HC Deb 28 April 1915 vol 71 cc702-3

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in reference to the recent outbreak in Singapore, whether the escaped German prisoner Diehn had been convicted of communicating with the enemy, and, in view of the fact that £2 per week is the maximum allowed to any German prisoner in England (whereas prisoners in Singapore were allowed access to their bank accounts), if there was any limit placed on the amount he could draw; were the regulations as to German prisoners under the Colonial Office or the War Office; and will he give the names of those conducting the inquiry in Singapore and say whether it is a public inquiry or in camera; and whether the Report of the Inquiry Committee will be published, so that the public and the relatives of the victims may have an opportunity of knowing whether or not there has been laxity on the part of any of those responsible for the government of the Colony?

The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Harcourt)

I have no information as to the alleged conviction of the German prisoner Diehn, and as I have already informed the hon. Member, I am not aware what limitations were placed on the amounts allowed to be drawn by prisoners from their bank accounts. The control of German prisoners is a matter for the local military authorities. I assume that the hon. Member refers to the Court of Inquiry constituted by the General Officer Commanding. The members of that Court are: Sir Evelyn Ellis, a member of the Legislative Council of the Straits Settlements; Captain A. R. Chancellor, Inspector-General of Police; and Mr. A. W. Vick, of the Chartered Bank. I am not aware how this Court is proceeding or whether its report will be published. These are matters for the military authorities by whom the Court was constituted.


asked the Under-Secretary of State for War what assistance was given to this country by our Allies in suppressing the mutiny at Singapore, and whether their were any casualties amongst the forces landed; whether prior to the outbreak it was known that there was reason to believe that the 5th Regiment (Indian Light Infantry) was in a state of disaffection; if so, what steps, if any, were taken to prevent the disaffected portion of that regiment from having the use of their rifles, and, especially, what steps, if any, were taken with a view to ensuring that the disaffected men could not obtain ammunition; and, if no such steps were taken, who was responsible?

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Mr. Tennant)

Yes, Sir; parties were landed from French, Russian, and Japanese warships, and there were, I understand, two Japanese wounded. A Court of Inquiry was assembled to investigate the whole subject, but, as its report has not yet been received, it is impossible to give an answer to the last part of the question.


Has the right hon. Gentleman any information as to the causes of this disaffection?


No, Sir, I have not. That will be the subject of the inquiry.