§ LORD BERESFORD had the following Notice on the Paper—
§ To call attention to the number of uninterned aliens in the country, and to ask whether a Return can be given of uninterned aliens; whether a Return can be given of the number of aliens who were naturalised since the war; if it can be stated how many naturalised aliens are employed in Government offices; whether particulars can be given of Mr. Wendt, at present serving under the Road Board; whether he is of German birth, what salary he is getting, and what work he is doing, and who were the persons who undertook to be sponsors for his loyalty; can a Return be given of the number of Germans who have changed their names during the last five years, and whether enemy aliens are now permitted to change their names; who is the official at the Home Office to whom the powers are entrusted for relaxing regulations laid down as regards visits to prisoners of war or interned aliens; to ask for particulars as to the storage of coal by Baron Schroeder; what amount of coal he had ordered during 1917–1918; what amount of coal was found to be in his possession; whether he got permission from the Coal Controller to buy the coal; has the coal been removed, and if not, can a reason be given; and to move for Papers.
§ The noble and gallant Lord said: My Lords, the question which I wish to bring before your Lordships this afternoon is, I think I may say, predominant in the public mind at the present moment. There is considerable anxiety and great irritation in the country on this matter, and I am well aware that when there is irritation and anxiety people are very likely to exaggerate cases and make more of them than perhaps there is in them; but I think the Government are a great deal to blame for the present state of affairs. They have created suspicion and anxiety. They have never put forward a clear and definite policy with regard to these aliens, and they have certainly answered Questions both here and in the other House by most evasive replies.
§ Many people have taken up this subject since the war began, both in this House and in the other House. Personally I think 650 this is the fifth time on which I have brought it before Parliament—three times in the other House, and once before in this House. Towards the end of 1914, when I brought the matter before the House of Common, immediately after the loss of the "Aboukir," the "Cressy" and the "Hogue"—three cruisers which I have always been firmly of opinion were sunk through the action of spies—I had in one fortnight 3,026 letters. When I tell your Lordships this, I wonder what on earth the Prime Minister's letter bag must be like since he said he would look personally into this question. I have also had hundreds of letters since I placed this Motion on the Paper. I only mention these facts in order to show your Lordships how exercised the public mind is on the matter. The Government Press has now taken it up—even members of the Government who own newspapers. There are large meetings being held all over the country, and larger meetings are going to be held. I have received several resolutions passed by civic authorities without a single dissentient calling attention to the matter. I think that at last these facts have aroused the Government. I am firmly convinced that if the Prime Minister had not said he would look personally into the question the Government would have lost Clapham at the recent by-election. It is wonderful what effect the losing of votes or the thought of losing votes has upon a Government at all times.
§ I can assure your Lordships that the public are in grim earnest in this matter. They do not want any more compromises. They want to make the Government recognise that there is still an aliens danger in the country, whatever may have been done heretofore to remove it. The Government have shown that they are realising it to a certain extent, because they recalled the Home Secretary from The Hague and set up a Committee. I should like to ask the Government whether we are going to have the Report of that, Committee. I also want to know why they have a Committee. The Government ought to have known all about this subject for the last four years. They have all the facts, and all the means of getting the facts. A Committee only causes delay, and personally I very much dislike government by Committees. We have had government by Committees for too many things in this war. The duty of the Government is 651 to govern and not to turn things over to Committees.
§ The official report of these aliens, as far as I understand, is this. There are 12,600 uninterned aliens, and 6,600 of these are Germans. It is of the Germans that I desire particularly to speak. I wish to be moderate and not to exaggerate. If I do exaggerate I shall be forgiven by the House for the simple reason that I am a British sailor, and I can never forget the inhuman atrocities that have been perpetrated upon my brothers of the sea, the men of the Mercantile Marine. The remainder of the 12,600 are Austrians, Turks, and Bulgarians. For the life of me I cannot understand why these people are loose now. We have no respect for the Turks. They murdered a whole nation. The Bulgarians are as brutal as the Germans, and the Austrians are very nearly as bad. The Return says that they have 3,000 British wives. I want to know how many Englishmen have German wives. That has not been stated in any Return. I see no return of women aliens, yet they are far more dangerous than men. In this sort of work they are far cleverer, much more energetic, and much more likely than men are to get and to give news. I remember my noble friend Lord Crawford telling me that he did not think I should get much out of this debate.
§ LORD BERESFORD
I do not say he said exactly that, but words to the same effect. He said he would not tell me anything with relation to policy.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
In consenting on Thursday last to the noble Lord's Motion, I merely said that I could not guarantee that the Government would be in a position to make a statement of policy to-day. That is all I said.
§ LORD BERESFORD
My noble friend has put it in much more Parliamentary language than I did. But that is what I understood him to say. What I ask him to do is to answer my Questions. That is not a declaration of policy. I agree with my noble friend so far as the declaration of policy is concerned. I know that there is going to be a debate in the other House, and certainly the proper person to answer these Questions is the Minister who is responsible—the Home Secretary. I agree 652 with my noble friend that it would be better for a declaration of policy to be made in the other House than here, but I think I might ask very respectfully for an answer to my Questions which have been down on the Order Paper now for over three weeks. Germans are in every Department of the State. What I mean by "a German" is a German with a German father and a German mother. That is what I mean by a person of German origin. He is a German and always will be a German, whatever he professes. In addition, Germans are in every financial department, every industrial department, and every commercial department.
I have often wondered what on earth the Germans went to war for. Had they only waited another ten or twelve years they would have had the whole world in their hands, so far as industrial, commercial, and financial resources go. They would have been absolutely masters of the situation. Such control had they over our finances that, within a few days after war was declared, we had to naturalise a certain Baron Schroeder, an out-and-out German, to prevent a panic in the City in our own finance. I do not wish to give any further illustrations of my argument. Germans are doing important work in the gun factories, they have immense influence in Parliament and in society, and high social position gives a certain amount of power.
Look at the difference between this country and Germany. By November, 1914, there was not a single British subject free in Germany. I wish that there had been a parallel case in this country, and that no Germans had then been free here. What should we call Englishmen supposing they became naturalised Germans, loudly proclaimed their undying patriotism in Germany, and cited as proofs their subscription to war charities, and spoke of what they had done for Germany's interests financially, while casually omitting to say that they had benefited by the financial transactions? What should we call those Englishmen? We should call them traitors. They would be traitors to their own country, and I maintain that those Germans who came over here and have done these things are traitors to their own country. Personally, I have no use for any traitors, no matter whom they may be nor to what country they belong.
I will call your Lordships' attention to the different action taken here and in the 653 United States. The German Americans have formed a brigade of Germans to go out and fight with America against the Germans. They have gone so far as to march under a banner which is emblazoned with a not too delicate phrase—"To Hell with the Kaiser." That is very pronounced, but I expect they mean what they say. They have denounced in the Press to the best of their ability the barbarities committed by the Germans, and particularly the cowardly atrocities on prisoners. As far as I know, not more than one single expostulation or letter has been written in this country by naturalised Germans against German barbarities in the treatment of our prisoners. I think there was one at the beginning of the war, but none since.
Then they went on the turf. Fancy a German going on the turf! There never was a sportsman in Germany yet. The German does not know a horse; he cannot ride. Why did he go on the turf? It was all part of German propaganda to get into our society, into our commercial interests and our financial interests before the war. I do not say these people did this with the object of beating us when they went to war. What they did was to get hold of power in all these ways in order to get the best of us in commercial and financial pursuits, which they would have done, but their having obtained that power was a frightful danger to us when we had to go to war. That is my argument; it is a perfectly sound one and cannot be upset. There are, I know, many people who support these Germans. I do not consider they are impartial. Some accept their hospitality, and think they are as honest as themselves. This I deny. I believe they are dangerous, and I think I can prove that they themselves are responsible for the anxiety which at present exists in the country.
It must be remembered that all these magnates are very rich and are all international financiers. This is one of the great difficulties—the power of the international financiers—that we shall have to meet after the war. Some of them have sons fighting for us in the Army, probably about 2,000, but some of the fathers are anti-British and have sons fighting against us. Those I respect; they are patriotic and honest. You cannot blame a man for fighting for his own country. I think if these magnates were to see the fitness of things they would intern themselves and stop all this bother. There is certainly 654 one law for the rich German and another for the poor German. The Home Secretary says he knows them all, but I have a list here of twenty-five who have been arrested during 1918 for offences against the law, some of them dangerous offences. All these people have been loose since the war began. It is only in April last that the seamen of Cardiff held a meeting and insisted that the Deputy Superintendent, the Board of Trade official, should be superseded. I should like to know where that man has gone.
Why are the people excited? You have only to look back. I should like to know what the influence was which allowed German Reservists to go to Germany. The Fleet was stopped in its duty. Thousands and thousands of Germans were allowed to go from America to Germany when the war began. Was that in our interests, or in the interests of Germany? What influence prevented an effective blockade at the beginning of the war? It is not a difficult question to answer. What influence prevented cotton being made contraband until nine months after the war began? The American Government in 1914 warned the Southern States that we were certain to make cotton contraband, and advised them to put their ground under other crops. What influence allowed ships with German cargo to come into our ports, and then allowed them to proceed? No wonder the people became suspicious and thought that German influence was at the bottom of it. Nobody can deny that there has been the most extraordinary leniency shown to Germans, to the detriment of our own people.
