HC Deb 07 November 1916 vol 87 cc4-6

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many inspectors are now employed by the American Ambassador in Germany to visit and report on the condition of camps in which British prisoners of war or British civilians are now interned, and how often they go; and if he can state whether representations have been made to the American Government begging them to be good enough to allow additional inspectors to be appointed and more frequent visits to be made?

Mr. JAMES HOPE (Treasurer of the Household)

His Majesty's Government are not in a position to state the precise number of officials at the disposal of the United States Ambassador at Berlin for the purpose of visiting camps in Germany where British prisoners of war are interned, which is a question entirely within the discretion of the Ambassador. The approximate number of official reports on visits of inspection by United States representatives to internment camps in Germany received during the current year amounts to 200. This number includes parent camps, working camps, and hospitals. There is, therefore, no cause to consider that additional inspectors are required.

I should like to take this opportunity of repeating what was said by my Noble Friend the Under-Secretary lately: that we feel a deep debt of gratitude to Mr. Gerard and his staff for the admirable work they have done in this connection.


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the British prisoners of war in Germany are now made to work to the very utmost of their capacity; if he can state whether German prisoners of war in England are made to work; what is the kind of work they do, and for how many hours they are on an average employed per diem; and whether English and German prisoners, respectively, are called upon to work on Sundays?


Many British prisoners of war are undoubtedly kept hard at work in Germany, as are many Germans in this country. The ordinary number of working hours here is eight. As to the nature of the work, I would refer my hon. Friend to the full statement made by my Noble Friend Lord Newton in another place. No work is done here by the prisoners on Sunday, and we understand that one day of rest in the week, usually Sunday, is allowed in Germany.


Is it the fact that the class of work the prisoners in Germany have to do is the reason why they have to receive more parcels?


I entirely sympathise with my hon. Friend's suggestion, and, if it be practicable, I will do my best to bring the matter before the authorities concerned.

52. Major HUNT

asked the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been called to the sentence of twelve years' imprisonment on a Canadian soldier of twenty years of age and to the fact that no parcels are to be allowed to be sent to him; whether, as under the German system he will probably be starved, he can see his way to giving a German soldier in a like case similar punishment without the starvation; and if he will let the German Government know through the American Embassy?


The American Ambassador at Berlin has reported that several Canadian soldiers have been sentenced to twelve years' imprisonment. Endeavours have been made to induce the German Government—on promise of reciprocity—to allow British prisoners of war under sentence to receive parcels of food, but so far without success. Some German prisoners of war are now undergoing prolonged terms of imprisonment or penal servitude in this country.