asked the Home Secretary whether Messrs. S. Lanni, S. Imponenti, Pietro Cavadaschi, Francis Vercelli and S. Volante, all of whom have been interned under Regulation 18B, are all or any of them British subjects; and were any of them transported to the Isle of Man prior to 24th March, 1941?
If, as I assume, my hon. Friend refers to the cases of Pasquale Lanni, Renato Imponenti and Luigi Volante, these three men and the other two named in the Question were interned last summer when the general internment of men of Italian nationality was taking place. Four of them possess both Italian and British nationality, and the fifth is a naturalised British subject of Italian origin. One of them had endeavoured to divest himself of his British nationality by making a declaration of alienage. Another had an Italian passport and had made statements showing that he regarded himself as Italian. By inadvertence they were placed with Italian internees who were removed to the Isle of Man. Instructions were subsequently issued for their return to this country. I may add that in one case the man, after his return to this country from the Isle of Man, asked to be sent back there if he could not be released.
May I express my thanks to the Minister for correcting the names? He will recognise that these people may have several names. Is he aware that in the case of those who have British nationality he has committed an unpardonable offence against them, and will he say what steps he proposes to take to compensate them?
I cannot see why my hon. Friend should be so anxious to spend public money in compensating people who have been sent out of the blitzed areas of Britain to the Isle of Man. If there is a legal point involved, he will also appreciate that it would be improper for me to make any statement upon a case which may come into court. While I am very sorry for the mistake, and I apologise to my hon. Friend and to the House for making a mistake, nevertheless I cannot see why I should start making offers of compensation.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the course of the Committee discussions on the Bill empowering the Government to transfer these subjects to the Isle of Man the Under-Secretary gave a categorical and specific denial to a question by me as to whether any British subjects had, in fact, been transferred to the Isle of Man in anticipation of that legislation?
I frankly admit that that is perfectly true. My hon. Friend gave the answer in all good faith and on advice. It must be remembered that our records are out of London. It was a mistaken answer, and I am sorry for it, as is also my hon. Friend, but in the circumstances I think the House will not regard this as quite a capital offence.