HC Deb 21 May 1910 vol 116 cc378-9

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he can now make any statement as to what arrangements have been made to allow the relatives of soldiers whose lives were lost on the Western Front to visit the graves in France and Belgium; and can he state if there is any prospect of such visits being allowed during the present summer months?

Captain GUEST

As recently announced in the Press, it is not yet possible to grant general permission to relatives to proceed to France or Belgium to visit graves or cemeteries. Large areas under the British Army of Occupation are entirely closed to visitors, as the work of exhumation and concentration to central cemeteries of all isolated graves is taking place within these areas, and, until this is much further advanced, it is unlikely that the present restrictions can be removed. The removal of restrictions is also dependent upon such other factors as transport and accommodation, facilities for which in the areas in which most of the cemeteries are situated are still quite inadequate.

My hon. Friend is no doubt aware that the Minister of Transport recently announced in the French Chamber that it was not possible to grant travelling facilities at the present time for those wishing to visit the graves of soldiers who have died in France- A similar state of affairs exists in Belgium. As soon as conditions improve and it becomes possible to open up parts of the country, public announcements as to the areas accessible for such visits will be made from time to time.