HC Deb 26 February 1918 vol 103 cc1247-8

asked the hon. Member for Sheffield (Central Division) what are the present arrangements between this country and Germany as to the exchange of officers and men of the mercantile marine who are prisoners of war, either for repatriation or for internment in a neutral country; and whether he can give the numbers of the officers and men, over and under forty-five, who have been so exchanged?

Mr. JAMES HOPE (Lord of the Treasury)

Officers and men of the mercantile marine are entitled to benefit by the various agreements for the repatriation of civilians over forty-five and invalids. They are also entitled to benefit by paragraph 12 of The Hague Agreement, under which 400 British invalid civilians are to be transferred to Holland. To give the total number of seafaring men repatriated during the War would involve much research, but I understand that 210 members of the British mercantile marine and British fishermen have been repatriated since January, 1917. Some British seafaring men may have arrived in Holland this week for internment, but we have not yet received the list; also forty-six have been transferred to Switzerland.


May I ask, not what they are entitled to, but what they are getting? Are we to infer that since The Hague Agreement there have been no merchant officers repatriated except those said to be arriving this week, and is it not a fact that the German Government are waiting to know if we are going to send any of their officer prisoners of war, certified men, before they allow any of ours to leave?


I must ask for notice of that question.


Will the hon. Gentleman do his utmost to effect an exchange of these men of the mercantile marine who have deserved so well of the country?


My hon. Friend may certainly be sure of that, though I am afraid that my answer docs not go very far.