§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. Walter Rea.]
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I rise in pursuance of a notice I gave at Question time to call attention to one or two aspects of the treatment of our prisoners in Germany, to which I alluded in the questions I asked, and which I believe can be illustrated by other aspects of the same question. The House is aware that in this morning's papers appeared two dispatches, which I suppose will be ultimately circulated to the House of Commons, one from the American Ambassador in Berlin to the American Ambassador here and the other from the American Ambassador here to the American Ambassador in Berlin. In those dispatches is described the present treatment of the thirty-nine British officers who have been selected for differential treatment by the German Government and also the treatment of the prisoners who were taken by us from the German submarines. I hope that the description of the treatment of the British prisoners is not unduly favourable, but that now it accurately describes the way in which they are being treated, although I cannot see myself that the procedure even as it stands is one on which the German Government can be very heartily congratulated.
I have received from several sources letters describing the treatment of these officers written by themselves before the date in question. They go down to the 19th April, and I think that is a matter which ought to be brought, as the officers themselves desire it should be, before the consideration of this House and the country so that, at any rate, we should know the actual facts of the case. I do not 1202 propose to mention the names of the officers concerned. The House will appreciate there are obvious reasons why that had better not be done. But I will read to them, if I may, the letters, or extracts from the letters, written by one of the officers selected for this differential treatment, and who has been put, as I understand, into one of the ordinary convict prisons of Germany. This is what he writes on 13th April, and there are other letters which bring the facts down to 18th April:—I don't quite know how to write, but, as yon see, I have changed my quarters, or rather they have been changed for me. I arrived here last night.Then he goes on to say that his treatment, he understands, is because of the treatment of the German submarine officers.We are locked up separately in small cells from 12 feet long to 6 feet broad, and are not allowed to speak to anybody. A bowl with a little coffee in it forms our breakfast, and a mixture of potatoes and meat our lunch. At about 2.46 we walk in a tiny little yard about 20 yards long for about three-quarters of an hour.There is rather a curious thing about the time, because in the margin is written, "One hour.—Censor," by which I understand the German censor corrects the three-quarters of an hour to one hour, in other respects confirming the account of the treatment of these officers. The letter proceeds:—Still not allowed to speak, and then back to the cell for the rest of the day. Roughly this is our life. We are allowed to write as much as we like, and receive parcels and letters, but no smoking at any time. It seems hard we should be brought to this. This life will be a nightmare.There are other phrases emphasising the hardship of the treatment. The next day he writes again. I do not know I need read anything out of the letter to the House. The description is about the same—solitary confinement, about one hour's exercise a day in a little chicken-run, not allowed to talk to companions, and the remainder of the day spent in a cell. Apparently the food has slightly improved. About two days later he writes another letter. I do not think I need read it to the House, because it only emphasises the extreme hardship of the treatment, and, as everyone who knows anything about penal matters realises to be true, the extreme gravity of the punishment of solitary confinement. In the last letter, on the 18th, he writes again saying pretty much the same thing, except that he remarks:—I cannot believe that the submarine officers in England are treated in this way, and we are only to be treated in the same way as they are. I hope at home they know exactly how we are treated. I should like 1203 to say our guards here are civil and do what they can, but it is entirely out of their hands. They have their orders from the German Government and can only obey them. I believe they are really sorry for us. Our case has not been exaggerated in the least—rather the reverse. There are several things one cannot say. I must stop now. Bless you all. I am quite well. My cold is nearly gone.That is one of the stories, and it is confirmed by letters I have seen from two other officers in the same prison written about the same time, and I want the House to know two things about that. In the first place the treatment is deliberately inflicted for the purpose of retaliation for the treatment of the German officers, and these officers are encouraged to write the full account, which is confirmed by the Germans themselves as the full and true account of what is actually going on. There can be no doubt about the facts at all. The second thing I want the House to notice is that this is done by the deliberate and direct orders of the German Government at Berlin. It is the order of the Kaiser himself. That is one case I want to bring to the notice of the House.
Then there is another case of an officer who was imprisoned in a different part of Germany, and who has been moved to another prison where he is the only British officer, with no possibility of any communication at all unless he happens to know German, which I gather from his account he does not. This is the summary which is given to me of his treatment. He was the one British officer removed from such and such a place to another place in Germany. Two letters have been received from him since his arrest. He writes:—I see no one but German orderlies and have a room to myself. Have just had a walk of half an hour in a backyard: the first time I have been out for a week.That letter is dated 19th April. There, again, you have the case of a man kept in absolutely solitary confinement, which is far worse than the first case, because he has not been allowed to exercise with anybody.
There are two other circumstances to which I want to draw the attention of the House in connection with the treatment of British prisoners which were not within my knowledge when this question was last discussed. I have seen the letter of a certain major from another prison which is an ordinary internment camp, and he says the overcrowding is terrible, that there is no attempt at sanitation, and he doubts whether any of them, if the same conditions prevail, will live through the summer. One must say that under such terrible conditions of imprisonment it may 1204 possibly be thought that they are exaggerating, but I confess, after reading this letter, that I should judge it was an accurate account of the position of the officers, and this is entirely confirmed by what a gentleman in Ruhleben told me as to the sanitary conditions of some of those camps. On the last occasion when we debated this subject, there was another case to which I drew attention, of some of the prisoners in one of the German camps who were not allowed to communicate at all with their families in England, and I pointed out to the House then that a letter had been received from the commandant saying that they were not allowed to write. Since then questions had been addressed to the German Government, and I understand that the reason given for not allowing them to write is owing to the prevalence of a serious infectious disease in the camp. Taking all these circumstances into consideration, it does appear to me that the case of British prisoners is very little better in substance than it was when this matter was first raised.
It is true, as far as I can judge, that the food is better and more abundant, but it does seem to me that, at any rate, the Germans are capable, for no adequate reason at all, as we must think, of inflicting upon some of their most conspicuous prisoners great hardship, and inflicting upon them a punishment which is one of the most severe you can inflict upon human beings, and that they are capable of keeping them prisoners in such insanitary conditions that an ordinary British officer says he is confident that they are in danger of their lives. That seems intensely serious. This last aspect is confirmed by the fact, as I understand it—and perhaps we shall hear more about it when a question is put to the Government—that the German Government are still detaining doctors, contrary to all the provisions of The Hague Convention and the Geneva Convention, in prisons under conditions of a very serious character, which are a danger to their health. I have spoken, so far, of the conditions so far as they affect officers, because this happens to be the most easily ascertainable at the present moment, but from all we know of the German character we have every reason to believe that if the officers are treated as badly as that, the men are treated far worse, and that is a very serious matter. I may be asked what is the use of saying all this. I quite agree with those who deplore anything in the 1205 nature of exaggeration in this matter. It is most important that, no exaggeration should take place, because there is no advantage in it at all, and as far as I have been able to do it, I have kept very clear of any exaggeration as to the treatment of our prisoners in Germany. I think, however, that it is most important that this matter should be made clear to the whole world, so that if any lingering doubt as to the character of the German Government may remain in any part of the civilised world it may be removed. That is one thing which we may hope for from publicity.
