§ 8.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Stokes (Ipswich)
At the very outset, I apologise to the Government for having given them such short notice of my intention to raise this matter. However, as everybody who is familiar with this House knows, if a back bencher does not seize these opportunities when they are offered he may have to wait many a long day before he can raise topics which, for him, are of vital importance. Indeed, on this occasion, while I am still hoping it will be possible for the Under-Secretary to come here to reply, I would have been prepared to have put off my opportunity 674 but for the fact that men's lives are at stake—and at stake every day. It is not a question of waiting till next week, because things are being done about which the Foreign Office know, and about which I have been in negotiation with my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and the Under-Secretary for a very considerable period.
One of the instances I shall mention dates back to 17th May, and I think it is about time the people really knew some of the things which are being done, or which look like being done, in their name. I am not complaining that the Foreign Office are not sympathetic, but I really believe that if this House knew some of the things I shall say tonight they would assert their views in no uncertain manner. Tonight, I am not so much concerned with the application of the law on these international affairs, as that the people who are concerned in the question, particularly of forcible repatriation, shall get fair play. Even if I can get nothing but a formal reply tonight I shall be happy, because then I shall feel that I have at least ventilated the situation so that other hon. Members know what it is all about.
The first, the most simple and least obnoxious of the three questions concerns ex-German prisoners of war who are now detained in a detention camp in Germany called Adelheide, which is near Bremen. These people are not detained there for anything they have done; they are not detained because they are war criminals, or suspected war criminals: They are detained because it is thought that they might do something. In other words, it is our old friend Regulation 18B again.
The contention of these men is that they were captured as prisoners of war, and that under Clause 49 of the Geneva Convention, the detaining Power is not entitled to deprive them of their rank. I do not want to repeat the old story again, but the Attorney-General will insist that we are still at war with Germany, and therefore that we are at war with the Control Commission, because that is the legal government of Germany. These men maintain it is an intolerable position that they should be "defrocked," as it were, of their uniforms and rank, and should be retained as civilians under conditions which are not really very attractive. They say that they do not like detention, but if 675 we still continue to detain them because we are entitled to do that under the Geneva Convention as peace has not been signed, we must also either comply with the other part of the Convention and not debar them from being treated as prisoners of war, or send them back to Germany and hand them over to German civilian authorities in their own country. I hope that I shall have an answer on, that sometime in the future.
The conditions of their detention are anything but satisfactory. The camp in which they are detained is an old Luftwaffe camp. It has been disgracefully torn to pieces, I regret to say, while it was occupied by displaced persons. So much of it has been destroyed, that there is really inadequate decent living accommodation, and quite senior people are heaped together, four and five in a room, which anyone would think quite inadequate for a sixth form boy at a public school. Because they are regarded as civilians, they are made to carry out all the dirty work in the camp. They do not mind doing their own dirty work, but they also have to do the dirty work of the German police, and anyone who knows anything about the situation in Germany, will know what that means. I ask whether I can have some reasonable answer to that question at some future date, and whether at least something will be done about the living conditions. I hope that serious attention will also be paid to the claim of these men that they are still prisoners of war, and that so long as they are maintained under British control, they should be granted the full status of prisoners of war.
My second point concerns a matter I raised in this House on 26th November. I thought that I got a satisfactory answer on that occasion, which is a very rare thing, although I do not blame the Ministers, because they cannot help it. This was a very good answer. I asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs:Whether he is aware that persons detained for suspected war crimes at Hamburg Fishbeck are liable to be returned to the country of origin of the person against whom the offence was committed; and how he reconciles this practice with the accepted ruling that war criminals are to be tried in the countries where the crimes were committed.The reply I received from the Under-Secretary of State was: "No it was not 676 so." In other words, that they were not being sent back to be tried in the country of origin of the person against whom the offence was committed. He said:No. It is the practice for war criminals to be tried in the countries where the crimes were committed."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th November, 1947; Vol. 444, c. 290.]That was fine, but two days later I received a letter from the Under-Secretary of State, from which it appears that this decision was reversed. He states:In my view, the Moscow Declaration was not designed to cover crimes committed in Germany. The relevant passage stated that Germans who had taken part in war crimes 'will be sent back to the countries in which their abominable deeds were done, in order that they may be judged and punished according to the laws of these liberated countries and of the free governments which will be set up therein.'Here we have some 2,000 men—the last time I was there was at the beginning of October—who are either identified war criminals or are suspected of having committed war crimes. I do not complain about the camp conditions. They have an admirable camp commandant, and the conditions of life are perfectly all right, so far as they can be in detention, but there is this big complaint that they have understood—and I have always understood—that the intention of the Yalta Agreement, and the subsequent enlargement of it at Moscow, was that war criminals should be sent for trial in the country where the crime was committed. That is perfectly fair. I think that it was also intended that, when they arrived at the other end, they should also get a fair trial. That is another point, however, which I will come to in my third case.
