Oral Answers to Questions — Prisoners of War.

– in the House of Commons on 27th January 1942.

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Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that communications are being received from prisoners of war from Heilag Camp, Rouen, to which the prisoners of war whose exchange failed to take place were sent, saying that no parcels sent to Oflag VII D had been sent on, and asking for parcels of food and cigarettes; that the whole camp is without smokes; that owing to lack of proper fuel the badly wounded are enduring serious suffering from the cold weather; and what action has been taken to improve conditions in this camp?

Photo of Major-General Sir Alfred Knox Major-General Sir Alfred Knox , Wycombe

asked the Secretary of State for War how many British prisoners of war now remain at Heilag Camp, Rouen; and under what conditions they are living?

Photo of Mr David Margesson Mr David Margesson , Rugby

I am aware that the prisoners sent to Rouen with a view to repatriation were for a time inadequately provided for in the ways stated by my hon. Friend the Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison). According to the latest information, more than two-thirds of the men concerned have returned to permanent camps, and there are now only about 300 left. There was a well-stocked canteen there as early as December; and Red Cross parcels of food, tobacco and medical comforts have reached the camp. I am not satisfied that all grounds for complaint have been removed and we are continuing our efforts to remedy deficiencies which still exist.

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

Is my right hon. and gallant Friend aware that even where Red Cross parcels are delivered in these camps, the organisation is so bad that they are very often left stacked up and not distributed? In view of the treatment which German prisoners receive in this country, is it not high time that something more is done through the Protecting Power to secure better treatment for our men?

Photo of Mr David Margesson Mr David Margesson , Rugby

I am not aware that distribution inside the camps is at fault.

Photo of Major-General Sir Alfred Knox Major-General Sir Alfred Knox , Wycombe

Has my right hon. and gallant Friend any information as to the camp to which these prisoners have been sent, and will relatives be given the information as soon as possible?

Photo of Mr David Margesson Mr David Margesson , Rugby

I have not got the details of the camp.

Photo of Major-General Sir Alfred Knox Major-General Sir Alfred Knox , Wycombe

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that information has been received in a letter dated 13th November from Sulmona Camp in Italy, that prisoners were only receiving civilian rations, that parcels had been stopped, and warm clothing removed; and whether he will make inquiries through the Protecting Power?

Photo of Mr David Margesson Mr David Margesson , Rugby

Up-to-date information about the conditions in this camp is being sought through the usual channels, and all possible pressure will be brought to bear on the Italian Government to remedy defects. The despatch of parcels was temporarily suspended by the International Red Cross Committee in September, 1941, because they were informed that the camp had a surplus, but despatches were resumed in October and parcels are now believed to be reaching the camp regularly.

Photo of General Sir George Jeffreys General Sir George Jeffreys , Petersfield

asked the Secretary of State for War what hourly remuneration for agricultural and kindred work is paid to British prisoners of war in Germany and in Italy, and to German and Italian prisoners in this country?

Photo of Mr David Margesson Mr David Margesson , Rugby

According to my information rates of pay for, and conditions of employment of, British prisoners of war in Germany vary according to the nature of the work and district. We have not heard of any case of British prisoners of war in Italian hands being employed on work of this kind. Enemy prisoners employed in this country on work other than in connection with the administration, internal arrangement and maintenance of camps are paid ¾d. an hour for unskilled and 1½d. an hour for skilled labour, subject to daily maxima of 6d. and 1s. respectively.

Photo of General Sir George Jeffreys General Sir George Jeffreys , Petersfield

Is the Minister aware that farmers have been complaining that Italian labourers, whatever they are paid, are not worth it?