HC Deb 01 June 1916 vol 82 cc2878-80

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether further steps are being taken to promote arrangements by which prisoners of war may be removed to neutral countries and interned there on parole under the supervision of the neutral Government, the charges of maintenance, etc., being borne by the Government in whose service they were?


No steps have yet been taken to endeavour to arrange for the transfer to a neutral country of prisoners of war interned in Austria-Hungary, Turkey, or Bulgaria.

Sir J. D. REES

Is it proposed that prisoners of war who are now sent to Switzerland will be free there to do what ever they like, or will they be in camp—


The hon. Member must give notice.

5. Admiral of the Fleet Sir HEDWORTH MEUX

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the probability that the facts of the disgraceful treatment of British prisoners of war in Germany are deliberately withheld from the German Emperor, he will endeavour to arrange that these facts shall be communicated personally by the American Ambassador in Berlin to the German Emperor, who could at once order such treatment of prisoners to cease?


I do not think it would be proper for us to ask for any communication to be made to the German Emperor. The facts referred to have been widely published, and if the Emperor wishes to take any action in the matter he can do so.

14. Major HUNT

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been called to the statements of totally disabled British soldiers just returned from Germany to the effect that the food was so bad that rats would not eat it, and that British soldiers with wounds still unhealed were compelled to dig trenches; and whether, as our prisoners could hardly be treated worse, he could see his way to curtailing most of the privileges now accorded to all German prisoners, including officers?


The Government Committee on the Treatment by the Enemy of Prisoners of War will no doubt shortly take the evidence of the disabled British soldiers recently returned from Germany, and the evidence taken will receive our careful consideration.

With regard to retaliation, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given him on the 22nd May. Questions as to the treatment of German prisoners of war in this country should be addressed to the War Office, but the question of retaliation or reprisals involves considerations both of principle and policy which can hardly be decided departmentally.

Major HUNT

Can the right hon. Gentleman do something about making it clear that the conditions of trade after the War will be more severe?


asked the Under-Secretary of State for War if his attention has been directed to the statements of returned British prisoners of war from Germany that while many men regularly receive parcels of food and comforts from this country others do not receive parcels for months together; and if the War Office will undertake the organisation of the numerous agencies for the dispatch of food and comforts to British prisoners of war, so as to ensure that every man will receive a regular share of these gifts?


There is reason to believe that the supply of parcels to prisoners of war in Germany would be more efficiently carried out if the efforts of the numerous organisations which have taken up this work were properly co-ordinated. Steps have already been taken to effect this.