§ 23. Mr. Stokes
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will take steps to ensure that in any peace settlement made between Italy and the United Nations provision will be made so that the many displaced persons of Yugoslav, Ukrainian, Polish and other nationalities at present in Italy will not be forced back against their will to their countries of origin in exchange for the many Italians at present detained by the Yugoslav Government.
His Majesty's Government have made it clear at more than one international conference that they are firmly opposed to any forcible repatriation of bona fide displaced persons and refugees. We are at the moment examining the possibility of ensuring that no forcible repatriation of bona fide personnel should take place after the withdrawal of Allied control from Italy.
§ Mr. Stokes
Is my right hon. Friend able yet to give any indication as to what sort of assurance there will be? Will it be under some continuation of U.N.R.R.A., or what, because these poor people are very anxious about what is to happen to them?
I am not anxious to be drawn into a detailed discussion of what our efforts will amount to, but I say to my hon. Friend that I am as aware and as concerned as he is and that I will try to secure that there is some international backing for these poor people in Italy.
§ Mr. Godfrey Nicholson
I think the Minister has used the expression "bona fide personnel." Will he define the sort of people who are not bona fide personnel and who may be liable to repatriation?
I should say I was trying to exclude those people against whom a prima facie case can be shown—that is, that they have committed an offence.
I am afraid it is rather late now to consider adding anything to what already exists in the draft Treaty.
§ 24. Mr. Stokes
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that, on or about 27th September, British military authorities at Naples handed over a number of Croatian displaced persons for forcible repatriation to Yugoslavia; and whether this action, which is contrary to all undertakings given regarding forcible repatriation, had his approval.
I am not aware that action of the kind described has been taken by the British military authorities at Naples, but I have caused immediate inquiries to be made.
§ Mr. Stokes
May I ask my right hon. Friend whether he is aware that I have private communications from Italy indicating that the British military authorities are committing this villainy, and if he will give an assurance to this House that instructions will be given to them to stop it? Further, will he make some sort of provision so that persons, before forcible repatriation, are given some opportunity of appearing before an independent body with their own advocates, instead of being left to the chancy intervention of the Foreign Office?
I would like to see the second Question on the Order Paper. As to the first, His Majesty's Government will not be a party to the forcible repatriation of people against whom no offence is known. Generally, we will not permit the forcible repatriation of people who are displaced refugees.
§ Mr. Stokes
May I ask my right hon. Friend if he is aware that I hold here in my hand a paper in which a commandant of a camp, when people complained that they were forcibly repatriated without blankets, said: "In heaven you will not need them, and in hell it is too hot."
§ Mr. Scollan
What does the officer do in a case like that? I hope they will not repeat what they have already done with the Poles in Scotland.