HC Deb 15 July 1941 vol 373 cc428-30
9. Mr. Keeling

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the Red Cross and St. John War Organisation has spent more than five-sixths of the funds collected; and whether he proposes to ask the Treasury for any money necessary to enable the despatch of parcels on the present scale to prisoners of war to be maintained?

The Financial Secretary to the War Office (Mr. Richard Law)

I understand that the expenditure referred to covers all the various activities of the War Organisation. I am in close touch with the Organisation as regards the supply of parcels to prisoners of war, and I am informed that they have every hope that continued public generosity will enable the supply to be maintained on the present scale.

Mr. Keeling

Does my hon. Friend imply that if the Red Cross hopes are not realised the Treasury will be asked to come to their assistance?

Mr. Law

I do not think that there is any reason at all to suppose that the amount will not be realised, or that the public will not be as generous and public spirited in the future as it has been in the past.

Mr. Keeling

Does my hon. Friend realise that the country will not grudge any expenditure on this matter?

Mr. Law

Yes, Sir, I certainly realise that fact, and I can assure my hon. Friend that whatever difficulties there may be about the despatch of parcels, the financial difficulty will not be one of them.

Sir A. Knox

Will my hon. Friend suggest that this organisation should publish their accounts,?

Mr. Law

They do publish their accounts.

10. Captain McEwen

asked the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been drawn to the case of Private R. B. Cheyne, 5th Gordon Highlanders, a prisoner of war in Stalag XXB, of whose death, which took place on 9th January, 1941, his parents only received notification on 20th June following; and whether any information as to the cause of his death has now been received?

Mr. Law

The death of Private Cheyne on 9th January, 1941, was first reported by the German Government in a list from Berlin received in this country early in June. No information is available as to the cause of death but inquiries have been instituted through the International Red Cross Society at Geneva and the next-of-kin will be informed as soon as any information is received. While I much regret the distress caused to the relatives by a delay of this kind, my hon. and gallant Friend will appreciate that the authorities in this country cannot be held responsible.

Captain McEwen

Does not my hon. Friend agree that a delay of six months in the notification of death in these circumstances is both exceptional and regrettable?

Mr. Law

Yes, Sir, it is regrettable, and I hope that it is exceptional, but the delay was caused not in this country, but in Germany.

16. Sir A. Knox

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will give the latest reliable information regarding the so-called reprisal camps Stalag XXA and Stalag XXID; and have the officers been removed from the camps following acknowledgment by the German Government of the inaccuracy of reports regarding treatment of German officers in Canada, or are there still any officers in these camps living underground and in overcrowded conditions?

Mr. Law

As my hon. and gallant Friend will have seen in the Press, information has been received through the Protecting Power that these two camps have now been closed and all the officers detained in them have been transferred to other camps. The next-of-kin will be informed of the addresses of the new camps as soon as full details are received.

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