HL Deb 03 April 1919 vol 34 cc101-39

LORD LAMBOURNE rose to ask His Majesty's Government if an assurance can be given that all the 4,000 enemy aliens who have expressed a desire to remain in this country will be afforded an opportunity to appeal before deportation.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the interest shown by your Lordships in the Question put by the most rev. Primate Monday, March 24, and the subsequent debate, have led me to hope that a similar indulgence may be extended to me to-day. I do not for a moment believe that the same weight will be given to my opinions as was given to those of the most rev. Primate, and I will therefore trespass as shortly as I can on your Lordships' time. It will be necessary for me to refer now and then to the remarks made by the Earl of Jersey, who represents the Home Office, and who replied to the Question of the most rev. Primate. I was glad to notice that he began by saying that the Secretary of State does not question the general principle that those who have abused the hospitality of this country should be no longer allowed to remain here. Let me assure the noble Earl that I associate myself entirely with that, and I venture even to say that there is no man in your Lordships' House who would not echo the same sentiments.

But it is not on account of those people, or those cases, that I venture to-day to trouble your Lordships. It is because there are other classes of cases, and it is on their behalf that I am pleading. Nobody can accuse me of being what is called pro-German. I, in common with many of your Lordships, have lost all that was near and dear to me, but I feel there is a question of justice concerned in this. I received a very proper rebuke from Lord Buckmaster when I said that we ought to endeavour to do justice first to the individual and then to the country. He most properly pointed out that it is not possible to do justice to the country and to do injustice to any man.

I should like to quote a case which I have here, and which is the class of case I am venturing to plead for. It is the case of an alien enemy who had been in England for thirty-eight years, and who had married an English wife. He bad four sons, and all of them volunteered in 1914. One became a sergeant, two became corporals, and one remained a private. The sergeant and corporals were all wounded; the sergeant three times. This man was exempted by the Advisory Com mittee in 1915, but as he lived in a prohibited area—I think it was Darlington—he had to remove. Then he got a wire from the War Office to say that his eldest son, the sergeant, was seriously wounded and not expected to live, and that he was in hospital at Darlington, which was the prohibited area for this individual. Being naturally anxious about his son he caught the first train to Darlington, went direct to the hospital, saw his son, with whom he staved an hour, and then walked directly back to the railway station, taking the first train home. On his way to the station he was recognised by a local detective, who knew him when he lived at Darlington, and he was summoned for entering a prohibited area without a permit. The local stipendiary did not fine him, but gave him six months' imprisonment; and on the termination of this sentence he was arrested without any reference to the Advisory Committee and was interned at Knockaloe, in the Isle of Man. While there he was served with a notice that he was to be deported. He appealed to the Advisory Committee, which, fortunately for him, was then in existence, and they at once advised, not only that the deportation order should be cancelled, but that he should be at once released. During the whole time of his living in this country he had been a faithful and law-abiding citizen. He had given the whole of his family, not under conscription but voluntarily, for the service of this country. If the papers are correct in saying that any alien enemy who has been convicted of an offence is to be immediately deported without appeal, this man will probably be deported without any appeal at all. That, my Lords, is the class of case in which I am interested and for which I am pleading to-day.


Hear, hear.


I do not expect that the noble Earl will be able to answer in respect of this particular case, because he cannot have any knowledge of it, but when he appeals to us not to help those who have abused the hospitality of this country I think he will see that they are not the class of men whom your Lordships or myself have in mind when we consider this question. So impressed was the noble Earl with this remark that he repeated it not once or twice, but three times, so that he evidently was under the impression that the most rev. Primate was pleading for an alien who had violated the laws of hospitality, and that I also was doing so. I hope he will take my word for it and realise that these are not the men we are pleading for. The noble Earl said— I am sure that we all wish to see even Germans treated justly. Justice is all I ask for this class of men. He also said— There were many cases in which individuals were interned and went into internment without registering any protest whatever, and without appealing for exemption. As I remarked, there were numerous cases of men who did not appeal because they understood, and I rather understood myself at the time, that when they were interned they would certainly have a chance of appealing against that internment before they were repatriated.

What I would like to ask the noble Earl is this. I confess that I am asking it because I have heard very disquieting rumours on the subject of the deportation of aliens, and that men are being deported in great numbers. Let me quote an answer to Lieut.-Colonel Hall in the House of Commons on April 1, 1918. Mr. Shortt then said— The numbers repatriated from the internment camps since the Armistice are 20,500. As regards the last part of the Question— that was as to how many have been repatriated since November 18— repatriation is still in progress. But I understood from the noble Earl that it was the decision of the Government that no repatriation was going to be made except in the case of those who asked to be repatriated, and that no repatriations were to be made until these men had been heard on appeal. But there is no Committee sitting, and there is nobody to hear appeals. We have been told several times that a Committee will be appointed, and I venture to ask the noble Lord if he can give me any answer on this point. Of course, he can only give the answer that he is instructed to give, and that is part of the difficulties I find in debating in your Lordships' House.


Hear, hear.


I want to ask when this Committee, which I understood was to be presided over by a Judge of the High Court and to be a similar Committee to the last one, is going to be appointed. There are at least 5,000 cases, but reduce that by 50 per cent. and it would give 2,500 cases to be heard, and if any justice can be done—and I am sure if these people are brought before an Advisory Committee justice will be done to them it will take a very long time. I would urge upon the noble Earl that this Committee should be appointed without any further delay.


Hear, hear.


There is another question which I feel it to be useless to put, but it is one which nevertheless I am bound to ask. Is this Advisory Committee to be over-ruled in its decisions by the Executive or by the Home Secretary, or is its advice to be taken? In the case of the last Committee our information was that there were cases in which we were overruled. Is this new Committee to be an Executive Council with power to carry out what it decides? There have been cases, I cannot help thinking, in which justice was hardly done to a man, because the Advisory Committee, remember, had the advantage of seeing the man himself, and of forming an opinion of what sort of a person he was, and that is a very great advantage. They also had the advantage of hearing what he and his witnesses had to say, while the decision of the Home Secretary—if he is the one who over-ruled the Advisory Committee—could only be given on paper evidence, and after considering the facts on paper before him. It is difficult for me to carry the Question further. I know that the noble Earl will say, "I cannot answer any of your Questions, you have only put down a certain Question on the Paper, and to that my answer must be confined." That is the difficulty I am in. I confess that. I am new to your Lordships' House, and do not altogether know how I can get round that. I am only seeking for information, and must take the information that I get, and be content with that. My main points are, first that these interned shall have, as promised distinctly in this House and by the Government, an appeal before they are deported; and second that there shall be no exception to that rule, and that there shall be no what I will call forcible obtaining of a consent for repatriation from these men who are now interned. I shall be quite satisfied if the noble Earl can give me an answer to that.


My Lords, first of all I should like to express my gratitude to the noble Earl who has just sat down for raising this question again, because it gives me an opportunity of dealing with certain misapprehensions which I think were evident in the minds of some of your Lordships on the last occasion when this matter was discussed. I assure your Lordships that I do not intend to refer to any points then raised, except such as are strictly relevant to the Question now on the Paper. But as many of the criticisms which were then made may very probably be repeated, I think that it may be convenient if I anticipate the renewal of such criticisms as were not only based on a misunderstanding but to which, under the Rules of your Lord ships' House, I was not entitled to reply-on the last occasion. I would also add that I do not propose to withdraw or to explain away anything that I then said. I am quite prepared to stand by the statement which I made when this matter was before your Lordships last week.

