§ 21. Mr. HUME-WILLIAMS
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War where General Townshend is now interned and how long has he been a prisoner; whether he will, if possible, make arrangements under which this officer may be exchanged for one or more Turkish prisoners and thus be enabled to return to this country?
Mr. J. HOPE
I am informed that, so far as the military authorities are aware. General Townshend is at present at Constantinople. He has been a prisoner of war since the fall of Kut on 29th April, 1480 1916. The Army Council do not at present consider it advisable to approach the Turkish Government with a view to obtaining General Townshend's exchange.
§ Mr. HUME-WILLIAMS
Is it not the fact that since the War there have been one or two exchanges effected, and if that is so, does not the hon. Gentleman think that some attempt might be made to secure the return to England of this very distinguished officer?
As to the one or two exchanges, I am not aware to what my hon. and learned Friend alludes. The matter is in the hands of the Army Council, but I would remind my hon. and learned Friend that a proposal for a large exchange of prisoners was recently made to the Turkish Government and it was refused by them.
§ Lord H. CAVENDISH-BENTINCK
May I ask why the hon. Gentleman will not urge the importance of asking for the exchange of private soldiers who are in Turkish hands before asking for the exchange of this distinguished General, who is, after all, undergoing no very great hardship?
All the authorities concerned are fully alive to the importance of this matter, but at present the Turkish Government does not seem to be in a receptive mood. The authorities are fully alive to the most unhappy situation of our soldiers in Turkey.
§ Mr. BILLING
In view of the value of the evidence of such men in any proceedings, will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to have the men back in time?