22 MAY 1941, Page 3

An Astonishing Survival

Lord Mottistone made an astonishing disclosure on Tuesday regarding prisoners-of-war's pay. It appears that under a regulation dating back to the Napoleonic wars, while an officer who surrenders to the enemy is assumed innocent until he is proved culpable, a private who surrenders is assumed culpable until he is proved innocent, the consequence flowing from this indefensible discrimination being that while officer-prisoners can have their pay made over regularly to their bank or their agent (presumably a wife or near relative), a private's pay is withheld till after an enquiry, which, as Lord Croft admitted, means till the conclusion of the war. Lord Mottistone admits that when he was Secretary for War he knew of this regulation but did nothing about it, hoping it would be left as a dead letter. At any rate he has done the right thing in bringing the matter to light now. Once so intolerable a differentiation is made known the demand for its abolition will be universal. Captain Margesson will be wise to anticipate his critics.