HC Deb 25 October 1916 vol 86 cc1127-8
67 and 68. Mr. TREVELYAN

asked the Home Secretary (1) whether he has become aware that no correspondence of any kind occurred between Mr. Russell and the Foreign Office, or any other office, asking him to give an undertaking not to carry on a propaganda in America; whether he will now withdraw his statement that Mr. Russell refused to bind himself not to carry on an anti-British propaganda; (2) whether he is aware that Mr. Bertrand Russell has never been told what the nature of the propaganda is which he has been requested to undertake to discontinue, and that Mr. Russell asserts definitely that the whole argument of his speech at Cardiff was directed to urging immediate peace negotiations; and whether the argument that negotiations are now possible or desirable is to be characterised as anti-British and is an offence in the eyes of the Government?


Correspondence of an official and unofficial character passed between Mr. Bertrand Russell and the War Office, beginning on 7th September and ending on 14th October, on the sub- ject of the withdrawal of the Order against him if he would give an undertaking not to continue the propaganda in which he had been engaged. In the course of that correspondence he was informed that the propaganda to which exception was taken might be defined as propaganda that contravened the Defence of the Realm Regulations and involved an offence similar to that of which Mr. Russell had been recently convicted at the Mansion House. Mr. Russell declined to give any undertaking of any kind. I was certainly under the impression, from verbal inquiries I had made, that it had been made clear to Mr. Russell that the withdrawal of the Order under the Defence of the Realm Regulations would be accompanied by the grant of a permit to go to the United States on his giving some appropriate undertaking. I much regret to find that I was in error as to this, the War Office having regarded that matter as one for the Foreign Office and not for themselves. The fact remains, however, that Mr. Russell could at any time have obtained a permit to go to America on giving such an undertaking, and can hardly have been under any misapprehension on the point, in view of the Government's willingness to accept his own assurance as sufficient guarantee in respect of the War Office Order; and it is the case that he can obtain such a permit now, as well as the withdrawal of the Order against entering the prohibited areas, on the condition suggested. With respect to Mr. Russell's speech at Cardiff, I have sent my hon. Friend extracts from the verbatim report, which by no means tally with Mr. Russell's description of the speech quoted in Question 68, and which, in my opinion, amply justify the terms in which I characterised that speech.


Would it not save the time of the House if the Government could lock this man up or send him to Germany?