HL Deb 25 May 1943 vol 127 cc644-6

My Lords, I beg to ask the third question standing in my name.

[The question was as follows:

To ask His Majesty's Government whether General Officers who are prisoners of war are paid the same salary as Generals of the same rank in their own or the capturing country, at what rate of exchange, and whether Income Tax and Super-tax are deducted in the same manner as when they were free.]


My Lords, General Officers are in most respects treated exactly in the same way as other officers. Their treatment is governed by the Prisoner of War Convention signed at Geneva in 1929 and ratified by the countries in the British Commonwealth and Empire and by Germany and Italy. Under Article 23 of this Convention officer prisoners of war are required to be paid by the detaining Power the same rates of pay as corresponding ranks in the forces of the detaining Power or in their own forces, whichever is the less. German and Italian rates of pay, when converted at the rates of exchange agreed with the respective Government in accordance with the Convention—namely, Reichmarks to the pound and 72 lire to the pound—are lower than corresponding British rates. German officers in our hands and British officers in German hands are therefore paid the German rate of pay appropriate to their rank and Italian officers in our hands and British officers in Italian hands are paid Italian rates. Generals are treated like other officers in these respects.

Pay so issued is, under the Convention, regarded as an advance and is recoverable from the officers' own Government "at the end of hostilities." Officer prisoners of the United Kingdom Forces are accordingly credited at home with pay at the full British rate from which is deducted the sterling equivalent of the pay issued by the enemy Government: Income Tax and Super-tax is recoverable by law from the full British pay. Income Tax is not chargeable against pay issued to enemy officer prisoners as the pay is ultimately recoverable from their own Governments: any taxation by the detaining Power might be held to be contrary to the Geneva Convention. Under Article 22 of the Convention officer prisoners are required to pay for their food and clothing and this Article applies as between us and Italy. In the case of Germany a special agreement was reached under which officer prisoners held by both belligerents receive free messing in addition to German rates of pay. It has not been possible to negotiate a similar agreement with the Italian Government.


My Lords, it was stated in another place the other day that General von Arnim was getting, I think, £16 a month, about £200 a year. It is inconceivable that that should be the equivalent of the pay of a full General in the German Army. It works out on the exchange at about 40o marks. Could the noble Lord tell me whether General Fortune, who is a prisoner in the hands of the Germans, is getting £16 a month, or what he is getting?


My Lords, I think my statement makes the position perfectly clear. There can be no question whatever about it. If the noble Lord would like to know the specific rates I can give them. They are: for a Marshal, the sterling equivalent of the monthly pay is £20, for a General £16, for a Lieutenant-General for a Major-General £12.


Is that all a full General gets in Germany? It seems incredible.