I do not wish to do anything heroic, sudden, or unfair. I do not want to break a contract. I should like to keep honourable British obligations, and not treat them as "scraps of paper." What was the contract? The contract was that we should allow them privileges, and protection, and all the advantages of British subjects, provided that these Germans became naturalised. I maintain that the naturalised aliens have brought distrust on themselves. I have here a list of forty who have been interned since the war began for offences against the Defence of the Realm Act, and other crimes of that nature. It shows, therefore, that some of these naturalised Germans have broken the contract, and it naturally makes the 655 British people suspicious as to whether they all would not break the contract if an opportunity offered. I have here a list of enemy aliens convicted in 1918—this year—and why should not their names be published as a warning to others, and in order to let the public know who they are? The way in which our hospitality and protection have been repaid has been scandalous in many cases. I do not want to do an injustice. There is bound to be some injustice done if a contract with a large number of the subjects of one nation is broken, as it has been, and we see the power and influence that people of German origin still have in this country. Let us remember this, that although we have given Germans these rights and privileges they still retain all their German privileges, and they cannot get rid of them. A German, if he returns to Germany, remains a German subject no matter what he has done over here, or what rights we have given him.
I should like also to refer to spies. I believe a large number of our ships have been and are still being put down by spies. A man who knows much more about it than myself, Sir Edward Nicholl, publicly stated that from his own knowledge he knew there were Germans working in the docks, on the quays, and going from port to port, in Swansea, Port Talbot, Cardiff, and Bristol. He said he could give the names, and perhaps he has, to the Government. Many of the missing ships which have been sunk "without trace" have been put down by spies. The most barbarous thing that has ever been done in any war is the sinking of ships without any trace. Several ships have gone out from Cardiff and Swansea and have been torpedoed, and it is going on still. The information about these ships must have come from somebody in Cardiff, Swansea and Port Talbot. Why cannot we do what Australia did? I read a speech of Mr. Hughes the other day, in which he spoke of "the garrison of caretakers" of the Germans. Australia removed all enemy influence. They have no Germans in any company, no German owns shares, or has securities; there is no ownership of any sort by Germans in the Australian Commonwealth at this moment. I am told that in proportion to population there were more Germans holding shares and securities in Australia than there were in this country. But in Australia its industries and banks are all permanently closed to enemy aliens of any sort.
656 Now I come to the banks here. I remember that in August, 1916, I had the honour to bring this subject before the attention of your Lordships, and I pointed out that we should take possession of German securities here, which were far greater at that moment than our assets in Germany. If we were going to win the war and they touched our assets in Germany, we could make them repay. I do not think much has been done. The noble Earl the Leader of the House said he would inquire into it, but I do not remember that anything was ever done. That was in August, 1916, and some of the banks are still open. I believe the Deutsche Bank and the Dresdner Bank still remain open, and possess all their power of propaganda for ofter the war. I have asked the Government if they will give us a list of the names of those who have shares and stocks in these banks. Let us know who they are. If they are British, well and good. If they are Germans or naturalised Germans, I think it is very bad. If we had a list, it would perhaps remove the doubts and suspicions which exist in the country.
There is another power in Australia which we might very well adopt here. In Australia no naturalised or unnaturalised German can have a vote unless he has served as a soldier or a nurse. They have the women's vote there. I do not know whether that would quite meet with your Lordships' approval, but I should like to see something of that sort done here. Let us look after our own British interests and not pander to these Germans. I must admit that there are some signs of sanity in the Government on one point. The Board of Trade Committee has published an excellent suggestion on British shipping after the war. What I would like to know is, Are the Government going to act on it? The suggestion is sound common sense, and will show the Germans what they are going to suffer after the war.
Reverting to spies, there is no doubt that a great number of ships have been put down through the influence of spies, but I am happy to say that the spies are being beaten as far as the submarines are concerned. The Government will not publish the Returns that we have asked for of submarine losses. The Returns that they publish now are most misleading, and are much worse than the weekly Return was. I will, however, take the liberty of telling your Lordships how satisfactorily this danger is being dealt with, but we must 657 not be too optimistic, for there are certain to be fluctuations. Five weeks ago we lost 13,900 tons a day, British, Allied, and neutral; four weeks ago we lost 12,800 tons a day, British, Allied, and neutral; two weeks ago we lost only 1,400 tons a day, British, Allied, and neutral; a week ago we lost 3,000 tons a day. These are very satisfactory figures, and I wish the Government would tell the people because such figures cheer up our seamen. There is no reason why the public should not be told. The news is very much better, and will get very much better still when the British and Americans get the large fleets of destroyers upon the water, for these are the real antidote to the submarine. It may be of course, that things will get worse; but at any rate they are very much better now than they were, and a statement to that effect should be made to encourage the seamen, many of whom have been torpedoed eight and nine times, and yet have never once refused to sign on again.
There is another point which I did not put on the Paper, but to which I would like to call attention. That is the question of the British Consuls. I hope that the Government will see the necessity of reviewing the whole procedure of the appointment of British Consuls abroad. They cannot do everything at once, but at any rate they should do this after the war. Before the war we had 1,200 British Consuls who were aliens, and of these 900 were Germans. A large number have been superseded, but I find that there are still fifty-seven Germans left. This is a very important matter affecting our commercial future, and it will be a predominating factor after the war.
A nether question I should like to ask. Is Mr. Morel still at large? I think that he was sentenced to three months imprisonment for some outrageous speech. I wrote to the Home Secretary and asked if this man was still at large. He very courteously replied that he was, and that there were no means under the law of locking him up again. If that be so, then for goodness sake let us alter the law and get people of that character locked up.
In regard to this question of the change of names and naturalisation, I ask your Lordships to reflect how dangerous it has been, and how dangerous it will be if we do not alter it. I would remind you of Trebitch Lincoln, who was a confessed 658 spy, and one of the people who were doing their best to smash this country. He actually got into our Parliament; yet that law remains unchanged at this moment. Then there is a man called Oscar Guiseman, who is naturalised. A year ago he changed his name to Rutland. I do not know if my noble friend the Duke approves of that. I certainly should not like to see "Guiseman" changed to "Beresford." I should consider it an insult. Why should he not keep his own name and not interfere with these old British names? He and his wife are now on the Parliamentary list of electors, and there is no reason why this fellow should not get into Parliament the same as Lincoln did. Your Lordships laugh, but it is a serious thing. Lincoln did get into Parliament, and he went there to try and undermine British interests. Then there is a man called Weiss. He lives down at Oatlands Park, and he turned out his chauffeur and the chauffeur's wife and six children. He broke open the window and forced an entry. The public took the matter up, and compelled him to restore these people to their home, and to put back their windows. I have a letter on this matter from a gentleman who lives there. He says—I would like to tell you of an episode which took place a couple of hundred yards from my house on Friday last—This is dated June 24, and is from a gentleman who lives at Oatlands—The whole place was raised to a state of frenzy, not only on account of the man Weiss and of what he did, but on account of the extraordinary apathy and inaction of the Government. It was most disconcerting to see residents goaded into suggesting that a not should be organised in order to make the Government do their duty,He ends up by saying—Do the Government realise that their apathy is driving people to a stale of desperation at their inexplicable leniency to aliens?I have had very many letters of that sort. They show what the feeling in the public mind is upon this question, and they also show that the Government should act, and act very soon. Many of these things come out by accident. Your Lordships may remember that in the newspapers there was a description of a man called Drickel, who was captain of a tug. It was only after he stole somebody's boots and was brought before the Court that it was discovered he was a dangerous alien.
659 I know that there are great difficulties in dealing with this matter, and I do not want to be unfair, or to add to the excitement in the country, for I do not think that would be wise. As to the difficulties that the Government have to face in dealing with neutrals, there are many German-Swiss, and many German-Belgians, and Many German-Danes. The German Danes are very dangerous. They come from Holstein. Holstein has been German since 1861, and I have been told by Danish gentlemen that the Danes would not have it back again if it was offered to them. These Holsteiners call themselves Danes, but they are German in heart and German in action. I should like to know whether the Government appreciate this difficulty, and what they are doing to meet it. I know that a Return has been given already of uninterned aliens, but I ask for a Return of those naturalised since the war. That has not been made public yet. The Government have been far too lax. It has been far too easy to arrange the naturalisation of a German, and British citizenship has been bought far too cheaply. Of course, many of these men who have come before the public, having been locked up, have had prominent men as sponsors for their honesty. What these sponsors think is that these men are as honest as themselves. I do not think they are. As far as Mr. Laszlo goes, he was perfectly honest—one of the few men who were—because he said he would never give up his affection for his own country. But, whoever the sponsors were, the Home Office had enough against him to keep him locked up, more particularly when he was bold enough to say that he liked his own country.
I ask for a Return of naturalised aliens serving in Government Offices. That, I know, will be difficult. There are a great number of them, and there are a great number of Government Offices, and I think I voice the sentiment of the public when I say that we object to anybody being employed by the Government who has a German mother and a German father. There you have a definite and straight line. We do not want to impugn their honesty; I do impugn their patriotism, because they are not patriotic to their own people. It is nothing to me to say they are patriotic to my country; I do not want them. Let them go to their own country and be patriotic there. Why should not the public know about these people? After all, we are 660 taxed; the public pay for these people. Why should not they know the character and names of the people whom they employ? I think this is a very moderate demand, and a demand that should be acceded to.
