Detainees.

Oral Answers to Questions — Civil Defence. – in the House of Commons on 5th February 1942.

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Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

asked the Home Secretary why criminal proceedings were not instituted against Mr. Benjamin Greene, late justice of the peace, on account of three charges laid against him amounting, in effect, to treason, which formed the basis of the reason on which Mr. Greene was detained?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

Consideration was given to the question whether the case should be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions with a view to criminal proceedings, but there were reasons which rendered this course impracticable.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

Is my right hon. Friend aware that on 22nd January last year the Parliamentary Secretary stated that whenever there was evidence to support a criminal charge proceedings were taken in the courts? Was there any reason why that course was not followed in this case?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

There were reasons why it was not followed in this case, but it would not be in the public interest to state them.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

Was all the evidence against Greene made available to the Advisory Committee?

Photo of Mr Irving Albery Mr Irving Albery , Gravesend

In view of the fact, which the right hon. Gentleman has just stated, that it was impracticable to bring these charges, how can he explain that statement when the charges have definitely been withdrawn?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

The question of whether a prosecution can properly be taken is considered in all these cases, and on balance it was decided that proceedings should not be taken. I cannot say any more about the matter because it would not be in the public interest to go into details.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore Lieut-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore , Ayr District of Burghs

asked the Home Secretary what arrangements are in force for the maintenance and support of the families of British subjects detained under Regulation 18B?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

Dependants of persons detained who are in need are eligible to receive assistance from the Assistance Board under the regulations for the prevention and relief of war-time distress.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore Lieut-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore , Ayr District of Burghs

Does my right hon. Friend realise that great hardship is suffered by decent women and children who do not want to go through the unhappy procedure of applying for relief and have no responsibility whatever for the ill-doings of their husbands or relatives who are interned?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

That is one of the unfortunate incidents associated with all forms of detention or imprisonment, and I do not think His Majesty's Government could take the responsibility of providing compensation for the families of detained persons. As I have said, they have the same rights as all other citizens to take advantage of the arrangements for the relief of distress.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

asked the Home Secretary what steps he proposes to take to ensure that no persons are detained under Regulation 18B on false evidence, as in the case of Mr. Benjamin Greene?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

As I previously informed my hon. Friend, Mr. Greene was not detained on the evidence of a single person, and I cannot accept the implication suggested in his Question. When information reaches the Home Secretary which he believes to be reliable, he would be failing in his duty if he did not take appropriate action in the interest of national security and order detention if he is satisfied that it is necessary so to do. Any person so detained has a right to make objections to the Advisory Committee. It after their investigation the Advisory Committee find, as occurred in Mr. Greene's case, that any particular allegation is not substantiated, it does not follow either that such allegation was a malicious invention or that the original order of detention was unjustified. All cases of persons detained under this Regulation are kept under review, and I need not assure the House that I have constantly in mind the need of taking the greatest care in the exercise of the onerous responsibility placed on the Home Secretary by this Regulation.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether it is not the fact that the evidence of the single witness against this man was admitted to be false by the man himself; and would not unfortunate detentions of this kind be avoided in the future if persons detained were told the names of the persons who give evidence when they are not members of the security police?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

I dare say that it would be convenient to a lot of people to be told everything about everybody, but it would not be expedient for the security of the country. I beg the House to realise that the administration of this Regulation is a matter of difficulty and delicacy, and we try to learn as we go along from any difficulties which arise. I cannot be put in the position of having to answer the same question a whole series of times when I have already assured the House that Mr. Greene might have been detained independently of these allegations.

Photo of Mr Irving Albery Mr Irving Albery , Gravesend

Arising out of the somewhat detailed statement which the right hon. Gentleman has just made, can he inform the House what means exist by which a person who has been wrongfully detained can show that to be the case?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

I cannot admit that Mr. Greene was wrongfully detained, and I would remind the House that he has not been unconditionally released.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

I beg to give notice that, in view of the completely unsatisfactory situation and the public indignation which has been aroused, I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment.