HC Deb 05 February 1942 vol 377 cc1257-8
17. Miss Eleanor Rathbone

asked the Home Secretary whether he is taking steps to make with the Canadian Government an arrangement similar to that already made with the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia, whereby anti-Nazi and anti-Fascist civilian internees can be released and allowed to remain within the Dominion for the duration of the war, provided that the Dominion Government considers the release desirable for useful employment or study, or on humanitarian grounds, and he sees no reason for advising against it on grounds of security?

Mr. H. Morrison

My hon. Friend's reference to an "arrangement" with the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia is, I think, liable to cause misapprehension. The Dominion Governments accepted responsibility for the custody of these internees on condition that they should not, if released, remain at liberty in the Dominion. Any relaxation of that condition is a matter entirely within the discretion of the Dominion Government. In the exercise of that discretion the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia has decided on measures which I announced last week. As regards Canada, I have already authorised the release of some 200 internees whom the Canadian Government were prepared to allow to be at large in Canada, and I should, of course, be willing to authorise the release of others against whom, as individuals, there is no security objection, if the Canadian Government were willing to allow them to be at large within the Dominion.

Miss Rathbone

While thanking my right hon. Friend for his Reply, may I ask whether, in view of the large number of internees whom it has been found impracticable for shipping reasons to bring back to this country, he will use his good offices with the Canadian Government to get them to consider instituting arrangements as liberal as those which the Australian Government have made?

Mr. Morrison

My hon. Friend pressed me to take that course in the case of Australia. It must be remembered that both Canada and Australia are self-governing Dominions and I think that my line with Australia was more successful than would have been the line suggested by my hon. Friend.