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British Prisoners Of War

Volume 389: debated on Tuesday 11 May 1943

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asked the Secretary of State for War why Hesketh Pearson's Biography of Bernard Shaw and Siegfried Sassoon's "Memories of an Infantry Officer" cannot be sent to prisoners of war in Germany who have made requests for them; and whether he will publish a list of banned authors in the "Bookseller" or "Publishers Circular" for the guidance of persons in the export book trade?

A list of authors banned by the German authorities has been compiled as a result of experience. This list includes Bernard Shaw and Siegfried Sassoon, and a biography of Bernard Shaw would almost certainly also be confiscated by the Germans. The list is already made available to all booksellers who hold a permit to export books.

I could not answer that Question without notice, but T will look up the point.

Can the Minister do anything to see that these books are not damaged while they are in the hands of the censors, and are not returned to the publishers in a second-hand condition, as many of them are now, but are properly packed?

I will certainly consider that point, but I imagine that the publishers do not send them forward, as they have all got lists of the banned books.

Will the right hon. Gentleman make it clear that the banning of the books referred to in the Question is not taken on the initiative of His Majesty's Government, but is due to the German Government?

Is there any way of conveying that to prisoners of war, who seem to be under the impression that the banning arises on this side?


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that a letter dated 15th March, from the prisoner of war camp P.G. 5 in Italy, states that no Red Cross parcels have been received since the beginning of February; and if he will ascertain, through the International Red Cross, what is the reason for this?

Owing to the difficulties of transport between Geneva and the Italian camps, parcels are not received regularly at the camps. I am, however, baying inquiries made about this particular camp and will then communicate with my hon. and gallant Friend. According to my present information, the supply of parcels held at the camp should have been adequate during the period referred to.


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has any information concerning conditions at Campo PG 21, Italy, about which complaints have been received recently, particularly with reference to the supply of water?

This camp has been visited three times by a representative of the Protecting Power and once by a representative of the International Red Cross. It is in a part of a newly built barracks and is generally satisfactory except that water is usually short. Representations have been made about this to the Italian authorities.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, according to the official report of an inspection last January, which is quoted in the current issue of "Prisoner of War," conditions then were generally very unsatisfactory?

No, the information at my disposal is that the bathing and washing arrangements are modern and, indeed, almost luxurious, but that there is not enough water to put into them. That is the only complaint which has been made.