HC Deb 17 October 1916 vol 86 cc343-5

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any official information that the Norwegian Government has offered to receive British invalid prisoners of War; and, if so, what reply has been sent to the invitation?

Mr. JAMES HOPE (Treasurer of the Household)

The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative, and the second part does not, therefore, arise.


asked what is the latest information in the possession of the Government with regard to the treatment of the British prisoners of war in Germany; and whether any further communication has been received from the International Bed Cross Committee since the reply of the British Government to this Committee of 11th August last?


The latest reports from the United States Embassy at Berlin as to the treatment of our prisoners of war in Germany show some improvement; the reply to the second part of the question is in the negative.


asked whether the Government have received any information as to the treatment in Germany of British aviators who may have been captured; and whether any special measures have been taken with respect to any of them?


The Government have no special information, but it is believed that officers of the Royal Flying Corps are usually well-treated.


asked whether an agreement has been reached between the French and German Governments whereby sentences of death and other grave penalties passed on prisoners of war will be delayed until the end of the War and whereby French prisoners condemned to work in Russia will be returned to Germany, and whether negotiations to the same effect have been concluded between the British and German Governments?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. As regards the second part, His Majesty's Government have reason to believe that French prisoners of war formerly in Russian territory have been sent back to Germany. As regards the third part of the question, the Foreign Office is in communication with the Army Council as to the advisability of negotiating similar arrangements with the German Government.


asked what has been the result of the British protest made through the United States Ambassador on 7th June as to illegitimate deduction from moneys sent to British prisoners of war in Germany; and whether this practice has been discontinued?


The United States Embassy has recently informed us that remittances by money order to British prisoners of war in Germany will now be paid in full, and that the balance due on previous remittances will be credited retrospectively to the prisoners. The German Government assert that remittances other than those by money order have always been paid in full.


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can announce any new arrangement whereby benevolent societies and individuals in Great Britain have been co-ordinated with the view of securing the better regulation of the dispatch of food and clothing to prisoners of war in Germany?


A communique appeared in the Press on the 15th ult. stating that, in order to co-ordinate the various efforts being made by associations and individuals in connection with the dispatch of comforts to British prisoners of war, the "Joint War Committee of the British Red Gross" and the "Order of St. John" had been invited by the War Office and Foreign Office to take over all questions relating to the welfare of all British prisoners (combatant and civilian), including those interned in neutral countries. This work will be carried on by a Special Committee which will be presided over by the Eight Hon. Sir Starr Jameson, Bart., C.B., and will include members nominated by the Joint Committee of the Red Cross and Order of St. John, representatives of Prisoners of War Help Committee, and a representative of the Indian Soldiers' Fund. This committee is now arranging preliminaries, and a further announcement will shortly be made as to the date from which the Committee will start operations.


asked whether the Royal Defence Corps guarding the prisoners of the war camp at Frith Hill are under canvas; and are other arrangements soon to be made for their accommodation?


The answer to the first part of question is in the affirmative. The camp at Frith Hill will be closed shortly, and prisoners will be removed to a hutted camp.


asked the Secretary of State for War how many German prisoner camps there are in Great Britain and Ireland, including the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, and how many British prisoner camps there are in Germany; can he say how many British-born ministers of religion are serving our prisoners in Germany, and how many German-born ministers are available for German prisoners in this country; and whether any negotiations are concluded or are in progress to increase these numbers in both countries?


The answer to the first part of the question is forty-two. This number includes working camps. I cannot say precisely the number of camps for British prisoners of war in Germany, as the number is constantly varying, and no camp is exclusively reserved for British prisoners. The answer to the third part of the question is one, and to the fourth part five, of whom two are interned. A proposal that certain British ministers of religion should be allowed to proceed to Germany to work in the camps was made, but has been definitively refused by the German Government.

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