HC Deb 17 November 1937 vol 329 cc377-8
12. Mr. Keeling

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been drawn to the text books for teaching English issued this year to Government schools in Russia, which suggest that women and 10-year-old children work in English coal mines, that hundreds of English miners are killed every month, that poisonous gas is used to keep order in India, and that English Colonies are struggling for independence; and whether he will ask the Soviet Government to correct these misrepresentations?

Mr. Neil Maclean

On a point of Order. Before this question is answered might I draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to that part of it in which the hon. Member speaks of English Colonies struggling for independence. Is not this language a breach of the Treaty of Union between Scotland and England by which the terms "Britain" and "British" were to be used in regard to all matters, not merely in this House of Commons but also in diplomatic correspondence?

Mr. Mathers


Mr. Speaker

If the question of the hon. Member is in the same terms, I cannot answer it.

Mr. Maclean

Surely when the Clerks at the Table check up errors in questions that: are submitted to them, the same principle could be applied to this matter? As a Scottish Member I enter my protest—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"]—evidently the Welsh Members protest also—against Colonies being claimed by England, and I trust that you will advise the hon. Member to pay strict attention to the last three words of his question, and that he should correct this misrepresentation.

Mr. H. G. Williams

Does not the responsibility for these three words lie with the Government of Russia?

Mr. James Griffiths

Who are the English?

Captain Ramsay

May I call attention to the fact that this is a timely diversion by the Chairman of the Anglo-Russian Parliamentary Committee to detract the attention of the House from this question?

Mr. Maclean

How is it that those Members who are so anxious about Russia do not put down more questions about it, but take their opportunity on questions which do not relate to Russia at all?

Mr. Speaker

If there are errors in the wording of the question as it appears on the Paper I take full responsibility for them, but if hon. Members regard this matter as one of importance I will see another time that the term "British" is used.

Viscount Cranborne

My right hon. Friend is aware of the statements in the text books to which my hon. Friend refers. Such fantastic allegations are clearly not calculated to promote cordial relations between this country and the Soviet Union, and my right hon. Friend has under consideration the question whether it will be desirable to make representations in the matter.

Captain Ramsay

Has not this kind of misrepresentation an exact counterpart in the glorification of Russia that is carried on by our friends opposite?

Mr. Bellenger

In view of the assurances which the Noble Lord has just given to the questioner, may I ask whether it is the policy of His Majesty's Government to draw the attention of other Governments to similar misrepresentations?

Viscount Cranborne

Whenever His Majesty's Government consider that a statement warrants representations, they make them, to whatever Government it may be.

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