HC Deb 23 February 1954 vol 524 cc178-9
3. Mr. Driberg

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will authorise a retrospective issue to prisoners repatriated from Korea of the ration allowance granted to a Service man when he cannot be fed by the Service.

Mr. Head

No, Sir.

Mr. Driberg

Would the right hon. Gentleman reconsider this matter sympathetically, bearing in mind two points: first, that these men did not receive Red Cross parcels, which are to some extent a substitute for ordinary rations in most modem wars; and, second, that this House presumably voted the right hon. Gentleman and his predecessor money to pay for these chaps' meals—at least, does he remember ever telling us of any cut in Army catering requirements in respect of dinners for prisoners of war?

Mr. Head

No, these regulations have always been the same for prisoners, and when these men returned they were given 35 days' leave with double ration cards. I do not think that I could take this exceptional step.

Mr. Wigg

But surely the Minister has misunderstood the point? The regulations lay down that a man's rations follow his pay; that he is entitled either to rations or ration allowance. If these men were not fed and went through months of starvation, surely it is only common decency to give them the ration allowance?

Mr. Head

We have no evidence to show that these men were completely starved or did not get food. The North Koreans subscribed to the Geneva Convention but there have been cases in which the diet of prisoners has been inadequate. To institute what has been suggested would constitute a difficult precedent.