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Mines (German Prisoners Of War)

Volume 391: debated on Tuesday 13 July 1943

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asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether, in view of the fact that above 1,000 British prisoners of war in Germany are working in coalmines, it is proposed, to remedy the shortage of active labour, to employ German prisoners of war in winning coal?

If it is competent for the Germans to employ British prisoners to win coal, is there any reason why we should not employ German prisoners for that purpose?

The simple reason that I am anxious to win coal, and I am not sure that such a step would enable us to do so.

In the last war did we not have over 63,000 German prisoners working? Why do we not employ them now, and allow them to help to recreate the country they have destroyed?

This is a different question. It is a question of coalmining. I do no, remember that there were any German prisoners used as coalminers in the last war. Certainly, in my view, this would not increase production.

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that it is a very strange proposal to suggest putting prisoners in coalmines, particularly men who do not know the language, and cannot be guided?