HC Deb 05 March 1952 vol 497 cc405-6
16. Mr. Fernyhough

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs on what grounds 42 Nazi war criminals, most of whom were members of Himmler's Gestapo guards at the concentration camps, were released in December, 1951, by the British authorities in Germany.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

It was decided last December that the period of time spent by war criminals in custody awaiting trial should be counted towards sentence. As a result of this decision, it was found that 42 war criminals had already completed their sentences; they were accordingly released on 22nd December. The prisoners released were all serving comparatively short sentences; 21 of them had been guards at concentration camps.

Mr. Fernyhough

In view of the leniency and clemency which has been shown to these thugs and murderers, can the Minister now give an assurance that those British citizens who are imprisoned as a result of crimes arising out of the war will now receive the same lenient treatment?

Mr. Lloyd

In no case has any man convicted of a war crime of the first order been released. They were mostly accessories to crimes, and the reason for taking this decision was to bring our practice into line with that prevailing in other zones.

Mr. Barnett Janner

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman still in agreement with the policy outlined in a reply given by the Under-Secretary on 29th January, 1951, when he said that there could be no question of an amnesty to people convicted of brutal crimes against humanity? Will he see that that policy is practised both in the letter and the spirit?

Mr. Lloyd

There is no question of an amnesty in this.