HC Deb 26 May 1952 vol 501 cc918-9
9. Mr. Driberg

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will continue to seek to establish official communication with British prisoners of war in North Korean hands; what information he has of the extent to which these prisoners have been subjected to any process of re-education or indoctrination, and with what results; how many of those who now accept the Communist view of the Korean War have expressed a wish not to be repatriated; and what is the intention of Her Majesty's Government in regard to the future military service of those who take this view.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

Yes, Sir. We shall continue to seek, by every means possible, to establish communications with prisoners of war in North Korean hands, as is provided for in the Geneva Conventions. So far the North Korean and Chinese authorities have refused the appointment of a protecting power, neutral visits to camps, and the regular transmission of prisoner of war mail, all of which are prescribed in the Geneva Conventions.

Thus, our only information on conditions in the camps is what the North Koreans and Chinese themselves choose to pass on to us in the form of selected letters and arranged broadcasts from prisoners of war. The tone of some of these letters and broadcasts suggests that a process of indoctrination is being attempted. Most of them express a keen desire to return home and I am not aware of any British prisoner of war having expressed a wish not be repatriated. The last part of the Question does not therefore arise.

Mr. Driberg

I think there is a slight misunderstanding in the right hon. and learned Gentleman's answer to the last part of my Question. The words "this view" do not apply to repatriation. They apply to "those who now accept the Communist view." From what the Minister has said, is it not evident that there has been some successful indoctrination—as appears from some of the letters he has no doubt seen—and is he aware that this is a problem which will arise when these men are repatriated? Will he say what are the Government's plans for dealing with this situation?

Mr. Lloyd

The hon. Gentleman is quite correct. I did misunderstand the reference in the last part of his Question. I will certainly bear in mind the point which he has just put.