HC Deb 27 March 1917 vol 92 cc180-1
6. Major HUNT

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been called to the account of the way German prisoners in certain quarries shirk doing anything like a fair amount of work or refuse to work altogether, and jeer at British workmen who have to do their work; and can he take steps to give the British commandant power to punish these prisoners, especially in view of the way our men are underfed and compelled to work hard in Germany?


I am informed by the military authorities that in November, 1916, a certain number of German prisoners of war refused to work in a quarry unless they received higher pay and larger rations. Disciplinary action was taken under Royal Warrant, with the result that the prisoners returned to work under normal conditions.


Are the German prisoners working satisfactorily now; and, if not, are there any means of compelling them to do so?


That is rather a general question. My information is that the German prisoners are working satisfactorily. II they are combatants—that is to say, military prisoners—there are means of forcing them to work, but if they are civilian prisoners their work is voluntary.


Are compulsory means being taken when the occasion arises?


So far as I know, this and one other are the only cases in which the need has amen, and in those cases the necessary remedy was applied.