3rd August 1916

Parliament debates Jersey’s treatment of prisoners of war

Conservative MP Ronald McNeill, speaking in the House of Commons, demanded to know from the Secretary of State for War, David Lloyd George, why authorities in Jersey were treating German prisoners of war leniently.

Comparisons to Germany

He asked how their generous ration of food “compares with that given to British prisoners of war in Germany; whether he is aware that the German prisoners in Jersey are given practically no work to do, although there is plenty of work to be done in the island in which they might be employed, and that they spend their time bathing and eating; and, having regard to the slavery to which the German authorities have reduced the prisoners in their hands, whether he will direct that a less luxurious diet be allowed to the German prisoners in Jersey, and that they shall be employed in some useful task, instead of enjoying idleness at the expense of the British taxpayer?”

Hansard, the official record of proceedings in the British Houses of Parliament, doesn’t record whether McNeill was satisfied with the answer he got, which in the event came not from Lloyd George but Henry Forster, financial secretary to the War Office, who explained that the ration “is that authorised for prisoners of war in this country and is, certainly, more generous than that supplied to prisoners of war in Germany”. Moreover, while the Army Council would welcome any opportunity to employ prisoners of war profitably, “they are not aware that opportunities for such employment exist in Jersey. Further inquiry is, however, being made to see whether the conditions in this respect have recently changed”.


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