§ Mr. SALTER
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that copies of an article by the hon. Member for Leicester, reprinted from the "Labour Leader," suggesting that the War is unnecessary and unjust, are being systematically and anonymously sent to persons who have lost a son, killed in action, immediately after their bereavement, and whether the War Office is taking any steps to discover and expose the persons guilty of this inhuman conduct?
§ Mr. TENNANT
This matter has already been receiving attention, but I cannot make any statement at present. The hon. Member for Leicester has informed me that the action mentioned in the question has not been taken by any organisation with which he has been or is associated, and that it has neither his sanction nor his sympathy.
§ Mr. SALTER
Will the right hon. Gentleman say that he will invite the assistance 504 of the Home Office and of the Post Office to endeavour to detect the persons guilty of this abominable procedure?
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
I am very reluctant to ask the House to receive an explanation from me in this matter, but the suggestion made in the question just put that I am either directly or indirectly responsible for sending the pamphlet to add pain to people bereaved by the War is so offensive to me that I must ask leave to make a statement. The leaflet which I wrote, and to which reference has been made, criticised the diplomacy which led up to the War. The ordinary circulation of such views, in my opinion, cannot be objected to. It is part of the critical examination of the facts which is essential to the welfare of the State. Hon. Members will profoundly disagree with what I have said, but that does not mean that the publication was wrong. The suggestion that this leaflet, either with my knowledge or concurrence, has been used specifically and systematically for the purpose of distracting the minds of people whose relatives have fallen in the War is absolutely unjustifiable. The accusation was made first of all by a newspaper which at the same time misrepresented what I wrote. My attention was drawn to the attack in that newspaper, and I wrote immediately, on 1st June, a letter which was published on 4th June in the newspaper, in which I used these words:—If there is any attempt being made to select people who have suffered, this action is not only mean but brutal, and neither I nor any organisation with which I have anything to do is responsible for such conduct.I have made further inquiry, and can repeat here to the House, without qualification or reserve of any kind whatever, that if there were such a plan in operation, it has neither the support nor the sympathy of any organisation with which I am associated. It must be plain to everyone that whoever devised this scheme could have used equally well for his purpose almost any other criticism reflecting upon the late Government's policy and conduct of the War, and it must be equally apparent to every hon. person that whoever continues to circulate these libels regarding myself is prompted, not by a care for the decencies of life, but by motives of a diametrically opposite kind.