HC Deb 10 September 1941 vol 374 cc157-8
1. Mr. Wedgwood

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether steps have yet been taken to deport the Italians, whom we are maintaining in Ethiopia, if only to Egypt, where their co-nationals can support them, or whether we contemplate preserving them in Ethiopia?

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Eden)

I would refer my right hon. Friend to the Reply which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) on 6th August. I then explained that the evacuation of the Italians which was proceeding was necessarily governed by the factors of communications and transport, and that negotiations were in progress. There is no question of asking the Egyptian Government to receive any of these Italians. It is hoped to send the Italians back to Italy, but this depends on the Italian Government providing the necessary shipping.

Mr. Wedgwood

Is it not possible for many of those Italians to march, and in that way not have to wait for shipping—to march into Egypt or Nairobi? In default of that, cannot the Ethiopian Government take charge of them and support them instead of leaving it to the British taxpayer?

Mr. Eden

As I say, some of them are being evacuated to Kenya now, and the plan, which I hope will be worked out, is that they should go back to Italy in ships provided by the Italian Government.

Mr. Mander

But in the event of the Italian Government being unwilling to supply transport, will not these people be disposed of in Kenya or elsewhere?

Mr. Eden

I do not wish to contemplate that position, and I hope that it will not come about.

Mr. Wedgwood

Does the right hon. Gentleman not realise that the Ethiopian Government are primarily responsible and may as well look after these people instead of putting the burden on our shoulders?