Yes, Sir, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and I feel that it would be appropriate to grant a privileged position in the matter of these restrictions to the nationals in this country of the States which are fighting with us against the Axis for the freedom of the world. The present position is that members of the Allied Civil Administrations and their Armed Forces in this country have been exempted from the restrictions in question. As regards the general body of civilians belonging to these nationalities, the policy hitherto has been to grant to them freely on application individual exemptions from the special war-time restrictions which impose limitations on their freedom of movement and on their possession of certain articles, such as bicycles and motor-cars. I have now decided to reverse this policy and to grant to nationals of the States at war with the Axis a wide measure of exemption from the war-time restrictions imposed on foreigners, while reserving my power to re-impose restrictions in exceptional cases where I am satisfied that it is necessary to do so in the interests of national security.
The necessary amending Orders are being drafted and will be published as soon as possible. The principal effect will be to exempt nationals of the States in question from the provisions of the curfew and from the restrictions on the possession of certain articles, and to give them the same freedom of movement as is enjoyed by persons of British nationality subject, in the case of the Aliens Protected Areas, to a requirement (which is necessary for purposes of administration) that they should notify to the appropriate police authorities any journeys which they may make into such areas. I am sure that the House will fully approve of these new arrangements as a fitting recognition of the special relationship in which we stand to those countries which are associated with us in the struggle against the common enemy.
Yes, Sir, as, I informed my hon. Friend, there are certain amending Orders to be made, and I will make them as rapidly as administrative arrangements permit. I can only rely on the Press and the B.B.C. to give the statement the fullest possible publicity, so that those concerned will be aware of the concessions granted.
Can my right hon. Friend say whether these new provisions will apply to the Free French, and whether he has considered that matter?
No, Sir, they, of course, come under the civil and military services of General de Gaulle. They have already had considerable privileges. I think it right to restrict these concessions to the nationals of states actually at war with the Axis.