§ 5. Mr. HARRY LAWSON
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can present to the Governments of neutral countries a comparative statement showing, on the evidence now in his possession, the differences in the treatment of British prisoners of war by the German Government and of German prisoners of war here?
The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. Primrose)
Full statements as to the treatment of 249 German prisoners of war in this country were supplied to the United States Ambassador for the information of the German Government on 2nd and 14th December, and on 3rd February a further supplementary statement on the subject was supplied to the United States Embassy. The United States Ambassador was asked on 9th January to obtain from the German Government answers to a series of questions relating to the treatment of British prisoners of war in Germany. No reply has yet been received to this request. An urgent reminder on the subject has already been sent to the United States Ambassador.
§ Mr. LAWSON
May I ask whether such statements are supplied to other neutral Powers as well as to the United States?
I think it was supplied to the United States of America to be conveyed to the German Government.
§ Mr. LAWSON
Is there any reason why the same statement should not be presented to the Governments of other neutral States to produce a moral effect?
§ 35. Lord CHARLES BERESFORD
asked whether the time has arrived when the German Government should be given to understand that unless British prisoners of war, both military and civil, receive better treatment in Germany than they do at present, steps will be taken by His Majesty s Government to treat German prisoners of war in this country in a less lenient manner than heretofore?
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Asquith)
This matter is under the consideration of the military authorities.
§ 36. Lord C. BERESFORD
asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the fact that £20,000 has been expended on Donington Hall in order to accommodate interned German officers; whether British prisoners in Germany have received bad treatment and frequent insult; whether British prisoners are worse treated than prisoners of the Allies; and, if so, will he state why 250 such a large sum of public money has been used for providing extra comforts for Gorman prisoners?
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Mr. Tennant)
As my hon. Friend stated yesterday in a written answer to a question by the hon. Member for Prestwich, the approximate expenditure on Donington Hall is £13,000, of which about £4,000 is for furniture. Information received from unofficial sources gives ground for apprehension that British prisoners in German hands are not so well treated as they should be. Statements to the effect that this treatment is harsher than that meted out to prisoners from the Allies are not sufficiently well established to allow me to speak with any certainty on this point. The general treatment seems to vary considerably in the different camps.
§ Mr. RONALD M'NEILL
Is it a fact that these German officers, to save the trouble of walking a mile, were taken by motor car, whereas the National Reservists who were guarding them had to walk?
§ Mr. BUTCHER
Was it necessary for the treatment of these German officers that a large country house should be taken for them at this very large expense?
§ Mr. TENNANT
There was no other accommodation available. Nearly all the available accommodation for prisoners has been used, particularly for aliens, inasmuch as we had to commandeer ships.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. McKenna)
My right hon. Friend has asked me to answer this question, as it relates apparently to an incident at the Knockaloe Camp, Isle of Man, which is under the supervision of the Destitute Aliens Committee. About a month ago my attention was drawn to the fact that some of the prisoners were using in their 251 combined exercises pieces of wood which they had cut to resemble rifles. I gave instructions at once that the practice should be stopped.
§ Mr. McKENNA
No, Sir. They are engaged in combined exercises, but I do not know how far they resemble or how far they differ from drill.
§ Colonel YATE
Cannot some useful work be given to these people that will be of benefit to the country?
§ Mr. McKENNA
Yes. Every step is taken in order to find useful work for them; still, exercise is not a bad thing.
§ Mr. W. THORNE
Cannot the right hon. Gentleman supply some of our soldiers with boxing gloves to keep them in order?
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the WAR OFFICE (Mr. H. Baker)
The pay of officers who have been taken prisoners continues to be drawn by their agents and presumably is credited to their private accounts. The War Office has no power to determine the conditions under which wives or others may draw on officers' private accounts, but it is understood that the officers have generally made such arrangements as they thought desirable, and no cases of hardship of the kind suggested are known to the War Office.
§ 68. Sir JOHN LONSDALE
asked what steps the Government are taking to obtain the release or mutual interchange of medical prisoners of war?
I would refer the hon Member to the answer returned on the 22nd instant to the hon. Member for Hitchin.