HC Deb 11 November 1937 vol 328 cc1836-7
55. Commander Marsden

asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that the Central Council of the League of the Godless intend to hold a congress in London on 6th April, 1938; and what special instructions will be given to the police, in view of the riot and disturbance such a congress is likely to provoke?

64. Captain Ramsay

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that the League of Militant Godless, of Moscow, have recently announced their intention to hold a plenary conference in Great Britain in 1938; and whether he will limit the number of aliens permitted to enter the country for the purpose of attending this conference?

Sir S. Hoare

I have seen statements in the Press that such a course is proposed, but I have no other information, and I hope that there is no foundation for these statements. Like most people in this country, I should strongly deplore the holding here of a congress of this character. While it would he contrary to our traditions of toleration to interfere with the holding of a conference because its objects were repugnant to general feeling, if any action were taken which is calculated so to inflame public opinion as to lead to breaches of the peace, it would, of course, be the duty of the police to take the necessary steps for the preservation of order. As regards foreign visitors, any undesirable aliens would in the ordinary course be excluded under the provisions of the Aliens Order.

Mr. Thurtle

Will the Home Secretary, if and when he may he called upon to take action in this matter, bear in mind the long-established British tradition of toleration and freedom in regard to matters of religious belief, and will he also bear in mind that he is the Home Secretary of free England and not of Franco Spain?

Sir S. Hoare

I have stated the position quite clearly in my answer.

Mr. Crowder

Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance to the House that no blasphemous posters will be allowed to be exhibited either in the hall or halls which may be engaged for the proceedings or on the hoardings?

Sir S. Hoare

That is really a different question, and, if I may say so to my hon. Friend, it is a hypothetical question. I have no official information that this conference is going to take place, and I hope that it is not.

Mr. Gallacher

Is the Minister aware— or will he make inquiries to find out— that this is a deliberate piece of anti-working-class propaganda, that there is not a word of truth in it, and that the Member responsible for it should have made the date 1st April, which would have been more in keeping with his character?

Sir S. Hoare

I am very glad to have the hon. Member's assurance that the conference is not going to take place.

Mr. Gallacher

On a point of Order. I want to ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether, in your judgment, it is in keeping with the responsibility of the Secretary of State for the Home Department to make such a reply. The Secretary of State has no information of any kind that such a conference is to be held, and yet he gets up and tries to suggest that I have some responsibility for some such conference, and that he is glad of my assurance that it is not going to be held. I consider that that is a deliberate support on the part of the Home Secretary for this anti-working-class attitude, and I demand the withdrawal of the statement. [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Captain Ramsay.