27. Miss Rathbone
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has considered the cases of a number of persons, of friendly nationality or Stateless, now interned in the Isle of Man under Regulation 12–5A of the Aliens Order, not for suspected collusion with the enemy, but for previous convictions for offences for which normally they would have been deported; and as at least 17 of them have already been detained for over three years and as many of them were petty offenders whose offences were previously punished by short terms of imprisonment, will he release them with the warning that any further offences will lead to their reinternment.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
The fact that owing to war circumstances it may be impracticable or inexpedient to deport an undesirable alien who has been convicted of offences, is not a good reason for leaving him at liberty in this country to continue to prey upon the public, and it was for this reason that special provision was made for the internment of any such persons during the war. The question whether continued detention is still necessary in present circumstances, must be 2176 determined in each instance with regard to the facts and circumstances of the particular case. A general review of these cases, with a view to considering what releases could now be justified is in progress, but it has not yet been completed.
Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that at this stage of the war it can be justifiable to keep people in detention for years on end, merely for fear that they might commit some offence against the ordinary law? Some of them are going mad with anxiety and distress. Will he, therefore, speed up his review?
§ Mr. Morrison
I have told the hon. Member that I am engaging in a general review, but one cannot generalise about the matter. I think the country really has a right, in wartime, to expect people who have come here and accepted our hospitality to behave themselves. If they do not, they must take the consequences.
§ Mr. Silverman
Without contesting the general principle in the first part of my tight hon. Friend's last answer, may I ask whether he is not aware that in a large number of these cases the offence with which they were originally charged was a very trivial matter indeed, for which, in no circumstances, before the war would deportation ever have been contemplated; and, as many of them have now been continuously in prison for three or four years on quite petty charges, will he not expedite the review on which he is now engaged?
§ Mr. Morrison
I do not accept this description of the position, nor that whatever may have happened before the war is relevant to what has happened during the war. The House is aware that the conduct of some of these people is bringing unjustified discredit on the whole of the refugees who have come to this country.
§ Mr. G. Strauss
Accepting the fact that, in some of these cases, the man may have been guilty of serious offences, is it not a fact, nevertheless, that in some instances the offences have been quite petty?
§ Mr. Morrison
I do not accept that extreme description, but I am going into the case taking into account that point of view. If aliens come to this country and expect to be trusted, they must behave themselves.
Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that some of these men have lived in this country practically all their lives?
§ Mr. Kirkwood
Is there any truth in the hon. lady's statement that some of these men go mad as the result of being in prison?