I would first remind your Lordships of a statement that I made which many noble Lords appeared either to ignore or possibly accidentally to overlook, and with your permission I will quote the words that I then used. I said— I am sure we off wish to see even Germans treated justly. We have no desire to emulate their countrymen by inflicting needless and wanton torture on helpless people. I said so then, and I say so now. Yet many noble Lords spoke as though a desire for justice was conspicuous by its absence from the policy of His Majesty's Government, and also from my own views. The noble Viscount, Lord Bryce, characterised my remarks as indicating a policy of indifference to suffering. The noble Lords, Lord Sheffield and Lord Phillimore, were especially severe in their criticisms. Lord Sheffield was good enough to say that I had put myself on a level with the worst type of German because I had said that humanity would be studied as far as is compatible with the interests of this country. I believe it is generally accepted that to compare him to a German at the present time is about the greatest insult that could be offered to any Britisher. To compare him to the worst type of German is, I suppose, the last word in that direction.

But I am prepared to regard this criticism with some equanimity, because I am not sure that the noble Lord places Germans quite as low in the scale of humanity as some of us do, and possibly his remark therefore would not be quite so uncomplimentary as it might seem in the first instance. What really does concern me is how the noble Lord would regard the noble and learned Lord, Lord Buckmaster, and what epithets he would find with which to describe him. I would ask your Lordships to allow me to quote words which Lord Buckmaster used, and to compare them with my own remarks on the subject. The noble and learned Lord (Lord Buckmaster) said— If there is any reason—even a remote reason—why he should be considered in anything but name as the enemy of this country, then considerations of pity and humanity must give way before the considerations of the national welfare. I maintain that the noble and learned Lord went as far as, if not further than, I did. But I did not notice that his name was included in the protest which the noble Lord, Lord Phillimore, made when he said— We ought all to rise in protest against the doctrines which apparently have been laid down by the noble Earl who has answered for His Majesty's Government. To say that humanity and justice are to come behind the cause of the country is to my mind to say something which an Englishman and a Christian should be ashamed of saying. Those are very strong words, but, as I have already said, I see very little difference between the phrase which I used and the phrase used by Lord Buckmaster. Further, I would remind the noble Lord, Lord Phillimore, that I never said that "justice should come behind the cause of this country." The word "justice" was an addition supplied by the noble Lord, and it completely altered the sense of the remark which I ventured to make. I have repeatedly said that strict justice should be administered to Germans, as to every other man. I do not say that I disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Buckmaster; and I would go further. I entirely agree with him and with the noble Lord who has just sat down that justice to individuals and justice to this country are entirely compatible. After carefully reading what the noble and learned Lord said, I really feel that what I intended to convey was repeated by the noble Lord, only, as is of course natural and to be expected, it was repeated in far better and abler language than I had at my command.

There is one point, however, on which I cannot agree with him. He suggested that pledges inconsiderately given in the course of an Election should not weigh with us if what people demand from us is wrong. I cannot claim the same experience in the morality and validity of election promises as the noble and learned Lord, nor can I say how long a period ought to elapse before expediency justifies that those promises should be either conveniently forgotten or wilfully ignored. But I do suggest that three months would be an indecently short period. Personally I adhere to the old-fashioned doctrine—it may be out of date, but I still think it is a sound one—that promises are made to be observed, and not to be broken, and there can be no doubt that the people of this country were told at the last Election that Britain was to be a country for Britishers.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Parmoor, asked me one specific question which I will endeavour to reply to. He asked whether during the whole course of the war one of the Germans living in this country was found to be acting as an enemy spy. He went on to say— I ask, Is there a single instance? and, if there have been any, whether the whole of the cases have not been infinitesimal in number? I have endeavoured to ascertain the answer to this question, and I can inform the noble Lord that the number is not nearly so small as he suggests, amounting to about twenty or thirty actual spies. Thanks to the energy and resource of the Counter-Espionage Department of the War Office the movements of Germans living here and suspected of spying were carefully watched before the war, and on the eve of the declaration of war all then known to be spies were arrested. This accounts for the fact that only a few were arrested after the war actually broke out. After that the Germans had to confine themselves to sending agents to this country, some Germans, but for the most part neutrals.

But it does not by any means follow that the rest of the Germans living here were harmless, and to this point I would venture to draw the special attention of the noble Viscount, Lord Bryce. He may remember that I interrupted him on the last occasion to tell him that I had not during the whole course of my remarks once used the word "spy," on which he based the greater part of his arguments. He contended that when I said that those who had abused our hospitality should no longer be allowed to remain here, that carried with it the implication of spying. I respectfully beg to differ from that. I would remind him that the Germans resident here were potentially dangerous, and many of them would have lost no opportunity of doing harm to this country. There are many ways of doing harm besides actual spying which require special aptitude. The military authorities had to contemplate the possibility of an enemy landing, and if that had happened there can be no doubt that large numbers of Germans here would have assisted the invader. Further, apart from invasion, a good deal of injury might have been done secretly, as, for instance, by spreading false rumours likely to cause apprehension and even panic, and by preaching doctrines likely to cause disaffection and sedition.

There is one other assumption which the noble Viscount attributed to me which I must repudiate. He said that I assumed that prima facie everyone of German origin who had neglected to be naturalised here was an enemy in reality and a person who was likely to be dangerous to us. I assumed no such thing, because personally I believe that many of those who are naturalised are far more dangerous than many who are unnaturalised. The fact that many certificates of naturalisation have been reviewed and cancelled supports this view. Some of your Lordships may remember that on previous occasions I have suggested that it is rash to attach undue importance to formal protestations of allegiance, and I cannot accept the construction which the noble Viscount put on my remarks. I do not wish to condemn all unnaturalised aliens unheard, nor am I prepared to accept all naturalised aliens as of necessity loyal.

I would now turn to the actual Question which the noble Lord. Lord Lambourne, has addressed to me—whether an assurance can be given that all the 4,000 enemy aliens who have expressed a desire to remain in this country will be afforded an opportunity to appeal before deportation. The noble Lord will remember that I answered his question during the previous debate in these words— The repatriation of those who are willing to go is being carried out first, and a certain number of individuals who are personally undesirable are being sent compulsorily now. As regarded the remainder. I added— Due regard will be paid to humane considerations, and any who think that they have special claims to consideration, or that they have been unduly or hardly treated, will have a further opportunity of stating their case before a tribunal before being finally repatriated. The latter statement I made twice in the course of the debate.

To make the matter perfectly clear, the position can be re-stated as follows. The policy of the Government has been hitherto to repatriate those interned aliens who were willing to go or who were known from their records to be undesirable. Subject to this it is the intention of the Government that all interned alien-enemies who are unwilling to return to their country of origin, and who think that they possess claims for consideration which may justify permission to remain in this country shall have their cases individually investigated on their merits by the proposed tribunal before a final decision as to their repatriation is made.

The noble Lord suggested that I might be unable to tell him anything as to the constitution of the tribunal, or when it was likely to be set up. I am glad to say I am able to give him some information on this subject. It is thought very desirable that the tribunal should be presided over by a Judge of the High Court. The Home Secretary has authorised me to announce that Mr. Justice Younger has consented to preside over the tribunal. The constitution of the tribunal is being considered by the Home Secretary, and he hopes to announce the names of the other members shortly. I think your Lordships will agree that Mr. Justice Younger's name as chairman of the tribunal will provide a sufficient guarantee as to the impartiality, fairness, and consideration which will be shown to those who decide to appeal to the tribunal. Further than that I have no authority to go at present, and I do not know quite what the noble Lord would wish me to add. Until the tribunal has been set up it is impossible to say exactly what rules will be laid down for the procedure.

On the general question I should just like to emphasise what I said in the pre vious debate, that if any of your Lordships—which I doubt—or if any one outside this House were to suggest that the Germans have as much right to remain here as the people of this country, I am not prepared to argue with them, but I entirely disagree. We have a duty to perform not only to ourselves but to those who come after us, and those who have saved this country have a right to claim that it should be handed down to their children as British soil inhabited by Britishers. That claim has been put forward, and it has been acknowledged by His Majesty's Government to be a just claim. The people of this country have a right to choose their own guests, and when we have had enough of their presence we are fully entitled to tell them that they are no longer acceptable to us. It is not a question of blind hatred on the one hand or of sentiment on the other. The first duty of this Government is to do its best for the people of this country. By all means let every German in this country or out of it have justice according to his deserts; let him have justice as an individual; let the Germans have justice as a nation; but it must be justice in both the widest and the strictest sense of the word.


