asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many aliens, other than those deported on account of criminal records, have been forcibly repatriated during the past three months, or have been listed for early repatriation; and to which countries they belong.
:During the past three months the only aliens repatriated under prerogative powers have been 255 Germans, almost all of whom had applied voluntarily for repatriation. Twenty-two Austrians and 101 Italians are due to be repatriated in the near future.
the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has considered the cases of certain aliens, of whom particulars have been sent him, now under detention at Stanmore, Middlesex, and threatened with forcible repatriation to Germany or Austria; and, in view of the conditions of starvation, housing congestion and lack of fuel, in these countries, will he refrain from such action until the winter is over, especially where the men have wives or children.
:Every case is considered individually on merits. An enemy alien is not repatriated unless I am satisfied that, in the public interest, he cannot be left at liberty here and that the Control Commission is prepared to accept him.
:Is it not a mistake to choose this time of tremendous difficulty for our representatives in Germany to unload upon them a number of people who, if they are undesirable, would do much more mischief there than here, and, if they were harmless refugees, would probably add to the difficulties there?
I cannot accept any of the assumptions in the supplementary question.
As one who had some official responsibility for moving these people here, will the right hon. Gentleman make it clear that a number of them came during the war as temporary refugees, and it was never understood that they would remain here permanently?
I would not like it to be thought that, in every case, the period of temporary refuge is really ended. This is a matter of very great difficulty, and it gives me the greatest personal concern in every case. I do not want unnecessarily to alarm quite useful people in this country with the idea that they may be very suddenly pitchforked out. There is no such intention.
:May I assure the Minister that I was not asking for these people to be left here permanently; but is this a good time, at the very beginning of the winter, to send these people back?
:These cases vary so much in merit that it is impossible to give a reply to a general question of that kind. I assure the House that in carrying out my very difficult duties in this particular I have every regard to the long and honourable traditions of this country.