§ 24. Mr. NOEL BUXTON
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War if he will state the reasons why the exchange of British and German civilian prisoners is opposed by the War Office; and whether very few of the German prisoners would now be fit for military service?
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE (Lord of the Treasury)
Many of the German civilian prisoners in this country are Reservists and quite fit for military service; while nearly all of them would be available for enrolment under the general levy for national service lately brought into force in Germany. On the general question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave yesterday to my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities. I would, however, repeat that the only proposal for a wholesale exchange which the Germans are willing to entertain is one that against our 4,000 at most would entitle them to some 26,000 in this country alone, and 9,000 to 10,000 in the Dominions 2018 and Colonies. In other words, they would stand to gain nearly nine men to our one, namely, over 35,000 to probably less than 4,000.
§ Mr. BUXTON
Can my hon. Friend give any approximate estimate of the number who would be fit for service in the field?
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
May I ask whether there would not be a corresponding, and even a much greater, benefit to this country by getting rid of these. 35,000 Germans altogether?
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
If that be so, would it not be advisable to get rid of all German prisoners of war?
§ Sir J. D. REES
Is it not the case that many interned German civilians are extremely capable men who have now become possessed of information which it is very undesirable that they should be in a position to pass on?
Would it be possible to carry on the arrangement by the pooling of Allied nationals for the purposes of exchange?