I will give a few instances which I believe are bona fide. There is a Miss Wylie at the War Office. She is a Censor. She says she is a Dane. She is one of the Holstein Danes whom I have just spoken about. She is a known pacifist, she is pro-German, and the only excuse for keeping her is that she can write and read the Danish, Swedish, and Dutch languages. I am perfectly certain you could get some Englishwoman who would do exactly the same thing—good British blood—and thus not leave this pro-German in that position. There are certain clerks at the War Office. In the First Division there is a Wilhelm Hermann Schlick—certainly not a British name; and Bouenschen is also in the First Division. In the Second Division there is a clerk called Schneider. Surely, First and Second Division clerks need not be Germans. We have plenty of Englishmen, discharged soldiers, who have done their bit at the Front. Why should not they go into these offices? They will do the work just as well, and there will be no doubt as to their patriotism. There is a Mr. Wendt, whose name I have put down in my Question. I believe there are some Peers in this House who are on the Road Board. I hope that one of them will get up and explain how it is Mr. Wendt is on the Road Board. I have some particulars of his case. I may say that since my Question was put on the Paper I have had over thirty letters about this Mr. Wendt. One man tells me, "I punched his head well before the war for abusing King Edward and extolling the German Emperor"; so Mr. Wendt would know that man.
I want to know the number of Germans who have changed their names. Why should they change their names? Is it for our benefit, or for their own? Let them stick to their own names; and if the Government wish to let them change their names, let them put after their names what they were before and let the public know who they are. You gain an enormous advantage by having a good old honest English name—an advantage over some of our own people. I find that many of these Germans have changed their names several times, and I should like to have a list of 661 those Germans. Further, a very large number of Germans since the war began have suddenly become Swiss; I should like to know the names of those. I have a list of fifty here who have changed their names since the war began. With the permission of your Lordships I will just read a few. Simon Bloomberg became Simon Barling; Joseph Dietrich became Joseph Martin; Oscar Dotzauer became Oscar Dodson; Henry Ginzburg became Henry Gledhill; Adolph Schineberg became Alfred Leslie—this man I particularly object to, because my mother's name was Leslie, and I hope he will change his name back again—James Schwarz became James Maddocks; Simha Seinbach became Samuel Stonebrook; Lionel Woolfson became Lionel Wilson. All these names that I have read out have been changed in the year 1918, and I want the men to change them back again.
I ask the Government, Who is the official at the Home Office who has power to relax the regulations on discipline concerning prisoners of war and interned aliens? This is a very serious matter. Who gives the money to all these escaped prisoners? How is it that they always come away with any amount of food, and in many cases with large sums of money? It may be these people who insist on changing their names, or it may be other aliens, but it makes the suspicion very grave, more particularly when you get a lot of what I may call silly women, with a morbid curiosity about these prisoners, who think the Germans have some characteristics better than the English, which I have never been able to discover. It ought to be stopped. They ought not to be allowed to visit them, and the people who gave permission for the regulations to be broken ought to be punished.
There was a Court-Martial on Lieut. Canning. I, as a Service man, know how very serious it must have been when a junior officer said something to his senior officer about his breaking the regulations, about the way in which these Germans were treated, and about Barons being able to get anything they liked. A junior officer who said that must have been under tremendous stress of duty. He was tried by Court-Martial—quite right—but he Was honourably acquitted. I think there are some very ugly and disquieting features about that case, and we ought to know more about it. As I have said before, a lot of these things come out by accident, and when they do come out it makes the public more suspicious and more anxious.
662 I want to call attention once more to Baron Schroeder, the man who was made a naturalised Englishman in order to save the fortunes of this great country because the Germans had such a hold on it. What coal did he order in 1917 and 1918, why did he order it, who gave him permission, and what was it for? I know the neighbourhood and the people, and I know that a great number of people there cannot get a hundredweight of coal. I have a big house, and I am allowed only 15 tons in a year. I do not complain, but why is Schroeder allowed 646 tons? To grow his orchids, or anything else? It is absolutely wrong. That is the sort of thing for which there can be absolutely no excuse, and that is what is exasperating the public. The Government have been warned more than once that their present policy with regard to aliens has made the nation angry. It has exasperated the public. The Government will have to revise the naturalisation laws as soon as they can, and on the lines which the public demand.
I hope that all my Questions will be answered. I think that answers to some of of them may allay excitement and exaggeration; anyway, if they are answered it will show that the Government are in earnest at last. I claim that the- birthright of "British born" should not be jeopardised by the unwanted intrusion of people of enemy origin, many of whom have broken their contract. One of the saddest times in my life was some twenty years ago when I stood at the dock-head of a great ocean-going seaport whence great ships went to sea. There I saw two ships of heavy tonnage. One was taking abroad the finest specimens of British manhood—artisans, mechanics, and agricultural labourers; the other was discharging into our country the scum of Europe. It is from this that we have suffered. Therefore I hope that the naturalisation laws will be altered, and that we shall not in the future send our best away and receive in return such aliens as I have described.
§ LORD BUCKMASTER
My Lords, the long public record of the noble and gallant Lord who has asked the Questions that stand in his name on the Paper is a sufficient guarantee that his action can be promoted only by a sincere desire to serve the public interest; yet I cannot help thinking 663 that, when he reflects on some of the things that he has said, he will recognise that the state of public feeling, which he rightly regards as irritated and inflamed, can hardly be soothed and quieted by some of those statements. If, for instance, it were true that the action of our Foreign Office is, or ever had been, dictated or influenced in anyway by German influence; if it were true that our Civil Service was the home for a number of justly suspected people; if it were true that our gallant merchant seamen went to sea with their fate foredoomed by the operation of German spies—if these things were true, there certainly would be grave reason for uneasiness and apprehension among the people of this country. But although the noble and gallant Lord said that German influence permeated society and influenced Parliament, and although he made the other statements to which I have referred, I could not find one of the cases that he quoted which in the least degree justified any such statements being made. If, in fact, there be information in his possession which was his warrant for the extreme and grave utterances that he made, I think that it would have been well if some of it had been placed before your Lordships' House, and that he should have given us something more worthy of consideration than the references he gave to a man like Mr. Wendt, about whom I know nothing, or, still more, to a lady, whose case is probably utterly unknown to any member of the Government who will answer this Question, but who may, none the less, awake to-morrow to find herself pilloried before the public by a statement which she has never had an opportunity of examining or of answering.
The noble and gallant Admiral seemed to think that the action in this matter of both this Government and of the Government that preceded it is not only culpably lenient but that its culpability is the result of some unseen and hidden influence; and, indeed, I gather that his idea is that public safety can be obtained only by some drastic measure of wholesale internment of every person in this country who is of German origin. Let us look for a moment at what the true facts are. The noble and gallant Lord mentioned that 2,000 people, many of whom would be interned if his wishes were carried into effect, had sons serving in our Forces. Yes; and some of them, no doubt, were compelled to serve by the operation of the Military Service Acts, but many 664 more served voluntarily—came willingly to the Colours to serve the country of their adoption—have died for us, and have earned our gratitude and respect no less than your own sons by whom they were led and by whose side they died. Does the noble and gallant Admiral suggest that we shall show our gratitude by incarcerating their fathers, by putting their wives into prison if they happen to be Germans, and by causing havoc and devastation among every one of their relations who cannot satisfy a criterion of British citizenship which may be so severe that few people can satisfy it? I myself speak without apprehension; I think the person would be clever who could find anywhere in my ancestry the faintest drop of foreign blood of any kind. But I think it is unfortunate that you should attempt to place a period within which a man is to cleanse himself of the taint and offence of foreign birth.
The real thing is this: Are these people who are here now, and who are uninterned, people whom our Intelligence Departments believe to be dangerous to the State? If they are, they should be shut up without delay. If they are not, what reason is there for taking them wholesale, away from their work and their families, and interning them? The only reason of which I can think is that which the noble and gallant Lord himself gave—namely, that he does not trust these people because of their names and their associations. But does he always know why these people came here? In many cases they came because they dislike the very system which this war intends to destroy; in many cases they came because they were not prepared to endure Germany tyranny any longer, and wanted to enjoy some of the privileges of British liberty. They came here, as thousands of people from all parts of Europe have come to this country during the whole of its history, because this is the place where a man may find freedom from oppression and redress for wrong. Are you then to say, "Oh, Yes; now that you are here and war has broken out, we will pay no attention whatever to your testimonials of good citizenship; we will pay no attention whatever to your history since you have been in this country; we will pay no regard to the sacrifices you have made to help us to continue the war; the mere fact that you have a name which I do not like and cannot pronounce is a sufficient reason why you should be taken away and interned"? 665 That has never been the policy of this country in any one of it's great crises.
There are, after all, some things at stake in this country as big as the things for which we are fighting in France—that we should maintain unimpaired and unpolluted the great traditions of British justice; that we should measure a man according to his real worth; that we should not punish on the ground of suspicion, but only when guilt is proved, and not allow ourselves to be swept away by either clamour or noise into doing something which at the bottom of our hearts we know to be unjust. I suggest to the noble and gallant Admiral that he should remember a great utterance of one of our greatest writers: "We should not treat men according to their worth, but according to our own honour and our own dignity."
§ THE MARQUESS OF LINCOLNSHIRE
My Lords, I listened with the deepest interest to the fine speech that has just been made by my noble and learned friend, and I wish with all my heart that his splendid language and the splendid quotations which he made had been able to alter my views, and that he could have got me over to his own side. I cannot say how much I regret it. It is only three weeks ago that another noble friend of mine, a great ornament of this House, who occupied the same high position as my noble and learned friend, said to me in the Princes' Chamber, "You may talk as you like but you have got this staring you in the face, that we have got to live with Germany." The answer to that was obvious and immediate, "You have got the thing upside down. We have not got to live with Germany; Germany has got to live with us—and that is the reason why we went to war." That is the reason, as I understand it, why we are fighting now for our lives. The reason was to prevent the bully of Europe being any longer allowed to try to dominate and to exploit the world by murder and rapine abroad, and, perhaps quite as important as that, to have a free hand for treachery and espionage and mischief in this country. That is the question. It is no good talking about Magna Charta and our own traditions and fine sentiment. Much mischief has already been done. Mischievous suspicions are abroad. How mischievous those suspicions are few people realise, or how widely they are spread, and the Government are 666 blamed—I do not say whether rightly or wrongly, but they are blamed for their apathy and for their apparent indifference.
