asked the Secretary of State for War when he last called for, and received, a comprehensive report on the despatch of parcels to British prisoners of war in Italy; whether he is aware that in certain cases only one Red Cross parcel out of every three despatched reaches the prisoners and that there is a large loss of private parcels sent from this country, so causing much distress among prisoners' relatives; what is the reason for these losses; and what steps are being taken to prevent them?
I receive regular and comprehensive reports regarding the despatch of parcels to British prisoners in Italy, and the proportion of Red Cross parcels which do not reach prisoners is almost negligible. As regards private parcels, I have consulted my right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General, who is not aware that there has been any large loss of either next-of-kin parcels sent through the Red Cross Society or of private parcels sent through firms holding a censorship permit.
Certainly. It all depends on the date of my hon. Friend's information. At two camps there was a time when parcels were slow in getting forward, but that, I believe, has been rectified, and the figure I have given of the negligible amount of pilfering is based on a report of the International Red Cross Committee.