HC Deb 13 March 1951 vol 485 cc1267-70
4. Mr. Mott-Radclyffe

asked the Secretary of State for War why no boots of Finnish pattern designed for use in the snow, were included in the supplies of winter clothing for the 27th Brigade when these supplies arrived in Korea on 3rd and 8th November, respectively.

Mr. M. Stewart

As the hon. Member was informed on 27th February, these boots were, on the contrary, included in the supplies of winter clothing which arrived in Korea on 3rd and 8th November. Moreover, these boots were reported to be in use by the 27th Brigade on 20th November.

Major Tufton Beamish

Is the hon. Member aware that boots being used both by the 27th and the 29th Brigades have proved totally unsuitable during the winter; and in view of that will he say why is it not to be until next autumn that they are to be replaced?

Mr. Stewart

I cannot accept the suggestion of the hon. and gallant Member that the boots have proved to be totally unsuitable.

Mr. F. P. Crowder

Is the hon. Member aware that according to my information, which comes directly from the Brigade concerned, these boots had not reached the forward troops as late as 12th January of this year, and that as a result of that much unnecessary suffering and hardship has been caused to our troops? Does he realise that it is his responsibility to see that these boots arrive, and will he please take a personal interest in the matter forthwith?

Mr. Stewart

This is a matter in which my right hon. Friend and I have taken considerable interest. The information given by the hon. Member is at variance with our information. I think that this is not the first time the hon. Member has mentioned having this information, and we should be very glad if he would make it available to us so that we can give it full consideration.

Mr. Mott-Radclyffe

Is the hon. Gentleman telling the House that it took from 8th November until 22nd November for these boots to get from wherever they were unloaded to the forward troops?

Mr. Stewart

No, Sir. I mentioned the date 20th November, because there was, as my right hon. Friend mentioned to the House, a Press report on that date mentioning that they were already in use by that date.

Mr. F. P. Crowder

On a point of order. I personally showed, Sir, the letter which gave this information——

Mr. Speaker

That is not a point of order.

10. Mr. Driberg

asked the Secretary of State for War if, in view of recent broadcasts on Peking Radio and other messages identifying a number of British Service men, formerly listed as missing but now reported to be prisoners in Chinese or North Korean hands, he will renew his efforts to open official channels of communication on the subject of prisoners of war; whether he accepts officially the evidence provided by such broadcasts; and if he will state the practice in regard to pay, allowances and personal effects in such cases.

2. Mr. Nigel Davies

asked the Secretary of State for War how far any channels exist by which regular information is obtained from the North Korean and Chinese authorities as to the identification of British personnel who fall into their hands.

Mr. M. Stewart

I regret that it has not yet been possible to secure any official notifications in regard to British Forces taken prisoner in Korea. Efforts to open official channels of communication are proceeding. Information which has so far been received about the identity of British Army personnel is not regarded as official. In such cases the individual is regarded as "missing, believed prisoner-of-war." Pay is credited to his account for four weeks from the end of the week in which his dependants are notified that he is missing. His dependants continue to receive the marriage allowance and/or allotments in issue to them for a period which is at present limited to 52 weeks from the date on which they are notified of the casualty, should the soldier remain missing for, so long. The personal effects of officers believed to be prisoners-of-war may be handed over, on the authority of the War Office, to next-of-kin or other responsible persons who have made application for them. In the case of other ranks, the personal effects are at present held by the War Department pending confirmation that the soldiers are prisoners-of-war.