Now, my Lords, we have heard from my noble friend Lord Beresford what the difficulty is. It is quite true that any Government action which is taken would bring them at once into conflict with powerful alien vested interests—interests which some of us think in days gone by ought never to have been allowed to have been vested at all. But even supposing that that is the case. Grant for the sake of argument that is the case. What has the Government to fear? We all know perfectly well that on this question the overwhelming opinion of the public at large is sound, and that the Government, if they take action, can confidently rely on the support of the country.
May I, for one moment, be permitted to give one single instance within my own personal knowledge? Two years ago the Government sent a communication to the National Liberal Club to say that they would require the club premises in ten days. Of course, that great building was given up in a moment without a word or without a murmur, and 5,000 men—all poor men, no men of large fortunes—were for the benefit of their country, turned homeless and homeless into the streets of London. (Laughter.) I congratulate the right rev. Bench on their well-placed merriment. These men were deprived of house and home. Another habitation had to be found, and we were able to buy the acre of ground on which stood the Westminster Palace Hotel for £200,000. It is easy enough to find property in London, but the difficulty is to pay for it. The managers raised £100,000 on first mortgage, and the members of the Club were asked to give a second mortgage of another £100,000, with this one condition—that the money should be British money, that it should be paid for by British sovereigns, half-crowns, and shillings, and that not a single German should be asked to contribute. In spite of this stipulation—and I hope I am right in believing in consequence of this stipulation—that large sum of money was subscribed in three days in London. That shows the London spirit.
May I also say what I have seen in the country? I have the honour of being Lord Lieutenant of one of the Midland counties, and I have laid it down as an inflexible rule that nothing will induce me to 667 occupy a platform with any German, naturalised or unnaturalised, wild or tame; consequently I deprecate any subscription from Germans residing in the county—there are several of them—because we thought that if we refused to have anything to do with certain people, we ought not to receive and still less to solicit their benevolence. This stipulation has had no effect upon the way in which the county has subscribed. This year £10,000 has already been sent by the county of Bucks to the Red Cross Fund, and I believe that in a very few days £15,000 more will be sent to the same splendid organisation. Some persons would not agree to this, and they say, as has been said in this House, that we must live amicably with the Germans, and that we must take things as we find them. These men, curiously enough, all seem to have some one particular favourite Bosche. They seem to have some particular nurse or governess or old servant or friend. They say, "We entirely agree with everything which is said about the Germans, we deplore their atrocities, the sinking of ships, the crucifying of Canadians, and all those unmentionable horrors which are committed, but we know of exceptions." There is "our particular old nurse," or "our particular old governess," or "Herr So-and-so," and "we gladly become sponsors for their loyalty and patriotism." They tell us, "These are men whose hospitality we have enjoyed, and some of us are under obligations to these people. We have been well served by some, and some of us are in the employ of these Germans. Therefore, although we are ready to do any possible thing to help the country, there is one thing we cannot do; there is one thing we will not do; we cannot be expected to throw over our German friends."
Well, men who become sponsors for the loyalty of people sometimes have a rude awakening. May I remind the House of a case that was in all the newspapers? In the household of the late Headmaster of Eton there was a German woman, of whom there was in the county and in Eton itself the very gravest suspicion. The headmaster absolutely refused to believe one word of it. He said he would resent very much any words that were said against this woman. By good luck we caught her; we had her brought before the Slough Bench, where she pleaded "Not guilty." The rev. gentleman went into the box and made a most spirited defence of this excellent woman. He said he would go bail 668 for her, and would do anything. We handed in a letter that she had written herself in her own handwriting in which she sent news by a suspected dangerous person who was on her way home to Germany. She then pleaded "Guilty." She was fined £10 or a month's imprisonment. Thanks to the resolute action of my right hon. friend Mr. Samuel, this dangerous spy and alien was sent to her native country, where I believe she now is. That is what goes on in England.
We have been told by my noble friend what goes on in Germany. We have also been told by him what goes on in America. What happens in France? According to the Code Napoléon the moment war breaks out every alien is ipso facto interned at once. I shall be corrected if I am wrong. Then, of course, we have sympathetic people saying, "What a terrible thing it is; fancy the hardship it is for these German women who have married Frenchmen." The Code Napoléon takes their case as well. Any foreign woman who is married to a Frenchman becomes a Frenchwoman till her husband dies. She is a Frenchwoman and is under the protection of the French family who are responsible for her good conduct and her actions. The French go further than that. At this moment there is in France a distinguished statesman—we all know his name; he is a man who has been twice Prime Minister of the great Republic—who is suspected. Rightly or wrongly, he is under trial. He is suspected of treasonable conduct. What happened to him? He was put safely in gaol, under lock and key, where he is now. He will be tried and will have every opportunity of showing his innocence.
I should like to ask the House what happens in this country? We know perfectly well that a few days ago a man of German birth, who had attained a high position here and had received honours from this country, was, with two of his partners, brought up for trial for the same reason as M. Caillaux was brought to justice. What happened to him? He was brought before the magistrates and was at once released on bail. We are told to-day—we have been told in the Commons House of Parliament—that at this moment there are 12,000 uninterned alien enemies in this country. There are only 6,000 of these who are Prussians. Only 6,000 of them are Germans! The others, are, as we have been told, Austrians 669 and Turks. The unspeakable Turks! If we only had Mr. Gladstone amongst us now. Here are these men who are at liberty in the country, and we are told, "There is no cause for fear. Really there is no reason for you to make any fuss about it."
I have only one word more to say. Do some of us realise what astonishment and resentment the French must feel at this kid-glove treatment of our suspect aliens? Have we any notion of the language that is being used in the East-end of London, and amongst our brave soldiers in the trenches with regard to the conduct of those whom they familiarly call—I will use no adjectives—the "German hand-waggers" at home. For weal or woe, Britain's existence lies in the hands of a, small Committee of 'Public Safety. They are responsible for the country. We may think what we like of the so-called chivalry that is shown by these statesmen, and of their desire (which we quite acknowledge) to prevent the slightest injustice and to live up to the highest possible moral standard which is laid down in this country. We may think what we like of all this, but when, in a crisis such as the present, with the fate of the Empire trembling in the balance, we see these men playing with fire, what, my Lords, oh! what are we to think of their sagacity, of their intellect, and of their understanding?
§ VISCOUNT ST. DAVIDS
My Lords, I think it is well that a Liberal should protest against the speech of the noble and learned Lord (Lord Buckmaster) opposite. I do not want—I say it frankly—the Liberal Party to be tarred with the words of the noble and learned Lord, because I think very few of us agree with him. I hope very few of us agree with him. I think it is a pity that in this House, since the beginning of the war, two or three or four members of your Lordships' House holding these eccentric views very often speak and nobody answers them, and people out of doors very much misunderstand the attitude of the great bulk of the humble members of this House. The noble and learned Lord, made a pathetic appeal, which will read very well, for the Germans who have lost sons in the war. That is the one respect in which I agree with him. I have spoken since the first days of this war—when I had to oppose first of all the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Haldane, who took the same line as the noble and learned Lord opposite—but 670 I have always excepted from other Germans those who had sons fighting alongside our sons. I say the naturalised German who has a son fighting for Great Britain may be a traitor, but I should want a lot of evidence of it. In the case of a man like that, I say that undoubtedly the presumption ought to be in his favour. The noble and learned Lord said there was suspicion. There is suspicion, and I will go further. I used to think that the soft way with which these Germans were handled in Great Britain was carelessness, that it was softness of heart, but, frankly, I am getting suspicious myself, very suspicious. I forget for the moment whether the noble and learned Lord was in the Government at the beginning of the war. I think he was.
§ VISCOUNT ST. DAVIDS
Yes, he was in the Government, and it was in the first days of the war that Germans were naturalised. There were some gross cases. There was the grossest case of all of a man who is known to have a son fighting against this country, and I believe in justification of his naturalisation it was said that if he was not naturalised British credit would suffer. I do not know who said it; I do not know what argument he used; but it could not have been used, by any man who knew the City, in good faith. The Public Trustee might have been put in charge of that man's business, as he has been placed in charge of other businesses. He could have carried it on, and no business interest in this country would have suffered if that man had been put in prison with other Germans.
§ LORD BUCKMASTER
I should like to point out that I had nothing whatever to do with naturalisation, nor anything to do with any of the matters to which the noble Viscount is referring. He has no right to attack me.
§ VISCOUNT ST. DAVIDS
Somebody had; and surely I am in order in attacking the noble and learned Lord, who was a member of the then Government, and who is defending that line of action now.
§ LORD BUCKMASTER
Surely there is some little mistake. I do not think that anything I said could possibly be urged in defence of the hasty naturalization 671 of any one. I do not think I referred to it at all. I do not think I mentioned naturalisation.
§ VISCOUNT ST. DAVIDS
The noble and learned Lord seems to take the view that we are going too far. Are we going too far? Here is a rich man, naturalised by the Government of which the noble and learned Lord was a member. I protested in this House at the time, but he did not protest in the other House. This man who was naturalised has a son fighting against us. No British interest was gained by his naturalisation—to say so was a lie. We want that naturalisation upset. Does the noble and learned Lord agree with us? He does not agree.
§ LORD BUCKMASTER
It is impossible to answer the question whether I agree with revoking the naturalisation of any particular person until I have all the facts to consider. I do not know anything about it.
