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Prisoners Of War (Political Screening)

Volume 439: debated on Monday 30 June 1947

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement concerning the future of the scheme for allotting political gradings to German prisoners of war held in this country and the Middle East.

Yes. The system of political screening, which has now covered all German prisoners of war in this country, has played an important part in our re-education programme. It has enabled us to identify those prisoners who were ready and able to take an active part in organising re-education schemes among their fellows, to measure the progress of re-education and also to segregate those prisoners who, because they were strongly imbued with Nazi ideology, were actively obstructive. It has also made it possible to give priority to the repatriation of politically active democrats whose presence was required in Germany for reconstruction purposes.With the general progress of the reeducation of prisoners and the transformation of the conditions under which they live in this country, and with the progress which has already been made in repatriation to Germany, the political screening system has now fulfilled its purpose. My right hon. Friend has therefore decided to discontinue it in this country immediately and to bring it to an end in the Middle East shortly afterwards. Any prisoners in this country or in the Middle East who have been graded as "A's," or who may be given the grading of "A" as a result of the hearing of appeals which have already been lodged, will remain eligible for priority repatriation. The small number of prisoners who are categorised as C+, that is, potentially dangerous to security on repatriation to Germany, will be dealt with as a special class in conjunction with the Control authorities in Germany.