Before the noble Earl sits down would he mind making clear what seem to me to be very ambiguous words that he used? He said that those who think they have claims to consideration would have the right of appeal. Are we to understand that this is identical with those who desire to appeal?


Certainly, I take it to be identical.


My Lords, I certainly shall not attempt to compose the strife between the noble Earl and those with whom he differed. Indeed, so far as I am concerned, I am in the fortunate position that, while he appears to have differed in toto from most of the other noble Lords who took part in the last debate, he differs from me only in one relatively unimportant respect, and with that I will deal before I conclude the few observations I desire to make to your Lordships.

The real thing which I am sure actuated the noble Lord who put this Question upon the Paper, and the real desire behind the speeches of all the noble Lords who took part in this debate on the last occasion, was to secure that justice should be done to these men who are now interned. By that we mean not justice that is to be shaped and trimmed according to Government necessity, but justice as it is administered in the Courts of Law, where a man is judged according to his character and what is proved against him, and that you do not allow suggestions against one man of this or of another kind to be used for the purpose of taking away from him a right which he possesses at the present time. I know that the noble Earl suggests that we should not only be acting within our rights, but, as far as I can understand—and this was the most disquieting part of the whole of his speech—that we should be performing our duty to posterity, if we turned every German out of this country to-morrow.


Hear, hear.


I know that is precisely the view. That, of course, is a view which is not. held by people who, like myself, would regard such an action as one of which this country ought to be profoundly ashamed. I will tell your Lordships why. These men in large numbers have not only lived over here but have contributed to our wealth. They have materially assisted us in carrying on the industries of this country. Many of them have been perfectly loyal and law-abiding citizens; and I must say that, to hear noble Lords applaud a sentiment which means that the fathers of men who have voluntarily shed their blood for this country are to be turned out of the country as you would throw rubbish on to a rubbish heap, is something which I can listen to only with feelings of profound pain and regret. I cannot really believe that this is an attitude of which England will approve when emotion becomes less vehement than it is at the present time. It seems to me impossible to think of it as an act of which we could be proud in any moment of our history. Subject to that there is nobody who has taken part in this debate who has not realised that there may be Germans here who for many reasons it would be better should not remain. Nobody has ever doubted that. All we have asked is that there should be fair and proper steps taken to sift them from the other men. I must say that, although the noble Earl did his best to give us an idea that we were going to have such a just investigation, there were one or two expressions in his speech which made me very uneasy as to whether this investigation was going to be as free and as independent and as universal as it certainly ought to be if we are going to do justice to these men.

Finally, let me say a word about the only matter with which in my former speech the noble Earl was in disagreement—in regard to what I said in my observations about electoral promises. I have no hesitation in saying (and there is no doubt about, it) that if men promise something which is dishonourable at an Election the shameful thing is in keeping the promise and not in breaking it. That is true of life too. If a man is induced to make a promise to do something which is base, the best; thing he can do is to retrace his steps at the earliest moment and to tell people that the promise was made to do something which in his sober moments he is satisfied could not be performed except with the loss of personal honour. It appears to me a little remarkable that you should find a representative of the Government, speaking on behalf of the Government from the Government Bench, advocating thesanctity of electoral promises which have been broken again and again in the last few weeks.


My Lords, I want to be clear in my mind that I understand the exact meaning of the Question on the Paper. Is it this, that the Advisory Committee was dissolved when the General Election came along, that there is now no such body in existence, and that all my noble and gallant friend restricts himself to is that an Advisory Committee, similar in constitution at any rate to the one of which he was a member, with a Judge in the chair, is to be reconstituted before these 4,000 German individuals are deported to their own country?


Hear, hear.


Then I understand the Question. The first remark that occurs to my mind is this, that if an Advisory Committee were not appointed it would then be left to the Home Office to decide. A great many people—of whom I in my humble person am one—have always thought that the Home Office during the war have never shown undue severity towards the Germans in this country. I will not put it any higher than that, although a great many people think that the Home Office has been unduly tender. Therefore I do not think that the Germans in this country, if left to the tender mercies of the Home Office, would suffer any hardship. As regards the next point, whether the Committee will take the same shape as the Advisory Committee of which my noble and gallant friend was a member, I hope we shall hear before this matter is finally settled whether such will or will not be the case. As to the policy, although I have very strong views indeed upon the matter, I do not "see red," or I try not to do so. I have tried as far as my limited capacity goes (no doubt I have strong prejudice) to see justice done in the humble efforts I have made in this House and in the other House when dealing with this topic. But I have always felt this to be my duty. Where any conflict arises between the German and the Briton in this country, let the German possibly suffer injustice, but be careful that at any rate this country does not suffer injustice. The last person, either in this House or out of it, whom one would ever accuse of being unjust, in this or indeed in any other matter, is the noble Lord of whom I had long experience in another place, my noble and learned friend Viscount Cave. There is no fairer man. He never sees red, as I, perhaps unconsciously, do sometimes. What did he say in this House, while still Home Secretary? We had asked him some questions. I say "we,'' because I was one who took quite a humble part in the discussion. He said this, and if will be found at column 318 of the OFFICIAL REPORT. On November 20, 1918, a few days after the Armistice, the noble Viscount said— A good many Germans are now interned in this country. Of course, we cannot send them home now, because the interned men are nearly all able-bodied men, who might, if they were sent home, be useful to our enemy. But when the war is over and peace is declared we propose to send those men home … and it will take a very strong case to induce the Government to keep any of them here. There is no doubt about that. There is nothing about the Advisory Committee there. He promises to send them home without exception. At that moment the Advisory Committee, of whom my noble and gallant friend Lord Lambourne was one, was no longer in existence. It had died. Parliament was, if not dead, in extremis, but the noble and learned Lord made no exception. He did mot say "subject to appeal to the Advisory Committee." He said, every single one of them. He made a reservation, which I have just read—namely, that it would want "a very strong case." He may have meant a very strong case to satisfy the Home Office, or he may possibly have meant to satisfy the Advisory Committee. And do not let us forget that on its inception the Advisory Committee was not to be a Court of appeal. It was to advise the Home Office, and the Home Office need not have taken its advice. Sometimes they did not. It was never a Court of appeal, but was to advise and help, and the Home Office might have said, "No, no" every time. I do not want to labour that point any more. I have made it, and whether it is good or bad is for your Lordships to say.

Only one word more upon the remarks which fell from Lord Buckmaster, who, of course, never touches anything that he does not put immense fire and force into, and he sometimes almost takes one's judgment away, because although, if he will allow me to say so without offence, he sometimes says something which is a little bit vitriolic, when he sits down one is apt to feel that the last word has been said. I should be very sorry indeed to cross swords with him, or try to, because I should have his good sword in my heart before I knew where I was. But let me say this of a general nature about policy. Is it fair to talk about morality and immorality? I am not sure that I am quoting the exact words of the noble and learned Lord, but I am giving the spirit of them. Three things emerge clearly from the General Election, and they are these—one, at any rate, falls within the ambit of this discussion—firstly, that the people of this country were determined that practically every German should go, and that it should be Britain for the British every time; secondly, that justice should be done to those who brought on this war; and thirdly, indemnity. On every platform in this country the question was put concretely by that formidable thing which we all know. The "Voice" was always there to say, "Are you in favour of expelling all the Germans?" and nearly every candidate said, "Yes." Therefore if there is any immorality it was not the immorality of the candidate but of the country, which had made up its mind to this—that the Germans should go.