§ VISCOUNT ST. DAVIDS
Then the noble and learned Lord is not going to oppose the cancellation of any naturalisation? He is going to take them case by case. I am glad I have got the noble and learned Lord as far as that. That is a gain, at any rate. The noble and learned Lord said there was suspicion. Can you wonder that there is suspicion? Here is the case that took place in the noble and learned Lord's own Government, which we all know about. We have protested about it; nobody can defend it, because it is indefensible; and the man is very rich, very rich, very rich. I dwell upon that because in these cases the men are very rich, very rich, and I am suspicious myself. In all these cases the men are very rich. There is no defence possible; and can you wonder there is suspicion? I used to think these cases were bona fide, but I have my doubts.
I want to allude to one particular case. The noble and gallant Lord (Lord Beresford) alluded to a case under the Road Board. I am a member of the Road Board myself, and I am sorry to say I did not know we had a German in our employ until a Question was asked in the House of Commons, and we were then told that this man was indispensable. Since the war began meetings of the Road Board have been very few; and of the five members of the Board, only the Chairman and one other were aware of this man's history. Immediately I knew of it, by the Question 672 in the House of Commons, I asked for a meeting of the Road Board to be called. Lord Pirrie, who agreed with me, was unfortunately prevented by his other business from attending. I proposed that the man should be dismissed. I was outvoted, but the other members of the Board decided that he was no longer indispensable, and being of military age he goes to the Army. Is it not a funny position? If he is sound, he goes to the Army; if he is unsound, he comes back to the Road Board. If he is held by the Army not to be a fit man to fight, he comes back to the Road Board. I will tell you what this gentleman's antecedents are. I want to say, perfectly frankly, what is in his favour, that since the beginning of the war he volunteered to serve in the Army; at the same time he knew that the Chairman of the Road Board considered him indispensable, and that he would not have to fight. It is also in his favour that the Chairman, Sir George Gibb, who has known him ever since he came to this country seventeen years ago, considers him a perfectly loyal subject. On that I would only say that I have worked in intimate relations with a number of people in business, men in my own office, for many years. I have great confidence in them but, besides business, I do not know the views of many of them on politics, religion, or anything else in the world, and I do not value very much the opinion of a man who is over other men as to anything but their business ability and qualifications.
This man was born in Dresden, of a German father and an English mother. He was brought up in Dresden, but came to this country about eighteen years ago and worked here for nine years; eight of them in the employ of railways with which Sir George Gibb was connected. For nine years he worked in this country and did not take the trouble to be naturalised. Then Sir George Gibb went to the Road Board, and this man went with him. He had a chance of getting into the Civil Service and he thought that good enough to be naturalised, and he was naturalised in 1910 when the Road Board started. Those are his antecedents. You may say that the Road Board is not a very important matter; that it has to cut off the corners of village roads, and what harm can a German do in being connected with that? Since this war began the money of the Road Board has been taken by the Government. We have no money for taking off 673 corners and improving roads. The Road Board, since the war began, has been doing a great deal of work in mending and making roads for the Army, Navy, and Air Force, and this Mr. Wendt, from his position in the Road Board, must know every one of these roads, and must, from the nature of his work, know everything about every bit of work that is done for the Army, the Navy, or the Air Forces. He was naturalised in 1910, and until I called a meeting of the Board he was held to be indispensable. He will neither fight nor be interned nor go back to the Road. Board, and I am told that whatever happens—whether he is interned, or whether he is fighting, or whatever he is doing—if we do not consider him fit to work in a British office, as I do not myself, he is to have £500 a year from the British Government as long as he lives. My Lords, I say that is intolerable.
§ VISCOUNT ST. DAVIDS
These contracts for Germans in the Civil Service, and for naturalising foreigners, were made under different circumstances. I may illustrate it by putting the case of what might have happened to myself. Supposing I had gone as a young man to make my living in some foreign country, and had settled down there and married a foreign wife, and had meant to live there with my wife and children, I should very likely have been naturalised there. Supposing that then, suddenly and unexpectedly, a thing that I had never thought would happen occurred, and I found the country in which I was naturalised at war with Great Britain, I should then have been one of the most disloyal citizens that country could have, and I believe most of your Lordships would in the like circumstances have been the same. We should have been naturalised under an entire misapprehension of what was going to happen. That is what has occurred.
I do not say much about uninterned Germans and uninterned foreigners, because I believe most of those who are left out have been carefully sifted, and that a great many of them have been found to be merely nominal Germans. They are Alsatians, Lorrainers, Czechs, and Italians from Austria who hate our enemies worse than we do ourselves. What I do deal with are the aliens who have not been interned because they have been naturalised, these men who call themselves British 674 citizens but the burden of the proof of whose loyalty ought to be cast upon them. The Government must take action. What we want is a change in the law. We want the law so altered that naturalisation of late years—10 or 20 years; I should like to look into the matter before I decided how long—should be revoked en masse, and the cases should then be taken one by one, and a list prepared and naturalisation granted when it was thought right. But before that happened the lists of the people who were to be naturalised should lie upon the table of the House of Commons and upon the Table of this House, and every Member of Parliament should have the right on a vote to say whether these people were in his judgment fit men to be British citizens like ourselves.
§ THE EARL OF DENBIGH
My Lords I should like to say with what pleasure I listened to the refreshing and outspoken speech which we have just heard. If we had a few more speeches of that description and a little more direct action following upon them, I think that a great deal of the popular feeling which has arisen could be allayed. My reason for saying a few words is that I have been going about the country a great deal, and I have been receiving a large amount of correspondence, and have come up against much of this agitation which is undoubtedly becoming extremely serious. I sincerely hope that His Majesty's Government are at last beginning to realise the fact, and that we are going to see something done which will convince the public that the dangers that unquestionably exist as a result of the German penetration that has been going on for years is to be definitely tackled in one form or another. As to the exact method by which it can be done, there is no necessity at the moment to go into details. But I wish to emphasise in the strongest way possible that I am convinced that there is a very strong feeling of unrest everywhere, and that this is having a very bad effect upon the Army. Nothing could be more satisfactory to the enemy. I have no doubt whatever that there are enemy aliens in this country who are deliberately promoting this agitation simply and solely with the view of causing unrest and distrust between the people and the authorities. It is one of the well-known forms of German agitation to create distrust between the governing authorities and the people of the country.
675 A great deal of this distrust has arisen through the half-hearted action that was taken at the beginning of the war. We have heard, instances of notorious cases of naturalisation. There was undoubtedly great apathy on the part of the Home Office and the Police authorities at the beginning of the war in making inquiry into most suspicious circumstances. I was told only a few days ago by a well-known public man, who I believe was speaking the absolute truth how, when he was soldiering at the beginning of the war at a well-known East Coast town, he was convinced that a considerable amount of signalling was going on from a particular house, but he could not get any action taken. Every time he brought the matter forward he was simply pooh-poohed by the authorities. He went away to other duties, and after that the house was raided. This, however, was a considerable time from the date at which the complaints were originally made. That is only one of the great many cases of which I have heard. The result is that this apathy has caused all this talk about the "Hidden Hand," which reflects on quarters that deserve nothing of the sort, and causes a great deal of harm in the country.
I heard only this morning of what happened at the recent by-election at Clapham. There a soldier got on to the platform and addressed the crowd. He was an old soldier and in uniform, and he said that so far as he could see the Army was fighting more for Germans than for England. This is a result of those cases—exaggerated, I think, as to the numbers—where aliens have come forward and taken over the businesses of men who have been called up. Nothing can be more irritating to the people living in a street than to see an alien come in and take over a shop or a house the owner of which has been obliged to go into the Army. Owing to the indecision of the Government and the half-hearted way in which this question has been tackled, and to the way in which apparently no notice has been taken of the continual warnings that have been given, this Government and the one before have only themselves to thank for the unrest which has now arisen.
§ LORD PARMOOR
My Lords, I agree with what was said by the last speaker, that nothing could be more unfortunate than that this question should be left in a state of unrest and suspicion. If this is 676 due to the inaction of the Government in not making proper inquiry when cases of suspicion are brought before them, then, for my part, I should blame the Government in most unmeasured terms. But having regard to what I am going to say by and by. I doubt myself whether the terms on which the noble Marquess's speech was based can really be sustained. And may I say this in reference to what was said by the noble Viscount (Lord St. Davids). I am sure every member of this House would reprobate in the same terms as he did the notion that a different treatment should be given to rich and poor aliens in matters of this kind.
§ LORD PARMOOR
If it is true, I can only say that it is a disgraceful partiality which ought to be condemned from every possible point of view. The next point of the noble Viscount opposite was this, and here he came down to what I may call facts and realities. I understand that he is a member of the Road Board, and that it was the action of the Road Board in retaining Mr. Wendt as a high official that the noble and gallant Admiral (Lord Beresford) impugned. What was the answer? As I understand it, if any one is to blame it is not the Government but the Road Board, more especially the Chairman of the Road Board, whom many members of this House know to be an admirable business man, and who was at one time General Manager of the North Eastern Railway—I mean Sir George Gibb. Although I want to give no opinion whatever on a case of this kind, which I understand is going to be considered, surely one can imagine a case where the son of a German father and an English mother, naturalised in 1910, may have done his work so admirably, may have shown his patriotism in such certain and direct ways, that it would be really unfair and unjust to introduce some special treatment in order to deprive him of the benefit of the work he is doing in a patriotic and admirable spirit. I do not say it is so, but what I urge most strongly is that the spirit of justice, the spirit of right and fair play, should not be put on one side immediately it happens that a man in some part of his pedigree has what is called a foreign taint. I think it is grossly unjust and inconsistent with the whole spirit of liberty which is at the basis 677 of the Constitution of this country. I call to mind a saying of Montesquieu, that the laws of this country which treat foreigners fairly are the very essence and basis of the national liberties which we enjoy ourselves. I think the saying of that great French philosopher is perfectly true.
