HC Deb 24 July 1941 vol 373 cc1043-5
40. Mr. G. Strauss

asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of recent declarations made by the Communist party in support of the war effort, he is prepared to revoke his Order under the Defence Regulations prohibiting the publication of the "Daily Worker "?

Mr. H. Morrison

No, Sir. At this critical period of the war, when extra effort is called for from all of us so that everything possible may be done to assist our Russian ally, the Government would not feel justified in relaxing a safeguard against a newspaper which systematically fomented opposition to the war effort. If the British Communist party are now. prepared to aid our Russian ally by giving to the war effort assistance which they previously were not willing to give to their own country, I welcome this change so far as it goes, and I hope it may lead to their accepting the principle that the aims of every party or faction ought to be subordinated to the common purpose of Britain and her Allies to defeat the Hitler regime. In view, however, of the changes in the professions of the leaders of the party, It would be premature and rash to treat the latest of these sudden conversions as proof of a lasting change of heart.

Mr. Strauss

Arising out of that reply, as the paper was suppressed because the right hon. Gentleman held the view that it was damaging the war effort, and in view of the changed conditions and the declared policy of the leaders of the party that they are now anxious to support the war effort and to increase production as much as possible, is it not illogical in such circumstances to continue the ban?

Mr. Morrison

One of the reasons for the suppression of the newspaper was that I came to the conclusion that the party and the newspaper had no fundamental loyalty to the British war effort. I am not yet satisfied that they have such loyalty, and until I am so satisfied, I do not propose to alter this decision.

Mr. Gallacher

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in spite of the objections he has expressed to a Member on the Front Bench regarding misrepresentation, he has himself made a mass of misrepresentations of the Communist party and of the "Daily Worker," and is it not the case that he could not cite one issue on which the "Daily Worker" ever gave him cause for serious action? In view of the fact that the "Daily Worker" has always had the greatest influence on the best type of worker in the factories, is it not desirable that the "Daily Worker" should be allowed re-publication?

Mr. Morrison

I am very sorry, but as I disagree with almost every statement of fact that my hon. Friend has made, I am afraid it would be impossible in the short time at my disposal adequately to cover the ground in answer to that question.

Mr. Shinwell

When my right hon. Friend speaks about desiring satisfaction in regard to the loyalty to the war effort of the people concerned, what does he mean—how does he desire them to express their loyalty? Does he want any precise declaration, does he want them to go through a period of probation, or what is in his mind?

Mr. Morrison

What is in my mind is what I have said, and if my hon. Friend is trying to lead me to open up negotiations with the Communist party as to their terms of peace with the British Government, I do not propose to open any such negotiations.