Almost the latest accession to your Lordships' ranks from immediate touch with the constituencies at the General Election is the noble and learned Lord who, with so much distinction, if he will allow me to say so, now sits upon the Woolsack. He came fresh and red-hot from the constituents, and what did he say? And did anybody at his meetings demur when he said it? He declared at Liverpool, on December 5, and he was then Attorney-General, that of every twenty aliens who settled in this country and professed friendship for us, eighteen were spies. Very well then; the 4,000 who are at present dying to appeal will not have much chance, according to that canon of decision. The noble and learned Lord had no doubt, because what did he say at Bournemouth on November 30?— I tell you here, as a Minister of the Coalition Government, that it is the declared policy of that Government— There is no reservation here; no Advisory Committee here; no exceptions here— to send back to Germany every Bosche in this country. His audience took it, and they are the deciding force, because it is the constituencies which govern. I remember the phrase at one of the last Elections, "Government of the people, by the people, for' the people." That was trotted out on every Radical platform in this country, and therefore the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack was only speaking the voice of his constituents, and speaking with the voice of seven out of every ten constituencies in this country. Therefore it is a little bit hard for Lord Buckmaster, with all his great gifts, to talk about Election promises, and morality and immorality. The country, rightly or wrongly, decided that the Bosche should go.

One sentence more and I have finished. I am profoundly sorry to have to differ front my noble friend on my left. I am not sure that he and I have ever differed before, but it is a long lane which has no turning, and I do so now only because I feel strongly in this matter that we have received—that the House of Commons have received—a mandate from the country that the Bosche has to go. I say with regret that one sees a tendency—and newcomers to your Lordships' House are able to see it more clearly—to try and whittle that away. Well, get a new Election if you can. Get the country to say otherwise, but, unless and until it does, I say that those who are engaged in this whittling away and whittling down are going against the declared, the deliberate and the bedrock sentiment of the electors of the country.


My Lords, I do not wish to detain your Lordships by discussing the ultra-democratic doctrines to which we have listened from the noble Lord who has just sat down. I will be content with the observation that I do not think I ever heard the doctrine of vox populi—in this case the voice of a crowd at a meeting—carried quite so far as it was carried by the noble Lord. What I do wish to do is to express the satisfaction with which some of us have heard from the noble Earl that a Committee is to be set up, and I hope set up at once, and that Mr. Justice Younger—whom many of us know and respect for his high qualities, for his impartiality and his judicial gifts—is to be the chairman of that Committee. I desire, however, to ask the noble Earl if he can answer, even if it be in a word or by a nod, whether I am right in assuming, as I understand his words, that every one of those persons whom it is proposed to deport will be allowed to know that he has a chance to make his appeal. I think I understood him to say so. If I understood him rightly, he meant to convey that notice would be given to any one, before he is deported, that he has a right to appeal against deportation.

In the next place, as he did not suggest that any special instructions would be given to the Committee or that any special rule would be laid down for their guidance, I ventured to assume that the matter would be practically left to the discretion of the Committee. I am glad to think so. I have no doubt that the Government will try to get a strong and impartial Committee, and I should think it would be a great deal better to leave the matter to their discretion than to attempt to fetter them by rules. There is another point which seems to deserve the attention of His Majesty's Government. I have heard the number who might be deported variously stated at 4,000 and 5,000. Whichever number is correct, it is evident that if every case is to be investigated individually a very long time will have to elapse. You could not do, say, more than eight or ten cases in a day, and it would take a long time to get through 4,000 or 5,000 cases. Would it not be a consider able advantage in that case if the Committee were to be instructed, or at any rate allowed, to appoint two or three assistants who could make a preliminary investigation of the cases, and who, in some instances, would be able to report to them that there was a clear prima facie case for deportation or that there was a clear prima facie case for release, and finally, would be able to reserve for them the cases in which doubt; appeared to prevail.

I believe there have been persons employed for the Committee over which Lord Lambourne presided and that they have already acquired a good deal of experience in these cases. I should have thought it might very much abridge the labours of this new Committee if it were to be instructed to employ these persons, or similar persons whom they could trust, to investigate the cases fairly and to give impartial reports upon them. In that way many weeks, and indeed months, might be saved. Lastly, my noble friend Lord Lambourne put one question to which the noble Earl did not reply. That was, whether the Committee would be liable to be over-ruled by the Home Office or by His Majesty's Government, as the former Committee had been. I would call the attention of the House to the fact that when the power to over-rule was given in the case of the former Committee the war was still going on and matters might come to the knowledge of the Executive Government which had not been brought to the knowledge of the Committee, or perhaps had not occurred at the time when the Committee made its report.

There was, therefore, a case then, or might have been a case then, for allowing His Majesty's Government to over-rule the decision of the Committee in respect of matters that had come to its knowledge and which raised a suspicion of public danger that had not been known to the Committee. But now, happily, though not in peace we are practically out of war; conditions are quite different, and it is highly improbable that matters of that kind could arise except in an extreme case, and in an extreme case it would be open to the Government to suggest to the Committee that their decision should be reviewed. I will venture to express the hope that His Majesty's Government do not intend to over-rule the decisions o this Committee as a general practice, but that, having appointed it and having put a strong Chairman into the chair, they will give it full discretion to deal with these cases according to their best judgment and in an impartial way.


My Lords, as reference has been made to the speech which I delivered in this House in November last, I should like to say a very few words in this debate. On that occasion I was asked what would be done to the enemy aliens (then some 20,000 or 30,000 in number) who were interned—whether they would be released when peace came or before the actual signature to the Treaty of Peace, or what else would be done about them. I said at once, what I think was obvious to all noble Lords, that it was impossible that we should let loose in the country the whole of these 20,000 or 30,000 interned enemy aliens. I said that, at the moment, we could not deport them, because we had not yet been advised by the War Office that they could safely be sent back to Germany, where they might perhaps he of use in the war; but, so soon as Peace arrived—or, I might have added, so soon as we were advised by the War Office that deportation was safe—we did propose to take this course.

The general rule would be deportation, but if any enemy alien could make a case for exemption he would have an opportunity of making such a case. I do not think I said—I am sure my speech would not bear that interpretation—that no exception would be made, because I said quite plainly that a strong case would have to be made out, which, of course, implied that there would be a chance of making a case. Shortly afterwards I was advised by the War Office that it was no longer necessary to retain these men, although of military age, in this country. Thereupon, of course, deportation at once began, but we laid down the rule that, to begin with, only those should be sent home who were desirous of going or willing to go, or, of course, those whom it was for some reason undesirable to retain in this country. The latter class were not confined to, in fact did not include 14 B cases, but were men whose action, for some reason, brought them within the class of men whom we had deported from time to time throughout the war. We were advised that the number of those willing to go home might not be large, but in fact it has been very large, and the greater part of the interned enemy aliens—I think, some three-quarters of them or more—have been willing to go home, and have, I am glad to say, left our shores and are no longer a burden upon us.

There remain only 4,000 or 5,000 who are still interned. I do not know whether any of these are willing to go or not, but as to those who object to be sent home His Majesty's Government have taken the course which I hoped they would take and have promised to set up a Committee to whom application may be made for exemption from deportation. The noble Earl announced that the chairman of the Committee will be Mr. Justice Younger, and I do not think a fairer chairman could possibly have been found. I am glad he has expressed his willingness to take upon himself this further burden in addition to those which he has already borne, and to preside over this Committee. We have it, therefore, that ally alien who thinks he can make a case for exemption will have the right of appeal to this Committee, but of course he must make out his case before it.

I think it is quite right that it should be upon the enemy alien to make out his case—that is, that the presumption ought to be in favour of deportation. It is not a case of presuming guilt, or anything of that kind; but all these men are enemy aliens—that is, they are members of a nationality which has been, and is to-day, our enemy, and no one of them has succeeded in obtaining exemption from internment during the war. Those two facts alone, I think, set up a presumption against the enemy alien, and it is not at all unfair, nor contrary to our principles, to throw the burden upon the alien to show why he should not go home to his own people. I have no doubt, even after the war, that the member of an enemy nationality who desires to come here will have to make out his case for obtaining his passport to this country, and it is quite right, therefore, that those who desire to remain here should have to make out their case for being allowed to remain. Of course, facts such as those to which Lord Lambourne refers, a man having his wife or his family here and his sons serving in our Army, are just the kind of facts which the Committee must take into account, and I am quite sure that any Committee the Government may appoint may be trusted to do justice in the matter.

