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South Tyrol

Volume 441: debated on Wednesday 30 July 1947

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4.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the present negotiations for the granting of autonomy to South Tyrol, in accordance with the treaty with Italy, the 70,000 displaced South Tyrolese who were driven out of their country between 1939 and 1943 will be able to return to South Tyrol; and whether the full rights of Italian citzenship will be restored to them, as well as to the optants who remained in South Tyrol, since the Hitler-Mussolini Agreement has no longer any validity

This question is at present under discussion between the Italian and Austrian Governments. I have no reason to suppose that a settlement acceptable to both sides will not be reached, and that is certainly my wish. I cannot, however, associate myself with the statement that these persons were driven out of their country. That seems to me an oversimplification.

But surely the right hon. Gentleman is aware that they were threatened that unless they opted for Germany they would be deported to the South of Italy, and that it was under that threat that they migrated?

My information is that a very large number of them went quite voluntarily.

5.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, with regard to the discussions between the Italian Government and the representatives of the South Tyrolean people, the autonomy guaranteed to the German-speaking inhabitants of South Tyrol will be such that control over all police departments will be given to the autonomous government within the autonomous region, in accordance with Section 2 of The Italo-Austrian Agreement incorporated as Annexe 4 of the Treaty with Italy.

I have left the Italian Government in no doubt as to my interest in seeing satisfactory measures taken to honour the Austro-Italian Agreement of September, 1946, once the Draft Constitution which makes provision for certain autonomous regions has been approved by the Italian Constituent Assembly. I understand that the precise measures to be taken are still under discussion by the Italian authorities, who are in touch with representatives of the main German-speaking political party in South Tyrol.

I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman how it is possible to have "autonomous legislative and executive regional power"—to quote the very words of the Treaty—without control of the police.

Well, I think it is possible. The agreement, I think, is quite clear; and there will, I understand, be, in the main, a good deal of local autonomy in the control of the police.