Oral Answers to Questions — Chained Prisoners of War

– in the House of Commons on 26th January 1943.

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

asked the Secretary of State for War whether the German Government have hitherto refused to free our prisoners from shackles owing to orders issued by our military authorities involving, in certain cases, the temporary binding of German prisoners on the battlefield; and whether he will consider the cancelling of such orders which, though primarily designed in the interests of the prisoners themselves, might be thought to be insulting to the prisoners and so contrary to Article 2 of the Geneva Convention of 1929?

Photo of Mr Arthur Henderson Mr Arthur Henderson , Kingswinford

I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the reply given to him by my right hon. Friend on 19th January.

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

When are we to have a decision about this matter? Would it not be better on balance to give way, in view of the terrible sufferings of our prisoners through all these months?

Photo of Mr Arthur Henderson Mr Arthur Henderson , Kingswinford

I am sure my hon. and gallant Friend can be satisfied that a statement will be made on this very difficult problem at the earliest possible moment.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham

Is not this matter being very long drawn out? It is many weeks since we were told that something was to be done. Meanwhile our men are suffering. Cannot the Government make up their mind?

Photo of Mr Arthur Henderson Mr Arthur Henderson , Kingswinford

I can assure the hon. Member that the Government are just as anxious to help our men as anyone else but we have no control over the German government.

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

Can the House not be informed of the nature of the negotiations between the International Red Cross and the Germans?

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

If members of the Government were shackled themselves for 12 hours daily would it not hasten a decision?