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Germany (Spandau Prisoners)

Volume 526: debated on Wednesday 28 April 1954

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37.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what proposals he and the Western Powers have made to the Soviet Union on the temporary release of one or more of the Spandau prisoners for hospital treatment and the proposed measures to ease the conditions under which these prisoners are confined; what was the nature of the reply from the Soviet Government; and if he will make a statement on these Four-Power talks.

Certain proposals, in particular proposals to cover cases of sickness, have been put forward, for discussion by representatives of the four Powers. The question of the disposal of the bodies of those who die in prison is also under discussion. Final agreement has not yet been reached, although the negotiations have made progress on certain matters.

On the latter point, concerning the disposal of the bodies, can the Minister of State give us an assurance that the Government will adopt the same practice for these mass murderers as is adopted in this country with those who murder individually? Can he give an assurance that in no instance these criminals will be treated better or worse than people convicted in this country for less crimes against fewer persons'?

I think that the purpose of these negotiations, so far as the conditions of detention are concerned, is that these people should be treated with no more and no less humanity than is given to people who have been convicted of such crimes. With regard to the disposal of bodies, that is a matter on which various views can be held on the question of possible martyrdom, and so on. I Cannot give the undertaking for which the hon. Gentleman asks.