HC Deb 30 September 1941 vol 374 cc434-5
2 Mr. Wedgwood

asked the Secretary of State for War (1) what is the full name of Major Scott, commanding British troops on the "Dunera"; what is his regiment; and when was he gazetted major;

(2) what steps he has taken to pro-vent what happened on the "Dunera" being repeated whenever Jewish refugees are under military escort; and

(3) whether any of the hundreds of wedding rings and gold watches robbed from Jewish refugees on the "Dunera" have been recovered; and what steps were taken to induce the escort to restore the stolen property when the "Dunera" returned?

The Secretary of State for War (Captain Margesson)

The commanding officer on board the "Dunera" was Major William Patrick Scott, of the Pioneer Corps. He was gazetted Major in November, 1934. Where practicable, members of the escort were searched on their return to this country, and various articles which were believed to be the property of internees were confiscated. Strict instructions have since been issued to commanding officers with regard to the handling of the property of internees on board ship, and I have no reason to anticipate any repetition of the incidents that took place on the "Dunera."

Mr. Wedgwood

Could the right hon. and gallant Gentleman deal with the charges that were framed so far as the court-martial was concerned and say whether those charges were based on inadequate evidence, and can he tell me now whether there was some sort of preliminary inquiry on which the charges were framed?

Captain Margesson

There was obviously a preliminary investigation to see whether charges could be framed, and it was on the result of that investigation that the charges were framed.

Mr. Riley

Arising out of the original answer, may I ask whether my right hon. Friend will take steps to restore the property to the owners?

Captain Margesson

The property which was recovered was of minor value; I think it totalled something like £100, and it was felt that it was better to follow the procedure of satisfying claims rather than to send these small trinkets back to Australia and try to discover to whom they belonged.

Mr. Silverman

Has any estimate been formed of the total value of the claims?

Captain Margesson

I think I can answer that question; the last time I saw the figure I think it was somewhere about £35,000.