HC Deb 03 February 1948 vol 446 cc1631-2
44. Mr. Driberg

asked the Secretary of State for War on what basis the German prisoners of war who are to be allowed to remain in this country as civilian workers are being selected from those who have volunteered to stay.

Mr. Shinwell

Those prisoners of war are selected who appear to be most suitable from the point of view of their character, physique and record of previous work.

Mr. Driberg

Does the "record of previous work" refer only to their work since they have been prisoners, or to their previous service record?

Mr. Shinwell

I would not care to say, but the procedure for determining whether they possess the proper qualities is, in my view, quite a good one.

Mr. Skeffington-Lodge

Can my right hon. Friend assure the House that there is no political discrimination in deciding which prisoners shall be allowed to remain here, and which shall be forced to go back against their will?

Mr. Shinwell

In order to remove any possibility of misunderstanding in this regard, I can tell my hon. Friend and the House that the procedure is that a committee deals with the applications. It consists of the commandant of the camp, the representative of the county agricultural committee, and an official of the German Section of the Foreign Office, but the medical officer and the camp leader, a prisoner of war, are also available to give evidence to the committee.

Captain Marsden

Will these men who volunteered to stay on be allowed to go home to Germany for a period of leave, if they wish to do so?

Mr. Shinwell

I would say offhand, without definite commitment, that I hardly think it possible to grant them leave, but if they wish to go home I do not believe there is any obstacle in the way.

Mr. N. Macpherson

Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether the fact that they are married or not is taken into account, and will he exercise all his influence on the Home Secretary to ensure that wives are allowed to come over to rejoin their husbands?

Mr. Shinwell

That is a very wide question. I would like to see it on the Order Paper.

Commander Maitland

What proportion of those who volunteer are selected?

Mr. Shinwell

I am afraid I should require notice of that question.

Major Lloyd

Does the War Office take any interest in the fate of those who are repatriated to the other side of the iron curtain?