May I say one word in reference to what was said by the noble Marquess (Lord Lincolnshire), whom I naturally, respect in an especial manner as the Lord Lieutenant of the county in which I live. It appeared to me that the illustration which he gave undermined the rhetoric of his argument. As a rhetorician he appealed to us very strongly with his references to German mothers on the one hand and patriotism on the other. Rhetoric of that kind is one of the easiest means by which you can seek popularity at the present day, although perchance you may cease to be just. I know nothing about the conditions of his club—I think it is the National Liberal Club—but he referred to matters in Buckinghamshire, and what was the result? That in spite of suspicions, in spite of what is called this German influence of the rich, he had no difficulty whatever when he appealed to English sentiment to get the funds which he required in the two instances to which he referred. In other words, the whole superstructure of suspicion fell away directly you came to the facts of the business in which the noble Marquess was directly interested. You have exactly the same story in the rather unfortunate case—as one must call it—of the head master of Eton. There was no harm done in this sense, that the very moment there was evidence which could bring home suspicion in a legal sense the lady in question was brought up before the proper tribunal and sentenced, as I understand, in a proper manner for the offence of which she was found guilty. That is, of course, the real difficulty in this matter.
We are always hearing of suspicion. What we want to know is whether these suspicions can be proved or not; and if it could be shown against the Government that, when matters of suspicion have been brought forward, they refused to take any proper steps or to make any proper inquiry I think they ought to be condemned, because I believe that to be one of the things which create suspicion. But I do not believe that it can be proved—
§ LORD PARMOOR
Well, I do not believe that it can be proved. I want to say one or two words, in conclusion, in reference to what the noble and gallant Lord has said. I found myself in greater sympathy with him than he would, perhaps, think desirable on a point of this kind when he made two statements. He said he desired nothing to be done which would be inconsistent with our national honour. That, I think, is one of the chief things to be borne in mind in dealing with this question of aliens. He also said that he did not wish undertakings which we had given to be torn up as though they were "scraps of paper." I entirely agree with the noble and gallant Lord. Now let me apply that to the conditions. Let me first take the case of naturalised aliens, aliens naturalised under the law of this country and entitled to the benefit which naturalisation gives them. How call we, consistently with our national honour, turn round and imprison such a man if he is not guilty of any offence? Our national honour has been pledged to him, that as long as he observes the law of this country he shall enjoy the same conditions here as he would have enjoyed had he been born a British subject. Therefore I want to ask the noble and gallant Lord how he proposes to deal with naturalised aliens unless thay have been proved defaulters in some special manner—that is, if he desires to maintain our national honour, the national undertaking we gave them at the time they became naturalised civilians.
§ LORD BERESFORD
May I answer? There are many of these naturalised aliens who have been found out to be traitors by pure accident. We have to think of our own people first.
§ LORD PARMOOR
May I put this to the noble and gallant Lord? There are various crimes committed by British subjects which are discovered only by accident. Is that a reason for indicting every British subject in this country?
§ LORD PARMOOR
It is exactly the same point as regards our national honour. Then let me say this with regard to the question of property. I understood the noble and gallant Lord to say that he desires some system by which the property of naturalised aliens should be confiscated. How can that be done? At the present time they have the same right to every piece of their property in this country as the noble and gallant Lord himself has to his. I entirely agree that if they were to do something to put themselves outside the laws of this country—if they became traitors or outlaws or something of that kind—the noble and gallant Lord would be quite entitled to claim the confiscation which he desires. But if, on the other hand, he is genuine in what he says about a "scrap of paper," why are we to tear up a scrap of paper merely on suspicion and in reference to which no legal proof has been brought forward? I want to say in the strongest manner possible that if any such legal proof were forthcoming I should not be prepared to defend aliens for one moment; but in the absence of such proof, while they have come here under the indemnity of a law which has promised them the same protection as is given to our own citizens, I say it would be a bad stain on our national honour, it would be a bad tearing up of a scrap of paper, if, on the mere ground of suspicion and without any proof, you either imprisoned these men and deprived them of the liberty to which they are entitled, or confiscated the property to which under the law of this country they are justly entitled.
§ LORD LAMINGTON
My Lords, may I say a few words on the point about interning aliens? I agree with the noble Lord who has spoken in favour of the alteration of our laws of naturalisation, and also the Regulation about people assuming different names. But I think the noble and gallant Earl, Lord Denbigh, hit the nail on the head when he said that the excitement about the uninterned aliens was due to gross remissness on the part of the Government at the beginning of the war. I myself know what happened on the East Coast; the Government did nothing at all. I also agree with Lord St. Davids that the enemy aliens now uninterned in this country are so well 680 watched that no danger is likely to accrue through their being at liberty. I think the noble and gallant Admiral who brought forward this question has himself said how many aliens have been interned in the course of the present year.
§ LORD LAMINGTON
Therefore I think that is proof that the authorities are now fully alive, and that when any suspicion attaches to an individual or group of individuals they take the proper action. I think it would be unfortunate if the people became rattled because there were a great number of dangerous foes in our midst who ought to be shut up.
Lord Beresford referred to the prompt action which has been taken by Mr. Hughes in Australia; but I do not think Mr. Hughes said anything about interning alien enemies—in fact, it is obvious that he did nothing of the sort. When the question of civilian prisoners was mentioned in the House on the last occasion, we were told there were 31,000 interned Germans in the whole Empire as against 4,000 British interned in Germany. That means about 10,000 Germans interned outside the United Kingdom, including Australia, India, Canada, and the other Dominions and Colonies. I once had the honour of being Governor of Queensland, and I can remember going to one township which might as well have been Germany, for the whole population spoke German and ate German food. Half of the so-called "cockatoo farmers" in Australia are Germans.
But to return to my argument. It is impossible, therefore, that interning 10,000 alien enemies in the whole Empire would represent anything like the interning of the whole of the alien enemy population; consequently Mr. Hughes's action cannot have been in connection with interning these men. The noble and gallant Lord said that he would intern those with a German father or a German mother. In Australia there are thousands and thousands of them; and I think that if you examined the names of those gallant men who are fighting with the Australians you would find many German names amongst them, just as you see German names in our own causalty lists. I think, therefore, that the idea that you should have a wholesale internment of alien enemies ought to be laid aside. The question on the Paper has not even the word "enemy" before "aliens." It is 681 impossible to think that you could take action against all the aliens in this country, because I do not know where you would stop.
From time to time when a question has been raised in your Lordships' House by a very strong party of Peers who wished to see an "all for all" exchange of prisoners, I have been the only Peer to get up and support the Government's action that we should not return 31,000 Germans for 4,000 British. If we interned the other 12,000, that would make 43,000 altogether; and those who are imbued with the idea of an "all for all" exchange evidently contemplate handing over something like 43,000 Germans for the sake of repatriating about 4,000 of our own kinsmen. I think this would be a monstrous proposition. From my point of view it would intensify the great evil of letting go back to Germany Germans who were hale and hearty through having been well looked after here, many of them deserters who would shortly be found fighting against us in the ranks of the Germans.
THE EARL OF MEATH
My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Buckmaster, for his speech, because ever since the beginning of the war, and especially during the time when he was in the Government, I have been approached by people saying there is a "Hidden Hand," and that there was some influence working in favour of the Germans, otherwise the things which occurred would not occur. I myself have always thought this. I listened to the speech of the noble and learned Lord, and, however much he may say he did not say this and he did not say that, the purport of his speech was in sympathy with the Germans in this country; therefore I am not at all astonished at the popular feeling that there are influences in high places which have in the past, whatever they may do in the present, acted in the interests of Germans, and especially of rich Germans.
I do not suppose that there is anybody in your Lordships' House who has been so much in Germany as myself. I was educated there; I was a diplomatist there on two occasions; I have lived there a great deal otherwise, and many of my friends are Germans. The German has to do what he is told, and every German is more or less under the Government. Consequently he has his duty to do to his 682 country which he must place before any other. Lord St. Davids, said that if he were a Briton in Germany and were naturalised he would do everything he possibly could to assist England. I agree. Consequently, why should we imagine for a moment that every German in this country is not as patriotic as we ourselves should be in similar circumstances, and not doing what he can for his own country; I do not blame the German; I think his attitude is absolutely correct.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Parmoor, made a strong case about our national honour. His speech reminded me of a story about the Crimean war which I once read in Kinglake. Some British soldiers were in a battery, the rampart of which was so high that they could not fire over it. The Russians swarmed round and jumped down amidst our men. There was one private fighting at that moment with six Russians hanging on to him; he had two down, but they were clutching his legs, and he began kicking the Russians, on which the sergeant in the true British way, said, "Smith, don't kick a man when he is down."
Now, my Lords, you cannot have Queensberry rules if you meet an opponent who is fighting under ju-jitsu. Ju-jitsu has no rules except to disable and kill your opponent. Therefore, it would be ridiculous in that sergeant, and I say with all due respect to the noble Lord it is ridiculous to argue, that, when fighting a man who does not carry out any rules whatever you are to stick to certain rules. You cannot do it and win victory at the same time. The sooner we realise this the sooner we shall end the war. It is because we stick to the old Queensberry rules, as I shall call them, that the day will come when, if we go on in the same manner, we shall find that we are under the heel of our adversary. Therefore I urgently hope that we shall have no more temporising. It is now two years since I first raised this question, and I venture to say that we have been most patient, and the country has been most patient; but the country does not intend to be given any more of this soothing syrup. We feel that we are fighting for our lives, and we intend to win.