I wish to bring home to the Government the necessity for carrying out in detail and completely the undertaking given by the Prime Minister on the last occasion when this question was discussed, that these things should not be lost sight of at the end of the War. I should like to hear from the Prime Minister—although it may not be considered necessary—that he intends to fulfil that pledge. I should like to know that the Government are keeping a careful record of all these events, and, as far as possible, of the persons responsible for them. I should like to hear that all this is being done with the deliberate purpose of exacting punishment at the end of the War. I hope that no consideration for the position of anyone, however highly he may be placed, will stand between such a person and the punishment he richly deserves for actions of this kind. I think I might press this matter on the Government for two reasons. In the first place, I am quite sure that there is a very strong feeling in this country on the subject which is not confined to men, but it affects women quite as much as men, and, in my judgment, the women are the more dangerous of the two in such a matter as this. In the second place, I wish to press this matter on the Government for this reason: Before the War we entered into a number of undertakings through The Hague Convention and the Geneva Convention for the conduct of the War. We see those undertakings absolutely disregarded by our enemies, and the most recent instance and the most terrible is the barbarous use of poisonous gases. I am quite certain no one would have thought that credible or possible six months ago.
What is to be our attitude on these questions? Are we to stand calmly by and say, "We spent years in trying to mitigate the horrors of war by conventions, 1206 and they have been torn up by our adversaries, and at the end of the War we shall have nothing to say." It may be said that it is the duty of neutrals to enforce these conventions. I do not know whether it is or not. What I do know is that neutrals have not taken that view of their duty, and they have not attempted to enforce those conventions. Unless we can devise some punishment which shall have effect against those who have broken those conventions, the House, and the humanitarian part of the House, must recognise that there is not the slightest use in ever making another convention with reference to the conduct of war, and nobody will ever be found ready to go to The Hague or Geneva Conference again. Up to the present in this War they have been no value at all, and have only hampered us. I regard that as one of the greatest disasters that has happened in this country, and I do hope that, at the end of the War—when I am confident we shall have gained a victory—we shall take adequate means to punish the individuals guilty of these scandalous breaches of the law of nations. That is the first suggestion which I venture to lay before the House. There are two others. I think it would be very desirable, where possible, to promote the exchange of prisoners. I do not feel at all sure, for reasons which it is unnecessary for the moment to go into, that the German Government would be averse to the exchange of individual prisoners, and, if they would agree, I think that we ought to take full advantage of that inclination from whatever source it may spring. At the present moment any question of exchange has to be considered by at least two of the Government offices. I do not wish to make the least attack upon either of them, but the result, so far as I have been able to observe, is that nothing is done. You go to one office and suggest some particular proposal with reference to the exchange of prisoners, or some question of that kind, and you are told that the other office is averse to it, with sometimes more or less open condemnation of the methods of the other office. Then you go to the other office and find exactly the same thing said.
I do venture to suggest to the Prime Minister that the time has come when he personally should look into this matter and should see, if he is favourable to the policy of exchange at all, that no question of red tape or official difficulty stands in 1207 its way. There is one other suggestion which I would venture to lay before him. It should be discovered whether the German Government would be willing that all prisoners, whether our own or theirs, should be interned in a neutral country. I have some reason, I cannot say that it is much, to think that there is a neutral country that would be willing to undertake that duty.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I have some reason, though I have no possible means of knowing what is the view of the Swiss Government, for believing that it is Switzerland. The Prime Minister shakes his head, and, of course, he knows. I do not know. I have only got what I quite admit is little better than gossip on the subject. Perhaps I have no right to speak of Switzerland in the sense of speaking of the Swiss Government, because I do not know that they have even considered the matter; but I know that there are natives of Switzerland who are very anxious that such things should be carried out. I know that as a matter of fact. I know that such natives do exist, and I should have thought that it was not an unreasonable suggestion or one that need be absolutely set aside. It may be that they could not undertake the care of all the prisoners of war of all the Allies, or of all the Germans, I agree, but they might at any rate take care of the British prisoners and the German prisoners in Britain. It is possible. At any rate, I should like the matter to be investigated, because that undoubtedly would, in my judgment, be a most satisfactory solution. The Government will allow me, perhaps, to say that I am sure they have been assiduous and have taken a great interest in this subject. I cannot help feeling, reading the White Paper and having no other knowledge of the proceedings, that there has been a certain want of energy and resource in their conduct of this matter. I do venture to press upon them and the House the very deep feeling that does exist in the country on this matter. Of course, there may be no means—that may be one of the miseries of war—but, if it is so, I think that they ought to make it abundantly plain that every possible means has been tried and every resource has been exhausted for trying to put a stop to what is, after all, the most cowardly of all crimes, the ill-treatment of men who are absolutely in your power.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
(indistinctly heard): I think it was only a week ago that I explained what was the attitude of the Government with regard to this most painful and, I am sorry to say, still urgent question. I do not know that as regards that general attitude there is any need for me to say more in response to the appeal which the Noble Lord has made than that we are at least as anxious as anyone else that when the proper time comes due reparation shall be exacted from all persons, whatever be their position or their antecedents, who can be shown to have violated what he has very properly described as the most elementary, and, I would say, the most fundamental of all the rules and usages of civilised war. The maltreatment of prisoners is a form of cruelty which was not even common in the Dark Ages, and it appears to have been left, as so many other fiendish devices in this great War, to one of the Christian nations of Europe to invent and elaborate. Nobody feels more strongly on this point than we do, and I can assure the Noble Lord that the most careful record is kept and will continue to be kept, and all the evidence so far as it is available will be perpetuated and preserved in order that when the proper hour comes the technical difficulties may be as few as possible and the means of convicting and punishing the offenders, whatever the appropriate mode of punishment may turn out to be, may be put in force. The Noble Lord has made one or two other suggestions which are entitled to our respectful consideration. The individual exchange of prisoners is always a somewhat difficult matter, because it involves selection, and it is quite obvious that there are people who have interests and influences which might be brought to bear on their behalf and whose case is no harder than that of others. If yon resorted to the practice of individual exchange, then some might, through no fault of their own or of their friends, receive what, for this purpose, can only be described as undue preference.