What is happening is that in addition to sending these German men back—some civilians, some ex-soldiers and some soldiers who have not yet been demobilised—to the scene of their crimes for trial, we are also returning men who were said to have committed crimes against the people of other nations in Germany to the country of origin of the person against whom the crime was committed. That surely is wrong. For example, a German is alleged to have committed a crime against a Pole in Hanover. To me it is absurd to say that he has to go to Warsaw to be tried. Most of the evidence is available in Hanover from the German-speaking population, the accused man is a German, and he is in his own country. His only chance of defending himself is 677 to produce evidence from the German population and to have his own German advocate. But he is neither allowed to take witnesses with him to Warsaw, nor is he allowed to take his advocate.
We get the most unfair situation that a man may be had up for an alleged crime, and be sent where he has no chance of defending himself, to be tried in an altogether different country. I submit that that was never the intention of the Moscow understanding or of the Yalta Agreement. I recollect that in this House it has often been argued by lawyers, of whom I am not one, that "The moment you specify you also exclude." I remember arguments on the Education Bill, when people tried to get their pet equipment put into the schools—some wanted wireless sets and others cinemas—that the moment you specified that schools must have cinemas, if you did not also specify that they must also have baths, they could not be allowed to have baths, because once you specify you exclude. Therefore if the crime was committed in Germany, they should be tried in Germany.
The reason why the Moscow Agreement was set up was because it was realised that it would be unfair against people against whom crimes were committed in foreign countries, if the people were not tried in the countries where the alleged crimes were committed. I do not object to that, but I think that it is utterly wrong to take people up and send them away where they have not got their evidence and have not got their defence.
§ Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)
Would the hon. Gentleman explain what he means by a fair trial?
§ Mr. Stokes
I will not try to slip over that one, but I am complaining at the moment at this application of the Moscow finding. It is absurd in this House to quote instances for which one cannot give chapter and verse, but I want the House to know that very responsible people in Germany—British people—some of them responsible for the detention of these people, have told me that they are fairly confident that the people who are turned out and handed over for export—if it is not too nasty a term to use in connection with human beings—in their opinion, in practically every case, have never crossed the frontier but have been "bumped off" before they got there.
§ Mr. Sargood (Bermondsey, West)
Can the hon. Member inform the House whether his informant gave him specific cases?
§ Mr. Stokes
I am going back on Saturday, and I am trying to get specific cases. I would be glad to inform not only the House but my hon. Friend when I get them. This came hot from the horse's mouth, and I do not think there is any doubt about it. I hope to get something of greater detail which will be published when I conic back. I hope my hon. Friend on the Treasury bench will press the Foreign Secretary to see that this misapplication of the Moscow finding is stopped. It is quite clear to my mind that it was never intended to be handled in that way, and I hope a decision will be taken at once and that the camp commandants will be told immediately because this thing is going on day by day.
The third matter in the same sort of style which I want to bring up deals with the Yugoslavs of whom there are still about 100 in the Munster lager somewhere halfway between Hamburg and Hanover. I took this matter up in May with the Minister of State, who, I think, was then Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, on the question of the forcible repatriation of these people from Italy. At that time, owing to the fact that Italy was under the dual control of America and ourselves, forcible repatriation could not take place, because, after one or two cases, the Americans clamped down on it and refused to agree to anyone being forcibly repatriated on any ground whatsoever, which is my point of view.
I am not suggesting that, where there is a bad man who has really done wicked, evil things like murder and torture, he should be put up at a Ritz Hotel and allowed to stay there in luxury. I say that the principle behind all this is that these arrangements were that the criminals should be sent to be tried in the place where the crime was committed always on the understanding that they would get a fair trial when they got there in accordance with the laws then existing in that country. If it were found, in fact, that a repatriated person was not getting a fair trial then not one more would be sent back. I take it that that was the reason, though I am not in touch with the State Department, why the Americans 679 refused after one or two instances to send anybody back from Italy.
