HC Deb 20 October 1943 vol 392 cc1356-7
6. Captain Cunningham-Reid

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in order to deter war criminals at large from the crimes they are committing, Hess will be tried forthwith, and the sentence be carried out immediately afterwards?

Mr. Law

No, Sir.

Captain Cunningham-Reid

Arising out of that short answer, will not the Minister agree that Russia has shown considerable wisdom in this war, and is he aware that in this White Paper, "Punishment for War Crimes," Part II, page 7, paragraph 5, the Russians have urged that this arch-murderer Hess be tried without any further shilly-shallying? We have had years to provide the necessary—

Hon. Members


Mr. Law

I think it would be much better to leave these matters to the international processes of law which are now being arranged between the United Nations.

Sir A. Southby

Will the Minister bear in mind that if these murderers are to be tried by international processes of law, the chances are that they will all; be acquitted; and will he also bear in mind that the people of the Allied Nations demand that those responsible for bringing this war upon the world shall be dealt with summarily?

Mr. Law

There seems to be some contradiction between the two hypotheses put up by my hon. and gallant Friend. If we leave this to the international processes of law, he says nothing will be done. He asked also whether I was aware that other nations are extremely keen that something should be done. I think there is some contradiction there.

Sir A. Southby

Will the Minister bear in mind that there is no contradiction?

Mr. Pickthorn

May I ask the Minister how, under the ordinary processes of international law, any or all of these people could be indicted let alone convicted or acquitted? Secondly, does the Minister not think it is time, now that we have gone so far along the path of accomplished fact, that the whole matter was fully discussed in this country and in this House?

Mr. Law

With regard to the first part of my hon. Friend's Question, I cannot tell him what the processes are, because these are at present being worked out with the Allies. With regard to the second part, I must say that I do not think it would be desirable to have public discussion of these matters while these discussions are going on with the United Nations.

Colonel Greenwell

Would not the taking of action on those lines simply invite reprisals from the German Government?