asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware of the anxiety of British parents in the United Kingdom, whose relatives are held as prisoners of war in Italy, at the length of time, some nine or 10 weeks, it takes a letter to reach this country from the said prisoners of war camps; and will he take all steps possible to expedite delivery of such mail?
As explained in the reply to a Question by the hon. and gallant Member for Wycombe (Sir A. Knox) on 18th February last (a copy of which I am sending to my hon. and gallant Friend), the delay of letters from British prisoners of war in Italy occurs before despatch from Italy and is due to censorship or other reasons. Delay of the order mentioned by my hon. and gallant Friend affects only a proportion of the correspondence; appreciable numbers of letters are received in this country within a month of writing. The excessive delays on some letters has been a matter of serious concern to all the Departments interested in the men's welfare, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs caused representations to be made to the Italian authorities through the Protecting Power in January last. The question was raised again in March with the Protecting Power who were asked to take urgent action to expedite the treatment of letters to and from the prisoners. No reply has yet been received to these representations. Relatives themselves can make some contribution towards relieving congestion in the Italian Censorship by exercising restraint in the number of letters they send to the prisoners —no family should send more than one letter per week; letters should be brief and clearly written, typewritten for preference.