The Noble Lord had made another suggestion which was new to me until tonight, namely, that perhaps some neutral country might be persuaded, if both sets of belligerents joined in the request, to undertake what would I should have thought be the uncongenial task of interning and caring for these prisoners of war. I am not aware whether such a joint request is likely to be made or could be made, but I am told—I have been told 1209 just now—with regard to the only country which the Noble Lord has suggested and which appears to be the only country geographically available for the purpose, Switzerland, that there has already been found to be insuperable difficulties in the way of its adoption. I should like to say just before I sit down two or three words with regard to the question of these officers which is the immediate occasion of the present Debate. The Noble Lord has pointed out on the strength of private communications which have been got through and received from some of the officers themselves that at any rate in the earlier days of their imprisonment—take the time before 18th April—a very different state of things and a much severer and more cruel state of things prevailed than that which is described by the representatives of the American Embassy who have recently inspected the camps at Burg and Magdeburg.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
As a matter of fact, none of the thirty-nine officers to whom I have made reference were imprisoned at Burg.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
There have been transfers, I understand. I think the report of the American Ambassador only refers to twenty-two out of the thirty-nine, so that the other seventeen are scattered about in various prisons in various parts of Germany, and the exoneration, the partial exoneration, so far as the present conditions are concerned which that report gives to Burg and Madeburg cannot, of course, be taken to apply to the conditions in places with regard to which we know nothing. The Government feel that is a serious matter, and they are taking steps to ascertain what is the condition of things with regard to the officers in these scattered and more or less remote places. My right hon. Friend yesterday sent out a note to the American Ambassador, the substantial part of which I will just read:—Information just received from one of the British officers under barrack arrest shows that the treatment accorded at Cologne differs very materially from that in force at Burg and Magdeburg, where twenty-two of the thirty-nine officers were visited by the American Ambassador. The letter of the officer in question states that the cell in which he is confined measures twelve feet by six feet, and there is a small window which cannot be looked out of. No direct description of sanitary arrangements is given. Smoking is forbidden, there is no supply of hot water, only oil lamps are available at night, and but one hour's exercise is allowedThat is a very different state of things to what is described in the American Ambassador's 1210 report. I know from letters that I have seen from other places that a similar condition of things obtains there. My right hon. Friend concludes his note with an expression of regret at this condition of affairs. The United States Ambassador points out that, at the time the letters were written, the representative of the Embassy had not had an opportunity of inspecting the other places where these prisoners are confined, but he proposes to take the same course with regard to those other places. That, for the moment, is all we can do in the way of further investigation. The right hon. Gentleman also addressed another letter to the United State Ambassador, in which he said:—He presumed that in view of the report made by Mr. Lowry, as to the treatment accorded to German submarine crews in this country, the British officers in question will be treated as officers prisoners of war, and will be sent back, without delay, to the various detention camps from which they were taken.Sir E. Grey asked that that should be telegraphed to Mr. Gerrard and hopes he will shortly hear that the German Government have given effect to their assurances. If that is done, it will be a very great step. It will put an end to the exceptional treatment which is at present accorded to these unfortunate officers.
I state these facts to the House in order that they may see that the Government are not idle in this matter, but are doing everything they can to ameliorate conditions which can only be described as shocking, and to secure proper treatment for these prisoners who have been selected quite arbitrarily, through no fault of their own, but simply on the principle apparently of giving the greatest amount of pain in some way or other to this country by the particular selection made. These unfortunate officers will receive in future, as we hope, all the privileges and immunities which civilised usage accords to honourable prisoners of war. This is a most painful and distasteful aspect of the War. It is one in which we are precluded from anything in the nature of reprisals. We are confident the treatment we have afforded to prisoners of the Empire coming to these shores compares favourably with that meted out to prisoners of war at any time, in any war, at any stage of history. That will continue to be our policy. It is no use, as the Noble Lord said, to appeal either to sentiment or to conventions. If the sentiment ever existed, it seems to me asleep, if not dead. Conventions are scraps of paper which are torn to pieces and scattered to the 1211 winds. Those safeguards on which in days gone by we were accustomed to rely as the effective sanction of civilised usage, no longer exist. All we can do it to maintain a clear record for ourselves, and preserve with a view to future conviction and punishment a damning record of the offences which have been committed.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I do not know that I have anything to add to what has been said by my Noble Friend and the right hon. Gentleman, but I should not like to avoid saying a word or two in order to show the sympathy of our party and of this House as a whole on the subject which has been raised. Let me say, in passing, that it is not a newly arising sympathy. Months ago personally I was greatly distressed by accounts which reached me of the treatment of prisoners. I at once communicated with the Foreign Secretary in writing, and he, on receiving the letter, readily agreed to discuss the subject with me. It was just after Mr. Jackson had had an opportunity of seeing the way in which our prisoners were treated. I pointed out to the right hon. Gentleman, in view of the privilege we had given to this representative of German interests, we were entitled to ask, not as a favour but as a right, that a similar privilege should be accorded to us. The right hon. Gentleman showed me a despatch which he had sent to the American Embassy to that effect, and I was satisfied he was doing all he could. None of us doubt that the feeling of the Government is precisely the same as the feeling of every other citizen of this country. In regard to this War we all know that the Government, and every individual member of the Government, has a task to perform which is or ought to be beyond human energy, and a case of this kind, which has not any direct bearing on the prosecution of the War, might not be carried out with all possible energy. I think we can be satisfied now that the Government are doing everything that they can do in this matter, and I am sure the discussions which have taken place in this House have already been of immense advantage, not merely for any spur that they might give to the 1212 Government—which I think is hardly necessary—but for the interest which they have aroused in this country, and for what, in spite of all that has happened, is of the utmost importance—that the whole world should know on the one hand how we are treating our prisoners and on the other how prisoners are being treated by our enemy.
