HC Deb 23 July 1918 vol 108 cc1629-30
46. Sir J. BUTCHER

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that our prisoners of war in Germany are forced by the German Government to work in the mines, and that many of them are totally unused to this kind of work and are suffering hardship; whether any protests have been made through the Netherlands Embassy against this ill-treatment of our prisoners; and whether, in case the German Government refuse to abandon these practices, steps will be taken to compel German prisoners in this country to work in the mines here?


The Agreement concluded at The Hague contains an Article (No. 33), which it is hoped will provide a satisfactory solution of the question of the employment of British prisoners of war in mines, which has long caused anxiety to His Majesty's Government. The Agreement, however, has not yet been ratified.


Can the hon. Gentleman give us any idea when the Agreement made at The Hague will be ratified and the terms of the Agreement made public?


I cannot say that; of course it has to be ratified, not only by this Government, but by the German Government. It might be very inexpedient to publish the text before it was ratified.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the adoption of the suggestion that German prisoners should work in British mines would mean trouble for the Government?


I have heard that suggestion.