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Austrians (Registration)

Volume 389: debated on Thursday 13 May 1943

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asked the Home Secretary whether he will now consider the advisability of permitting Austrians, now described as Germans, to be re-registered as Austrians in view of the declaration made on behalf of the British Government, on 9th September, 1942, concerning non-recognition of any change affected in Austria since 1938, and the terms of Article 21 of the Aliens Order, 192o, as amended 1939; and whether he is aware of the action taken on these lines in Canada, Palestine and other countries?

I have considered this matter carefully, but have not felt justified in altering the present practice as regards the registration of Austrians here, whatever may be the practice outside the United Kingdom. As I have previously stated, the suggested change in registration Would not alter the status or treatment in this country of any of the aliens affected.

Will my right hon. Friend take into consideration the action of the Palestine authorities, who have recently, in view of statements made by the Government in regard to Austria in this House, made arrangements to re-register Austrians as Austrians, and cannot we do the same here?

I have no control over the Government of Palestine, as my hon. Friend will appreciate, and while it may or may not be right in their case, it would be inconvenient in this country, and I do not think that I ought to engage in it.

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that his practice of registering Austrians as Germans is in conflict with the declared policy of His Majesty's Government not to recognise the German conquest of Austria?

Not at all. I have to take the facts as they are. All Austrians hold German passports, and they are subjects of the German Reich. [HoN. MEMBERS: "No."] The Austrians are at the moment subjects of the German Reich. It is really absurd to assume that every person who comes from Austria is not a Nazi.

Could not the same kind of thing be said about Czechoslovakia? Is not Austria in more or less the same category?