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Prisoners-of-War (Screening)

Oral Answers to Questions — Korea – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 2nd July 1952.

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Photo of Mr Frederick Cocks Mr Frederick Cocks , Broxtowe 12:00 am, 2nd July 1952

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that public anxiety in this country and elsewhere would be greatly relieved if a decision were taken to re-screen the prisoners in Korea by an impartial international commission, whether such action was agreeable to the Communist delegates at Panmunjom or not, thereby establishing a principle calculated to impress the non-Communist world; and what steps he is taking to try to get this done.

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

As I informed the hon. Gentleman on 25th June, this suggestion has been put forward and has been discussed with interested Governments. The most important thing now is to improve the prospects of achieving an armistice, and I am doubtful whether any re-screening would achieve this unless both sides agreed beforehand to abide by the results.

Photo of Mr Frederick Cocks Mr Frederick Cocks , Broxtowe

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman not agree that if this decision were taken the Communist negotiators would no longer be able to describe the screening of prisoners as a fraud, and will he say how far the discussions he has just mentioned have gone?

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

I quite agree that the advantage of a re-screening now would be to deprive the Chinese Government of that propaganda point. On the other hand, I am not at all satisfied myself that impartial re-screening would in fact assist the armistice. I think that a formula on a rather different line has to be sought.

Photo of Sir Waldron Smithers Sir Waldron Smithers , Orpington

Will my right hon. and learned Friend tell the Opposition in no uncertain terms that it is quite impossible to play lawn tennis with a man who will not send the ball back?

Photo of Mr Emrys Hughes Mr Emrys Hughes , South Ayrshire

Is the Minister aware that there is a strong feeling amongst Scottish soldiers in Korea that they should be screened and have an opportunity of being repatriated to their own country?

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

All I can say is that I found absolutely no trace of any such feeling.