§ LORD SYDENHAM
My Lords, may I detain you for a very few minutes and bring back the debate to the facts. There 683 are three great German banks in the City of London which are not wound up yet, and it is the opinion of all the financiers to whom I have spoken in the City that those banks could have been wound up, or steps taken which did not involve the attendance of a great number of German clerks, many months ago. The managers, who are free to walk about London, are extremely able Germans who have a great deal of very secret knowledge. Two of them have found their way into the Policecourts—in one case without the smallest personal discredit to the manager—but it it very curious that in both cases the actual occupation of these managers was not allowed to be published in the Press reports. They were called "persons of great importance in the City," or some phrase of that kind. Why was there this reticence?
I could give a very large number of instances of apparent tenderness to Germans. I have had, my Lords, on three or four occasions to bring the cases of certain firms before you, and no doubt I have bored the House to distraction. I achieved some small success and got a firm stopped in its operation in India, but it is still in full operation in the City of London to-day. Meanwhile very often little consideration is shown to purely British people. There is a distinguished member of your Lordships' House whose residence was thoroughly searched for wireless apparatus, and I am sure that nothing was less likely to be found in that house. As your Lordships know, the offices of the National Party, which is not exactly a German party, were also thoroughly searched with a view to finding anonymous letters, which I think we generally agree are never of any use to anybody.
The Aliens Restriction Order published this year deals with the question of change of name, to which my noble and gallant friend referred. That Order seems to give very considerable powers. By Clause 25A (1)—An alien enemy shall not for any purpose assume or use, or purport to assume or use or continue the assumption or use of, any name other than that by which he was ordinarily known at the date of the commencement of the war.This all seems very satisfactory; but there is a very large loophole. Clause 25A (4) says—A Secretary of State may, if it appear desirable in any particular case, grant an exemption from the provisions of this Article.684 Now, can there be any case in which, during this war at least, it can be "desirable" that a German should be allowed to change his name? and under this Clause it is only in cases where it seems to a Secretary of State that this course is desirable that the change can be allowed.
There is no doubt, as has been expressed by many of your Lordships in this debate, that very great resentment is felt throughout the country with regard to this tenderness for Germans, and it is generally believed, perhaps unjustifiably, that some of these persons are protected by some unknown agency. This may be an unfounded belief, but there are some circumstances which give at least some colour to it. It is believed by a very large number of people that an important clue to this protection is to be sought in the Marconi scandals, and this belief is supported by the fact, which cannot be denied, that there have been three attempts to get to the bottom of those scandals, and in every one of those cases inquiry has been shut down in circumstances which, if you look into them, seem to be extremely peculiar. There also would appear to be reluctance to carry out full investigations in the Courts of Law; and it may be a mere coincidence, but some honours were given to persons who have shown no alacrity about getting at the facts of that case. I think this has produced a very unfortunate and even painful impression.
If the Government will make it clear that all tenderness to Germans and German interests shall cease, and that they will court the fullest investigation into every suspicious case brought before them, then I am quite certain that they will strengthen their position in the country, secure a greater measure of confidence, and relieve a great public anxiety; and I am certain that they can do this without in the least tarnishing the honour of the country to which we are so deeply attached.
THE EARL OF MAYO
My Lords, I was very much astonished by Lord Buck-master's speech. He evidently does not wish to interfere with the Germans now living in this country in any way whatsoever, and he only wishes to punish them when their guilt is proved. But what I wish to say—and I feel that I voice public opinion—is that we do not want these Germans in our businesses, we do not want them to carry on business in this country 685 and make money out of Englishmen, and occupy positions which Englishmen ought to fill. Then Lord Buckmaster went on to say that Lord Beresford would not allay irritation by the speech which he had made. I do not think my noble and gallant friend wants to allay irritation in any way. He wants the truth to come out, and to let the public know what is the state of affairs with regard to Germans who live in this country—uninterned and lately naturalised Germans.
Lord Buckmaster also suggests that there are no spies. Surely we have spies in Germany, and does he mean to say that there are no German spies in this country? What we feel is that "once a German always a German," and that if he gets a chance of spying and giving information to Germany he will do it. As to suggesting that there are no spies in this country, the noble and learned Lord might just as well suggest that the sun is not going to shine to-morrow. Are these Germans dangerous to the State? Many people in this country believe they are. Then Lord Burkmaster said that they came to this country because they were oppressed in their own country; They came to this country not only for this reason but to live comfortably and make money out of Englishmen, and to control a great many of our businesses. They not only controlled a great many of our businesses in this country, but very nearly controlled the whole metal business of the world; and we want an end put to that.
The atmosphere of suspicion was spoken of by Lord Parmoor. I must say to him that all Germans are suspect, because they are German. How can we believe in Germans of any sort or kind after the way in which the Germans have behaved in this war? Treachery, murder, and every other crime have been committed by them, and they are quite prepared to go on with them. Why did they naturalise themselves, and why did they naturalise themselves when war broke out? They naturalised themselves in order to live in this country and to make money out of Englishmen. Let me give a case or two. There is one to which I should like to call the attention of the Government. There is a sub-Postmaster, who is a German, who keeps the Clifton-road Post Office in Maida Vale. The name is Prageser. His wife is a German, and his daughters are at school in Frankfort, or were until 686 recently. Is it good that soldiers should have to go to this Post Office and get their pensions from a German? I wonder how the noble Lord, Lord Buckmaster, if he were a soldier, would like to draw his pension from a German.
THE EARL OF MAYO
There are three or four bakers in the neighbourhood of Covent Garden who are Germans. I shall have a number of cases in a very short time to which I shall draw attention. The hour is late, and I am going to finish now with one particular case. There is a Dr. Wiensenground, managing director of the Power Plant Company at West Drayton. The company is now occupied in making turbine parts for the Admiralty. He states openly that he is a German. He has been in communication with Vogels, pump engineers, in Vienna. He had blue prints sent by a friend in America to this Viennese company before America came into the war. The friend's name is Rufener. If he did this there is no reason why he should not try, through friends of his to send to Germany blue prints of the turbine parts that are being made for the Admiralty. This matter was reported to the Home Office. Full proof was tendered, and is still available, that he communicated with the enemy. This man's brothers and nephews are fighting against us in the German army. No action has been taken by the Home Office. This is only one of the many cases which I intend to bring forward. In conclusion, I may say that the public are excessively irritated, and they will be more irritated when all these cases are brought before them.
My Lords, the hour is late, and I will detain your Lordships only a few minutes in supporting my noble and gallant friend in front of me. I entirely endorse what he said, and I agree with the plan of the noble Viscount opposite—to intern every German and then let them out on their merits. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Parmoor, talked about "right" and "justice" in this country. I should like to ask the noble and learned Lord whether he thinks it right that we should have thousands of uninterned enemy aliens or naturalised Englishmen—whatever you like to call them—wandering about this country, while our Allies, the French and Americans, 687 are made to report themselves night and morning to various Police-stations?
Those who are not soldiers. That is my information. One word about the land. I think that some legislation should be brought in to prevent alien enemies from obtaining land, when our own soldiers who have fought for it cannot obtain land. There is also the question of selling businesses. I quote the case of a friend of mine, an officer in the regiment which I had the honour to command at the beginning of the war. He has been to the Front since, has done very well, and has received the Military Cross. He applied to the Board of Trade to buy a small business in connection with his own. The Board of Trade know all about it. It belonged to a German who was ordered to get rid of the business, because he had done something he ought not to have done and had been interned. He applied to my friend, who is in the same trade, to purchase the business from him, and the German agreed to let him have it because he understood that my friend would keep it warm for him during the war and let him have it afterwards. My friend applied to the Board of Trade. He also met the German at the Board of Trade and agreed that a stated price for the business should pass between them. When the German found that my friend would not do what he wanted, he sold it to another German (or a naturalised Englishman) in the country for a smaller sum than my friend was prepared to give for it. My friend does not suggest that this was any fault of the Board of Trade, but legislation ought to be introduced to give the Board of Trade power to deal with such cases.
As my noble and gallant friend has told you, there is—I have seen it myself—a very strong feeling in the country. The British public have been very patient. They have nobly responded, and will respond, to the calls made upon them by the Government. They are willing to shed their last drop of blood and spend their last penny to realise the consummation we all desire and to beat Germany in the field. But one thing they will not stand, and that is this growing feeling that we are being betrayed by Germans in our midst. I trust that the Government will appreciate this, and will 688 bring in such legislation as will allow this feeling to die down again, so that we shall all feel we are all in together to win this war.
§ VISCOUNT SANDHURST
My Lords, perhaps it may be convenient if I reply now to the specific Questions which have been put on the Paper by my noble and gallant friend opposite. Before I do so, I can assure him that I truly appreciate the anxiety to which he and other noble Lords have given expression. I am aware also that there is unquestionably considerable feeling in the country on the matter. The Secretary of State is equally appreciative of the position, and is also perfectly aware of the anxiety, to which the noble and gallant Marquess gave expression, in the public mind.
As usually occurs in this House, the debate has ranged round a large variety of subjects. The Questions of the noble and gallant Lord, to which I shall refer in a moment, are clear enough, and I hope to give clear answers to them, but included in the speeches of various noble Lords have been references to a number of other matters, such as banks, consuls, the large question of naturalisation, the Marconi Inquiry, and so on. Whilst noble Lords are quite within their right—I beg them clearly to understand that I take no objection whatever—at the same time, having a large number of Questions on the Paper, they will forgive me if I am unable to follow them, or give them answers which they might or might not think satisfactory. My noble friend Lord Mayo mentioned the particular case of a man, I think at West Drayton, and said that the Government had possession of all the facts, but that no steps had been taken. I do not think that is quite the same thing as if he had been able to say that no investigation had been made. I can understand no steps being taken, but I can hardly believe that there should have been no investigation by the Home Office or the Admiralty. If noble Lords who have specific cases will be so good as to entrust them to me, or send them to the Secretary of State, I can assure them that they will receive the most prompt and fullest investigation.
