§ 4. Mr. MALCOLM
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can now inform the House as to the whereabouts of the British prisoners taken by the Turks in Mesopotamia; and what steps have been taken during the Recess to ascertain news of them and the names of the camps in which they are interned?
Mr. J. HOPE (Treasurer of the Household)
British prisoners taken by the Turks in Mesopotamia are detained at the following places:—Afion Kara Hissar, Broussa, Castamowni, Mosul, Yozgad, Bagdad, Constantinople, Angora, Ras-el-Ain, Adana, Bozanti, Entilli, Eski Chekir, and Konia. We have also reason to believe that there are British prisoners at Amanus, Aleppo, Islahia. but complete information as to the whereabouts of all British prisoners captured in Mesopotamia has not yet been received. In reply to the second question, the United States Embassy were requested on 18th September to ask the United States Embassy at Constantinople by telegraph to press the Turkish Government to supply the full list of the British prisoners of war in Turkey at the earliest possible date. This has not yet been received.
§ 5. Mr. MALCOLM
asked whether the German Government has yet permitted the inspection of camps containing British prisoners of war working in Russian territory; and whether His Majesty's Government has any information concerning the welfare of these prisoners?
The reply to the first part of the question is in the negative; the only Report in our Possession on the condition of these prisoners is one by Captain Draudt, of the Prussian Ministry of War. It is not in accordance with the information received privately, and we cannot be satisfied except by an independent neutral report, for which we always give facilities in the case of our own camps.
§ 6. Mr. MALCOLM
asked what negotiations have taken place between the Recess and the reassembling of Parliament with regard to the exchange of civilian prisoners; what reply has been received to the British proposal of last July concerning a wholesale exchange of civilian prisoners over forty-five years of age; and, if the same proposal was made to the Austro-Hungarian Government, what answer has been returned thereto?
§ 10. Sir CHARLES HENRY
asked if any progress has been made in the negotiations as regards an exchange with Germany of civilian interned prisoners?
Papers will shortly be laid before Parliament showing the course of the negotiations. We have not yet received a definite reply to our last proposal dated 19th September, but we have been informed that it jig under consideration. The nature of our proposal to the Austro-Hungarian Government was explained in the reply to the hon. Member of the 2nd August. The Austro-Hungarian Government have asked for a definition of the expression "military reasons" in connection with the proposal of His Majesty's Government that both parties should have "the right to detain persons for military reasons. We have given the Austro-Hungarian Government a definition and are awaiting their reply.
§ Sir C. HENRY
Can my hon. Friend state whether his Department are now in possession of information by which the ages of the interned prisoners can be classified?
The last dispatch was sent on 18th September. I have no doubt the American Embassy are doing their best, but, unfortunately, the decision does not rest either with us or with them.
§ 7. Mr. MALCOLM
asked whether the offer of the Danish Government, as announced to the House on 10th August, to receive invalid British prisoners of war has been accepted; and whether any such are now interned in Denmark?
We have informed the Danish Government that we highly appreciate their generous offer, which has received our most careful consideration. We understand, however, that ample accommodation for prisoners of war is still available in Switzerland, the only difficulty encountered in the operation of the arrangement in force with that country being that of inducing the German Government to agree to the transfer thither of all the British officers and men who are entitled to the privilege. In these circumstances we feel that it would be premature to extend the arrangement to other neutral countries at present, but should the accommodation in Switzerland prove insufficient in future, we shall be glad to reconsider the kind offer made to us by the Danish Government.
§ 9. Mr. MALCOLM
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any information showing that British prisoners of war in Bulgaria are in great distress for want of proper clothing; what steps are being taken to relieve their situation; and whether any proposals for an exchange of British-Bulgarian prisoners have been made?
A considerable amount of clothing has been supplied to these prisoners from various sources, and more is being sent in parcels, which are found to arrive with regularity. The various regimental associations concerned will no doubt see that all the prisoners are kept fully supplied with clothing. With regard to the last part of the question, an agreement has. been arrived at with the Bulgarian Government for the exchange of incapacitated prisoners of war.
§ Mr. MALCOLM
(by Private Notice) asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether questions relating to the exchange, repatriation, or internment of prisoners of war should be addressed to the representative of the Foreign Office or to the Secretary of State for War?
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Lord R. Cecil)
Any question affecting the release from detention in an enemy country of 167 any belligerent subject has a bearing on our military position, and, in the opinion of the Government, must be determined by military considerations. To avoid the chance of any misconception on the subject it has therefore been arranged that, after to-day, all questions dealing with the exchange, repatriation, or internment in a neutral country of prisoners of war, civilian or military, will be answered by the Secretary of State for War and should be put to him.
§ 8. Mr. MALCOLM
asked the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs how many British prisoners are now estimated to be in Turkish hands and how many Turkish prisoners have been captured by the British Army; and whether negotiations are in progress or in contemplation for the exchange of these prisoners of war?
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the WAR OFFICE (Mr. Forster)
537 British officers and 11,641 of other ranks are now estimated to be prisoners in the hands of the Turks; 439 Turkish officers and 9,751 of other ranks have been captured by British Forces. Negotiations are in progress for the exchange of those who are incapacitated for further service.