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Alien Refugees

Volume 387: debated on Thursday 18 March 1943

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asked the Home Secretary whether visas for entry into this country are granted to victims of Nazi persecution who have been able to escape to neutral countries and who have sons serving in the British or Allied Forces?

Under war-time conditions it would not be practicable to treat the presence of an alien in this country as constituting in itself a claim for the admission of his adult relatives; and the general rule has necessarily been that the desire of an alien to bring his relatives here cannot be treated as a ground for granting the application. An exception has been made in favour of the wives and children of men serving in the British and Allied Forces, but it has not been possible to extend this to other relatives.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the harsh and ungenerous attitude in this matter is causing great concern to those who care for the tradition of this country as an asylum for refugees?

I think that that is a very ungenerous observation. This country has been exceedingly generous to refugees.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there are men in this country whose parents are in Spain and are in danger of being imported to Poland and massacred if Germany invades Spain, and as some have as many as four sons serving in our Forces will they serve any better for knowing that their parents are exposed to that great and deadly risk?

I am sure that the sons are very glad to be here as refugees, notwithstanding the fact, or because of the fact, perhaps, that they subsequently joined His Majesty's Forces, and I cannot undertake that all their relatives can come here.

How does that declaration square with the declaration of the Foreign Secretary recently that all people who could be rescued would be rescued and given asylum here?


asked the Home Secretary whether he will consider the possibility of interning in the Isle of Man refugees who can escape from the Continent and whose loyalty may be in doubt?

The possibility of using such limited accommodation as is still available in the Isle of Man for any fresh classes of persons whose detention may be necessary has been, and will be, kept in mind.

Are the Government aware that there is widespread feeling in the country that we are not doing enough for refugees from German tyranny? Only this morning I had two petitions on the subject.

I can only say that this country has a very fine record in the matter and has done more than any other country. This is a small country and is the base for future offensive operations.


asked the Home Secre-Secretary whether he will supply figures showing how many visas for the United Kingdom were issued to natives or nationals of countries now dominated by the Axis Powers from the beginning of Hitler's regime in 1933 till 30th January, 1942; how many of these were issued since the outbreak of war; and how many or what proportion of those to whom visas were authorised succeeded in reaching this country?

Before the war nationals of most of the countries now dominated by the Axis Powers did not require visas to come to this country. Since the outbreak of war there has been a general requirement that every foreigner seeking to enter the United Kingdom shall obtain a British visa, but in numerous instances the British representatives abroad are authorised under general instructions to grant visas without referring the individual case to the Home Office. Consequently it is impracticable to give such figures as are asked for. I can, however, say that during the three years 1940, 1941 and 1942 over 50,500 nationals of countries dominated by the Axis Powers have been admitted to the United Kingdom as refugees. In a large proportion of these cases the circumstances in which they succeeded in reaching our shores precluded them from obtaining a British visa.