Time passed, and owing to the fact that we had to get out of Italy by the end of July because the Peace Treaty was signed, the question arose as to what what would happen to all these people who were milling about in Italy, and there were still a number of them there. Eventually it was decided to transfer some 15,000, I think, from the displaced persons' camps in Italy to the British zone in Germany. Of course, this pleased these people because they thought that they were getting further way from danger through going West and that everything would be all right. Of course, that was not it at all. I saw this point and I put it into my correspondence with the Foreign Office. These people because they were going further to the West were not going out of danger at all. In Italy the dual writ of the United States and ourselves ran, but in the British zone only the British writ runs. The people who were transferred from the camps in Italy to the camps in Germany had only to be sent on at British direction. I am not accusing the Foreign Secretary of doing that, but it would seem like that particularly to the people who have been transferred.
There are about 100 of these people. Thirty-nine of them, according to the Under-Secretary, are to be let out immediately because they are not identifiable with anybody on a particular list against whom there is said to be a crime. There are still 100 of them left and their cases are under consideration now. I want to remind the House that that part of the world always was in a mess. I well remember the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) during the war coming down to this House and standing at the Box saying with a light on his face that he had great news that morning for the House and the country because a young nation had found its soul. These were the people about whom I am speaking. They came in and fought for us against the Germans. Subsequently, when Tito came they fought against him too. I do not deny that.
I am not arguing individual cases but the principle. I do not know the individual cases. I have had stacks of papers sent to me but I am not competent to judge the facts unless I am given all 680 the evidence, which naturally enough the Foreign Office are not prepared to hand over to me. There is always a muddle in Yugoslavia. I remember that when the right hon. Member for Woodford said that I made the simple monosyllabic remark, "Bunk." I had quite recently returned from that area and I knew that those people always fought one another and were always in a frightful mess, and the idea of any kind of unity among them was absurd, as in fact proved to be the case.
What has happened is this. Some thousands of these people were brought over to the British zone of Germany from whom this small handful of people have been weeded as being wanted on a list sent in by the Yugoslav Government. They have been screened. The process of screening means that the individual is told the reason why he is wanted. As far as I understand—I cannot verify this because I have not been there since the screening—he is given as much information as the Foreign Office have about his case, and when the screening is completed, the case goes for consideration to the Commander-in-Chief or the legal Department at Herford in Germany. I do not want to say anything against an hon. and gallant Member of this House or any of the screening team. I want to put it this way, that if I were a suspect—I might well be one day; we never know—and I found that I was to be tried or screened by people who had been my political enemies only—the sort of thing they do in Northern Ireland—however honourable I thought the chap or the members of the screening team, I would still think them unsuitable people to act as a jury for me. Surely that is right?
I am afraid that this screening team contains a lot of people who are pro-Tito, which means that all the poor fellows locked up in close confinement—there is no question of their getting out—are being examined by their enemies. That makes the screening unsatisfactory. However much we may assure them that everyone in the team is of top class honour, they are always so terrified lest in the course of giving their reasons why they are not the person whom they are thought to be or why they did not do the things alleged to have been done, they will complicate matters for other people in Yugoslavia against whom retri- 681 butive action will be taken if the information gets out. With the complication of having screeners they distrust and the fear that something will get back to Yugoslavia, possibly they do not always make their best case at their screening.
Assume that somebody must be sent back. I do not accept that, but I assume it for the purpose of this argument. He has been screened, examined and interrogated, and the legal authorities under the British Army in Germany have decided that he is a person who on account of his actions ought to go back to Yugoslavia. Before the man is sent back, he ought to be told the actual reasons why the legal authorities came to that decision and if he still has something up his sleeve, should be given an opportunity to say what it is. They all know they will be bumped off if they go back. None of them is in any doubt at all that he is going back to certain death—every one of them, innocent and guilty, and some of them very well-known people. Knowing they are going to be bumped off, probably they will come clean if given this opportunity and will divulge any further information they may have which may be in defence of themselves. They might not—I do not know—but certainly they should be told the specific reasons, not just before they are being handcuffed and shoved into a train, but in time to enable them to say that they have another argument which should be considered before they are hurried off to their death.
