HC Deb 15 May 1918 vol 106 cc346-7
Colonel Lord HENRY CAVENDISH-BENTINCK (by Private Notice)

asked the hon. Member for Sheffield (Central Division) whether the Government has decided to make proposals to the German Government for an exchange of prisoners of war; whether the proposals will be for the exchange of men who have been in captivity for eighteen months, and also include interned civilians, and whether any proposals for an exchange of prisoners on these lines was made by the British to the German Government at the Hague Conference?


In so far as the question refers to the intentions of the Government, I fear I can add nothing at present to the statement made by my Noble Friend Lord Newton yesterday. As to the last part of the question, however, I may repeat what I have frequently said before—namely, that at the Hague Conference our representatives did propose that privates should be included in the scheme for transfer to a neutral country, and the Germans categorically refused.


May I ask my hon. Friend whether the proposals of the Government will be similar to those of the French Government and include men who have been in captivity for eighteen months and also interned civilians?


As I have said in my answer, I cannot go beyond what my Noble Friend said yesterday. I know full well the expectations that may be roused by an ill-considered answer on questions of this kind, and I should be very sorry to say one word which would disappoint the natural feelings of relatives and friends of prisoners if they were not carried into effect.


Is it not the fact that the French arrangement was published in the French papers ten days ago?


Well, a summary; but such summaries are often very misleading. I have not been able to get the text.


Did the British Government take any part in any of these negotiations for the exchange of prisoners, or was it only an arrangement between France and Germany?


The arrangement lately made in Switzerland was between French and German delegates only.