§ 6. Sir ASSHETON POWNALL
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has received from the Baptist Union a statement giving names and addresses of a considerable number of men who had been either done to death or put out of the way by the present Government in Russia; and what steps he proposes to take in the matter?
§ 14. Sir ROBERT GOWER
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs with regard to the communications that have been sent to him by Dr. John C. Carlile, C.H., ex-president of the Baptist Union, and the denomination he represents, giving a number of names of men who have either been done to death or put out of the way by the present Government in Russia on account of their religious opinions, whether he proposes to have inquiry made into these matters?
Mr. A. HENDERSON
I have received from the secretary of the Baptist World Alliance certain particulars regarding 11 Russian Baptists reported to be exiled or imprisoned in the Soviet Union, and am at present making inquiries on this matter.
§ Sir A. POWNALL
Will the right hon. Gentleman inform the House, when these inquiries are completed, what reply he gets from the Russian Ambassador in regard to them?
There, again, I have tried to explain to the House my difficulty in reporting matters that come through from the Ambassador.
§ Sir WILLIAM DAVISON
Does the light hon. Gentleman realise that, while he is waiting, this tyrannous persecution of Christians in Russia is continuing?
§ Mr. THURTLE
On a point of Order. Is an hon. Member entitled to use that term in relation to a Power with whom we are in friendly relations?
§ 8. Sir KINGSLEY WOOD
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can now make a statement in relation to the Report he has received from the British Ambassador in relation to religious persecution in Russia?
Mr. A. HENDERSON
I have now had the opportunity of considering the Ambassador's Report, and I have reached the conclusion that to lay the Report or to publish any statement based thereon would create an undesirable precedent and would not be in the interest of the public service. But, as intimated to the House on Monday, I am laying as a White Paper a translation of the decree of the 8th April, 1929, regulating the practice of religion in Soviet Russia. The White Paper will, I hope, be in the hands of hon. Members this week.
§ Sir K. WOOD
Does the right hon. Gentleman recollect that he was the one who announced that he would ask for a Report from the British Ambassador, and that he made that statement publicly, and does he now tell the House that no information at all is going to be given? May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he has observed the terms of my question, which is not asking him for a Report, but whether he himself, as Foreign Secretary, will make a statement on the whole position?
Yes. I have observed the terms, and I think I have met the terms by saying that we could not publish the Report, or any statement based on the Report. As the right hon. Gentleman has reminded the House, I did say that I was inquiring for a Report, and that shows how anxious I was to ascertain what the position really is.
§ Sir K. WOOD
Is the right hon. Gentleman going to take any action arising out of the Report that he has received? Is he going to make any further representations on the matter and carry out what I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree are the wishes of the great majority of the people of the country?
That is an entirely new question, but I think the replies that I have already given to questions show 404 that, within the limits of my doing no disservice to the public service, I am making all the inquiries I can.
§ Sir K. WOOD
I beg to give notice that I shall ask on Monday what the right hon. Gentleman is going to do.
§ Mr. ARTHUR MICHAEL SAMUEL
In view of the great anxiety of the whole country and of all creeds, including the creed to which I belong myself, cannot we have some discreet synopsis drawn up by the right hon. Gentleman himself, so that we may at least know the truth about the position?
No. You cannot have any synopsis based upon the Report, because of the reasons which I have already given, and I think it would be within the knowledge of any Member on the Front Bench that it would be improper to place our public servants in an unfortunate position.
I have just given the House the reasons—that I should be creating an undesirable precedent and doing something that was contrary, in my judgment, to the interests of the public-service.
§ 45. Mr. MARJORIBANKS
asked the Prime Minister whether any representations have been made to the Government by religious bodies, officials, or members of the public as to their decision with regard to prayers in military and naval services on behalf of Christians in Russia?
§ Mr. SHAKESPEARE
Is the Chancellor of the Exchequer aware that the Army Council have never hitherto issued instructions to the Chaplains-General as to the religious side of their duties?
§ 59. Mr. THURTLE
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air if his attention has been called to the published declaration of the Rev. Dr. G. C. Carlile, a Royal Air Force chaplain, to the effect that he will disobey a Royal Air Force order relating to chaplains; if he is aware that such a declaration is prejudicial to the discipline of the Royal Air Force; and if he will state what action he is proposing to take in the matter?
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for AIR (Mr. Montague)
Yes, Sir. Dr. Carlile's declaration was presumably made under a misapprehension. His position is not that of a commissioned Air Force chaplain, but of an officiating clergyman, that is to say, he is the pastor of a Baptist church at Folkestone, which it has been arranged that certain men from the Royal Air Force station at Hawkinge shall attend. No instruction of any kind had been issued to Dr. Carlile by the Air Ministry at the time of his reported statement, and no instruction has been or will be issued which affects prayers at the services in his church. The remaining parts of the question do not, therefore, arise.
§ Mr. THURTLE
Will my hon. Friend say whether Dr. Carlile is amenable to Royal Air Force discipline or not?
§ Mr. MONTAGUE
I think my answer covers that point. He is not amenable to Royal Air Force discipline.
§ Mr. ERNEST BROWN
Arising out of the last part of the hon. Gentleman's answer, that the last part of the question does not arise, may I ask whether it is not the fact that, although Dr. Carlile, who is an eminent Baptist minister, is not amenable to Air Force discipline, the troops who go to the church are—that they are compelled to go, it being a compulsory parade service?
§ Mr. BROWN
On a point of Order. I submit that two issues arise on this question, the one the matter of Dr. 406 Carlile, and the other that of the troops who go to the church where he officiates. The hon. Gentleman's answer is quite clear as to the position of Dr. Carlile, but surely we are entitled to ask whether these men in this case ought not to be allowed to go voluntarily to the church if they wish to go, and not be compelled to go?