I beg leave to present a petition signed by more than 6,000 people. It is appropriate that it should be presented on the day that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is likely to receive the report of Sir Thomas Hetherington's inquiry into suspected Nazi war criminals.
In October 1986 my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was sent a list of 17 individuals suspected of war crimes and resident in the United Kingdom. Currently, the British Government have no jurisdiction to try in the United Kingdom individuals who committed a crime outside the United Kingdom before they became British citizens. Other countries, such as Canada and Australia, have recently altered their laws to allow the prosecution of war criminals.
Anyone who has read the history of the holocaust or who has visited Yad Vashem realise how heinous was the nature of Nazi war crimes. For Nazis, no activity was too vile, no degradation too cruel.
I apologise, Mr. Speaker. I have never before presented a petition. My error can be blamed on my innocence and good nature. I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your tolerance.
The petition is as follows:
To the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled. The Humble Petition of the residents of the United Kingdom sheweth:
That up to 250 alleged Nazi war criminals are living in the United Kingdom today.
That the Governments of Australia, Canada and the United States have recently changed their law to bring such persons to justice.
Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your honourable House will take appropriate measures to ensure that those accused persons in the United Kingdom are brought to justice swiftly. And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c.