The Prime Minister on Monday told a deputation from both
Houses of Parliament that the Government must adhere to their decision not to secure the release of the three thousand British civilians at Ruhleben by freeing fourteen thousand German civilians under military age who would like to leave our internment camps and return to Germany. We recognize that this is a question for the War Office, and that its steady refusal to agree to an exchange of civilians, irrespective of numbers, must be accepted. For our own part, we regret the decision. If we sent back all the interned Germans, Germany would have more mouths to feed, and we should have many thousand involuntary propagandists affording ocular proof that we treat our prisoners well and have plenty of food to give them, despite the submarine blockade. The addition of fourteen thousand men, whose moral has been weakened by long captivity, could not mean much to the German armies. Our men at Ruhleben have had a good champion in Lord Newton, who is by no means the conventional diplomatist, and who has shown his zeal and humanity not only in undertaking the distasteful task of dealing with German delegates at the Hague, but also in arranging with the Turks for a beneficial exchange of sick and wounded prisoners. We feel sure that Lord Newton has clone his utmost for the Ruhleben prisoners, and that nothing more can be done until the War Office sees the matter in a new light.