I have only one other matter to refer to, and that is as to whether the Committee's judgment should be final, or whether the Secretary of State should be the final tribunal. With all respect to the noble Viscount opposite, I think the Secretary of State must reserve in his own hands the final decision. Every Secretary of State during the war has paid the greatest possible respect to the decisions of the Advisory Committee, and the cases in which an alien enemy whose exemption that Committee has advised has in fact been interned are few, and have turned upon the special facts known to the Secretary of State and probably not known to the Committee. I think that during the war it was the duty of the Secretary of State in every case of doubt to give our country the benefit of the doubt. It was certainly so during the war, and I think the same principle will apply in peace. This is a question not of punishing a man but of deciding whether he shall be allowed to set up his residence in this country, and where the Government of the day are possessed of facts which show that the man in question cannot be allowed to remain here without danger to the interests of this country, they ought to withdraw the permission given to him to take up his residence here. I do not want to pronounce a final judgment about it, bat my present view is—and I hope that the noble Lord and those associated with him will take it into consideration—that the Secretary of State should not entirely surrender, even to this Committee, the decision on the question of deportation. Subject to that observation I have very little to quarrel with as regards what has been said in this debate.


My Lords, as my name has been mentioned in the original debate and in the adjourned debate, I think it proper to trouble your Lordships with a few observations, although no doubt your Lordships are well aware that the matter relates neither to my then Department nor to the office which I now hold. When I was a candidate for Parliament I addressed myself, as I was bound to do, to the many issues which deeply interested the electors of this country. I had before me the authoritative and perfectly clear statement made by the noble Viscount who has just sat down, who at that moment occupied the position of Secretary of State for the Home Department. No Minister of greater humanity and capacity has held that office in my experience of public life. My noble friend stated a policy, which was the policy of the then Cabinet. I, as a candidate was entitled to rely upon that policy and to recommend myself to my constituents, if I believed in it, by stating it. I did believe in it, and I stated it. Your Lordships will not, of course, make the error of treating a summarised sentence as giving a faithful, or anything like a faithful, impression of a speech which took about an hour or an hour and a-quarter to make, and which contained, as the speech of any sensible person must contain, every reasonable form of reservation and explanation.

When I listen to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Buckmaster, my admiration for the stately eloquence with which he delights your Lordships almost nightly is certainly not lessened by my observation of the standard of complete aloofness and detachment which my noble and learned friend contrives to display towards all those who have recently been engaged in a Parliamentary election. Listening to my noble and learned friend I gather that he never has been accustomed to this. My acquaintance, and indeed my friendship, with the noble and learned Lord goes back a considerable period. I remember an Election which some of us used to describe as the "Chinese Election." My noble and learned friend went through the vicissitudes of that remarkable Election with a moral fibre wholly unruffled, as far as I can remember, at the time, and I have never observed from that period to the present the slightest impression on the part of my noble friend that there was any Election impropriety at that time.

Not only did my noble friend support with the most complete composure that Election, but he went through the Election which has been sometimes described as that of the "People's Budget." Your Lordships will remember the appeals and cries of that time—"God gave the land to the people," and other devices. I heard no protest then from my noble friend. It is true that he temporarily disappeared from the House of Commons because he had the misfortune of having to address himself to a constituency which was educated and rather superior to the, last consideration. But my noble and learned friend was not, I am glad to say, lost to the House of Commons for long, because about twelve months afterwards another Election took place which I always recall by a poster, of great interest I should imagine to your Lordships, which was exhibited in every constituency that I happened to visit, and there were many of them. It represented an extremely obese member of your Lordships' House—whom I have not yet succeeded in identifying—with an unwholesome, not to say pimply, face, and wearing, by an arrangement which I believe to be entirely unusual, his Coronet with a frock-coat. He was represented as making the appeal, "It is your land that I want." I did not think that a particularly decorous Parliamentary performance, but I was a candidate at that Election, and I managed to survive it. It did not injure my health. It did not cause me, I confess, the deep emotion which fills my noble and learned friend. The real truth is that many of your Lordships have always been in a singularly favoured position in this respect, because you have never had to go before the electors, and therefore, just as Becky Sharp said that if she had had £5,000 a year she would have been a very honest woman, so is it with your Lordships who, never having had constituents, can say you are very honest men. I may say, as to the difference between my noble and learned friend and myself, that he has had a longer time to become respectable than I have. By the time that I have been here as long as he has I can assure your Lordships that I shall habitually adopt a tone superior to his whenever I deal with a Parliamentary election in any conceivable circumstances, whether concerned with the past or the future.

Having dealt so far with that matter, let me ask those who have taken part in this debate whether the discussion has not been extremely one-sided, and whether there is not another side to the question which the noble Lords would do well to bear clearly in their mind. I hear the Election swept aside. I hear a tendency to say, "The constituents are entirely wrong," and that it is even dishonourable if any candidate for Parliament has repeated to his electors the pledge which was made in this House by the noble and learned Viscount who has just sat down, as Minister, and which was not challenged as far as I know by any one of your Lordships at the time that it was given. Is it so certain that the people are wrong, and that those of your Lordships who have taken the opposite side in the debate are right? I challenge and dispute that absolutely, and I say plainly what Burke said on a famous occasion, "On most things on which the people think long it commonly attains to think right." I say that the people of this country, with deep and profound conviction, came to the conclusion that there is a moral line which divides the Germans from themselves, and desired that conclusion should be carried to this point—that as a general rule these men should go unless it could be shown that there was something wholly singular in the individual case which distinguished it from the others.

When I realise, as I do, that the people have taken that view, and I attempt by argument to reach a conclusion as to whether they are right or no, are there not certain indisputable facts which I am entitled to bear in mind? Am I not entitled to remember that this is a people of all others who have elaborately and notoriously prepared for a long period of time schemes for the penetration of the countries with whom they thought that one day they might become enemies? Am I bound to dismiss from my mind what is indeed equally notorious, that alone of all the civilised countries in the world, in designing their naturalisation laws, in giving freedom from that oath of naturalisation to those Germans who desired to become the citizens of another country, they created secretly and privily a private oath which would permit the citizen who was being received in another country secretly and without the knowledge of that other country to retain his whole citizenship in Germany? Are we to treat Germany as if these things did not exist? As far as I know, no other civilised country in the world has ever made itself a party to such a fraud upon those amongst whom its citizens were seeking special advantages. Are we further to close our eyes to the fact that over and over again those who have enjoyed hospitality in this country for a long period of years have most grossly abused it? Are we not to remember the case of one man who had received high distinction in this country, who had lived in this country for over thirty years, and who was found guilty by a jury of having given information to an enemy in relation to the manufacture of arms at a period immediately before the war? That was after nearly thirty years of life in this country. I ask another question, because if we are to speak plainly of these things it is very desirable that we should understand them clearly. Are we not, in deciding this matter, to consider actual acts which have been done by the German nation in the course of this war? Are we, in other words, to treat them exactly as if we were ending a war with South Africa or a war with the French? There are great numbers of people in this country, of whom I am one, who take the view that we have never contended with an enemy so completely vile and unmoral in his acts.


Hear, hear.


Is not the country entitled to take that view? Are the men whose children have died as the result of air-raids; are the men and the women, many of whom have given three and four children—all they had—who have died as a result of poison-gas, which before this war was looked upon as a vile abomination, not to be entitled to say "This nation has done these wicked things; no other nation in the history of the world ever has or ever would do them; we do not want the representatives of that people to live amongst us except under circumstances that are wholly exceptional"?


Hear, hear.


