HC Deb 09 December 1943 vol 395 cc1112-5
13. Sir A. Knox

asked the Minister of Labour whether he can give an estimate of the number of man hours lost to the war effort by demonstrators regarding Sir Oswald Mosley?

Mr. Bevin

No, Sir.

Sir A. Knox

Can the right hon. Gentleman state whether these men received pay for the hours of war labour they have lost while joy riding?

Mr. Bevin

I do not know whether it was joy riding, but they certainly were not paid for it.

33. Mr. Frankel

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will now give an undertaking that the fees of the two private consultants who gave an opinion on the condition of Sir Oswald Mosley will not be met from public funds?

Mr. Morrison

No question of any fees from public funds will arise. The private consultants with whom the prison medical authorities conferred do not desire that any fee shall be paid in respect of that consultation.

63. Mr. Mander

asked the Home Secretary whether in view of the widespread desire for the trial of those British Fascists leaders who co-operated with Hitler and Mussolini before the war, he will consider the desirability of preferring charges against them where evidence is available?

Mr. Morrison

The tactic employed by the leaders of the British Union, both before and after the outbreak of war, was to exploit the liberty which our law allows and which Parliament was anxious to maintain, even under the stress of war, and to take good care not to bring themselves within reach of the criminal law. It was precisely because of our experience of Fifth Column activities in the over-run countries in Europe in the Spring and Summer of 1940, and because this abuse of our cherished traditions of freedom and liberty without any overt breach of the law constituted a serious menace to the security of the State, that it was felt necessary to arm the Executive with exceptional powers of preventive detention. Before exercising these exceptional powers in any particular case, the question of taking criminal proceedings is always considered, and it is the policy to prosecute wherever practicable. If the suggestion is that Parliament should have enacted, or should enact now, some new law under which Sir Oswald Mosley could be brought to trial and punished for his past behaviour and activities, the effect would be to make a person liable to punishment for doing things which at the time when they were done were not forbidden by law, and however widespread may be the desire for bringing the British Fascist leaders to trial, a provision on the lines suggested would be wholly out of keeping with our conceptions of equity and criminal justice and with sound liberal doctrine.

Mr. Mander

Is the Home Secretary aware that there is a very widespread desire throughout the country that specific charges should be directed against Sir Oswald Mosley? Do I understand from him that under the law at the present time there is no evidence on which such charges could be based?

Mr. Morrison

So far as I know, the answer to the latter part of the question is in the affirmative. If I may say so with regard to widespread feelings in the country, there is a duty resting on Members of Parliament as well as Ministers to deal with such feelings when they are not based on evidence.

Mr. Austin Hopkinson

While I admit the cogency of the right hon. Gentleman's reply, will he at least consider the cases of those prominent members of the Fascist Party who are now equally prominent Communists and are responsible in some districts for running the "Gaol Mosley" stunt?

Mr. A. Edwards

What is the difference between action in this case and action in the case of retrospective legislation which the House has already passed dealing with tax evasion?

Mr. Morrison

I should have thought there was a lot of difference. The hon. Member may have another point of view, but I really cannot see the relevance of one to the other.

Mr. Gallacher

Could there be a greater condemnation of the action of the Home Secretary than that he should receive the commendation of the unspeakable Member for Mossley (Mr. Hopkinson)?

Mr. Morrison

There is no greater condemnation of the hon. Member than that in the early days he condemned this Regulation as a Fascist law.

Commander Locker-Lampson

Mosley has got off, and so will Mussolini and Hitler.

44. Mr. Silverman

asked the Home Secretary whether he is prepared to publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT or in any other way make available to Members the medical reports on the health of Sir Oswald Mosley which preceded and led up to the certificate signed on 9th November, 1943?

Mr. Morrison

I have already given to my hon. Friend during the Debate on the 1st instant a reply which I think commended itself to the House, and I have nothing to add to that reply.

Mr. Silverman

In view of the appeal to history contained in my right hon. Friend's week-end speeches does he not think it advisable to supply history with the whole of the evidence and not merely with a selected portion of it?

Mr. Morrison

If you call it a speech there is something in that statement, though it was very difficult to make a speech, I assure you; but I have given the House the essential matter, and I am surprised that my hon. Friend should want further information, because he appeared to know everything about it.

Mr. Silverman

My right hon. Friend is right in saying that I am extremely anxious that my knowledge should be shared by other hon. Members, but it is his responsibility and not mine to give to the appeal tribunal which he himself selected the evidence upon which he acted.

Mr. Thorne

Does not my right hon. Friend think that if Oswald Mosley had got the power which he was seeking for himself he would have put him where the right hon. Gentleman took him from?

Mr. Shinwell

Common sense for once.