§ 10. Mr. R. Gibson
asked the Secretary of State for War what deductions are made from a British officer's account during the period that he is a prisoner of war in Germany?
§ Mr. Gibson
Is it correct to say that these amounts together come to roughly £10 a month in the case of a subaltern?
§ Mr. Bellenger
Are officers who are prisoners of war able to draw advances of pay up to the extent of the credits that they have with their regimental funds in this country?
§ 20. Sir William Davison
asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that many prisoners of war at Oflag VII Camp have only the battle dress which they were wearing when captured in the summer and are without overcoats; and whether, pending the arrival of Red Cross parcels, representations will be made to the German authorities that clothing be temporarily provided, as has been done in the case of German prisoners of war in Great Britain?
§ Mr. Eden
I am aware that many prisoners of war in Germany lack winter clothing, and I am using every means in my power to effect a remedy. The German Government have been urged, through the diplomatic channels available 1806 to us, to fulfil their obligations in this matter, and the American Government has in the last few clays been asked to make further representations.
§ Sir W. Davison
Has the attention of the German Government been drawn to Article 12 of the Geneva Convention, whereby captor States have agreed to supply clothing, underwear and boots, and to keep them in repair?
§ 23. Sir W. Davison
asked the Secretary of State for War whether he can assure the House that weekly parcels of food and clothing are now reaching British prisoners of war camps in Germany and, in particular, are reaching the 1,500 British prisoners of war in Oflag VII Camp, where it is understood that few, if any, food parcels had been received from early July up to mid-October, the prisoners suffering severely from the wholly inadequate rations supplied to them; and whether deductions have regularly been made from officers' pay in respect of the inadequate diet provided?
§ Mr. Eden
As I wrote in answer to a Question last Tuesday, a telegram from the American Embassy in Berlin states that between 13th and 19th October, 1,838 parcels of food, clothes and books have been received by prisoners of war in Oflag VII Camp, and the flow of parcels is continuing. With regard to the latter part of the Question, the answer is in the affirmative; but the deductions now being made on account of pay issued by the German Government and of the messing provided by that Government will be reviewed as soon as official agreement is reached with the German Government, through diplomatic channels, on the rate of exchange to be applied to issues of pay to prisoners of both countries.
§ Sir W. Davison
Is my right hon. Friend aware that a great many of the parcels to which he has referred were parcels of books and were not wholly confined to food; and also that I receive letters from all over the country saying that many of our men are actually too 1807 weak to play games or to take active exercise because of the lack of ordinary food, and that they ask even for oatmeal to be sent to them to mix with their watery soup; and cannot anything more be done, because I am told that the Polish and French parcels are arriving much better than our own?
§ Mr. Thorne
Has the right hon. Gentleman any information as to the amount and quality of the food that they are receiving in Germany?
§ Major General Sir Alfred Knox
Is my right hon. Friend aware that in the camp at Oflag VII there are 1,600 prisoners and that this number of parcels may not have meant a parcel of food for each man?
§ Sir W. Davison
Can my right hon. Friend say whether cigarettes as well as books can be sent direct by next of kin, because there is a great deal of misapprehension in the country whether cigarettes can be sent as well as books, or whether they have to go through the Red Cross?
16. Miss Ward
asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will inquire into the co-operation between the records 1808 departments and the prisoners-of-war organisations, in order that there may be the greatest possible efficiency in the despatch of parcels to prisoners of war?
§ Mr. Eden
I have seen certain statements and suggestions to the effect that recent difficulties in despatching parcels to prisoners of war were due to a breakdown of the Casualty Branch of the War Office. These statements are based on a misapprehension of the machinery for sending parcels of food and clothing to prisoners of war. The War Organisation of the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St. John does not rely for this purpose upon information supplied to it by the Casualty Branch. The War Organisation receives without delay, and without any intervention from the Casualty Branch, a copy of all information coming from Geneva regarding prisoners of war, and acts upon this information. The difficulties which have been experienced in the despatch of parcels were due to obstacles in the way of transmission after the collapse of France, as was explained in the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Kensington, South (Sir W. Davison) on 5th November, of which I am sending the hon. Lady a copy.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the confusion has arisen owing to the telegrams from Geneva, naturally, coming in French, and there not being sufficient clerks at the Record Office capable of translating French telegrams accurately? Will my right hon. Friend look into that matter with the prisoners-of-war organisations?
§ 18. Sir A. Knox
asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will consult the director of the Red Cross Society with a view to employing paid experts to organise the purchase, packing and despatch departments?
§ Sir A. Knox
Does not my right hon. Friend consider that voluntary workers, no matter how keen they are, cannot possibly compete with the number of parcels which ought to be sent every week, and that business men who have visited the organisation are strongly of opinion that business men are required there?
§ Sir A. Knox
Do they not require business men from organisations like the Army and Navy Stores, which despatch hundreds of parcels every day?
Should there not be an inquiry into the whole organisation, in view of the fact that many Government Departments are involved?
Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that there really is great anxiety among the parents of prisoners, that we are all getting very distressing letters, and that many of us think that there should be some overhaul of the arrangements?