HC Deb 13 July 1948 vol 453 cc995-6
25. Sir G. Jeffreys

asked the Secretary of State for War whether graves of personnel killed in France and buried in churchyards or other recognised burying grounds are moved to military cemeteries without reference to the next-of-kin or relations; and whether he will cause full and up-to-date information as to any action taken or proposed regarding such graves and as to the nature and material of the headstones to be invariably conveyed to the next-of-kin.

Mr. Shinwell

It is seldom necessary to move graves from a churchyard or other recognised burial ground into a military cemetery. When it is necessary the next-of-kin are now always informed beforehand of the move and the reasons for it. The Imperial War Graves Commission will provide headstones which will in North-West Europe be of Portland stone. The Commission are responsible for the permanent maintenance of all war graves both in military cemeteries and in other recognised burial grounds. The Commission consult the next-of-kin in advance about the inscriptions on headstones.

Sir G. Jeffreys

Is the Secretary of State aware that there have been cases in which the next-of-kin have not been informed about the moving, of graves in the manner he has stated? If I send him a specific instance, will he reconsider the matter?

Mr. Shinwell

Certainly I will.

Mr. Godfrey Nicholson

The Question refers only to France. Are we to understand that the right hon. Gentleman's answer covers all North-West Europe as well?

Mr. Shinwell

I believe it does, but the difficulties vary on the Continent.

Mr. Driberg

Can my right hon. Friend say whether the "full and up-to-date information" referred to in the Question includes photographs of the new graves, and whether these photographs are now being sent reasonably quickly, because there has been a good deal of delay?

Mr. Shinwell

We are sending photographs, but I am bound to say that I am a little reluctant to have photographs sent unless the graves are in a very satisfactory condition.