HC Deb 09 May 1944 vol 399 cc1717-8
73. Mr. Ivor Thomas

asked the Secretary of State for War what changes have recently been made in the status of Italian prisoners of war; and what efforts have been made to secure their co-operation in the struggle against Nazism.

Sir J. Grigg

In order to give effect to the Italian Government's declaration of co-belligerency and to enable those who are anxious to do so to join most effectively in the common war effort, Italian prisoners of war under the control of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom who volunteer are being formed into units organised on a military basis. These units will be under the ultimate command of British officers, but will be staffed, so far as practicable, by Italian officers and non-commissioned officers. Members of the units will wear Italian badges of rank and will enjoy certain improvements in treatment, particularly in respect of liberty and pay, in comparison with prisoners of war who do not volunteer and whose treatment will remain as at present.

Mr. Thomas

Is the Minister aware that the improvements are so negligible as to offer practically no inducement to these men to volunteer?

Commander Locker-Lampson

Is Sir Oswald Mosley a co-belligerent?

Mr. Driberg

Does this new arrangement mean that many of the men will be withdrawn from farm work, in which they have been quite useful in the last year or two?

Sir J. Grigg

I think it is quite likely.