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British Prisoners Of War

Volume 387: debated on Tuesday 2 March 1943

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asked the Secretary of State for War whether the Imperial Prisoners of War Inter-departmental Committee, presided over by the Financial Secretary, is still in existence, the names of the members of the Committee and the dates on which it has met during the last six months?

The Imperial Prisoners of War Committee is still in existence. I have recently taken over myself the chairmanship from the Financial Secretary. The members of the Committee are the High Commissioners of the Dominions and a representative of the Secretary of State for India. It has met twice during the last six months, on 26th August, 1942, and on 3rd February, 1943. Its subcommittees, on which the Dominions are represented, meet at far more frequent intervals and deal with all questions on which reference to the Main Committee is not considered essential.

Will my right hon. Friend say whether this Committee sits with the knowledge of the War Cabinet?


asked the Secretary of State for War whether, when the lists of prisoners of war are released to the British Red Cross Society, he will at the same time see that similar lists are filed with the Prisoners of War Relatives Association in order that the quickest possible contact may be made by these responsible organisations with the relatives?

No, Sir. I regret that the facilities referred to cannot be extended to the voluntary organisations interested in prisoners of war other than the War Organisation of the British Red Cross Society and Order of St. John, which is recognised as performing essential functions in relation to British prisoners of war.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his reply is a very bad psychological one? Will he not consider allowing this suggested arrangement in areas where the Red Cross Society is not functioning, so that relatives would be able to have the information at the earliest possible opportunity? Why does he make this discrimination?

I was very well aware from the prolonged earlier discussions I have had with the hon. Lady that my reply would not be regarded as satisfactory by her.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that my previous discussions had nothing at all to do with this point? Will he start on terms of equality with me?