Release of Internees, Formation of Pioneer Corps in Australia, Canada Proposed
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Release of Internees, Formation of Pioneer Corps in Australia, Canada Proposed

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A suggestion that the governments of Canada and Australia be asked to form Pioneer corps composed of Jewish and non-Jewish friendly refugees released from internment camps, similar to the corps in Britain, was made today by the Rt. Rev. G. K. A. Bell, Bishop of Chichester, during an extensive debate in the House of Lords today on the position of refugees in Britain and the Dominions.

Stating that the “Pioneers” in England had proved “a most valuable asset to the army” the Bishop also expressed the wish that the Australian government follow the example of the Canadian government by releasing students who will study in the various universities, under a sponsor system such as that now in operation in Canada. He also urged that refugee scientists be employed in the Australian universities. Touching upon the shortage of skilled labor in Australia, Chichester stated that a high proportion of the interned refugees were trained mechanics and recommended that their services be utilized.

Dwelling in great length on the moral aspect of the refugee problem the Anglican church leader urged that full rehabilitation facilities be extended to loyal refugees and demanded that they be given protection under the status of “friendly aliens.” He proposed that the government once again emphasize that no stigma of disloyalty is attached to those who were deported to overseas dominions.


The Duke of Devonshire, Under-Secretary for Burma, who was the government spokesman during the debate, assured the Bishop that the policy of releasing friendly refugees continued but warned that the release of internees now in Australia would take longer than was originally contemplated because of the shortage of shipping and the tightening of immigration regulations in the United States, to where some of the refugees desire to emigrate.

“When passage is finally obtained for all released refugees,” the Duke stated, “hardly thirty percent will remain overseas, but it is scarcely possible to bring all of them back to England.” He expressed regret at the hardships that had resulted from some of the cases of deportation and revealed that the majority of the refugees who were robbed on the S.S. Dunera while en route to Australian internment have already been recompensed. “Although there have been cases where hardship was suffered by innocent persons,” the Duke concluded, “in no other country in the world have people, who after all are of enemy origin, been treated kindlier and with more justice and sympathy than here.”

The Bishop of Chichester’s suggestions were supported by Noel Buxton, Lord Hailey and Lord Farrington. Farrington asked the British government to make representations to the Australian government with a view toward facilitating the publication in the Australian press of denials of the falsehoods that had been spread about the refugees in Australia. Lord Elibank, while agreeing in principle that fairness be used in all dealings with the refugee problem, demanded that dangers that might result from too liberal treatment be kept in mind.

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