I heard what the right hon. Gentleman said the other day with the greatest interest. We are all agreed there can be no doubt as to the inhumanity with which British prisoners have been treated. We all wish to end it. The only thing which is in doubt is the best method of ending it. What is the method? The Prime Minister gave a very definite, although quite properly guarded pledge as to what would happen at the end of the War. But what we want after all is not punishment so much as to improve the condition of our fellow-countrymen who are suffering these hardships. I think it is quite right, if there is no better plan, that we should distinctly say these things will not be forgotten when the War ends. But I have not any very great faith in the efficacy of the threat. When the time comes for discussing terms of peace there will be many big issues to be raised, and I am not hopeful it will be possible to get control of the chief offenders and to give them the punishment they deserve. In any case, I am afraid that that is not a threat which will be effective enough now. Is anything else possible? The Prime Minister said, and I am sure the House is pleased to hear it, that he recognises as fully as the rest of us that all these conventions have simply disappeared into the air. Though they do not bind our enemies, and as far as we are concerned, though we shall always be bound by the laws of what is right, and the dictates of humanity, we ought to pay, and I hope we shall pay, no attention whatever to any convention which interferes with bringing this War to a rapid conclusion. That, let me say, is a very different kind of retaliation from what is suggested in regard to the German prisoners of war here. What I mean is that we should disregard utterly—at least I should—any conventions which prevent us from effectively dealing in the field with enemies who show no respect to any conventions of any kind.
I quite agree with the Prime Minister that the last thing that this House or this country would desire would be to inflict punishment on helpless prisoners in our 1213 hands in order to retaliate for the brutality with which our fellow countrymen are being treated in Germany. We could not do it. It would be no use if we tried, for there our enemies would beat us. They would go to lengths which would be absolutely impossible for us. I would like to make this suggestion to the Prime Minister: If we can end this sort of thing, we ought to do it. He has read a dispatch sent to-day, I understand, to the American Embassy, from which he hopes that, as a result of it, these officers specially selected will be put back and treated like ordinary prisoners of war. Suppose that does not happen. I am greatly afraid it will not happen. The German Government have made it, I am afraid, a point of honour, which they are using as an excuse, of the way the submarine crews are treated by us; therefore I am afraid that what the right hon. Gentleman hopes will not happen. I am not going to say anything in regard to our policy in respect to that. I do not think it was wise. What is more—[the right hon. Gentleman paused]—I think it, and I will say it—I do not think there is any doubt that the House of Commons as a whole—we saw it in the discussion the other day—considered it unwise, and although I should be the last to make a change in policy in consequence of threats of retaliation by our enemies, I am not sure that the Government could not reverse that policy without any loss of national dignity, and without any diminution of the prestige either of the Government or of an individual Minister, which is the last thing I desire. I am not sure that they could not do it out of deference to the expressed wish of the House of Commons, which throughout has supported them so loyally in all matters connected with this War. I did not mean to say this, but I have been thinking it, and, perhaps, it is worth consideration. If all these things fail, I do put this to the Government: Is it not possible to find some method of retaliation which will not touch the lives or the bodies of individuals, but which the German Government will feel? I am not sure of this, but I think that, if everything else fails, it is worth the while of the Government to seriously consider whether they would not take the risk of having all British property confiscated in Germany and, in exchange, confiscate throughout the whole of the British Empire every article belonging to a German which is left in our midst. I do not say it would be effective, but I do say we ought not to 1214 allow these things to go on until we have taken every step, or at all events considered carefully every step, which it is possible to take in order to put an end to them.
Sir HENRY DALZIEL
The Noble Lord who brought this subject forward is well justified in the action which he took. There are two aspects of the question upon which I should like to say a word—first, the question referred to by the Leader of the Opposition, the treatment of the submarine prisoners, and secondly, the larger question of the treatment of prisoners in Germany. There is no doubt that the Leader of the Opposition has expressed the views of the House generally, including myself. If the Prime Minister had been here when this subject was discussed before he would have been fully acquainted with the fact that the feeling prevailed that a mistake was made in the manner of the announcement of the declaration of policy with regard to the submarine prisoners, and that the sooner we could retire from it with dignity and advantage to our own prisoners the better. I am only concerned with how far we can advance the general cause we have at heart. As I understand the statement of the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs has to-day communicated to the American Ambassador certain complaints with regard to the continued treatment of a certain number of the thirty-nine prisoners who were isolated in Germany, and that he requests that they may be allowed to return to the camps from which they were taken with the other officers. That is a very reasonable request, and one that some people might think might be granted. The obvious reply of the German Government will be: "Are you still keeping our submarine officers and men separate from the other officers? Are you giving them different treatment, because so long as you continue to give them different treatment, we shall have separate treatment for the thirty-nine officers who are held as hostages."
From the facts given to the House in reference to our present treatment of the submarine officers and men, it is practically a fantastic difference, from that given to other officers. They are allowed to smoke, they are allowed to exercise, they are being well cared for in every respect. We have that on the authority of the American Ambassador, apart from any information we have ourselves. I would ask the Government how far they are 1215 going in order to enable them to reply that there is no special and separate treatment in regard to these submarine officers and men. I see the Civil Lord of the Admiralty present. I would like a little information on this point, because I understand that up to the present, or until this question of the separate treatment of the submarine prisoners arose, all the Admiralty prisoners were under the care of the War Office. I have met scores, I might say hundreds of naval officers and men in the War Office camps. So far as I know until the question of the separate treatment of the submarine officers and men arose, all the naval prisoners were sent to War Office camps. Now we hear that these submarine officers and men are at Chatham, and some, I think, at Devonport. I should like to know whether in future the Admiralty are going to take charge of their own prisoners, or whether the old custom is going to be carried out. Personally, I very much prefer that the custom which has prevailed up to the present time should be carried into effect. You have Donington Hall. There is room there for many more officers and men. Some might be put in the camps at Maidenhead, and the other camp in Wales. Why start new camps under the Admiralty—call them forts, or what you please—when you have plenty of room? Is it intended on the part of the Admiralty to consider this matter separately in future or as it has been in the past? My suggestion is to give these officers and men the same treatment you are giving other officers and men—the men who shot the women and children at Scarborough. Why are they treated at Donington Hall when you are keeping up the farce of keeping these others separate? I should like to know the distinction between the manner in which they are now being treated and the manner in which the other officers and men are being treated. Probably you will reply, they are only allowed to speak among themselves. If that is the ony distinction, the sooner it is done away with the better.
Sir H. DALZIEL
That is a very important admission. I understand that there is no distinction between the way we treat submarine officers and men and the way we treat officers and men captured previously to the present situation arising.
