§ 2. Mr. MALCOLM
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will consent to place in the Library of the House at least one copy of such reports as he may receive concerning 4 the treatment of British prisoners of war at the same time as such reports are supplied to the Press?
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Lord Robert Cecil)
If there is any general desire that this course should be taken, there is no objection to it.
§ 3. Mr. MALCOLM
asked the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs whether he as received any reply to his last proposal to the German Government on the question of the treatment of British civilian prisoners at Ruhleben; and whether he can add anything to his last public statement with reference to this matter?
8. Sir H. DALZIEL
asked the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs whether he is able to communicate the reply of the German Government to the representations and threats of reprisals that have been made by the British Government in reference to the treatment of prisoners in Ruhleben camp; and what action, if any, it is proposed to take in the matter?
§ Lord R. CECIL
The Note of the German Government which was despatched within the time limited by our Note has now reached us. It denies that insufficient food is being given to our prisoners, and while rejecting our proposal as to exchange, makes another proposal on the subject. His Majesty's Government are considering what reply should be sent to it, and will communicate the German Note and our reply to this House as soon as possible. In the meantime, we are asking for a further Report on the conditions at Ruhleben.
§ Mr. MALCOLM
Can my Noble Friend give us no information as to the contents of the German answer to the ultimatum?
§ Lord R. CECIL
I did state very briefly what was contained in it. It denies that insufficient food is being given to our prisoners, and while rejecting our proposal as to exchange makes another proposal in substitution. If my hon. Friend' will repeat his question, I hope to-morrow, or by the latest on Wednesday, I shall be able to give a fuller answer.
§ 4. Mr. MALCOLM
asked the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs whether he will make further inquiry into the unfair-rate of exchange for English money given to British prisoners in Germany; and whether, in the meanwhile, he will advise the public to transmit money to Germany in Marks rather than in pounds sterling?
§ Lord R. CECIL
Remittances by money order from this country to British prisoners of war in Germany are advised through the Netherlands Post Office in Marks. Messrs. Holt and Company have informed us that they utilise money orders in making the remittances in question, and Messrs. Cox and Company have informed us that the remittances they make are forwarded by their agents in Holland to Germany in Marks. It is, therefore, difficult to understand how the application of a fictitious rate of exchange can account for the deductions which are made. We hope to clear the matter up with the assistance of the United States Ambassador at Berlin, to whom we have explained the position. As it appeared certain that deductions were being made by the German Government, we made a strong protest through the United States representative on the 7th June, but have not yet bad a reply. It follows from what I have already said that there would be no object in advising the public to transmit money to Germany in Marks.
§ 11. Colonel Lord HENRY CAVENDISH-BENTINCK
asked the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the absence of co-ordination in the arrangements for sending parcels to prisoners of war, both civil and military, resulting in waste and inequality of distribution, he will, in consultation with the War Office, set up a central department entrusted with the care of prisoners of war and the coordination of the efforts of the charitable associations which are now sending parcels to them?
§ Lord R. CECIL
The Prisoners of War Help Committee, 39, Russell Square, W.C., was established early in the War for this purpose. The committee is in close touch with the regimental and other prisoners aid societies. We should be very glad if all prisoners aid societies would act in conjunction with the committee, and thereby obviate the waste and inequality of distribution referred to.
57. Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
asked the Prime Minister whether the Government is willing to allow British officers and men now prisoners of war in Germany to give their parole that if released they will not again engage in combatant service in this War; whether it would itself be prepared to give an undertaking not to employ such released prisoners of war in combatant 6 service in this War; and whether it will be prepared to release reciprocally German prisoners of war on similar conditions?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I doubt if a general discussion on the Foreign Office Vote would be desirable in the public interest. But if there is any desire for a discussion on the condition of British prisoners in Germany, I will see what can be arranged.
§ 87. Mr. OUTHWAITE
asked the Secretary of State for War whether he can state how many German prisoners of war have been transferred from imprisonment in this country to the French Government for labour purposes; and whether, as an act of retaliation, the German Government has sent British prisoners of war to work in captured territory in Poland, and, if so, how many?
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the WAR OFFICE (Mr. Forster)
Two thousand seven hundred German prisoners of war have been transferred to British camps in France, where they are under the same Regulations as prisoners in this country. They have not been handed over to the French Government. Notification has been received that the move of British prisoners, understood to be 2,000 in number, to Poland, was consequent on the dispatch of German prisoners to France.