HC Deb 12 December 1944 vol 406 cc1032-3
7. Major-General Sir Alfred Knox

asked the Secretary of State for War if he has now had an opportunity to examine the evidence of prisoners of war who escaped from a Japanese transport recently sunk; and if he will make a general statement regarding conditions in Japanese camps, the delivery of parcels to prisoners and of letters to and from prisoners.

Sir J. Grigg

The information obtained from the rescued prisoners of war is being examined and collated and I hope to make a further statement shortly. In reply to the second part of the Question I can at present add nothing to the information I have already given to the House

Sir A. Knox

Can the right hon. Gentleman state when he will be able to make a statement, because there is great anxiety?

Sir J. Grigg

Yes, Sir,, I certainly hope to do so before the House rises; I will try to make it early next week.

9. Major Keatinge

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will give help and encouragement for those who have returned from Japanese prison camps to meet the friends and relations of others left behind in order to pass on all available news.

27. Major Sir Edward Cadogan

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that many parents have heard no news of their sons who were taken prisoner when Singapore fell; and whether he has been able to obtain any detailed information from the men rescued from a torpedoed Japanese ship who have arrived in this country which could allay the anxiety which is being felt by the relatives of the prisoners of war in question.

Sir J. Grigg

I understand the anxiety of relatives and friends of prisoners of war in Japanese hands to obtain first-hand information from the men lately rescued. Every scrap of information which these men have given has been, or will be, sent to next-of-kin concerned as soon as it has been sifted and checked. It would be unfair to the relatives to send it until this has been done. The men have shown themselves extremely willing and helpful in these investigations and I think it is unfair to them to pursue them further with private inquiries. As relatively very few men have got back and as the Japanese camps are widely scattered it is unlikely that these men will have information about more than a small proportion of all the prisoners. If, therefore, next-of-kin hear nothing, I am afraid it is because nothing new has been heard of the particular prisoner.

Major Kentinge

Is my right hon. Friend aware that nothing can stop these men from talking to their neighbours, and that the impression getting abroad is that conditions are not quite so universally bad as recent statements might suggest?

Sir J. Grigg

Yes, Sir, I have seen statements in several quarters, and I propose to deal with this point in the statement I have promised to make. I think the explanation is that while they were working on the railway, conditions were horrible but, as I said in my previous answer, the conditions improved when they were taken away from the railway and sent back to the rest camp.