HC Deb 15 March 1944 vol 398 cc210-2
4. Mr. Granville

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if, as a result of recent inquiries, he has any further statement to make with regard to the ill-treatment of British prisoners in Japanese hands.

Mr. Eden

Generally speaking, the position remains as described in my statement of 28th January last. His Majesty's Government have as yet received no replies to their representations regarding the provision of facilities for visiting the camps especially in the Southern area, and of particulars of our prisoners of war. The latest of these representations was despatched to the Protecting Power on 26th January.

Mr. Granville

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the statement which he made several weeks ago caused a great deal of anxiety among the relatives of prisoners of war in the Far East, and that there is an impression that the Foreign Office do not follow through very well? [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Can he get into touch with the Russians in regard to this matter?

Mr. Eden

I do not in the least accept the suggestion in the hon. Member's question. I have myself seen representatives of relatives of the prisoners, and I do not think the hon. Gentleman should make those charges without some justification. We have been at immense pains to try to do something for these unhappy people, and it will only cause uneasiness where it is not justified, for suggestions of that kind to be made. It is not Within the power of the Foreign Office, or of anybody else in this country, to make a barbarous Japanese humane.

Mr. Shinwell

Will the right hon. Gentleman recall suggestions which I ventured to make to him when he made his original statement on that matter, that he should try to use the good offices of the Russian Government?

Mr. Eden

I have recalled it, but I would rather not make a public statement about it.

Mr. Godfrey Nicholson

While dissociating myself from any criticism of the Foreign Office, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he has considered that some comfort might be brought to these relatives, if reference were made to camps where conditions are known to be good?

Mr. Eden

Yes, Sir, and I did draw a distinction in my statement between the Southern area and the Northern area in that respect. If I can get any more information on the matter, I shall be only too glad to give it to the House.

Mr. Sorensen

When is the right hon. Gentleman likely to receive some report from the Vatican regarding their activities?

Mr. Eden

We are in constant touch with the Vatican. If the hon. Gentleman wants any information, I shall be very glad to let him have it.