Oral Answers to Questions — Prisoners of War (Far East).

– in the House of Commons on 24th June 1942.

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Photo of Viscount  Hinchingbrooke Viscount Hinchingbrooke , Dorset Southern

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is now in a position to report further progress in the negotiations by the Protecting Power with the Japanese Government towards the identification of, and despatch of supplies to, British prisoners of war in the Far East?

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

The names of a small number of those captured at Hong Kong, and also of a number of interned civilians in Japan, have recently been received by cable from the Japanese Government viâ Geneva.

As regards relief supplies, I regret to state that the Japanese authorities have not yet given permission for neutral ships under Red Cross auspices to proceed to the Far East. They have, however, agreed on a reciprocal basis that relief supplies may be placed on board ships which will be used for the proposed exchange of officials and non-officials between the United States of America and Japan and the British Empire and Japan. The International Red Cross Committee at Geneva reports that with the consent of the governments concerned the ships will be accompanied by Swiss nationals chosen by the Protecting Power, and that they will supervise the handing of relief cargoes to the delegates of the Committee at destination. The Japanese authorities have also promised that lists of names of prisoners of war will be sent by these ships. It is reported that the first exchange ship has left an American port with a cargo of supplies which have been collected by the Canadian and American Red Cross organisations. These are intended for Allied prisoners of war and civilians in enemy-controlled China, the Hong Kong area and the Philippines.

So far as the British-Japanese exchange is concerned, negotiations are still proceeding and the possibility of sending further supplies by the ships selected for that exchange will depend of course on the successful outcome of these negotiations. But the British Red Cross, in co-operation with the Red Cross organisations in the Dominions and India and with the approval of the respective governments, are collecting supplies including medicines from various centres for despatch to the neutral port. These are intended mainly for Malaya and the adjacent areas.

The International Committee also report that their delegate in Shanghai has taken over 50,000 sacks of cracked wheat, rice and flour in Shanghai as well as 2,000 tons of similar supplies together with a substantial quantity of medical supplies in Hong Kong for local relief. These have been bought from the American Red Cross with funds voted by the British Red Cross.

Photo of Mr John McGovern Mr John McGovern , Glasgow Shettleston

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether they are dealing with correspondence from prisoners of war, and is there any hope of getting any information from that source?

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

I am not sure that that is a matter for me. What I have been trying to get is the full list of prisoners of war from the Japanese. We have received some lists in respect of Hong Kong, and they have now promised to send the full list in respect of Malaya with these ships when the exchanges take place.