I understand there is no difference between them. The only policy which is being pursued is that they are being segregated, and are being put into a camp by themselves, where there are no other prisoners of war. I understand that the present place of internment is only temporary.
Sir H. DALZIEL
And they are to have all the advantages and privileges of the other officers and men who are our prisoners, except that they are put into a camp by themselves. I think really we are beginning to split hairs in this matter. I suppose that is what the Admiralty announcement meant when they said that in future we are not going to treat them as honourable prisoners of war. They ought to have said that means that they are going to have a special camp to themselves and all the privileges we have hitherto given to the other officers who have been captured. There has been a great deal of bungling about this question. I know the Under-Secretary has nothing whatever to do with it, but I am sure the House will welcome a statement on the part of the Government that now these submarine officers and men are to be treated in exactly the same way as officers whom we have previously captured, with the one distinction that they are to have a camp which is to be called a submarine camp. I hope that statement will get to Germany, and I believe it will do more in the interests of our own officers and men than anything that has hitherto been said in the course of the Debate. I am afraid it justifies what some of us said at the beginning, that to embark on the policy of treating prisoners differently according to our view of their guilt was rather a dangerous policy, and one which, I hope, we shall not hear much of during the remainder of the War.
So much for submarines. One word in regard to the larger question of the treatment of prisoners. It is true that we cannot treat individual cases in exchange. I hope this question of exchange will be kept vigorously before the Government. It injures no one, and it benefits many. Take the doctors, for example. Both countries require many more doctors, and yet we have numbers of German doctors over here, and many of our own doctors are in prison in Germany. Why not take a class like that and exchange doctors to the last man? I know the Under-Secretary is fully alive to that question, and I hope he will press the matter with very great 1217 vigour. With regard to what is being done generally in the interest of prisoners, I share most emphatically the view that has been expressed that there might have been more energy put into the whole question. I know that all the Departments have been much employed with other things, but still this is a very vital matter and it ought to be dealt with day by day, and almost hour by hour. My suggestion in the last Debate was that we should utilise neutral countries more than we have done. Have we taken any steps to have the White Paper translated and circulated in neutral countries? Have we written asking the American Government to bring to the notice of their representatives in all neutral countries the contents of the White Paper? If that White Paper were circulated in every civilised country in the language of that country there would immediately be a great wave of sympathy with British prisoners. A mere Debate in this House cannot be fully reported. Really very few people know of the seriousness of the complaints which have been made, and have been proved up to the hilt. When the Noble Lord refers to them being overcrowded, take one of the cases in Austria, where they were in a van, under the most shocking circumstances, for an enormous number of hours—something like a day, and in some cases more than that. They were on the point of being suffocated, and it was only by striking and hammering on the side of the cart that they were allowed any relief at all. What was the result? They got a carpenter to bore a small hole in the side of the waggon. There is the whole question of mortality amongst the prisoners. I do not know whether the Under-Secretary has any facts with regard to mortality, but if the information which has reached me is even half correct it would be some thing appalling if we knew the exact number of prisoners who have died since they were made prisoners. I appeal to the Government to give this matter very special attention. I do not say it is a solution of everything, but I believe if they had had two or three of their most energetic members to deal with the question throughout more might have been done. It is now largely in the hands of the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and I hope he will give the matter the most careful attention, and that he may in a very short time be able to give us a more satisfactory report of the condition of things than he has been able to do up to the present.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I rather deprecate the idea of the appointment of another Committee. I think what we all want is that something should be done. If the right hon. Gentleman had suggested that there should be one man of push and go I would agree, but I rather deprecate the idea of the appointment of another Committee. I fully endorse what he said just now about the treatment of the submarine prisoners. I have lately read a description of the way in which our submarine prisoners have been treated, and my idea of what that treatment was has been confirmed by the statement just made by the Under-Secretary. Really there is no difference between the treatment of the ordinary prisoners of war in this country and the submarine prisoners. What difference is there between the men who are confined at Donington Hall and other prisoners who are confined in some other place? There may be perhaps written up at the entrance of Donington Hall, "Donington Hall, German Prisoners of War, and on the other the name of the place and "Submarine Prisoners of War," and as far as I can see that is the whole difference. Surely it was not worth while to raise the storm which we have raised for such a very small detail as that, and though perhaps I think the House generally knows I am not in favour of surrender at any time, I think on this particular occasion we might make the alteration which the right hon. Gentleman has just recommended.
With regard to the exchange of individual prisoners, I am sorry to say I do not quite agree for once with my Noble Friend. I am rather afraid that is a policy which might lead to rather serious results. I do not know whether we have, but supposing we have someone who is connected with an admiral or a general, or with Royalty in Germany, of course great efforts will be made to obtain his exchange, but that is just the sort of man we want to keep over here, and though I am against retaliation, I would not altogether say that under no circumstances that are conceivable would I use retaliation. I am rather afraid we might be parting with a weapon if we were to agree to exchange individual prisoners. I quite agree that if we could exchange wounded prisoners it might be all right, or if it were possible to do as my Noble Friend (Lord R. Cecil) suggests, find a neutral country which would provide accommodation for the prisoners—an excellent idea— 1219 that would go a long way to meet the difficulty which has arisen. I hope the recommendation of the right hon. Gentleman (Sir H. Dalziel) that the White Paper should be circulated in neutral countries will be adopted. What the right hon. Gentleman said about the Debates in this House not being fully reported is quite true, and it is more than likely that there are a very large number of people in neutral countries who would be filled with indignation if they knew what had occurred, but who do not know what has occurred or they have only a sort of vague idea that our prisoners have not been treated in the way they ought to be treated. In the Debate on the last occasion speakers on both sides did not exaggerate what had taken place. On the contrary, they minimised what had taken place, and certain of the worst cases were not read out. I think that the White Paper, issued with the authority of the Government, and circulated in the language of the different neutral countries, would have a very good effect.
