HC Deb 02 February 1953 vol 510 c1465
38. Mr. Elwyn Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why Her Majesty's Government has not yet ratified the 1949 Geneva Convention relating to the treatment of prisoners of war; and when it is proposed to ratify it.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

Her Majesty's Government intend that the United Kingdom shall ratify the 1949 Geneva Convention relative to the treatment of prisoners of war.

As stated in reply to the hon. and learned Gentleman on 25th June last, legislation will be necessary to enable effect to be given to certain provisions of the Convention; and in accordance with the practice of this country it must be enacted before ratification. I cannot yet say when it will be possible to introduce such legislation.

Mr. Jones

Can the Minister say why there has been this unconscionable delay in this matter of very great importance, particularly in view of the fact that many of our own countrymen are prisoners of war at present?

Mr. Lloyd

One of the reasons why there has been some delay is that the legislation which will have to be introduced involves complex and difficult problems, but considerable progress has been made with the preparation of that legislation. As far as the present situation is concerned, the hon. Member will be aware that in the present operations the United Nations Command have said that they are abiding by the provisions of the Geneva Convention.

Mr. Paget

Do these new regulations provide that prisoners of war shall have a fair trial?

Mr. Lloyd

In order to give a full and detailed answer to that question, perhaps the hon and learned Gentleman will put it down.