§ Captain McEwen
asked the Secretary of State for War whether the concession to the next-of-kin of prisoners of war, allowing them to obtain uniform, on payment, for inclusion in quarterly parcels sent through the Red Cross, can now be renewed?
§ Sir E. Grigg
No, Sir. Sufficient uniforms for the needs of all British Prisoners of war in German and Italian prison camps have already been despatched by the British Red Cross Society, and in view of the urgent need for conserving 65W materials the provision of additional supplies through prisoners' relatives is unnecessary.
§ Sir W. Smithers
asked the Secretary of State for War (1) whether there exists, or whether steps are being taken to form, an information bureau to which the next-of-kin of prisoners of war can go for information; and will he make this as widely known as possible;
(2) what proposals have been made by the War Office to the British Red Cross for taking over their war organisation, or part of it; for what purpose have the new premises been acquired in Curzon Street; and is it proposed to move the Casualty Department at Liverpool and the Prisoners of War Department at Hobart House to Curzon Street and to incorporate them into one organisation;
(3) whether in view of the fact that all information now has to come through official channels, he will say what purpose the prisoners of war department of the British Red Cross, the foreign relations department of the British Red Cross and the wounded and missing and searching department of the British Red Cross now serve; and are they to continue in existence?
§ Captain Margesson
As a measure of administrative convenience, certain branches of the War Office which deal with prisoners of war have been brought together in offices in Curzon Street. Among these is the sub-section of the main War Office casualties branch which, among other matters, notifies to the next-of-kin information about British prisoners of war. The branches which have been thus brought together remain under their previous administration. It is hoped that this arrangement will further the interests of prisoners of war and suit the convenience of relatives. Facilities will, of course, be provided for callers to obtain information. Any activities of this kind which are being performed by the British Red Cross Society are of an entirely voluntary and unofficial character and will, of course, be in no wise affected by this administrative rearrangement.
§ Captain McEwen
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs which is the Protecting Power so far as our prisoners of war in Germany are concerned in succession to the United States of America?66W
§ Mr. Eden
The Swiss Government have been good enough to undertake the protection of British interests in Germany and German-occupied territory. I am sure that I shall have the support of the whole House in saying here that the devoted work of the United States representatives in Germany, Italy and the occupied countries in aid of British prisoners of war has earned the deep and lasting gratitude of the nation.
§ Sir W. Smithers
asked the Secretary of State for War (1) whether, in view of the fact that no neutral country is now available to help, what arrangements have been or are, in the process of being made between the Governments of all belligerent countries for the safeguarding of the interests of prisoners of war;
(2) in view of the entry of America into the war, which Power will now act as Protecting Power for the inspection of prisoners of war camps and for the repatriation of prisoners?
§ Mr. Law
I have been asked to reply. My hon. Friend is under a misapprehension in believing that no neutral country is available to help in this matter. The Swiss Government have undertaken the protection of British interests in Germany and German-occupied territory, in Italy and Italian-occupied territory and in Japanese-occupied territory. The Argentine Government are at present the Protecting Power in Japan.