HC Deb 03 December 1946 vol 431 cc201-2
32. Mr. Vane

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that German prisoners of war were refused permission to subscribe to the collection in aid of orphan children of Europe at a recent service specially arranged in Durham Cathedral, and have since been refused permission to make toys to be added to the Christmas tree and decorations in Durham Cathedral which would later be distributed to children in local hospitals; and whether he will immediately cancel all such unchristian regulations.

Mr. Bellenger

Prisoners of war are not allowed to subscribe to funds of this sort because, by increasing their expenditure in this country and thus reducing their credit balances which are payable in marks on repatriation, the cost of the subscriptions would fall on the British taxpayer instead of being charged against German economy I am advised by my right hon. and learned Friend the President of the Board of Trade that the free distribution on a large scale of toys made by German prisoners is open to considerable objection while the output of the British toy industry is restricted. After consultation with him, however, I am issuing instructions that special cases, such as this, should, in future, be brought to my notice for exemption from the general rule.

Mr. Vane

Is not the Minister aware that the answer is most disappointing and gives the impression that his Department is going out of its way to stifle some of the small amount of charity which still exists in this world, and docs he mean that the manufacture of a few toys in a camp workshop cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, affect the toy industry?

Mr. Stokes

Can my right hon. Friend say whether, in fact, this is not merely a book entry? Surely, it ought to be possible for prisoners of war to transfer their camp money, as, otherwise, it merely means that the Chancellor is making more money out of prisoners of war than I thought he was.

Mr. Bellenger

It is not entirely a book entry; we try to encourage prisoners of war to remit money abroad.

Mr. Skeffington-Lodge

With regard to the first part of my right hon. Friend's reply, is he aware that the overriding consideration should be that it is wrong to thwart the generous impulses and emotions of any body of people anxious to promote human welfare?

Forward to