HC Deb 31 January 1949 vol 460 cc1358-9
15. Brigadier Rayner

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what reply has been received from the U.S.S.R. to the British note, stating that all German prisoners of war have been released and inquiring whether the U.S.S.R. had done the same.

The Minister of State (Mr. McNeil)

The Soviet Government's reply to this note was communicated to His Majesty's Ambassador in Moscow on 25th January. The full text of the reply has not yet reached the Foreign Office.

Brigadier Rayner

Does not all the evidence available to the British, French and American Governments go to show that over 200,000 German prisoners of war are still on Soviet territory?

Mr. McNeil

I should think that that is a conservative statement.

Mr. Nigel Birch

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider publishing a Blue Book with photographs in it showing the physical condition of the German prisoners of war returned by the Russians?

Mr. McNeil

We are still hopeful that the Soviet Government may prove reasonable upon this subject, although their first reaction has not been of that kind. I should not like to commit myself at this stage to the suggestion that we should publish photographs of these prisoners. I agree, however, that their physical condition—and their age in many cases—has been most regrettable.

Mr. Marlowe

If the right hon. Gentleman has not yet the full text, could he indicate to the House generally the nature of the answer which has been received?

Mr. McNeil

Yes, it is not untypical. It contests the accuracy of our statement, it makes some counter accusations, completely without foundation, and declines to enter into negotiations.