HC Deb 14 December 1944 vol 406 cc1344-6
47. Mr. Bellenger

asked the Prime Minister whether the question of the retention of Victor Emmanuel as King of Italy was discussed at his interview with Count Sforza.

The Prime Minister

I informed Count Sforza that I welcomed the assurance he had given to the United States Government in his letter to Mr. Berle, which I read to the House on 8th December, that matters of internal politics, including the monarchy, should be adjourned until Italy was free. As regards the future that would be for the Italian people to decide.

Mr. Bellenger

I do not think my right hon. Friend has answered my Question. Has his attention been called to the statement, alleged to have been made by Count Sforza, that my right hon. Friend spent a good deal of the time of the interview urging the retention of Victor Emmanuel as King of Italy? How does that conform to the oft-repeated assurances, which he has given in this House, that His Majesty's Government have no desire to interfere in constitutional matters affecting these other countries?

The Prime Minister

That is not so at all. I gave at the time a full account of the matter to the House. The speech is on record in which I explained that I thought it better to go on with the King Victor Emmanuel-Badoglio regime until the military situation had got into better condition. We did go on for a very considerable time, the results not being unsatisfactory so far as our Armies are concerned. I certainly said nothing in my conversations with Count Sforza which I had not already made clear as being the policy of His Majesty's Government at that time. It is quite true that Count Sforza, as far as my memory serves me, descanted a great deal upon the evils which come to a country when the senior reigning family in the country is displaced by a junior reigning family, like the House of Savoy, but I was not quite clear, and I am still not quite clear, about all the implications of his conversation on that point.

Mr. Ivor Thomas

Did not Count Sforza make it clear at the interview that he made a very sharp distinction between the institutional question of the monarchy, which is to be held in abeyance until the Constituent Assembly, and the personal question of King Victor Emmanuel, to whom he never promised any support?

The Prime Minister

He certainly expressed an animus against King Victor Emmanuel, with whom he had very lengthy, and not at all unnatural, disagreement, but the statements which I made to him were within the lines of the statement I made at that time publicly to Parliament. That is what I am responsible for.

Viscountess Astor

Is it not true that Stalin backed up the Government in keeping the Badoglio Government in office? Was it not Stalin's wish, and did not he come with us?

The Prime Minister

It is quite true that the Soviet Government, of course, did recognise the Badoglio Government under King Victor, but the matter was not then so heated and lively a topic as it is now.

Mr. Stokes

Is it not a fact that Count Sforza's support of the Badoglio regime was always dependent on the abdication of King Victor, and that he only gave his support to the Badoglio Government on that condition?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend had better make another speech like the one he made to the airmen.

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