The Prime Minister said, in the excellent language which he always uses, that when the proper time comes he is going to see that reparation is exacted. I am not at all sure that he may not at the end of the War be able to exact reparation. It all depends upon how far we have beaten the Germans. I do not pose as a military expert, and I will not prophesy upon that matter, but if we give the Germans a serious beating we can make pretty well what terms we like. While I was very glad to hear the Prime Minister reaffirm the statement he made yesterday week, I would point out, and I hope that the Under-Secretary will bring my remarks to the notice of the Prime Minister, that when the end of the War comes, it may be another year, or even longer, and in the meantime these unfortunate people are suffering in the way that has been described. It is possible that the Foreign Secretary has done what I am going to ask: Has the Foreign Secretary taken steps to inform the German Government, through the American Embassy or any other channel, that we intend to exact reparation if we can at the end of the War? That intimation may do no good, but it cannot do any harm, and it might bring home to the German Emperor and the high authorities in Germany the fact that. England is thoroughly aroused upon this matter, and will do what she can to exact 1220 reparation if remedial measures are not undertaken at once. As to the question of property, I think that requires very careful consideration. I would not like to say what the exact effect would be. I think the Government ought to take steps to find out exactly what the position is. Personally, I should be very glad to render any assistance to the Government that is in my power. I have already made some inquiries in that direction, and I should be very glad to give any further assistance to the Government to find out what the exact position is. I hope the Government will exercise that energy which they can put forth when they choose, in an endeavour to remedy the conditions under which these men who have fought so gallantly for us are situated.
§ Mr. W. H. DICKINSON
Many of us must be very grateful to the Leader of the Opposition for having definitely stated in this House that he considers an error was made in regard to our treatment of German submarine officers. I sincerely hope that the Prime Minister, who was present when that speech was made, will realise that the great majority, I believe, in this House are of the same opinion, and that it would be better and that it is in fact essential to find some way to retreat from the position which we have adopted. I think a way can be found without very great difficulty. But when that question has been dealt with, we shall still have the old question of the treatment of prisoners of war in Germany. I feel the greatest anxiety about this matter. I know exactly what the feeling of Germany is at the present moment, and I can well understand that other occasions may arise in which we shall find that our prisoners in Germany are being treated even worse than they are at the present time. It is our bounden duty to leave no stone unturned until we have come to some arrangement with the German Government whereby it is rendered impossible for one side or the other to make complaints of the harsh treatment inflicted upon, their people who are imprisoned in the other country.
The Government, in my opinion, have not given sufficient attention to this problem, which I consider is one of the most important problems connected with the War. I quite recognise what they have done. They have done a great deal. A great deal has been done through the 1221 assistance of the United States Government in inducing the German Government to allow the representative of the United States to inspect the prison camps in Germany. That is a great step in advance. I believe a still further step could be gained from the German Government. At the present time every German believes, or at any rate it is stated in the papers, that the treatment of prisoners in Germany is entirely in accordance with The Hague Convention. On the other hand, a great many of them believe that the treatment of German prisoners, at any rate the interned prisoners in this country, has not been in accordance with The Hague Convention. Why cannot definite steps be taken with the object of securing that prisoners in either country shall be dealt with in accordance with The Hague Convention? My Noble Friend (Lord R. Cecil) suggested that we might get a neutral country to provide accommodation for the prisoners. I do not think that that is a practicable proposal, because in my opinion the responsibility that would be placed upon the neutral country which detained all this mass of prisoners would be so great that no neutral country would undertake it. I think that we are bound to recognise that the prisoners in each country must be kept in the country in which they are prisoners by the people who take them prisoners.
I would suggest that a proposal should be made to Germany that there should be established in each country a small body of men, neutrals, chosen by and appointed by the other country, and that these men should have the duty of controlling the prisons and seeing that the prisoners are treated in strict accordance with The Hague Convention. I suggest that the English should have the right to appoint three members of a neutral country who should have this power given to them in Germany, and that the Germans should have the right to appoint three members of a neutral country who should have this power given to them in this country. We should then be safeguarded in both countries, and I do not see why either country should refuse a proposal of that sort.
§ Mr. DICKINSON
I do not see why they should. It seems to me that the people of this country could entrust three members of a neutral nation with the duty of inspecting and reporting upon the treatment of German prisoners here. We are not 1222 afraid of that. We at once consented to the representatives of the United States of America inspecting our prisoners, and I feel certain it would not be objected to in Germany if it was not objected to on our side. Unless we can come to an arrangement like that I feel certain that questions of difficulty will arise, and we shall find ourselves before long engaged in some other question of retaliation which will bring about still further complications. I trust that the Government, if they do not like my suggestion, will see whether they cannot induce neutral countries to take some action in the matter which will render it impossible for either country to break the rules of The Hague Convention. We naturally protest, and I believe we are right, that we have not broken the rules of The Hague Convention. At the present time German prisoners are detained in camps and prisons under perfectly satisfactory conditions, and we should not hesitate in the least to have them inspected by any number of representatives of neutral nations. I would like to see my suggestions made to Germany, and if she refuses it the responsibility would be hers.
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
I think the most important item of information contributed in this Debate has been contributed by the Under-Secretary, who told us what many of us suspected before, but none of us knew for certain, that there was no distinction whatever between the treatment of submarine prisoners and the treatment of other prisoners save a geographical distinction, submarine prisoners being interned in one camp and other prisoners in another camp. I think that it is greatly to be regretted that this statement was not made much earlier. I am not blaming the hon. Member with regard to that. I think that most of the harm which undoubtedly has been done by the manner in which the subject was treated has been done by the deliberate mystery with which the whole subject was surrounded. We were told at first, weeks ago, that these submarine prisoners were to be treated differentially, that discrimination was to be made against them, that they were not to be allowed the privileges of their rank, and that other distinctions were to be made. About a week ago I asked in the House what were the exact terms of imprisonment imposed upon these prisoners, and at the time I got a refusal to answer the question. As the result of pressure I was promised an answer two 1223 days later. On Thursday last I put down another question. I was then given an answer, showing that these prisoners were very humanely and considerately treated—in fact, I would be only too glad if I could be sure that our own prisoners were being treated anything like as well as these prisoners are being treated. But when I asked a further question yesterday as to what was the difference in the treatment of these prisoners and of ordinary prisoners, I was refused an answer. Up to yesterday it was the policy of the Admiralty to refuse to say whether there was any distinction in the treatment of the two classes of prisoners. I am glad to say that there has been a change to-day.
