State entertain the theory, expressed outside, that the motive of this highly undesirable alien was not to call upon the noble Duke but to consult a really good German doctor?

Mr. Granville

When are we likely to have an authentic and official statement by His Majesty's Government to the people of this country and of the United States of America as to what is behind the whole of this Hess affair?

Sir A. Sinclair

That is not a question which should be addressed to me.