HC Deb 01 March 1965 vol 707 cc910-1
9. Mr. Patrick Jenkin

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the poor state of mental and physical health of Rudolf Hess, he will seek the agreement of the other Governments involved with a view to mitigating the harshness of the prison regime to which he is subject.

40. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what has been the cost so far to the United Kingdom of confining at Spandau certain German war criminals; what British troops have been employed to guard them; what terms of imprisonment were imposed upon, and remain to be served by, the prisoners; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. George Thomson

Hess was sentenced to imprisonment for life. Speer and von Schirach were both sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment and are due to be released on 1st October, 1966. Any change in the regulations at Spandau Prison is subject to agreement between the four Powers concerned. There appear to be no grounds at present for seeking to obtain special exceptions in favour of Hess. The major share of the cost of maintaining Spandau Prison is borne by the German authorities. The total cost to Her Majesty's Government to date is about £140,000. The British guard, which is on duty at the prison for one month in four, consists of a platoon under the command of a subaltern.

Mr. Jenkin

In view of Press reports that Hess has gone out of his mind, does not humanity require that he be no longer subject to solitary confinement? Is there not room for some humanity in the treatment of a man in his poor physical and mental state?

Mr. Thomson

It is not correct to say that Hess is in a poor state of mental and physical health, as has been reported in some quarters. He receives careful medical attention whenever necessary, as do other prisoners. Any question of changing the conditions of imprisonment requires four-Power agreement, and the conditions for this have not so far been reached. But Her Majesty's Government, I assure the hon. Gentleman, are disposed to take a humane view of the problem.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Are Her Majesty's Government trying to secure four-Power agreement so that this somewhat costly rigmarole can be brought to an end? Cannot the prisoners serve out the rest of their time in ordinary prisons in Germany or elsewhere?

Mr. Thomson

This matter is the subject of constant review by the four Powers concerned, and I repeat that this Government are willing to take a humane view of it.

Mr. Philip Noel-Baker

Will my hon. Friend propose to the hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) that he should make similar inquiries about the health and conditions of political prisoners in South Africa?

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