HC Deb 11 April 1918 vol 104 cc1684-6W
Colonel THORNE

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is aware that the Austrian military authorities are preventing parcels of foodstuffs being sent to our prisoners of war in Turkey; and if he will take action in the matter?


The transmission of parcels for prisoners of war to Turkey through Austria was stopped by the Austro-Hungarian Government for several periods last year, and has now been stopped since the beginning of March, the reason given being the congestion of traffic. Although His Majesty's Government are informed that the present stoppage is not likely to be of much longer duration, they propose to take action in order to put an end to it and to-prevent similar stoppages in future.


asked the hon. Member for Sheffield (Central Division) whether Turkey has yet ratified the agreement as to an exchange of prisoners arrived at several months ago at Berne; and, if not, whether he can state the reason of the delay?


The Turkish Government has not yet ratified the Berne Agreement, but His Majesty's Government cannot believe they will not ratify it, seeing that it will be of no less benefit to Turkish than to British prisoners of war.


asked the hon. Member for Sheffield (Central Division) when the camps in which British and Indian prisoners captured by the Turks are now interned were last inspected; and what is the most recent information received as to the numbers, health, and general condition of such prisoners?


The last inspection of internment camps in Turkey was that undertaken by the Swiss delegates of the International Red Cross Committee in December, 1916. As my hon. Friend is aware, the agreement concluded with the Turkish delegates at Berne provides for the inspection of prisoners of war camps. Since the report of the Swiss delegates no further formal reports. have been received, but a great deal of information reaches His Majesty's Government from various sources, and tends to show that the treatment of the British prisoners has, if anything, become somewhat better in recent times, but that they are suffering great hardships from the economic conditions prevailing in Turkey. In regard to the numbers of the British prisoners in Turkey I would refer my lion, and learned Friend to the reply which I gave to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Dorset on 18th March.

Colonel Sir J. CRAIG

asked the Undersecretary of State for War whether an agreement has been finally reached between the French and German Governments, to come into force immediately, by which non-commissioned officers and men of forty-eight years of age and over will be repatriated without delay and all officers of the age indicated will be interned in Switzerland; and what steps the Government are taking to secure similar privileges for officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of the British Forces?


I am informed that an agreement substantially in the terms stated was come to between delegates of the French and German Governments, with the proviso that all who benefit shall have been in captivity for eighteen months. We have, however, received no notification that this agreement has been ratified by the two Governments.


asked the Undersecretary of State or War whether the Government has now obtained full details of the trial of Sergeant E. A. Boyd, Royal Naval Air Service; and, if not, or in the event of the reply not being satisfactory, the Government will give notice to the German Government of its intention to make reprisals unless Sergeant Boyd is forthwith released and properly treated as a prisoner of war?


Up to the present the military authorities have not seen their way to take action in this case pending a reply from the German Government, which has not hitherto been forthcoming. In the event of the reply being further delayed, or proving unsatisfactory, His Majesty's Government will be prepared to take measures of reprisals as indicated in the question.