I contend that the people are entitled to take that view, and further that in taking that view they are right. Most of us who spoke in the Election—I myself certainly—always so far as I know saved ourselves in order to treat a case such as that supposed by the noble Lord who introduced this subject to-night. No one, of course, is so foolish as to imagine, if you have an alien—and this Motion' deals with enemy aliens, not with naturalised Germans—whose enmity is technical, who has given such proof of his devotion to this country as the man of whom the noble Lord spoke, that such a man should be driven from this country to one where he will find nothing but enemies if he goes there. No Committee, could it be supposed, would be in the least likely to take that view. I say frankly that I am quite unmoved when the noble and learned Lord says, "These men have come to this country, and while they have been in this country they have contributed to our wealth." That would be a relevant observation if the object of their coming here had been to contribute to our wealth, but their object was nothing of the kind. They came here to contribute to their own wealth, many of them, and in contributing to their own wealth they have been made to pay the same taxes as your Lordships. I cannot see that that gives them any independence or substantial recommendation to your Lordships' indulgence.

Let me say what in fact will be done, although I think the noble Earl was extremely clear on this point. As I understand it, when these Germans who wish to make an appeal go before the Committee in the ordinary course, the view will be taken that it will be for them to show something special which takes their case out of the ordinary rule, and the ordinary rule is that their presence in this country is not desirable. If, on the other hand, when such a man goes before the Committee he says to himself, "In my conscience I am clear that I can satisfy any body of fair men that I have throughout shown complete integrity to the substituted allegiance which I have adopted—if he can show that, of course, the Committee must give proper weight; of course, the Committee must distinguish between individual cases; of course, the Committee must make a difference between a man whose son has served and a man who, when he is asked, "Is there anything special about your case? is there anything you can say to the Committee except that you are a German?" says, "No, I have no other recommendation. I am a German." I said at the Election that that man ought to go, and if I were fighting another Election tomorrow I should say the same thing. It is my honest and fair conviction and, as far as I have reason to believe, it is the policy of the Government to-day, as it was certainly the policy of the Government at the time of the last Election.

I hope I have made it clear. Whether my views were palatable or not to all sections of your Lordships' House I at least thought it desirable, as my name had been mentioned, that I should quite clearly, without the slightest ambiguity, inform your Lordships of the course which I recommended then and which I now hold to be right, and I hope you will admit that I have not been ambiguous in stating my views.


My Lords, I did not come down to the House intending to take part in this debate. I came down hoping to hear a clear and satisfactory statement from the noble Earl who represents the Home Office, and I am glad to think that his statement has been so satisfactory, amplified, as I think I may take it to be, by the answer which he made to the noble Viscount, Lord Bryce's, question. It would be completely satisfactory if he followed the line taken by the noble Viscount who has recently been Secretary of State for the Home Department and said that everybody—not only those against whom the Home Office thought they Cad no special case—was now to be allowed to go before the tribunal. If the case is clear against him, his shrift will be short. There is no reason why everybody should not have the opportunity, and that, I think, is what the noble Viscount advocated, and what I trust the Government will do.

My reason for trespassing upon your Lordships is a personal reference which the noble Earl made to my speech on the previous occasion. I did say that I thought we ought all to rise in protest against the doctrine which apparently had 'been laid down by the noble Earl who answered for the Government; I did say, to say that humanity and justice were to come behind the cause of the country was to my mind to say something of which an Englishman and a Christian should be ashamed. I find, however, when I look to the exact language which the noble Earl used, that I have added something to his language, and I make my apology to the noble Earl for what I added. The noble Earl said— I trust that the most rev. Primate will recognise that, by the procedure outlined, humanity will be studied as far as is compatible with the interests of this country. He did not say "justice and humanity" and I trust he did not think "justice and humanity."

But though I make my apology to the noble Earl because he did not say "justice," and I believe he did not think "justice," I believe that the policy of which he was the mouthpiece is a policy which did postpone justice as well as humanity to the interests of the country, and I am here to maintain that. This is the answer on which I rely— The policy of His Majesty's Government is to repatriate interned civilians who are now alien enemies, and if any are allowed to remain here it will only be for reasons of an exceptional character. What reasons would be considered strong enough to justify the grant of such permission we are not in a position to say. The point which I ventured to make on the last occasion, and which I venture to repeat again, is that internment is no criterion of repatriation. During the war it was quite right to intern every ablebodied man who could bear arms, and anybody against whom there was a shade of a shadow of suspicion that he might be injurious to this country; and you could not wait to consider or to distinguish, and you were bound in the interests of the country to preserve it as far as possible in that way. Now that the war is over there is no reason for not dealing with every case on its merits, and it ought to be no presumption against a man that he has been interned. Properly speaking, almost everybody was interned, and I do say that the policy advocated on the last occasion—I am glad to think there is considerable moderation of tone on the present occasion—is (and if it is continued will be) a policy which puts justice behind the interests of this country.

The noble Earl said this afternoon that when you invite a guest you can send him away when you please, or words to that effect. True, a German is a guest, and if he is an invited guest you can withdraw your hospitality; but if you have invited him for an indefinite time, if you know that he expects to stay an indefinite time, if you know that he has made all his arrangements for staying and has planted all his roots in the country, and you then send him I away, you are guilty—I will not say of an act of injustice—but of an act of very serious inhumanity and great cruelty, quite contrary to all good feeling and gentlemanly behaviour.

And when you are dealing with Germans—and those were the cases we were dealing with last time—who are married in this country but have not been married long enough, who have children in this country but have not children who have fought, because they are too young, or because they are girls—if that class of Germans who have been interned is to be sent away, if their English wives are to have the choice of parting from them or following them to an alien country, if their children, who according to our law are English, and who according to all their bringing up are English, are sent away to an alien country, then I say great cruelty and great injustice would be done. Since the last debate I have had two or three or more letters giving me examples of the feeling which English wives of German subjects have with regard to this matter, and of the cruelty which would be imposed if in any ease except perfectly necessary cases a German who has married an Englishwoman should be sent away.

I have one word more to add. People speak as if our only enemies were Germans. There are the Austrians and the Hungarians; and if my information is right, the treatment of the English interned civilians in Austria and Hungary was a treatment of the kindest and the most humane—far kinder, far gentler treatment than any that, we have given—and I say it would be a great shame if some consideration could not be given to these people.


My Lords, we have had on the whole, I think, a fairly satisfactory conclusion to this debate. I take it that the Home Office now announce, first, that they will set up a tribunal with a very impartial and competent chairman, and secondly, that this tribunal—or, perhaps, I ought to say that Committee of Advice—will be given a free hand to consider every case as it comes up. I do not think that the point raised by Lord Bryce need embarrass us very much, because I agree with the late Home Secretary (Lord Cave) that the ultimate responsibility must rest with the Home Office. Yet it is clear that, now the stress of war is over and therefore the necessity of dealing with these cases on grounds of apprehension and caution and not on grounds of any wrongdoing, is removed, the Home Office will give the greatest attention to the recommendations of so carefully constituted a tribunal; and also that, any evidence that may be in the possession of the Home Office can now be freely placed at the disposal of that Committee of Inquiry. Therefore, as far as that goes, I think we may consider that the thing is fairly on the road to as satisfactory a solution as we can hope for, bearing in mind the unfortunate antecedents and election utterances of the Government. It was some satisfaction to me to find that the speech of the noble Lord opposite, in which he raked up the election speeches of some of the members of the Government, did not meet with much response. The noble Viscount alluded to this matter; and the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack complained of anybody trying to read into a few lines, which were a summary of a speech lasting an hour and a-quarter, a real expression of his opinion. Still, though the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack did not allow himself to be saddled with the exact text of what was quoted, I must say that from the tone of his speech here I feel inclined to believe that the reporter who summarised him did not do any great injustice to the sentiments of the noble and learned Lord; because in the early part of his speech he indulged himself in the sort of apology that "we all do queer things at elections and it is hard to have them raked up against, us." But the question of what were the Party cries raised by Liberals at three or four previous elections does not seem to me to be material to the matter we are now discussing, and therefore I will not dwell on it.

