Orders of the Day — Racial, Religious and Political Minorities.

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 21st November 1938.

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Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

There are camps and camps. Further, I would ask the Home Secretary whether he does not think there is a case for amending the Aliens Act. I appreciate to the full the human sympathy which he, and the Home Office under him, have shown in dealing with the refugees. I believe they have tried to do all they can under the law as it is at present. But the Aliens Act was not passed to deal with a situation like this. It was never intended to exclude political exiles, and I should have thought there was a case for making it very much easier for refugees who have something to come to this country without enforcing all the rules and regulations which exist at present, which include getting people to guarantee them here for the rest of their lives. There might with great advantage be a relaxation of the rules. Another point is this: Refugees who have been admitted for a month or three months get a notification naturally when the time is up, and have to take steps to get the period extended, and of course it is extended, because there is no idea of sending them back, but the letters sent to them are of rather a formal nature and very often sound somewhat alarming to the persons who receive them, because they appear to intimate that the recipient must clear out of the country as rapidly as possible. I know that that is not the intention, and if some consideration could be given to the way in which the matter is put, it would relieve a good deal of anxiety.

I should also like to mention the possibility of the setting up of Czech factories here. Czechs in Sudetenland did a good deal of trade with the United States, and the good will they created with the people in the United States still exists, but it does not exist between the United States and Sudetenland, and those Czechs, with all their knowledge and experience are now leaving and setting up factories in France, as I know. I hope that encouragement may be given to them to set up factories here. Those factories will employ British labour and increase our export trade to the United States. It has been proved that more persons are employed by refugees at the present time than the number of the refugees themselves who have actually come in. Finally, I hope that the horrible sufferings of these people, whose only crime is that they belong to a particular branch of the human family, and one of the most distinguished branches of it, will so touch the hearts of mankind that immediate, practical and resolute steps will be taken by this Government, in conjunction with the other Governments of the world, to solve the problem.