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Prisoners Of War

Volume 389: debated on Tuesday 18 May 1943

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6.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will give, up till 30th April or latest available date, the total number of British prisoners in German hands and of German prisoners in British hands, and also corresponding figures as regards the Italians?

On 15th April there were 33,315 German and 284,776 Italian prisoners in British hands. Since then about 109,000 Germans and about 63,000 Italians have been captured by Allied Forces in North Africa. There are about 8o,000 British prisoners in German and about 70,000 in Italian hands. These figures include all the Services and Dominion, Colonial and Indian troops.

The only exchange which is under consideration at the moment is that of badly-wounded prisoners and pro- tected personnel under the Convention. I have answered Questions about that quite recently.

Are the figures which the right hon. Gentleman has just given the complete figures for the North Africa campaign?

No; they are an approximation to the final figures as far as we can tell at the moment, but they may be subject to variation.

7.

asked the Secretary of State for War what deductions are made monthly from the pay of officer prisoners of war of different ranks on account of the food received in German prison camps?

8.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether prisoners of war receive notification of alterations in pay or rank; and, if so, by whom?

Notifications of alterations in rank of officers are sent through the Protecting Power to the detaining Power, and should be communicated by the latter to the prisoner concerned. Arrangements have now been made for paymasters to notify other ranks of such changes as occur in their rank. Notifications of alterations in pay are not sent automatically to prisoners, but statements of account are furnished to all who ask for them. The addition to the mails and to the work of pay offices involved in sending notifications in other cases would not, in my view, be justified.

Does the right hon. Gentleman not realise that it would be better to indicate these alterations in the rates of pay to the nearest relatives of the prisoners, as there are many cases where civilian employers make up the pay of men serving to the level of their civilian emoluments, and if these men are called upon after the war to refund money, it will give rise to trouble?

That is a matter which the hon. and gallant Member has ventilated more than once in this House. I have answered the Question.

Would it be possible, if a prisoner indicates that he would like matters affecting his rate of pay to be notified to his next of kin, for that to be done?

I have said before that if a prisoner indicates that he would like such notification to be made to his next of kin, that is invariably done.