I should like to say briefly to the noble Earl who speaks for the Home Office that, as he quoted correctly his own words and my comment upon them, I do not see any occasion to withdraw that comment. What was it he asserted? He asserted that we were to observe the laws of humanity so long as they were not inconsistent with our own interests—that is to say, when our own interests demanded it we were to be guilty of inhumanity. I do not mix it up with justice as the noble Lord opposite did. I say that is a doctrine not to be endured among people, with the ordinary sense of justice and righteousness—namely, that you are to practise humanity only when it is not inconsistent with your interests. A philosopher once said. "When you have a sufficiency you should then practise virtue." A virtuous young man in one of Plato's dialogues commented upon that and said, "I think you should practise it even before.'' Therefore I would appeal to the noble Earl to practise humanity even when it is inconsistent with his own interests. The noble Earl was rather strong on the obligation of keeping pledges even though you afterwards thought, they were wrong pledges to have given. The leading case of keeping pledges is that of Herod and John the Baptist, and I do not know whether the noble Earl sides with Herod or with general public opinion and history on that case.

One last point, and I mention it because it was raised by the noble and learned Viscount who was lately Home Secretary. It turns of course on how you interpret the words "absolutely exceptional." I think you are bound to take a broad view. A German who has lately come over here and who has not been involved in business in this country, and whose interests you think are more in Germany, could be sent back without great hardship. It is not necessary for a man to have had two or three sons in the British Army—perhaps killed, as the noble Lord said. Take the case of a man with an English wife and a young family, you are surely not going to break up that family (it is said) and send the young children abroad. After all, although the war has not technically come to an end it must do so very soon, and when peace is declared those who are now enemy aliens will be alien friends. You will have to have a Treaty with Germany, and Germans will be entitled to come here and trade, to buy and sell, and generally to transact business, as aliens have been entitled to do ever since the Magna Charta. The noble Earl said, I think, that we should restrict them by passports. It is very difficult to try and have a sort of quarantine to see that you know all about the man who comes to trade with you—a German commercial traveller, and so on.

Are you going to be harder on a man who has lived here for six or seven years before the war and settled here? I do not require him to have done exceptional service to this country; it is enough if he has done his duty and conformed to the law. You should have evidence that there is some blot on his character before you drive him out of the country, especially as his countrymen must be entitled after the war to come back here and trade. I think what the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack said was really beside the point because he expatiated upon the German laws of nationality, and mentioned that a German might have two nationalities. All that will come up very well when the Government bring in a Bill (as they are going to do) for nationalisation. They can take precautions that every nationalisation to be valid must be an absolute disclaimer of the old nationality and an absolute adherence to this. But it is not material to this question. All those things are separate questions, and ought to be treated separately.


My Lords, I am sure that the speeches of the noble Earl below me (Lord Jersey) and the Lord Chancellor will give great satisfaction in the country; because I have heard from many quarters since the last debate that this House was not as determined to carry out the intention of the Government at the General Election as it was hoped it would be. A great deal too much was made, if I may say so, of mere sentiment in that debate. We now have an attempt by Lord Lambourne to prove how hard it would be to deport an English woman, who had married a German, with her children. But, after all, when she married a German she took her chances. If she had married him during the time of peace and he had to go back to his own country she would have gone with him and we should have heard no more about it. The noble Lord said that several Germans had proved to be good husbands. Surely that is all the more reason why the wife should go back with her husband. I do not know whether the noble Lord would go so far as to say that an English woman who had married a German should be ipso facto divorced; I do not think that would commend itself to many noble Lords.

I was surprised to hear Lord Phillimore say how hard it was on Germans who had made all their arrangements to stop in this country. It is intended by the British people to send back any German who has made all his arrangements to stay here. There is no doubt that English people are determined that, as long as there is unemployment in this country, the vacant places shall be filled by English people and by them alone. We are not going to have hoards of foreign waiters coming over, or heaps of clerks, or other people taking up small trades and ruining the little businesses which the wives of our soldiers have kept going while their husbands were away, and to which they hope to return when they return to civil life. There is no doubt that most unfair rivalry was allowed to go on by aliens in this country. That is one of the reasons why I am quite sure the country is determined to get rid of the Germans. It is determined to get rid of them, no matter what their position in society may be or what their rank, and I am therefore very glad to think there is a thorough determination expressed by the noble Earl below me to that effect.

As a member of this House I must enter a protest against the language used by Lord Buckmaster in alluding to promises that were made during the Election. I wish to dissociate myself from his remarks, as imputing that any member of the other House made dishonourable promises at the General Election. I am sure that the people are determined to get rid of the Germans, that the Government have the power to do it, and that the country expects them to do it, and, furthermore, that the country expects the Government, having got rid of the Germans, to take steps to keep them out in the future.


My Lords, may I say one word of congratulation upon the turn that events have taken. I have always thought, feeling as I do very strongly on the subject, that after all there was not very much between us. Lord Lambourne at the beginning of his speech said, and rightly said, that if you had justice in this country you ought not to have any injustice to any one individual, and he gave a case which really was a terrible case, and which everybody heard with great regret; but I must respectfully remind the noble Lord that one swallow does not make a summer. All of us who have voted for Liberal measures all our lives are well-aware that no measure has ever been brought forward for the safety or good of the country that honourable and patriotic and religious men have not voted against, and also that no measure of that sort has ever been brought forward without its pressing a little bit hardly sometimes upon individuals. That must be so, if anything is brought forward for the good of the country, and I am afraid we cannot prevent it.

Then the noble Lord on March 24, and also to-night, said that no one would accuse him of being a German. I am sure nobody ever did and nobody ever would. We know what the noble Lord has gone through, and we know what a kind heart he has, and we know what is his great feeling towards any cruelty that might be applied to women or children. I must say, however, with all respect to him, that whenever I hear a speech beginning with the remark, "Nobody can accuse me of being a German," I always feel inside me a somewhat disagreeable instinctive dread that the British natural Christianity and chivalry of the speaker may in a national crisis carry him beyond the bounds of prudence and national safety. I hope he will excuse me for saying that, but I always have that feeling whenever I hear that remark made. The Lord Chancellor in a most humorous and eloquent speech referred to speeches which had been made at Election time. As regards that, we were told by the noble Lord opposite that in his estimate the spies in England were not 5 per cent—


At the present time, and interned.


The estimate of the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack was considerably above that. It is not for me to decide which is right or which is wrong, but of two things I am perfectly certain. The first is that the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, holding the great position that he does, would never have made any such remark or any such statement had he not been perfectly certain that his statement and his figures were absolutely correct. In the second place, I must remind the House that these figures and that statement caused feelings of legitimate apprehension in the minds of the public—feelings which Lord Phillimore casually described as feelings of "ceaseless fear and mob panic"; but I must remind the House that these figures and this statement went very far to ensure the triumphant return of hundreds of Coalition candidates, with enormous majorities, at the General Election.

The noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack referred to the policy of His Majesty's Government as regards aliens. There have been a good many policies of His Majesty's Government as regards aliens. There was the slip-slop Aliens Bill that was brought forward in Midsummer of last year. Then came the "Clear them all out" declaration last Christmas, and then we have the third alien policy of the Prime Minister at Easter. "Like the cuckoo in June, he has altered his tune," and now he has brought forward a policy which has entirely changed the debate in this House from what it was a week ago, when there was hardly one word said in its favour. It was condemned all round from every part of the House, and I think the reason was that those who opposed the policy so well put before us by Earl Jersey had a latent fear, as the Archbishop said, that we might wake up and find that we had done a foolish thing which it was impossible to justify.

I have but one more word to say. I do not stand here as in any way an advocate of His Majesty's Government. I have always been against the Coalition Government and I always shall be, but one must be fair, and in a crisis like this it is impossible to deny that in this Bill there is a great deal of which we can approve, though this Bill is not an ideal Bill.