I should prefer the Foreign Secretary to recognise that nobody should be sent back to Yugoslavia at the present time for the very simple reason that there are no fair trials there. Others may think otherwise, but the laws of advocacy have been altered there. It is now laid down in Yugoslavia that a competent advocate may not act primarily in the interests of the person he is defending, but in the interests of the State. That of course is fantastic. I have not managed to get the law but I have written for it and it may come some day. I will quote what a paper called "Politika," published in Belgrade on the 30th December, 1946, says about the new form of advocacy applicable now. With regard to the advocate, it says:His sole duty is to discover the truth in a concrete case in collaboration with the organs of public authority. In this quality 682 his only counsel to his client is that he must truthfully expose all the facts, in order to discover the truth and justice. In this manner advocacy rises and becomes an excellent collaborator of public authority.Of course it does, but it does not give the poor defendant much chance. The newspaper article concludes:In all important offices of the State there are former advocates of our country. In removing the unconscientious, a new type of advocacy must be created—public advocacy.So my claim is not that these chaps, if we really think they are bad hats, should be set free and allowed to roam at large over Europe, but that they should be detained until we can be satisfied that they get a fair trial on right lines.
§ Mr. E. Fletcher
May I interrupt once more in order to get clear what my hon. Friend regards as a fair trial? Would he, for example, regard the Nuremburg trials as fair trials of war criminals?
§ Mr. Speaker
Might I interrupt here? I have listened with some attention. On these Adjournment Debates there must be some responsibility on a Minister of this country and not on a Minister of another country.
§ Mr. Stokes
The argument I am submitting, Mr. Speaker, is not that I am appealing to the Foreign Secretary to get the Yugoslav Government to change its mind, but to say that he is wrong in his interpretation of a decision at Yalta or Moscow that people should be sent back for trial unless they get a fair crack of the whip when they get there. I am not bringing in the Foreign Secretary of a foreign Power at all; I am merely saying that so long as a fair trial is not the order of the day in these countries, then the Foreign Secretary, in whose power these people are at the present time, should not send them back.
§ Mr. Blackburn (Birmingham, King's Norton)
On a point of Order. I am anxious to get an elucidation of that Ruling because it is a matter of grave importance. I find great difficulty with the Chair in getting questions through about what is happening in Europe for the very reason, Sir, that you have stated tonight. I hope that your Ruling does not involve the fact that we must not refer 683 to events which are occurring in foreign countries merely because we cannot directly saddle the Minister with responsibility.
§ Mr. Speaker
The Rule of the Adjournment is quite clear, that there must be Ministerial responsibility here, and any comments made on that must refer to Ministerial responsibility. We may not talk about affairs in foreign countries unless we have some direct interest here.
§ Mr. Stokes
I am only referring to actions in Yugoslavia in support of my argument that the Foreign Secretary should continue the detention of anybody he considers to have a prima facie case against him, because that is what the legal people decided—that they should be continued in detention in Germany until we can satisfy ourselves that there is a fair trial at the other end. I do not suggest for a moment that it is the Foreign Secretary's responsibility to arrange a fair trial. He cannot control that. At the same time this ruling was made before the situation with regard to advocacy was changed. The change in the laws took place in Autumn, 1946, which was years after these people were captured.
In conclusion, the attitude of mind which has been expressed to me since I first took up this case that we are only sending really bad men back, men whom we would condemn ourselves here, does not seem to me to meet the case at all. I quite agree, if there is a prima facie case, the man ought to go back if he gets a fair trial, but it is not for us to excuse ourselves Pontius Pilate-like by saying, "If he were tried here, this chap would be for the gallows." That will not do. That is the Foreign Secretary acting as gaoler, counsel for the defence, counsel for the prosecution, jury, judge and executioner. It is surely quite a wrong approach. I ask my hon. Friend to ask his right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary to search the records of these rulings, whatever they may be, and to have regard to what other countries are doing. The United States, particularly, are refusing to send anyone back at all, because they are not satisfied that they would get a fair trial. If my right hon. Friend does that, I believe he will be striking a real blow in the interests of humanity.
§ 9.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Erie Fletcher (Islington, East)
I think the House will agree that my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) has rendered a considerable service in raising this subject on the unexpectedly early adjournment we have had this evening. I am not sure that I am in agreement with his remarks because, for one thing, it was not obvious to me to what conclusion his remarks led. I gathered from what he said that he did not regard the Nuremberg trials as being fair trials of war criminals. He was objecting to any war criminals being sent back to some countries, but I am not sure what he would do with them.
§ Mr. Stokes
May I make the point quite clear? I find the greatest difficulty in deciding who is a war criminal. For example, is the man who lets off an atomic bomb a war criminal, or not? That may be a great crime against humanity.
§ Mr. Fletcher
Very often these things can be illustrated by a particular example, and it may serve the purpose which my hon. Friend has in mind, and perhaps the interests of the House, if I refer to a specific case of a war criminal which I raised in a Question to my right hon. Friend but which, unfortunately for me, was dealt with by way of a circulated reply on Monday of this week, thereby depriving me of the opportunity of pursuing it further. But I will do so now, in order to illustrate the principle which we are discussing. I have in mind the case of Dr. Wedislaw Dering, a German subject, who is on the list of serious war criminals that had been prepared by three different countries. His name appears in three lists, the United Nations War Crimes Commission No. 13 of August, 1945, No. 16 of November, 1945, and No. 50 of December, 1946. Each time the charges were listed against him by Czechoslovakia, by France, and by Poland. His name also appears on a list of perpetrators of crime at the notorious Auschwitz Concentration Camp compiled by the United States authorities in Germany.
Not unnaturally, pursuant to the Moscow decisions on war criminals, Czechoslovakia, France and Poland have all applied for the extradition of this gentleman, who happens to be in this country at the present time, as a serious 685 war criminal listed by Czechoslovakia, France, Poland and the United States. His extradition has been asked for in order that, in accordance with the Moscow decisions on war criminals, he shall be handed over to be judged on the spot by the people whom he has outraged. As he cannot be handed over to the Poles, to the French and to the Czechs, the French and Czech Governments have not unnaturally ceded their claims for extradition in favour of Poland because his offences were committed in Poland at the Auschwitz Concentration Camp against Poles.
What are the offences? Whilst we are all agreed that we are anxious to see justice done, and anxious not to have people sent back where we can be certain they will not get a fair trial, we are equally concerned to see war criminals brought to justice. The offences against humanity of Dr. Wedislaw Dering are notorious. His name is notorious among the former inmates of the death camp at Auschwitz, notably in Poland, France and Czechoslovakia. There is hardly a book or memoir about that concentration camp in which his name is not mentioned. In one book, published in Italy, he is described as a "main expert in murdering people." A book by Dr. Philip Friedmann, who was himself imprisoned in this camp, states that "castration operations were performed by German S.S. camp doctors and by a prison doctor, Dr. Dering, who was released from prison at the beginning of 1944." He is accused by these respective Governments of having carried out sterilisation and similar pseudo-scientific operations on a vast scale, causing indescribable sufferings to his victims, of having selected people for the gas chambers, and of having generally treated camp inmates in a most cruel and inhuman way. He is accused of having performed numerous experimental operations on men and women inmates, which caused their death or resulted in permanent mutilation.
I prefer to spare the House from further details of the outrages perpetrated by this serious war criminal, for whose extradition the Polish, French and Czech Governments have all asked, and for whose extradition the Poles are now pressing. When I raised this question in the House on Monday, I learned, with considerable surprise, that apparently the 686 Foreign Secretary, so far from granting the extradition that had been asked for, was proposing to release him in this country before long. If I may quote from the answer I was given, the Foreign Secretary stated that unless the Polish Ambassador produced additional evidence.His Majesty's Government will have no alternative but to release Dr. Dering on 1st January unless the further evidence asked for is forthcoming by that date.
§ Mr. Stokes
I have got part of the evidence in some individual cases, but not all, and that is why I kept off individual cases. May I ask my hon. Friend if he will assure me that he has all the evidence in this case?
§ Mr. Fletcher
I cannot be sure that I have all the evidence in this case. I am hoping that by ventilating one case we may get all the evidence in one case, and so test the principle that concerns my hon. Friend as to who is to decide what is to happen to these serious war criminals. Is the Foreign Secretary to decide, or is he, in accordance with our treaty obligations, where there is a prima facie case, to hand them over to the Government of the country where the crimes have been committed, or is he, if he is not satisfied about it, to release them—set them free at large in this country?
In this particular case, it so happens that both on the testimony of three foreign Governments, and on the recorded testimony of various individuals in a number of books, there would seem to be abundant prima facie evidence. Is conclusive proof about the matter wanted? What does the Foreign Secretary say? That he is not satisfied that there is a prima facie case against Dr. Dering. He goes on:… since there was also a considerable volume of evidence in his favour."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st December, 1947; Vol. 445, c. 17.]It seems to me an extraordinary commentary on our determination at the end of the war that we would bring war criminals to justice that this kind of position should now be reached. I do not know how many war criminals there are in this country. I imagine that there are not very many, but I was told that in the British zone of Germany there are between 200 and 300 whose cases, for one reason or another, have not been decided. To what length is the Foreign Secretary entitled to go before requiring further 687 evidence from the foreign Governments concerned, whether it is Poland, France, or Czechoslovakia?
