HC Deb 20 March 1947 vol 435 cc572-3
20. Mr. Symonds

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is now prepared to allow selected German prisoners to volunteer to remain for work in this country as alien civilians after their normal repatriation dates.

Mr. Ede

In any case where the Minister of Labour is satisfied that it is desirable that a German prisoner should remain here to work as a civilian, my consent to his stopping in this country will be given, unless there should be some special reason to the contrary connected with the character or conduct of the individual man.

Mr. Osbert Peake

Would it not be better to give some preference to our friends of the late war rather than to permit our ex-enemies to be free to remain here in this way?

Mr. Ede

I do what I can to help those of our late Allies who wish to come here. This is not bringing people here who are now overseas, but retaining people who are already in this country.

Sir F. Sanderson

If prisoners of war are to be allowed to volunteer to remain in this country to work, will the right hon. Gentleman allow them to remove their identity patches?

Mr. Ede

That has nothing to do with me.

Mr. Sydney Silverman

Would my right hon. Friend consider, bearing in mind the answer he has just given, a fact to which I drew his attention a little while ago, that there are scattered all over the world solitary individuals whose sole remaining relatives are in this country? They amount to a few hundred, a very small percentage of the people concerned, and will he not reconsider them?

Mr. Ede

The number of people to whom my hon. Friend alludes is far more than a few hundred, judging by the correspondence and applications which I have received. These prisoners—and it does not follow that every German prisoner is going to be allowed to remain under this arrangement—are people who can make a definite contribution to the economic life of the country at the present moment.

Mr. Peake

Am I to understand from the right hon. Gentleman's reply that these men will be given permission to remain here indefinitely, and to acquire naturalisation papers?

Mr. Ede

No, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman should not draw either of those conclusions from what I have said. He will know very well that permission to stay in this country is always given for a limited time, and, in any event, it will be some time before any of these men qualify for consideration for naturalisation.

Mr. Kirkwood

From the questions and replies on this matter, is it not evident to the House, as it should be to the entire world, that this country of ours is not on the verge of financial bankruptcy, because all and sundry are so anxious to get into it?

Mr. Ede

I thank my hon. Friend for drawing the obvious deduction from all the supplementary questions.

Forward to