What Bill?


I do not know whether the noble Viscount (Viscount Chaplin) has read The Times of this morning. It contains a précis of the Bill which is going to be introduced in the House of Commons, and if he reads it he will, I think, find out the proposals to which I allude. In these proposals, which have been so well put forward by Lord Jersey, there is one great blot, and that is it is a class Bill. I hope I am wrong and that I shall be corrected, but, so far as I can make out, the proposals which have been put before us this afternoon differentiate between class and class, between rich and poor.

The Government have very wisely spread out the net to catch all dangerous aliens. The mesh is so small that it would catch all the smaller fry—gudgeons, sprats, and I think the whitebait—but it is useless with regard to the bigger fish, such as the swordfish and tarpon; I will not say the sharks, but the porpoises and the whales. These big fish laugh at it and break through the meshes of the net wherever and whenever they like. My last word is this, that one city triton is far more dangerous than a million minnows that might be darting about in the ditches around Wapping or Old Houndsditch. I hope that we may be told that I am entirely wrong and that we shall not be delivered to the resident German—he is the great danger—the resident German octopus in our midst, which has dug its tentacles so deeply into fashionable and financial England that when Herr Kuhlmann has got rid of Marshal Foch and those whom he courteously calls the "stupid French" and the "idiotic Yankees," he will have everything, so he says, in his own hands and that we shall be handed over to these German magnates who, with him, will do their best to strangle our commerce and to do away with our trade.


My Lords, I will not detain your Lordships more than a moment, but I should like to join in the congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Lambourne, for the discussion he has raised to-night, because I think it is of real value, partly for the way it has elicited frank statements on matters of some interest which have often been left in rather a confused and misty atmosphere. When the noble Earl, Lord Jersey, rose to speak to-night I was interested to see that he intended to refer with care, and did refer with care, to what took place on the last occasion. I confess I should have liked to have heard an explanation now as to the reference he then made several times to what he called our desire to secure the retention in this country of men who had abused the hospitality of this country—a statement which, so far as I know, none of us had made, and with which I should dissociate myself in every way.

Our suggestion had reference to a man against whom nothing could possibly be said—for that was the very essence and condition of the case we were urging—that he had technically abused our hospitality. I do not want to dwell on that, nor would I enter into the battle of giants which has taken place between the present and late occupants of the Woolsack. When the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack rose my hope was that he, too, was going not only to tell us what he did tell us (which was most valuable, most interesting and most clear) as to his view of the situation as a whole, but also to make some reference—and I think he did not make it—to what had puzzled many of us a great deal, namely, the statement made by no less a person than the then Attorney-General that eighteen out of twenty of the persons who were interned were spies. That differed so widely from the information that had come to us from other quarters that I had hoped to have had some elucidation of it from the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack. But it is not a matter which deals particularly with the practical question before us now.

I remain a little puzzled as to what is actually happening now. We have not at this moment got the Tribunal which has been promised, but there is at this moment going on the deportation of a considerable number of men. Anyone who looks at the successive speeches and statements on the subject which have been made in the House of Commons will see that deportations are going on now. There is at this moment, as I understand, no Tribunal to which a man who is to be deported can appeal, if he desires to do so, and I remain a little puzzled as to what is taking place. Presumably, the Tribunal will be set up very rapidly. Four thousand men still remain in this country and, as I understand—and I hope it will be made clear by the noble Earl that we understand him aright—we shall not merely be told here that these men have the opportunity (if they can find it out, and know it, and take advantage of it) of bringing their cases before the Tribunal, but that they will be given a fair alternative of being deported or having their case fairly tried before the Tribunal presided over by Mr. Justice Younger.

The noble Earl, Lord Jersey, said there will be full investigation of every case. We were told by the noble Earl on the last occasion that, with regard to those who had keen interned originally (numbering, I think, about 30,000), their cases were all thoroughly investigated. Now, we know, as a fact, that it was a physical impossibility that that could have taken place. It was not a question of the policy, or anything else, of the Tribunal, but the sheer question of the numerical proportions between the members of the Tribunal and the cases to be heard. Detailed investigation could not possibly have taken place with what we should call thoroughness at all. It is an open secret that it was done on a large and wholesale scale, and if that is what is now meant to be applicable to the future—if an investigation corresponding to that is all that will be open to the men now interned—I feel that we have fallen very far short of getting the kind of satisfaction for which we had hoped. But I do not believe that to be the case, for, if I am not mistaken, I understand from what the noble Earl said, in answer to an interruption, that there would be now a specific undertaking that men to be deported will, to their knowledge, have had the opportunity put before them of stating whether or not they desire to have their cases looked into before they are deported willy-nilly across the sea.

There is all the difference in the world between the kind of allowance which I should be the first to make for the necessities of war time, when things have to be done on a large scale and in a rough-and ready manner, and when a detailed investigation is obviously, from the nature of the case, impracticable, and the facts as we have them now. The danger does not exist, the need for speed is not so imperative, and investigation conducted in a Court presided over by Mr. Justice Younger will be, we are quite certain, in every sense satisfactory to the people at large, because there is no man in whom we should place more implicit confidence in such a case. I agree a little with what was said a little while ago by the noble Viscount, Lord Bryce—who is not now in the House—that one would have imagined that even the numbers now to be examined were so ample that it would require more than one Tribunal to which they could go. If they were to be looked into with any thoroughness my own idea would have been that Tribunals of a subsidiary, even of a local character (which might have better and easier access to and knowledge of individuals) might exist, and that the higher Tribunal which has been referred to might have been reserved for cases of appeal. That is a matter of administration into which I do not in the least desire to enter.

I take it that we are allowed to go away to-night with the assurance that the cases of those now interned are going to be individually investigated; that the possibility of the investigation will be known to all those who are interned, and that there will be no possibility of it being done in the rough-and-ready way in which it was done in the early days of the war. With that promise I, for one, am exceedingly grateful, and I believe it will tend to do more substantial justice than perhaps has been done yet in a matter which, I admit, is one of extreme difficulty, and upon which we are now able to proceed with all the knowledge that time has brought us, and with that caution which the matter requires.


My Lords, I should like to ask a simple question with regard to a point which seems to me to be a little in doubt. The reply which Lord Lambourne has elicited is, I think, on the whole, a satisfactory reply. We understand that any of these 4,000 enemy aliens who have expressed a desire to remain in this country will be afforded an opportunity of appealing before deportation, and the tribunal which I gather is to be set up for this purpose seems to me to be an entirely satisfactory tribunal. I infer that before the tribunal the appellants will have an opportunity of bringing forward any circumstances which are at all material in regard to the decision at which the Court will be asked to arrive. My noble friend the Marquess of Lincolnshire referred once or twice during his speech to "a Bill," and it is the case that a Bill dealing with this subject has been printed in the newspapers, I think, this morning. I suppose, however, that there is no doubt whatever that Mr. Justice Younger's inquiry will proceed at once, and that there will be no question of waiting until the Bill has obtained the consent of Parliament. It seems, indeed, to be of the utmost importance that not a moment should be lost in setting Mr. Justice Younger's Committee to work. We hear that a number of these interned people are at this moment being deported. What really matters is that every one of these people should have full and ample opportunity of showing cause before the tribunal why they should not be deported, and I hope we shall be told quite distinctly that that opportunity will be provided.


I am sure we should all like to hear from the noble Earl an answer to the question just put to him by the noble Marquess, so that we may have a definite statement that none of these men will be deported until they have been informed that they can appeal to the tribunal.


My Lords, I have no reason to think that the setting up of the tribunal has anything whatever to do with the Bill which has not yet been before your Lordships in any shape or form. As regards the question of the noble Marquess, I imagine it is perfectly understood that these persons will have an opportunity of stating their case. I cannot add anything to the statement I have made, and, personally, I should have thought it sufficiently comprehensive to meet every point that has been raised.