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Yes, Sir. The case is being closely watched by His Majesty's Ambassador in Paris. Mr. Wodehouse, who was arrested in Paris on 20th November on the ground that he had broadcast from Berlin, was released on 24th November on condition that he should reside in a hospital. I understand that he may be regarded as residing there under surveillance for the present. He has been visited by a member of His Majesty's Embassy and also, I understand, by relatives who report that he is in good health. So far as I am aware, Mr. Wodehouse has expressed no wish to come to this country, but I am taking steps to confirm this. I am also asking the French Government to state the legal grounds upon which this residence under surveillance is being maintained.
My hon. and gallant Friend will see that there is no question of trial, and no question of a charge. What I am asking the French Government to tell us—and I have no doubt they will do so—are the grounds upon which residence under surveillance are being maintained.
Does my hon. and gallant Friend mean that we should take positive measures ourselves, to bring Mr. Wodehouse to England? If so, I can tell him—though it is not a matter for me, but for the Home Office—that that matter has been gone into, and, according to the advice given, there are no grounds upon which we could take action.
Is it not obvious that a person who broadcasts on the enemy wireless and receives a fee, either in kind or money, is trading with the enemy, and is punishable under the Act which deals with that offence?
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make representations to the French Government that Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, detained in France on suspicion of having aided the enemy, should be handed over to the British authorities with a view to bringing him to this country for trial.
No, Sir. I understand that this case has been considered by the appropriate authorities here, who have advised that the information at present available affords no ground for legal proceedings in this country. The question of asking the French Government to hand Mr. Wodehouse over to the British authorities does not, therefore, arise.
As the gentleman concerned is generally considered a British subject, surely any action taken with regard to what he has done during the war should come under our control?
I have explained that the question whether there are any grounds for legal proceedings against Mr. Wodehouse is not a matter for me, but I have answered the Question because the matter has been gone into, and it has been agreed that there are no legal grounds.
That I do not know; that I have not been told. I think the position is clear. Unless we had legal grounds for asking that a British subject should be repatriated, there is no case on which I could proceed.
As a serious legal principle is involved, will the right hon. Gentleman consult again with the appropriate authorities, with special reference to the question of trading with the enemy?