Hansard reports of Commons questions

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4 July 1940

Mr de la Barre

"asked the Home Secretary whether he can now make some statement about the recent civilian evacuation from the Channel Islands?"

Sir John Anderson

"When it was decided to demilitarise the Channel Islands special facilities were made available for certain categories of the population to come to the mainland, and 22,656 persons took advantage of these facilities. In addition, a number of persons left by other means, including air transport. It is estimated that altogether 25,000 persons left the Islands."

Mr de la Barre

"Would not the right hon. Gentleman wish to put on record his appreciation of the tireless skill and courage displayed by the pilots of Jersey Airways?"

Sir John Anderson

"I believe that observation is fully justified."

Sir Geoffrey Mander

"How many people remain on the island?"

Sir John Anderson

"The total population was, I believe 92,000."

Mr Benjamin Smith

"Would it not have been preferable compulsorily to evacuate the whole of the islands and defend them ourselves?"

Sir John Anderson

"That is another matter."

18 July 1940

Sir Geoffrey Mander

”asked the Home Secretary whether he is able to make any further statement with reference to the position in the Channel Islands; and whether he has now received a report from Lord Justice Du Parcq's Committee?

Sir John Anderson

”As regards the first part of the Question, I have no further statement to make. As regards the second part, the committee is a voluntary committee whose main objects are to assist refugees with financial help and advice, to help them to obtain employment and to compile a register of persons known to be still in the islands and of refugees. My Department is keeping in close touch with the committee and is endeavouring to assist in every way possible in the very useful work which it is performing.

Sir Geoffrey Mander

”Has further consideration been given to the suggestion that some neutral representative should be asked to go by air to the islands and see what the conditions are there?

Sir John Anderson

”There is another Question on the Paper about that.

Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence

”Should people who are anxious about friends in the Channel Islands apply to this committee or to a Government Department?

Sir John Anderson

”We are endeavouring to make arrangements through the Red Cross Association and until they have been made it is not possible to secure information from the islands.

Mr Charles Ammon

”asked the Home Secretary whether he can give any information as to the fate of the Channel Islanders left behind who are in danger of starvation owing to the cessation of imports of food necessary for the population under normal conditions, and the evacuation of most of the cattle from the island before the invasion?

Sir John Anderson

”My hon. Friend may be assured that His Majesty's Government will do all in their power to assist our fellow countrymen in the islands—but I think he has been misinformed as to the present position. The statement that most of the cattle were evacuated is mistaken, and appears to be based on the fact that the cattle in Alderney were removed to Guernsey. As I stated last 390 week, efforts are being made to establish communication with the islands through the Red Cross Association.

Mr Charles Ammon

”Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I have communications from relatives there who state that they are afraid they are in a position of starvation and that some of them who have left saw the cattle evacuated from the island?

Sir John Anderson

”I think that my hon. Friend is mistaken.

Mr Charles Ammon

”Will a neutral representative be asked to fly there?

Sir John Anderson

”That matter was considered and not found practicable.

Mr Emanuel Shinwell

”asked the Home Secretary how long before the German raids took place the Channel Islands were demilitarised; and how long a period elapsed after demilitarisation before the Germans were informed; how long a period elapsed between the decision to demilitarise the Channel Islands and the broadcast announcement that such action had been taken?

Sir John Anderson

”There was an interval of some days between the date when arrangements were put into operation for demilitarising the Islands and the date on which the demilitarisation was publicly announced. To have made the public announcement earlier would have been tantamount to inviting the enemy to occupy the Islands or to attack the ships engaged in the evacuation operations.

Mr Charles Ammon

”asked the Home Secretary why, on 29 June, the day before the invasion of the Channel Islands, there was no transport available for the islanders who wished to leave?

Sir John Anderson

”To have attempted to continue until a later date the special arrangements for evacuation would have been highly dangerous, as was shown by events. Enemy aircraft attacked the harbours of both Jersey and Guernsey on 28 June, and it is, I think, a matter for congratulation that before then so many people had been got away safely from the Islands.

Mr Charles Ammon

”Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that all the evidence shows that no attack was made until the 30th and that large numbers of people who had registered to leave were left there; and is there any other case known in which we have given up a land without any resistance whatever and left the people to their fate?

Sir John Anderson

”I have already had to point out to the hon. Member that his information has been mistaken in certain respects. The facts I have given in my answer as to the attack on the 28th have been verified. As regards the last part of the Question, I need hardly say that it was with the very greatest regret that the Government arrived at their decision.

Mr Charles Ammon

”May I send the right hon. Gentleman the information I have got from numbers of letters, including the notice issued by the German Commander?
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