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Prisoners Of War

Volume 436: debated on Tuesday 15 April 1947

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Hospitality (Undesirable Contacts)


asked the Secretary of State for War if his attention has been called to the fact that a number of British Fascists have recently been sentenced to terms of imprisonment for helping escaped German prisoners; and if he will consider circulating to commandants of camps a list of active members of Fascist organisations, instructing them that it is undesirable that offers of hospitality to prisoners should be accepted from such persons, or take other steps to ensure that his relaxations of the regulations concerning prisoners are not abused in this way.

The answer to the first part of this Question is "Yes, Sir," but this fact cannot be attributed to the permission given to prisoners of war to accept offers of hospitality, since the prisoners of war in question escaped and were harboured some months before the relaxations were introduced. Everything possible will be done to ensure that prisoners do not make contact with undesirable persons and particular houses are already. in appropriate cases, put out of bounds, but, of course, the increased freedom now allowed to prisoners of war necessarily involves some risk of their making undesirable contacts.

Screening Categories


asked the Secretary of State for War how many men there are in each category resulting from the screening procedure applied to German prisoners of war.

7,600 have been categorised as A, 240,600 as B. 32,000 as C. and 1,000 as C plus.

Ukrainians, Italy (Guards)


asked the Secretary of State for War how many British troops are employed guarding Ukrainian prisoners of war in Italy.



asked the Secretary of State for War how many German prisoners have so far indicated their wish to remain in this country as free paid workers; how many have been granted permission to do so; and for which industries and trades such recruitment is being considered.

As stated by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture in reply to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Mr. Skeffington-Lodge), the possibility of allowing some prisoners of war to stay in this country as free agricultural workers is being studied, but a detailed scheme has not yet been fully worked out and consequently the number of prisoners of war who would wish to take advantage of it is not known.

Have they so far been asked if they would remain? Has any inquiry been made whether they will stay?

The procedure is that a prisoner is not invited to stay in this country until his turn comes round for repatriation to Germany.

In view of the importance to the individual farmer of having a particular prisoner who has worked well with him, could this be expedited before they leave?

Although this is not a matter for my Department, I should have thought it would be possible for a farmer through his war agricultural committee to make application for a particular prisoner of war if the prisoner of war is desirous of staying.

Can the right hon. Gentleman arrange for a conference in the localities between the commandants of the camps, the farmers' unions and the agricultural committees on this matter?

Until the details are worked out by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Labour, I think that would be a little premature.

Would the Minister consider taking a census of the prisoners of war in this country with the object of finding out how many are willing and anxious to remain here as free workers?

I must know the conditions under which they will be permitted to stay before I can take that census.

Can the Minister make arrangements whereby prisoners of war who have signified that they are anxious to stay in this country, and whom farmers in the localities are prepared to employ, are not moved to some other district?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that much better work will be got out of prisoners of war if they can have some certainty about this?

My information and experience go to show that most of these prisoners want to go home.



asked the Secretary of State for War how many German prisoners have been repatriated, or are to be repatriated in the immediate future, in accordance with the assurance given by his Department on 15th February to the hon. Member for Maldon, because their continued detention is anomalous in view of their previous release or of unfulfilled promises of release; what percentage of the total number of claims made in this category these repatriations represent; and if he is satisfied that no reasonable claim has been rejected not only at camp 180 but also at camp 29 and other camps.

1,300 of these prisoners of war have already been repatriated and 400 will sail this month; the balance of 250 will follow later. Eighty-eight per cent. of claims of this nature were allowed and I am satisfied that no reasonable claim was rejected. No claim has been submitted from camp 29.

Would my right hon. Friend be good enough to look into the position at camp 29, because I gather that there are several hundred men there in exactly the same kind of situation?

I will do what I can, but I should have thought that the initiative should come from the prisoners themselves who know what their rights are in this matter.

Is it not possible, With all respect to my right hon. Friend, that though they know their own rights in camp 18o, which is a special type of camp, they may not do so in camp 29?

Very well, Sir; I will endeavour to do my best to see that the prisoners of war in camp 29 know all their rights.