HC Deb 23 February 1956 vol 549 cc562-3
41. Mr. Elwyn Jones

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why, in view of the need for all nations to observe the code of conduct towards prisoners of war embodied in the 1949 Geneva Prisoners of War Convention, Her Majesty's Government have not yet introduced the necessary legislation for ratification of the Geneva Conventions.

Major Lloyd-George

Unfortunately, it has not yet been possible to find time for legislation on this subject.

Mr. Jones

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that the Minister of Defence, in a statement to the House on 15th February, emphasised the vital importance of these Geneva Conventions to the members of Her Majesty's Forces and their safety as prisoners of war? Is it not quite disgraceful that seven years after the signing of these Conventions, the British Government have taken no steps to ratify them in face of the fact that most other Governments have ratified already? What is the reason for this?

Major Lloyd-George

It is only that time has not been found to bring this legislation forward. I can only regret it.

Mr. Younger

Is the Home Secretary aware that many of us are getting rather dismayed at the number of occasions on which he gives this answer in reply to Questions? I think it is the third time this afternoon that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has taken no objection to the principle behind the suggestion but is unable to find time for legislation. Are we to understand that he makes no claims whatever on behalf of his Department in the legislative programme of the Government?

Major Lloyd-George

I do not have to take note of that last remark. The right hon. Gentleman said that for seven years nothing has been done. I remind him that of that seven years, he was in office for at least two or three years.

Commander Agnew

Is not the Question rather unrealistic in view of the fact that we in this country treat our prisoners of war far better than any other country does?

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