If we are to adhere to the principles laid down at Moscow with regard to war criminals, then where the Government are supplied, as in this and no doubt in other cases, with prima facie evidence, they should either be extradited to the country where, in accordance with the Moscow decisions, it was arranged that the trial should take place, or some other procedure for their trial should be adopted. These people should either be brought to justice or be given an opportunity of clearing themselves. I would regard it as most unsatisfactory if the position were left where it is today in cases like the one I have mentioned.
§ 9.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Blackburn (Birmingham, King's Norton)
I am glad to have this opportunity of supporting my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) who, on many occasions, has raised very unpopular causes always in accordance with the tradition of this country, which is to try to give, wherever possible, the benefit of the doubt to anyone who is on any charge, particularly a political charge. May I say to the hon. Member for East Islington (Mr. E. Fletcher) that I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich that it is most unfortunate to go into particular cases. I have taken some note of the case which my hon. Friend mentioned. If the Foreign Office have decided that there is not a prima facie case, I do not for one moment believe that there is a prima facie case.
Surely, it is a commonplace among lawyers that if one is to decide whether there is a case to go to the jury, or a case to be adjourned from a police court to an assize, one has not merely to consider the evidence produced by the prosecution. The defence is also entitled to produce evidence, and one considers both, and takes a fair judgment upon that. I really cannot understand why my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, who is so good a supporter of the Government—perhaps I should envy him a little in that respect—should doubt that the Foreign Office comes to a fair and proper conclusion on this subject.
I wish only to deal with the third matter, the question of these 100 Yugoslavs. 688 It is perfectly clear that these men will not get a fair trial in Yugoslavia. There is no such thing as a fair trial in Yugoslavia or in any of the lands which the Soviet Union now dominate. Surely, we have learned the lessons of Furlan and Petkov, in Bulgaria, and of Mikolajczyk and his supporters in Poland. We should not in any way imitate the Czechs who recently handed back Mikolajczyk's secretary to the travesty of justice which we know will take place in Poland. While I entirely agree that all war criminals and men who have done these foul deeds ought to be properly judged, condemned and punished, at the same time I suggest that as over two years have now elapsed since the end of the war, it is a little difficult to understand, if these men are such foul war criminals, why they have not already been brought to trial. Justice should be reasonably speedy. We admit in these cases that it is not easy to bring men to trial straight away; let us allow a few months; but it is intolerable that, over two years after the end of the war, and sometimes three, four and even five years after the alleged crimes were committed, people should still be brought up on these charges. I feel it is high time that this business of raking up the troubles of the past should come to an end.Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.said the Psalmist, but nowadays, it seems to be "sufficient unto the year," or perhaps, "sufficient unto the decade." We are living in a noisy, destructive and troublesome world, and one hopes that people will be able to forget what happened during the war and build up for themselves a happier future.
§ Mr. E. Fletcher
How long does my hon. Friend think it will be before the Polish compatriots of these people who suffered will be able to forget?
§ Mr. Blackburn
I do not for one moment think it will be possible for them to forget, but we do not judge justice by feelings of vengeance, and it is surely the first principle of law—and my hon. Friend is a Doctor of Law and a man of great distinction in this subject—that no man should be judged in his own court. That is the first principle of natural justice, and that is precisely the principle which we are contravening if we say that we are sending this man back to be tried by the people whom he wronged. Therefore, I 689 suggest that it would be far better to have an independent tribunal. It was said by the late Lord Palmerston"Civis Romanus sum, civis Britannicus sum."Whatever this country has stood for, it has always stood for the principles of justice and freedom, and I am horrified to think that, in this case of the Yugoslavs, we should have gone back on our cousins overseas, the Americans. Let us always lead the rest of the world in giving justice and freedom wherever these are needed.
May I finish on this note. There is no one who feels more keenly the essential case for which my hon. Friend has spoken than my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary himself. On the only day he spoke upon this very matter, he said there was a marked feeling in the country that he had himself gone too far in appeasement. I fully support the Foreign Office in the actions they take to 690 deal with this matter, but I hope they will certainly not hand over these men to the travesty of justice which exists in that country. At the end of the war, it is indeed a sad thing to find that we have defeated one form of totalitarianism only to see half of Europe now gripped in the same disease.
§ Mr. Stokes
May I ask my hon. Friend whether he is aware, since he mentioned the period of two years having elapsed since the war, that the agreement recently signed at Bled with the Yugoslavs states that no new names for forcible repatriation may be sent in after 8th November, a date now passed?
§ Adjourned accordingly at Twenty-three Minutes past Nine o'Clock.