HC Deb 21 June 1951 vol 489 cc685-6
19. Brigadier Medlicott

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if his attention has been drawn to the proposal to allow two American children, aged four and five years respectively, to attempt to swim the English Channel this summer and to prepare for this attempt at a holiday camp in Great Britain; and if, with a view to preventing the exploitation and commercialisation of these two young children in this country, he will refuse permission to the parents of the children to land in Great Britain.

Mr. Ede

The information available, which is derived from Press reports, does not suggest that there are likely to be grounds for refusing leave to land to this family. But if they come to this country it will be for the immigration officer to ascertain what are the intentions of the parents and, if it is decided to grant leave to land, to attach suitable conditions.

Brigadier Medlicott

Is the Home Secretary aware that it has been stated that these children are being flown to Europe tomorrow, and that there will be widespread support on both sides of the Atlantic for anything which can be done to prevent what, according to our standards, would certainly be cruelty to children?

Sir H. Williams

Is it not the case that the elder of these children is an infant prodigy and has swum successfully many miles, and that their father, who is a trainer in swimming, wants to develop these children?

Mr. Ede

That may well be so, but I cannot help thinking that swimming the Channel at that early age is rather a severe test even for an infant prodigy.