Italian Internees, Isle of Man

Oral Answers to Questions — Civil Defence – in the House of Commons on 8th October 1942.

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Photo of Mr George Griffiths Mr George Griffiths , Hemsworth

asked the Home Secretary whether he can make any statement as to the state of discipline in the Metropole Camp in the Isle of Man where Italian internees are detained?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

Yes, Sir. Newspapers reports suggesting that the Italian internees at the Metropole Camp threatened a mass breakout, that 150 police surrounded the Camp, that the Fire Brigade stood by with hoses laid and that cars with unmasked headlamps were so placed as to flood the Camp with light, are untrue. The facts are that following breaches of discipline by a few individuals and one of the working parties, the privilege of parole was withdrawn for a month from all the parties who go to work outside the Camp. Certain precautions were quite properly taken by the Camp authorities but they did not involve the posting of extra police, firemen, or cars with unmasked headlamps near the Camp. The internees did not make threats or commit acts of indiscipline. Their behaviour throughout was exemplary. The publication of these false and alarmist reports, however, provoked intense resentment amongst them. As a protest against what they regarded as offensive accusations they refused to go to work. This refusal was subsequently withdrawn. I am sure the House will share my regret that difficulties should be caused in the internment camps by the circulation of fabricated stories by Press correspondents in the Isle of Man.

Photo of Mr George Griffiths Mr George Griffiths , Hemsworth

May I ask the Home Secretary, after that very lucid answer, whether he has any intention of prosecuting those folk? If the "Daily Worker" had done this the right hon. Gentleman would have been on them in a quick stitch.

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

I am sure that the newspapers on the mainland do not wish to publish reports that are false. War conditions have undoubtedly increased their difficulties in checking information, but experience has shown that there is need for special vigilance where sensational stories from the Isle of Man are concerned, and I feel sure that the lesson will not escape the notice of the newspapers on the mainland.

Photo of Mr George Griffiths Mr George Griffiths , Hemsworth

The Home Secretary has not answered my straight question. Is he going to take any proceedings?