Prisoners of War.

Oral Answers to Questions — British Army. – in the House of Commons on 3rd March 1942.

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The following Questions stood upon the Order Paper in the name of MISS WARD:

12 and 13. To ask the Under-Secretary of State for War,

  1. "(1) on what date Mr. Adams asked for an interview to discuss his responsibilities as Controller of the Prisoners of War Organisation; and what answer Mr. Adams received;"
  2. "(2) whether he will appoint an independent committee to co-ordinate the responsibilities of the War Office and the British Red Cross Society in connection with British prisoners of war?"

Miss Ward:

On a point of Order. Do I understand that you are not calling these Questions?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I understand that the two Questions have been cancelled.

Miss Ward:

I told the War Office that I was going to ask whether I needed to ask the Questions, because I want to raise the matter on the Adjournment on the Third Sitting Day. If I do not have the opportunity of stating that intention, the House will not know that the matter is to be raised on the Adjournment shortly. I did not tell the Minister concerned that I was not going to ask the Questions.

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Lambeth Norwood

I understood from the hon. Lady that she had withdrawn her two Questions.

Photo of Mr George Mathers Mr George Mathers , Linlithgowshire

asked the Under-secretary of State for War whether, in view of the concern of relatives of prisoners of war regarding the position that had arisen through the displacement of Mr. Stanley Adams, who had their entire confidence, he will establish a new organisation or take such other steps as will result in a renewal of this confidence?

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Lambeth Norwood

The War Office maintains close and continuous liaison with the British Red Cross Society, by direct contacts between the branches concerned, as well as through the sub-committees of the Imperial Prisoners of War Committee. I have no reason to doubt the efficiency of the British Red Cross Society.

Photo of Mr George Mathers Mr George Mathers , Linlithgowshire

Does the War Office not realise that the position in respect to this matter is now back to where it was when chaos resulted; and is the Minister aware that the newly-appointed substitute for Mr. Adams has not the power necessary to enable him to do the job efficiently? Would it not therefore be better for the Minister to agree to the inquiry that has been asked for, in order that the matter may be fully investigated and the War Office take its proper responsibility for a job which is now too big for the Red Cross?

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Lambeth Norwood

No doubt the hon. Member is aware that the matter will be raised on the Adjournment in the near future. In his Question the hon. Member says that he is anxious to restore confidence in the British Red Cross. I hope that he will help.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham and Worthing

Did I understand the hon. Gentleman to say in his original answer that the War Office were entirely satisfied with the conduct of the Red Cross before Mr. Adams went to it?

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Lambeth Norwood

I did not make any reference to that.

Photo of Brigadier-General Sir Ernest Makins Brigadier-General Sir Ernest Makins , Knutsford

Is it not a fact that the British Red Cross has been conducted much more efficiently and smoothly without the services of this gentleman?

Photo of Captain John McEwen Captain John McEwen , Berwickshire and Haddingtonshire

Has not Mr. Adams's substitute, Mr. Eddy, already proved his efficiency by his very successful handling of the most difficult of all the Departments of the Red Cross, that relating to next-of-kin?

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Lambeth Norwood

I have complete confidence in Mr. Eddy's ability efficiently to discharge his duties.

Photo of Mr George Mathers Mr George Mathers , Linlithgowshire

Is the Minister aware that Mr. Eddy has not the power in his own hands and is only vice-chairman?

Miss Ward:

Is not Sir Richard Howard-Vyse chairman of the committee and not Mr. Eddy?

Miss Ward:

indicated dissent.