HC Deb 16 December 1942 vol 385 cc1891-2
1. Mr. G. Strauss

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can now say whether the members of the International Brigade interned in North Africa have been released?

7. Mr. Price

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any information as to the number of persons there are in French North Africa who are still in prison for having supported the Allies since the summer of 1940?

14. Mr. Riley

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has yet any information as to the number of anti-Axis prisoners in North Africa who have been released under Admiral Darlan's régime; whether the prisoners released include persons who fought in Spain on the Republican side against General Franco; and the approximate number who have now been released?

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Eden)

As my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State stated in reply to the hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Granville) and the hon. Member for West Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) yesterday, I still have no complete information on the position of refugees and internees in North Africa other than British subjects. According to my information, however, French nationals who were interned for having aided the arrival of Allied Forces in North Africa have been released; and I can assure the House that the Allied Commander-in-Chief is following closely the measures for the release of all persons detained on account of their sympathies to the Allies. The House may also like to know that, as regards French West Africa, the Governor General has given instructions for the immediate release and return to British Colonies of all British and United Nations internees. His Majesty's Government for their part are making arrangements for the release of French internees in British West African territories.

Mr. Strauss

In view of the fact that the International Brigade and others were the first to fight Fascism in Europe and that many of them were volunteers, and in view of the very serious times they have gone through and the very bad treatment they have also had, will the right hon. Gentleman do his very best to get these men released as soon as possible, and meanwhile see that they are being properly treated?

Mr. Eden

I think my hon. Friend can be assured that the condition of these and all other internees is borne in mind by the authorities in North Africa.

Mr. Shinwell

Can we be assured that no solicitude for General Franco will cause these men to be sent back to Spain?

Miss Rathbone

In view of the fact that it is now several weeks since President Roosevelt made his request to the authorities in North Africa to do something about releasing refugees, is it not about time that this request should have been considered?

Mr. Eden

I have given the hon. Lady all the information in my possession, which shows that a considerable amount has been done already. I have no doubt that the authorities will do their utmost, but they also have other pre-occupations.

Mr. John Dugdale

Can we have a definite guarantee from the right hon. Gentleman that on no account will they be sent back to Spain?

Mr. Eden

I think I can quite certainly give that guarantee.