Use Of Prisoners Of War In Agricultural And Other Labour

Subject: Industries
Topic: Agriculture

Source: Labour Gazette
Date: January 1932 [ 1930s ]
Pages: 741-742

AN Order in Council of May 10 (P.C. 2326) authorized the Minister of Labour to utilize the services of prisoners of war in agricultural and other labour. In a statement to the House of Commons the Minister described the procedure to be employed as follows:

"Use of Italian prisoners of war is being made in England on labour projects with satisfactory results, but almost all prisoners of war interned in this country are of German nationality, and the extent to which German prisoners may be successfully employed can only be determined from experience gained in the work projects initially undertaken.

" The intention is that in initiating operations, the prisoners employed will be selected from those volunteering for employment and who are considered sufficiently reliable by the internment camp authorities for transfer to such employment and suitable for work on the employment project to be undertaken.

" The men selected will be transferred by the military authorities to small labour detachments assigned for work. We expect these detachments will be housed in labour camps adjacent to, within the area of, the labour project, or the area in which the detachment may operate, and in some instances, they will be housed in the main internment camp if the employment is within easy access of the camp.

" The Department of Labour will assume responsibility to provide for the operation of the labour camps and the arrangements for employment. A limited number of military personnel will be attached to each detachment for disciplinarian purposes, but the responsibility for the labour detachments will be assumed by the Department of Labour.

"The nature of the labour projects undertaken will necessarily be such as will involve the employment of a minimum personnel to supervise the employment and to provide reasonable assurances for the security and discipline of the prisoners employed.

" Wood cutting and mining work and selected types of agricultural work appear to offer the most suitable opportunities for employment. Projects providing suitable employment and for which camp facilities are available or can be supplied with little added cost will receive favourable consideration at the outset.

"Notwithstanding the careful selection of prisoners, hon. members will recognize that greater risks of escape must be accepted in placing these prisoners in useful employment than are involved in their detention in internment camps.

"Canada is a party to the prisoners of war convention concluded at Geneva in 1929, so that the conditions of employment and rates of pay and provision for welfare of prisoners

of war provided in this country will conform to the terms of the convention, and also be in conformity with British practices in this regard."