HC Deb 28 July 1943 vol 391 c1560
26. Mr. Ivor Thomas

asked the Minister of Information what steps he is taking to ensure that the democratic way of life is presented to the Italian population, now being liberated after 20 years of Fascism?

The Minister of Information (Mr. Brendan Bracken)

My hon. Friend is undoubtedly correct in believing that 20 years of Fascism have left the people of Italy sadly ignorant of democratic ways. Ever since the war began the B.B.C. have in their Italian broadcasts been patiently striving to redress the balance. With the Allied occupation of Italian territory it will naturally be possible to do much more, but so long as military operations continue the paramount task of Allied propaganda will remain that of assisting their progress by all possible means.

Mr. Thomas

Is anything being done to present democratic literature to the liberated peoples?

Mr. Bracken

Oh yes, Sir, a good deal. Leaflets are being dropped upon them. As hon. Members must realise, at the present moment we are carrying bombs to Italy—a good deal of what you call military propaganda—but the stage for education has not begun yet.

Mr. Austin Hopkinson

Is it not a fact that every Italian over the age of 20 has had experience of democratic institutions and was it not that experience which induced them to put up with 20 years of Fascism?

Mr. Bracken

The hon. Gentleman is doing the work that the unfortunate Gayda was retired for.

Mr. Thorne

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that the best way to give the Italians freedom and democratic institutions is for Italy to become part of the British Empire?