HC Deb 31 October 1916 vol 86 cc1530-1

asked the Secretary of State for War if he can say whether captive British prisoners of war in Russian-Poland and elsewhere are still less well treated than those of French and Russian nationality; if he can now give an assurance to this House that when the War Office took over the responsibility from the Foreign Office of dealing with the interests of British captive prisoners of war adequate steps were promptly taken to obtain for them an equality of treatment to that extended to the captives of the Allied nations; and if such equality has been refused, whether he will take steps to mete out to German prisoners of war in this country similar privations and hardships to those which British prisoners have been and still are made to suffer?


As far as we are aware, there are no British prisoners of war in Russian-Poland. There were a few British prisoners of war at Brest Litovsk and Wilna, but these have been sent back to Germany. If, however, the hon. Member is referring to the British prisoners of war in Courland, we do not know with accuracy the actual conditions under which they are living, as all our efforts to induce the German Government to allow these places to be visited by a member of the United States Embassy at Berlin have so far failed. We are not aware whether there are any Russian prisoners of war in that portion of Russian territory which is in German occupation. We are informed that the French prisoners of war who were in Russian-Poland have been sent back to France. We have no reason to believe that British prisoners are worse treated than prisoners of other nationalities. The general care of the interests of British prisoners of war is a matter with which the War Office is now, as always, seriously concerned, and it is believed that everything possible has been done, both by the War Office and the Foreign Office, to ameliorate their condition: but the responsibilities of the War Office in this matter have not been altered by the policy announced in the Press on the 14th October. We have grounds for hope that a member of the United States Embassy at Berlin will be allowed to visit the camps in Courland in the near future.