HC Deb 21 February 1946 vol 419 cc1292-3
45. Mr. William Teeling

asked the Prime Minister whether there is any Allied Agreement about the employment of German and Italian prisoners in Allied countries; for how long they are to be employed; why, with the present shortage of miners working in the mines in Great Britain, German prisoners are being allowed by us to return to Germany; whether he will consider using these prisoners to take the place of our young men directed to the mines until the date of their release group; and how many Germanprisoners are at present being employed in the mines of other Allied nations.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Atlee)

No general agreement has been concluded among the Allies on this matter and I am unable to say how long the various countries will continue to employ prisoners of war. As regards the employment of German prisoners in the mines in this country, the possibility of using prisoners of war on additional occupations of vital national importance is constantly under review having regard to the needs of allindustries where this type of labour may be suitable. I am not in possession of the detailed information asked for in the last part of the Question.

Mr. Teeling

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for his reply, which however is not very detailed, mayI ask him, in view of the fact that the whole of this question is, I understand, being reviewed today, whether he will bear in mind that the Bevin Boys are conscripted in this country, and if prisoners of war are to be used in the mines would he first make sure the Bevin Boys are released?

Mr. Glanville

If the Minister decides to employ German prisoners in the coal mines of this country would he also employ some of the hon. Gentlemen opposite to supervise them?

Mr. Skeffington-Lodge

Would the Prime Minister also bear in mind the question of employing women from the continent in their respective spheres when the whole matter is reviewed?

The Prime Minister

All these considerations will be taken into account.