It is very regrettable that the First Lord of the Admiralty was not here to-day or was not here on the last occasion on which the subject was discussed. This is a subject which concerns him more than any other member of the Front Bench. I support strongly the appeal made by the Leader of the Opposition, and by my right hon. Friend behind me (Sir H. Dalziel), that, now that it is clear that there is no real distinction between the treatment of the two classes of prisoners, we should frankly abandon the pretence that there is any distinction. It involves something in the nature of a climb down, but it is a thing which, seeing that the feeling of the House is unanimous on the subject, might I think, easily be done. There is one sentence which I got in the reply from the First Lord of the Admiralty on Tuesday of last week to which I must call attention, because it is a rather ominous sentence, and indicates, I think, a wholly wrong frame of mind in reference to the treatment of the whole subject. He said:—We cannot admit that the reprisals which have been taken against a number of our own officers can be allowed to deflect us from a policy which we regard as humane and just in itself, and a necessary means of publicly branding a barbarous form of warfare, and preventing it from taking its place among methods open to belligerent nations."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th April, 1915, col. 573.]That is to say, we cannot allow the sufferings of our own men in Germany to deflect us from a policy which we regard as necessary for punitive and preventive purposes. It is quite clear that there can be no suggestion whatever of prevention by the methods which we are using against these submarine prisoners. These measures are not going to prevent any German from doing anything which he thinks fit, and the sole reason for retaining or pretending to retain this distinction is the idea of punishment, 1224 and the sufferings of our own friends and fellow countrymen in Germany are not to be allowed to deflect us from this idea of punishment.
I feel very strongly indeed that this is not the time to think of punishment. We have not got the really guilty persons in our power to punish. We are not in a position to exact punishment. Perhaps also we are not in the mood to consider the question of punishment judicially. It is a painful subject—I think the most painful that has been discussed in this House since the War commenced. My own feeling is that I would submit to any humiliation and any blow to my pride, in fact to almost anything short of something that would weaken us in the field or render of no avail the sacrifices which our fellow countrymen have made, to secure easier and better terms for them. And if all that is required is the lowering of personal pride, the enduring of whatever humiliation there may be in retracting a meaningless statement, I think that it ought to be done at once. I do not think there is much use in discussing the means of bringing about a better situation in Germany. I do not expect much from the intervention of neutral Powers. I expect nothing at all from retaliation. I am very doubtful with the right hon. Baronet about the effectiveness of financial pressure. There is only one real means of helping our countrymen. That is by concentrating upon bringing the War to a conclusion at the earliest possible moment. I was surprised yesterday to hear the Chancellor of the Exchequer basing a portion of his alternate Estimates upon the assumption that the War would be over in six months. No reason has ever been submitted to the House or ever been mentioned in the hearing of any of us for thinking it possible that the War would be over in six months. And I think the suggestion that it was possible, and the basing of an alternative Budget upon that supposition, was likely to encourage too optimistic a view on the part of the country. It was not calculated to compel the country to realise the seriousness of the situation, and the necessity of making the greatest possible sacrifices immediately while they are likely to be of most avail. I think, therefore, we should not devote too much attention to considering the means of palliating the lot of our countrymen in Germany, but we should endeavour to concentrate all our powers and capacities on ending the War at the earliest possible moment.
§ Mr. RONALD McNEILL
There seems to be an idea, which is rather largely entertained in the House, that not only was the policy with regard to these prisoners, who are called submarine prisoners, a mistake in itself, but it should be reversed. The hon. Member has said a good deal about the necessity of disregarding mere pride and doing something for the alleviation of the conditions of our prisoners, even if it should involve a certain amount of loss of dignity. So far as it is a mere matter of punctilio, I should entirely agree with the hon. Member, but I am not certain that it is merely a matter of punctilio. I may perhaps, as I am taking this particular aspect of the case, mention that I am particularly interested, as one of the thirty-nine selected prisoners is a near relative; but while I do feel that it is important that we should do anything we can to alleviate their condition, we might do harm in the long run by allowing ourselves to be pressed. We have got to remember that we are fighting against savages. An hon. Member on the other side talked about making an arrangement with the Germans for observing The Hague Convention. The Hague Convention, as he knows, is as dead as Noah's Ark, and none of these things are regarded at the present moment.
It seems to me perfectly farcical to talk about appealing to any Convention or any arrangement for humanising the conduct of military operations at the present time. We have got to recognise that we are fighting against savages, and, consequently, I think there might be some danger in allowing the Germans to think, from our conduct in regard to submarine prisoners, that in future they have only, in order to get something out of the British Government, to make another turn of the thumbscrew or of the rack; that they have only to say, "We have got so many of your prisoners; we will reduce their diet or reduce their exercise, and give them solitary confinement." They might do all that if experience taught them that, in our regard for humanities of the case, we will at any time allow ourselves to be pressed. That would be a most dangerous position to take up, and therefore it appears to me that the Government would do wrong in allowing themselves to be pressed. Even, in a general sense, if a mistake was made with regard to the submarine prisoners, they ought to be very careful before they reverse the policy which has been adopted, 1226 mistaken though it may have been. I do not care whether it was a mistake or not. The Government should be very careful before reversing it, as it might give a false impression to the Huns with whom we were fighting.
I only desire to say a very few words to the House, for I think the Prime Minister dealt with the most important points which have been raised. A suggestion was made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy that the White Paper detailing the treatment of the prisoners should be published in neutral countries and in the language of those countries. I will communicate that suggestion to the Secretary of State. I cannot help thinking that the condition of these persons is fairly known all over the world, but I readily recognise the importance of letting it be known as fully as possible, and I think the method suggested would be a very admirable way of doing so. As to the question of the prisoners being interned in neutral countries, the Prime Minister made some observations on that point, and, judging from my personal point of view, my own point of view would be that it would be a very admirable scheme, but I feel that it would be exceedingly difficult to secure agreement: that it would be difficult to arrange such a scheme without the concurrence of all the belligerent Powers concerned; and when you think of the enormous number of prisoners that would be affected by that concurrence, I think the difficulty of finding a neutral country to contain them would be an almost insuperable one.
