HC Deb 30 January 1956 vol 548 cc597-8
27. Mr. Peyton

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Commission appointed by the United Nations in December, 1950, to secure the repatriation of prisoners of war is still in being; and what progress has been made.

Lord John Hope

The Commission is still in being but has not met since September, 1954. Its efforts to collect information about prisoners still un-repatriated have been much hampered by the failure of the Soviet Union to cooperate. Meanwhile, as my hon. Friend will be aware, further efforts by the Governments concerned have led to increased repatriation.

Mr. Peyton

Has not the Soviet Union refused throughout to give any facilities to this Commission? Will my hon. Friend consider making some protest to the United Nations at the Soviet attitude on this question of prisoners of war? The Soviet attempt to barter German bodies for political concessions is cynical and barbarous, even by Communist standards.

Lord John Hope

Yes, Sir, there will be great sympathy with what lies behind my hon. Friend's remarks. I do not want to say anything which will make future repatriation more difficult than it already is.

Mr. S. Silverman

What is now the position about the elections in that part of the world, which was the outcome, or part of it, of some agreement designed to unify the country?

Lord John Hope

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will put down a Question about it.

35. Mr. Shinwell

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can state the latest estimate of the United Nations ad hocCommission on prisoners-of-war of the number of prisoners-of-war and deported civilians known to be detained in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Lord John Hope

The latest figures published by the Commission were contained in their report of September, 1954, which is in the Library of the House. The Commission has not met since. These figures were not the Commission's own estimates, but estimates made by Governments whose nationals were believed still to be in the Soviet Union.

Mr. Shinwell

Could the Government convey to Marshal Bulganin, as a practical, friendly suggestion on the subject of peace, that all war prisoners and civilians who have not been found guilty of civil crimes in Soviet Russia might be returned to their own country?

Lord John Hope

Yes, Sir. I think it would be very helpful indeed if what the right hon. Gentleman has said were followed up by the Russians. They know the view of Her Majesty's Government, which is exactly that described by the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Daines

Can the Minister say why it is that prisoners-of-war are still held in Soviet Russia while none is held in this country and none in the United States?

Lord John Hope

One can only suppose that the reason is that Russian Communist policy was to hold them.