HC Deb 06 April 1943 vol 388 cc470-2
11. General Sir George Jeffreys

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has received any official information on the German plan to transfer British war prisoners to Russian prison camps?

The Secretary of State for War (Sir James Grigg)

No, Sir. The rumour to which my hon. and gallant Friend is alluding was mentioned in a broadcast from a French station, which stated that, according to an Italian newspaper, the correspondent of a Swedish newspaper stationed in Berlin had reported that such a transfer was thought to be likely in what are described as "usually well-informed German circles."

Sir G. Jeffreys

Is it hot a fact that this Paris broadcasting station is under the orders of the Germans, and is it not also a fact that the same statement was published in a German-controlled Paris newspaper?

Sir J. Grigg

I am very grateful to my hon. and gallant Friend for the information, but my answer is the same. I have no information beyond that to which he refers.

17. Sir A. Knox

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will ask the Protecting Power to inquire into conditions in Camp P.G.5 in Italy, where prisoners of war are only permitted to exercise in a small courtyard for a few minutes daily?

Sir J. Grigg

This camp was last visited by a representative of the Protecting Power in January of this year. The reports received confirm that the facilities for exercise are not satisfactory although they have improved and are not as deficient as my hon. and gallant Friend suggests. Prisoners have unrestricted access to two small courtyards of 600 and 900 square yards from reveille to 2 p.m. and between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. During the autumn walking parties for about 12 officers were arranged twice or three times a week and the Italian Government have ordered a playing field to be prepared. Representations were made by the Protecting Power direct to the Italian authorities in addition to the protest through diplomatic channels to which I referred on 6th October last.

Sir A. Knox

Is my right hon. Friend aware that I have had a letter from a prisoner in that camp who says that he has only been allowed to go for one walk in the eight months during which he has been there and that other conditions in that camp are disgraceful; that it is a converted prison, that the prisoners are confined in cells; that the chief article of food is cabbage and that the sanitary arrangements are disgraceful?

Sir J. Grigg

As I said in my answer, not having in my mind all the horrible details to which my hon. and gallant Friend has referred, the conditions are not satisfactory, and representations have been made through the Protecting Power.

Mr. Bellenger

Is it not the duty of the War Office to look after our prisoners of war without waiting for questions like this to be brought to their attention?

Sir J. Grigg

That has been done constantly, and I do not know what the hon. Member means by saying that it is not. The War Office are extremely anxious and careful to do everything they possibly can for the welfare of our prisoners.

Viscountess Astor

Is it not true that His Holiness the Pope was supposed to look after our prisoners in Italy, and could we not ask our representative at the Vatican to look into the matter?

Sir William Davison

Can my right hon. Friend say what is the result of the inquiries into statements made by repatriated men in Cairo that the feeding was disgraceful and contrary to the Geneva Convention?

18. Sir A. Knox

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that a charge of lire 8.60 per day with retrospective effect from 1st July, 1942, is being imposed for the hire of furniture and cutlery on the 162 officers in Camp P.G.5; that this charge amounts to £560 per month at lire 72 to the £, being more than the original value of the articles; whether these charges are reciprocal to charges imposed on Italian prisoners of war in Britain; and whether he will make inquiries through the Protecting Power?

Sir J. Grigg

I cannot at present add anything to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Prof. A. V. Hill) on 16th February. The question has been taken up with the Protecting Power.

Sir. A. Knox

Is this charge similar to any charge imposed on Italian prisoners in this country?

Sir J. Grigg

I would rather not answer that question without notice. I do not think so, but I would not like to be committed.

Sir A. Knox

Would my right hon. Friend be able to give an answer next week if I put down another Question?

Sir J. Grigg

I will give an answer before then; I will send my hon. and gallant Friend the answer.

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