HC Deb 08 July 1919 vol 117 cc1643-4W

asked the Secretary of State for foreign Affairs whether he will prepare and issue with the official Papers a précis or epitome of the Reports received at the Foreign. Office from His Majesty's representatives at Paris, Washington, Athens, and Rome on the subject of the legislative proposals made or carried by the Allied Governments with regard to the exclusion of subjects of enemy countries recently at war with them; and whether he will follow a similar course in respect of Reports subsequently received from representatives in Allied countries from whom such information has been invited but has not yet been received?


I will circulate a statement giving the effect of the reports so far received. These do not include one from Rome, as the hon. and learned Member suggests. A similar course will be followed with the further reports which are expected.

The following is the statement referred to:

8th July, 1919.

Legislation in Allied countries for the exclusion or repatriation of subjects of the present or late enemy countries or for regulating the admission of such persons. Reports from His Majesty's representatives in 'Paris, Washington, Lisbon, Athens, and Brussels.

France.—No legislation of the kind has been passed, but all former nationals of the late Austro-Hungarian Empire interned in France who wish for it are being repatriated; those who do not wish for it will remain interned or be granted a permit to reside in France. Other enemy subjects will be repatriated in accordance with the terms of Peace (i.e., in the case of Germany, Articles 214–224 of the Treaty of Peace with that country).

United States of America.—No actual provision has been made as a matter of peace policy to restrict or prevent the entry of persons who at the date of the report were alien enemies, but the restrictions contained in Regulations issued during the War remain in force, and it is possible that they will be maintained with such verbal Amendments as may be necessary as a result of the conclusion of Peace. One of these Regulations provided that in the case of hostile aliens a visa for the journey to the United States should in no case be granted unless special authority had first been given. It is understood that such authority has been sparingly given, and in the case of persons actually of enemy nationality has been practically confined to American-born women who acquired such nationality by marriage and who further had urgent reasons of health or business for returning to the United States. The Proclamation and Executive Order of 8th August, 1918, made it possible for enemy aliens to enter overland from Canada on special permits, limited as to duration and place of entry, obtainable from the nearest official of the United States Immigration Department in Canada, but it is understood that in practice such cases have always been referred to Washington for approval.

As regards repatriation of enemy aliens, nothing had actually been done at the date of the report from Washington, namely, 9th May last, though proposals on this point had been made to the German Government, whose reply was still awaited. It was proposed to repatriate under the same general conditions as were provided by the agreement reached at Berne in 1918 between the United States and German Governments regarding the treatment of military and civilian prisoners of war. This provided for the repatriation of civilians, not being males between the ages of seventeen and forty-five, who wished for it.

Portugal.—The Portuguese Government issued decrees during the War banishing all enemy subjects except males between the ages of sixteen and forty-five, who were interned. These decrees are still in force and no other legislation on the subject has been passed.

Greece.—The Greek Government have passed no legislation on the subject.

Belgium.—So far as is known the Belgian Government have passed no legislation in the matter, but no foreigner may reside in Belgium without permission of the Ministry of Justice, and it is understood that administrative action has been taken to expel Germans and Austrians who have served the enemy authorities in a military or civil capacity during the War. A further report is expected.