LONDON (Jul. 21)
Members of Parliament who led the fight against the Government’s policy of wholesale internment and overseas transportation of refugees are awaiting Home Secretary Sir John Anderson’s promised statement on Tuesday, which is expected to announce radical modification of the present system, which the press has already designated as ” the refugee scandal.”
Meanwhile, addressing a meeting at the Ministry of Information, Parliamentary Secretary Harold Nicolson condemned rumors against refugees and warmly pleaded for consideration in their behalf. Asserting that thousands had been interned to enable a test of good faith, Nicolson reminded his hearers that the refugees ” loathe Hitler as much as we do” and urged them not to forget that ” we are fighting this war for the defense of human decency and kindness.”
“Let us be kind to the unhappy stranger within our gates,” Nicolson said, ” and let us, while taking no unnecessary risks, commit no unnecessary cruelty. Let each one of us so conduct himself to refugees that when peace comes again we will have no cause to blush for any word, look or deed.”
Since the Commons debate on July 10 focussed attention on the question there has been a remarkable swing of sentiment here for a more humane and satisfactory policy toward refugees. Even newspapers such as the Daily Express, which was never over friendly towards refugees, is joining in the general chorus of denunciation, demanding utilization of the refugees’s services. No day has passed without numerous questions in Commons regarding the treatment of refugees.
Despite assurances that certain categories of valuable refugees will be exempted from internment, parliamentarians complain that there is no improvement in the situation and internments are continuing without discrimination and without release of internees. It is reported that overseas transportation is continuing, even of those who are with in exemptible categories.
More than 25,000 refugees have already been interned , of whom 7,500 have been transported overseas up to July 9. Among the interned are outstanding anti – Nazi leaders, writers and skilled workers who could make a valuable contribution to the war effort. There are even scientists who were employed by the Government in advisory capacities.
Scores of cases of tragedy and hardship of divided families, as well as difficulties imposed on industry by the removal of key workers, have been disclosed. At least half of the internees are awaiting United States visas.
Parliamentarians are aroused not only by the general policy of internment, but at the treatment of the refugees after they are interned. Anti – Nazis are lumped together with Nazis in camps and are transported overseas together with Nazis.
The Arandora Star muddle is vexing them particularly since, despite the official statement that there were no refugees aboard, several parliamentarians claim positive proof to the contrary and have asked War Secretary Anthony Eden to investigate.
Unless Anderson’s statement satisfies the crities that sufferings, hardships and economic waste will be eliminated from the present system, then a strong all – party group headed by Major Victor Cazalet, Conservative, and Miss Eleanor Rathbone, Independent, have announced they will press for a full debate.