HC Deb 13 October 1943 vol 392 cc856-7
17. Sir A. Southby

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will assure the House that the use of the phrase "co-belligerent" implies no intention to treat Italy as an ally against Germany instead of a defeated enemy in view of the loss of life and suffering caused by Italy's alliance with Germany?

Mr. Law

If and when the Italian Government declare war on Germany, the position in fact will be that both Great Britain and Italy will be fighting a common enemy. This situation can best be described as co-belligerency. It does not, however, in any way affect the validity of the armistice terms.

Sir A. Southby

Does my right hon. Friend consider that Italy ought to enjoy the advantages which usually accrue to the evil-doer who turns King's evidence? Further can my right hon. Friend say whether the economic terms of the armistice have yet been signed?

Mr. Law

I think Italy is already beginning to enjoy some of the fruits which accrue to the evil-doer who turns King's evidence. With regard to the second part of the question, I should require notice.

Mr. Woodburn

I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to be careful that our Government do not take too quixotic a view of the question of Italy fighting and allow Britain and America to make all the sacrifice in clearing the Germans out of Italy. If the Italians are prepared to do some of the work, they ought not to be refused the opportunity.