§ Mr. RONALD McNEILL
asked the Home Secretary if his attention has been called to a decision of Judge Atherley Jones at the Newcastle Quarter Sessions on the 6th October, in which his Honour is reported to have held that an enemy alien for ordinary purposes was a person domiciled or having business in an enemy country, otherwise if resident in this country he enjoyed all the rights of a British subject, and that therefore the Newcastle Watch Committee was not entitled to withhold a pawnbroker's certificate from an unnaturalised German long resident in England; and whether, assuming this decision to be a correct statement of the existing law, he will introduce legislation; to withdraw the rights of British citizenship from unnaturalised aliens of enemy nationality?
From the inquiries which I have made, it appears that the report to which the hon. Member refers does not correctly represent the decision, and that the facts are as follows: The alien in question, who is seventy-six years old, and has resided here for about sixty years, failed to register under the Aliens Restriction Order, because, as he states, he regarded himself, in virtue of his long residence, as a British subject. For this offence, and for residing in a prohibited area without a permit, he was prosecuted last February, and fined and required to register. Subsequently the Newcastle Watch Committee, in exercise of their powers under the Pawnbrokers Act, refused to renew his pawnbroker's licence which he had held for forty years, on the ground that he was not of good character in view of these convictions, and was an alien enemy who had not obtained his discharge from German nationality. The Recorder's decision was, I understand, that the convictions in question did not affect the man's personal character, and that, as he was resident in this country and now duly registered, he was not by 575W reason of being an alien enemy thereby disqualified from holding a pawnbroker's licence.