HC Deb 11 June 1959 vol 606 cc1175-6
51. Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when Klaus Fuchs will complete the sentence of imprisonment which he is now serving; and whether he will then be allowed to leave this country.

54. Lieut.-Colonel Cordeaux

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether Dr. Klaus Fuchs, on release from his present sentence of 14 years' imprisonment, will be permitted to leave the United Kingdom.

Mr. R. A. Butler

Allowing for normal remission, Klaus Fuchs will complete his sentence at the end of June. He was, on his conviction, a naturalised British subject, but he was thereafter deprived of his British Nationality. It will not be for Her Majesty's Government to determine where he should live after his discharge from prison.

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

Can my right hon. Friend assure the House that the knowledge of secret affairs which this man once possessed is unlikely at this stage to be of any further value to potential enemies?

Mr. Butler

Yes. I have looked into this matter. I remind my hon. and gallant Friend that Fuchs has been out of touch with nuclear work for the ten years he has been in prison. Any knowledge he may have had when he went to prison is out of date, in view of the vast developments which have taken place in that field during the last ten years.

Lieut.-Colonel Cordeaux

Whilst fully appreciating that Fuchs' knowledge must be now quite out of date, bearing in mind the fact that at the time of his arrest Fuchs was Deputy Chief Scientific Officer at Harwell and at the time of his trial was described by Sir Hartley Shawcross as "this brilliant scientist", is my right hon. Friend absolutely satis- fied that his brain will be of no future use to the Russians?

Mr. Butler

I cannot extend my influence as far as that. I can only give the information which I have been able to collect, and I do not think that it is possible to take any other course than that which we are now taking.

Mr. Gordon Walker

What powers would the right hon. Gentleman have to stop this man, or anyone else who is not actually under trial or conviction, leaving the country? Are there any powers to do it?

Mr. Butler

If Fuchs wishes to leave the country he could, in theory, as an alien be refused leave to embark under the Aliens Order. I should like to add that, as a matter of policy, it seems wrong in principle to attempt to use that power to prevent a man whom we have deprived of British nationality leaving the United Kingdom if he so desires.

Mr. H. Morrison

As this man has been deprived of British nationality, is it not within the power of Her Majesty's Government to return him to his country of origin or to deport him in some way or another, because some of us at any rate feel that this was such a wicked case of ungratefulness and disloyalty that the country would be well rid of him?

Mr. Butler

I have investigated the answer to that question also. In law, Fuchs could be deported but no other country can be required to accept a stateless deportee. Therefore, the power of deportation is not effectively available in this case.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Is Fuchs' correct legal status that of an alien? Should he wish to remain in this country, would he have to go through the ordinary apparatus which any alien who wishes to remain here has to discharge in order to stay?

Mr. Butler

Yes. As I said in my earlier answer, Fuchs is in theory an alien.