A great deal of the debate has ranged around questions of policy. Noble Lords will remember that some little time ago, when questioned in another place, the 689 Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the absence of the Secretary of State for Home Affairs said, it was quite impossible for him to enter into a general discussion of policy, as, the Secretary of State's presence for that purpose was indispensable. One of the aspects of the case was the matter alluded to, with some particulars, by the noble and gallant Lord in regard to the employment of aliens in Government Offices. As regards a statement of policy I am in the same position. I cannot enter into it, but I understand that the Secretary of State, who has now returned to this country, has had the whole subject under his closest consideration with advisers, and he hopes to be able to make a statement in another place on Thursday next. These questions deal not only with the Home Office but with the Board of Trade, and in one or two respects with the Treasury, and I am commissioned to answer for these three Departments.
§ VISCOUNT SANDHURST
I am not commissioned to answer for the War Office, but I think I have a reply for every item in the noble and gallant Lord's Questions. He first of all calls attention to the number of uninterned aliens in this country, and asks whether a Return can be given. I presume that the noble and gallant Lord means uninterned alien enemies. Aliens, as distinct from alien enemies, are not liable to internment unless they come within the Defence of the Realm Regulation 14B, which applies to persons of whatever nationality, whether British subjects or aliens. As to the numbers, the noble and gallant Lord gave them himself, and he was correct in saying that there were between 12,000 and 13,000 males, and 10,000 females. All these have been exempt from internment or repatriation on the recommendation of the Judicial Advisory Committee which was set, up in May, 1915, when the Government adopted the policy announced in the House of Commons by Mr. Asquith. This policy was to intern all adult male alien enemies, or, if over military age, repatriate them, and to repatriate alien enemy females; but there would be cases for exceptional treatment on grounds of justice or humanity, and these cases were to be dealt with by the Advisory Committee. Excluding those temporarily released from the camps on licence for employment on agriculture or 690 other work of national importance, the number of male alien enemies who remain uninterned is approximately as follows: Germans, 6,000; Austrians, 5,500; Turks or Bulgarians, 1,100; total about 12,600. Of these, over 4,000 are of friendly race and only technically of enemy nationality, such as Czechs, Poles, and Alsatians, and over 3,000 are old men or invalids. Of the 6,000 Germans, over 3,500 are married to British wives, over 4,000 have British born children, and 2,400 have sons serving in His Majesty's Forces. This makes up the four different classes—alien enemies of friendly races, old men and invalids, persons, who, being free from all suspicion, are employed in specially important industries from which they could not be removed without detriment to this country, and persons, who, also free from suspicion, have lived here for many years and have married British wives and have British born children. All these cases are exempted cases, and are constantly reviewed by the Home Office.
My noble and gallant friend also wants a nominal return of alien enemies exempted from internment or repatriation. This would involve a great expenditure of time and labour, and I submit that it would hardly now be justifiable. As to the names and other particulars of persons to whom certificates of naturalisation are granted, they are published monthly in the London Gazette, and are given in the annual Return presented to Parliament. Excluding British born women re-admitted to British nationality, no Germans, Austrians, or Hungarians have been naturalised since November, 1916. The names of those naturalised before that date can be obtained from the monthly Gazette and the annual Return. The number naturalised between August 4, 1914, and November, 1916, was 146 Germans and 14 Austrians. The noble and gallant Admiral asks for a Return of Germans who have changed their names during the last five years, and inquires whether enemy aliens are now permitted to change their names. I have to reply that persons of enemy nationality have been prohibited from changing their names during the war under the provisions of Article 25A of the Aliens Restrictions Order. The Home Office has no information as to how many changed their names before the war.
§ VISCOUNT SANDHURST
I think it was at the beginning of the war, but I am not quite sure. It has to do with the arrival and departure of aliens, and Section B has to do with their residence and employment. If my noble and gallant friend wishes, I will certainly ascertain and let him know. He also asks who is the official at the Home Office to whom the powers are entrusted for relaxing Regulations laid down as regards visits to German prisoners of war or interned aliens. Questions as to visits to persons are dealt with by the head of the Prisoners of War Branch of the Home Office. I understand that the official in charge of that is Mr. Maurice Waller, who has no power to alter the Regulations, but he may grant certain relaxations for certain reasons in individual cases.
§ LORD BERESFORD
Granting relaxations does not alter the Regulations laid down. It was because the young officer to whom I referred called attention to this that he was tried.
§ VISCOUNT SANDHURST
I can only say that on the occasion in question, which was referred to at the Court-Martial, the request was that a lady might be allowed to have an interview with a certain prisoner without the presence of an officer, but on the commandant giving reasons why there should be no departure from the ordinary rule in this particular case, Mr. Waller authorised the commandant to refuse the application; so that while he may have power to relax the regulation, I do not think it can be said that he did so.
§ VISCOUNT SANDHURST
Coming to the question of Mr. Wendt, the case has been stated by my noble friend behind me, Lord St. Davids, and I do not think that I need give details except to endorse his statement that when Sir George Gibb went from one line of business to another—from the North-Eastern Railway to the London Underground Railway, and then finally to 692 the Road Board—he took this man with him. The man had attested under the Derby Scheme, and had made, I understand, three or four applications to be allowed to serve, but I presume that by the Board he was then considered indispensable. He has since, as we have heard from Lord St. Davids, been declared not to be indispensable, and the consequence is that the Treasury understand that the effect of the particular resolution referred to by Lord St. Davids, which was carried nem. con., will be that Mr. Wendt's certificate of exemption will be withdrawn, and that he will shortly be called up for that military service which he has so often wished to undertake.
I come now to the question of Baron Schroeder's coal. In 1917 he had 92 tons of household coal, and 374 tons of anthracite coal; in 1918 he had 7 tons of household coal, and 159 tons of anthracite coal. The amount of coal in stock at Baron Schroeder's premises at the end of May, 1918, was—household coal, 20 tons; anthracite coal, 300 tons. I may point out that no permission was required of the Coal Controller to purchase coal for consumption at that time at Englefield Green, that place being outside the metropolitan area. Twenty tons of household coal are not excessive for the two houses and the eleven cottages on the Baron's estate. All supplies of coal to Baron Schroeder had been stopped as from May 7, except a consignment of anthracite which was en route at the time. As regards the 300 tons of anthracite coal, under the new Household Fuel and Lighting Order which took effect on July 1 the Coal Controller is empowered to control the production, supply, and use of anthracite coal, and to apply any excess stocks above the ration allowed under the Order in such manner as may be desirable, and the Board of Trade are considering what steps should be taken in this case.
My noble and gallant friend referred to aliens at the ports, a subject which is not down in his Question. As regards aliens at the ports, since the beginning of the war special consideration has been given to this question, and stringent measures have long been in operation to prevent the possibility of leakage of information through aliens at the ports. That is done by restricting access to ships and docks, and by very strict control over alien seamen. The question is at present under consideration by a conference of all the Departments 693 concerned, with a view to deciding whether any further measures can be taken in the interest of public security and the defence of the realm.
My noble and gallant friend also referred to the case of Mr. Drickel. Drickel was sentenced to two months imprisonment at a Police-court for stealing £2 worth of goods. The evidence showed that he was a German in charge of a tug boat on the river. This man is thirty-four years of age, and has been in this country since he was two years old. He is married to a British-born wife, and has three British children, and in consideration of these facts he was exempt from internment on the recommendation of the Advisory Committee. He is a tug engine-driver, and has been in the employment of William Cory & Sons, coal merchants, for seventeen years, and it is understood that his employers were completely satisfied as to his loyalty. He has no relations or friends in Germany. He will not be allowed to resume his employment, and will probably be interned at the end of his sentence.
A variety of matters have been touched upon in this debate, and I will make it my personal duty to put a copy of our OFFICIAL REPORT before the Secretary of State, and I have not the slightest doubt that, all the statements which have been made will receive his very careful consideration. As was my duty, I have endeavoured to give my noble and gallant friend a full and frank answer to the specific Questions that he has placed upon the Paper, and I can assure him that I have been in every way most anxious to fulfil that task.
§ LORD BERESFORD
My Lords, I am much obliged to my noble friend for his 694 reply. It is true that he has given me answers to some questions, but not to all, so that I shall have to put the unanswered ones down again. I want to clear up the mystery of why the young officer was charged for breach of discipline at the Court-Martial and acquitted. As I said in my speech, it has a very ugly look. I am not clear either about Baron Schroeder's coal. I have had letters from Englefield complaining that the people there cannot get coal; yet this German Baron could get it, and did get it. As to the case of Drickel, my point about this is that it was only as a result of the accident of this man being charged with theft that it came out that he was a German. This German will be interned now, but he never ought to have been in command of the tug. It is facts like these that irritate the public so much, and it is this sort of thing that we want to stop. It is all very well for the employer to say, "We can trust him; we do not doubt him." I do not wish to intern everybody, but I desire that all naturalised aliens should have their naturalisation papers revoked, and that the papers should then be carefully examined by a competent Court, and given back only to those about whom there is no doubt. When the large number of naturalised aliens who have been locked up is pointed out, there arises a doubt in the public mind as to whether they should not all be locked up. I do not think the Government's reply is very satisfactory, but I am quite prepared to wait until I hear what the Secretary of State says in the House of Commons in making a declaration of policy before I bring the matter up again.
§ House adjourned at half-past seven o'clock.