My right hon. Friend the Member for St. Pancras suggested the appointment of a Committee composed of neutrals who should have control of the prisoners' camps. I am very doubtful if any country would hand over the control of its camps to the representatives of another country. As regards the prisoners' camps here, the Government have always courted the fullest inspection; we have nothing in them to be ashamed of, and if the representative of the American Embassy who visited them makes any suggestions, I am sure they will be favourably considered. As regards the British camps in Germany, I am afraid that we cannot be so confident that the suggestion of neutrals will be favourably considered. But I must remind the Hounse again that the powers of inspection, the fullest powers of inspection, have been given to the American Ambassador in Berlin and to his repre- 1227 sentatives. We hope in the next two or three days, if possible before the end of this week, that the report of from some sixteen prisoners' camps in Germany will be published. I do not say that these reports will by any means give us the fullest satisfaction, but they do show an improvement in the conditions of these camps, and I think we should be acting very unwisely, and hon. Members would be following a course which I should most deeply deprecate, if any symptoms were shown of throwing doubt upon the reliability of these reports of American representatives. The representatives of the American Ambassador in Berlin have been chosen with the greatest care; they have taken great trouble over their inspection, and I think it would show great folly and ingratitude on our part if we ventured in any way to throw any doubt upon the reliability of those reports. Some surprise has been expressed by several Members of the House that there should be practically no difference between the treatment of submarine crews in this country and the treatment of other prisoners in this country. I should have thought that this fact had almost been made obvious by the extract of a letter from the Foreign Office sent to-day, and which the Prime Minister read out, and I now propose to repeat:—The Secretary of State has the honour to state that he presumes, that in view of the report made by Mr. Lowry as to the treatment accorded the German submarine crews in this country, the British officers in question will be treated as officers prisoners of war, and will be sent back without delay to the various detention camps from which they were taken.Then the Secretary of State concludes with the hopethat his Excellency will communicate this by telegraph to Mr. Gerard at Berlin, and trusts he will shortly hear that the German Government have given effect to their assurances.The assurance of the German Government was that they would treat those British officers in a similar way to the way in which the submarine crews were being treated here, and Mr. Lowry's report, which must give satisfaction to every impartial mind, shows that those prisoners are, for all practical purposes, being treated in the same way. It has been suggested by some hon. Members that this shows a change in the attitude of the Admiralty with regard to the treatment of these submarine crews. I am naturally not here to speak for the Admiralty, but what I understand is the intention of the Government is as follows: that is, to abide by The Hague Convention with regard to the treatment of prisoners. 1228 The Hague Convention says that prisoners must be humanely treated. I am aware it says more than that. It forbids solitary confinement, which is one of the punishments which the German Government inflicted upon these thirty-nine officers. I am only talking of it very broadly now, but the principles of The Hague Convention have been carried out with regard to the remaining other prisoners of war in this country, and it has been the intention of the Government to give them the humane treatment laid down by The Hague Convention—no more and no less. If similar principles are to be enforced with regard to the submarine crews, it follows that their treatment must correspond to the treatment of the other prisoners of war. We have always wished to combat the idea of any undue luxuries or comfort in the treatment of the prisoners of war in this country. The standard is a proper standard of comfort, without any superfluous comforts, such as perhaps, from some of the remarks and criticisms of the treatment of prisoners in this country are shown, in the view of some Members of this House. Having established this principle of treatment, there is no alternative but to treat them all alike.
As regards the principle of segregation, that perhaps in itself is not a very severe punishment. I spoke to Mr. Lowry, who very kindly came to see me after inspecting these submarine crews. I asked him if he had spoken with the prisoners. He said, yes, and that they had no complaints to make of their treatment at all. The only complaint which they had to make was that they were kept in a naval detention barracks. They considered that that inflicted upon them some sort of stigma. If one was comfortably treated, I should not have thought that it very much mattered what was the name of the residence at which that treatment took place. Anyhow, it never was, I understand, the intention of the Admiralty to keep them in those barracks permanently, but it was desired to find some separate place of internment where they could be segregated. The policy of segregation goes to make a distinction between honourable prisoners of war who are captured and prisoners of war who are supposed to be engaged in acts which practically amount to piracy. I have thought it necessary to make this explanation in view of some remarks which were made in the course of this Debate. If the German Government carry out their assurance that those 1229 thirty-nine officers will be treated in the same way as the submarine crews are treated, I think the House need be under no apprehension that they will be suffering any undue discomfort.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Mr. BOOTH
I am rather astonished at the tone of some of the speeches, especially with regard to neutrals. I should have thought that any country dependent on neutrals and looking to neutrals would be in a sorry plight. What is the use of making representations to neutrals? What did they consider or do in the case of Belgium, where the Germans murdered and ravaged women and burned property? How did that disturb the neutrals? I really do not understand the attitude of some Members in this House in face of what is going on. The one thing that we have got to do is to end this War and beat the enemy. Any idea that we can secure better treatment by appealing to people who were totally indifferent to the fate of Belgium is hopelessly false. Let us look facts in the face. I have in my home at the present time Belgian men short of hands and of legs, which have been cut off by those dreadful people because those Belgian working men were called on at short notice to defend their homes. Was not Belgium a neutral country? It was perfectly neutral with regard to the Balkans and to our Fleet and to the French Fleet, and what recognition did it receive from neutral countries? I have too many evidences inside my own house to make me have any faith in asking those people to see that our prisoners will be properly looked after. I believe that the German Government at the present time is totally impervious to any appeal, whether from the American Government or not. They will go their own way. They have been smitten with a sort of frenzied madness. If the hon. Member for St. Pancras went there with a message of peace, they would spit on him and insult him, and his beautiful forehead would be marred. That is the treatment he would get in Germany, with all his good intentions. Why not look these facts in the face? It will grow worse before the end of the War. In my opinion, the way in which those thirty-nine officers were treated will be as nothing to what will follow later. As the hon. and learned Member reminded us, 1230 directly the Germans begin to feel that we have got the upper hand, and that they are being driven out of France and Belgium, they will get worse and worse. That is my opinion, and we have got to prepare ourselves and steel our nerves for what has to come. It is no use being chicken-hearted, and thinking of going, cap-in-hand, and saying, "Will you be so kind as to receive a deputation of neutrals; we will not send our own people; but will you kindly accept a Chinaman, or a Swede, or a Liberian nigger, to see that our men are properly treated?" I do not understand these appeals at all. I am exceedingly sorry to have to disappoint some of my hon. Friends, but let us face the facts. The principal fact is that we have a mad, ferocious cannibal of an enemy, and the sooner we beat him the better. If we devote our attention to anything else, we shall be disappointed. My right hon. Friend suggested sending a White Paper to neutral countries. What White Paper?
§ Mr. BOOTH
Suppose we select a White Paper and translate it into the languages of the world. Then we have the White Paper showing that our working men are indifferent and giving way to drink. Let Germany distribute that Paper, and what effect will it have in neutral countries? I have no faith in distributing tracts to the enemy or to neutral countries. We must depend on our own right arm; we must get to business; we must make more sacrifices The War will be a long and bloody one, and unless we set our nerves and get to our work we shall not be blessed by posterity. In my opinion, the less we hear of deputations and home missionaries the better.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Adjourned accordingly at Seven minutes after Ten o'clock.